Posts Tagged ‘The New Bureaucracy’

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Friday, October 13th, 2006

BBC seeks 'Digital Assassins'

Friday, April 28th, 2006
What if they held a digital media revolution – and nobody came?

The BBC is having trouble finding citizens to attend a conference devoted to the exciting new world of Citizens Media.

It’s a Beeb-sponsored day about the “democratization of the media”, but despite a 50 quid bribe to attend – that’s more than you get for appearing on Newsnight or Radio 4’s Today program, and the kind of practice we thought had been outlawed in the 1832 Reform Act – no one seems to be interested.

Which has led to some frantic last-minute emails from BBC Innovation.

We’re not quite sure what kind of citizen the BBC wants to attend. But the weird, trying-too-hard title – “Digital Assassins”, and this this delicious questionnaire given to early responders may give you some idea.

Questionnaire for Digital Assassins

Senior media executives, journalists and managers will be getting together on May 3rd at a conference devoted to the democratisation of media. One of the key sessions of each day will be called “Digital Assassins”

The session aims to investigate the impact of new technologies on how audiences consume, find share and create news.

I would be very grateful if you could fill in the following short questionnaire for further information

[ Respondents are invited to tick Yes/No or add comments ]

  1. I don’t buy a newspaper
  2. I use the internet for news more than any other sources
  3. My main news source is Google News.
  4. I have SkyPlus (or a similar device) and it has changed the way I watch TV
  5. I have uploaded video to the internet
  6. I have downloaded a legal or illegal TV programme, film or animation.
  7. I always carry a camera (either separately or via my phone)
  8. I keep a blog, upload photos and/or share video online.

Grammarians, look out. The subject lurches suddenly into the second person at this stage.

  1. You spend “too much” time playing World of Warcraft
  2. You have than one games console

In other words, the BBC wants as many people as it can find who play with gadgets, can’t follow a linear narrative, don’t have any friends, have a weird authority complex, and who would never listen or respect anything put out by the BBC in the first place.

The BBC frets that a third of Britons now “feel that the BBC does not make programmes for them”, according to its own polling, and that “60 per cent of the 16 to 24 age group watch less than three hours of TV a week”. But were these figures any different during, say, the Macmillan era when the target demographic spent happy Bank Holiday weekends knocking the crap out of each other in small seaside towns? Or when the only radio stations were “Home”, “Light”, and “Third”? We don’t know, because no one asked. It’s hard to think of a time when the BBC has been more pervasive.

So it’s really a tribute to the moral fibre of the nation that such pleas to make it more inclusive – by making it more crap – have gone ignored. We may even consider suspending our campaign to reinstate Michael Fish

People more drunk at weekends, researchers discover

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

A parody from 2000

It’s open season on Wikipedia these days. The project’s culture of hatred for experts and expertise has become the subject of widespread ridicule. Nick Carr christened it “the cult of the amateur”.

But what has professional academia done for us lately? Here’s a study from the University of Amsterdam to ponder.

New Scientist reports that researchers for Professor Maarten de Rijke at the Informatics Institute have been recording words used by bloggers, in an attempt to find interesting or unusual patterns. What revelations did the team’s MoodViews software unearth?

The team discovered that the LiveJournal label “drunk” becomes increasingly popular each weekend. And around Valentine’s Day, “there is spike in the numbers of bloggers who use the labels ‘loved’ or ‘flirty’, but also an increase in the number who report feeling ‘lonely’.”

It gets better.

The team also noticed that on the weekend of the publication of the most recent Harry Potter book, bloggers used “words like ‘Harry’, ‘Potter’, ‘shop’ and ‘book’,” PhD student Gilad Mishne reveals.

This work really should put the Nobel Prize Committee on Red Alert. Alongside the existing scientific prizes for Chemistry, Physics and Physiology and Medicine, the Laureate Committee should design a new category for the “Bleeding Obvious”, or the “Dying Ridiculous”.

More seriously, let’s look at what this episode teaches us.

Two things are immediately obvious: Mishne’s study was considered worthy of academic funding, and it was considered worthy of an article in a popular science magazine.

The study doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t know before: unless you’re surprised by the revelation that people get more drunk at weekends, or people talk about Harry Potter books more when a new Harry Potter book goes on sale. The study is really considered funding-worthy and newsworthy because of what’s unsaid – the implication that the aggregation of internet chatter will reveal some new epistemological truth.
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Google outspooks the spooks with Total Information Awareness plan

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

Google wants to mirror and index every byte of your hard drive, relegating your PC to a “cache”, notes on a company PowerPoint presentation reveal.

The file accompanied part of Google’s analyst day last week. Google has since withdrawn the file, telling the BBC that the information was not intended for publication.

The justification for this enormous data grab is that Google would be able to restore your data after a catastrophic system failure.
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Wikipedia founder admits to serious quality problems

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

Encouraging signs from the Wikipedia project, where co-founder and überpedian Jimmy Wales has acknowledged there are real quality problems with the online work.

Criticism of the project from within the inner sanctum has been very rare so far, although fellow co-founder Larry Sanger, who is no longer associated with the project, pleaded with the management to improve its content by befriending, and not alienating, established sources of expertise. (i.e., people who know what they’re talking about.)

Meanwhile, criticism from outside the Wikipedia camp has been rebuffed with a ferocious blend of irrationality and vigor that’s almost unprecedented in our experience: if you thought Apple, Amiga, Mozilla or OS/2 fans were er, … passionate, you haven’t met a wiki-fiddler. For them, it’s a religious crusade.

In the inkies, Wikipedia has enjoyed a charmed life, with many of the feature articles about the five-year old project resembling advertisements. Emphasis is placed on the knowledgeable articles (by any yardstick, it’s excellent for Klingon, BSD Unix, and Ayn Rand), the breadth of its entries (Klingon again), and process issues such as speed.

“We don’t ever talk about absolute quality,” boasted one of the project’s prominent supporters, Clay Shirky, a faculty tutor at NYU. But it’s increasingly difficult to avoid the issue any longer.
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On Computers, Creativity and Copyright

Thursday, July 21st, 2005

“We’d run out of ironic things to say”
Neil Tennant

Creative Commons is an intriguing experiment to granulize the rights a creator has over his or her work, and to formalize what today is largely spontaneous and informal. What we rarely see when it is discussed, is a genuine attempt to answer the question “Why is it needed?”

For a very self-consciously idealistic “movement” this, absence of an explanation is surprising.

Behind the scheme is the recognition of a very real problem. The permission mechanisms by which rights holders grant or deny the reproduction of artistic works haven’t kept pace with technology. It’s now very easy to reproduce an image or a piece of music, but it remains just as easy, or difficult, to get the permission to use it. We now have an abundance of material available to us, they ask, so can’t we do more with it?

It’s a reasonable question, and Creative Commons is an attempt to answer it.

Let’s look closer at what it is.

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Never Hurd of the new HP boss?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2005

There’s a theory that British Prime Ministers, and England football managers, alternate between being bishops and bookmakers. A risk-taking rascal is succeeded by a dull, safe pair of hands, until the public clamor for the rascal once again.

By replacing the high-profile Carly Fiorina with the low-impact Mark Hurd from NCR, Hewlett Packard would appear to be following that script. The appointment of Hurd seems to signal that the board thinks HP’s core business is sound, and requires an administrator rather than a visionary. What’s needed at HP, they seem to want to tell us, are a few nuts tightened and tweaked, here and there. It’s a steady-as-she-goes appointment.
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