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Month: July 2006

Web2.0: lovely timeline creator

SIMILE | Timeline

Timeline is an ajax-y widget for the visualisation of time-based, serial events. It needs no software install – you simply send at XML file. The example is easily human-readable and should present no problem to those who’ve already got data in a structured format.

The dinosaur example is particularly interesting since my girls are going through their ‘dinosaur phase’!

Knitta: urban tagging crew – with knitting.

Excellent 🙂

Knitta began in August 2005, when AKrylik and PolyCotN were discussing their frustration over unfinished knitting projects: half-knitted sweaters and balls of yarn gathering dust. That afternoon, they knit their first doorknob cozy. Then it dawned on them… A tag crew of knitters, bombing the inner city with vibrant, stitched works of art, wrapped around everything from beer bottles on easy nights to public monuments and utility poles on more ambitious outings. With a mix of clandestine moves and gangsta rap — Knitta was born! Today, Knitta is a group of more than 10 ladies of all ages, races, nationalities, religions, sexual orientation… and gender.


Gawker Artists: great use for unsold ad inventory

While looking at Gizmodo this morning, following a link from the RSS feed, I saw a striking image of a mouse and the curious “Gawker Artists” watermark. Intrigued, I came across this lovely idea: giving the ‘ad spaces’ to a roster of artists when there are no sold ads.

There are a number of ad networks which offer to serve ads into unsold inventory spaces, but this is a really fun twist.

It’s a dream for public art and arts promoters – sadly, it’s a dream that can only exist when you’re an “A List” blog with enough traffic to pick up the statistically rare “good” artist (and not the statistically ever-present ‘artist manque’ that’s in us all…). Add that to a sense of humour and style and you’ve got something which other people are probably at this moment begging the Arts Council to fund.


Adam Stennett was the artist who caught my eye, btw, and his website’s, predictably, at

BBC “on-demand Creative Future”

The BBC has announced a wide-ranging change in responsibilities at BBC Towers to fulfil the promises of its Creative Future review under the Director General, Mark Thompson.

People outside the BBC will no doubt either boggle at the number of people at the top table or wonder what the fuss is about: both views are valid.

The announcement seeks to streamline the responsibilities for content, commissioning and the technological and organisational resources to deliver. For “new media” business (used to seeing all content as digital from the outset, and by definition multi-use and multi-media) then this will seem sensible and belated. For people used to working in either focused business or highly matrixed businesses then the allocation of responsibilities will also seem like a no-brainer.

For people who’ve worked at the BBC (disclosure: I was Head of Online Operations back in the prehistoric days of 1998+), or people who work closely with the BBC then the sound of tectonic plates moving painfully will be clearly discernable.

The BBC was structured (despite its many restructurings) along the lines of people who owned the channel, people who made stuff, people who had money to get people to make stuff and people who owned the technology to allow the stuff that was made to get to people people who paid for it – ie viewers and listeners (and now ‘mousers and clickers’). Along the route the fiefdoms of News, Sport, Radio and TV guarded their content jealously. Latterly, while many of the silos were cracked and ostensibly working together, there remained a shortfall in achievement mainly due to lack of co-ordination, integration and systems to allow teams to work together, and others to access material created elsewhere.

This change signals from the highest level that the Corporation is now focused on putting money, resources, processes and ideas into delivering eduction, entertainment and information to the customer – across all channels.

The challenge (apart from the not inconsiderable cultural and operational ones) will be to retain the distinctive voices of the BBC channels via the Channel Controllers and exploit the capabilities of each medium. This is what the BBC has been doing for years, though, and a structure that provides improved visibility, direction and cohesion has to be welcomed.

The overall feeling though is a ‘so what?’. This reorganisation is no more than one would expect from a modern business, focusing (at last) upon the customer. That the BBC is responding to ‘web2.0’, social networking phenomena etc is commendable, but to what extent is the BBC driving these initiatives or indeed what has it to contribute?

There’s no need for the BBC to become the “myspace” of Middle England (although is an interesting new network in the US – a sort of Myspace for adults who like public radio – you can imagine this in the UK as a sort of space for Radio 4 listeners!). They certainly have a role in bringing the late majority to understand and use technological developments, but to be fair the late majority would arrive eventually.

Ultimately, the BBC’s uniqueness is its compelling content – hence the excitement over its promises to open its archives. I can’t help feeling that further efforts in this area would be to our (customers’) best advantage, while a great openness to commercial and third party partnerships would deliver the social networking, web2.0, innovation benefits without the angst of navel gazing, structure reviews and continual worrying over the commercial:government:funded interface.

To the extent that the new structure can deliver a freer way of working I welcome it. Other than that this is one for historians of the Corporation, or who are writing PhDs on organisational structures.

“Just the one”: August. New venue!

Venue details.

Well, it’s ‘that time of year again’ (ie a few months after our last drink 😉 ).

Time for another “just the one” gathering – a chance to meet and catch up on life, jobs, business, tech toys and whatever else takes your fancy. The last one was in May so lots will have happened since then – not least of which, of course, is the loss of Mr Winter to London Town due to the recent family relocation to York. Still, Wednesdays are usually a ‘London Client Day’, hence our meeting again on Wednesday August 2, 2006.

We’ve decided on (drumroll) a change of venue. Yes, 6 years at Clerkenwell House have sped by, but a chancg of venue is called for. Somewhere with that urban feel, background DJ, and an ‘indoor-outdoor’ blending of space (ie street if it’s fine, space inside if not).

Thanks to Jayne and before that Paul we have a new venue to try: St Chad’s. Conveniently located near Kings Cross station. Yet also conveniently located not too near Kings Cross Station. Link above has maps.

So – to summarise:

Venue: St Chads
Date: 2 August (Weds)
Time: 1830hours onwards.

Let me know if you’re coming – looking forward to seeing y’all.

Spiked! “What next for humanity” survey

spiked | What next for humanity?

This is a nice project from Spiked! (and makes a change from the risk-worry-related events of the last year or two). A forward-looking, fun and wide-ranging set of views on the ‘future of 2024’.

There’s such a broad range of views that it’s difficult to synthesise, so I won’t even try: skim the site for some interesting thoughts. If we were talking politics we’d call this extensive consultation, the Big Talk or such tosh. Bravo to Spiked! for calling it a survey 😉

Here’s one summation worth quoting:

To sum up so far, in the words of television producer Paul Marquess’ contribution on new trends in broadcasting, ‘And where will that all lead? Haven’t got a clue. But it could be interesting.’

“Go forth and API” – readable ‘how to’ on creating APIs

Vitamin Features � Go forth and API

This is a great article, explaining some of the options available to web designers who wish to use the data resources of other websites via that application interfaces. It’s a quick, readable summary of the main options and I’d recommend it to all marketing and eCommerce people who’re happily bandying the “API”, AJAX and “feed” terms around as part of their Web2.0 awakenings 🙂

You can skip all of the code with an admiring glance: read it as logical English and it’s quite digestible. It’ll give an idea what’s needed to create these links to flickr and others services (or, frighteningly, how little!).

What are the “take-aways”?

* that so many thing are visible from a URL. Compare this to the difficulty of accessing corporate information…
* that the webserver is able to pretend to be other servers and rewrite addresses and results on the fly
* that there are many ways to skin the proverbial Cat2.0.

Most of all, though, eCommerce Marketing professionals should realise just how easy it is for technically savvy people to create new, sophisticated offerings, standing on the shoulders of giants. These are the new competitors. And while Yahoo!, Google and others are happy to provide the data free of charge there’ll be no stopping innovation at this micro, niche level.