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October 27, 2008

Guess who's back…

The blogosphere can breathe a sigh of relief.

363 days since my last entry, I’ve returned.

Where have I been? Well, busy, basically. I’ve been the News Editor at a radio station in Hampshire for about six months, and now fate has ejected me from commercial radio and into the scary world of self-employment.

The blog will do pretty much what it always has done – served as a receptacle for my musings on politics, the media and anything else that’s annoyed me.

I’m not promising to solve the global economic crisis that the world has found itself in during my absence, but I might at least be able to put some of into perspective, sometimes through the medium of The X Factor, sometimes through a misconceived idea of what constitutes ‘common sense’.

Many days have gone by over the past year when I’ve thought “I wish I could blog about that”.

Those days are over.

June 12, 2007

Let's Get Sleazy

This book is coming out in a couple of weeks. It should be quite good. I wrote some of it.

The Big Red Book of New Labour Sleaze

May 12, 2007

Lost in translation

The French seem to have found my blog, after one of their newspapers linked to my thoughts on Gordon Brown. In honour of my new visitors, you can now translate the front page into five languages (French, German, Spanish, Chinese and Arabic) by clicking on the icons in the sidebar.

In the last thirty days, 93% of readers’ first language is English, French is about 2%, and German, Spanish and Polish are about 1% each. Unfortunately I can’t translate into Polish at the moment.

I wonder how native French, German or Chinese speakers navigate the mostly English internet. Do they have a toolbar that translates into their own language anyway? Do they just get on with it and use English? Or are these sort of icons useful?

Feel free to suggest any other languages, although I’ve got no evidence that anyone’s trying to read this in Inuit.

Incidentally, whoever’s viewing this in a screen resolution of 2560×1024, stop showing off. And I’m surprised so many people are using Firefox now – around 35% compared with IE’s 60%. Finally, 3% of you are using Microsoft Vista. Are you brave, or simply mad?

March 20, 2007

Am I getting myself a reputation?

Subject: TV Development

Hi there! I’m making a documentary about complaining for TV…I’m currently looking for a range of different complainers. I started browsing through some weblogs to see if I could find someone interesting, who might have some issues they’d like to get of their chest, and thought I’d drop you a quick line. I’m not sure if you consider your self a complainer, but it looks like you’ve got a lot of opinions on various issues, and I’d really like to hear more about what interests you and what issues you tend to complain about.

It seems I’ve been noted for my tendency to complain about things. Anyone who knows me will, of course, be able to refute this accusation much better than I can…

[Watches comments fill up with everything but…]

I’ve edited the e-mail to leave out the commercially sensitive stuff, but you get the gist of it. Let’s just say we’re not exactly talking UKStyle2 here.

March 01, 2007


I’m getting a ridiculous number of hits on my blog at the moment. They all seem to be coming from people searching for Tracey Temple on Google. I wrote an entry about her ten months ago, but it only started yesterday. My hits went up 100%!

Blog Stats 1

Bear in mind that last point on the graph is today – so it’s likely to beat yesterday’s figure by the end of the day.

And the next one is even more bizarre. It shows what people are entering into Google in order to get here:

Blog Stats 2

Of course, the weirdest thing is that 1) Google seems to point people looking for Jade Goody topless in this direction and 2) PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY SEARCHING FOR THIS KIND OF THING!!!

January 19, 2007

Do I spend too much time blogging?

Well there’s a bloody obvious answer to that one, isn’t there???

But I’ve found a webstat thing which makes me feel better.

Of the blogs I read regularly (+ mine), my blog is the third-most regularly updated, after Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes. Praguetory, Adrian Monck and Blamerbell all follow.

On average, I write 1.5 posts per day. They tend to take me between 5-15mins to write, which doesn’t seem too bad to me.

Iain Dale writes an average of 2.7 posts per day (far below what he claimed when he spoke in Cardiff last year) and Guido writes an average of 1.9 posts per day.

Blamerbell regularly takes the piss out of me blogging, so it’s refreshing to see he writes 1.3 posts per day, just behind me. Adam Westbrook and David Maxwell manage 0.5 posts per day while Oli Hawkins manages an impressive 0.0 posts per day. Well done, Oli!

Dan Wilson Craw only does 0.4 posts per day (to be fair, he is travelling around the world and might have better things to do), but Pete Swan doesn’t have the same excuse for his 0.4 posts per day.

Most posts I read have been written at 11am or 5pm, and Friday is a surprisingly quiet day in the world of blogging.

I can’t be bothered to link to them all individually, but their links are in my blogroll if you fancy a gander.

January 18, 2007

America's taking online politics seriously… but are we?

Millions of Americans were using the internet to learn more about the Midterm elections last year, with an average of 26million people logging on every day.

Research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that 15% of Americans chose the internet as their main source of election news, up from 7% in 2002. And 23% of those people were forwarding political commentary or videos on a blog, making it – perhaps – the most interactive election in history.

The busiest month of the online campaign was August, which is traditionally very quiet in American political campaigns.

Pew Research Project figures

As far as I know, these figures are broadly similar (in direction, at least) to the situation in the UK. We’re seeing a very similar picture in the decline of newspapers and television, while radio is holding up. Magazines are more complicated as some political publications (New Statesman etc) have struggled, while The Economist has been a runaway success story.

But on the internet, I wonder if we are seeing the same levels of engagement. While political blogs here are catching up with those in the U.S., more traditional websites (especially those of the main political parties) are very poor in comparison. Compare the British Labour Party website (here) with that of Democrat Presidential hopeful John Edwards (here) which is far more interactive and fresh.

There’s an interesting game of spot-the-difference to be played when looking at Democrat and Republican sources of news. Is there a similar split in the UK?

Pew Research Project figures (3)

Finally, while newspapers and TV seem to be in decline, it’s not all bad news for them as long as they’re willing to move their operations online:

Pew Research Project figures (2)

January 14, 2007

Blogroll – not to be confused with bogroll

My BlogrollLet’s talk blogrolls. It’s that list on the right which lists some other blogs. Mine’s quite selective. I read everything on there quite regularly. A lot of blogs have much more extensive blogrolls that list anyone who links to them. They’ve often never heard of each other.

In Google ranking terms, my blog probably suffers because I don’t link to hundreds of people, so they don’t link to me. I occasionally think about widening my blogroll to increase the number of hits I get, but for now I’ll stick to quality over quantity. As such, I’d recommend any of the blogs on that list – they’re all worth reading. But here’s some highlights…

Inside Iraq is the newest addition to my blogroll. It’s written by several Iraqi journalists in Baghdad and is a very personal account of working and living in the most dangerous place on the planet. Every entry’s a must-read.

It was recommended by Adrian Monck who’s a journalism lecturer at City University. His blog’s a bit like Greenslade’s blog at the Guardian, commenting on the world of journalism.

One of his students is Adam Westbrook who never gets as many hits as he should. Some of you may know him from Jimmy and Adam’s Adventures in Radiophonic Wonderland on RaW last year. There’s some journalism-related stuff on his blog and plenty about Africa too.

And then there’s Blamerbell’s Briefs which is taking the world of Welsh politics by storm. His blog makes politicians look silly, and yet they read it nonetheless. Must be doing something right.

January 09, 2007

When PR and Blogs Collide

I got an e-mail from a PR company yesterday, asking if I’d like to write a blog entry about a TV show they’re promoting. Well, of course I would, but only because your e-mail was so utterly ridiculous.

I just found your Torchwood blog entry: []

That entry has nothing to do with Torchwood.

and I think you may be of some help to me. I’m reaching out to you on behalf of XXXXXXXXX. The new season begins XXXXXXXXX, and portrays the lives of XXXXXXXXX. Since you mentioned Torchwood, I thought that you might be interested in posting a review of XXXXXXXXX on your blog?

The only possible link between my supposed love of Torchwood and this show is that both have featured lesbians. And that’s it.

You seem like a reputable influencer, so I think you’d be a big help to us.

They then go on to tell me how I can watch this show.

Put simply, I can’t. I’m not in America. Duh.

But it’s nice to know that I’m not a blogger. Oh no. I’m a reputable influencer.

In return, they offer me a number of goodies. All of which are, in fact, images to put on my blog advertising their TV show. Gee, thanks!

EDIT: Right. I’m cutting the crap now.

I’ve had another e-mail from the same company (in fact two identical e-mails). They now want me to promote a DVD coming out in January. I’ve never heard of it. It again has nothing to do with what I blogged about. This is just spam, plain and simple. So take a bow, M80im. You are officially annoying.

January 08, 2007

Can blogging be profitable?

You probably won’t have noticed, but there’s no longer any adverts on my blog. Quite simply, they weren’t making a dime.

Which leads me to wonder if it’s possible to make money out of blogging if you’re an amateur? There’s been some recent attempts to do just that, such as MessageSpace which puts ads on big political blogs.

Their website says they were massively over-subscribed during the Party Conference season, although personal experience of the sites that use MessageSpace would suggest to me that they’re often advertising themselves (for free) rather than bringing in much cash from advertisers.

Whether you make any money seems to depend on how specific your blog is to one subject. Mine clearly isn’t very specific about anything. Some claim to have made around £500 a month from Google AdSense, the scheme I’ve been on. It’s not exactly enough to allow you to quit your job.

This blog post is very interesting. It shows people with far more ‘hits’ than me earning peanuts too.

I think the question is: who would want to advertise on a blog? It’s a fairly passive medium, and most readers are fairly savvy about the layout of Google Ads and can ignore them easily.

Probably the most successful person in this field is Matt Drudge of Drudge Report who doesn’t even style his site as a ‘blog’. It’s very Web 1.0. But apparently he makes millions per year.

Blogging’s a bit too new to say “you can’t make money from blogging”, but unless advertisers’ opinions change quite quickly, anyone hoping to give up their job and move to the Cayman Islands is going to be facing a long wait.

Google Reader Saved My Life

Google Reader Picture the scene. I’d visit a blog like Adam Meets World several times a day, just to see if he’d written anything earth-shattering. Of course he hadn’t. But I had to be first to see if he had.

I’d do this for several blogs, probably accounting for 90% of some people’s hits as I clicked ‘refresh’ out of boredom.


That’s right. I chose not to choose boredom. I’ve chosen something else. And it is Google Reader.

Google Reader gets all my favourite blogs, tells me when they’ve been updated and displays them all in a handy list (see left).

Not only has it saved time, but it’s also extended the life of my mouse. I heartily recommend it.

November 28, 2006

You are an arse and a wife–beater…

...and not only do you smell, you also beat your children.

What ya gonna do about it???

Well, the director of the Press Complaints Commission, Tim Toulmin, says you should be able to go to a Blogs Complaints Commission which acts as a regulator over libelous and nasty comment on the internet.

Like the PCC, it would be self-regulating and have no real bite behind its bark. You’d have to apologise publicly on your blog, retract the original comment and look very very sorry.

But it’s a non-starter. There are far too many blogs for any independent body to be able to oversee them. Even if done in the style of Wikipedia – so the job of regulating blogs was shared between many people – I can’t imagine that a body of work so huge could be adjudicated fairly. Mr Toulmin also seems to ignore the widely-held view that the PCC doesn’t work, so why would a blogging equivalent?

It might work as a voluntary scheme, adding greater credibility to the creme de la creme of blogs. But who would sit on a Blogs Complaints Commission?

I applaud Tim Toulmin for rejecting the idea of strict regulation, governed by law. But I challenge him to come up with a way of making this work.

November 23, 2006

Who do you think you are?

Who reads this blog? Well, you clearly do. But who are you?

I’ve been playing with my hit-counter and finding out an awful lot about you. The civil libertarians will just love that!

First up, you’re a technologically advanced bunch. Only 61% of you are using Internet Explorer. I’d recommend joining the 32% using Firefox! In fact 10% of my readers are on Firefox 2.0, which only came out this month. Well done to the one guy using ‘Konqueror’ – you really are cool…

Only 91% of you are using Windows.

98% of you have English as your first language (which is handy).

Over 90% of you have broadband (that means more video and audio then…)

31% of you got here from Google.

Your favourite entries this month were about the Muslim veil, oral sex, the Queen’s speech, and the Leamington Bar and Grill, an entry which I wrote over a year ago but which is quite popular on the search engines! Lucky I wrote them a favourable review – I reckon I must have given them several tables full of customers!

You read pretty damn quickly! On average it takes you 3.06 seconds to read each post which is very clever of you! (I suspect people read the first three words and give up).

If I write a serious, intellectual post, you’re much more likely to read something else on my blog. But if I write something flippant, you’ll probably carry on browsing elsewhere… My most flippant entries this month have been my review of Borat and an old one about BBC Radio 1. Which probably says more about the attention span of Vernon Kay fans.

63% of you are reading this blog for the first time ever. The rest are regulars.

Top referrals this month have come from Google, Technorati, Cardiff Journalism School, Bloggers4Labour, Adam Westbrook, BBC News, Counterspin, Dave Sheffield, Blamerbell, Facebook, The Stage magazine, Iain Dale, the Student Radio Association and The Times (in descending order).

I have more readers from Israel than from Palestine.

Two of you are reading this via satellite (I didn’t realise I had such a following in the Tora Bora caves!)

You’re reading this in Khorasan and Bakhtaran in Iran, Tamil Nadu in India, Sao Paulo in Brazil, Primor’ye in Russia, Al Qahirah in Egypt, Ar Riyad in Saudi Arabia, Cundinamarca in Colombia, as well as Bahrain, Guam, Tanzania, Panama, Bosnia, Monaco, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Croatia and Fiji.

All of which is a fantastic advert for Google Analytics which is probably the most interesting thing you can do with you blog.

November 20, 2006

World Exclusive: Blamerbell's Briefs

Blamerbell's Briefs

Blamerbell’s Briefs

November 05, 2006

Stats and FOIs

Iain Dale had 153,000 visitors to his blog in October. I’m not going to say how many I’ve had (as that’s just embarrassing vulgar), but my stats are surprisingly good.

If anyone doesn’t have a decent hit-counter on their blog, then get one. It’s fascinating to see which websites have linked to you, and who’s been referring the most people. I’ve learned about loads of websites I never knew existed just by seeing who had linked to my blog entries. So “Hi” to Adam and Counterspin and The Stage (yeah, I couldn’t work out why either) and Dave Sheffield and of course Google, all of whom sent me some visitors last month.

All I will say is that my other venture: Tetbury Online gets considerably less ‘hits’ than my blog does. Which is a bit weird.

I don’t want to suggest the blog’s been dumbed-down recently, but I am planning to take it upmarket with some original journalism in the next few months (and no, it’s not going to be about railway museums or WI meetings). There were a few moments, when I filed my first Freedom of Information request, when I thought I was probably wasting taxpayers money. But then I realised the job of a journalist is to cause trouble, and seeing as a streak in me has been doing that since the day I was born, I pressed “Send”. I’ll let you know what happens. And what the hell it’s about.

If anyone has an idea as to how I can cause some trouble (within the law, preferably) please do let me know in the Comments section.

P.S. Don’t let anyone tell you blogging is profitable. I’d be amazed if anyone (in Britain at least) could earn a living from it. You might notice the Amazon adverts in the sidebar have disappeared, as they’d earned me precisely £0.00 in the three months they’d been there. At best, you can only hope a newspaper might pay you to write something they’ve seen on your blog. And so far, no-one’s opened their wallet.

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