A YouTube? On the Interweb?

Once more parliament is reeling from the power of the internet, the BBC reports.

Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls, is alleged to have uttered the rather scornful "So what" to David Cameron’s budget response yesterday.

However, Hansard records Balls’ comment as "So weak". This has all sparked a debate about Ball’s alleged ‘childishness’ according to Cameron.

However, the best quotation comes from Conservative MP, Andrew Robothan, who – showing the Tories cutting edge credentials – told BBC Online that:

"There is a site called YouTube on the net and you can listen to the video. "I reckon I can hear ‘what’ being said."

Bless. Read the full story via the BBC.

Throwing your license-fee into a hole….

I walked past the giant hole in the ground today that is/will be the BBC’s new Broadcasting House at the top of Regent Street.

I think it’s fair to say that’s one of the most immpressive holes I have seen in a long time.


Technorati tags: BBC, Broadcasting House, Big Hole

What is television for? asks Media Guardian. For being useful, Iannucci answers.

In an oddly, but perfectly timed, front-page splash, Media Guardian asks some top television people what television should be for in the current world of converged media.

One of the answerees (made that one up) is Armando Iannucci – a man I’m so obsessed with I would take him with me to a desert island (That’s a hilarious joke of course).

Here’s his response. I’ve printed in full below:

"To the old
perennials (to entertain, to educate and to inform), maybe we should
now add a fourth: to surprise. It’s easy to surrender to the oncoming
technical revolution, where any programme ever made will become
available on any media platform at any time the viewer wants, and just
assume that creative idiosyncrasy will be swept away in this digital
tsunami. Far from it: the lesson from the internet is that people
gravitate towards sites that will point them in the direction of good
things. How often do you click on something unexpected that looks more
interesting than the thing you were looking for in the first place?

all constantly on the look-out for surprises, as long as we know
they’ll be good. British TV has a real chance to mark itself out as a
place where good, surprising TV originates. This will only happen if
we’re more upfront and confident about what we’re making. For example,
BBC3 and BBC4, far from being the low-budget, narrow-remit channels
much criticised by publicity-conscious politicians, should together be
the British HBO, the home of well-made, brave, original programming
that allows talent to play to its strength."

His response is extremely prescient given the conference I was at last Saturday. What is the future for the media – and TV in particular?

Iannucci recognises the lessons the internet is teaching us: "people
gravitate towards sites that will point them in the direction of good

The mediums may be different but the unifying, underlying factor is the same. That’s human behaviour.

Technorati tags: Media Guardian, Television, Armando Iannucci

Goldsmiths University: the Futures of News write-up

As promised, here are some notes from the Futures of the
at Goldsmiths University  last Saturday.
For my initial reaction, see my previous post.

The morning session was opened by Martin Turner, Head of Operations for BBC
Newsgathering. His presentation was far and away the most on-the-money one of
the whole morning, but it was telling that the conference chair had only made
one note on it, compared to copious notes for other speakers.

outlined the shifts happening in media right now and suggested the
corresponding changes in organisational behaviour may not be enough to save the
media as we know it. In fact, he was the first (and, I think only) speaker on
the day who acknowledged that real innovation is being driven by small firms
and people outside the major media players.

Martin suggested that the only innovation by
major media businesses have been ad (and thus revenue) focussed.Coupled with
healthy(ish) online ad spend this has helped reinforce the notion that
if there’s still profit in the
broadcast/linear media model why would you drop it?

I think
Martin was also the only speaker to talk about:

  • aggregation
  • algorithms
  • community filtering of news

All of
which he claimed were part of the future of news and the media. But Martin also suggested that
with a proliferation in user-generated content, will the desire to produce
news dry-up or change dramatically? Unsurprisingly he had no answers.

In the afternoon,
Goldsmith’s Natalie Fenton presented on the research project’s predicted
directions. In Making Sense of the News in a Digital Age: Journalism and
, she proposed the thesis: "F
orms of news journalism can contribute to the
process of democracy – which is both a marker of modernity and an inherent
feature in modern life and democratic structure."

Well, that all gets my vote and so did the
parameters of the work Goldsmiths is set to undertake, which will
investigate how speed of access, poly-centricity and
multiplicity and interactivity and participation all affect the news
production and consumption process. What is being attempted, we were told, was: “a
macro-societal investigation into micro-organisational changes.” But, of course!

However, a couple of the other presentations
presented interim
research that seemed to look at online developments from the perspective of
‘what will journalism/media etc look like in the future’.But yet some of the ideas
they discussed (e.g., the BBC’s responses to multi-platform media production)
were – while interesting – not particularly ground-breaking. 

I asked as much during the Q&A session and although the answers
recognised that staying ahead of the curve was a challenge when
setting out research
there was an amazing outburst from one of the project

She raised her hand to ask a question but then
delivered a rant about why citizen journalism doesn’t really exist. She added
the caveat she spoke as a former journalist but her argument
that CJs were nothing more than super-sources missed the point entirely for me.
Haivng heard Dan “father of CJ” Gilmor discuss the same issue I found
Goldsmith’s take pretty dismal.

Obviously, I drink the social media Kool-Aid
good ‘n’ proper and accept that any solid research needs to be as unbiased as
possible, but then again the woman from Goldsmith’s seemed to be as against
social media as I am for, so that can’t be too even-minded!

More to come….

Technorati tags: Goldsmiths University, Futures of News, Martin Turner, Natalie Fenton, citizen journalism

Goldsmiths: Futures of News?

I’m back from Goldsmith University’s inaugural symposium for it’s major research project: The Futures of News, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

I’ll try to give the day a full write-up soon, but it’s Saturday and I’ve had a couple of glasses of Rioja gran reserva.[not that rich!]

In the meantime, disappointed at the event organsiation….. it may have been the future of news but there were only about four laptops in the audience (including me) and no wifi. Plus the organisers seemed to have overbooked the event and we had to schlep between buildings for presentations and coffee/lunch.

In a nutshell, the over-arching parameters of the group’s research seems very media institution focussed and takes on "new media" from a definite top-down perspective.

Other worrying ommissions were RSS, social networks, YouTube…… in fact anything remotely technology related. Still, some interesting presentations. More to come.

Technorati tags: Goldsmith’s University, Futures of News, media industry, research

Digital 10p mixed-bag: Today’s Media Guardian, TV news crisis, Advertising and Jeff Jarvis

With work being utterly turmoultous at the moment I don’t have time to even read my RSS feeds, let alone pick up a newspaper. One result of this is I feel totally dis-connected with what’s happening in the online space.

But this morning I had a leisurely read of Media Guardian on the train and re-discovered just how omniscient the digital world is within the UK media indistry.

The front page lead reports on the TV news crisis which has seen Sky remove itself from Virgin Media’s service (and possibly Freeview) and consolidating it’s position by boosting its online offering. the articles quotes the BBC’s Kevin Bakhurst ackowledging "the competition for the BBC is not just Sky and ITN but is now the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Times". So finally the TV news industry is catching up.

From the front page onwards there are plenty of digital infused stories. From Emily Bell’s editorial about how C4’s founding principle to provide a showcase for innovation and creative talent is challenged by the power of YouTube. Then they have a selection of live blogged opinions from last week’s National Television Awards, a full-page feature on the rise of aid agency citizen journalism and Jeff Jarvis’ powerful and excellent column on new media.

This week Jeff writes about advertising and raises the idea of the ‘intention economy’ (previously blogged here and fast becoming my new pet obsession). The full article is here but I’ve helpfully provided a snapshot below:

  • "Advertising is all we have to support content and media"
  • But now we have endless opportunities to publish online, "scarcity no longer drives the media market"
  • However, the real challenge to advertisers is the shifting relationships between companies and their customers
  • Citing Dell as an example Jarvis highlights the ways in which the firm is co-creating products, ideas and content.
  • The argument goes that with the ease of co-creation and relationship building afforded by the internet companeis will no longer choose advertising as a relationship building tool.
  • "Advertising is no-one’s first choice as the basis of a relationship."
  • Which takes us to Doc Searl’s comment that "supply and demand will find each other." – aka the intention economy

Technorati tags: Media Guardian, advertising, digital media, intention economy, Jeff Jarvis

Study examines political internet campaigning in the UK and US

Apologies for the dearth of new posts around these parts – loads of
great stuff happening but work too busy to let me check my
feeds regularly!

But I thought I’d definitely flag up a working paper by Nick Anstead and Andrew Chadwick from Royal Holloway University‘s New Political Communication Unit.

The paper, Parties, Election Campaigning and the Internet: Toward A Comparative Institutional Approach [downloadable here as a pdf] examines the use of the internet comparatively between political institutions in the UK and US.

The description reads:

"This paper argues that a comparative approach to
analysing the relationship between technology and political
institutions has the potential to offer renewed understanding of the
development of the Internet in election campaigning. Taking the
different characteristics of political parties and the norms and rules
of the electoral environment in the United States and the United
Kingdom as an illustration, it suggests that the relationship between
technology and political institutions is dialectical. Technologies can
reshape institutions, but institutions will mediate eventual outcomes.
This approach has the potential to generate a theoretical framework for
explaining differences in the impact of the Internet on election
campaigning across liberal democracies."

I’m particualrly interested in the author’s suggestion that the
relationship between technology and institutions is dialectical – and
that they are working towards a theory for understanding the

I haven’t read the paper yet (although at 16 pages, it’s not a lengthy
read) but as far as I know it looks like a valuable study of what the
UK can learn from the US in terms of political campaigning on the

Anecdotally I don’t think anyone could argue that the US is streets
ahead of the UK in this sphere (just look to Labour’s poor record) –
what the paper hopefully offers is some reasons why and how.

Technorati tags: politics, internet, UK, US, New Political Communications Unit, comparative study

The brain’s the best plug-in ever for getting rid of unwanted advertising!

Nice post by Sigurd over at thingumy who reinforces almost scientifically (well, he used a computer) something I’ve long harped on about: our innate ability to block unwanted, intrusive advertising.

So many people who work in the online space still see ads as viable way of reaching out to people. But whenever anyone raises the issue I argue that people don’t really want to look at them. In fact so much so that technology now exists to remove unwanted ads – and this is what Sigurd has been trying out:

“I hit the bookmarks for several sites I often visit; sites that I would expect to have plenty of glossy and annoying banner ads and the like.

But, I could not see any difference!

Ah, yes, no ads there, but I noticed something, a sense of less “noise”, then I saw the white spaces in the layouts. Puzzling.

Had to use another browser, now without the Adblocker, and compare side-by-side – and lo and behold, yes the sites were littered with ads.

Thing is, I never noticed! My brain seems to block such already.”

And that is exactly the point I’ve been making all along. We may have things like adblocker plug-ins and TiVo or Sky Plus… but even before those devices existed we were blocking TV adverts by getting up to make a cup of tea or switching over to another channel.

Most humans by nature really don’t want to be shouted/whispered at by a brand not all interested in us beyond our wallet which is why putting advertising online still doesn’t work… does anyone know what the click-through rates are on websites? Pretty low so I’ve been told (although higher than offline response rates apparently).

Humans don’t like the marketing conceit behind adverts. technology has given us more choices in how we ‘switch-off’ but that fundamental behaviour has always been with us.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Daddy… what’s TV?

Thought provoking tweet from Mike Butcher who’s at the Edinburgh TV Un-Festival today:

“UnTVFest live podcast dwelled overly on TV as shared experienced. My view: the Live Social Web is the new TV. Sometimes tv/video is involved”

I like it.

Meanwhile Jeff Jarvis reinforces Mike’s insight with some more stats about the fall in TV use and big increase in internet use:

“Internet usage is now approaching TV usage — in the US, the UK, Australia, Germany, and Japan — according to an IBM study to which Om Malik points us. Note also that TV networks’ share of online TV viewing is only about 33 percent, below YouTube and barely ahead of Google and social networks in the U.S. — and the alternatives are only beginning (in the life of internet video, it’s only 1954).”

I mean dosn’t it just make sense?

People want content: video, audio, text, static images…. stuff. We used to have differnet tools to deliver it. Now we have one that does it all… and better… and quicker… and allows you to join in… Jesus. I mean if that is truly revolutionary then what it?

Technorati tags: Mike Butcher, TV Un-Festival, Edinburgh, Jeff Jarvis


We have BBC News 24 on in our office all day. Here’s a reminder of how rolling news ought to be.