is there anybody out there? introducing Tweasier

Err hello,

haven’t been writing here much lately (not once in six months) but there is a reason for that. Not a good one, but a reason none the less: I’ve been writing for Tweasier.com, your number one source for Twitter tips.

Read it, digest it then sign up for the beta of the Tweasier app which launched today and aims to fulfil your every Twitter related need.

You may go back to what you were doing now.

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Television: no longer the lonely

After a week of trying I finally got hold of Sky Player on the Xbox at the weekend. The thing that caught my eye (other than the lack of watchable programming) is the option of watching shows with friends through Xbox Live: You can sit your avatar down with friends in front of a big screen and gesture and chat about the onscreen goings on to your heart’s content.

I think the viewing room is a great feature but also a big jump forward in the trend of television becoming a much more sociable pass time which has been taking place over the past few years thanks to big event programmes and the recent boom in box sets, which making the latest twist in Lost and who went out on X Factor key conversation on a Monday morning.

Twitter has added another dimension to this allowing anyone to instantly see the always hilarious often outraged reactions to shows like X Factor instantly and discuss performances, twists and sartorial choices with friends as they happen. Fox in the US has tried to harness Twitter with ‘tweet-peats’ in which fans and cast members tweet their way through episodes of Fringe and the Tweets appear onscreen. The-X-Factor-2009-Jedward-001

The Xbox Live viewing room is a step on from ‘tweet-peats’ allowing fans to get together and chat about the show they are watching, all they have to do is turn on their Sky Player.

As consoles increasingly move into the living room it seems clear television on demand through the console will proliferate and I think more viewing room type areas will begin to appear making television a much more social and interactive medium.

On top of the viewing room group screenings of cult shows like The Wire and Arrested Development (where apparently the audience often actually blue themselves)  have become common events and Box set clubs are becoming as prevalent as book clubs. I think these are symptoms of television quickly losing its image as a lonely pass time for fat men in stained underwear in favour of that of a sociable and interactive medium.

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A sad good bye to C4 lunchtime news

From my post on the Wolfstar blog.

 

It was announced yesterday that Channel 4 lunchtime news and More4 news would be coming off the air at the end of this year. I don’t think too many people are going to mourn More4 News (the last remnant of any attempt to fulfil the channel’s ‘intelligent programming’ remit), but I’ll certainly be sad to see the back of the lunchtime news.

Apparently Channel 4 News was set up to cover the second Gulf war but it lived on and certainly became a staple part of my news diet as a student. It was a refreshing change from the bland impartiality of BBC News and the comic book news of ITV, so I’ll be sad to see it go.

On a larger scale the disappearance of a news programme coupled with this week’s revelations about the Observer’s apparently imminent closure are the worst omens we’ve seen yet for traditional media.4 news

I’m not one of those social media people who scream about ‘the man’ being beaten down by citizen journalism. Every person has their own slim area of expertise where no journalist, no matter how good their research, can come near. Mine is Quentin Tarantino films; if someone writes an article about feminism in Pulp Fiction I’ve got plenty to add to the conversation that Krishnan Guru-Murphy probably doesn’t. If you’re writing an article about feminism in the work of Quentin Tarantino and Steven Spielberg though you’ll have to go somewhere else for the Spielberg bit, my little corner of knowledge isn’t that big, and the same goes for every blogger on the planet, no one is that knowledgeable on everything. If you use the blogosphere for all your news and critique you’ll find pockets of knowledge like this for every angle of every story you find; it doesn’t work. And this is why we need mainstream media.

Television news and newspapers provide a high, if not perfect, level of expertise on every issue of the day. The only blog I can think of which provides that level of coverage online is Huffpo, the British blogosphere isn’t nearly that mature yet. The closest we have is Guido who strikes me as more of a gossip monger than reliable news source. If you do get all your news and comment from blogs, chances are that you’re going to the same ones every day and they’re the ones you tend to agree with; no one is challenging your view to any great extent, that leads to you become more militant in your views and can lead to some very scary politics. Mainstream news contains comment, columns, and reports from a range of sources meaning that on some level your ideas are challenged.

So, long story short; quick, everyone, start watching the News at 10 and BBC News 24, and buy three newspapers a day (not the Express) and listen to Radio 4 before it all disappears.

 

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YouTube at Carnegie Hall

A few months ago I wrote about YouTube setting up its own crowd sourced orchestra. The orchestra performed and a mash up of their performance appeared on the orchestra channel earlier in the month. So for your dilectation I bring you the highlights of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas (if you want to see the full performance its available on the channel).

 

YouTube Symphony Orchestra highlights

One word; Plastics (easier to get into than PR anyway)

A couple of days ago Adam Lewis posted asking whether PR would attract more and better candidates if more PR agencies offered grad schemes. I’m of the opinion that too few agencies offer grad schemes and that does effect the quality of graduates coming in to the industry.

Jedh, however doesn’t think PR needs schemes because the industry gets all the grads it could ever want (proven by the low starting salaries) and having to jump through all the hoops makes sure only the grads who really want it get in.

Bollocks. the big financial grad schemes (PWC, Deloitte) claim to receive around 100 applications per place. Edelman’s grad scheme received 250 total; Competition for Grad places in PR is not that high. The low stfondue_graduate_wideweb__430x396arting salaries are a symptom of the industry valuing experience over new grads. Where other industries relish the chance to train a grad to work exactly as the company needs them (Law firms often recruit students between university and law school so they can provide their own training alongside their law studies) Pr agencies prefer to take on employees with a proven track record who will not need the expense of extensive training.

In order to get in to PR most Grads have to do a string of unpaid work experience placements to show they have some modicum of experience and, apparently, a commitment to the industry. In reality what this does is bar entry to many people who live outside London: I was lucky enough to get in at Wolfstar but a friend who lives in the same area couldn’t get in at one of the handful of Leeds agencies and after 6 months of trying has been forced to give up. This drives away grads who simply can’t afford to spend months doing unpaid work and sends them to industries which pays them well and doesn’t demand they bankrupt themselves before they’ve even begun.

PR needs more companies offering grad schemes in order to pull in the best and brightest and give grads a chance at fighting their way into the industry; just because you can’t spend months doing unpaid work doesn’t mean you don’t care about working in the industry.

The internet make us smarter, so how long until they dumb it down?

I picked up a copy of Intelligent Life last night and was struck by the letter from the editor, Tim Delisle. The crux of the letter is that, no matter what we’re told, we are all getting smarter (wish I could agree) for a number of reasons, not least of all the internet. Delisle claims that because we have to actively sit up and interact with the internet and be selective in what we do as opposed to passively slumping in front of the TV it makes us more alert, more searching.

I think he might be right; the internet makes us think about what we are looking at, search for something that interests us. I said in my Room 101 post that one of the virtues of the internet is that you don’t go near the sites (except LolCats) you don’t like (Robert Putnam called something akin to this cyber-balkanisation). You can’t help but learn about a subject when you have to navigate to it to see it.

Originally though TV was on for about 4 hours a day and 3 of those were Watch With Mother (I’m just judging from my Dad’s complaints wwm1about the quality of modern television) so you’d sit down at 8 O’clock when you knew that programme you liked was on. You were selective and only saw the bits you liked, you invested a little more in those programmes. programming times got longer, TV sets more affordable more people tuned in and channel surfing became common: television became passive.

At the same time social media and what it can do is growing and advancing. The first social media (online, don’t get pedantic) was a MUD: strictly for uber-nerds who couldn’t buy Dungeons and Dragons anymore then much later there was MySpace and social media got a little bit cool. Finally Facebook made it a part of everyday life.

Earlier in the week, following Stuart Bruce asking what’s next for social media, we were talking about it in the office and I think social media on consoles is the next big thing. graphic chatrooms and world users can walk around in and interact in from the comfort of their sofa. Playstation 3 already have one. If this does take off I think the move from pc to living room entertainment will bring social media to the same level as television, passive and unselective designed to was over you as you lean back on your sofa and play virtual table football with your friend with a mindless flick of the wrist.

When people ask David Simon how he made The Wire so good he tells them he wanted to make a programme you had to sit up to watch, that is what the internet and social media does, but it could lose that very easily.

Online Room 101

Jed tagged me in a meme and dammit I intend to follow through, so here we go:

 

101room

 

I had a little problem with this one because the nature of the internet is such that if you don’t like something you just don’t go to it. However, i managed to scrape a few together and without further ado the websites I’d like Paul Merton to send to the room are:

Number One

LolCats.com (i refuse to link to these despicable and depraved sites)

Lolcats some how finds comedy in pictures of cats with poorly spelt captions. Its the online equivalent of Jackass: comedy for people who don’t really understand actual comedy. I wouldn’t mind if the pictures would just stay on the lolcats site but some how they spread, they are pandemic. They arrive in my emails, have appeared in posts on my RSS and even infected actually comedy websites (i’m looking at you, cracked.com)

 

Number Two

MySpace.com

I know Jed called this one but he was right, I never bought in to MySpace. My first friend on it was a pole dancer who added me (i was 14 for god sake, even I knew that was messed up) and once I’d found all of my friends that was it we never did anything with it, we just cruised other people’s profiles. The ‘blogs’ are filled with those crappy questionnaires people always sent to your hotmail account before MySpace came along and the music that plays every time you move on to a new profile is often horrific, always too loud. My sister is on it now and she loves it; lots of scene kids quoting Poe stories they haven’t read and filling their profiles with My Chemical Romance songs because it makes them look ‘deep’.  I suspect if i’d been young enough for Bebo this rant would have been about that. As it is shut down Myspace and het yourself a Facebook account

Number Three
MSN Messenger

Not a website and I’m sorry about that but MSN deserves to be sent down. I liked it when i was 14 because there was no better option: My friends had MSN so i was stuck with it, but there was also a whole bunch of people I knew but really didn’t like on there. These people would add me and it didn’t matter whether I accepted or not; sooner or later I’d be thrown in to a group chat with them. Now it’s even worse, my friends have refused to move on to Skype so i still get stuck with MSN and all the weirdoes who never moved on and still talk to me about that time i swore at the teacher. A few weeks ago my friend put her ‘personal message’ as ‘I can’t wait for march 13th 2009’, someone we went to school with messaged her asking what she “thought about April 2009 being the end of the Armageddon.” Such things shouldn’t happen on a private messenger service and MSN belongs in room 101.

 

Reckon I’ll tag Natalie Smith and Becca Caddy, enjoy