Café Audioscrobbled

So here’s an idea for members or regulars at the London Social Media Café.

You make LSMC a friend of yours on last.fm. When you come in, you swipe your card so our central electronic brain knows that you’re there. From here you’re in a group and the sound system plays radio from last.fm based on type of music favoured by the group of people who are in the house today.

Does last.fm work like that? I’ve never been able to listen to music and do computer based work at the same time, so it’s kind of passed me by.

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The first greenthing

Remember this?

Well now there’s this.

So I did this to see if it helps in any way.

Thinking that either slopping this in your iPod and listening to it might take your mind off a boring 10-minute walk or listening to me huffing and puffing in light drizzle might make you think “I can do better than that loser”.

To Let

oct 07 051oct 07 056
oct 07 058oct 07 048

Had a little wander around a little bit of Soho on Wednesday to see what I could see that might be of use to someone thinking about a London Social Media Café. I only covered Brewer St, Wardour St, Dean St & Berwick St and the thoroughfares in between (you know the places you’re most likely to trip over Charles Frith at 5am… allegedly)

I took some pics of the ad boards from commercial property agents. Lots of upstairs offices. One or two boarded up or broken down café type spaces including one with a To Let sign in the window.

Left me wondering whether LSMC could operate in what is existing office space. Obviously you’d lose the passing trade, non-social-media traffic but still not sure how much that would be anyway. Also, don’t know if that sort of thing means a change of use and therefore requires some government interference, or looking at it in a more practical way, what you can get away with without upsetting Westminster CC.

And so farewell, New Piccadilly.... <sniff>Bonus pic: Before I got that far, I went and snapped the New Piccadilly which is now closed and boarded up. Anyone (Russell?)have any pointers to stories or info on whether the signage or any innards have been preserved?

Mippin

I was invited yesterday to see a demo of Mippin which is being launched today by Refresh. Very, very simple stuff to read web content on your phone. I like.

I remember being interested in their previous (and still going strong) product, mobizines (Scott describes mippin as mobizines on steroids) but was put off by the restricted content available and the java client. These Refresh guys have taken the good idea from it – we want to be able to read cool stuff as easily on the phone as you do on your desktop – but they’ve moved away from the horrors of transcoding a 15″ experience in its entirety down to a variety of small mobile screens and gone for the fact that most sites already produce content in a presentation-independent form – their RSS feed.

As a service, you can look at it two ways – as a “publisher” I get to include my RSS feed in their database, then if I want to I can opt to splice ads into the feed (in the same way that feedburner does) from which Mippin takes a small cut. Bigger publishers will want to customise the way that their feed is displayed and they can do this too.

As a “user” I can subscribe to the feeds I want and I can search for terms (or URLs) to find new stuff – so for example putting the URL for this blog into the search box returns a picture and title and a link for each post. A click on the link takes me to an uncluttered version of the post. Perhaps a little too uncluttered – the links have been stripped. But there is another link there to go to the original post (and you can pass it on by mail, sms or twitter – nice) There’s a kind of history page too so I can go to my regular reads. I see it primarily as an RSS reader for my phone. So of course my feature requests are to make it behave a bit more like an aggregator – I’d like a river of news view. I’d like to be able to define groups of subscriptions and get a river of news from each. I’d also like to be able to turn off ads, oh yes and I’d also like a zeitgeist tagcloud to be able to see what’s hot. Scott was boasting that moving from downloadable client to browser meant that their development times have been slashed, so I expect to see my requests implemented well before Christmas 🙂

As an aside, the experience is still dependent on the browser though – I want a really good free browser for my Windows Mobile Smartphone – IE just doesn’t cut the mustard, although I’m also tempted by a Nokia 800 or an iTouch.

Disclosure: I was given two cups of delicious coffee (and offered more). There was cake. Mike Butcher ate some cake, but I stuck to coffee.

Professional Crap Sifters

sep 07 049It seems that London’s opera critics think that Sally Potter’s Carmen is, well, a bit crap. I can’t comment, I haven’t seen it yet – but I still love the blogging and videoblogging over on the ENO’s mini-site. A couple of the critics have been a bit sneery about the whole 2.0 angle on this but I think they’re missing the point – the show may be gimmicky (err.. I don’t think opera folk call it a show, but you know what I mean) but the blog isn’t – I really think it’s taken a big step in a new direction for the Arts, opening up the creative process and the backstage, as the production progressed, rather than filming a fly-on-the-wall and then stitching it all together later. This shows up “what *were* they thinking?” as lazy rhetoric – you could have seen what they were thinking by following the site. The real question for the critics is “if they’ve been talking about what they’re going to do for so long and in such detail, why did the bits you don’t like in the production come as such a surprise to you?” and why weren’t you writing something about it back then?

I really hope that the ENO has the courage to keep that material up and to carry on with this experiment now and into future – it adds a layer of interestingness before you see the show as well as afterwards – it’s icing on the cake. As I say I haven’t seen the show, so I don’t know if this is an occasion to peel the icing off and give the cake to the dog or whether this is professional critics talking out of their arses again. Now is the time for the Carmen folk to get the conversation really going – fight back or surrender, doesn’t matter which, but say something.

The thing is that critics are part of the problem with opening up performance to a wider audience. The good news is that their power is diminishing as we gain the opportunity to hear people we know and trust talk about what they like and don’t like. I much prefer getting recommendations from my friends and I look forward to seeing some ordinary people’s reaction to Carmen, people who don’t have any prejudice against ENO and don’t already have a fixed opinion about how this opera needs to be done in London today.

I went to a C4 Education screening last night entitled “TV is dead?” My answer – read my blog (two years ago! – funnily enough about the same time as I started thinking about blogging for theatre) The bit in the programme where, if I’d been at home, I’d have been shouting at the telly, was when someone from the Beeb trotted out the old line that in future, as media professionals, they would be the people that we could trust to sift out the crap. NO, BBC, STOP! I don’t want your opinion on what’s crap and what’s not, I want you to make excellent programmes that no one else can make. More “Dr Who”, “Comics Britannia”, “Windscale”, “The Mighty Boosh” (oh God! *More* Storyville, not less!!!!) and fewer animals stuck up trees and celebrities who can’t tap dance.

Phew!

I really liked that younger people were included in the debate in a fairly unpatronising way, though friends and other regular readers know what I think of panel sessions.

Missing from last night was any recognition that the internet is about social interaction not content delivery (just like TV has always been) and so you should be concentrating on making stuff that people want to interact around rather than worrying about how they get it and whether everyone’s paid exactly the right money (whole other rant on that one – tell us straight – how much money gets spent on protecting rights? – how much more or less is it than the amount of money you currently lose to “piracy” – how much more money might you actually make if you weren’t so tight arsed about it all – *hint* watch Radiohead very carefully)

Also missing was any glimmer of understanding that advertising might not work any more. The real question here is “TV Advertising is Dead?” And it comes in two parts – 1. People don’t want to be interrupted or fed commercial information any more, they want it self-service and 2. The current advertising sales model is based on pulling the wool over the eyes of advertisers with extrapolations from sample audiences – what happens when you (and they) start to get real audience numbers in real time based on actual attention data from your viewers/subscribers in a form that makes comparison with other online media forms more like-for-like?