A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

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I’ve finally got around to restoring the link to get One Man & His Blog by e-mail. (It’s via MailChimp, so you get lots of control, and can unsub in seconds).

And if you’re thinking “hell, yes, sign me up!”, well, here’s the form:

Last Friday’s rather cryptic post (I even tagged it as such) was about more than just the switch to WordPress. I’ve been keen to slightly switch around my approach to writing One Man & His Blog for a while now, but a quirk of my personal psychology means that it’s easier to do at a point of discontinuity. A shift in blog platform is certainly that.

Last year, one of the most personally profound moments I had was at the Dots conference, arranged by Brilliant Noise and curated by Neil Perkin, both friends of the blog. Neil did a superb job of curating an event without a single weak speaker, but two in particular resonated with me.

Great artists steal – from a long way away

Mark Earls at Dots

First of all, Mark Earls made a compelling case that innovation is, in effect, stealing from far away:

Look a long way away from what you’re doing if you want to reinvent it. The man that invented boutique hotels took the idea of a nightclub and built hotels in that way. Marginal advantage is an idea from sport which borrows as many sources as possible. The sign of a good poet is someone who copies from far away, said TS Elliot. It’s easy to copy from next door…

Stagnation through introspection

That resonated with me because I’ve had a growing feeling that the discussion about digital journalism is stagnating, because it’s all happening internally to journalism. We’re looking at Buzzfeed and paywalls and what each other are doing, instead of casting our eyes outwards and seeing how technology and culture are changing. The former leads to copying, the latter to innovation.

Martin Elliott

The power of that idea was driven home by the brutally compelling talk by Professor Martin Elliott, about how the cardiac surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital radically reduced death rates by borrowing from Formula One:

The Formula One teams always meet at round tables, they plan for what goes wrong and they mentally rehearse what’s going to happen. They mapped the process – and found the surgical one was 10 times more complicated. They tried engineering a new bed – but it was too expensive. So they focused on human factors. And every situation is a web of complex relationships that could go wrong.

So they focused on leadership and choreography. Leadership is transferred via a checklist as needed. The most important person they hired was a dancer. No-one knew where to stand. Ballet had the knowledge they needed.

Formula One saving children’s lives in hospital? That’s stealing from a long way away – and that’s innovation.

Mental reset

At some point over the last couple of years, I’ve drifted into thinking of One Man & His Blog as a journalism blog, rather than Adam Tinworth’s blog. Now, the majority of my work currently is in journalism, so it’s always going to be heavily flavoured with journalism. But I’m granting myself the mental permission to write about wider issues that are informing the working part of my brain.

If we’re going to reinvent publishing and journalism, we need to get back to stealing from far away, as we did a decade or so back, rather than the circle-jerk of copying each marginal digital improvement that a particular site manages to create.

So, reboot time.

Light on the Christmas tree

A very merry Christmas to the readers who have stuck with me through this year – and a welcome to those who have joined me along the way. I hope you all have a great time with those you hold dear, and you get what you want, but not what you deserve… 😉

I’ll see you tomorrow for the beginning of my look back on the year just gone.

The days when I switched my blog design every few months are very long gone, but here we are again with a new look OM&HB, only 20 months after the last one.

Here’s what it looks like right now:

Responsive OM&HB

And this is why it is significant:

A responsive OM&HB

Yes, I’ve finally gone mobile-friendly and responsive.

I pretty much had no choice: tablet and phone traffic is nudging towards 50% of my site traffic – and it gets even higher than that on “big hit” posts. If I care about my readers – and I do – I should be catering to their device choice.

Also, frankly, when I’m talking to publishers and journalists about mobile strategy, having a design that’s not mobile-friendly was getting rather embarrassing.

What’s changed?

  • Responsive design! Yes, I said that above. But it’s the most important thing…
  • The sidebar returns. Yes, I tried to bury it all at the bottom of the page, but it didn’t work. A single sidebar is still useful.
  • Sharing buttons are gone. An experiment: I want to see if the lack of sharing buttons has any traffic impact.
  • Pagingation. You can actually (at long last) page back through older entries from the homepage of the site.
  • Taupy RIP. Yes, the lizard finally bites the dust. Here, for a final time, is Taupy, the mascot of this blog for the best part of eight years:


What do you think?

What now, oh Bear

Hey, all. I hope you’re having a good Friday.

I have two apologies to make.

The Accidental Spammer

I was informed yesterday that several people were getting completely blank e-mails en masse from my e-mail address. They do appear to have originated from this server, and either changes made by me or my webhost seem to have put a stop to them. My apologies if you got hit by it.

Silence of the Blogger

In a possibly-related incident, my webhost blocked access to my blog’s software late yesterday evening, and followed that up by suspending my account entirely. I’ve not had a complete explanation as yet – depending on what they do say, I may be looking at moving hosts, which will be fun.

Because of this, yesterday’s long form post never got done (and, indeed, for a few hours there was no published blog for it to appear on). That means that sometime between now and the end of the month, I’ll have to do two posts in one day…

Eleven in the sky

This blog is eleven years old today.

But really, who cares on a day when:

It’s interesting tracking the relative ages of those things, though. BBC Three is less than a month older than this blog – it was launched on the 9th February 2003. While Metro newspaper dates back to 1999, the website appears to have launched in 2004 – making it younger than this blog. Flipboard and Zite are both whippersnappers, both around three years old.

So, I need to face it. This blog, while not even teenager, is old. But while it may be old, at least it has stamina…

(Can I just extend my sympathies to Kevin and John, both of whom are big Zite users, and both of whom are probably in mourning right now…)

Photo by Martin Snopek, and used under a Creative Commons licence