Modern Times

I’m getting older, if not old – 46 next birthday, and starting to feel it in my joints and show it with my white beard.  But the new Dylan album makes me feel that the whole thing is bearable, that age and experience have their merits and that if you can rhyme, sneer and laugh at it, regret some of it and keep a sardonic distance from the rest, then it won’t be too bad.

He’s the man. He tells it like it is. Well, as it is for me….

I keep thinking about you, baby. And I can’t hardly sleep.

Speaking Truthiness to Wikiality


My article [available here on the blog or here on the BBC] about Wikipedia and the plans by the German edition to put new editorial controls in place on their edition on the site seems to have been taken by some of those involved as an attack on the site and its philosophy, at least if the postings to the English-language mailing list WikiEN-l are typical. This is a shame, since I’m on their side and thought that what I’d written was supportive, although definitely not sycophantic. Unfortunately it seems that anything less than complete approval of whatever happens inside the Wikimedia Foundation is an act of treachery, so you’d better mark me down as an apostate and draft the fatwa…
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What can you say in one hundred words?

For the last three months I’ve been working as tame geek and online advisor for two friends who have a fantastic project built around writing and producing plays with one hundred words, and doing them in English and Chinese (Mandarin) as part of a wider cross-cultural programme.

The site – and blog – is at, and this week the first UK-based events take place at London’s Soho Theatre, in conjunction with the National Youth Theatre. So if you happen to be around Soho this evening and are looking for something to stimulate the palate, let me recommend this:

From 28th August to 2nd September, at 8.30pm in the Studio, writers
from Soho Theatre and the National Youth Theatre will create and
perform a 100 word play that captures the essence and speed of youth.

wordplay » Blog Archive » Working with the National Youth Theatre

(and while I may eventually get some money for my work on the site and general advice, so far it’s been pro bono, so I won’t make anything from ticket sales!)

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Dead trees for the rich

Roy Greenslade notes the debate prompted by The Economist’s attempt to understand what is happening in the newspaper world, and refers to a piece on Today earlier this week:

Here is the response to The Economist by two editors: Alan Rusbridger of The Guardian and Simon Kelner of The Independent, talking on this morning’s Today programme. Rusbridger agreed that not all newspapers would survive because “there is a disaggregation of advertising from editorial… a fragmentation of audience… competition from free sheets.” He did, however, have faith that revenue could be earned online. Kelner does not accept that papers will die, but to survive they must innovate. As for income, he believes cover prices must increase to compensate for the falling take from advertising. (Via BBC Radio 4)

Rusbridger and Kelner on The Economist from Greenslade

Kelner’s Independent has always had an appalling attitude to the Web, and it’s not surprising that he continues to believe that papers can survive since that is the only world he knows. And I have said for many years that the dead tree editions will be reserved for the wealthy, willing to pay vast amounts to have a printed newspaper instead of one on digital paper.  I can’t claim credit for the insight, though – I got it from  Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, published in 1995 and read by me when I was right in the middle of my time at The Guardian’s New Media Lab.

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Lazy Sunday Afternoons…

Some of us read the papers, others walk the dog. But for a true geek, Sunday is just the day for installs and configuration.

I, like many millions of others, have a Linksys WRT54G wireless router at home. Generally, it’s been fine, but recently I’ve found myself having to reset it every few days when connectivity just seems to go away. Updating the firmware from the Linksys site didn’t help.So today I took the plunge and installed one of the free alternative firmware distributions available: DD-WRT.

Status-Q » Blog Archive » Taking the plunge and flashing

And in case I should be seen to be less than sympathetic to Quentin, I must confess that I spent the morning finding an AAC player for my iPaq so that I can listen to music from my iTunes library without having to convert files…

[Later – I’ve just upgraded two WordPress installations from 2.02 to 2.04 while having coffee and cake.]

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Castro’s birthday

Venice: August 2006

Originally uploaded by BillT.

Fidel Castro was 80 last Sunday, and I was in Venice But I’d remembered to take along my last cuban cigar, bought in Havana on my trip there with Lili earlier this year… and so we toasted the great survivor in style!

Travelling in Turmoil

This should be coming to you from Venice, where the cybercafes have started offering wireless connections and you can even log on while sitting at the Palenca vaparetto stop.
Instead I’m sitting on my living room floor trying to decide whether the seven pm Ryanair flight to Forli I booked myself on last night will actually take off, and looking at the Trenitalia website trying to decide whether I’ll be in Italy in time to catch the last train to Venice’s Santa Lucia station.
Continue reading “Travelling in Turmoil”

No photography

I do a fair bit of freelance work for the BBC, so I’m often in Bush House and other buildings. While there I sometimes spot things of interest, such as a display case containing Alistair Cooke’s typewriter.

And, this being the digital age, I take photos of the things I see and post them to Flickr.

Well it seems the BBC, dedicated though it is to the provision of information to the world and having ‘nation speaking peace unto nation’, is rather less happy about people seeing what goes on inside its buildings. There is, I’ve been told – only eight months after the event – a general prohibition on taking photos inside or of any BBC building without written permission from facilities management or whatever they call the people who look after the buildings.

This doesn’t seem to have inhibited the BBC Pool on Flickr or stopped some important people posting cameraphone photos –  but I’ve been asked by the man who organised displays to take down my pics of the Cooke typewriter and, since he arranged the display, I have done so.