A bloke walks into a pub and says "That woman who put that cat in a bin..."

 by Martin Belam, 7 September 2010

In Berlin last week, whilst chatting after the datajournalism meetup, one of the conversations turned to how to encourage greater participation on the web. One of the people there was explaining that they felt Germany had around 2 million hardcore Internet users, but that this was not a big proportion of their population. I was mentioning the recent study that showed nine million British adults have still never used the net.

Being caught up in the bubble of hyper-connected media professionals means it is sometimes easy to get very over-excited about the level of internet activity and literacy, and the digital future for newspapers, and forget about the strengths of the 'legacy' print product. And I don't just mean that print advertising still pulls in a big chunk of the money.

But overhearing things in pubs can sometimes be a good antidote.

Back in 2004 in a pub in Walthamstow, I was reminded that there was still a very analogue way to fileshare, when I overheard someone saying: "You might have to tape that for me" about a song being played on the jukebox.

And I had a similar "Bloke walks into a pub and says..." moment a couple of weeks back.

"That woman who put that cat in a bin. Did you read about it?"

Read about it.

The video link may have been going viral on the web like crazy, Sky News might have had the grainy CCTV footage on rotation, and most of the online media people in Germany I mentioned this story to had seen the clip in question. But to that bloke walking into the pub in Walthamstow, the story of the woman who put the cat in the bin was still something you find out about by reading it in the papers.


Felt a bit sheepish reading this, as I only ever saw this in a print paper. My only defence is the majority of my internet time is in a place where video is blocked (and I'd probably have had nightmares if I'd seen the clip). Your bloke in a Walthamstow pub might be a hyperconnected media professional after all.

I feel the more you use the internet the worse it gets. Being German I actually think that number is high as many of the people I work with don't use the internet

Wow that is amazing over nine million adults in England have never used the internet. That is shocking i can't believe it.

I remember seeing the story about the cat in the bing on the news , how anyone can justify doing that to an innocent animal i will never know !

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