Aug 14

Advertising and Bias in BLogs.

Dave Taylor has an analysis of ‘professional’ blogging or the steps towards it. Whether we like it or not, we’re likely to display bias for or against a product based on past history and personal values. If a company is either paying or just providing a product to review, subconciously you are more likely to pre-disposed to saying to something positive. Even if you end up negative, I’m pretty sure there would have been a moment of questioning.

Look at the posts about the Stormhoek free wine offer. It looks like around 25-30% of people who received a bottle blogged about it (there was no compulsion to mention it) and they are postive about the wine and give good coverage. But did the fact we got it free mean that we had a unconscious expectation to like it?

Dave concludes

The question, then isn’t whether to do it, but whether to disclose, and I suggest that the answer to this supposed ethical dilemma is simply to state that bloggers should use their own judgment. If it is a relationship that’s going to compromise your own integrity, where you’re forced to say positive things about something that you don’t like or wouldn’t otherwise recommend, then you have a problem and you should disclose it to your readers in the interest of retaining your credibility. If not, though, if you’re a gadget freak and Sony or Nokia sending you a neato new toy just sidesteps you having to buy one, well, I suggest that’s not an ethical dilemma at all and doesn’t need to be disclosed.

So instead of a rule or guideline at all, let’s just start talking about a best practice and let each blogger decide where along the disclosure continuum they feel most comfortable.

It’s always going to be down to personal values and beliefs whether or not you blog about products that you may have received or be paid to dicuss. And it’s down to the reputation and trust your readers have in you to determine whether such posts are worth it

Aug 13

13 Aug snippets

Interesting snippets.

  • Delaware Supreme Court being asked to rule on identity disclosure of anonymous posters to a blog who allegedly defamed a local council man.
  • Google have stopped copying books for 4 months until they can sort out copyright issues. I’m surprised they could even think about doing this without getting specific OKs from the copyright holders, this definitely goes beyond fair use.
  • Microsoft have the best media reputation in the US. The survey from Delahaye looks at stakeholder relations, financial management, products and services, organizational integrity and organizational strength. Via Mike Torres
  • Aug 11

    Ever changing face of English

    The second edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English is published this week, with a raft of new words. Of interest are some of the following definitions;

    – chugger – a person who approaches passers-by in the street asking for donations or subscriptions to a particular charity.
    – offshoring – the practice of basing some of a company’s processes or services overseas, so as to take advantage of lower costs.
    – wiki – a website or database developed collaboratively by a community of users, allowing any user to add and edit content.
    – retail politics – US a style of political campaigning in which the candidate attends local events in order to target voters on a small-scale or individual basis.

    There’s also a whole list of words that have not yet made the dictionary, such as soduku, micromoments,

    Aug 10

    Podcasting: Bubble or Mainstream

    No-one is sure. At the same time as the term “Podcast” (digital recording of a radio broadcast made available on the internet for downloading to a personal audio player) enters the Oxford Dictionary of English, its demise is already being predicted. Forrester Research Analyst Ted Schadler is expecting a boom and then a long tail off, as only the most valuable ‘casts are left. This comes on the same day as Adam Curry’s Podshow Inc receives $8.85 Million in funding

    Aug 08

    MSN Filter

    Must say the MSN Filter leaves me a little underwhelmed. I’m not sure exactly what it is trying to do, the interface/portal just feels a little staid and the lack of personalisation (ie who writes) is annoying. If you look there are posts about who is doing what, but nothing jumps out at you.

    Interstingly, despite a a ‘mission statement of: “MSN Filter is your one-stop shop for the inside scoop on what’s happening across the Web, according to the people who know the most”, most of the links currently go to mainstream media sites.

    Aug 07

    Stormhoek wine

    I finally received my wine as part of Hugh’s offer and, more importantly, finally got time to drink it. First impressions are good- how often do you get drink with your name on. On pouring, the colour is pale and clear; the nose is crisp, lemony, smells fresh and perfect for summer. On tasting, there’s a tongue-tingling fizz, usually a sign of CO2 being present, a little bite of acid. Drinking some the next day, this had mellowed. The taste matches up to the nose, freshness, tastes expeceted from Savignon Blanc, leaving a smooth aftertaste.

    Alltogether a very pleasnat wine, perfect for barbecues and matching with fish/meat to cut through the oil. I’ll be looking out for it when shopping.

    Jul 25

    Blogging and Jobs

    I missed Tom Reynold’s talk on Saturday about Blogging and Keeping your Job; today I see that someone else has lost their job after their online activities got noticed. Nadine Haobsh had an anonymous blog ‘Jolie in NYC’, that gossiped about her job as associate beauty editor at Ladies’ Home Journal. Her first post appears to be July 1, shew was unmasked and fired by July 22. That’s pretty good going by anyone’s standards. Reading her entries, there’s nothing that jumps out as being a trigger for a sacking, but as she says:

    To all you would-be bloggers out there: even if you truly are “just being funny” or “don’t really mean it”, think before you write. And definitely don’t write about your industry: things will absolutely be taken out of context or interpreted incorrectly, and that’s just not fun for anybody.

    In my case, I don’t hide who I am, nor do I hide the blog from colleagues at work. But I read the guidelines very carefully before I started (in a couple of cases made sure that blogs were mentioned for future policies) and tend to avoid work if possible.

    Jul 07

    London news

    Risk procedures now get rolled out; we all have to report in when we get home and have been told not to come in tomorrow…or ‘work from home’ – so no day off.

    Wikipedia has a pretty comprehensive summary of all of the days events so far, pulling together information from many sources.

    Technorati tags:

    Jul 02

    Live8: more trite, more seriousness

    Jonathan Ross (very tongue-in-cheek): Make poverty history and get Robbie laid, that’s the two messages we’re sending out now

    David Sillito, BBC News, backstage at Hyde Park:
    Chris Martin is having a chat with the Kofi Annan outside a portacabin with Sir Elton John, Richard Ashcroft and Annie Lennox all looking on. Around 300 other people are trying to master the art of staring at celebrities while looking as though they are far to cool to be bothered by all this. (From BBC)

    Ian Youngs, BBC News at Hyde Park
    To reinforce his message, Bob Geldof introduced a survivor of the 1984 Ethiopian famine. It was an emotional moment and proved to the crowd they could make a difference. But the embarrassed-looking young lady was then dragged around the stage by Madonna during her first song. The clash of serious message with frivolous pop suddenly became a little uncomfortable.

    Random crowd quotes:
    – I’ll never do it agian in my lifetime, it’s good to have done it
    – The music’s great; great cause.
    – It’s our duty to do this

    Madonna: it’s a much bigger issue that my own personal problems…I would go there [Africa] if I could effect real change, and not something momentary.

    The Killers: People today are coming together as a family, because our brothers and sisters in Africa require our help.

    Lenny Henry: [Why are we here..] We’re all really scared of Bob Geldof..and the poverty thing, that too

    Andrew Marr: debt cancellation is virtually done. There will be a deal on aid…$25b extra…but it is still not sorted. Trade…that’s the hard bit and not getting very far…we may get some good words on it…African politicians have to put their own houses in order… Nobody should come away from this thinking.. Make poverty history, it’s a great concert, it’s a tick in the box and thats it.

    Lots of photos, from concerts and marches.

    With a touch of serendipity, my previous post was picked up by someone who has anger that the focus is on this and not this. I’m just quoting some of the things I hear, small indications of various sincerity levels.

    Do I think that 9 concerts around the world, attended by a few million, watched by billions can magically change the world. No. But nor can a march of 200000 in Edinburgh. The only people who have a major impact are the politicians, who control the flow of aid and debt and, far more importantly, access to markets and trade; the politicians in both the G8 countries and those in charge of the countries impacted in Africa and other areas of the world affected by poverty. But slowly, slowly, the politicians listen and slowly, something may be done. People need to think they are doing something to encourage this listening. By attending a march. By dancing at a concert. By signing an online petition. By writing a blog post. By donating money. You need to do what your conscious drives you to Read this for another take on the matter.

    Sorry, rant over…


    Jun 10

    Wikipedia – Reboot7

    More notes and interpretations. For more stuff, try Technorati, which is pulling up lots of stuff from people here.

    The afternoon keynote is from Jimbo Wales, from Wikipedia “feeely licensed encyclopedia”. The system is expanding to more than jus thte encyclopedia, covering dictionares, books, news etc. 500 million page views monthly. Wikipedia is almost all done by volunteers, only 1 full time employee. Growth has been ompressive, now comparable with, which got sold recently for lots.

    I’ve just been introducing the idea of a wiki to brand teams at work, and they just loved it. From starting to think about a centralised route of information, they grasped very quickly the strength of a shared system – and now want to try it.

    Comparison of models – emergent model – needs reputation, and users are tinly. A community model has reputation being an outgrowth of human interactions and users are powerful and respected.

    In the english wikipedia, the are 0.7% of the people doing >50% edits, 2% >75%. On the Danish version, 3 people are responsible for 33% of edits. So we do get a driving force , but you can still do it anomously – allows people to say things they may not want everyone to know.

    “But what about quality control”. The history helps, the cmparisons help – allows user to make more of an objective PoV onthe changes, you can see what people think and argue about. “the community determines how it wants to interact” – the discussion based process for deletions allows judgements to be made, more than democracy where it works on stright votes – there’s a moderator who can take judgement calls based on trust.

    Another key concept is about shared ownership – the articles are owned by the community so are looked after by the ownership. So this is group pride? This is tied into the social concept of “Neutral Point of View” – no stands, present both sides. Allows people to work together in a way that allows some recognition of differences. And a final foundation is the fact that is all shared software and done under GPL licences – so the content and the code can be taken easily – the suggestion is that this drives good stewardship.

    A mix of “consensus, democracy, aristocracy and monarchy”. The monarch is Jimbo. And he is trying to become more of a constitutional monarch, letting power move to the community. The community values the results over the process – they want to create the info.

    “how can such a large community scale” – software features (automating some management); policy of mediation and arbitration (ban the troublemakers?) and an “atmosphere of love and respect”…mmmm to don’t here that often in the software inductry.

    This talk is far more like a lecture than many of the previous ones, seems more like a sales talk despite the anecdotes and the good info.

    Onto the questions.

    “is there opposition from governments” A = no, China has blocked them twice, but is back OK. Otherwise no issues, and fear is more that govs will take credit.

    “will it ever become fixed” = no, but they will take snapshots of articles when it is ‘good enough’, to be shared through the non technical route (not everyone has web access)

    “what about metadata and more structured content” = there’s category tagging, but tags are reviewed and things can be moved to a different structure.. Making the data be more easily used – they are looking to explore this.

    “whats the reaction to the WikiNews from papers/content owners” = it appears they have not really understood the size. questions are about trust etc, but no real scathing attacks -that may be because of their “humanitarian” agenda.

    “does wikipedias interface limit the users to those that are more technically minded” Jimbo thinks it does, Ithinnk its because they are the first people to discover it. Show it to people who have never seen it – they get it. Quickly. It’s more about the visibility.

    Jun 10

    The new cult

    Blogging is a faith that drives a cult. A cult that may lead to the truth. So says Jason Calacanis talking about colaborative consumer journalism, where a small pebble can gather enough momentum to cause an avalanche. A journalist may never have the time and the resources to follow the small stories, they are in a business. They have to make money for the media owners. But bloggers aren’t always in it for the money. they like the truth and don’t necessarily want to prostitute themselves. A quick survey of the audience seemed to say that most people are not making money from the blog (but more make money from something that happened because of their blog.)

    Do blogs have a better history of the truth – they may have a better process to get tothe truth, if corrections are open (instead of buried in a small paragraph in the back of the paper when the original story was on the front page. A well read blog will get corrections from its readers in a very real-time manner. And updates and rewrites can be made in the same timeframe.

    A further point being made about RSS feeds and how they can be used to steal content. This could drive to people to turning off the full feeds – especially if other people are making money by putting ads on the blogs that contains stolen content.

    A final comment was about getting ‘ratings’ for commenters and bloggers, so you can build up the trust system. Over longer term, assessment can be made about contributors value.

    Jun 10

    reboot7.0 day 1

    First day of the conference and listening tothe first 2 speeches –
    from Doc Searls and Robert Scoble, followed by a short (very short) Q&A session. Very different styles of presentation. The first was from a slideslow, the second from some written otes and very much winging it. But both valuable. Both about conversations, the language that is used and the barriers that can be bent or broken. Now we start to break up into different conversations.

    May 22

    I say portal, you say what?

    I don’t particularly like portals. I look at the default pages of excite, or yahoo or the many like them and just get turned off and move along rapidly. When BT upgraded to BTYahoo, I got sent emails and phonecalls trying to get me to upgrade the software to their broweser, with one of the selling points being the BT home page that would bring me everythng I need – in other words a portal. I declined to upgrade on line and got them to send me a CD. They ticked me off their list..the CD is probably under the bed somewhere, still unopened.

    I use MyYahoo! mainly for one reason – an online version of the Outlook calendar at work. As mobile technology is something we lack, the only other way to access appointments would be to carry the laptop around with me and boot it up. Instead I synch the calender and when I wake up in the morning check on the home PC (always on) whether I have to rush to catch the train or can take it easy. The only other content I have on it are the night’s TV programmes and my horoscope for a laugh.

    And, finally to the point of this post – A look at Google’s latest offeringFusion. A portal by anyother name, they seem reluctant to call it that. It’s still at the Labs phase, so the offereing is not yet comprehensive.

    Look and Form

    The look is pure Google, simple, clean lines. The personalisable elements are confined to a section below the search bar. This can leave plenty of white space on the page. The interface is neat, with the modules/widgets (what do I call them) able to be picked up by the mouse and dragged around the page to be dropped elsewhere. This was my first disappointment, I wanted to drag the elements to the corners of the page, but the functionality is confined to a middle strip, and only to certain positions – it’s a three column layout. So all I can do is order within a table. MyYahoo has the same restrctions, content can only be placed in certain areas. The difference here is that placement is drag and drop on the page instead of from an editing page.

    Another annoyance is that if I only have one row, I don’t appear to be able to drop the widgets down the page, creating space between them and the search box. SO the page now looks clutter. I’d like to jsut have a few of the options on the bottom of the page.


    Google has an editing page too, to add or remove the widgets. Currently, the choice is very restricted – only 12 option:

    • 5 News feeds (NYT, BBC, Wired, Slashdot and Google News)
    • Stock Market feeds (you can chose your stocks)
    • Driving Directions; provides UK as well as US.
    • Trivia – both Word and Quote of the day
    • Weather feed – not working today
    • Gmail feed – also not working yet

    In comparison, MyYahoo has around 36 content items, one of which is a completely customisable RSS feed. So Google has a lot of catching up to do here. Understanding that it is a new beta, I guess this is likely to change.

    Normally, if I’m online, I have 2 pages open by default – Gmail and Bloglines. So if I was to change to use this google consistently I’d want the gmail interface to work and the feeds to be configurable so that I keep keep track of all my feeds through one widget only

    So I only need to have one page open which covers most of what i use now. Provide calender synching in another, then I’ll be really happy. I’d still likely to go and use lots of other pages to do the other things though.

    May 19

    Evil site

    Got sent a work avoidance site today from Lee – The Gematriculator. Using the infallible methods of the Gematria, it looks at words and calulates how good or evil they are. This site comes in at 53% evil; me, however – I’m all of 96% evil!

    Dec 02

    Why do I blog?

    I love this, Frank Paynter’s collection of responses to Why do You Blog? I’ve been thinking about that as well, although with more of Who am I Blogging To twist to the question. And this survey definitely clarified where my head to at, in that it’s not who but why. For me, I’ve decided I blog to myself, as way of geting things down, of exploring thoughts and getting my head in order. Other people reading is a benefit, providing connections and being a small part in a global community.

    Nov 14

    Back to Scotland

    spent the weekend up in Glasgow at my first Committee meeting for the 2005 World Masters rowing champs which will be taking place in Strathclyde Park in Sept next year. This was a walkthrough meeting with the FISA Master committee to ensure they are happy with every thing we have got set up for the event.

    The weekend started off badly, with a delayed flight from Heathrow, so did not get to the hotle til 10.30. But troubles magically melted away when I got offered a complementary glass of wine on check-in. The hotle is new since the last time I was up there, Alona’s, in the theme park at the top end but it was extremely comfortable for what is in essence a travellers’ place.

    It was weird walking into the meeting room; I’d worked with many of the other people in organsing regattas over the years, so it felt a little like I had nver left. Four of the Masters team were there, and we spent the day going through the ‘cookbook’ line by line to ensure that any questions were answered and that the commission went away feeling htat we had everything in hand – which we do. Many of the team were on the 96 Worlds team or the 88 Masters team.

    The day all done, it was time for a drink and a meal. The Motherwell Provast (or was it of North Lanarkshire?) was the guest of honour. Great fun was had, and lots of wine consumed…too much. the head was tough this morning. I slept most of the way back down – at least BA was on time.

    All I have to do now is come up with a simple, easy and useful method of managing all the event tickets, whilst giving a hand to the marketing team.