The #selfie pole

Spotted while doing the tourist thing with American visitors outside Buckingham Palace:

The Selfie Pole in use

Yup - it's an extensible selfie pole, for mounting and using your phone camera...

Hashtag Dunce, by Lord Jim

In Clay Shirky's seminal book on the effects of the internet on our culture Here Comes Everybody, he posited this:

The future presented by the internet is the mass amateurization of publishing and a switch from 'Why publish this?' to 'Why not?”

People seem to have take that to mean "hey, just go ahead". That's not what it means. At some point you need to ask yourself "Is it worth me publishing this? Is it adding anything? Am I providing something useful to someone else - or am I just promoting myself?".

If you don't do this, the chances are you are noise not signal - and people are starting to tune you out, or unfollow you. Too much noise, and you lose the right to send your signal to people.

Too many people will tweet themselves stupid this Social Media Week London, with the emphasis on stupid. Already this morning, I'm hovering over the unfollow button on a couple of people, not because they're tweeting too much, but because they're tweeting so much of zero or limited value. They're damaging my perception of who they are as people and professionals with their tweeting. That's the risk you take with thoughtless noise-making on social media

Would you be impressed if you saw someone tweeting what you're about to tweet? Or would you think them an idiot - or a relentless self-promoter with little interest in others? That's a question more people need to be asking.

Here's a tip - I'd much rather see your reaction to a speaker, or your contextualisation of their remarks, than a contextless retweeting of a paraphrased quote.

Last year's guide to live-tweeting might be useful here

Image by Lord Jim on Flickr, and used under a Creative Commons licence

Adam miralejo mirror

Somewhere between 20 and 30 years ago, a skinny teenager who had finally outgrown his puppy fat sat watching TV in his front room in a small Scottish town. He was probably with his younger brother, and was almost certainly reading - until he heard the BBC children's presenters wish the children watching good luck with their exams.

"Thanks a bunch," he thought. "Our exams finished weeks ago". And then he threw his book at the TV. The BBC did not care about him, clearly.

And people wonder why the "Yes" vote in Scotland is so strong today.

That teenager was, of course, me. And that memory - amongst many others like it - is why I won't be surprised if Scotland votes "yes" today.

Childhood friends split

I've been watching the campaign with great interest, but writing very little (just the odd comment here and there). I've been reading as old school friends debate it on Facebook. One is very strongly "no", another very strongly "yes". Both are artists, and both have very valid perspectives on the situation. The general balance amongst my friends still up there seems around 50/50.

This is what happens when one part of the country forgets that the other has a different education system, legal system and (in many ways) culture. If Scotland leaves, the London-centric culture of organisations like the BBC and the civil service will have to shoulder an awful lot of the blame.

I grew up in Scotland. I moved up there a little before my fourth birthday, and have only glimpses of memories of my time living in Manchester before that. I would go on to live there until I left for university, and would visit regularly until my parents retired to Suffolk in my early 20s. In fact, I have spent just under half my life considering Scotland home. But I'm not Scottish.

But then, am I English? I may have been born English, but I didn't live there for any significant length of time until I was pretty much an adult. It's just not a label I can identify with. I've always called myself British. It captures both my upbringing and my adult life down south.

For a long time, I intended to write nothing about the referendum. I'm not resident in Scotland, I can't vote in the referendum and I can't honestly call myself Scottish. But today, walking back from a nursery drop-off and a coffee, I found a joke by Martin playing on my mind.

Identity crisis

If Scotland votes "yes" today, I won't know how to describe myself in a few years. I will, of course, still be technically both English and British. Britain is an island, not a nation. The United Kingdom will just no longer encompass the whole of Britain.

But an UK without the Scots feels somewhat empty to me. The country I will be a citizen of will no longer reflect part of what makes me who I am today. It will no longer contain a land and a people I love dearly. The UK has always felt like a family to me - a bickering family, true enough, and one with some serious problems , but a family none the less. And now someone is considering leaving the family. A family that loses a member is weaker for it.

If the Scots go, a small part of my identity will have been torn away.

Up until this morning, I didn't have a strong opinion about the way I wanted the vote to go - but I do now. I want a "No", but by a small, maybe tiny, margin. And, personally, I'd like to see fuller devolution. More powers to the Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish parliaments, and an English parliament - outside London - to go with them. What we now think of as the Westminster parliament should be restricted to national issues only - ones that have an impact on all of the constituent parts of the UK.

There must be change

If the Scots vote to keep the UK together, then we should not return to business as normal. We should work to make it a genuinely United Kingdom, rather than a number of weaker kingdoms being pushed around by the big brother with delusions of grandeur. A "No" vote with no such change will only guarantee a "Yes" vote further down the line.

I don't want that. I want to be able to take my daughter to the land I grew up in, and have her know that it is part of her homeland, too.

Censor facebook

Fascinating interview with Monika Bickert, the head of global policy for Facebook:

We use technology to help us triage reports, and we also use Microsoft’s Photo DNA to help us prevent images of child exploitation from being uploaded to the site, but human beings are the people responsible for reviewing content at Facebook. We take a lot of pride in that. We have people that are specialized by topic area, so a safety team, which has experts on everything from terrorism to self harm. Then we also have people who are language specialists, so if something is reported from Turkey, the person who reviews that will be a native Turkish speaker.

Lots of corporate jargon, too, but you can see some interesting shapes through the linguistic obfuscation.

The digimag bloat problem

While I'm quoting Tweets:

Hard to disagree. And people have been saying this for a long time.

That's not to say that digital magazines can't be done right on tablets. It's just that the current approach of shovelling the print edition into a digital replica, and hiding it behind the Newsstand icon isn't going to work.

This has been lurking in my tabs for a while. Facebook is starting to experimentally mark satirical articles - from The Onion in particular - as such:

"We are running a small test which shows the text “[Satire]" in front of links to satirical articles in the related articles unit in News Feed. This is because we received feedback that people wanted a clearer way to distinguish satirical articles from others in these units," a Facebook representative told Mashable.

Some feel this isn't needed:

My counter argument? There's an entire site devoted to examples of people not realising that Onion articles are humour:

Tumblr naz6fhBDry1qkt6yoo1 1280

Blogging is dead #3

Fred Wilson:

There is something about the personal blog,, where you control everything and get to do whatever the hell pleases you. There is something about linking to one of those blogs and then saying something. It’s like having a conversation in public with each other. This is how blogging was in the early days. And this is how blogging is today, if you want it to be.