Cambridge Film Festival: final weekend

It’s the final weekend of the Cambridge Film Festival and while we’re all tired we’re pretty happy because it has been a great success. We’ll be finishing off with BRIDESHEAD REVISITED tonight, and we’ve got Werner Herzog’s ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD tomorrow. But I’m most excited about Peter Greenaway’s NIGHTWATCHING, not just because I want to see the film but because Greenaway will be there to introduce it and I’ll get a chance to meet the man whose cinematic imagination has inspired my thinking for decades…

Bill introducing the Screen Stories session
Bill introducing the 'Screen Stories' session. Photo: Tom Catchesides

A link to eternity

[You can read this on the BBC News website – sorry it’s late being posted here. But one day I’ll be late too..]

While Google is as secretive about its internal processes and systems as Apple is about product development, every now and then senior people post articles on the official Google blog and offer their thoughts on the development of the web.

In the latest posting two Google engineers, Alfred Spector and Franz Och, look at how search strategies will benefit from the faster computers, greater volumes of data and better algorithms we are likely to see in the next decade, speculating that “we could train our systems to discern not only the characters or place names in a YouTube video or a book, for example, but also to recognise the plot or the symbolism.”

Continue reading “A link to eternity”

The value of Chrome…

I’m writing a piece for Ariel, the BBC’s in-house newspaper, about Google Chrome, so I did some searching and was surprised just how many entries about the browser Google managed to find and how many of them were about the browser rather than the metal: if you search for ‘chrome’ on Google then the top seven hits refer to their browser


Yet a similar search in Microsoft’s live search offers a range of Google-related news articles as the top hit, followed by a lot of links about chrome-plated cars. For those who have ever believed that Google’s organic search is somehow an objective reflection of the internet’s current interests and activities, this should make the Google-centrism of its worldview clearly evident.

When you search at you are looking through rainbow-coloured glasses into a representation of the web where Google values and Google interests come first.

Later, via Twitter from mattjones

@billt Ranking algorithm at work? More queries relating to the browser, not chrome plating. So top results should be about Chrome, surely?

I’m not convinced…

A soggy future for paper?

[As ever you can read this on the BBC Website too. And thanks to NationalExpressEastCoast for their crowded train and late running service, which provided the inspiration…]

The UK launch of the Sony Reader has sparked another round of frenzied speculation over the future of the printed book in a world of screens, networks and digital data.

Like the iLiad or the US-only Kindle, the Reader is a paperback-sized electronic book with a high-resolution display that uses ‘electronic ink’ and looks and acts more like paper than a screen.

They have been available for a while in other markets, and I almost succumbed to the temptation to buy one on my last visit to the US.

The  quality and ease of use of the new generation of readers means that they appeal to the general population rather than those who like to live at the leading edge of technological innovation, but although sales have been good they are far from spectacular.

Continue reading “A soggy future for paper?”

Heading North

I’m in Newcastle for the weekend to do some plotting with the fine people at Tyneside Cinema and to see Nicolas Roeg introduce his new film, Puffball.  Unfortunately getting here was more of an adventure than it usually is thanks to the heavy rain, and the train was stuck outside Darlington for about an hour. When we got moving we all saw why: