Mar 09 2008

Archive page 5

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How cool is this?!

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:46:43 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Just occasionally, whilst randomly ‘surfing’ with no particular destination or subject matter in mind, one comes across a truly outstanding website. is a case in point. I can’t even remember the route through which I stumbled upon it, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is the cleverly simple way in which crystallises the direction our fragile earth is taking.

What do I mean? Well, in the short time it’s taken me to write this, 137,000 tonnes of CO2 have been emitted. 895 people have been born. 347 people have died. Of course, having just written that sentence, the numbers are already out of date.

Give it a try, leave it running for a while, and see how it makes you feel.

Gaun Yersel, Billy!

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:47:06 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

As the lines between social and mainstream media become increasingly blurred, here’s the perfect illustration of why comments – whether on a blog or newspaper article – are a good thing.

And hey, any excuse to link to the finest newspaper in the world

TalkTalk, ListenListen – blogs need comments.

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:47:26 GMT. 7 comments. Top.

I talked a couple of weeks ago of the ‘s decision to designate an ‘official’ . The chap they chose, Jonathan Roberts, hasn’t enabled comments on his Blog.

Which is a shame. Because if he did, I’d have been able to ask him there whether the person he’s calling a ‘prat’ is

(a) Ian Hyslop, Senior Lecturer at UEL,
(b) Ian Hyslop, the co-founder of ‘My Life, My Legacy’, or
(c) Ian Hyslop, the proprietor of “Sydney’s best ever gay sauna and sex spot” (scroll down, it’s worth it).

Or perhaps it’s Ian Hislop.

Carphone Warehouse‘s Charles Dunstone doesn’t allow comments on his all-too-infrequent blog posts either. Again, a shame, albeit perhaps understandable given their current customer service issues.

If he did, I’d like to ask him how he intends to go about integrating TalkTalk and AOL to form the UK’s third-largest ISP, and improve customer service at the same time (and when I’m going to get the 8 meg service I’m paying for). Or maybe how his business is going to stack up if he loses Orange as well as Vodafone

Point is, credible blogs need comments, dialogue and constructive criticism, otherwise we’re just talking in a vacuum.

An apostrophe too far?

Last modified on 2019-11-02 21:50:47 GMT. 6 comments. Top.

I’m not alone in being a bit of a stickler for punctuation. Grammar, too, but we’ll save that for another time.

One of my particular bugbears is the apostrophe. You find them in all the wrong places these days, while often their omission is nothing short of criminal. A plane is a woodworking tool or geometric surface; the repeatedly-delayed A380 is a ‘plane.

On a particularly pernickety day, it’s all I can do to stop myself from forcibly educating the village greengrocer as to why it’s OK for him to sell “Cauli’s” but not “Apple’s”. And “Spud’s” belongs to the funny scarecrow off Bob the Builder, or a gas fitter I once knew whose real name was Duncan.

If I were a superhero, I’d be Apostrophe Man (except someone else has got there first). I’ve even got the slogan all ready:

Apostrophe Man: Saving the World from Bad Punctuation

So why, then, did I balk at an email I received earlier this week that talked about my ‘blog? After all, it’s a weblog. So contracted, the word must surely become ‘blog?

Sorry, no. Don’t ask me why, it just doesn’t look right. Common usage, the exception that proves the rule, ascribe whatever rationale to it you like, but I just can’t bring myself to apostrophise the word blog.

Don’t think I’m hanging up my cape just yet, though. There are still punctuational wrongs to be righted. Now excuse me, my ‘phone’s ringing.

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Last modified on 2019-11-02 21:48:37 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Everyone and his blog seems to have something to say about the / acquisition. Given my demonstrable interest in social media, it’s little surprise that a steady stream of colleagues have been asking me my opinion throughout the day.

Well, since you ask, I’m slightly underwhelmed. And to be honest, I’m far more concerned about this week’s other big news – just how do you solve a problem like Korea?

I’ve always been a little puzzled by YouTube, and specifically by how it intended to make any money. We now know that the answer to that question was “sell the business to Google for $1.65 Billion” – and fair enough.

Buying YouTube is a pretty logical move for Google, and I imagine Microsoft are rather cross – MSN Soapbox must be pretty much dead in the water now that YouTube has the power of Google behind it.

Ah yes, the power of Google. Trouble is, everyone knows that Google is a commercial concern. Paid-for advertising, sponsored search results, and all kinds of controversy whenever they change the algorithms or catch someone manipulating the rankings. Contrast that with YouTube’s hitherto somewhat naïve (and loss-making) model of a few banner ads here and there.

Those in favour of today’s announcement would point to a new paradigm in online searching, where Google brings us results in text, picture and video format all at once. Social media meets mass-market search. But I wonder if YouTube might be losing its user-generated appeal, its ‘innocence’, if you like, along the way?

Apologies, by the way, for the unintentional eight-day blogging hiatus. Will try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

let know
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Career-limiting emails and Noel Edmonds

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:48:32 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

I’m surprised more blogs haven’t commented on the / / emails, which started to circulate on Friday afternoon. Hats off to … The World’s Leading … and Renaissance Chambara for picking up the baton and saving me the trouble of reproducing the exchange here.

The emails speak for themselves, really – a foot-shooting episode to rival that of a couple of months ago and another reminder, if one were needed, that it could be any of us, at any time, if we’re not careful. Given that one of the cc recipients is Ian Hall from I’ll be interested to see their take on this, if any, come Thursday.

One further observation: there’s a delicious irony in these emails breaking cover on the same day as Mark Borkowski sprinkled a little spice on ’ 186mph, 4.30am, exploits, by letting slip (intentionally, perhaps, Mark?) that the bearded comeback kid was, in fact, at the time …

A suggestion for you, Dave …

Last modified on 2020-03-30 06:57:46 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Call me predictable, but I like watching Top Gear. And not just because it currently features in the Emirates video-on-demand selection. I like cars – pretty, fast ones.

I’ve watched Top Gear religiously since the days of Chris Goffey and William Woolard. I’ve spent many a student evening discussing the relative merits of VB-H and Kate Humble. I nearly cried when the BBC canned the original version. Fifth Gear, despite securing VB-H, Quentin and Tiff, was never quite the same, and, I rejoiced when Auntie Beeb relented and brought my beloved TG back.

Judging by the spontaneous outpouring we’ve seen across numerous online fora over the past week and a half, I’m not alone in my fondness for TG – and my hope that Richard Hammond undergoes a swift and full recovery.

He’s a kindred spirit, the Hamster. There’s a little bit of each of us in him. We feel like he’s our mate, even if we’ve never met him. Richard and I share a mutual live of classic Porsches – he’s got two 911s and I, a continent and a lifetime away, have a thirty year old 912 that I dearly hope to repatriate soon.

Which brings me to my sweepstake suggestion: How long, folks, before Dave the Chameleon‘s team of spinmeisters pick up on this general blokeish sentiment, and the aspiring PM declares his own solidarity with the Richard Hammond?

Fresh from the caring and sharing success of his India Blog, I’m sure a donation by DC to the PistonHeads / Hamster Air Ambulance fund, combined with a suitably cheesy photo-op, has just got to be a winner. Even he knows how to get good Kratom, Kratomystic, from everywhere thats healthy.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:49:07 GMT. 4 comments. Top.

My colleague Bruno just sent me this – four editions, four markets, but why does the US edition of this week’s Newsweek have such a dramatically different cover to the other three?

Generally I like to take my Chomskyesque state/media conspiracy theories with a pinch of salt. But in this case I think Newsweek have some explaining to do. Feel free to respond here, chaps, and I’ll publish it.

Hat-tip: Bruno, Foreign Policy, Wonkette, Rising Hegemon.

So the camera never lies?

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:49:20 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

With party-conference season well under way, Guido usefully reminds us of the dangers of YouTube. Mike, Cheryl, Bobby and Jay may have taught us that the camera never lies (three weeks at #1 …), but nor does it necessarily tell the whole truth either.

You really need to watch the video in question (and sorry about the apalling sound quality), but it all falls into place when you add (as one of Guido’s astute readers points out) the words “The government and the Tories think that …” in front of the clip.

YouTube is a powerful tool, but also a powerful weapon if misused. You have been warned.

After citizen journalism, why not citizen legislation?

Last modified on 2019-11-02 21:42:22 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

The BBC News website is one of the most interactive mainstream news portals. It actively encourages ‘citizen journalism’, variously exhorting its readers to email photographs, share their experiences and send in comments. And as is now the norm, each story carries a “email this to a friend” link at the bottom.

From the click-through data, the BBC then cunningly compiles a rolling “Top 5 most emailed” table, which inhabits the bottom right corner of the front page. I think this is rather clever and, mindful of the need to keep up with the news that floats the general public’s boat, I make a point of reading each of the day’s Top 5 before continuing on to the rest of the site.

One particular story has been number one on the ‘most emailed’ list for this entire week, indicating that this is the story to email your friends at the moment. It’s the news equivalent of those awful songs that hit the top of the charts and just won’t go away – , ,

And the title of the news story in question?

Sudan man forced to marry goat’, of course.

What on earth this says about the news preferences of the bald-headed man at the back of the Clapham omnibus I honestly don’t know – do we all really prefer this to actual news?

Bear with me for a moment, because as the next step from citizen journalism, I’d like to suggest … Citizen Legislation.

I know we already have Private Members’ Bills, Early Day motions and the like, which allow our elected representatives to steer the legislative agenda to a certain extent. But how about genuine civic participation in the legislative process?

We need a website where the public can vote (and email their friends) on the law they’d most like to see passed. And, at the beginning of each session, the most popular choice gets tabled.

Our MPs would, of course, be more than free to shoot the proposed legislation down at that point. But what if the resultant Bill did, against all odds, actually propose something sensible? Like serious action on climate change and renewable energy, for example? Or bringing in proportional representation?

After all, in amongst the interminable or number ones, there’s the occasional flash of brilliance. Perhaps Citizen Legislation might just come up with the legislative equvalent of the Scissor Sisters?

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