Archive for April, 2009

Link: Local news, but not as we know it « Ultra Local Voice

Local news, but not as we know it – reviewing media histrionics about local news « Ultra Local Voice: communities, communicating – William Perrin reacts very articulately to Polly Tonybee declaring ?This is an emergency. Act now, or local news will die?, stating that it needn’t die, just adapt:

There have been many media transitions before, this is just another one. The transitions from print to radio in the 1930s, from radio to TV in the 1950s-70s and from static to rolling news in the 1990s. In no case did the preceding media disappear, it just adapted and learned to live alongside the new medium that eventually stole much of the limelight. People thrived who adapted their skills from one medium to the next. The world did not end, it just changed.

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Link: The Hearing Aid on Bat For Lashes at The Town Hall

The Hearing Aid: Bat For Lashes / School Of Seven Bells / Caroline Weeks @ The Town Hall, Sunday 12th April 2009 – The Baron reviews the Bats For Lashes gig at the Town Hall on Easter Sunday, which I’m linking to as it’s far more knowledgeable than anything I could write about it.

I went without having heard of her – my Dad suggested we go after being impressed by some the reviews he’d read about her and I’m very glad he did, she was bloody brilliant. She has an astounding voice – kind of reminded me of Kate Bush and Tori Amos but no indulgent or annoying wailing and wallowing. She rocked. It’s one of the best concerts I’ve been to in a long time and gave me a good kick up the arse in reminding me why I should make the effort to go to a lot more – because once in a while I’ll get lovely surprises like this.

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Link: Socialreporter | Making pdf policy accessible through Simply Understand

Socialreporter | Making pdf policy accessible through Simply Understand – David Wilcox introduces us to Corrine Pritchard, creator of Simply Understand:

Simply Understand is a unique translation service. Are you fed up with gobblydegook and jargon? Are you frustrated by endless sentences and hundred-page documents? Simply Understand aim to cut your policy papers, manuals and programmes down to size! When everything is simply readable, you can simply understand.

It sounds a lot like what we did at Big City Talk, but on a broader scale. Corrine hasn’t received any paid commissions for her work yet, which she currently does on a purely voluntary basis. Hopefully Local Authorities will soon recognise the value of this type of work and start putting all public consultation documents trough the Plain English mill.

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Post to calendar

I asked this question on Twitter a little while back but got no response, so I’ll ask it again with feeling in more than 140 characters.

Digbeth is Good has a Calendar page which is basically an embedded public Google calendar.  Although useful for readers, I must admit updating it is a bit of a pain.  I basically have to look at a post for an event and create a new calendar entry in Google ? inputting the date, time, location and copying and pasting the text and relevant link into the description.

It would be great if, just as I can simply create links posts using the Postalicious plugin, I could post events links to the calendar, somehow inserting the relevant details on the way so it easily feeds into a calendar entry.

Is there any way of doing this?  It would save me an awful lot of admin if there were!

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WxWM: An overdue retrospective

Nicky Getgood on Digbeth and local blogging at WxWM from Jon Bounds on Vimeo.

It?s time for my very long overdue post about WxWM, brainchild Shona McQuillan?s local alternative to SxSWi. What was most amazing about it was that, within the space of about a week, a BarCamp-style event with back-to-back interesting panels had been organised.  My very favourites were:

Nick Booth: Me and My Troll

[audio:http://www.rhubarbradio.com/audio/wxwm09/nick-booth.mp3%5D

A necessary reminder that the internet isn?t Narnia and, just like in life, there are mad and bad people out there who may want to do you down.  There was an interesting discussion around how some environments (such as YouTube) are more tolerant of this behaviour than others (like Flickr).

I feel that I don?t really make an effort to conceal much about myself or my life when writing on the internet, figuring no-one will be nasty or bothered enough to use the details I give out in a negative way.  Some of the stories that came out of this panel were therefore quite frightening ? not only how malevolent people can be, but also how ineffective some online communities and the police can be at dealing with it.

Jon Bounds: Internet Memes

[audio:http://www.rhubarbradio.com/audio/wxwm09/jon-bounds.mp3%5D

The funniest of the panels, not least because of the last-minute editing Jon had to do to protect young, innocent minds. The theory behind the meme is that if you pop something on the internet, people will want to make it have one or all of the essential meme components:

  • The rude
  • The weird
  • The cute

The time this takes to happen ? the ?time to penis? – is becoming shorter and shorter.

Jon?s parting note was truly inspirational ? that we, as the type of people who do Meaning of Briff, are guardians of the rude, odd and weird.  We should let memes evolve without fear of our bosses or parents and, above all, BE WEIRD. Oh, alright then, since you insist.

Ben Whitehouse: Once Upon a Time

[audio:http://www.rhubarbradio.com/audio/wxwm09/ben-whitehouse.mp3%5D

An absolutely lovely talk on how we can tell stories and tall tales online.  This has been quite recently demonstrated by Dull Accountant on Twitter, who for a few days had us believing he?d nicked the company credit card for a G20 summit protest bender before admitting it was a well thought out April Fool’s prank.  Ben was most interesting when he was talking about Twitter, and how the people we follow and interact with is us reading the stories of each others? lives.  I was horrified when he asked the question: ?What happens when one of us dies and that character is gone forever?? A sobering thought.

A local blog for local people

[audio:http://www.rhubarbradio.com/audio/wxwm09/nicky-getgood.mp3%5D

Not a favourite (because that would be horribly big-headed), but my panel talk about the local blogging journey I?ve been on with Digbeth is Good (film narcissistically inserted at the top).  The discussion afterwards was interesting, especially when it got around to where things should go next.  Peoples? (very welcome) suggestions prompted John Hickman to ask Whose Blog is it Anyway?

It made me realise that, thus far, Digbeth is Good has had the freedom to grow quite organically.  But now there sometimes seems to be an expectation to follow certain types of models, be it a Created in Birmingham style handover or Kings Cross Environment style team building (which I’ve actually come round to and am working on).  I suppose John?s post reminded me that, although I can take advice and look at others? best practice, there is no law that says I have to go down a set path.  In fact, Digbeth is Good got interesting for me when I stopped following the hymn sheet and made the blog more of my personal take on the area.  So perhaps straying from path is no bad thing, even if I do sometimes get a little lost.

Other interesting points raised were:

  • Monetising the blog ? If anyone has any further advice on this I?d be grateful.  One of the biggest obstacles I?ve hit with Digbeth is Good is finding the time to commit to its development.  Finding a way of being paid for the time and resources I?m currently giving to it for nothing, without detrimentally affecting the editorial freedom, would be brilliant.
  • Quality not quantity ? Andy Mabbett really struck a chord when he told me he?d rather read one or two good posts a week rather than a daily stream of them.  This made me realise I should slow down and concentrate on creating posts with insightful content rather than trying to keep up with everything, which is just impossible.

Phew.  It seems that no sooner do I have time to stop and take stock of the first WxWM than the next one is being organised ? Moseley Barcamp, part of Mozfest, is on 29th June.  There?s also a BrumBarCamp on the cards.

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Link: Webometric Thoughts – Social Media MA: Only idiots/Daily-Mail-readers object

Webometric Thoughts: Social Media MA: Only idiots/Daily-Mail-readers object – Got this via Jon Bounds – a good defence of BCU’s MA in Social Media, which has got an all-too-predictable battering from the likes of the Daily Mail:

Being able to use blogs, social networks, twitter, wikis, podcasts etc, is obviously not the same as understanding the role they play in society, but acknowledging that would have got in the way of a ‘good’ story.

The episode reminds me of my two favourite Wolverhampton University lecturers, Mark Jones and Gerry Carlin, who got into tabloid trouble for showing pornography in a seminar as part of their module Unpopular Texts.  Rather than taking it lying down, they wrote a long article for The Guardian explaining and justifying exactly why they did it, which made me squeal with delight (I had a bit of a crush on Gerry). It seems academia can become fair game to the sillier newspapers when it strays from the traditional subjects into something resembling real and relevant life, and this episode is just another example of that.

The Daily Mail article comments make me laugh through gritted teeth. ‘Since when did elements of popular culture become an actual source of knowledge?’ asks one particularly stupid reader.  Since the dawn of effing time, mate.  I like that the few supportive ones are rated well whilst all the negative ones are rated poorly.  It kind of proves something – like the potential power of this stuff and perhaps that it’s worthy of further study?

I’m going to end this with the closing paragraph of Mark and Gerry’s article:

It is the purpose of universities to know and interrogate all aspects of the world of which they are a part. It is their responsibility to make this knowledge available to all. We and our students are not walled off but embedded in the society to which we belong.

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Link: Do we mean ?social? or do we mean ?conversational?? – jon bounds

Do we mean ?social? or do we mean ?conversational?? – jon bounds – It seems social media types are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the definition ‘social media’. Pete Ashton has also been in search of alternative term. I like Jon’s idea of ‘conversational’ media. I picture in my head a circle of bloggy globes, all in some kind of inter-planetary, mutually-dependant sync with each other. Have no fear – no nauseating, sound-bite term is going to come from this musing, it’s just the image in my head: solar system media. Oh God.  Get the feeling I’m going to have to stand in the naughty corner for this one.

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