It’s called a “holiday” apparently

I’m going away for a week. Not taking a computer (except my phone). Not likely to be online at all. May twitter by SMS or do a Facebook status update if I can get to GPRS. e-mail is unlikely to be answered. Hope to walk, talk, eat, read, write a little, do as little normal stuff as possible. Am being dared to enter the Cornish waters in swimming trunks. If that happens, fear not, there will be no photos.

Bak sun!

An amateur writes…

Thanks Adam for pointing to Michael Billington’s piece on theatre criticism.

I wish I had more time to respond, but in the few minutes before I get in the shower, I would add these points:

A great number of the theatre directors I’ve spoke to about in-house (marketing, if you like) blogging they have seen it’s *primary purpose* as circumventing what they see as piss-poor print-bound criticism which can kill a show’s sales just because the critic had a hangover.

Mr Billington should have a look here for an explanation of how to deal with that “relentless din”

I sat in front of Mr Billington at a press night last week. He was very well behaved, as you’d expect. The same can’t be said for one of his peers who threatened to disrupt the beginning of the show because the seat he’d been given didn’t suit his taste.

Is anyone doing (new)media literacy classes for these poor old hacks? How can we help them distinguish between the different types of blogging in theatre, spot the good stuff in among the rest and understand that you don’t have to read them all, any more than you have to read every column-inch of a newspaper.

ENO getting it spot on for Carmen

I just love the Carmen blog from the English National Opera.

It’s exactly what I was talking about here

Well done to the folk at interesource who got it going, but super well done to the ENO people who seem to have taken to it as naturally as I’d hoped. I was really grateful to get to talk to John Berry a few weeks ago and hear his take – I came away understanding that ENO was an obvious place to do this – democratisation of access to opera is one of their cornerstones. We also talked about ‘bootstrapping’ online and offline relationships and I thought I saw a small lightbulb go on.

There’s a ton of cool video on the site – perhaps too many talking heads (but who am I to talk!) but some fantastic music and behind the scenes action. Go look.

I think it’s a great example of post-geek bloggery – as I’ve been saying for a while, make your own fly-on-the-wall documentary of what you’re doing rather than getting a crew in to follow you around and then stitch you up after the event.

When I’ve pitched this idea to other people, the perceived barriers have been (lack of) editorial control and shining the light on the creative process too early. I don’t know what the process has been for creating content here, but I can’t imagine that Sally Potter has had to get her blog approved by a committee every time she writes.

One suggestion – a more obvious place to find CC-licenced images for bloggers to use to illustrate their posts about you 🙂

3 years (not very) hard labour

macro 008Happy blog birthday to Perfect Path!

The first post now reads, to me anyway, as part-excuse for not blogging before, part-excuse for starting at all. But here is the most interesting bit for me three years on:

"What makes me hirable is the sum of everything that I’ve done in the past and am capable of doing in the future - and that a traditional CV doesn’t give the flavour of real me (yum). "

I never meant there to be quite so much flavour, but I think that sums up what this blog has turned out to be most about – what I’ve done and what I’m capable of doing. This blog has always been about me getting hired.

Above all, I started writing here to keep in touch with more people than I could have coffee with and still make money. I had no clue that it would be something I’d end up doing for big organisations – this morning I interviewed a Global Vice President of an oil company who insisted on wearing a heavily-branded jacket and baseball cap throughout and I spent this afternoon writing about sexual health services for young people in Surrey.

I also never thought I’d get so many friends! It really warms my heart that I’ve had conversations in twitter today with people in Washington, California and Texas as well as Butler’s Wharf and err… Sutton – and that I could drop into Open Coffee this morning and instantly find people who got what I was talking about even if we’ve never met, together with happy smiley facebook friends. Thank you everybody.

I can’t see how any of this could be possible without this silly little personal publishing platform.

Dressing Up Dogs: Right or Wrong?

Regular readers will remember Ms Debbie Davies who used to hang around the Perfect Path making snowmen and feeding the ducks. She was last seen here being stalked by Clangers.

Oh, but now she’s got a sensible job – helping people make videos like this one for

mintyDo go along and have your say on the hottest debate of the century so far. Should Minty The Pug (pictured) have to wear these ridiculous outfits? Are pugs about as close to humans as you can get? Go! Don’t leave your asinine comments here, take them with you and deposit them on’s doorstep, then set them on fire and ring the doorbell, they’ll come out and stamp on your comments to put the fire out only to find that they’ve got your words, burnt, all over their shoes.

I pity the troll

keen dont wantWell, more like I have some compassion for him – but “I have compassion for the fool” sounds like something Martin in the Simpsons would get punched for saying (more Simpsons later).

I went to the Frontline Club last night, actually, thanks Euan for reminding me that I *paid* to go to the Frontline Club and hear Andrew Keen speak about his book what he wrote. I got to meet Richard Sambrook and Graham Holliday and had a quick drink and catch up with Euan afterwards so it was worth it actually.

Andrew is a man who clearly gets something out of being (metaphorically) beaten up by one half of the audience while the other half looks on, amazed and puzzled by the rage of their usually rational fellows. I couldn’t help thinking that this is probably a situation Andrew has found himself in again and again. I felt very much like I was watching an unconscious videotape of the world according to Andrew Keen aged four and a half. He behaves like a picky child. “Don’t want this. Don’t want that. Don’t…. want” So, to save you from reading his book or paying to feed him in some other way, let me summarise what he doesn’t like:

democracy (he spits the word “democratisation” when he reads from his book)
Dave Winer
people ‘stealing’ stuff on the web
people having the chance to ‘criticise’
people making economic choices
free markets
state regulated markets
Glen Reynolds
Tim O’Reilly
Jeff Jarvis

By the way, when I asked him the question “So what *do* you want” I included liberty rather than libertarian – yes I do know the difference, but I’d slipped into troll behaviour too – I’m not immune to it, that’s why I have compassion for him.

He said that he wants “an information economy that reports objectively and employs trusted and respected professionals”.

Other classic quotes:

“Who am I to say that people in China shouldn’t blog”
“Journalists should be more arrogant”
“If you’re being paid and someone is editing you, then you’re a professional journalist”
“I don’t like the idea of humility”
“Tell me a blogger who’s better than Polly Toynbee”

stop. sniggering.

The story I took away is that he went to foocamp and got the wrong end of the stick. From the reports I’ve seen, foocamp does not represent what the majority of us are doing on the web no matter how much Tim O’Reilly would like it to. Its exclusivity goes against all of the openness that makes our experience here worthwhile. foocamp’s greatest contribution is the Barcamp movement which was created in reaction to it. Does Andrew know what Dave Winer looks like when he gets mail from Tim?

When Euan called him a troll, and then asked him if he knew what that meant, he said “No”. I said “Liar” I kinda hope the mic picked it up, though that’s not the behaviour I aspire to.

Struggling with my conscience, I whispered to Adriana next to me “How do you handle trolls offline without resorting to physical violence?”. The Simpsons, of course, has the answer – Treehouse of Horror VI – The Attack of the 50ft Eyesores in which Homer steals a giant donut from a collossal Lard Boy advertising statue prompting Lard Boy and several other promotional likenesses come to life and terrorise Springfield. Lisa asks an ad man what to do – he explains that the advertisements need attention to stay alive and so aided by a nifty jingle performed by Paul Anka, the townsfolk’s attention is ironically drawn away from the misbehaving mannekins who all fall down dead.

Tom Coates thinks Andrew should go on the naughty step. My positive experience of parenthood has come from encouraging the desirable, ignoring the undesirable, and getting them in the kitchen making some donuts.

I agree with Andrew Keen

Sorry for using his shock tactics to grab your attention, but as I rode home from listening to the troll, Andrew Keen, I realised there was something I could agree with him on:

He says Web2.0 is just a mirror for our culture and society.

I see a new-found confidence, optimism and freedom. I see happiness and laughter. I see a breathing out, a loosening of the belt, a relaxing, a kicking off of the shoes. I see humility and humanity. I see maturity.

He sees threats, groundless criticism, a loss of authority. He sees immaturity and people making outrageous statements in order to gain attention. He sees selfishness and self-centredness. He sees confusion, stealing and interference.

You look in the mirror and you see what you are.

More in the morning…

audio madness

I’d love to write about what’s going on here at podcamp uk but i’m finding it very difficult because everyone’s so noisy 😀

What a surprise that when you get a bunch of podcasters together they talk and talk and talk and shout and play music and talk and laugh and shout some more.

The other problem I have is that I’m having to use a mac which also has weird colour coded keys , it looks like for some sort of media editing software. However, I’m quite pleased to actually be participating a lot more than when I spend all of my time live-blogging for a change.

I’ve also just looked at my phone and seen that I have 4 new v-mail messages, so perhaps I should find somewhere quiet to listen to them…


PW003-03I’m late. I’m on my way to podcamp uk in Birmingham but forgot that the Victoria line is subject to many and various improvements. This was my first mistake of the day. I think. Maybe I made some others before that, but if I did, their consequences haven’t come home to me yet.

So I waited patiently for the replacement bus service. Watching the thin clouds roll by over Pimlico Tube Station and being patient. The woman next to me suddenly shrieked at the man over the road “Is the bus coming today then?” He smiled, “To Victoria? Yes.” “Not tomorrow then” she muttered. By the time it arrived there were five or six of us. Two hipsters who had probably been up all night assumed their place at the front of the queue, just behind the shrieking woman. A west-end cosmetics sales girl joined me in silent acceptance, and I went upstairs.

I thought as we made our way up Belgrave Road that at least the bus wouldn’t be stopping at every stop along the way, that perhaps the bus would be quicker than the tube with not having to go up and down escalators. I gave inner thanks when the grumblers grumbled their way down the stairs while the driver took a convoluted way into Victoria bus station and pulled out my phone to twitter:

“Late already on my way to podcampuk, forgot that victoria line is down. Oh well, sun is shining & i’m on the bus :)”

Considering while I did so whether to make that #podcampuk or whether it should start #podcampuk or whether that was the right tag to use anyway. Then I realised that I’d made my second mistake of the day almost immediately after coming to terms with my first. I had assumed that the bus would be covering the whole of the Victoria Line but it turned out that only Brixton to Victoria was down and so the bus was shuttling between. I asked out loud but no-one on the upper deck seemed to understand English except a kind German, possibly Austrian or Czech guy who said “No, we go now to Brixton” as we whistled down Vauxhall Bridge Road. So…when…was.. he going to…. turn off… to Pimlico? Err… at the junction with Grosvenor Road? At which point all the folk who had secretly been glad that we’d missed out a station started getting shouty. “WTF! I’m already late” announced one particularly loud African behind me and all I could do was laugh. We were going back almost exactly to where I had started. A return to Pimlico station wasn’t good enough, we were going to get there by going past my front door. The driver, clearly lost, turned into A. Street and, realising his mistake, started to reverse back onto Grosvenor Road and retraced his route. Rumbling and grumbling came from upstairs. The one-way system around Pimlico tube meant that he had to go all the way up to Warwick Way (he put his foot down) while the Polish builders and early-bird travellers of many other nationalities shouted at him that he didn’t know where he was going or what he was doing. They’d tell him the way, they said. He tried to explain that the signs were not in place, and that the route was always changing, but quickly settled down to: “Yes, I know, I’m wrong, I made a mistake, I apologise” The best form of defence is surrender. I hopped off when we arrived at Pimlico and dashed across the road to get on the next one going back to Victoria. We went straight up Belgrave Road. The NAO clock said 07.05 and my train had just left Euston at 07.00

At Victoria I approached a pair of men in Underground vests marked “Happy to Help” – happy perhaps but sadly unable to help in English. I realised that actually I just wanted to talk to someone to explain what had just happened to me, perhaps admit my mistake, have a laugh about it. But no, I just got advice that the No. 73 goes to Euston. I could have made myself later by insisting on having the conversation I wanted but perhaps it was best to just go downstairs and get on a train.

Finally sitting on a tube, I watched a crowd of 19-year-olds (eek! maybe younger!) wandering in a substance-related haze, shouting at each other trying to find the way out. Times have changed. When I were a lad none of us would have been anywhere near as chatty – our drugs were depressants. We had just as late nights, but not nearly such noisy mornings.

Euston at 07.28 – next train to Birmingham at 08.17 so time for an overpriced Americano in Caffe Ritazza (where I wrote the bulk of this) before squeezing into a second class seat (where I wrote the rest) with handy access to screaming toddlers, tutting pensioners, a lady knitting a lilac cardi sleeve and chatty sub-sloane gels with their arses hanging out of their jeans.