It’s been a while. I am very grateful to a few people nudging away to get me back into writing. Even reading my own blogroll tells me a lot about how times have changed. I have been Professor of Digital Media and Innovation at WMG, University of Warwick for almost three years, albeit working part time. I’ll be blogging about my work and the digital media and innovation landscape from now on. But first the credits! First thanks to Daniel Bennett a PHD candidate at Kings College, London who asked me to review a chapter of his PHD thesis about War reporting and BBC Blogs. Second to Dr. Tim Jones, who asked me to step in a co-author a chapter in the forthcoming book “Growth Champions” to be published by John Wiley early in 2012. Third to the Berkman centre for Internet Studies whose blogpost round-ups keep me informed and excited by new work in this field all over the world. Why thanks? With time and money short there seem to be fewer and fewer people writing and blogging in depth with their thoughts. Facebook and Twitter have changed the day to day landscape of communications beyond the graphs of early analysis. So to review in depth work like a PHD chapter or two on the history of the BBC and Blogging or to contribute to a discussion about what makes certain companies excel in Innovation leadership forced me to step back from the everyday hurlyburly and think about the last five years , or 10 years or in the case on my chapter on Apple , 35 years! More of which to come in time.
Category Archives: Blogging
Trying to blog while Ethan is speaking proves that he can not only write at least twice as fast as I can, but he can speak as fast as he writes. So this will certainly not capture it all.
We don’t pay much attention to Africa – but if you look on Google news you will find ten times more news for countries outside Africa than countries inside Africa. Media attention map by a Dutch firm – shows Africa consistently falling off the map in this respect. But paying attention does matter. In November 2005 someone from the Malawi Times was passing through a village when he was shown a windmill that a kid had built and hooked up to generate power. It made enough power to power his parents house. It was blogged in Malawi then was picked up by AfriGadget - then there was an invite to speak at a conference which was picked up by international press. What this has meant up meaning is that people have now raised enough money for this young man to go to one of the best schools in malawi. His whole life has been transformed by the fact that someone did pay attention. how much more are we missing like this?
In the past lots of well meaning white guys have been talking about Africa – but the good news is that there will be fewer of us in the future and I want to introduce you to the world of African Bloggers and I am going to talk about Kenya.
There was a media blackout for a couple of day during the run up to the last elections in Kenya except fo the blogs , so you had an IT specialist going out with his camera and blogging. As things got harder and harder during the reporting of the election another blogger had to switch to updating from her phone. mashada a lively bulletin board site got really nasty during the election – lots of hatred but the guy who ran the site took it down as he got tired of moderating ethnic conflict and put another one up called “I have no tribe” and that started another discussion all about being Kenyan. Ushahidi.com set up after Kenya Pundit who moved from Kenya back to South Africa to be with her family said she was worried people would not be able to follow what was going on in the election process – and so a group of people got together and helped her set it up taking input via sms. You can find voices who do reflect what is going on. We do have aggregators. Now we have the Africa 2s – the Africa that goes to shopping malls. there is now a group of people who have enough disposable income to go shopping, and I would prefer to think of them as producers than consumers – moving swiftly towards the future. And its not the shopping mall that is the sign of the future but the mobile phone. I can’t emphasise enough how this is transforming Africa. Now interesting African problems can be solved that you guys do not need to solve. – eg cash accounting in Ghana. take your money , you buy a phone card , you get the code but don’t use it. You phone someone in the village give them the code and take my credit of $20 – now you have the credit, give $19 to my mother. So now mobile phone services are setting up. I wish I could pay for my taxi here in Amsterdam with my mobile phone….
Then Ethan talked about a Knife sharpening bicycle from AfriGadget – the guy who runs this stand makes $10 a day – that puts him in the Kenyan middle class. We hack what we have. In Africa a bicycle can become an ambulence. Block and Track an anti-theft device invented by a young man with no formal electronics training …During recent elections in Zimbabwe each polling station posted the number of votescast centraly and so they knew they had the numbers. They (mobile phones) have the ability to fix election systems too.
This infrastructure has expanded faster than anyone thought. Who is making money? In some case it is Africans. Someone built a mobile phone infrastructure in DFC while still at war , sold it and made money. We in the west have made money from Africa by taking stuff out. The way to make money in Africa now is to build stuff up. Biggest problem in Africa now is cost of power. Need to build . We tend to think of Africa in terms of Aid – how can we help. It’s not wrong but it’s incomplete – we need to figure out how to do infrastructure. China is looking at this from a different perspective. China is focussing on infrastructure because they want to get stuff out. Both think they are robbing each other, probably quite a good partnership. But the people who are going to build the content are the re diaspora. Africans who leave to get their education and then go back – and build up colleges – eg Ashesi college.
If Africa is surprising it’s just because you are not paying enough attention.
I said I would return to write more about this projecta while ago. And since I’m currently putting together my final contribution to the project at this stage I can desribe what we at the BBC currently do much more accurately to enable the public to explore how contemporary media content is made.
I was very pleased to be able to do this project given my preoccupation with the value of openness, and getting more value for the audiences out of what we already do.
As I have come to learn the BBC mostly does a lot more than any one member of staff will know about and sometimes I wonder how the public can be expected to find all the good stuff. Much work has been going on to remedy this and the work is beginning to bear fruit – /programmes and /topics are helping bring everything together.
Having said that people take their own approach with their content – and you’ll find a mix of “making of” films sometime tagged onto the end of a TV programme like Planet Earth and Life in Cold Blood, on the DVD and sometimes on the web; whole programme offerings like Dr Who Confidential and Heroes Unmasked go behind the production process. CBBC have part of their website How We make TV dedicated to how they do their work and BBC Three’s The Baby Borrowers’ short film explained the complex sets of arrangements for the care of the borrowed babies. Radio 1’s Meet the DJs recently won a Webby award and gives an insight into what constitutes the job of a DJ on Radio 1. Other examples include Click andNewswatch from the News channel, Feedback, Points of View too offer insight into our workings – that is if an audience member writes in to complain or suggest a subject.
More recently our blogs, particularly The Editors blog, Sports Editors blog and Internet blogs all offer their staff a way of talking to the public about how they do their work behind the scenes, how they make their decisions and sometimes simply what it is like to work at the BBC. The Technology blog has also done a great deal to explain how contemporary media content is made.
I Interviewed and met a lot of people during the project and found a great interest in being more pro-active in this respect, if only they had more time – some people though made a virtue of publishing their Behing the scenes workings like the April Fools’ film made by BBC Marketing on the Flying Penguins, and ng, the Making of clip on You Tube. I looked at what other organisations are doing and had a think about how we might bring together what we do and add some new dimensions.
One of the most rewarding things I found was that the more I went around asking questions about why didn’t we publish photos of where we work and how we work; why didn’t we publish some of our internally created video for staff training ; and what about other research we do that might in the right circumstances be shareable the more I found people coming up with ideas for what they could do, and would do more of. In fact people have started just doing it. What about writing about our events? Describing our jobs or sharing presentations we give at conferences around the world?
So, I hear you asking, who wants to know any of this stuff? We conducted a short audience survey asking general and specific questions about their interest in how the media works; their interest in how content is made – radio, tv and web content; whether they might like the opportunity to question people who run things in the media; whether they would like to learn how to make TV, radio, or create a blog etc and some other general questions about Openness and organisations. This was a very good first step to getting a baseline of interest which was reassuringly positive. Next steps will likely be taken by someone else who will be able to dedicate themselves to the project – and I hope they do some qualitative research to gauge some more latent audience needs, and some prototypes based on what they find before taking up my early recommendations lock stock and barrel or do anything else to them!
I am definately going to have to take an interest in this. It’s gone live today and was brought into being by the Hansard Society. Things definately seem to be moving on. It’s desribed as a “meeting room without walls”
This is what they have to say:
“Apparently we are going live today. So far, our blog confessions have had a very limited audience, but now anyone may see what we have been doing.
Not that I have anything to hide. Indeed, I suspect that most members of the Lords would be only too happy if the public could and did take more notice of what we do on their behalf. Some of us spent a lengthy afternoon last Thursday debating the best way to get more people – and especially young people – interested in the way Parliament deals with their concerns, hopes and fears.”
In the interests of full disclosure: must see if my other half is going to blog here or how many will join in…. . He is no longer in the Government, hence the speeches are going down in number, but a blog might be just the ticket.
Just a reminder. All the views I express on this blog are personal, and not the official view of the BBC!
I’ve just looked up this recursive word. It’s the second time in three days someone has used it in their blog post and it has sent me to unpack boxes at home looking for our dictionary (the shelves are coming next week in case you are wondering about the significance of my header). Anyhow it is a term from maths which explains my lack of familiarity with it. And it means
“consisting of rules which allows value or meaning to be determined with certainty”.
I will need to talk to my other half when he gets back from his current world travels as he was a mathematician BUT wouldn’t it be great to have such a thing in the non-maths world?
Tom Glocer applies it to blogging at Davos (this is the bit of his quote I missed out yesterday)
Recursive Loops — Davos 2007
In the 1980s in my C++ computer class at University, I learned a powerful coding technique called recursive algorithms. The concept was simple: a given function keeps calling itself and repeating the same instructions until the result is produced.The technique finally seems to have caught on in Davos
Or put my way: The more people blog the conference, the more they blog the conference (rules), the conversation is created (values and meaning), but what is the measure of engagement (result)?
Is the volume of posts produced the measure of the result? Or is the quality of the conversations produced the measure of the result?
Beth Kanter’s post todaytakes this further. How do we use social media tools to extend conversations both online and
offline – I mean in First Life!
There is a serious point here for me. As I was trying to figure out yesterday how to measure participation or describe it, my colleague Robin Hamman, pointed me to a collection of posts on this very theme of measuring engagement or participation. A lot of thinking is going on.
It looks like we’ve finally got our first big UK blogosphere fight of the year and it’s about stats. Rather boring, you might think, but The Guardian’s Simon Waldman has made an insightful post challenging the Telegraph’s claim to the title of UK’s busiest quality newspaper website.
Waldman’s post is well worth a read since it not only contains a plethora of statistics for newspaper websites, but because it also discusses the shortfalls of relying on each, or indeed all, as an appropriate measurement. Which reminds me… I need to go back and re-read the interesting post about measuring engagement that I bookmarked the other day.
This is all very timely for me, as I research away for a seminar I am preparing. But it came in handy too at a meeting at work today which I can’t describe in detail but about the BBC’s Blog Network something I worked hard on behind the scenes to set up. It’s always helpful when colleagues publish info about what we are up to and it all started when Nick Robinson started his blog in December 05, and blogged the imminent birth of our blog trial. It’s been almost a year since the main body of blogs launched and naturally enough we are discussing the impact of it all in terms of , participation, conversation and more. It lead someone to come up with a phrase that may well become a classic …”perhaps not all comments are born equal then?” I only hope he blogs about it so I can talk about it some more!
One of the comments on Beth’s blog intrested me. Michelle Murrain ends on a measured note
But, there are times, I think, when it makes sense to actually make everyone put their laptops away, and there are times to have lots of liveblogging, IRC, etc. going. It’s just a matter understanding what is most appropriate in a given situation
But if we are just migrating our behaviour from offline to online I would ask how do you measure a conversation in real life? By the number of people you are talking to at any one time? By the number of things you say? By how many times other people butt in? By the quality of the answers you get. Or from a more subjective feeling about whether it was a good conversation or not. And is this then what we need to measure in terms of engagement online?
Have you voted yet? I have check out the Bloggies nominations this year. I looked at all of the Best Kept Secrets section and there were one or two that made me laugh and laugh. I don’t know who the Moose is but Confessions reminded me of all those private diaries women kept secretly full of wry observations – well now they are out there.
But I seriously think the Bloggies have missed a trick! They really need a new category. Most Blogged Conference, including Best Blogged Conference and most Blogosphere Hoohah from a Conference, Best Conference Blogger, best Conference Blogette.
No, seriously – don’t you think the whole confeence scene has been changed? It can take days to read the blog posts from a conference (over 27,000 posts on Davos, albeit only 652 tagged) and I couldn’t agree more with Reuters Chief Executive, Tom Glocer, blogging here on the Huffington Post…
The technique finally seems to have caught on in Davos. Everyone is blogging about what is going on in Davos to the point that no one has time to talk face-to-face anymore because they need to rush off and record the last great thought.
Inviting bloggers to Davos is a good thing as it means those not attending in person can participate in the discussion and it makes the whole thing a bit more informal. But by the time I arrived on Wednesday, there were already one million blog hits for “Davos 2007.” At this rate, we’ll all be able to stay home, prevent climate change and just send our avatars to Switzerland.
Hmmm. Still would have preferred to be there myself. Back to my point. People are blogging so much do they have time to talk to anyone, or each other? I noticed this first at TED last March. Is there a polite way to interrupt a blogger to say hello, or even try and talk? Guess you have to send a comment! At Netsquared last May Ethan Zuckerman spoke on a panel and blogged brilliantly at the same time – so he did have time for a chat in the corridor. I think I am onto something.
Anyone know anyone at the Bloggies?
But we also need best photos linked to from a blog (but not to Flickr!) category. What I really loved were Ben Hammersley’s photos of scenes from Davos. (actually his post was pretty good too!) Sometimes when I worry that things never change photos come to my rescue Number 8 does not help in this respect (plus ca change!) WISH I could show you the photo here, but Number 24 was good for me. Trevor Manuel was in and out of jail and detention when I was making films about South Africa during some very dark days of Apartheid. Now he is their Minister of Finance. Took a while, but it did happen peacefully.
Perhaps this could be a new category too. Best blog roundup of most blogged conference?. Who’s going to help me with this new category then?