Jul 18

Steam Video

I got a little bit of video but hands were shaking too much to do for long. This is about 3 mins after the bang. The roar was the steam pouring out the hole.

Jul 18

Manhattan Explosion

Manhattan Explosion, originally uploaded by RachelC.

I was walking out of the office to the subway, headphones on, minding my own business and just cursing the slow people in front and the tourist taking a photo of the Chrysler building when there was a bang and then a rushing sound. I looked up to find what looked like the centre of Lex and 42nd crossing pouring out smoke about one block in front of me.

The general tendency was to go the other way, so that’s what I did before stopping and taking a few images. Interestingly, that this may have been a bomb was not my first thought – maybe I’ve seen too many on the news but given the upward flow and the continued rushing sound, i thought it was more likely a gas main or something that gave a continuous fuel supply.

I thought I’d go back to the office but that was evacuated but I’m lucky enough to live close enough to walk. So 40 blocks later, the shaking has stopped and I think I’m going for a drink.

Update: In the pub, there were 2 other guys who were around the same area. One of them worked above the steam/transformer explosion and said stones were hitting his 14th story window. They thought it was the building next door and it was not until he saw the news in the bar that he realised it was in the middle of the road.

Update: (from press conference) it was a 2 foot pipe installed in 1924 that burst, cold water on the pipe is likely suspect. At the moment 20 people injured 2 people critical, one fatality. Tow truck went into the crater. Oh, great, asbestos released possible – advised to take clothes and put away until confirmed. Grand Central open; Lex ave line impacted – nothing running in the area. Shuttle impacted, 7 not stopping at Grand central. Roads closed all the way round it at the moment.

Jul 18

CScout Trend Spotter

Do you fancy yourself as a trend spotter? Ray from CScout has asked me if I know anyone in London who wants to take a crack at spotting trends for them

Here’s a job description.

Background: living and /or working in London who is immersed in the web 2.0, technology sector, startup, social media communities. Good candidates in the past have been bloggers, writers, and marketers.

Duties: This is for part-time work, on a contract basis. Scouts could either have a day job in the area, or be a full time freelancer. Typical assignments are short reports in Word doc or PPT with text and images.

Fees and rates depend on length of project and experience.

CScout is a global trend consultancy with 12 full time employees in offices in New York, Munich, Tokyo, and Beijing. In addition, 25+ scouts placed globally are activated depending upon the needs of our clients.

They also have opening in Sydney and/or Melbourne. Contact Raymond for further details if interested: r a y . c h a at g m a i l ( d o t ) c o m , (you know the drill with munged addresses)

Jun 26

iPhone Madness

Noel and co, as part of his Luck of Seven series, have filmed two Apple fans waiting outside the Apple store at 5th ave New York. They both have blogs. Greg, from Long Island, does not own a Mac nor an iPod, still want a phone and does not know if he can keep it. Dave is third in line and wants to buy two and sell one for charity. Who’s second in line then? Dave’s reasoning:

I just graduated from college, and have another week of vacation to burn before I enter the work world. I can’t think of a better way to learn about New York than hanging out with a wide cross-section of the New York population. Granted, the thought of waiting in line might not strike you as an ideal vacation, but in my travels I’ve found that the best memories come from unscripted interactions with locals.

So go meet them and ask them why..and find out who’s number 2 inline 😉

Update: and here’s why Greg has no Apple products..he’s just a ‘professional’ liner-upper, who spends his life getting on the media. Dave sounds far more interesting (wonder if he’s told his parents yet?)

Jun 25

Social Networks and Class

danah boyd has posted a thoughts-in-progress study on class divides in the US youth use of social networks, looking at the different behaviours and cultural expectations of users of Facebook and MySpace.

Over the last six months, I’ve noticed an increasing number of press articles about how high school teens are leaving MySpace for Facebook. That’s only partially true. There is indeed a change taking place, but it’s not a shift so much as a fragmentation. Until recently, American teenagers were flocking to MySpace. The picture is now being blurred. Some teens are flocking to MySpace. And some teens are flocking to Facebook. Who goes where gets kinda sticky… probably because it seems to primarily have to do with socio-economic class.

A fascinating read, especially as it tries to delve into US class paradigms, which apparently are not spoken of, as opposed to the UK where we can have a ‘healthy’ debate about it, especially in comedy shows.

The BBC has also picked up this story, although they are identifying it as a formal study:

A six-month research project has revealed a sharp division along class lines among the American teenagers flocking to the social network sites.

and seem to be treating what is observational essay as a formal academic study, despite danah claiming the opposite: “Hopefully, one day, I can get the words together to actually write an academic article about this topic, but I felt as though this is too important of an issue to sit on while I find the words. So I wrote it knowing that it would piss many off.’

Jun 19


Looking at the UK home page for YouTube I see this video has been featured..a run through of a few of the regional accents from the UK. My home accent is close but not quite to the Brummie one, being from west of the city in the Black Country.

This guy’s pretty good at doing generalised version and throws in some jokes along the way. Just for those non-UK friends who’ve heard me talk about accents and words.

Jun 13

There’s no local

I was listening to local radio this morning. Local radio in this case being Leith FM and the lunchtime show provided by Ewan Spence. Through the power of the internet streaming the show and through the connections Ewan has around the world, he had listeners from San Francisco, New York, New Zealand and London. What do the ‘locals’ make of that, when requests for songs are global? ( I had my first radio request played. Woot!)

I’m also earwigging on the NMK forum, through Twitter and Jaiku and blog posts, finding enough content to have a pretty good idea of what is going on and the announcements that are made. For example, Jason Calacanis’s announcement of his ‘publically’ driven Mahalo Greenhouse came via Twitter and Suw Kevin. Not through any press release or traditional media method. (Corrected as I’m getting my Strange Attractors messed up. Not enough coffee when I was reading things)

Although one thing I remind people constantly is that the rise of a global connectivity is still only for the minority – a growing minority sure, but confirmed to people in certain countries of certain ages or inclination. Very few of the people I know ‘before web’ are connected in the same way; in fact very few of the people I’ve met where the meeting was not facilitated through the web, are connected in that way. So whilst a lot of us are all busy globalising the local, still remember the people who are local only.

Jun 11

MySpace Stalking

I had an interesting if slightly worrying experience last week with MySpace. A case of mistaken identity, I received 11 MySpace mails over 2 days from someone I had no recollection of ever meeting. Not of reporting him to the cops, which the first email accused me of doing. I got cajoled to phone him, threatened because I did not add him as a friend, questioned about who all my friends were, accused of being glam and then finally

woops: my bad thought u were another

For a moment, I did question how easily it would be to find me if someone wanted to. The abuse was reported – even if I was the person he thought I was, it was still abuse, but there has been no response, not even an automated one, from MySpace which does not fill me with confidence about their support service.

May 29

Dan Hon looking for work

Dan Hon, who I met at SXSW when he was talking on a panel about ARGs, is leaving Mind Candy, the company behind Perplex City. He’s been involved in building some of the more interesting online experiences that I’ve seen and is now looking for the next big thing. Anyone need somebody like that?

May 29

Brummie Girls

The most read BBC article at the moment is a piece entitled Brummie girls ‘not pretty enough’. Despite the local antipathy that I should be exhibiting to my Midlands’ neighbours (I’m a Black Country girl), I think it should really read ‘Brummie girls too intelligent to enter beauty contest’ 😉

May 29

Brain Hacking

Frisbee 26 May

After Frisbee on Saturday, it was back to Bre’s loft for barbeque, a pretty quiet affair with the holidays and people being away. Between burgers and beers, I did get to try out the Brain Machine, “It flashes LEDs into your eyes and beeps sounds into your ears to make your brain waves sync up into beta, alpha, theta, and delta brainwaves!”.

You come away from the experience feeling pretty relaxed, after staring at a kaleidoscope of shapes and colours for 14 minutes. Interestingly, everyone had seen different things and saw different predominate colours. Mine was yellow, others had pinks or reds or greens.

May 22

Resource hunt heating up

It looks like there is an hot market for digital advertising people; I’ve had 3 calls already this week for various roles, although none of them are much use to me as they don’t come with a visa. Anyone looking for media director, online account directors, worldwide directors of online strategy etc who can work in the US, let me know and I can point the cold callers to you next!

May 21

Wifi fears

There’s a little bit of a kerfuffle in the UK at the moment over stories that wifi may be harmful to you; Panorama, usually a serious programme appears to be running a story about a study they did to asses radiation levels of wifi in schools. Some calmer voices are entering the story and stating a more factual set of numbers but the classic comeback has to come from Phillip on the ORG mailing list, who brings our attention to the electromagnetic waves that emits at 100,000 times the frequency of wifi and at typically 60-100x the energy usage of wifi. So when are we challenging the electric lightbulb?

May 13

Tourist Week

My parents have been here since Wednesday, so for the last few days I’ve been a bit busy doing tourist stuff. Here’s some of the stuff we got up to.

  • Empire State Building. Turned up early just as the clouds were clearing. We walked straight through, were warned of no visibility, but we could see far enough to have fun. The viewing platform was practically empty, so there was not problem in getting a view without getting in peoples way.
    north east to the met life
  • went on three tours with Gray Line, uptown, downtown and Night tour. Well worth the $44 we paid, gave a great overview of the city.
  • Visited Liberty and Ellis Islands. There was a 90 minute wait for the ferry by the time we got there around 11.30 on a Saturday, so early planning is a must. Furthermore, there were no tickets left for the museum at the Statue of Liberty – you really need to book these online 48hours in advance. No matter, the wonder round the two islands was fun.
  • Went to see Spamalot. Very, very funny. Lots of injokes and you rally do need to have seen Monty Python to get some of the references. One funny line was heard on the way out, where the couple behind us were suggesting that they ought to send the musical to England as the English would really like the humour 😉
  • A day in the park. Started off one the rowing boats, then a couple of glasses of champaign, a picnic, a snooze and a stroll. I had fun on the boats; I’ve spent a lot of time coxing racing boats and the lingo has stuck, so much so that I tended to give instructions without thinking but not everyone understands terms such as ‘hard on stroke side’. In order to not use the language I had to think instead of just reacting.

The end a a full few days, we’re all tired, but a great introduction to the city, allowing more focused touristing the next time!

May 09

Barcamp in Business Week

Good to see a piece in Business Week about the *camp movement but not surprised at Tara’s reaction. The article explains what happened at Web2Open:

“Chris Messina, 26, and two fellow Web2Open organizers stood on chairs in one of the Moscone Center’s alcoves, addressing a crowd of about 80. Speaking without microphones, they asked everyone to introduce themselves and offer three “tags,” or one-word descriptions, to give a sense of their topics of interest.”

So Tara is feeling rightly aggrieved (and see Chris’s response as well):

Seriously…months of hard work and being the ‘lead’ on the project, I get reduced to a chair perched by-stander? Luckily Chris has piped up on the subject before me, but wtf?! This ain’t the first time. And I’m not imagining things.

From what I saw, Tara did a remarkable job in organising and pushing this event and the many others she gets involved in; not getting the recognition for that role does not help her nor does it help the general attitude towards such events, whcih can be self perpetuating. I look at the London Geek Dinners – the ‘open’ ones which tended to be typically male dominated (or were, I’ve not attended any for a year) and the Girl Geek Dinners that had an entry criteria for men – you had to be invited by a woman. Given the number of women who go to the latter, self-declared geeks, it’s not a lack of numbers that skews the ration but the perception of the event. Articles like this do no help open up that perception, do not make the events inviting to women in general.

However, as an aside, the recent Podcamp NYC was the most diverse ‘tech’ event I’d ever attended; I wonder if because the media moves more towards art than pure tech.

May 09

Lunch with Hugh and Charles

A last minute phone call from Hugh on Monday led to us meeting up for a drink which segued into lunch on Monday. The original plan was to have a quick catch-up, but it turned out that Charles was the lunch date… so I ended up staying around for a good natter.

May 03

Watching the Daily Show recording

On Tuesday, I went along to a recording of The Daily Show, thanks to Sarah Forrester who arranged tickets for Ian and her’s trip over. The overall process is tiring but thankfully well organised. You can get the free tickets online.

First of all, you have to get there early. They advise you to get there between 3.30 and 4.30; we were there are 3.50 and only just made it, there were only about 20 people behind us who got in. Just because you have tickets does not guarantee you a spot. The you sit and wait. And wait. They did not start to move us until about 5,30, where we snaked round the corner to the next waiting spot. Then they give you the speech about what you can do and not do – cheer loudly, enjoy it, no cameras, no getting up, no eating or drinking. The next step is to invite you to use the bathroom, then it’s through the metal detector (where Sarah and I were both surprised to be asked ‘any guns, knives or pepper spray’? If we had, do you think we’d say yes?).

Once we got into the studio, we were lucky to be on the front row, a great view as long as the cameras were not directly in front of you. The warm up guy was Paul Mecurio, a really funny comic who got us all laughing whilst plugging his tour and taking the complete piss out of the audience. Once the show started it all went pretty smoothly; everything looked tightly scripted and there was only one small retake, whilst filming this clip. Toby Maguire was the guest – I’d hate to have his schedule at the moment, from what he said, he did not know which show he was on until he turned the corner to see Jon Stewart.

Apr 18

A Day of Silence

Ewan is blogging his response to the proposed One Day of Blogging silence

In the Great War (1914-18), over nine million people died. To remember them, those who have fallen in the Second World War, and others who have fallen in battle, an annual silence for two minutes is held on the eleventh day of the eleventh month; Rememberance Day.

I therefore find the initial campaign idea of the ‘One Day Blog Silence,’ where people will fall silent for twenty four hours to honour the thirty three victims of the Virginia Tech shootings to be both out of proportion and, quite frankly, wrong. Yes there is a huge personal tragedy here, but that’s life. That’s what it means to be human. I don’t see us stopping for thirty three people run over in a major city every day. Or (to go to the extreme scale) the hundreds of thousands of dead in Iraq.

So I went to the page and found this:

On April 30th 2007, the Blogosphere will hold a One-Day Blog Silence in honor of the victims at Virginia Tech. More then 30 died at the US college massacre.

And my first response – annoyance. Who was this person who was talking for me, controlling what I can and cannot do; trying to control what people can say through their own platforms. Following the links from Technorati, I find similar sentiments, for many reasons. Bonnie at cribchronicles.com

i have no problem with you choosing to be silent on April 30th to honour the VT dead. i know your intentions are good. but to try to co-opt the blogosphere en masse to accord with your intent by making a declaration of silence, you leave some of us in the terrible position of appearing to disrespect the deaths at VT by honouring our own dead with words. words are all i have to give my son. and that date – or any other – is not yours, nor mine, to own. invite people to join in your campaign, sure. but do not dictate others’ speech or silence at will.

The idea came from Steli Efti, who found he could not write about how he felt about the tragedy that happened on Monday. The proposal comes from the heart, a feeling that they have to show their support. And whilst I fully understand that, co-opting every single blog writer is not necessarily the right way.

Read Lorrelle’s story of being in Israel on Holocaust Memorial Day, when the whole country grinds to a halt and what that time means to her. I’ve stood on the streets of London the week after the July Tube bombings for 2 minutes and watched Oxford street still as the buses halted. As Ewan says, the UK (and much of the Commonwealth, holds 2mins silence for Remembrance Sunday. I have a choice to remember the dead that way or to do so in another manner. And that will not include a whole day not expressing myself.

Virginia Tech suffered an unimaginable tragedy for an educational establishment in the US, a relatively safe country compared to many around the world, where war or random acts of violence happen every day. The VT killings happened in one of the most media-intense countries, where there was nothing but the story on the news. It’s also one of the more connected countries, and first person accounts through video, through live streaming, blogging, memorial pages and everything else let you watch and read multiple viewpoints on the day’s happening. (and the good and bad of the collision of those 2 worlds is a completely different story). The victims of this crime will be remembered in multiple ways – so spare some time to think of those who will not be given the same focus.