Thursday, February 19, 2004

Mihtmlton Keynes Books: Online Communities: Supporting Sociability, Designing Usability: "If the phrase 'planned community' makes you think of terrible homogenous suburbs, take another look at the Internet. "

There's food for thought. What if all the care that we're taking over communities now is as shoddy as the design of the human factors in many of the new towns of the 50s? Are we all theory over humanity?

Perhaps I should reread the suburbia book again...


Lost about an hour yesterday to The Word Spy. It's a site devoted to the scholarly snark-hunt of neologisms. I'd forgotten how much I love watching new language emerge. Puppy Leave and Pomosexual are faves so far.

I can across Paracopyright, too: ( n. A set of non-traditional copyright-related principles, practices, and laws that exist alongside and attempt to extend traditional copyright protection.

There was a fairly chilling quote on there that I pinged off to Piers -

> For example, the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) contains
> provisions that make it illegal to create or "traffic in" products
> that can be used to circumvent built-in copyright protection. In other
> words, the definition of a copyright violation has been extended from
> the illegal copying or selling of a work to merely creating a tool
> that might enable other people to do so. This is far removed from
> traditional copyright protection, hence the term "paracopyright for
> such provisions.
> Now... does it strike you that, just possibly, the biro could be
> included in such a category? As could copyandpaste?

And his reply is priceless, and should be printed on Tshirts:

But these guys are fighting the printing press, and Gutenberg's already released his bible.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Tech History

A network called 'Internet' - Strange how the lack of the definite article makes it sound really, really wrong.

Friday, February 13, 2004


matt jones on a collaborative mapping excercise involving coin tosses.

It worked fine until they got near the beach.

Interesting that he mentions that 'rules are good because they help you work out what you want to do by breaking them'.

It's a bit like my 'making a decision by tossing a coin' - you know instantly if the coin has made the 'wrong' decision, because you get a powerful negative reaction to the outcome.

Which suddenly made me think... didn't I steal that from Terry Pratchett?

Are all of the great BBC technorati actually just recycling ideas from hack comedy scifi?

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Welcome to Principia Cybernetica Web

Welcome to Principia Cybernetica Web

Read Me

Google Search: Sebaceous Cyst

Well, off to hospital for the first time since childhood tomorrow. To see a plastic surgeon, no less.

So, which do you think it'll be... a Sebaceous Cyst or a Lipoma?

One of these images is not safe for work like the others, kids.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Wiki Wiki Boom Boom have created an oral history wiki of the late 90s London new media scene...

Core77 Articles: Insanely great, or just good enough?

Core77 Articles: Insanely great, or just good enough?

More design thinking - this is a bookmark post.

Woo and Indeed Yay, Now here is the news.!!:
"I outline my background and my 5-point plan for the BBC on my campaign website (, but here I would just stress one point. The BBC currently gives far too much airspace to the views of people who know things. Despite making great strides in the right direction over the last few years, the BBC still privileges knowledge, intellect, and insight over ignorance, stupidity and prejudice. And that's got to stop! Apart from anything else, so-called 'experts' - Professors and the like - cost lots of our money. All those years of 'learning' don't come cheap. But thick people will appear on TV for a can of Tizer and a bag of chips. A People's Beeb, with me at the helm, would make more use of them!"

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Yahoo - A Guide to WWW

Yahoo - A Guide to WWW

I remember the days...

When Yahoo was the best way to surf the web. When the only browser was Mosaic. When FTP was called fetch. When Newsgroups were a way to meet new people. When Ascii art was the only way to show someone a map...

Smart Mob - politics stylee

I meant to write this up on thursday, day of the DG Dgoing.

The protest that formed out front of TVC was a smart mob.

At 1.46pm I got an email from outside the BBC saying Greg had resigned. Someone in the department sent on at 1.44pm - I picked it up a bit afterwards.

Everyone turned on News 24, fired up the BBC news site, and went 'What?'.

A little while later I checked the messageboards on our intranet. Someone broke the news there at 1.42. At 1.59pm the first mention of a walk out at 3 is posted.

2.38 - I pinged the gateway link to the junkmail list.

We all start talking about walking out. Were the unions supporting us? Our union officer didn't have a clue, and bectu weren't answering the phone.

Greg's 'I'm Leaving' email came round. Most people sent a personal message back to him. Everone started feeling tired and emotional - Hutton has come on top of the DCMS review for online, and we're feeling a bit picked on, frankly.

Emails ping around the department - one saying 'Well, I'm going, and if no-one is there, I'll pretend I'm going to the garage for some pringles.'

2.30 - naysayers appear on the intranet talk boards - 'It'll play in to the hands of commercial channels'
2.42pm - a complete thread is started - Rumours of a 3pm walkout
3pm - a bunch of people look out of the windows of our offices - they overlook TVC. There are about ten people in a small huddle out front, with a TV camera on them.

A group decision is made - six or eight of us walk out to join them.

Our union rep starts shouting. 'What do we want? Return of Dyke. When do we want it? Now!'. I get embrrassed, and start trying to make people think about why they're there. It's not political, really - it's about expressing shock that Greg stood down.

More people join us - mostly from online departments. We figure it's because they're in front of email all the time, and use talk-gateway.

3.19 - pictures of us appear on news 24

By 3.30 there are a hundred or so of us, and two girls from radio asking us for quotes. I refuse, too scared of getting in trouble for not consulting my line manager before I open my mouth on BBC buisiness.

People are texting and ringing friends around the bbc, telling them to watch the news, telling them to take action, too. Lots of camera phones in evidence.

More people slowly trickle on. My entire department is there by 4pm. Apparently, one of our execs just walked around saying - go, go out there. Go on, show your support. Emails are flying around the BBC - this department has walked, they're out in Manchester, out in glasgow... People are ringing mobiles in the crowd, reporting on media coverage, telling us what is going on...

In the growing crowd, we realise that we can't see the ends anymore. People start turning up with hastily printed placards. The police turn up and stop us standing in the road. Everyone is friendly, chatting, cheering whenever a car beeps us.

4.30 - A rumour shoots round the crowd - Greg is coming. Things go up a notch. There are a good thousand people there by now - on both sides of the street. Photographers and news crews are threading in and out of the crowd. I'm trying deperately to stay off camera - mostly because I'm chain smoking, and my mum is bound to see me on telly, fag in mouth.

An ITN crew runs along the road at full pelt. Somethings up. Everyone breaks ranks - Greg is here. The crowd mobs him - one guy, sitting on a lamppost, appoints himself unofficial steward, and hushes everyone.

The only words I hear are 'Thankyou'. Three women next to me in the crowd are hugging each other and crying.

So - the crowd, emotional and upset, gathered and organised by email, messageboard, SMS and mobile call. And once the crowd reached a certain size, the dynamic became consensual, not individual. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Broken TIVOs, unlinked boxes

The future of the BBC is mobile, according to 'the kids' - January 22, 2004 - currybetdotnet

Martin Belam - one of the admirable pointyheads that _thinks_ about stuff in this place - has put up an interesting post about the way children aren't differentiating about how they consume their media.

I've been in a lot of conversations recently where people think about linking stuff together.

Whereas, the people that use our content link it together in their own way. They edit shows (and edit out adverts) by channel flicking. They use EPGs and the Radio Times to make choices about their activities.

And kids, it seems, see no difference in which shiny box they use to consume their content.

It's not even a brand affiliation as far as I can tell - it's like they have an ambient media stream around them, and they just dip in and out as they feel the need. Although it sounds like push, via SMS, as a reminder to check up on something, is useful to kids.

I'm guessing it's the same way I use RSS.

Bouncing off the back of the posts I've been reading about social networks and recomendations....

The most useful service you could provide to people is a way of alerting them to things that may be of interest to them - and then tracking whether they follow your 'leads' or not, to refine your reccomendations.

So, a way of helping them manage media overload - email, SMS, Telly programmes, whatever - and filter through the really important stuff.

And I think having a personality behind those reccomendations provides trust. People trust their friends, and certain sources of information.

Is it possible to collect such a big sample of usage data, that your engine becomes trusted because it is so accurate? Well, yes - Amazon and (really obvious, this one) Google.

Or do you get the beatles and bach effect, where the things that everyone likes float to the top?

Wildlife - distorting the truth

Only the eagle-eyed will spot a fake...

Interesting to see that - in the wake of all of the sexing up floating about at the moment - someone's blown the whistle on the way that dear Auntie has been manipulating the truth for years.

Wildlife documentaries.

Seriously - watch closely next time, and see if you can spot where disparate shots of different animals have been pasted together to create a 'story'. It's the anthropomorphic drive coupled with the need for entertainment and narrative in information-based programmes.

Of course, the real trick is spotting when they composite footage, or add CGI whales. Harder to spot than you'd think in undersea documentaries, becasue of the different way that masses behave in water. It gets over that 'feet on the floor' weight issue you get in so much CGI.

Eno Quest

matt jones | work & thoughts | EnoQuest #1: six degrees of Brian Eno

Probably the only time you'll see my name next to that of Brian Eno.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Shit day

I am having a shit day.

I launched the homepage on friday, and It' s only really a half finished job.

I was awake at 4 am on Saturday morning after dreaming about double quotes in href tags breaking the metadata in the pages.

I spent yesterday watching a new comedy series that I have to make up a site to in double quick time. Because I've promised the talent (whom we have a pre-existing relationship with) and don't want to let them down - particularly because one of them is an up-and-coming star and an award winner. However, their 'most powerful in the business' agent is going to try and screw me for money (at exorbitant TV rates that my over-ambitous predecessor paid them), and my exec is going to go dipshit if he discovers I've done it.

And I'm drinking half a large bottle of whisky a week.

And my girlfriend has just walked out of the house in a sulk, not telling me where she's going ('just out...') because the both of us are so lost and sad and angry that we're driving each other mad. And I'm completely failing to communicate anything, and if I'm not careful will slide into pure resentment soon, and destroy the best thing I have, and the only thing that's even vaguely keeping me in one piece.

I love her so much. I know I do. She's my world. But I've stopped being able to feel anything - I'm just this automaton without any ability to emote or care. Appart from fear and anxiety - I'm doing both of those brilliantly right now. So I'm destroying the thing I care most about through inaction, and the fact that my emotions feel like some curio locked up in a glass cabinet in a dusty corner of the museum no-one ever visits. Next to the rather dog-eared stuffed bear.

And noone is going to sort it out for me. There's no crying home to mum, there's no friend to sort me out, there's no help to be had at work unless I can write a budget and a work plan that has a few man-days marked down as 'Producer hospitalised after nervous breakdown and coronary'.


I have never been so close from walking away from everything.

And this is the problem. I watched my best friend do exactly that - just go - No, no more. I'm off. I'm going to sit in a darkened basement room, smoking, watching TV and taking drugs for the next year. And then I'm going to move to Japan. And she's not completley fucked up. Hell, she's got all her limbs, and hasn't overdosed yet. So it's doable...

You know what? I think most people feel like this inside most of the time. We're just to polite to admit it.