September 2006 Archives

September 29, 2006

Torin Douglas on the digital media explosion at the AUKML conference in Edinburgh

This weekend I was at the 2006 AUKML conference in Edinburgh. Sadly I wasn't able to attend most of Ian Watson's keynote speech, so the first speaker I saw in full was the BBC's Media correspondent, Torin Douglas. His talk was about 'Digital overload - the media explosion'. It was a trip through the massive way the landscape has changed for media companies, and their librarians, over the last 25 years or so. Although it is a theme I have...
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Poor mobile UEFA Cup service from the BBC

Everybody knows that the UEFA Cup is the poor man's "Euro Vase" to the "Big Cup" of the Champions League, but I'm not sure why the BBC's coverage of the competition has to be so poor on their WAP mobile service. Last night I wanted to find out what time the Blackburn vs Red Bull Salzburg tie kicked off. So the obvious thing to do on my phone was to go to the BBC's Football menu, the European menu, then...
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September 28, 2006

An exam by any other name

I see that yesterday the Labour Party announced that unsupervised GCSE coursework is to be abandoned, in order to stop people cheating by using the internet. I initially couldn't work out if that devalued my GCSEs, which I took in the first year they were offered. On the one hand it is obvious the government is saying that pupils can't be trusted to work on their own, and since I worked unsupervised, I may have cheated. On the other hand,...
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A snip at just around a pound a second

The BBC has unleashed a torrent of criticism for a rebranding exercise for BBC One, which seems quite crassly timed alongside news of job cuts in the Journalism-formerly-News department. Dave has already pointed out some of the contrasting approaches of the press to the news, but I was quite interested in the maths they all used. The Daily Mail says "The BBC has spent £1.2 million of licence payers' cash on 80 seconds of programming", timing the 8 idents at...
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September 27, 2006

Did the BBC pull, then re-instate, a poll about holocaust denial?

The GIYUS pro-Israel 'troll-supporting political malware' was back in the news this month, and blogged about this week by athenaeum. They were quoting an article from The Register earlier in the month claiming that BBC Magazines had withdrawn a BBC History Magazine online vote about legislation on holocaust denial because it was being manipulated. Athenaeum also cited my own take on the GIYUS software in their post, pointing out the editorial guidelines I noted, which prevent online votes on BBC...
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September 26, 2006

You can't exhibit code - a tour around the Scottish Museum

as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule That quote from the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath welcomes visitors into Scotland's National Museum in Edinburgh, where as part of the AUKML conference this weekend I had an evening reception and guided tour. The museum covers Scottish history from the earliest times to the present day, and has a collection including some fascinating artefacts. Despite having some Scottish roots...
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September 25, 2006

A tour of the National Library of Scotland

I've just been spending a very pleasant weekend in Edinburgh in the company of the librarians of AUKML for their conference, where I was kindly invited to speak. The conference wasn't just a panel of speakers on the Saturday, it also consisted of a couple of trips on Friday afternoon. The first of these involved choosing between a visit to the National Library of Scotland, or to the information centre of the Scottish Parliament. I opted for the library, and...
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September 24, 2006

Exposing children in the press to protect them from online harm

I spent the weekend in Edinburgh, and on my flight to London I was given a complimentary copy of the Scottish edition of the Mail on Sunday. They had an interesting story about online privacy for children, under the headline "Anger as gay fathers post pictures of their children on dating site". As far as I can tell, it is one of those pieces that the Mail doesn't have the legal confidence to publish online as well as in print....
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September 21, 2006

Erratic search quality on Google Earth

Last week I was saying unkind things about the Yahoo! Maps coverage within their Flickr geotagging application. I try and be even-handed wherever possible, so I thought this week I'd gripe about Google Earth. I find the application really easy to use, and the quality of the images of the places where I've looked at has generally been excellent, but I find the search facility painful - particularly when I'm looking for places in Crete. The search algorithm is very...
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September 20, 2006

European Workers' Mobility questionnaire and hotline from ECAS

With my work over the next few weeks taking me to Scotland, Austria and Hungary, I'm naturally very interested about the free movement of workers within the EU. In fact, 2006 is European Year of Workers' Mobility. The European Citizen Action Service has been running a hotline to help people find out more information about moving for work within EU states, and also has a survey consulting organisations and citizens about how they have found the practicalities of free movement...
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September 19, 2006

New job with Sony in Austria

I'm very excited to be able to write that after my appearance at this weekend's AUKML conference in Edinburgh I shall be flying straight from Scotland to Austria. There I shall be joining Sony NetServices on a temporary basis as a Usability Consultant within their user experience team. The position is based just ouside of Salzburg, birthplace of not just Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but Herbert von Karajan and Christian Doppler as well. Apparently some musical or other was filmed there...
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September 18, 2006

The depressing speed with which sound bites outstrip historical context

I think one of the things that most disappoints me about the way the internet and 24 hour news drive events today is the depressing speed with which sound bites and quotes can circle the globe, without anyone seeming to take the time to look at context. I thought the internet was designed to help people understand, not strip public debate of context. A classic case happened last week with the reporting of the Pope's now controversial speech in Germany....
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September 15, 2006

Eurodesk seminar in Budapest

I'm very pleased to be able to say that I will be running a session as part of the Eurodesk Network Seminar on October 13th in Budapest, Hungary. Eurodesk are a group supporting the European Union's YOUTH programme, providing information and advice to young people in Europe and organisations that work with young people. They also manage the European Commission's Youth Portal. I will be talking to them and running exercises to help them develop their understanding of reaching out...
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September 12, 2006

Emerging geolocation etiquette on Flickr

Like most geeky users of Flickr I started hyper-ventilating with excitement when they introduced their new geo-mapping feature, then was crushingly disappointed by the quality of the maps, then gradually settled down into thinking that the service is pretty OK. What interests me now is the kind of geotagging etiquette that will develop in the service, and how people make their decisions about where exactly to place their photos. Some things have been easy for me. The map coverage of...
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September 11, 2006

Living in an almost-always-off world

I'd like to think that if I've learned one thing from living in a house without an internet connection, it is that in the future any application designs I work upon will be more graceful about being offline than the set currently installed on my laptop. The thing that most grates is the way that going online alters the state of my laptop, as applications silently phone home and reconfigure themsleves, and then gripe at me when they can't get...
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September 10, 2006

Adsense of humour

I sometimes think that Google's Adsense system has a wicked sense of humour. That can be the only reason that it often placed adverts about Manchester United, who I abhor, on currybetdotnet every time I mention football. It went a step further on our 'A lemon tree of our own' blog the other day. I posted about some anti-USA graffiti that had been sprayed just around the corner from our home. The post doesn't actually mention the USA at all,...
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September 8, 2006

Keeping the North West safe and sound

Following my post the other week about the National Rail network's "No Messin'" campaign, one of the team behind another child safety campaign got in touch with me. "Safe and Sound" is a CD-ROM distributed to schools in the North West of England, which features the adventures of Safe and Sound, the top under-12's sound system in the North West. I really liked the approach they'd taken - for example encouraging low level nuisance behaviour like changing the desktop picture...
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September 6, 2006

Redesigned Sun Online search

Earlier this year I did a survey of site search across British newspaper online properties. Of all the papers I looked at, I found The Sun's online site search to be one of the most annoying. This wasn't just because the quality of the results were poor and the user interface spawned multiple pop-ups, it was also because I tested the site during the World Cup when they were running a special jingoistic masthead, which displaced their usual search boxes....
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September 5, 2006

"Schmap: Zaragoza Photo Inclusion"

I've been playing around with a downloadable travel guide application called Schmap over the last few days. Essentially it brings together a detailed city map, suggested walks, pictures of a city and reviews of the local night life and eateries, into one download which can be accessed offline. A lot of the content is sourced either from Wcities and Flickr. Using people's Creative Commons licensed photographs from Flickr gives the Schmap team access to free content, and also provides them...
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September 4, 2006

Catalog [sic] your books at Library Thing

My attention was recently drawn to Library Thing, an online application aimed at allowing people to store records of their book collection on the internet, and then providing the usual kind of web 2.0 social goodness around that data. Adding books was blissfully simple, thanks to the foresighted invention of the ISBN. One set of digits gives Library Thing enough information to trawl Amazon and other sources to pull back the correct book. The application even coped well with my...
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September 1, 2006

What do you remember about the news when you were nine?

On the BBC Editors Blog, Newsround editor Tim Levell has been asking people to recall what they remember from the news when they were nine. I must have been a news junkie even then though, as I remembered loads of the events quite clearly. It must have helped that we usually sat down for our family meal around 6pm with the news on in the background. Looking at the list of significant events from October 1980 to September 1981, when...
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