Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

24 hour personal broadcast : or, Uscream.tv

May 14, 2007

Anyone who works in the web will occasionally get asked “What’s the next big thing?” ( You get asked this often if you get very excited when the internet is mentioned, which I do). Annoyingly for my bank balance I don’t know that answer, however, I think I can see a next big thing. A future is Justin.tv and Ustream.tv.

These two sites have technology that allows users to video broadcast their every move. Justin now has a camera on his head transmitting his every move in San Franciso. Heck, even Jeff Jarvis’ son was able to rig up something that broadcast from his backpack. This makes blogging, vlogging and twittering seem like tools for the shy and retiring personal broadcaster.

I haven’t even watched that much of Justin.tv, but it is hypnotic. He’s cooking eggs. He’s walking. I’m watching. Why? Because human behaviour is fascinating. So if you’re not involved in a super neat Economist web innovation unit so can’t do anything about this, here are some things you could do :

i) Find 6 interesting people in diffferent fields and follow them as they interview artists, musicians, politicians and whomever.

ii) Or go niche. Find 6 intereting people who all do the same thing as they report on everything in music/politics/you get the idea. Remember, niche works.

iii) Find 6 socially stunted people who most definitely will not get on and make them live together and perform various taxing tasks. Yes, it is an even more hyper-invasive Big Brother with an out in the real world element.

Whatever, you do decide to do Mrs. TV Producer, do it quick. Because Big Brother is only Big because it got there first.

An amusing sidenote to this is that at the beginning of Project Red Stripe we did some thinking around potential future scenarios. Here’s one I doled out before either of these two sites came up (forgive the Terminator 2 style apocalyptic rhetoric) :

The Rise of The Connecteds

In 2012 there arises a group called The Connecteds. Emerging initially in South Korea, San Francisco and Finland this youth culture constantly records, broadcasts and diffuses their lives. They become multimedia centres that not only create output but constantly scan shifting tides of information in many different forms.”

I think that shows that either that i) if you ask me to think five years into the future I’ll be able to tell you what will happen next month ii) the web moves fast so move your ass .

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Attention all wannabe journalists : Great internship on offer

May 3, 2007

Do you know anyone who wants to be journalist? Or are you a student looking to get into it? I ask because there’s an internship on offer at The Washington Post Interactive with multimedia news legend Rob Curley. If you can think of anyone this might interest then please pass the news on. For one the Curlmeister sounds like a pleasure to work with. Anyone who has “what we really want are self-motivated bad-asses” in a job description is alright by me. And secondly, it will be a chance to see what the newsroom of the future looks like.

Spread the word.

A sad day for the Fedoral Reserve

December 12, 2006

The Fedoral Reserve flags are flying at half mast, because my hat it missing. Yes, the fedora of the title is gone. What makes it worse is that it is a fine old hat that used to belong to my grandfather, so it is not just a case of replacing it.

I have not given up hope just yet and I’ll keep you posted on the gravest crisis to hit the F.R. yet.

Wither magazines (that don’t embrace the web)

December 12, 2006

I get very surprised, then excited, when I hear folk wondering outloud about the future of magazines or newspapers. Getting all gloomy when, to my mind there is nothing but opportunity, yet some can’t see it.

There are so many new ways media can play with its audience (and I don’t mean toy with them) but to enjoy ourselves with our readers. To find ways to interact with them, to have fun. Hell, I can’t get over the sense of being at the start of a really big adventure.

So it was heartening to find a Jeff Jarvis post on Whither magazines, that spoke to my heart, this bit in particular :

“The wise magazine will enable its community to speak among themselves. And it will also find ways to extract and share the wisdom of its crowd. This is true not just of magazines but of other, similar brands in other media (The New York Times, The Guardian, 60 Minutes, the Food Network, and most any trade publication. . .). I don’t want to know what the nation’s best-sellers are — the top books in the general-interest mass market. I want to know the best-selling and best-reviewed books among New Yorker or Times or Economist or Guardian readers. I want to know what EW’s community thinks of Borat. I want to see what Advertising Age’s crowd thinks of Time Magazine’s moves.”

You said it Mr. Jarvis.

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

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.

Big media going digital : 3 examples

October 25, 2006

My, my! Everywhere you look big media seems to be plunging into the digital waters and trying to get as wet as possible.

i) The Sun creates MySun. Using the same technology behind MySpace there is now a interactive digital realm to the nation’s most red blooded tabloid. The discussion of the week is Should paedophiles be let out into the community. Louise thinks “they should be they should all be Hung-Drawn & Quartered, they are beasts, animals”.

ii) We have Brad Grey, the CEO of Paramount pictures saying, “Everybody would be very foolish not to embrace technology,” he said, adding later, “For us not to embrace it would be insanity.”

iii) My favourite story recently has been Rob Curley going to be a vice-president of the Washington Post Co. interactive division. This was, to my shame, the first time I had read about Rob Curley. I now have a new hero.

He made his name by creating kickass online sections for two local papers in the states, turning heads in media by loving the internet, not fearing it. Rather than concentrating on big news that is covered by hundreds of news outlets he went hyper-local. Playing to the self-evident strengths of local papers by creating multi-media content about local news.

When asked whether it was his ambition to work at The Washington Post, Rob gives the great line: “I just want to build cool s–t.”

Well, pour Project Redstripe a big glass of what that man’s drinking, then we can crack on and create something amazing.

Community, that’s the thing

October 10, 2006

Yesterday I linked to the wiki that I created for my charity rally. I was slightly bold in saying that it was the best wiki in the world. Wikipedia might argue with that, but it is undeniable is that no wiki in the world that means more to me.

Whilst preparing the rally, I would leave it for some time and completely forget about it. Then suddenly look, and see that something unbelievable had happened. The key was that the ralliers that got involved with the wiki were most excited about the rally.

They had shared stories, jokes and photos about it.

Experiences like this show how powerful communities can be, so I really identified with what Emily Bell said in her Guardian podcast :

“In the next two to three to four years, community goes from the edges to the core. Otherwise, you’re not going to have a business.” (picked up by Jeff Jarvis)

This brings us to a question that must lie close to the heart of Project Redstripe – how do we empower our audience?

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In other news, Project Redstripe has been picked up on PaidContent.org. Apparently it is a “rather intriguing new digital incubation unit“. I also noticed they are having a PaidContent drinks party, which I’ve asked for some invites for.

Would anyone like to join me?

How do you make a successful website?

October 9, 2006

Anyone who wants to be part of Project Redstripe must be thinking – how will we make this new site work? Luckily AU Interactive blog has digested The Future of Web Apps 2006 conference and come up with 10 Things That Will Make Or Break Your Website.

Here are a few that I liked the sound of :
“1. EASY is the most important feature of any website, web app, or program.

Make the website easy to use. Then make it easier.

5. Release features early and often.
Start with a core set of features (and create plugins on top) – always know your end goals.

6. Be special.
Passion for what you are doing and creating is paramount. If you believe it, do it. Don’t let anyone else tell you that it’s not possible or shouldn’t be done. Create purple cows. Challenge the status quo. Do it against the odds and with little startup money. (Raising too much money can hurt you and make you lose focus.) Prove all your detractors wrong. Passion and a belief in yourself will get you through the rough times….”

The entire list is great but it’s really number six that speaks to me.

I know that part of the point of this is to show that The Economist is ‘web savvy’. Well, I might let point number 6 do the talking and politely ask to tear up that idea.

Web savvy is great, but how about doing something amazing? Why shy away from the word revolutionary? Let’s be as brave as possible and bend every single part of the web to our will. Let’s do justice to the potential of the internet.

The BBC was founded with the words Nation shall speak peace unto Nation, today we should let citizen can speak unto citizen.

Our readers have so much to contribute. Project Redstripe should give them that power.