Friday, January 16, 2009

Changing Twitter

...I realised yesterday that I haven't looked at my RSS reader since Christmas or earlier, and that my number of delicious links has gone from maybe 10 a day to just a trickle. That's because I'm using twitter as a sort of human filtered RSS reader: most of the people I used to subscribe to I now follow and the people I follow tend to tweet about the best things they post or read. This means that, through twitter, I've probably increased the amount of discovery I do online - that is, stumbling across new sources of content rather than simply reading the same people saying the same things all the time.

From Robin Hamman.

What to say on Tuesday, taking over the big job

Yet there is something about inaugural addresses — perhaps it’s the siren call of immortality — that tempts presidents and their speechwriters into rhetorical ruin (and abominable abuses of alliteration). The anthology of American inaugural addresses is, but for a few bright spots, one long muddle of grandiosity, mundanity — and forgetability.

Who can remember — actually, who can bear to remember — Richard Nixon’s grasping of the “chalice of opportunity,” or Dwight Eisenhower’s nine (yes, nine) “rules of conduct” for the United States, or Jimmy Carter’s homage to “my high school teacher, Miss Julia Coleman,” or William McKinley’s summons, at the start of the 20th century, to ensure the “honest and faithful disbursement” of congressional appropriations?

Lots more thoughts, and William Safire, here.

Or, do it yourself.

In the Ring, working lives and the circus

Listen to the story of Svitlana Svystun, and this man.

From the "Working" section of NPR's Marketplace. (Sound by my man Sean Cole, pictures by me)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Zeitgeist History, a long running publishing strategy

Mr. Bruni is the "new Napoleon".


In a new book, called La Marche Consulaire (The Consular March), Alain Duhamel sets out the case for seeing Nicolas Sarkozy as a 21st Century incarnation of the most influential Frenchman of modern times - or as he puts it, "Bonaparte in a suit".

"Both men intend to leave behind them a France which is no longer what it was. They see themselves as the rescuers of a great but weakened nation," Mr Duhamel writes. He sees other similarities too.

From the BBC.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Press Baron....

....Is this a trustworthy story?

Speaking to on Wednesday, Lebedev said he had read the Evening Standard and other British newspapers when he was a young spy at the Soviet embassy in London in the late 1980s.

"I had to read every newspaper. I was there for that," he recalled. "I had to read the FT, the Guardian, Standard and the Daily Mail." The Standard was "a very good newspaper" with some "brilliant journalists," Lebedev said, adding that the Daily Mail was a "highly influential" title that closely reflected British public attitudes.

Exclusively from The Guardian.

This is perhaps the stand out sentence:

The purchase will be an astonishing moment in British press history – the first time a former member of a foreign intelligence service has owned a British title.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

So do video games exist, really?

From the economic point of view, this was the year video games overtook music and video, combined, in the UK. The industries’ respective share of the take is forecast to be £4.64 billion and £4.46 billion. (For purposes of comparison, UK book publishers’ total turnover in 2007 was £4.1 billion.) As a rule, economic shifts of this kind take a while to register on the cultural seismometer; and indeed, from the broader cultural point of view, video games barely exist. The newspapers cover the movies extensively, and while it isn’t necessary to feel that they do all that great a job of it, there’s no denying that they have a try. Video games by contrast are consigned to the nerdy margins of the papers, and are pretty much invisible in broadcast media. Video-game fans return the favour: they constitute the demographic group least likely to pay attention to newspapers and are increasingly uninterested in the ‘MSM’, or mainstream media.

John Lanchester in the London Review of Books.

Oh, the future

New Repubicans, like, talk.

"We have to do it in the Facebook, with the Twittering, the different technology that young people are using today," Duncan ventured.

"Let me just say that I have 4,000 friends on Facebook," contributed Blackwell, putting his hand on Dawson's and Anuzis's knees. "That's probably more than these two guys put together, but who's counting, you know?" Acknowledged Saltsman: "I'm not sure all of us combined Twitter as much as Saul."

Anuzis claimed he had "somewhere between 2- and 3,000" Facebook friends, which prompted Blackwell to remind the audience that he has 4,000 friends on the social networking site by waving four fingers behind Anuzis's head.

The candidates were significantly more comfortable when asked how many guns they own. Duncan claimed four handguns and two rifles, Anuzis boasted of two, and Blackwell replied: "Seven -- and I'm good."

"In my closet at home," replied Saltsman, "I've got two 12-gauges, a 20-gauge, three handguns and a .30-06. And I'll take you on anytime, Ken."

Dana Milbank in the Washington Post.

On working hard to elevate distrust

"There's a huge trust. I see it all the time when people come up to me and say, 'I don't want you to let me down again.' "—Boston, Oct. 3, 2000

Guess Who?

"Well, I think if you say you're going to do something and don't do it, that's trustworthiness."—CNN online chat, Aug. 30, 2000

Here's who.

And goodbye.

Writing and the seductions online

The single worst piece of writing advice I ever got was to stay away from the Internet because it would only waste my time and wouldn't help my writing. This advice was wrong creatively, professionally, artistically, and personally, but I know where the writer who doled it out was coming from. Every now and again, when I see a new website, game, or service, I sense the tug of an attention black hole: a time-sink that is just waiting to fill my every discretionary moment with distraction. As a co-parenting new father who writes at least a book per year, half-a-dozen columns a month, ten or more blog posts a day, plus assorted novellas and stories and speeches, I know just how short time can be and how dangerous distraction is.

Cory Doctorow on the internet and distraction in Locus Online.

It's music criticism, it's online

Animal Collective is an important band because they are one of the first ‘transcendent’ independent bands to gather most of their acclaim on the internet. While they probably had a few recordings before every one turned utilized the internet to find the newsest, alt-est music, you can’t really deny that they grew at a healthy rate in internet-acclaim-perception over the past couple of years. If you grow too fast, you will be discarded as inauthentic (The Black Kids). If you grow 2 slowly, no1 ever really identifies with ur brand and think that you are just a newsbit that has been around 2 long for no good reason. The internet is a difficult environment in which to grow because virality rates are difficult to control.

A long and rather good new world we're living in music review of Animal Collective. Headline: Animal Collective is a Band Created By/For/On the Internet

From Hipster Runoff.

Blog will Eat Itself.

Carles is burning the Internet down from INSIDE THE INTERNET.

Says Alex Blagg.

Want to watch a sit com about the dying days of an independent magazine?

Or perhaps you are already living this experience?

BAD IDEA presents... Printomortis – Episode 1 from BAD IDEA magazine on Vimeo.
From Bad Idea magazine.

Broadband for all, Comprehension for some?

"Today we are way beyond the view that broadband is a niche product, it is an enabling and transformational service and therefore we have to look at how we can universalise it," he said. "We have to ensure that fairness and access for all is more than a soundbite in a manifesto."

As well as getting the technology into every part of the UK, he said the government must improve the population's media and digital literacy so the 40% who could get broadband, but choose not to, will be able to sign up.

Lord Carter today, getting us ready for his "Digital Britain" report, published soon. Just a thought but isn't literacy:
...the ability to read and write, or the ability to use language to read, write, listen, and speak. In modern contexts, the word refers to reading and writing at a level adequate for communication, or at a level that lets one understand and communicate ideas in a literate society, so as to take part in that society.

So will the "improvement" of digital literacy involve more than getting 40% of people to sign up for broadband; will it perhaps also be about the ideas that are promulgated digitally: the ability to question - then read, write, listen and speak about - the information sea that is out there? Isn't digital literacy less about rebooting the server, and more about making trust choices in content? Just a thought.

More Incisive post-Crash Media Analysis

And remember, this guy worked on Wired once, was a founder.

When it comes to the media business, we're in high school all over again. The CNNs are the jocks, and the hot apps like Facebook and Twitter are the Cute Girls.


Champions League in (mis)Trust

It is the stand-first this blog is always pursuing.

Global poll shows UK least likely to trust politicians, banks or markets

Asked to rate their trust in the government's management of the financial situation, British people award the government 4.5 out of 10, below the worldwide average of 5.2 and just ahead of Iceland on 4.4.
Only Germany and Japan are gloomier, scoring 4.0 and 3.0 respectively in the poll which was conducted before Christmas and published today.

From The Guardian.

On writing on Anna Wintour

I can't exactly say why but I think there's something very Under the Net and Iris Murdochy about Madame Arcati, even if the name is from Blithe Spirit and Noel Coward, and her tone is a little angrier. (No double Golden Globe winner playing Madame Arcati, methinks - not unless it's an "18"). Anyway, here's a flourish on the above:

I don't know why writers bother: why not just cut and paste other writers' cut-n-pastes and add a courtesy credit in brackets. It's as if the sheer gravitas of the subject cannot be appreciated without haystacking the auto-repeat adjectives and stories and pretending the piece is a self-contained first.

Madame Arcati.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mick Imlah 1956-2009

Well, I had plenty to go on. My editor,
who’d used his club before the war, had warned me,
not disapprovingly, he could be cutting
and sarcastic: of his own wife, for instance,
as they left separately for a summer on Skye,
Hannah and the rest of the heavy baggage
will follow later; nor did he much enjoy
critical noises. But publicly he floated
on a cloud of pride, that bore him high and clear
like a balloon, whenever someone not
his equal – and surely few seemed otherwise –
appeared to him to be provoking him.

(At which he would lean back, hearing all this
quietly, only inflating slightly, as if to say,
“These” – quoting another – “are certainly some
of my characteristics, and I glory in them.”)

Extract from Rosebery by Mick Imlah who died yesterday.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Word Train - unplugged

“The proposal was to create a newsroom: a group of developers-slash-journalists, or journalists-slash-developers, who would work on long-term, medium-term, short-term journalism—everything from elections to NFL penalties to kind of the stuff you see in the Word Train.” This team would “cut across all the desks,” providing a corrective to the maddening old system, in which each innovation required months for permissions and design. The new system elevated coders into full-fledged members of the Times—deputized to collaborate with reporters and editors, not merely to serve their needs.

From the New York magazine.

Follow the money

Even now, it knows.

I believe that the financial and economic crisis is accelerating the change from the industrial to the information society. The magnitude of the change is likely to be on par with or greater than the transition from agricultural to industrial society (I am intentionally saying “society” instead of “economy” because the change affects all parts of how we live). This is scary if you are stuck in the old and exciting if you are helping invent the new.

Albert Wenger's Continuations.

And so we begin: Mandy Online

...the Labour party itself is now moving to the forefront of new media and online campaigning. I am glad to be a part of that, even if it is with my tongue in my virtual cheek.

I have blogged before, when I was a European Commissioner at the WTO Doha Ministerial meeting in Geneva last July, and I enjoyed it. But in this, my first UK political blog, I want to say something about how we get our message out in these modern times. Because the world has changed since 1997. Now, no-one has been more identified with message and campaigning discipline than myself, something that makes me rather proud, I have to say, because, during the 1980s, I saw the Labour party repeatedly let down its voters by failing to win the battle with the Tories and the media. Back then we were in hand-to-hand combat with an almost universally hostile press but sometimes we were our own worst enemy.

This must, of course, never happen again...

Peter Mandelson from

The Wall Street Journal Gets Randy

Galt: "You want me to be Economic Dictator?"

Mr. Thompson: "Yes!"

"And you'll obey any order I give?"


"Then start by abolishing all income taxes."

"Oh no!" screamed Mr. Thompson, leaping to his feet. "We couldn't do that . . . How would we pay government employees?"

"Fire your government employees."

"Oh, no!"


Abolishing the income tax. Now that really would be a genuine economic stimulus. But Mr. Obama and the Democrats in Washington want to do the opposite: to raise the income tax "for purposes of fairness" as Barack Obama puts it.

Stephen Moore in the WSJ on Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand and interpretation.

Sontag would not be happy.

Vanity Fair goes all Thackeray on Bush

Slideshow here.

Muscular Technocracy's Main Man Goes French: "bricollage of comprehensions"

The opening is what news people used to call a "typo".
...I do think is reflects an issue with how we consume news and information on the web - we depend on summaries, aggregations, and pointers, we create our own bricollage of comprehension on the fly. Every so often, we go deep into a source we've decided to trust, often one that is far more conversational (like this site is) than a traditional news outlet. The traditional print hegemony - editors, publishers, executives in the newspaper and magazine business - seem unwilling or unable to respond to this new reality in a way that can save their businesses. But I think they can.

Cassandra spins in grave Shocker!

Open Source Natter

More and more twitterers have come to use Twitter as an increasingly central stream of information, sentiment, and context for whatever is happening in their many worlds.

From /Message.

There Goes Everyone

By 2012, Nokia predicts, one-fourth of entertainment will be produced and consumed within peer groups, and we’re not talking porn. Pay attention everybody, for today’s “amateur” blue videos are paying for the schooling of tomorrow’s so-called legitimate personal media gurus.

From Terry Heaton's blog.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Right by the hole-in-the-wall cellar, I look up to see a vision in yellow: a painting Frank sent to me after I sang “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” with him on the 1993 “Duets” album. One from his own hand. A mad yellow canvas of violent concentric circles gyrating across a desert plain. Francis Albert Sinatra, painter, modernista.

From Bono's Guest op-ed in Sunday's New York Times.