Cambridge betrayed

Cambridge betrayed

Originally uploaded by BillT.

Taken from the roof of the arts picturehouse, this shows the sidewall of the new Robert Sayle department store – except they are going to call it John Lewis when it opens in 2008… we must stop this!

Talking to Bruce

Cambridge Film Festival fun

Originally uploaded by BillT.

On July 14 the Arts Picturehouse has a live Q&A with US photographer and director Bruce Weber as part of the Cambridge Film Festival. I’m doing a daily podcast for them, but also helping out with other technotrickery including the linkup.

A year ago this would have meant something like a satellite dish on the roof, or at least some dedicated equipment. Now it means by Powerbook G4, iChat AV and a consumer-quality camera at our end, a nice MacBook and a proper camera at their end, and the Net in the middle. We have the advantage of a serious display, of course – the Cine2K digital projector – but even so, it’s frightening.

Of course, we’ll see if it works on the night – I have a phone line and a still picture of Bruce as a backup!

To tag or not to tag

[Read this on the BBC News website too]

As I write this a message has just arrived in my email Inbox. That brings the total up to 6,559, though if it wasn’t for the junk mail filter it would top seven thousand.

It’s an absurd situation, especially since a year ago I would ruthlessly prune my email if there were over two hundred messages sitting there.

But a year ago I was using Microsoft Outlook on a Windows PC.

Continue reading “To tag or not to tag”

One gates opens…

[As ever, this is on the BBC News website]

The news that Bill Gates is giving up his role as Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect was the second item on Radio 4’s Today programme on the morning it was announced.

While Gates will stay at Microsoft for the next two years, and even then will work part-time and remain the major shareholder in the company he founded, the announcement marks the end of an era. Continue reading “One gates opens…”

Blogging journalists, and other oxymorons

Media Guardian has just published my piece on the problems posed when professional journalists enter the blogosphere. Extract:

Unlike amateur bloggers who can rant, comment, express bizarre points of view or promote their latest acquisitions and obsessions with no concern for conflict of interest or even internal consistency, we are not mere citizens in the world of the blog and the MySpace profile, and it is about time we stopped trying to act as if we ever were.

Head to their site for comments… see if you can do better than ‘what pretentious, self-important nonsense’ 🙂

Update: Jeff Jarvis has picked up on the piece, but seems to see it as an attack on the unwashed bloggers rather than a warning to my fellow hacks.

Another update [June 4]. The discussion over at BuzzMachine contines, and I’ve just added this, which may help clarify things.

I think Steve makes a really useful point when he points out that ‘we all have reputations, our associations, our jobs’, and mentions 10th graders on MySpace. This discussion – and those taking place elsewhere – is helping me greatly as I try to clarify my thinking on this issue [which, of course, supports Jeff’s main argument, but I’m happy to do that].  It is about reputation, and about whether the things one writes in one place can be seen as separate from things written elsewhere.

My main contention is that once you’re a paid journalist – which I am – then everything that is not private becomes part of the corpus of your writing. Not finished product – I’m with Jeff on that one too, that the articles we now write are the zeroth draft of history not the first, and that they cannot be considered closed or final any more – but part of our output.  Because of that we can’t apply different standards to ‘journalism’ and ‘personal blogging’ because they occupy the same space, one that those who want to comment and criticise have access to.

This applies to a greater or lesser degree to every blogger, and over time, as blogging becomes part of the general conversation, it will apply to more people.  So those who are currently blogging about topics that seem to have nothing to do with work, or the teenagers writing about their drug experiences, should observe the position we professional journalists find ourselves in and realise it will apply to them in future.

It doesn’t mean that we should stay away from blogging, or that what we produce is somehow ‘better’ or more objective. It means we will be judged by it in ways that, at least for the moment, other bloggers aren’t. If we embrace this new world maybe we can use some of the skills we have to provide a good example to those who are speaking online for the first time, but that would take a degree of humility and openness to criticism that few of my colleagues seem able to demonstrate.

The Library Shelf or the Link?

As ever, you can read this on the BBC News website. It’s already attracted comment from Steven Johnson and Nicholas Carr…]

One of those rumbling arguments that betrays a deeper discontent is going on within the loose collection of blogs, newspapers and academic websites that has replaced public lectures and university common rooms as the space for public debate on matters of intellectual significance.

The question of the day is whether the online information sources we use today limit our potential to find material by accident and so reduce the chance of inadvertently discovering wonderful things or life-changing facts.

Continue reading “The Library Shelf or the Link?”