Friday reading #14

 by Martin Belam, 3 August 2012

Maybe like me you’ve spent a lot of this week glued to watching the Olympics, rather than keeping up to date with the worlds of UX, journalism, product management, and the other stuff I write about on here.

Never fear.

My trusty “favourite” button has still been doing sterling work on Twitter, and so here are a bunch of things you might have missed on the intertubes whilst trying to work out the rules of handball and judo. Fill up the reading device of your choice, and dip into them during a time-out in the basketball over the weekend...

Friday reading

“What happens if Twitter's big gambit fails?” - Alex Hern, New Statesman
“The problem is that there is a fundamental conflict between how the users think of Twitter, and how the company thinks of itself. In most people's minds, the medium is a natural progression from phone calls, emails, and text messages. But the difference is that with those communication media, you pays your money and you gets your service. With Twitter, you get the service for free, and the company scrabbles around trying to make money with it.”
Read the full article

“Scenarios for the downfall of Facebook and a new landscape for social networks” - Ross Dawson, Trends in the living networks
“So if you’d like to stretch your brain or have an interesting conversation with your friends, then build a scenario of how Facebook will fail. I won’t go into a detailed analysis here, but will just suggest some of the elements that are may be part of that story”
Read the full article

“The Good Banks and Bad Banks of the media world” - David Worlock, Media Briefing
“Digital businesses may be more profitable, but they are also smaller. Digital newspaper ad revenue models are small, as are paywall models. And the story of digital books is ”less revenue, more margin, cannibalising customers to create a slightly smaller slightly more profitable company“. What happens when we finish that short cycle ?”
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“Why social media isn’t the magic bullet for self-epublished authors” - Ewan Morrison, The Guardian
“I'm convinced that epublishing is another tech bubble, and that it will burst within the next 18 months. The reason is this: epublishing is inextricably tied to the structures of social media marketing and the myth that social media functions as a way of selling products. It doesn't, and we're just starting to get the true stats on that. When social media marketing collapses it will destroy the platform that the dream of a self-epublishing industry was based upon.”
Read the full article

“Typecast” - Jim Parker, The Failed Estate
"‘Digital news skills’ are listed as blogging, twitter, Facebook and putting video on the web. Honestly, if you’re a journalist and you can’t do any of those things, I would argue you really have no business being in the profession in the first place. And I’m 53 years old. Starting a blog is hardly rocket science. Digital video? Hit record on your iPhone, plug it into your USB port, go to YouTube, upload. How hard can it be? Twitter? Please! Twitter is MADE for journalists, particularly headline writers.”
Read the full article

“In Defense of NBC: There Are Two Olympics” - Megan Garber, The Atlantic
“There are, actually, two versions of the Games this year. There are the events as we see them on TV, highly produced and heavily narrative and ad-filled and time-delayed; and then there are the events as they play out online, through live blogs and live tweets and athletes' Instagrams and full, nearly real-time recaps. These two versions of the Olympics are the same thing only in the sense that, say, quiche and custard are the same: They take the same basic ingredient and, through cooking them differently, create two completely separate products.”
Read the full article

“Olympics: User Experience and Design” - Nick Haley, BBC Internet blog
“As the final pieces of our four-screen Olympic jigsaw come together, I thought I'd take the opportunity to share some of the design thinking that has gone into delivering this huge sporting event across desktop, tablet, mobile and connected TV.”
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“Olympic Data Services and the Interactive Video Player” - Oliver Bartett, BBC Internet blog
“My team have built the systems which provide all of the London 2012 data to the BBC Sport Olympic website, mobile applications, IPTV applications and other BBC websites showing Olympics content.”
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“Bradley Wiggins knows a lot about cycling. But he might be wrong about the safety benefits of wearing a helmet” - Michael Hanlon, Mail Online
A surprisingly data-driven and balanced evidence based piece on what is essentially the Israel/Palestine or Microsoft/Apple divide of the cycling world
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“A Tour de France Gift From Jens” - Jens Voigt,
“As I was cruising around the lonely forests on my mountain bike here in Berlin last week, I suddenly remembered something that happened to me during last year’s Tour de France. It’s one of those stories that puts a smile on my face.” [A lovely story via @aj_ux]
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Things you may have missed

Here are a couple of pieces I’ve written on currybetdotnet and Wannabehacks this week:

“Why I have (some) sympathy with the people behind the Olympic ticketing website” - Martin Belam, currybetdotnet
“It seems that like most of my Twitter timeline I spent a good deal of last night pounding my fists on my laptop keyboard trying desperately to get any joy out of the London 2012 Olympics ticketing website. After a while, hypnotised by the queue animation graphic, I got into a zen-like state where I began to ponder how you could possibly end up designing a system that worked this way.”
Read the full article

“How to start your startup” - Martin Belam, Wannabehacks
“Economic pressures on the news industry caused by digital technology make it seem like fewer wannabe hacks than ever will be able to reach their goal of a full-time journalism job working a prestigious beat for a big news organisation. But those same digital forces are also opening up opportunities for journalism students to start up their own businesses, with much more chance of competing with the big guns for the attention of the internet audience. If you are thinking about building a product or service whilst trying to get your foot in the media door, here are three questions you’d do well to ask yourself.”
Read the full article

Forthcoming talks and events

I’ll be talking and teaching at the following events over the next couple of months:

And finally...

The Guardian recently published my book about the Olympics for Kindle. “Keeping the Torch Burning: Terror, Protest and the Games” is an alternative history of the Games, that focuses on the social and political events that have defined each competition, from a protest about the exclusion of women athletes in 1896, through the Nazi Games of 1936, to the modern era of Black Power salutes, terrorist attacks and Cold War boycotts.

Keeping the torch burning cover

Keep up to date on my new blog