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Month: June 2011

Quick Capture: today’s anti-cuts protests on an iPhone

At lunchtime today’s anti-cuts protest passed Estates Gazette’s offices in Holborn. I couldn’t resist nipping out to grab a little footage and see how quickly I could turn it around. Just two pieces of kit involved – my iPhone 4 and my MacBook Pro. This is the result:


  1. Shot on an iPhone 4, handheld, at 720p
  2. Imported into MacBook Pro
  3. Edited in iMovie, using image stabilisation. Analysed for stabilisation on import.
  4. Uploaded to Vimeo using tethered iPhone (on the 3 network)

Total time from import to online was under 30 mins. The major delay way the analysing for stabilisation on import, which accounted for nearly half of that time. I suspect I could have brought the time down significantly by only analysing the clips I actually used (the bus sequence at the beginning was much longer, and I suspect accounted for most of the 16 minutes analysis time).


Google plus Google+ equals…?

Blimey. Google’s done it again:

Google’s long expected second shot at taking on Facebook in the social networking space has arrived in the form of the Google+ Project. It has some interesting twists on the social networking model but is far from a Facebook-killer.
And it looks like this:
I confidently expect it to do to Facebook exactly what Google Buzz did to Twitter. 
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The falls of the houses of Phillips and Hari

I suspect many of us labouring in the less glamorous trenches of journalism will be feeling a little schadenfreude at the moment. First came the sudden departure of Melanie Phillips from The Spectator, as explained by Prof Greenslade. And now, Johann Hari of the Indy has been caught out cribbing chunks of other interviews and rewriting them into the narrative of his interviews…

I’ve never been fond of the pundit/journalists of the right and left whose loyalty is more closely attached to their political causes than those little inconveniences called “facts”. If these events start dragging the British press back from that particular direction, I’d be rather cheered. 
Mind you, as Joseph Stashko has discovered, Hitler’s rather perturbed by the whole affair…
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Podcasting productivity peak? Perhaps

Podcasting trainingEwan training

Just next to where I’m sitting today, we’ve got podcasting training going on for the Estates Gazette, New Scientist and ICIS Heren teams, in our central London offices. It’s all in the capable hands of Ewan Spence (who has made the odd appearance on this blog before), and going rather swimmingly, from the sounds coming from the room.

Podcasting is one of those things that feels like it has sneaked its way onto the plateau of productivity on the Garner Hype Cycle, and thus everyone has stopped talking about it as something special and exciting. It’s a core part of my working day, as I listen to podcasts on my commute to and from work, using the time to catch up on the latest news and thinking in the areas that affect my work.

There was an interesting article published on GigaOm yesterday looking at the development of TWiT, one of the most successful podcast networks out there. Much to learn there, I think. Interesting video, too…

Should your blog content fade like tears in rain?

An interesting debate has popped up about the permanence (or lack of it) of the conversations happening in blogs. Gina Trapani kicked it off with a post about why she’s not following the neophile herd onto Tumblr as their main platform:

In the end I decided not to, for an important practical reason: the data you enter on Tumblr is locked in. While there are some hacky third-party tools that purport to do it, Tumblr itself does not offer an official export feature which lets its users move their data to another platform should they choose to do so. (Update: In late 2009, Tumblr mentioned a beta tool which can export your data in a limited way, on one platform. Doesn’t count.) That, along with some doubts about site reliability and losing my existing posts and their permalinks, made me decide the posts I really care about are just too important for Tumblr.

I’m squarely behind her on this one. Personally, I’m a natural archiver. I want blog posts I wrote nearly a decade ago to be still accessible. It annoys me that things I linked to in 2003 are no longer there. Indeed, when Steve Reubel made his big switch, he broke some links on my blog. But this love of archiving is a character trait, and not one everyone shares. My wife regards my scanning and archiving of my parents’ photos with a little disbelief. And some have disagreed strongly with Gina’s argument:

I don’t really care that much about archiving my content. I don’t see 99.9% of my blog posts as having a shelf life beyond a few days. I write ‘em, hopefully they get read and discussed, then I write something else.

In 13 years of on-again-off-again personal blogging, I can only think of one post — just one — that’s lost but I wish I’d saved; it was the post I wrote when I returned from my mother’s funeral in April 2000. Everything else is ephemeral, like tears in rain.

That’s Mitch Wagner in a post directly responding to Gina’s. His phrase “tears in rain” reminds me of a recent post by a friend of mine, Tom Morris, about the lack of access to your Twitter archives provided by the company right now, and his irritation with people who say that it doesn’t matter:

The poncy hipster types may see no value in their old tweets, but some of us do. And we shouldn’t be disadvantaged because some guy who reads a bit too much Malcolm Gladwell thinks he can judge the preferred archiving strategy they should take to the material they have written better than they do.

Now, for a vast majority of Tumblr blogs, this just isn’t an issue. There’s little or no original content in there – it’s just reblogging of material published elsewhere on the net. And event the comment conversation isn’t locked into Tumblr, because most of the time it’s housed in Disqus, which has plenty of export options.

So, if that’s all you’re using Tumblr for, then go ahead. No risks there. But those of us who make our living from comment creation in any way should think very carefully about how much of our content we commit to sites that aren’t passionate about the fact that we own our own content. Many hosted blogs and social networks are bad at this; Typepad (which I use for some blogs) is notoriously hard to get photos out of, for example.  If there’s value, be it intellectual, entertainment, emotional or commercial in your old content, then you need to think about how you’d move it if (or when) your current service expires or no longer meets your needs.

Indeed, I think the “tears in rain” crowd miss a fundamental point – the web is built on linkage. And every time you move a post from its permalink, every time a piece of content vanishes from the web, there’s a chance that a hole opens up in that network. The web heals. But the conversations between sites can be lost. And that’s you devaluing the work of others through removing your own. The web is a collaborative entity and unilateral destructive action can undermine that.

As for Tumblr itself, well, the question could soon be academic. A Tumblr engineer jumped into the comments on Gina’s post:

I’m an engineer at Tumblr (and fairly new, so hopefully I’m not speaking out of turn). We’re working on an ‘export my blog’ feature that will completely export all your content (images, posts, etc) and allow you to download that export.

So, hopefully, soon Tumblr will be a real option for those of us who want more permanence from our blogging that “tears in rain”.

Blogging for sanity’s sake

Tom Jones tells the story of a farmer who blogged his way away from the precipice of madness:

It was my sister, ensconced within her warm east London office, who suggested I turn a roughly cobbled together email into a blog. Blogs, she informed me, were far more accessible, as followers can go at any time to a page constantly blossoming with stories.The result has been supremely satisfying. “Swallow the key” is one of my favourite blog entries and there isn’t a talking animal to be seen. It was written in May last year after a hard winter when sheep were deciding that heaven was a better option. To be able to speak out about the pressures of farming and how close it can bring some farmers to oblivion was wholly rewarding.

I often say when giving speeches that people don’t realise that the word “social” is the most important half of social media. I think this story underpins that point.

The full story is in Farmers Weekly.

Everything is a Creative Remix…

This is the third part of the on-going series Everything is a Remix, that explores how our entire culture is built on remixing and developing ideas. This one, on creativity, is particularly apposite for the publishing industry, that’s going through so much change right now, but which often seems unwilling to remix and play with the ideas of others to help build its own future:

Telling your readers where to go. Literally.

The decisions that newspapers make around “serving” their readers just astound me sometimes. Dave Winer on accessing the New York Post via his iPad:

Today I was told by the Post that I couldn’t read the article on the web at all. If I wanted to read the Post on my iPad I would have to download the app.

Okay this is bad. This is breaking the web. If no one used the iPad it wouldn’t matter. But lots of people use it.

I wonder how Apple feels about this? I can’t imagine they like it. I can see the ads now. “Get an Android tablet to read the web.”

This shows, to me, an utter lack of respect for the reader. It’s a dictatorial move, forcing people to access their content only in the NYP-approved manner. And that seems like a very quick way to destroy any remaining relationship with the reader. Block me from seeing content solely based on the device I’m using? That’s none of your damn business. And that’s what you’ll be getting from me: none of my damn business.

Oh, and Winer highlights a related issue that’s bugged me, too:

Another thing I find really annoying is that wordpress.com shows me something vastly different when I look at one of their sites when I come on an iPad. It’s the stupid trend du jour. Everyone thinks that everyone reading on the iPad wants Flipboard. If I wanted it, I would read the web using Flipboard.

The iPad’s web browser is ideal for viewing standard, regular web pages. You DO NOT need a special mobile version of a web page for an iPad.

As an aside, Winer has a moving piece up about his Dad, which is appropriate for Father’s Day. I’ve published my own meditations elseblog.