Common User

Me rambling on.

Monday, May 05, 2008

I've moved

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

8 random facts about me

I was tagged by Martin or rather i thought about doing it when i read his (which is what he suggested).

  • I was in a little film through the window on Play School when i was 7. My whole class stopped school to watch it on TV but the teacher was upset because unknown to me, my bit had been edited down to a few seconds.
  • My first paid job was a sunday paper round for which i earnt 60p when i was 12.
  • I still remember watching the newsagent marking the papers up using a trusty red crayon in the back of the shop whilst it was still dark.
  • I ran a indie club in the late 80s/early 90s where I gave away free apples to every one with a ticket.
  • Not really understanding why i was there I nervously asked Liza Minelli in 1992 what her favourite biscuit was at a pointless film plug press conference thing. I can't remember what she said either.
  • I once produced a radio feature about people speaking Klingon that was on Pick of the Week.
  • The smell of boiled eggs makes me sick.
  • I'm a twin.
  • A drawing of my father in law's bull was the bull on the front label of every jar of Colman's English mustard sold in the 70s and 80s.

You're supposed to tag other people but the only bloggers i know have all been tagged. so i'll skip that bit.


Friday, November 02, 2007

BBC Blogging Event and Newsnight

BBC Blogging Event
Originally uploaded by robinhamman.
We've been working q on upgrading the current BBC blogs platform for a few months now and as part of that work, Robin helped put together an internal event at work on Tuesday afternoon. Richard Sambrook and Graham have further accounts of what was a good afternoon.
One of the guest speakers; Jeff Jarvis, suggested at the beginning when being gently grilled by BBC tech correspondent; Rory Cellan Jones, that news organisations should be commissioned or assigned by their audience to go report on stories.

As it happens one of the guests at the back was Peter Barron, from Newsnight who it appears was quite taken with this idea. The Newsnight blog that afternoon...

You can tell our editor’s just returned from a blogging conference. Fresh faced and with fists clenched, he’s pushing another Newsnight experiment in audience participation. It’s quite simple – opening up the Newsnight running order to the people who watch us.
And so for the past three mornings; Newsnight's daily output editor has been sharing with users their morning email to the production team outlining the potential running order for that night's programme.

Good morning,

I'm genuinely open to any new ideas today. There are a few strong contenders for stories.

De Menezes case
The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has rejected calls for the Metropolitan Police chief, Sir Ian Blair, to resign. He said mistakes would be made in anti-terrorist operations. Mr Livingstone said yesterday's verdict - that the police had failed to protect the public in the operation which led to the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005 - was a ''disaster''. He said armed officers pursuing a suspected suicide bomber couldn't afford to start thinking they might be "hauled off to court". What approach do you think we should be taking on this story today?

I don't know how long that NN will keep to this approach but Peter, in a comment to the blog post on wednesday highlights how the running order changed that night to include a story about lifestyle/cancer risk.

We won't always be able to oblige - tomorrow for example we have a long film from Mark Urban in Pakistan whether you like it or not - but there's no doubt that what you tell us will help us form our thoughts. If you'd rather leave it to us that's fine, if you're worried that what others say is unrepresentative get on here and lobby for what you'd like to see us do.

Radio 4's new iPM programme has gone even further and has been sharing the actual running order from the BBC's internal news cps for this magazine show. iPM doesn't air for another 10 days but they've been doing pilots leading up to the launch. See how it changed last week.

In the very distant past (1995) I worked on a BBC radio show where in what we grandly called its "multimedia edition"
we, get this, for 1 edition only....
Listeners can ask questions live on one Internet Relay Chat channel and read a transcript of the programme on another.
I feel very old.


Monday, October 01, 2007

£135.50 a year - or "no more fucking Spongebob"

So Liam Gallagher is on the front cover of this month's Mojo. I'm not sure where he stands on salami slicing or the future of Storyville but he's quite clear about why he should stump up £15 a month.

Whats in your man bag, Liam ?

"Wallet, keys. (unzips bag and pulls out selection of envelopes and papers)
Fucking Bills. Fucking TV licence. (pulls out TV Licence form). It's the final reminder and that's twice they've sent it so i've got to give it to one of the girls in there [the management office]. I better get it fucking sorted ....(Bolts for the door)... or there'll be no more Jeremy Kyle. No more fucking Spongebob. "


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Old Dogs, New Tricks, NMK

Today I'm on the Old Guard, New Tricks panel at the NMK Forum trying to make some sense of

"How is so-called MSM (Mainstream Media) facing up to the new wave of interest in social media? Is it absorbing social media strategies or ignoring it? What does social media mean for the bottom line of big media? And how do the social media startups view their effort"
Here are the notes that i prepared thinking about the panel. See also fellow panellist Nico MacDonald .

I haven't got long but i hope i'll cover off these 4 things...

  • Our old "fields of dreams" focus of approaching this space, feeling compelled to "host the conversation"
  • The problems of Scale that that brought us despite considerable success.
  • "social objects" (ie: tv and radio programmes) and trying to understand how the network changes our stuff and shifting our focus to trying to reflect and engage with those conversations *away* from (read Lost and ripples-Dan Hill, this analysis of Heroes by Dan Taylor)
  • The challenges that brings us of the BBC having to have antennae, reflecting it back in our output (radio good at this, web pretty bad), and finally engaging whether by tools or being "part of the community".. examples: 7 Ages of Rock, Flickr: How we built Britain, Paul Denchfield ARG for Radio 1, Andrew Marr: YouTube Group.

- I'll try and make a quip about new tricks, and say I'm James Bolam, or Dennis Waterman which will probably be received in silence.

  1. prevailing approach...

- Best summed up I'll might quote quoting Mitchell and Webb

Are you personally affected by this issue ? Then e-mail us. Or if you're not affected, can you imagine what it would be like if you were ? Or if you
were affected by it but don't want to talk about it can you imagine what it would be like not being affected by it ? Why not email us ? You may not know anything about the issue, but i bet you reckon something. So why not tell us what you reckon. Let us enjoy the full majesty of your uninformed ad hoc reckoning, by going to on "what i reckon" and beating on the keyboard with your fists and your head".

- This isn't far off the truth for some of the BBC's activity.
- Its what Lee Bryant calls "drive by commenting", users not having stake in that space, the you suck, no you suck level of engagement .
- The "call to action" lacks focus.
- I agree with Nico that we aren't using the BBC's or journalism's traditional skills, primarily of "hosting" in this space.
- We aren't doing enough of what Suw Charman, in her fantastic essay about this space called "curating"

2) Why we've had to change - scale...and chaos..

Our approach over the last 10 years, until recently has been to host the conversation. A Field of Dreams approach..

- This has caused us challenges in terms of "publishing flow" - lose trust of users because we don't publish their stuff or get round to even looking at it.
- moderation and cost - actually this has improved substantially at the BBC. Thousands of comments an hour are published live to the server.
- We get 1 comment every 2 seconds, around 1.5m/2m a month.
- Our blogs, forums, and community spaces like 606 get more unique users per week than Doctor Who.

We've also done a myriad of smallish train people with video cameras projects.
This doesn't scale ..We need to change our approach.

3.The Chaos

Thompson Quote from BBC internal magazine; Ariel this week.

- "I'm leading the BBC in a time of extra ordinary disruption in media. It may feel pretty bumpy inside the corporation; outside both in the UK and around the media, its close to chaos. ".

Actually a better description yesterday of where we are came from Yahoo's Tom Coates..."You're not competing with Facebook, you're competing with other companies *on* Facebook"

Essentially we can't expect users to come to us. We have to go to them

4.)The Challenges

Now my notes are running out of steam but essentially we are good at being a catalyst in this space. But our focus now is reflecting and engaging with the activity. See Tom Loosemore's 15 web principles.
These are the 2 that we need to get better at in this space.
  • 6. The web is a conversation. Join in: Adopt a relaxed, conversational tone. Admit your mistakes.
  • 14. Link to discussions on the web, don’t host them: Only host web-based discussions where there is a clear rationale


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Contact Us

Tunbridge Wells station
Originally uploaded by seadipper
Broadcast has transcribed a clip from Radio 4's That Mitchell and Webb Sound.
and included it in their back page diary. Oh yes, very funny. Grrrr.

"Are you personally affected by this issue ? Then e-mail us. Or if you're not affected, can you imagine what it would be like if you were ? Or if you
were affected by it but don't want to talk about it can you imagine what it would be like not being affected by it ? Why not email us ? You may not know anything about the issue, but i bet you reckon something. So why not tell us what you reckon. Let us enjoy the full majesty of your uninformed ad hoc reckoning, by going to on "what i reckon" and beating on the keyboard with your fists and your head".


I have found that the BBC is revered

BBC Bush House in London
Originally uploaded by Redvers Kyle.
Letter to the New Statesman this week.

According to Jonathan Freedland (Inside track, 28 May), Gordon Brown's attitude to foreign policy is influenced by economics.

I wonder, therefore, if Brown will return to the BBC World Service the millions of pounds that have been taken from its budget by successive governments from Margaret Thatcher onwards. The World Service is a national asset, trusted by its overseas audiences.

I was in Syria when Israel bombed what it thought was a Palestinian terrorist training camp near Damascus. The Syrians I was with had been listening to a radio programme of Arab music on a channel broadcast by the US when the music was interrupted by a news flash. They changed immediately to the BBC, "to find out what was going on". In Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other parts, I have found that the BBC is revered.

If Brown wants to promote UK economic interests internationally, let him fund the World Service properly. It will be worthwhile.

Robert Hamilton
Troon, Ayrshire

Friday, June 01, 2007

Reboot piece for BBC News

Cuaderno de notas
Originally uploaded by denegro.
I did a piece for the Darren and the tech desk on Day 1 of Reboot. As ever with these things its only a fragmented/partial view of the day and just that bit of the day that i saw before i sat down and filed the thing. (already ducking for cover)