Monday, 28 April 2008

Video nasty

Ok so I didn't really understand Seesmic was a place where people actually listened to what you had to say.
I figured it was like the real world where everyone just waits for you to finish your sentence so they can jump in with their own views.
Boy, I had a bit of a rude awakening tonight...
After the Day From Hell at Preston I wound up in front of my beloved laptop pouring my bruised and battered heart out on Seesmic - a total video nasty if you like.
I waxed lyrical about marketing and how bloody complicated it was... only to have some lovely Frenchman send me a 'cheer up' message telling me how much he enjoyed Mark Twain too.
In the meantime I had headed off to the bar to console myself - and warm up (Jesus UCLAN, keep the heating on in April, it's like a bloody fridge in our classroom). And fellow coursemate Joaanna Geary had stumbled across my video rant - as had a number of other people, all of whom seemed concerned that I might have thrown myself off the top of the Holiday Inn. (It's just too infra dig darlings - I'm saving myself for the Radisson SAS).
So now I've had to post an "I'm sorry for being a miserable cow" response to my own rant and I have learned a salutory lesson about sounding off in public while feeling sorry for myself.
I am, however, unconvinced about this marketing lark; I can't even promote myself without getting into difficulties, let alone an entire industry.
So, every day truly is a school day...

Sunday, 27 April 2008


So I'm off for a week of Editorial Leaders learning at UCLAN in Preston.
This is the course that first piqued my interest in how the world of journalism is changing, and how we can increase our engagement with readers; and made me realise just how much I had to learn about the whole subject - hence this blog.
As usual the weather is going to be rubbish so I'll have to lug laptop, books, brollies and other essentials around in the rain, but I'm looking forward to seeing all the other course mob again (in the real world - I talk to some of them on Twitter etc all the time).
This is the last residential we'll be on and I'll miss the face-to-face contact with people in the same boat as me. There have been some rumblings from up on high that more meets between peers are planned in future and I hope it happens; it's good to be with a bunch of journalists who are all wrestling with similar issues and to thrash out ideas - and have a laugh.
I find it plain damn weird at work when we have away-days to brainstorm that heads of department are always considered the best people to participate - whether it's from editorial, marketing, advertising or circulation.
There are so many bright people working in my office - of all ages and at all levels of their careers - that it would make far more sense if we mixed up the knowledge up a bit.
I was in a meeting recently when the suggestion that reporters with laptops could hotmail a story across from a meeting without having to get systems access prompted the question: "Will they have hotmail?". Aaargh! of course they will; what they won't have is their own work laptop.
In other news I had vague idea that I would try to learn more Yahoo Pipes this weekend. I understand the concept but only in the most tentative way. So I figured I could figure it out as I went along. No no no no no.
Luckily I get to see the depressingly bright Joanna Geary this week and I'm going to buy her a beer and make her explain it in words of one syllable.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Sights you never expect to see

Posted by ShoZu

This is Liverpool Daily Post editor Mark Thomas (right) and digital editor David Higgerson snapped outside that cavern of bile, Old Trafford, ahead of the How-Do awards. Where we didn't win. Boooooooooooo!

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Too much information?

I am spreading over the web like mould. I am on, among others, Twitter, Flickr,, Jaiku, and Bambuser and that's just a part of it. My 'social networks' folder is growing at an alarming rate.
I embarked on this to learn more about the internet and interact with people online because I thought it would benefit my understanding of Web 2.0 and, by association, my newspaper.
I don't use aliases on sites, I have my little avatar who goes everywhere online with me and so is fairly identifiable as me I guess, and I have links back to this blog which, of course, says where I work and live.
When someone I don't know starts following me on Twitter I tend to send them a 'hello' note so there's some human contact. I love it when I get responses to my Utterz, and ridiculously happy when someone I don't know comments on this blog.
I have, I think, gone native in my attempts to understand newspapers and Web 2.0 - and I'm pleased about that. It feels like a constant learning process and there's always something interesting going on.
My immersion in the internet was brought home to me today as I explained Twitter reporters who had just been asked to sign up to the service ahead of the local elections.
They think I'm obsessed. I think they're probably right...

Using Utterz more often

Posted by ShoZu

UPDATE 2013: Utterz became Utterli and then closed. Try Ipadio or Audioboo instead.

I love Utterz - I think it's a great website and I want to start using it more often than the once-a-week I've been stuck at recently. It's very interactive, you get to hear the tone of someone's voice as they make a point, and it's a good way of engaging in a debate.
I've just posted my latest Utterz below and used ShoZu to post the photo to the blog - I didn't expect my Utterz pic to transfer as well as the audio so that was a nice surprise.
For example, Chris - who I follow on Utterz - posted a rant about rush hour traffic in which he said motorcyclists who ride up the lanes between cars should be fined around $1m. Now, as a motorcyclist who does regularly embark on this kind of riding I should perhaps be outraged. But because I could hear the genuine pain in Chris' voice as he shared his views I connected with what he was saying and listened to his argument.
I still don't agree though :-)

A good day...

Spring has finally arrived in my garden...

Mobile post sent by Alison using Utterz Replies.  mp3

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Befriending FriendFeed

A couple of days ago I tweeted to the world in general that Friendfeed - which I joined several weeks ago in a flush of enthusiasm - was "more complicated than a social network had any right to be".
And I was picked up on my gripe by Trinity Mirror's digital supremo David Black, who pointed out it was an aggregator rather than a network.
I figured he might have been right, but I still was falling out of love with FriendFeed.
This weekend that all changed. I can say, hand on heart, that I LOVE FriendFeed - and it's all thanks to Twhirl.
Twhirl is something I've been using for a while - it's a desktop Ttwitter client, based on the Adobe AIR platform which (among its many other functions) lets you post photos to Twitter, post to Jaiku and Pownce as well and now, thank God, has added FriendFeed to its abilities, after being acquired by Seesmic.
I found out about it here and loaded it on Saturday.
And it was so useful to have updates from friends and networks I was interested in appearing on my Twhirl/FriendFeed panel. Unfortunately, there's no way of mashing it up with my Twitter/Twhirl application so I have them sitting separately on the desktop but I can live with that... for now.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Cartoon Avatars on Twitter

April 18 was spent in a haze finishing off the entries for the Regional Press Awards, which - let me state for the record - were more work than every despite allegedly being electronic this year. Not from where I was sitting/standing/rushing around like a fool collecting entry forms and scanning them in...
Anyway, around 4pm I took five minutes breather and hopped onto Twitter to find a phenomenon in progress.
It was Cartoon Avatar day - everyone who I normally knew by their fairly sane avatars had morphed into a cartoon character from the 1970s/Manga/whatthehellisthat? and were tweeting like mad.
It was weird because I felt really left out with my little red devil (not from a cartoon at all) and everyone seemed to be having inordinate amounts of fum.
So I wandered off into the magical Forest of Google and bagged myself a Carwash, the knowit-all cat from Willow the Wisp (that toon that used to be on five minutes before the 6 O'clock News on BBC1.
I tweeted as Carwash and got lovely messages back from friends welcoming my descent into toon madness.
And suddenly, the world was a much better place. Even though I still had a feature writer of the year form still to scan...
So here's Carwash, one last time:

Thursday, 17 April 2008


I am always impressed by the links on other people's blogs. They have sought down the most interesting, pertienent and useful blogs and put helpful links to the sites so muppets like me can share the wisdom.
I'm feeling a little left behind on the old links issue, so I thought I'd take five minutes out of sorting our entries for the Regional Journalism Awards to grab a coffee and boost the rather paltry offering of links here.
So now, in addition to the Liverpool Daily Post link I now have a list of, well, friends who happen to have blogs. So most of them aren't of any professional use necessarily (apart from Joanna Geary and Markmedia's blogs) but they do cheer me up when the day is getting to be a bit of a slog.
Oh, and if you click here you'll find Emma and Alpa, from the Style in the City teams, helping illustrate the stiltwalking feature of Emma's new shoes.
I took it on my N95 and managed to post it to Flickr with Shozu, which means I have finally sorted the infuriating upload problem - although it mean removing Shozu from the phone, cancelling all accounts, downloading it again and opening a new account. Web 2.0 really shouldn't have to be this complicated...

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Posting video via Shozu

This is my first attempt at a video posting using Shozu. Seems to have worked - but I am going to have to start filming something other than my cats...

Posted by ShoZu

Mobile post sent by Alison using Utterz Replies.  mp3

Monday, 14 April 2008

Exploring YouTube

I've never really bothered much with YouTube. Clips get sent to my Facebook superwall which I may or may not watch, and that's about it. But the Liverpool Daily Post site is hugely popular, and I figured that I ought to at least try and understand how YouTube works - and why it works.
So I'm now a YouTuber - in fact, I'm here should anyone care - and I was surprised at how simple it was to set up. I started off by uploading a couple of videos of my cat Nyx (already a star of Qik, Flickr, this blog and Utterz) and then sent out a tentative request to friends to give me some feedback.
Then I linked to two friends already established on YouTube - Mark and Sion - and the LDP site, of course.
Then I uploaded some more videoes, and noticed that when my cat video was playing others of cats were being recommended alongside it. So I wandered off into YouTube and lost two hours of my life watching other people's stories being played out on my laptop.
It was fascinating, although not as addictive as Qik which has the added unpredictability that comes with live streaming. I watched some Vespa-riding US eco-guy streaming in the wilderness yesterday just to see if a bear would come along and eat him. It didn't.
But life is never simple is it? Now I want to embed Qik films I've taken on the N95 onto YouTube and I CANNOT work out how to do it. Honestly, social networking can be bloody hard work sometimes...
But, because you can never have too many clips of a cat playing with a tap, I've embedded Nyx here :D

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Death of newspapers?

I read a Steve Outing, post recently in which he wrote about finally cancelling his local newspaper. Steve writes for the Editor & Publisher Online and I'm a fairly new convert to his blog, which by the way is excellent.
Anyway, if a writer who specialises in the newspaper industry cancels his subscription you just have to take notice and ask why.
Steve says his reason is simple - he gets all the news he needs from either TV or radio, or the web, email, RSS and other sources. In his words: "Most of the information that comes in the daily print edition is not new to me."
So where does that leave the newspaper industry? After all, it's easy to knock papers at the moment but what we really need to do is find a way of making them work once again.
Steve's idea would see newspapers being coming community resources with free newsletters. Personally, I wouldn't like to see the business case for that one... but I do think newspapers have a future, just not as paid-for publications.
I also think they will move towards more analytical, thought and comment platforms. And I think we'll all be reading them on some version of a Kindle anyway so no more 'dead tree' media.
Yes the newspaper industry has had a smack in the face from advertisers who no longer need to use our papers unless they choose.
But as journalists we've had a fairly smooth ride up til now; there's nothing wrong with competition so long as you stay one step ahead of it.
The only way to do that is to open our eyes and accept we have to change; if we don't then we may as well all pack up and head into the world of ennui that is PR right now.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

living through my laptop

If I'm not on my work computer checking emails, gmails, internet updates and our Daily Post website stuff (or in meetings!) then I'm either surfing the web on my phone, twibbling or on the laptop at home.
Luckily, I also have a tendency to exercise and eat healthily so I'm not likely to morph into some kind of Gollum-esque geek yet, but I do spent a lot of time bathed in the glare from the screen.
Things attained critical mass with a visit to Bambuser tonight.
And then, oh God, it happened again; before I could stop myself I'd added another bunch of code down the side of this blog - which, let the record show - is starting to look like Greaty Market...
Luckily, I will have a healthy day in the fresh air on Saturday when I get to spend the day at the Grand National with some lovely people from the Post Office. It should be a great day - we are right by the start post and a quick sprint and ninja-like handbag moves should ensure we have a good view of the finishing post. And I intend to live stream the event on Qik if I can, just for fun.
Well, I think it's fun anyway