Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A wave of technology

As reported on the BBC website today, 15 years ago the net was 'founded' as a free, open system that anyone could use. The effects, while slow to take off, are now moving at a pace that is phenomenal. The net has become such a part of life it's hard to remember what it was like before it. Indeed anyone younger than myself by just a year or so probably can't remember that. In that respect I, and many others, really have been at the forefront of the web's creation. I remember MSN messenger, Audiogalaxy, Hotmail and Napster and now it's Youtube, FlickR, Facebook and Itunes that have taken over - all evolutions or re-imaginings of existing ideas, made more involving, user created - the first three websites in the second list only exist because of users input, nothing else.

*As an aside Audiogalaxy was a music peer-to-peer website that had a lot of web 2.0 characteristics before the term existed - it had forums, user groups and you could even send songs to be queued up for other users - this was in the late 90s.

A link I found just yesterday via my old course tutor was a fascinating read about how the time that people have spent developing Wikipedia is actually nothing in relation to the time human's have spent watching television and that the net is now actually changing people lives because web 2.0 allows them to create information, or simply, to be creative.

What you have to wonder about is when the next generation take over they will treat the web as a standard, a norm, and rather than being impressed at what it can do they will say, 'why can't it do X?'. This will open up new and currently unimagined potential. It's always worth remembering this quotation - and one of my all-time favourites - if you believe the web is reaching its limit:

"Everything that can be invented has been invented." - Charles Duell, Commissioner of US Patent Office, 1899

As a final thought, this video is an amazing insight in to the future of the web and what it might become, or is on its way to becoming...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Oh to live in a totalitarian state...

So the London mayoral elections are upon us – for those in the London area – and I haven’t got a clue who to vote for but I know I must use my vote for good, and make it count...

Ken has been in charge and seems to be awight, but then I’ve only been here for eight months. Boris is a very likeable buffoon and quite funny and that could be fun or make us a laughing stock – more so! Brian Paddock actually has some good ideas (certain tube carriages with security guards after a certain time in the evening) and was in the MET for 30 years so probably knows a bit about the streets of London – but he’s with the Lib Dems so hasn’t a chance.

The BNP have been taking abuse from all sides for some time now which, while I couldn’t agree with their policies less, I find a bit poor as in a fair and democratic country, that we so pride ourselves on being, it doesn’t seem fair that the other parties can “gang up” on another because they don’t like what they stand for. It’s up to the other parties (Lib Dems, Cons or Labs) to make people not even have to think about the BNP because they are the far better option anyway.

Under questioning on an ITV show they all came across in measures good, bad, stupid, knowledgeable, clever and evasive on various subjects so that didn’t help me much either.

Really I have to be honest and say this video is the best part of the pre-election coverage I've seen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This isn't drug-based homicides in Harlem, it's raised bin lids in Whitehaven

The problem with laws is that as human beings we seem to find it hard to move beyond a black / white divide as how to implement them. There seems to be no way to go beyond this into a reasonable assessment of a situation. So the story that a man has been fined £110 for ‘overfilling’ his bin doesn't really seem fair but because the lid ‘was raised’ the council in question has said ‘Copeland Borough Council will continue to crack down on the problem of overflowing bins, which cause problems for local residents and in the battle to reduce waste.’

This is all ridiculous and the council is massively overstating its role to make them sound like noble crusaders campaigning for the last vestige of human decency. The man's bin lid ‘was raised’ it was not ‘overflowing’. You are not involved in a ‘battle to reduce waste’ and you are not ‘cracking down’ on overflowing bins – this isn't drug-based homicides in Harlem, it's 'raised bin lids’ in Whitehaven Cumbria. If there was rubbish piled high around the bin, that was attracting wildlife, even causing a health hazard, then the council might have a case. But the man's bin lid 'was raised.’ You know, like when you just squeeze in that last plastic bottle to clear the bin for the week's collection.

The issue here (aside from how sad I am about getting worked up about such closed-minded, blinkered actions regarding bins) is that we are creating a system where we never let people make a mistake, explain a mistake, or even, that we just accept it's actually not that big a deal. Because while the law may state people who do this are doing something ‘illegal’ in reality they aren't and certainly not in my eyes or many others.

It's things like this that turn me away from ‘politics’ in any serious manner as regardless of who I vote for, campaign for, believe in, argue for or against, I could never hope to stop such petty, moronic, childish and cold actions like those in this story.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Communication Breakdown

This is one of my favourite stories in a long time. As a sketch it would work brilliantly so for it to actually happen is genius, innit?

Of course there is a strong argument to be made for suggesting this story is entirely untrue and is nothing more than a very clever bit of PR / marketing that has such good potential as a news story most papers would happily print as it's good filler. I'm not going to stake my (non)reputation on whether or not it is actually true but either we are all too cynical (or just cycnical enough) or you just have to give credit to the creative mind that was desperatly trying to think of a way to get a story about cabinets in the national press and noticed the potential of 'cab innit' and dreamt up the entire story.


When I once taught English to some foreign students I was always amazed by their desire to make up words while playing Scrabble. I've always felt that "woob" - a made-up word a student insisted was real - sounded so good to say, it deserves a place within our fine language.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Headline attempts ends in headline

A long day, nearly time to go, one last story to upload and add a headline...oh sod it.

The boring truth is the headline technically makes sense but they could have tried harder.