blog

Why I’m giving up Birmingham: It’s Not Shit

POSTED IN birminghamuk, blogging, my projects | TAGS : , , 22 October 2012

At some point over the weekend, I decided to out the low level moving on campaign and put my most famous website up for sale on eBay.

I started the site back in the May of 2002, before there were really such things as blogs in the mainstream and the term ‘hyperlocal’ was not even a glint in an irritating theorist’s eye. Pretty much everything that’s ever been on it, and definitely everything technical was written or created by me, I’ve had a couple of ‘columnists’ for short whiles and a couple of bits of ‘holiday cover’ but that’s all. The site was flat, hand coded HTML until I learned of PHP and wrote a simple news updating section. Later I discovered that there wasn’t only a name for such things but software out there to do it more prettily and better.

And now it, or sites like it, are either the future of the media or a disappointment to those that thought they should be.

But, it didn’t start because the media was dying, it started because the media was crap: crap at explaining why people connected emotionally with a place that—when looked at objectively—was a bit shit. Crap at self awareness, crap at understanding real life. The media has changed a little, but mostly the contents have just shifted in transit.

I have always been proud of it being not only independent, but seen to be, so not taking advertising and clearly marking anything churned from a press release was always part of the plan. It was fun at times, maybe important and influential at others, but always fairly time consuming and costly. I’ve got lots of other stuff on now, and for the first time in years a regularly hour-ed job (that’s also in another city)—so it’s time to give up.

There’s also a way in which the landscape of ‘hyperlocal publishing’ has changed—the Corinthian spirit beaten down by encroachment of money or officialdom: from ad sales bullshitters to quango reports that do nothing but serve the interests of the establishment. I don’t have the energy to fight, but don’t want to lose that battle really. So the idea is to let someone with the energy try something else with the cultural cache that the site’s built up. There is a way forward for local content created by people that can reach an audience without aping what’s gone before, but just right now I don’t know what it is.

And I’d like to recoup some of the costs if possible, so I’m selling.

I’ll no doubt return to the themes, and the location, but for now time’s up.

(Here’s what I said just over two years ago about how it all started, I still think pretty much the same.)

Guido Fawkes and his blog comment policy

POSTED IN del.icio.us | TAGS : , , , 10 June 2009

Although his political blog is often a place for sniping and argumentative comments (following perhaps in the style of the posts), this is a very clear piece of work. It sets out in a friendly (as friendly as the blog gets), conversational, tone just what is and isn't allowed in the comments on order-order.com.

While every point isn't transferable to all blogs, I for example love a long an detailed response to any post on sites I run, it's useful to read it and to think about how comments add value to a site — or even possibly detract. If it's a personal blog, it's very much "your gaff, your rules" and if you set them out no-one can argue. [link]

Worthless Piece of Crap

POSTED IN geekery, my projects | TAGS : , , 14 April 2009

A quick group blog we set up today, with the idea of getting to try new stuff — and trying to break it. Trying to hate it in the hope that that will be impossible, a possible cure for gadget lust: Worthless Piece of Crap

Life in Lozells, another good local blog

POSTED IN blogging, good practice | TAGS : , , , , 23 March 2009

I spent an enjoyable hour with Kate Foley late last week, Kate is Neighbourhood Manager in Lozells Birmingham and runs the Life in Lozells blog. The site has been running since March 2007, and is an invaluable resource for local info — but Kate is interested in building more of a community around it, generating and hosting conversation as well as collecting information.

> life in lozells: true stories from lozells neighbourhood, birmingham, england
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

I suggested that an injection of opinion in to the blog might help that, which is something that it’s difficult for Kate to do in her official capacity — two possible solutions came to mind:

  • invite some other people to contribute, either on subjects that they are “expert” on (they may only be tangentially related to the area), or
  • make use of links, so that Kate is flagging up and pointing to opinion rather than directly offering it herself.

The first relies on use of Kate’s real-world network, pulling voices in to contribute, the second can be done in a more online way but will rely on Kate becoming confident in using search and RSS and building her online connectivity.

Those of you with local blogs, how do you work to build up the conversation?

Bad Science needs help, or at least link love

POSTED IN found stuff | TAGS : , , , , , 6 February 2009

Ben Goldacre has had a nastygram from LBC 97.3 and “Global Radio” over posting audio of what he describes as “Jeni Barnett’s MMR scaremongering”. If you’re in a position to help, it would be appreciated. – Bad Science needs help, or at least link love.

Orwell and his chickens

POSTED IN music | TAGS : , , , , 5 November 2008

There was a great plan this year to publish George Orwell’s diaries, 50 years after the event, as a blog. We don’t learn a lot about the inner thoughts of the great man, but we do know just how well his chickens were getting on:

Google Reader (1000 )

Passion and the business case for blogging

POSTED IN del.icio.us | TAGS : , , 7 October 2008

Great coverage of whether "passion" for the subject is important in blogging. My take – yes of course it is. [link]

Ladder Consulting – bespoke WordPress theme

POSTED IN web development work | TAGS : , , , 25 September 2008

Gavin Wray designed this elegant website for management consultancy Ladder Consulting, which I then turned into a WordPress theme. The site contains a blog, as well as a number of hierarchical pages which are all controlled by WordPress’ easy-to use CMS.

The site looks great in all browsers and is very accessible to all.

How to podcast using your mobile phone – The London Biker

POSTED IN del.icio.us | TAGS : , , , 5 September 2008

Ex collegue of mine Matt Cashmore is about to blog motorbiking to Russia for charity, some of which he'll be doing as audio by phone – here's his handy guide to doing just that (the phone thing, not the motorbiking): "Sound simple doesn’t it. Just find a way of leaving a message on something like skype, then get it to encode your audio, upload it to the server and generate the XML." [link]

tech, pop and penguins

POSTED IN misc | TAGS : , , 6 May 2008

The Inquisitr sounds like our sort of site :

Welcome to the Inquisitr, a site I haven’t quite come up with a tag line for, but I’ve got Tech, Pop and Penguins on the short list.

Loading