Adults in need

I shan’t be online for the rest of the evening because the adults in the house are fleeing, while the non-adults watch "Children in Need" which, apparently, lasts all evening. One of the many items I have seen in the past week or two but not got around to blogging about is a rather nice graphic in this article: BBC NEWS | Special Reports | 629 | 629 | Our first 10 years. The graph shows the striking growth of visits to the BBC News website in the past decade, with pictures of what was happening at the "spikes".

Enjoy! Back tomorrow.

What did you watch?

I can’t resist this, sorry. From The Guardian blog: "Robin, Bruce, Betty, Henry and Noel – it was a big weekend for TV. The autumn TV schedules kicked in at the weekend. What did you watch?"

NOTHING! I read a good book instead.

However, certain others at Petrona towers can attest to enjoying Robin Hood, the Tudors and Ugly Betty, and a certain other can attest to enjoying the rugby 😉

Was Beckham murdered?

All I can say is, thank you Bryan Appleyard for this post: Thought Experiments : The Blog: Was Beckham Murdered?. I feel as if I am not alone. The current lunatic rash of newspaper headlines about a Certain Character epitomises why she is far best left in peace (by the media, by rich old megalomaniacs, and everyone). It might even be worse, if anything could be, than the appalling coverage of the M…. McC… disappearance, in which tastelessness is piled on tastelessness daily. So thank you again, Bryan, for your brief but blessed volley of buckshot, which starts: "I intend to call for an inquest into the death of David Beckham. I know he’s not dead but he will die eventually.." Read on at the link.

Continue reading

Future of newspapers, part 94

Scott Adams on the future of newspapers:

"What I’d like to see is a newspaper that is a hybrid of social voting, such as you see on web sites like and, but further filtered by human editors who weed out the redundant, the juvenile, and the stuff unsubstantiated by facts. And I’d like to see counterpoints to everything. This way you’d get the stories and opinions considered most worthy by the public, with some editorial quality control.

I also imagine the business model for bloggers changing. Now bloggers run ads and make money based on the traffic to their sites. In the future, I can imagine bloggers opting in for a system where they allow newspapers to grab their content any time the newspapers want, move it into the newspaper’s own content model on any given day, surround it with their own ads, and pay the blogger a percentage of ad revenue. In other words, every blogger (and cartoonist) would be self-syndicated, but newspapers wouldn’t print the same bloggers every day. They’d grab only the best writings of the day based on social voting and the newspaper’s own editorial opinions."

Makes sense to me. Of course, as a rule bloggers are stronger on opinion, review (whether an event or a product like a book) and analysis than they are on breaking news (journalism): you need publishing resources for that, last time I looked. 

A map by any other name

Rscmap1072_4 Via Going Underground blog (whose title is Tu be or not Tu be, pretty good, eh?) you can see, and indeed buy, various products based on this latest in a venerable line of London non-underground maps at the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) website.

Here is a link to the RSC press release explaining the rationale for the map. "The lines include: lovers (red), mothers (pink), fathers and daughters (green), villains (light blue), heroes (dark blue), strong and difficult women (turquoise), warriors (black) and fools (orange). Interesting intersections include Henry V who meets on the warrior and hero line, and Lady Macbeth on the strong and difficult women and warrior line."

Agatha Christie comic strip

My friend James Long sent me this link: BBC NEWS | In Pictures | In pictures: Agatha Christie Comic Strip. As the BBC says, "Agatha Christie’s crime novels, already immortalised on television, on film, on stage and in audio books, have been adapted as comic strip editions." The idea is to make the books appeal to "new and younger" readers.

There’s a longer article about the project here. It seems to be a combination of cosiness and period detail that is the appeal to the publisher to use the comic book format in this case. "We like harmony and shape, and that’s what a good crime novel gives you – a lovely story arc with a beginning, middle and end – and a morally acceptable outcome, which a lot of post-modern literature will not give you. It can also give you humour, absolute horror, romance, a puzzle. Crime fiction is only going to get bigger."

Economist screensaver and blogs

No doubt on the "don’t be first, be best" philosophy, The Economist Screensaver is a treasure trove of fascinating data on 66 of the world’s major economies. Drawing on the 2007 edition of the bestselling “Pocket World in Figures”, it presents facts and figures on population, demographics, the economy, society, health and education around the world. The screensaver also features a ticker displaying the headlines of new articles published on, as well as some of the witty one-liners used in The Economist‘s renowned advertising campaigns. You can read technical details and download the screensaver via this link.

And even more revolutionary (?), The Economist now offers four (or, as it puts it, three) "lightly moderated" blogs for opinions, observations and to share your views with other readers and journalists from The Economist, and the Economist Intelligence Unit. You can choose some or all of: Free Exchange (a general debate on economic issues), Certain ideas of Europe (the project, the people, and the gap in between them), Democracy in America (a potluck discussion on society, politics and culture) and The inbox (letters to the Editor).

Late breaking news: they now have an audio edition as well.

Auntie knows best

From the The BBC’s technophile executives see the BBC as the only European organisation able to rival Google as a new media brand but the British public seems more comfortable with its more familiar incarnation as “Auntie”.

A survey of 4,500 licence fee payers, commissioned by the BBC Trust, found that viewers rate “innovation” highly but are more interested in new programming than new technology.

The same research showed audiences’ priority was that the BBC should “help children learn”, but Sir Michael stood by the trust’s decision to suspend BBC Jam, its online education service. “It was done with regret to its impact on users,” he said.

On not looking into Chapman’s

Bryan Appleyard has outed himself as the author of this essay on Homer Simpson in the Sunday Times: There’s nobody like him… except you, me, everyone – Times Online. The only thing I know about Homer Simpson is that George Bush Jr thinks that families should be less like his and more like Mr Walton’s (whoever he is, and please don’t tell me, I would rather remain in blissful ignorance), an anecdote that is repeated in Bryan’s essay. I found the article very useful, because for many years the Simpsons is on at 6 pm, the witching hour when Working Parent on Duty for that day comes in from work and makes the tea before starting on the night shift. Hence I have seen many hundreds of 30-second glimpses of the Simpsons while carrying in and out trays of food or glasses of drink. Sometimes I even see the same 30 seconds that I saw 10 months ago. Now, thanks to Bryan, I can join up the dots. Although it is a readable and stimulating piece (as it would be if Bryan wrote about paint drying), I remain unable to "get" popular culture.

Not believing the papers

Great post here in London Underground Tube Diary – Going Underground’s Blog about yesterday’s Central Line "accident", which was being repeatedly announced in doom-laden tomes as I made my way home yesterday evening.

In a post entitled "regular reader on derailed tube", one of Annie Mole’s readers wrote:  "Hi Annie. I was on the train that derailed at 40mph between Mile End and Bethnal Green yesterday morning – only one person had a sprained ankle to show for it on the whole train apparently and no one was scared although a bit shaken up (Dunkirk spirit and all that)."

And the newspaper headline? "Commuters thought it was another 7/7" (72 pt, natch).

From the comments to Annie’s post:

—BBC report that "Safety checks are under way on the Tube’s storage facilities after a dislodged roll of tarpaulin landed on the tracks, causing the derailment."

–It really winds me up when newspapers (i.e., people) do this – invoke 7/7 at the drop of a hat. Scary though it must have been for the passengers, this was NOTHING like 7/7, where the train literally was blown apart.