Tag Archives: Internet

My top five types of numbered list stories

List stories are great, aren’t they? Easy to produce and as addictive as super-strength editorial crack, journalists, bloggers and Uncle Tom Cobley churn list stories out like there’s no online tomorrow.

My Twitter feed seems to be a constant trickle of lists, with the latest bunch of social media gurus keen to impart their knowledge on topics like search engine optimisation and social networking. Good for them.

And good for me, as I jump on the top tip bandwagon and ride into the search-optimised sunset. Ladles and gentlespoons, let me unveil my top five types of numbered list stories:

  • Top 10: The all-time favourite – most top tip lists come in tens and there’s a reason for that; it’s a round number
  • Top 100: The ultimate list story – particularly good for top album blog entries. And for Channel 4 TV shows compiling clips from the 1980s
  • Top 5: Half a top ten but not necessarily half as good. Great for your basic, short tip list
  • Top 6: Also has a nice, round feel. Useful for list compilers that are aiming for ten, but who quickly run out of ideas
  • Top 9: There’s an honesty about giving a top nine; the complier knows they’ve only got nine points and they’re admitting as much

I recently saw a ‘Top 9′ list story where one respondent complained that the journalist hadn’t bothered to round the list up to ten. That might be so, but at least the journo was honest – the scribe clearly got to nine and ran out of ideas. I mean, it’s not like these list stories take five minutes to put together.

Clive Tyldesley and oxen wrestling

So, England have qualified for the World Cup Finals. Good. But Clive Tyldesley? Bad, very bad.

Me and our Clive have a love/hate relationship. I could, of course, just turn the sound off. But shouting about his commentary is part of the fun. As a mate of mine said many years ago: “The best times in your life are shouting at the TV with your mates”. Sad but true – and it’s as true now as it ever was, even if the person you’re shouting with is your slightly scared two and a half year old daughter.

Anyway, I digress – Clive Tyldesley. Grrrr…

My God, does he have to talk so much? When Barry Davies retired, he was quoted as saying he felt there was not enough silence in modern football commentary.

Our Clive, on the other hand, has made a career of filling every potential second of airtime with words. He rarely commentates in the traditional sense; you don’t get “Lampard, to Rooney, to Barry…”

Instead, you get a running babble of facts, clichés and opinion. What you get is something like this: “John Terry will be the eighth captain to lead England to a World Cup Finals”.

So bloody what? I mean, who cares if he’s the millionth? What difference does it make? And anyway, how does our Clive know who’s going to be captain in 2010? It should be Terry but football – as Tyldesley is likely to remind us many, many times – is a funny old game.

But what’s really funny is his Wikipedia entry. There’s the disclaimer at the top of the page that declares: “This biography of a living person does not cite any references or sources. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately”. And at the end of the entry – in the ‘Other Work’ section – is this beauty:

“He has also wrestled oxen professionally.”

Catch it now. It probably won’t last for long. Unlike Tyldesley’s commentaries, which go on and on and on…

From IFDs to an IFS and back home

I was on holiday in Norfolk last week. Very nice it was, too. I hung around on the beach with my family and counted crocodiles with my daughter. That second bit was in a zoo, by the way – not on the beach…

Fading in and out of network coverage, I spent most of my time in East Anglia without the information conduits that provide my daily fix of Aston Villa news (the Worldwideinterweb), pointless babble from people I don’t really know that well (Twitter) and pictures of people I once knew doing REALLY CRAZY THINGS, like drinking (Facebook). I’ll be honest; I missed all that online rubbish.

I mean, it’s good to go without stuff you like once in a while. Like having a period without booze, dropping your reliance on email and web stuff can leave you feeling cleansed and healthy. My lovely wife – bored with my continual logging on – used to challenge me to have internet free days (IFDs).

I’ve done a few IFDs. They’re OK, but you spend most of the day thinking about how you can stop yourself from logging on. Which means you’re just as internet-obsessed as usual, only you’re thinking rather than actually doing.

A seven day IFS (internet free stretch) allows you to move beyond thinking/stopping/doing. There’s that first period of twitchiness, but you slowly get used to having no online access. In fact, you start to rely on other conduits; in Norfolk, I bought a newspaper every day and read it cover to cover. And I even used Ceefax on our non-digital TV. Yeah, man – old school.

Anyway, I’m back home now and the first thing I did was turn on the computer. I discovered I’d missed out on absolutely nothing, but it was nice to have ‘new faithful’ back. It’s tragic, I know. But I am a sucker for all that online crap.

The new rules of social networking

Social networking is great. You can use Facebook to see photos of people you lost touch with years ago, celebrating the birthday of someone you don’t actually know. You can use LinkedIn to hype yourself up as the latest, greatest ‘social media guru’. And you can use Twitter to find out that loads of people got up this morning, ate some food, listened to a bit of music, were busy at work, went home, watched TV and went to bed.

But social networking is also a bit odd. I was watching the news on TV earlier and there was a lot of coverage of Peter Harvey, the teacher from Mansfield who has been charged with attempted murder. After I’d finished my fix of retro information gathering (news on the TV), I went all Web 2.0-tastic and did a search for the teacher on Facebook. And there was quite a bit of stuff, some of which surprised me – names, alleged actions, etc. You know, the kind of stuff the retro media aren’t mean to print in case of prejudicing a trial.

But all that stuff is fair game in the world of social networking. Isn’t it?

No more community

When I was little, community was the first word in ‘community centre’. It still is, of course – even if I no longer live in the countryside and my small world no longer revolves around a small building in the middle of a small village.

While community centres still exist (I think), the word community seems to have taken on a life of its own. Rather than just a simple adjunct to another word, like centre or rural, community is a term imbued with its own connotations.

When TV reporters head into the field (usually a place, rather than a green piece of land), they refer to the community – they talk about the ‘reaction of the the community’, ‘the feelings of the community’. With a knowing tone, we are all supposed to know what they mean – we’re supposed to feel their interviewees’ collective pain. Because in the end, we’re all part of a wider and understanding community. But are we?

I would suggest not, actually. What we actually have is rampant individualism, and what was started in the 1980s has come to a head in the consumer and celebrity-obsessed noughties. The internet isn’t (always) helpful. Web 2.0 is meant to be about collaboration and community but often becomes manifest as individualism, with everyone worried about their presence – look at my Twitter page, pay attention to what I think, please read my blog. Talking of which, please read my blog.

You never forget your first interactive giraffe

Copyrighters and marketing dudes love to find a sales gimmick and flog it within an inch of its life. Take the seemingly straightforward ‘my first’ concept, which allows companies to tag products that are intrinsically linked to childhood, such as dolls and toy cars. The result should be a tug at parents’ heart strings and a consequential tug on the purse strings.

Except it’s not always as simple as that. M&S is tagging everything ‘my first’, from model steering wheels to polar bears. But perhaps the oddest is ‘My First Interactive Giraffe’:

Great, eh? I mean one thing’s for sure – you never forget your first interactive giraffe, do you? It’s like a rite of passage.

Sorry? What was that? You never had an interactive giraffe and, worse, you don’t even understand what an interactive giraffe is. Well, if the picture above doesn’t help, take a squizz at the description below from mydeco.com: “An exciting introduction to the world of playtime, this interactive toy will have them entertained for hours of fun”

Which – apart from the rubbish English and lack of clarity – explains absolutely everything. Ah, no. It doesn’t, actually. Apologies.

Ten New Year resolutions

Hope you had a nice Christmas. Here are my ten New Year resolutions. I can’t keep number 10 – I just have to hope it is realised. Have a good one:

  1. Tidy the house regularly. Rather than just when visitors are coming.
  2. Stop using the internet so much. I spend a lot of time looking at rubbish.
  3. And actually phone people.
  4. Eat less yeast.
  5. Try and enjoy fruit.
  6. Keep my beard trim. Perhaps.
  7. Encourage my daughter to wear a coat. And prepare to admit defeat.
  8. Get fit, or something.
  9. Complete Mario Galaxy.
  10. Mid-May, celebrate the Villa winning the League.

Anybody know anything about location-based services?

I’m putting together a feature on location-based services for CIO Connect’s spring 2009 magazine (brief below). As ever, I’m looking to talk to CIOs that have implemented are – or are thinking about implementing – location-based services. Here’s the brief – and ping me an email if you have any leads:

Location-based services and presence – Modern mobile devices offer a host of possibilities for CIOs. Location-based services can allow the business to deliver geographically-sensitive information. What types of location-based services can help CIOs change business processes? Potential areas of discussion include convergence, presence and tracking.

Nick Drake and Zippy from Rainbow

Nick Drake would surely have approved of this:

Nick Drake performs Rainbow (kind of)

There’s real attention to detail, especially the sad face at the window. But it’s just the titles – no Zippy, I’m afraid. The orange one often appears in YouTube searches in our house, primarily because my daughter is a big fan of Rainbow. She is not the only fan, though.

Personally, I like the DVD where Zippy’s cousin from the US, Zippo, turns up and spends most of the episode rapping. I can’t find it on YouTube, but take it from me – it’s excellent stuff. By means of an apology, here’s some more information on Zippo from Wikipedia :

Zippo, Zippy’s cousin, identical in appearance to Zippy, who would make the occasional guest appearance. Originally portrayed as an eloquent Frenchman, but a later episode depicted him as an American-accented rapper with loud, flashy clothing.