Common User

Me rambling on.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

John Naughton, ITV and Friends ReUnited

I wrote a long post about ITV buying Friends Reunited. Its still sitting there in my draft folder. And I'm not the only one to wonder at their strategy. In the mean time John Naughton doesn't exactly pull his punches.

Television people are constitutionally incapable of dealing with the web because they have been socially and professionally conditioned in the world of 'push' media with its attendant control freakery and inbuilt assumptions about the passivity and stupidity of audiences. Very little of their experience or skills are useful in a 'pull' medium like the web, where the consumer is active, fickle and informed, and history to date suggests that if they are put in charge of internet operations they screw up.


Oil Explosion on Flickr

(Disregarding the unfortunate nomenclature). From the the first (mobile i think) video clip on Sky at about 6.45am, the range, immediacy and depth of user photos shared with the media today via BBC, Sky and especially Flickr all day has been astonishing. The amateur video shared with the BBC is here.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Meta Meta Nick Robinson

Nick Robinson writes in his weekly column for The Times today about his first week of posting daily pieces to his blog.

This week also marked the beginning of a new era for me. I became a blogger. That’s the nerdy word for someone who puts his meandering musings on the internet.

The great joy of it is it that it allows a dialogue to develop through an exciting day between writer and reader. Those clever techie chaps at the BBC have taken a stage further. allowing me to link people to favourite video and audio clips — so I could show you Tony Blair’s PMQ to compare with David Cameron’s first outing. It reminded you that far from over-wheening self confidence Tony Blair displayed real stage fright at the beginning (one reason he was instantly dubbed Bambi).

I hope my blog will become a sort of Pick of the Week for the coverage of politics you wished you’d had the chance to see, hear or read.

It’s something the web can offer that TV simply can’t. It’s hard to say it but I guess we TV people simply have to recognise that it’s the future and we looked like the future — once.

Thankfully the relative low key launch of the Robinson blog has been picked up by other bloggers and a fairly cursory trawl through Technorati over the past few days has gathered almost universally postive feedback.

Another great sign that the BBC is bringing forth two way communication with its audience making a license payer feel that he gets another way to express his point other than on Points of View.
Flying Acqua badger
First podcasting, and now blogging. It looks like the BBC is beginning to embrace new media in a big way as a means of engaging with its viewers/listeners/readers in a variety of different ways, traditional and non-traditional.

The questions in the dozens of entries were asking whether we intend there to be more launches and what are we going to do with (which currently redirects to Nick Robinson). Well further launches are planned for early in the new year and this is a project that is currently taking up most of my time at the BBC.

In news just in, journalism student Sam Reeves reports that during a visit to Cardiff University this week that my colleague Pete Clifton (the Head of BBC News Interactive) announced a forthcoming BBC News Editors blog. Pete wrote a groundbreaking column for BBC News;
"From the Editors Desktop" earlier this year where (although not a blog in look and feel) was very much user led in terms of topics and issues and is a model for our thinking for any future blog that we launch. Thanks to everyone who has fed back about this so far. Finally I wouldn't want to give the impression that this Nick's blog is the first blog at the BBC. Sites such as Ouch, IslandBlogging, and My Africa and others have paved the way.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Mark E Smith, portaphones and "fire in the hands of fools"

I do love (The) Word Magazine. Like the Oldie it really does feel owned by its readers.Apart from a fantastic piece this month by Andrew Collins defending Noel Edmonds; "the crunch of Ferrari on gravel, the whiff of Paco Rabanne, the steely grip of a pro". The highlight is two pages on the thoughts of Mark E Smith who is more articulate than I can recently recall. Here's his predictable take on technology and what he sweetly dubs; 'portaphones'.

"The lads in my band have got these, y'know, laptops. You can go on the internet and get lyrics for any Fall song and how to play them. When I see them doing that, I just get their computer and go (
mimes slamming laptop shut). You can't have that. Technology is a funny one. By and large, its fire in the hands of fools. These days you've got people on computers all day - if you asked them to post a postcard they'd be stuck. I had a Sinclair computer in the 1980s and I didn't like it then. It started rewriting my fucking lyrics so i chucked it in the bin. I love writing with a pen and paper, I love it. I never use them portaphones. My wife has one and all me mates have 'em. They're always trying to make me get one, but what do i want a portaphone for ? When I left school I used to work in the docks and had to talk top people on the phones there. The main thing was you had to direct and quick. You'd have these massive ships coming in from Nigeria - brrrr brrrr - (makes ship noise) - so you couldn't be hanging about on the phone. It was "No yes, no, yes, no, yes, goodbye". I don't want to chat, because I'm still half thinking there's a big fucking ship coming in.No portaphones for me. No thanks."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

"My name's Nick Robinson and I'm a blogger"

The first outcome of one of the projects I've been working on at the BBC; the Nick Robinson blog launched today.
As Nick (the political editor of the BBC) himself puts it:
"The BBC is about to start a trial series of blogs, each of which will be built using the kind of software employed by millions of weblogs around the world. This is the first of that trial."
More to follow in the new year.
Its great to be involved in a real live project again and I'm excited and nervous about how this is going to turn out. Thanks to all my News Interactive colleagues for actually getting this done. ( I just interfered).
Update: some feedback
it really looks like the they've decided to get on board the blogging bandwagon in a pretty serious way. Individual post pages, RSS feed and comments are all there. Comments are (understandably) moderated although not excessively judging by those they've posted so far. Good stuff.
A big stick and a Small Carrot
but as ever, our users were quick to be sceptical
Hmmmmn. Call me a sceptic but I bet Nick doesn't write this. There'll be an editorial understudy with the time / job to do it for him.
What do you say Nick? Convince us otherwise....
He will.

Lesblogs, Ben and Civility in blogs

I'm at Lesblogs. More later. This is my backstage colleague Ben responding to Mena Trott's keynote where she rather naively pleaded with bloggers to be "civil". She was also irked that Ben had been a rather frank contributor to the irc backchannel over the last few days. "Who is this dotben ?" she declared. You can see me hiding in the next seat on the far left as Ben stood his corner. Ironically derided from the stage for "letting down the community" in one session, he was indirectly praised in the next, as one of the speakers on a panel devoted to RSS cited cited backstage as an example of a great initiative by the BBC.