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Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom
Ex Media Studies student at Swansea University. This blog is a collection of links, articles, academic reference and random thoughts.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

I Wish I Knew Who You Were, And Who You Worked For (Automatically)

Article on Twittercism

Lots of people have multiple accounts on Twitter, for various reasons. I can’t tell you the number of times I get a message from somebody out of the blue and I’ll think, “Hey, I know you, don’t I?”

But who is it?

Some detective work later, I figure out that the reason I know this person is because I’m following one of their other accounts. Perhaps their business account. Maybe their personal one. What bugs me about this is I might have a friendly relationship with this person on one of their accounts, but have no idea who they are on another. Or even that they have another.

What I’d like Twitter to offer (and this would be entirely opt-in) is a way for multiple accounts to be linked together. This would be great for businesses that have main accounts and lots of additional ones for their staff. Like Twitter themselves, for example. When you visit the Twitter profile, all their employees should be right there, too. With titles and responsibilities. And if I stumble across an individual employee, it shows that they’re linked to Twitter.

(Think Twitter + LinkedIn.)

Some people do this now in their bios, but it’s kinda awkward, and doesn’t translate well into manageable data.

It could even work a bit like a newsfeed, with one main account pulling the updates from everybody else. So, if I wanted to really follow Google, for example, an @GoogleTeam user could be setup so that everybody who worked for the company could be followed via that one account. The different users would feed in and I could reply to them accordingly.



(Think Twitter + RSS.)

And it wouldn’t have to stop at businesses. Participants in sports teams could link together, as well as social groups and other clubs. You could start your own tribe.

(It might even come with privacy. You could direct message everybody in your tribe with one click. Wouldn’t that be convenient?)

As it is, it’s awkward to find out all the people that work for any corporation on Twitter. I’ve been trying to do this for Twitter themselves, and Dave Winer is doing some great work with his 100twt project. (Check out what the people who work for the New York Times are saying.)

I’d like to see it automated. I think it benefits businesses and customers, which is rare enough to make it very worthwhile.

Read this and more at Twittercism

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Charlie Brooker on how to save newspapers

You know what'll save newspapers? Magic coins. Yes, magic coins. And I've just invented them

Hello reader. Where are you reading this? In the paper? On the website? On an iPhone?

Is the Guardian even available on the iPhone? Bet it is. There's probably even a little downloadable application that lets you turn the pages by tilting it to one side. After all, there's an "app" for everything. There's one that turns the iPhone into a motion-sensitive light sabre: it makes wooshy Star Wars noises as you swipe it around. Really passes the time during the unrelenting march to the grave, that.

I'm unmoved in the face of friends screaming at me to join the iPhone cult. It's horrible. Here are a few iPhone apps I'd like to see:

1. An app that makes the iPhone scream 'I'VE GOT AN IPHONE!' each time the user pulls it out of their pocket. Once activated, it would be impossible to switch off. The only way to stop the constant embarrassment would be to repeatedly crack the device against a wall, or preferably your own face, until it shattered.

2. An app billed as a "comical toilet paper simulator". You switch it on, pretend to "wipe" your backside, and hey presto: the screen appears smeared with virtual pixilated poo. But – ho ho – just like the screaming iPhone app above, it's a permanent booby trap. Once you've performed your first comical wipe, in a frankly desperate bid to impress your non-iPhone-owning friends, it's impossible for the screen to revert to its original state. Instead, you're left with no option but to go home and cry.

3. An app that makes your iPhone unexpectedly oscillate and explode halfway through a conversation to a loved one, sending thousands of miniscule shards of plastic and silicon hurtling into your ear canal like a swarm of angry pins. As a bonus, the detonation also blasts your hand apart like a spent casing. Why? Because you bought an iPhone, silly.

Still, there's a good chance you're reading this on an LCD display of some description, rather than on paper. There are advantages and drawbacks to both platforms. The paper version can be rolled up, scribbled on, and read on the tube. If I write something obnoxious – something about the hilarious inherent low-self-esteem of iPhone owners, perhaps – the page can be torn out, screwed into a ball and thrown across the room, thus providing a slender amount of catharsis. (Come to think of it, iPhone owners can probably download an app that makes a satisfying "thwock" sound as they bat the paper ball across the room with their ridiculous handheld toys). Paper is tactile, and that's a plus. Trouble is, you have to pay for it.

Not so online. In Webland, it's yours for free. Better still, the byline pictures are slightly smaller, so there's less chance you'll be sick. But it isn't tactile. Here, catharsis comes in the form of interactive feedback – so if (for example) you're a uniquely inadequate, unfulfilled and unattractive sort of man, and the article you're reading happens to have been written by a woman – any woman – you can vent your annoyance in a series of inadvertently revealing messages, then masturbate into a sock. (This describes 33% of all messages on all news websites. Check if you don't believe me.)

Still, at least the misogynists know what's making them angry. There's an astounding level of unfocused rage on the internet, which is weird considering it's full of people getting something for nothing. Films, TV shows, music, newspaper reports . . . none of it costing a penny.

But newspapers won't be free for ever. At least that's what Rupert Murdoch thinks, and he's probably evil enough to know. Last week he announced the Sun and the Times are to start charging for their online editions. But will it work?

Nope. Not until someone perfects a system of universal online micro-payments once and for all. Some simple means of easily "tossing a penny in a cup" for the internet is required. Everyone knows it; no one's managed to crack it. Sure, there are systems such as PayPal (familiar to anyone who's used eBay), but they're fiddly and boring. What's needed is something universal and user-friendly.

But more than that, it should be fun.

That's right. It should be intrinsically fun to spend money. How? Huh? Wuh? Listen. If you ask me, one potential answer to the newspaper industry's woes lies somewhere in videogame design. A simple payment system shouldn't just be easy to set up: it should be intrinsically satisfying to use. It should feel positively Nintendo. Look at the Wii. Look at the micro-games in Rhythm Paradise, or Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, both on the Nintendo DS. That's how online payments should work. They should have the illusion of being tactile.

On your desktop: a cartoon purse filled with fat gold coins. Pull out a penny. It shimmers on the screen. Drag it toward a "coin slot" situated right there on the web page you want to view, and drop it in. It disappears with a satisfying ker-chunk. And you're in. If you're feeling cavalier, you can throw your coin toward the slot; with practice it won't bounce off the rim. And hey, iPhone users: we'll even let you play. You can "fling" coins from your phone directly on to the screen.

One page costs one penny: not too off-putting for anyone – and crucially, the teeny spoonful of fun and satisfaction you derived from playing with that virtual coin each time is worth the penny anyway.

Has anyone else thought of this already? If not, consider it patented right now, by me. I'll settle for 0.001% of every penny spent for all eternity, thanks. And now, over to the Dragons.

Article by Charlie Brooker via The Guardian

Monday, 10 August 2009

Murdoch to charge for news website access

Guardian News article about media mogul Rupert Murdoch's plans to charge for news website access

In what can only be seen as an 'interesting' move, Rupert Murdoch has announced that you will have to pay to access The Sun, The Times and News Of The World websites as of next year.

Currently all of these websites offer free access to stories that are in their newspaper equivalents that day, but this is all set to change according to Murdoch.

Murdoch's words seem to be spurred on by a $3.4bn (£2bn) net loss for News Corporation for the financial year to June. This is something that has been put down to restructuring, writedowns and a slump in commercial revenue.


It is unlikely that people would be prepared to pay for news which can readily be accessed on other news channel sites however could this lead the precedent for future pay per view news access bu other news organisations?

Full article can be read here

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