Archive for November, 2006

Ed Lee : A man of vision

November 30, 2006

A short post to say thanks to Ed Lee. He commented on a post where I sold myself for Project Redstripe and said “you get my vote tom!”.

Thanks Ed, you get the first Man of Vision prize.

Well, no news to give yet and not long now until the announcement. I’m feeling chipper but want to have something to say. Some more blog posts coming but am catching up on things after New York.


Video and The Economist : do we want home movies of our articles?

November 14, 2006

On Friday I’ll be flying out to New York to visit my sister. It will be my first time there and I plan on having a good time. However, I also want to take advantage of the undervalued Chinese remimbi which has, in turn, led to the US weakening the dollar to protect manufacturing jobs. This means great shopping.

What I want to get is a Tom Shelley Media kit. I’m in the market for an iMac, video camera and microphone. That should be all I need to become a one man social media army. Hugh Macleod is also looking into video and from there I was able to find out how much it would cost, through helpful posts like this one.

It’s really not that much and, according to Life Hacker, there are 8 easy ways to shoot video like a pro.

I think this democratisation is important as just over a week ago I was involved in an Economist discussion on our audio future. I, naturally, wanted to get the conversation on to video, because it will play a part in the future of The Economist.

The questions that came up all started from the premise that you need professionals to do video :

How would journalists recreate the polish and poise of the articles with cameras?

Surely the quality will be too low to be Economist?

The questions are all valid and I don’t have the answers, but I think the sooner we find a way to move into this space the better.

It’s changes like this that make me so excited about the possibility of Redstripe. Why get worried about the future when we should just try to get their first?

From the Alive in Baghdad vlog : quality of picture vs quality of content

Ecnmst readrs on Flickr

November 14, 2006

There I was trying to install widgets on my blog, because now is the time to *get* widgets. The result is that I now have one Economist blog feed on the side as well as interesting photos from Flickr. This means I no longer have a blogroll, which annoys me.

Once I got to Flickr, however, I thought I’d see what I could find by searching for “economist”. Well blow me down with a feather there are over 1000 photos with that tag and, other than a few of economists such as Jo Stiglitz and drunken economists, it is all about The Economist.

I can’t believe people are loving our ads so much, and they love taking photos of their pets and  babies reading it. There are snaps of the building and flicks of the front covers.

There is a community of Economist lovers on Flickr and we need to get in touch with them. We need to empower and enable them. Oh, think what could happen if they all decided to help us.

Here’s the link to the photos. Enjoy.

Reasons I love The Economist : Number 346

November 13, 2006

Because in an article about Nuala O’Loan, the independent police investigator in Northern Ireland, someone snuck this in : ‘The police, to be sure, have sometimes found her straight talking hard to take.’

Is that a ‘to be sure’ joke in an article on Ireland. I think it might be.

Tom Shelley: the three in one option

November 10, 2006

If you’ve watched the Dirty Dozen, Ocean’s Eleven or any other team bonding action film you’ll know, that when you’re putting together a team you need different skills. You’ll need an explosive man, a gymnast comes in handy and there’s probably a guy called Wheels somewhere in the mix.

Judging by Mike’s post on the Project Redstripe blog the lessons of Hollywood have been learned. Just as you don’t need two lethal hand-to-hand fighters, we might not need two classified sales people. So this post will show that on top of being a super keen internet geek and a sales guy, I’m also a newsfiend and ex-amateur hack.

I’ve been addicted to newspapers since I were a nipper. Between the ages of 8-13 I read the Times and Express that got sent to our school library. Then, from 13-18, I did very little work, but read almost every newspaper,every day. I subscribed to The Guardian, borrowing The Times, The Mail (know your enemy) and The Telegraph from different chaps in my house.

Whilst there, in a daring burst of originality,I wrote a, wait for it, satirical school magazine – that stalwart of public school dissent. The Loafer ran for one issue in order to raise holiday/drinking money. Great features included faux-serious interviews with the camp head chef and a Regimental Sergeant Major Agony Aunt.

The authorities quaked before my pen.

At university I wrote but did nail one corrupt landlord with a glorious front page scoop for the Bristol University newspaper. Who’d have thought a landlord would try to take student’s deposits?

During my sojourn in Paris (did I tell you I speak French?) one of the projects I most enjoyed was writing a small politics column for GoGo Paris a trendy arts and culture magazine. It was not very long piece – 400 words or so – but I really did enjoy it. I got to choose a story in the French news and bring it to the English speakers of Paris. Writing a summary of the EU Constitution kerfuffle in 400 is tough.

I’m not pretending to be a journo, with ink stained hand and tattered jumper, but what I will say is that I care about the news. It is something that intrigues and entrances me. The opportunity to be involved in the changes that are sweeping the system is beyond words.

Think of me as the combined safe cracker, crack pistol shot and dextrous pickpocket all in one. Kind of.

Crowdsourcing your way out of a crowded market

November 8, 2006

I started this blog to show that I was the right person for Project Redstripe, The Economist Group’s snazzy new internet unit. As a social media evangelist/nut job/freak I would love to be able to do amazing things with the content, brands and, more importantly, the audience of the The EG.

Now it’s almost two months since I put myself forward for the job and it is starting to drive me a little mad. I’m just so pumped when I think about the opportunities that we have. Not only that, but the race into digital continues apace.

There’s the Gary Younge video blog at The Guardian – his last video of his trip across America has him visit Las Vegas (expect more insight from St. Tropez, Gstaad and Sun City later in the second series), Alan Rusbridger namechecks the Sunlight Labs at The Society of Editors and Gannet are now crowdsourcing their news.Here at The Economist we’re making ever more podcasts and are number 1 on iTunes (in the politics category).

As I look around publishing I sense the fear is gone, the snobbery is going and there’s still a tiny bit of time to get a fraction of a step ahead.

Of all the developments I’ve seen recently the Gannet use of crowdsourcing is one which most excites me. They’re turning to their audience for news because they know they can mobilise far more folk who, collectively, know far more than their journalists, to investigate stories.

Now imagine what the audience of The Economist Group could do. You just have to read the letters page of The Economist to realise how clever these dudes are. Do you think that CFO magazine is read by halfwits? The possibilities are endless and I want to be part of it.
The entire post could be boiled down to this : please choose me Mike, you’ll make me very happy indeed.

Computer programming: it might not be rocket science but…

November 3, 2006

My mission to learn Python and Django is proving trickier than I thought. I started off from with chapter 1 of the Django book. A sort of beginner’s guide to Django.

Not beginnery enough.

So I took a step back, and found this cracking post on Django for Windows. It really is for total beginners. I now have PostgreSQL, Python, mod_python and Apache installed on my computer.

Even that didn’t end well. I got to a line that said :

“Open your Apache configuration file, usually located at C:\Program Files\Apache Group\Apache2\conf\httpd.conf with notepad. Scroll down and look for a section that includes a bunch of lines that start with LoadModule. Add the following line to that section:

LoadModule python_module modules/"

The funny thing was I actually found the http.conf section. I did insert that line into the LoadModule. After that Apache refused to start.

This is not a good thing, but neither is it surprising. I will not let this get me down, I will persevere and give myself an insanely over enthusiastic pat on the back for even getting that far.
What’s more, I just got someone from Omnimedia asking me about blogs and I love sending emails designed to razz folk up about social media. All my deliciousing is not in vain.

Tom decides to learn code. Hmmm…

November 2, 2006

If someone tells me they’re bored, I always think it helps to tell them to learn a language. It will certainly occupy their time but, more importantly, it will totally annoy them.

However, I have decided to take my own advice and I’m going to learn not one, but two languages. What’s more their names are way more exciting than such yawnfests as German, Chinese or Russian. Check me out, I’m going to learn Python and Django.

These are, obviously, programming languages designed for rapid development of webpages and Django runs on the Python web framework, so they might not be languages at all. Here’s a bit more about it :

“Django is deeply rooted in the problems and solutions of the Real World. It wasn’t created to be marketed and sold to developers, nor was it created as an academic exercise in somebody’s spare time. It was built from Day One to solve daily problems for an industry-leading Web-development team.

It started in fall 2003, at — wait for it — a small-town newspaper in Lawrence, Kansas.”Link.

Please note where it started: Lawrence, Kansas. That’s only the home of the Lawrence Journal, the newspaper whose online presence Rob Curley (my new hero) developed with mashup journo king Adam Holvaty amongst others. They designed this code so they could develop stuff quick.

Not only would it be great (if I made it on Project Redstripe) to be able to roll stuff out fast, but I’d like to be able to help.

What’s more, reading The 18 Mistakes that Kill Startups I came across this :

But when I think about what killed most of the startups in the e-commerce business back in the 90s, it was bad programmers. A lot of those companies were started by business guys who thought the way startups worked was that you had some clever idea and then hired programmers to implement it. 

Now I know I’ll have a tough time doing anything really complicated being a total noob but if I can get involved a tiny bit, that would be brilliant.

Man, I want to be on this Project.