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September 14, 2008

Film Criticism & the Blogosphere

Film Criticism & the Blogosphere

The latest edition of Sight & Sound (October 2008) has an great set of articles examining the state of film criticism to day in the light of the development of Web 2.0 and also the rise of the "Critic-Proof film". The full set of features brings together critics from around the world to discuss their favourite critics. It is a work of metacriticism in other words, however, here I intend to focus on the issues of criticism and the rise of Web 2.0.  Nick James the Editor of Sight & Sound introduces the feature making many interesting points. There is a recognition that there needs to be a culture of change within traditional print-based criticism in order to respond to the rise of blogging and its predominant culture of instant criticism on the one hand and the squeeze upon critics to try and make their films critic-proof. With marketing budgets sometimes approaching as much as 50% of the rest of the costs in the case of Hollywood blockbusters obviously distributors are keen to avoid flack. Arguably they can influence the blogging  community  interested in films and pass off pap onto them. However it has to be said that newspaper owners and critics have often been guilty of passing on pap themselves as loss of advertising revenue was a serious danger at least as far as film criticism is concerned. Nick James cites Graham Greene on this dangerous tendency:

He has got to entertain and most film critics find the easiest way to entertain is 'to write big'. Reviewing of this kind contributes nothing to the cinema. The reviewer is simply adding to the atmosphere of graft, vague rhetoric, paid publicity, the general air of Big unscrupulous Business." (Graham Greene, cited Nick James: Sight & Sound - Oct 2008)

An article I found very well thought through was one by Mark Fisher acting deputy editor of The Wire entitled "On Critics: Bloggers Without Boundaries". Fisher takes a sensible line with regard to all the hype surrounding Web 2.0 when he carefully cites the documentary film maker Adam Curtis who launched a strong attack on bloggers arguing that rather than forming an alternative space blogging is "parastitic upon already existing sources of information". Certainly the hype about interactivity, and choice and access has largely hidden from view the fact that there is very little valuable critical discourse within many of these blogs. Indeed in my own experience there are a lot of pages which are just copy and pasting other ones and trying to get advertising. However I think that as more people get familiar with the ways of the web the weak stuff will get weaned out. The structuring of search engine optimisation will contribute to that but only if quality critics start getting off their backsides, stop whinging about the hard time they are having and actually learn how to adapt to the changing world.

If I was a government lacky I would describe this as Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Everybody else has to adapt to the revolution that the internet is bringing. Critics film or otherwise must get out there and compete, and so must their publications. The message is that critics need to get online stop depending on free rides and cosy little press previews. You can get into the cinema on the day a film happens if the distributors keep you out and get your words out to the world a few hours later. Remember much of the profit from a film comes from the after sales in the DVD market and TV rights etc.

The publication you work for needs to get a strong online presence which gains respect, in the way that the BBC has. Look at the numbers of really good blogs the BBC has as well as podcasts and the rest. A big advantage for an online presence is the sophistication of online advertising and the new models of delivering targeted audiences to the adverts. Nick James worries that perhaps only Pete Bradshaw of the Guardian has the power to make or break a film. Well I'm not sure that a single critic should be in that position anyway, however, if his readership respects his views developed consistently then clearly a critic will have some influence. If a critic has that power and a loyal audience then their articles will pull in the best advertising, in this new online world a loyal audience for a brave committed critic will not lose advertising revenue but gain it:

For Anderson this was the worst kind of English cant. His view, on seeing Cooke's views reprinted in 1953, was "there is no such thing as uncommitted criticism, any more than there is such a thing as insignificant art. It is merely a question of the openness with which our commitments are stated. I do not believe we should keep quiet about them." (Lindsay Anderson, cited Nick James: Sight & Sound - Oct 2008)

There is an issue of how the critic online through their publication should react to other parts of the emerging critical discourse. Bloggers justifiably complain that on-line presences of mainstream media is a sort of virtual black-hole. These sites don't feel that they have a responsibility to link out to other sites which perhaps have different views. There is a certain arrogance that the critic is the expert to whom others must listen. Failure to take part in the democratisation of the media and to recognise fellow critics or castigate what they think is bad criticism is already part of Web 2.0. There is no point in being jealous of bloggers in a way which Pete Bradshaw has mentioned (see Whither the Film Critic below), bemoaning the lack of writing space in the print medium. Well spotted, the print medium is very limited. It is the online space which needs to become the primary critical space, the offline space the summary.

Nick James needs to take the next visionary step and get Sight & Sound to entirely adapt itself to the online world. Get the advertising online, get the criticism online, get a much larger global market become a central critical hub for film criticism in the globe. The competition online and in the blogosphere is pretty feeble so far but it is getting stronger everyday. Take the plunge relieve yourself of the fears of sorting out advertising Adsense and Amazon Associates will do it for you,  like Aston University Alumini all sorts of organisations are using these services. Remember any advertising space is 27/7 globally! Rather a tempting prospect for any advertiser, why is it moving onto the web?  The more popular the pages th more the publisher gets. Transparency is increasingly coming to rule the market. At the moment there is a tone in the discourse which smacks of neo-luddism. This is more than about the criticis it is about the future of hard copy magazines specially specialist ones lik Sight & Sound. There is no viable online -film presence which can hold a candle to Sight & Sound - YET. But it will happen unless change comes internally. The aspirant critics with the determination the nouse and the experience to develop several powerful online critical presences  online.  

Arguably we have reached a point where there is a defining moment. This moment offers the opportunities based upon the strengths of the present Sight & Sound, the weaknesses are a lack of a coherent vision to come to terms with the on-line age and revive the tradition of the angry voics of Anderson and his colleagues and later the young critics of Cahiers du cinema as Nick James has noted: 

Never mind that it was a bunch of critics that transformed cinema in the 1950s to create the nouvelle vague, or that another bunch paved the way for Britain's "Angry Young Men" to transform British cinema in the 1960s. (Nick James: Sight & Sound - Oct 2008)

Nick James is showing signs of neo-Luddism and cultural pessimism in the face of change rather than creating a firm line to adapt to the online world.  James has commentd in the past that  he wants Sight and Sound to be the Vinyl to the  iPod. It is an analogy which died years ago in the world of audio. The moment it died was when Linn finally built a CD player despit the fact that they had built their reputation on the famous Linn Sondek record deck. Now Linn is a leading light in the world of music servers and digital downloads offering a quality level many times better than CD. Naim too has just brought an expensive music hard drive to market. Linn still make an upgraded version of their decks but the vinyl brigade is a dying breed. Does Nick James want Sight & Sound to die? The cinema itself has a powerful history of technological change and many pople's job specifications changed. James still hasn't really imagined how the magazine can be changed and how the magazin world is changing. The following sentence in tone sees blogging as a diminished task not an opportunity although he is right that critics who  a well informed  and genuinely critical  can become distinctive again.

Otherwise they may collude in their own extinction by becoming bloggers themselves. Whether or not they stay in print or migrate to the web, they will need the support of their editors to become truly distinctive again by making more than the occasional passionate noise. Nick James: Sight & Sound - Oct 2008)

In this sense James still hasn't fundamentally moved his position from on whihch the Londonist writing some months ago commented on

What we found frustrating was that both members of the panel and the audience had an incredibly unsophisticated knowledge of blogging and online journalism. More than once online writing seemed to conjure up an image of lonely spotty teenage fanboys, wanking in bad grammar about the movie they had just seen, in between whining posts about how misunderstood they are. (The Londonist)

I have to agree with the Londonist there are plenty in the blogosphere who have high standards of writing, knowledge and ability to gain an audience.

Blogging is so much more developed, and richer, and sophisticated than traditional media give it credit for. There are communities out there (note "communities" rather than isolated, socially retarded freaks with broadband) with as much discipline and editorial rigour as any established print journal. Editorial rigour is, in fact, even more keenly followed in online publishing because of the speed and the means available for writers, readers and editors to respond to one another: if an article is released with incorrect information or highly contentious material, it can be a matter of minutes to react and amend. (The Londonist)

The future is gradually closing in on old critical models, models which had many flaws. Hopefully the best of the old media will migrate successfully. Mark Fisher identified some impressive online critical presences. 

The uniquness of the best blog writing...contradicts the assumption that bloggers are at best earnst amateurs, at worst talentless mediocrities motivated by resentment. Many succssful bloggers ...are able to pursue their own agendas free from the pressure of word count and independent of th time of consumer capitalism...The best blogs...occupy a space between journalism and academia, between disciplines, between films and other cultural forms offering a new type of criticism. (Mark Fisher, Sight and Sound October 2008 p 19)

Doubtless the debate will develop.


Who Needs Critics?  Nick James  - Editor of Sight & Sound in the October 2008 edition

Whither the film critic in the blogosphere? Guardian report on disucussion at the BAFTA awards

The Londonist - Role of the Critic in the Digital Age

Kinoeye: The Rise of the Critic-proof Film

Variety Newspapers Showing Critics the Door

September 09, 2008

Blogging Your First Step

Blogging Your First Step

Hi everybody, today we are going to get you started on blogging by getting you to establish your blog.

You are going to be establishing your blog on blogger which is a Google owned software. This is because this software has been tested through the college network and it functions through the firewall. This isn't a recommendation suggesting Blogger is best. Other blog software available such as Wordpress may be more intuitive. This blog is developed and hosted by Warwick University Blogs which I find better than Blogger.

First of all open Google and search for "Blogger".

You should get up an entry into the Google software "Blogger". Please follow their instructions to open your own blog.

When you are asked for an email address I suggest you use your own home one rather than the college one. The blog is going to be a permanent thing with you.

For now name the Blog in your own name followed by "Academic Blog". In the URL box put the same thing.

On the first posting put:

As a title Subject Hub

Give your page this heading as well.  Under that put the list of subjects that you are taking. So the actual posting will look something like this:

Subject Hub

Media Studies



Business Studies

Now "post" in other words publish this page.

The reason for calling it a subject hub is to help with navigation. Whilst navigation is easy early on your blog will gradually build up into something quite large.  As you will see from my blog it is nopw so big that navigational issues have developed. The "hub page system is one I have developed to get over this.

The next thing to do is to create another four postings each entitled by the subject name, Media Studies Etc.

One the Media Studies page you need to put the following headings:

Textual Analysis: TV Drama Representation

British Cinema: A Case Study

Foundation Production

These are the areas you will be studying during the course of the year.

September 06, 2008

Blogging: a History

Blogging a History

Return to Developing  Blogging Skills Hub Page

(Please note still under development however the links should be useful)


Since the invention of blogging as a specific internet activity it has grown at an exponential rate and by May 2005 internet research companies found that 7% of the 120 million US adults who use the internet have created their own blog as  Aline  van Duyn reports:

Blogs, web logs or journals, which cover topics from politics to parenting, have such enormous followings that marketing and advertising executives can no longer resist advertising in them. The most recent Pew Internet and American Life Project, which researches internet use, found that 7 per cent of the 120m US adults who use the internet have created their own blog. Assuming one blog per person, this comes to 8m US blogs alone. The study also found that 27 per cent of US internet users say they read blogs. (Aline van Duyn, Financial Times May 27 2005)

Of course that figure of around 8 million bloggers in 2005 has increased enormously since then.

(See also Syndicates of Opinion Overview)

What is a Blog?

(See also What is a blog?)

It is the contention of this posting that blogs are in a state of evolution whilst originally they were very much a personalised thing there is an increasing tendency towards creating them for business or other purposes. This blog for example is primarily about Film Studies and Media Studies providing resources for educational or programming purposes. Whilst there are pesonal and ideological perspectives involved inevitably  all  media texts contain these.  In some senses the definition below is therefore unsatisfactory. Some blogs may be highly subjectivist and impressionistic. They might contain personal outpourings more akin to a highly personal hard copy diary whilst other blogs are informed reflective thinking about processes going in the sphere of politcs economics, science, arts etc. As is discussed below entirely new business models are appearing based upon blog technology such as the Huffington Post. The possibilities of webvertising  through blogs is also changing the nature of the beast. This BBC news page describes the popular feelings about blogs expressed in 2006:

if you believe the hype, blogs are as significant as the invention of the printing press for their ability to change the way the world will be seen. If on the other hand you believe the counter-hype, blogs are a self-indulgence which pander to dull people's misguided beliefs that they have something interesting to say. (BBC News on its own Blogs)

The current Wikipedia entry on web content (07/09/08) argues that:

Blogs are a type of website that contains mainly web pages authored in html (although the blogger may be totally unaware that the web pages are composed using html due to the blogging tool that may be in use). Millions of people use blogs online; a blog is now the new "Home Page", that is, a place where a persona can reveal personal information, and/or build a concept as to who this persona is. Even though a blog may be written for other purposes, such as promoting a business, the core of a blog is the fact that it is written by a "person" and that person reveals information from her/his perspective. (My Emphasis: Wikipedia: Web content page 07 /09/08)

The Evolution of Blogging

The history of blogs
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: blogs history)

There is some carping about who had the first blog who invented the term and so forth. This debate is of no particular interest in itself except for a couple of egos. Rather more significant is the fact that around 1995-97 the was a shifting culture on the web which was very new then in any case. This culture was moving towards creating content pages which were ultimately going to be far easier to use and update than writing sites directly into HTML or into early versions of Web Creation software packages, Dreamweaver / Go-Live etc. The priority then was an imperative to get information out to the whole world (at least those with a connection to the internet). Now blogging software is very intuitive and requires no specialist knowledge to generate a very good website.

Early weblogs were simply manually updated components of common websites. However, the evolution of tools to facilitate the production and maintenance of web articles posted in reverse chronological order made the publishing process feasible to a much larger, less technical, population. Ultimately, this resulted in the distinct class of online publishing that produces blogs we recognize today. For instance, the use of some sort of browser-based software is now a typical aspect of "blogging". Blogs can be hosted by dedicated blog hosting services, or they can be run using blog software, such as WordPress, Movable Type, Blogger or LiveJournal, or on regular web hosting services. (Wikipedia entry 07/09/08 - page ranking 6/10)

By 2001, blogging was enough of a phenomenon that how-to manuals began to appear, primarily focusing on technique. The importance of the blogging community (and its relationship to larger society) increased rapidly. Established schools of journalism began researching blogging and noting the differences between journalism and blogging. (Wikipedia entry 07/09/08 - page ranking 6/10)

Since 2002, blogs have gained increasing notice and coverage for their role in breaking, shaping, and spinning news stories. The Iraq war saw bloggers taking measured and passionate points of view that go beyond the traditional left-right divide of the political spectrum. (Wikipedia entry 07/09/08 - page ranking 6/10)

In 2004, the role of blogs became increasingly mainstream, as political consultants, news services and candidates began using them as tools for outreach and opinion forming. Even politicians not actively campaigning, such as the UK's Labour Party's MPTom Watson, began to blog to bond with constituents....In the United Kingdom, The Guardian newspaper launched a redesign in September 2005, which included a daily digest of blogs on page 2. Also in June 2006, BBC News launched a weblog for its editors, following other news companies.[14. (Wikipedia entry 07/09/08 - page ranking 6/10)

In May 2005 the Huffington Post Launches (see below)

In January 2006 Andrew Sullivan's political blog started in 2002 is leased by the Time Magazine Corporation and Sullivan's blog The Daily Dish is now available at Atlantic Magazine the online version of an established political journal. With a page valued at 8/10 by Google the same as the BBC Business Newspage this is clearly a good investment in a professional blogger. This shows that there is a clear market for the most successful bloggers who are effectively being co-opted into the mainstream media.

Blogging & Advertising

This vast amount of activity has led to a migration of advertising onto the web specifically via blogs. The large numbers involved are likely to be highly educated and inventive people who are likely to be more interested in targeted advertising.

"It is still not for everyone, but it can, at the moment, work for specially targeted ads," says Alycia Hise, account director at TMP Worldwide, which buys blog ads for her education clients. (Aline van Duyn, Financial Times May 27 2005)

As a result advertising as a media form is undergoing a significant shift partially because of blogging:

Michael Bassik, director at Malchow Schlackman Hoppey & Cooper, which ran John Kerry's online presidential campaign.
He admits that a year ago he dismissed the idea of blog advertising. Now, he has clients spending up to $15,000 per week on blogs. "You are reaching a very actively engaged group of people, much more so than readers of more general web sites," he said. (Aline van Duyn, Financial Times May 27 2005)

Blog advertising has always been very cheap, certainly in 2005:

Blog ads are cheap compared to other forms of advertising., where ad buyers can take space on blogs, lists its most expensive placement at $3,000. This buys you a week in the top slot on, which claims to be read daily by more than 400,000 "committed progressive activists". (Aline van Duyn, Financial Times May 27 2005)

The Guardian acquisition of Paidcontent a Business to Business blog based media start-up company in July 2008 has great potential for the Guardian Media Group:

the low costs of a blogging platform, global spread and specialised sector should shield it from an advertising downturn. "What we are proving and hopefully prove even more now is that this is the future of B2B media". (Mr Ali founder and previous owner of Paidcontent cited Bradshaw FT)

A crucial question for many bloggers is can money be made from Blogging through advertising? Rory Cellan-Jones the BBC Technology Editor as sceptical to say the least:

Hmmm, the trouble is those individual blogs do not seem to be building growing businesses - even if they're providing a new living for people who are often already professional journalists or commentators. (Rory Cellan-Jones 21 /08/08)

Venture Capital and Blogging

...while financial markets remain fragile, there are a slew of established media companies eager to buy promising start-ups in the hope of gaining access to the next promising technology.
"It's a strange phenomenon," he explained. "All the media companies, you name it, they are buying companies - or stakes in companies - at a very early stage." (Chaffin on Patricof FT)

Patricof's Grey venture capital fund Greycroft Partners have been astute despite the financial dowturn of 2008:

Three of its portfolio companies have already been sold - most recently the parent of, a tech blog, which the Guardian newspaper snapped up earlier this month for $30m. (Chaffin on Patricof FT)

The start up of the Huffington Post in May 2005 can be seen as a turning point in the history of blogging as Michael Bassik commented to Joshua Chaffin :

"The blogger is often labelled as a crazy individual, sitting in their bedroom, in their underwear, writing whatever comes to mind," explained Michael Bassik, a blogger and member of MSHC Partners, which does online political consulting for Democratic candidates.

"What this really symbolises is blogs becoming a more mainstream method of communication," he adds.

Some Bloggers were very sceptical at the start of the Huffington Post which seems more about extending the overwrought culture of celbrity with ballooning and punctured egos than anything else. Of course if this lot are active in the blogosphere there is plenty for the advertising sharks to feed on. Every celeb has plenty of disposable income:

Chris Nolan, who blogs about California politics, praised Ms Huffington as a "force of nature", yet she also questioned whether the site would succeed.
She doubted celebrity contributors would be able to supply the undiluted opinions necessary to stand out amid an ocean of blogs. "The idea that Gwyneth Paltrow is going to have something interesting to say about the state of the world without her handlers is not a likely proposition," Ms Nolan said. Ultimately, though, she extended a welcoming hand to her newest peer as much as any blogger can. (Joshua Cahffin 10th May 2005 FT)


Timeline of Blogging New York Magazine. (Up until 2006)

Deals pioneer gets a second wind. Joshua Chaffin Financial Times 

First Lady of the Blogs. Joshua Chaffin Financial Times

Online party sends out for more shrimp. Joshua Chaffin May 2005. 

Guardian Acquires Media Blog. Tim Bradshaw FT July 2008

Is blogging good value for the C-suite? Urs E. Gattiker July 11 2008

BBC News: Down with blogs... so here's another

The Jeff Jarvis Buzz Machine blog. Jarvis is a professor of jouranlism and a contributor to the Guardian madia pages with a regular column. This is a highly influential blog and gains a (7/10 google ranking which is quite something)

The Syndicates of Opinion: The Nature & Ethics of Blogging. (Stanford Student Project)

Blogvertising: Ethics in Advertising for Bloggers

Ethics and blogging. The Future

Syndicates of Opinion Webliography

History of Blogging - Your Timeline To Tech News

Scientific Blogging (blogging isn't just about politics and entertainment any area of human interest can use blogging. Here there is a joint blog used by sa number of contributing scientists. )

Duncan Riley blog Wall Street Journal Tries to Re-Write Blogging History

Rebecca Blood. Weblogs a History and Perspective


Link here for separate bibliography of books on blogging.

Return to Developing  Blogging Skills Hub Page

Developing Blogging Skills Hub Page

Developing Blogging Skills Hub Page


This hub page will direct you to a developing theme on this blog of how best to develop your blog. Although it will of course hopefully generate ideas and advances amongst a wide range of users some of the links being developed are primarily targetted at A Level students.

Why blog?

Developing Your Blog 1: Search Engines and Linking

Developing Your Blog 2: Content

Blogging a History

A Bibliography of Blogging

Blogging your First Step

A2 Media Blog Listing (Not Publicly Accessable)

Case Study of a Successful Commercial Blogging Venture: The Huffington Post

September 01, 2008

Developing Your Blog 2: Content

Developing Your Blog 2: Content

Return to Developing  Blogging Skills Hub Page


If you have been using the posting on developing links and thing about search engine optimisation (SEO) you might well have found some links that emphasise the need for the highest possible quality in your content. If you want people to take you seriously (even as a comedian) the content needs to be good. It needs to add something to what is already available for a start. This means that once you have decided what you want to write abut you need to start researching what is already out there. The is no point in just reinventing the wheel people will not bother to link to your site, place comments or help your blog by word of mouth. Low amounts of traffic mean that search engines will give you a very low ranking if they see you at all. This means you will get little or no traffic. Unless you plan and strive to create good content your blog or website will fail to attract attention and you will probably stop bothering. Here I'm assuming that you are writing the blog for others to read. Obviously if they are private entries none of this applies however here we are considering blogs and websites as part of the mediascape and being open to the public.


The first thing you need to do is to focus carefully on what the core content of your blog is going to be. It should be on areas you know about or are very keen about and wish to research and comment upon further. This Kinoeye blog started as an educational resource area for one film course that was being delivered. That was its only focus at the start and it took a long time to learn how to do these things well. One good thing about blogging is that your work isn't set in stone. You can go back to entries and reedit them and develop them in all sorts of ways. I certainly want to do this with some of the earlier entries as I have got better at using the available tools and the tools themselves have been improved. You will be on a learning curve don't worry about just do it as the advert says.

My suggestion is that you start out by planning out what it is you want to write about and prepare to get good at it. you might be writing about, fashion, film stars, endangered newts, global warming, the Russian invasion of Georgia. whatever it is you can bet that there are a lot of web entries out there numbered in hundreds of millions however once you get to know an area you will start to dsicover gaps in the coverage. For example only yesterday I was developing a page on Channel 4 and its relationship to the British film industry. I was searching through a Google for good quality entries on the film the Madness of King George. I was surprised that there wasn't an entry worth linking to in my opinion. That means I need to find the time to do a review of it.

Content can provide a range of services which don't currently exist on the Web below I give a couple of examples from my site which seem to be providing visitors with a service which wasn't otherwise available.

I see the Web as being content driven and this is the dominant position at the moement. However not all people agree with this perspective. Andrew Odlyzko considers that communications capabilites through connectivity rather than content (seen as entertainment is actually 'king'). He has written an online article entitled "Content is Not King" (2001). Doubtless the irony of cliking on this link is apparent :-).

What this argument suggests is that the Web (and browsers in particular, which made the Web user-friendly) may have created a misleading impression. By focusing attention on centralized delivery of content, the Web may have prevented a proper appreciation of the importance of the often chaotic and generally unplannable point-to-point communications. The Web and the browsers may have played two main roles. One was to force online service providers to accept an open interoperable standard that made the entire Internet accessible for communications for everyone. The other was to introduce a user-friendly graphical interface for e-mail, chat, and netnews, which made such communications easier. However, the Web is not as important to the Internet as is commonly thought.

Now there is no question that Odlyzko is making some powerful points and those intersted need to study his peer assessed article carefully. However since 2001 things have moved on considerably. The enormous expansions of social networking sites with people generating their own on-line spaces as well as a proliferation of blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other aspects of Web 2.0 clearly challenges the binary position which he has established becuase connectivity and content do appear to be converging between these forms.  In this sense user generated content which goes beyond the point to point or one to one of the personal letter or telephone call is significantly different. whether the business models of Google, My Space , YouTube and Second Life will succeed is yet to established  however all of these are in someway dependent upon user generated content to drive the Web. This sems to counter Odlyzko's arguments against content which in terms of what might be described as Media 1.0 with centrally delivered content and control are convincing arguments. The upshot of all this is that producing worthwhile content for your target audience will help drive the web and if it is good content will help add value to humanity in general.

Planning your initial postings

Before you start blogging on the area of your choice you would be wise to plan out several articles and preferably think about how they can complement each other so that you can then interlink them. Even when you do things right it will probably take search engines time to notice you so don't expect instant and immediate results. Once you have a small body of work written then it may be a good idea to contact the search engines and alert them to your developing site. Again this is prioritising content and it ensure that once search engines start to crawl your pages there is something there that people will want to read. In the long-term you will want people to revisit your site, bookmark it and even link to it. You need to impress that audience who may also be publishers that you are worthwhile putting into the loop.

Providing a Service

I have mentioned this page in the previous section on web development so skip it if you have already visited. As my main current research project is a history of European Cinema in the five main industrial countries since 1918 I needed to map out which countries had been producing which films when.  I realised that a simple table drawn up as a chronology / timeline would be incredibly useful. I could could make easy comparisons. I then realised that I could link each entry into the best article on that specific film that I could find on the web. I decided to do this very thoroughly and went down to page 20 of a Google for each entry. Very occasionally I turned up something excellent like a brilliant thesis on page 15 which nobody had noticed. This provided a service in several different ways. For any researchers it could be a useful first stop, for those who had published something unseen I was contributing to bringing it to light, for film programmers and films clubs across the world it provided easy access information to make decisions or to put into their local marketing. At a perwsonal level it gives me a useful research tool as well. another advantage of doing this although I hadn't realised it at the time was it was a page that would appeal strongly to search engines because of all the external links.  It was acting in accord with the principles of Web 2.0  which encourages interlinking as much as possible.  Over time this has developed into a strong page and there is still more to be done.

My second example of a good service page which has done surprisingly well is a page on the Greek Director Theo Angelopoulos. I have seen very few of his films but those I have seen I really liked especially one called The Weeping Meadow. now it maybe too slow and meditative in its style but its a way of making films I enjoyed. When I came to look for more films of his available in the UK there simply weren't any DVDs. There were still a couple available on video but I didn't want to buy at full price as it was old technology. As a result I decided to create a list of good websites and bibliography about him so that anybody who was intersted in his films could follow it up a bit more. Hopefully it will help to create a market for the films currently unavailable. This therefore helps fans and students the filmmaker himself and the company that has the rights but is uncertain about whether the is too much of a financial risk in reissuing them. Despite the fact I have no great expertise on this particualr director I could still do something useful and educational. Somebody else will hopefully develop a more informed page or write a good thesis and publish it on the web.

  1. Chronology of European Cinema (Google Ranking 4/10)
  2. Theo Angelopoulos (Google Ranking 3/10)

Remember Content +Tagging & SEO

As has been dealt with in part one just having the content isn't enough it must be combined with ways of ensuring that search engines find the pages through tagging. I have pages which still need re-editing and tagging more effectively which were the product of a lot of research and work with useful content. These pages still don't register in a Google ranking and are barely visited.

I learned a valuable lesson yesterday when checking up on one of my pages which I though should have worked its way up through the Google search results to at least the page 5-7 region. The page was on Mike Leigh the film maker and included a good range of links a biography and a filmography as well as some biographical details and I considered that the page had more to offer than the Screenonline biographical notes and links thus meeting my page performance targets.  Pages like this have worked their way up effectively in the past so I was surprised that even by page 22 it hadn't appeared. What was even stranger was that a page on his most recent film Happy-go-Lucky published only a couple of days previously was on page 22. It was then clear that I had done something wrong!

On the Mark up page I realised that I had called the page British directors: Mike Leigh. It was called this as it was part of a series, however in the header of the blog post which is read by the search engines this was the name. I Googled the term British Directors: Mike Leigh and it came out first on a global search the problem is that nobody is likely to use that as a search term. As a result I had to edit the page and it is at least getting visitors. I will google it in a couple of weeks to see if it is in the top few pages of a Google search under the term Mike Leigh. I realised that I had made a similar error with several other director pages and had to edit them as well. hopefully they will perform better.

The lessons to be learned from this experience are that content and correct titling of the page and good tagging must be combined in order to achieve success.

Researching Your Content

Researching your content effectively is fundamental to success therefore you must learn how to do it well. It helps if you are clear about what you are intending to research from the outset. This enables you to reject the mountains of spurious information that you are likely to turn up.

You need to research what is already available on your chosen subject. Now when you are researching as an individual to get information you might want something very specific, lets us say for example information about Ken Livingstone the ex-mayor of London and his enthusiasm for Newts.

For the purpose of this posting I entered the search term 'Newts Ken Livingstone'  and turned up the fascinating paper Newtsweek. I also discovered that this search term returned about 16.5K hits. The search term Ken Livingstone returned just under 2.2 Million. Therefore it is useful to narrow the terms of your research as it should make it quicker and easier to find the  information that you want.

If you are comparing somebody who has recently been promoted as a 'celebrity' such as Keira Knightley. Entering Keira Knightley as a search term returned 11.2 Million hits. Apart from anything else this tells us that for many people their priority is engaging in discourse about somebody who has gained a lot of publicity but drooped out of college and hasn't got any A levels! By comparison somebody who has been Mayor of London both in the early 1980s and again for several years until 2008 and influences policies which affect 10 million Londoners plus millions of visitors gets comparatively little attention!!

If you are trying to build a service as this blog is providing resources about cinema I will need to trawl the search returns for Keira Knightley. This is becuase this is the most likely search term that people will put in initially. They might put in terms such Keira Knightley Atonement (662 thousand hits) or Keira Knightley The Duchess(351 thousand hits). Again these terms have narrowed your search down significantly.

Once you have got your Google search running you then need to start being discriminating and learning how to use what Google returns as efficiently and effectively as possible. Assuming you want the best quality writing and best researched entries then you don't need to work your way through every item on the Google page. Many will be fansites just trying to sell visitors something, others will be DVD Companies trying to sell DVDs and so on. some will just be tacky pages gibbering on about ridiculous things which inevitably surround star personas. If you are investigating the construction of stars then these pages could be very valuable by the way. What you are accessing depends upon what your article is trying to achieve. If you are trying to evaluate and review how good a performer Keira Knightley actually is  in terms of her ability at acting then these  sites are just so much junk. The search term 'Keira Knightley Acting Abilities' returned just over 55 thousand hits. Clearly this isn't the primary concern of most sites, which are parasitical and ephemeral in nature.

Anchoring Your Research

When you find appropriate sites for the purposes of your forthcoming blog posting you should develop a weblography. One of the foremost complaints about websites is that a visitor has no idea of how relaible the person is who has developed the site, how well they research things, and how good they are at analysing what they have researched. Most thoughtful people think that most websites are unreliable sources of information. A well known informational site such as Wikipedia suffers from this problem. The articles are multi-edited. Sometimes those workingon articles in an altruistic way are highly informed whilst at other times they are not. Wikipedia has now become more demanding by asking that those working on articles leave accurate citations for example. It wikipedia need to do this so do you!

Things to do to gain your website visitor respect:

Create a webliography that is linked. Visitors can then check your sources of information. You may be proceeding with the information in good faith but it might be out of date or the fundamental research behind ideas might be weak. Some visitors will take the trouble to check and challenge the validity of your concluding comments.

If you have some books or articles or newspapers etc that you have used then create a bibliography. There are different ways of constructing a bibliography but the essence of any referencing system is that any reader should be able to check back on the accuracy of the conclusions you have drawn from the work you have used. Remember journalists and commentators who write for large commercial and non commercial media institutions have access to powerful sources of information as thay will have good libraries for example as well as excellent electronic resources. They are frequently acknowledged as being very expert in the fields thay cover. Therefore articles from the Financial Times, Guardian, BBC and similar media institutions already carry an weighting that individual bloggers with no history can emulate. Many of these organisations will employ their own researchers that a specialist journalist can call upon.

These articles will have been through the editing process and the editor will have spoken to the journalist and checked that the sources for the ideas are relaible. This is one reason why I tend to use a lot of referances to the above organisations when I create a webliography. I respect (although may not agree) the quality. This is what good journalism is all about.

What makes me very suspicious is uninformed opinion. This is clearly a problem with the Huffington Post which is trying  to be a successful 'New Media' online newspaper. It has a low level of resources and its contributors are relaitvely unknown and don't have a great deal of respect for their opinions developed over years or else because they are associated with media brands that have a repuation for good journalism. Joshua Chaffin in the Financial Times (30 / 31 August) commented in a worrying way that her site has benefitted:

...form her tart commentary and conviction that the mainstream media is handcuffed by striving for a false objectivity.

however in fairness Chaffin in an earlier article on the Huffington Post  has noted:

Like a standard newspaper, Ms Huffington insists that her contributors maintain accuracy. All errors must be corrected within 24 hours, lest bloggers have their posting privileges withdrawn. Yet she argues that one of the blog's strengths is an attitude and immediacy that distinguishes it from the mainstream media's sometimes-tortured attempts at objectivity. "None of this 'on the one hand, on the other hand', " she says. "You have to believe that there is a truth to be ferreted out."

Once one reads between the lines this seems that Huffington wants her cake and to eat it. In reality a blogging contributor isn't checked out and isn't necessarily someonewho has the reliability of a system which works to certain professional standards. The search for 'immediacy' could weaken accuracy and when it comes to serious stuff anyway accuracy is important. Who actually cares about the love life of some overpaid tawdry celebrity. I think that Huffington will have to get better standards than this if she is to succeed in the long-term.

You need to strive for professional accuracy in your blog. this means taking more time on postings however once a good posting is up then this builds your blog portfolio and will help generate a stronger presence on the web. It is likely to gain you loyal visitors over time and this is what you want.

Comments Box

Keeping the comments box open to readers is a good idea. You can delete the rubbish which turns up but keep the thoughtful and serious stuff. It all contributes to your site and underpins a core message of Web 2.0 that the sharing of ideas becomes a powerful tool for everybody, which adds a lot of value to society.

A rules of Engagement PAGE

This idea comes from the Jeff Jarvis Buzz Machine blog and might be csomething you wish to do. In any case the work which is your own writing is your own copyright including original images, sounds and video. You may wish to license it through creative commons.

Rules of Engagement

  • Any email sent to me can be quoted on the blog.
  • No personal attacks, hate speech, bigotry, or seven dirty words in the comments or comments will be killed along with commenters.
  • Any comment or conversation on this blog may be quoted elsewhere.

The copyright notice on my site for years was:
It’s mine, I tell you, mine! All mine! You can’t have it because it’s mine! You can read it (please); you can quote it (thanks); but I still own it because it’s mine! I own it and you don’t. Nya-nya-nya. So there.
COPYRIGHT 2001-2003-20?? by Jeff Jarvis

OK, seriously, I license everything on Buzzmachine under Creative Commons. I own copyright but license use with full attribution and links.


Andrew Odlyzko "Content is Not King" (2001)

Chris Brogan blog . How Your Blog Helps You Do Business

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Developing Your Blog 1: Search Engines and Linking

Developing Your Blog 1: Search Engines and Linking

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Return to A2 Media Studies Planning


For some time OCR A Level Media has been encouraging the creation of web design and making basic websites as part of its coursework portfolio in both foundation and advanced production. Other level three media courses will be offering similar production units. I have noticed that there is little emphasis on how to develop and maintain audiences and the text books don't seem to be dealing with issues such as marketing the websites / blogs and discussing the increasingly sophisticated business tools available. In many ways this understanding is far more important than learning at an extremely basic level how to use Flash or  Dreamweaver. To learn these programmes properly takes a lot of time and effort and they are not generic skills. By comparison  learning about how web business are actually operating through the use of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Web Analytics tools is very important for an A level student.  One reason for learning about media studies is to gain an underlying understanding  of how things work so that you are not fooled by things which is very easy when it comes to media related things.  You may never do these things yourself.

SEO & Web analytics combined are essential tools for reaching the target audience of the site and are absolutely fundamental to the success of any website whether or not it is trying to sell advertising/ products / services or a combination of these things. At its core media is a business which depends upon attracting audiences and is usually paid for by subscription, advertising or in the case of the BBC a licence fee which is very like a subscription in reality. Together SEO and Analytics drive company websites and even individual websites. Of course content is important but you can have the best content in the World on a site which is useless if nobody ever gets to find it. Marketing and promoting your site are essential ingredients of success. If you don't like doing it then you need to find a company / person that does.

Search & The Web

Let us assume you have got the content of your website sorted out and its great and the design looks amazing and all the links work well and it is easy to navigate, in short it is the perfect website. You have taken months to learn the programmes to create it and lots of time to write and research the content, take the photographs record the sound and the video. You put the site up via your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and because you want to be able to at least pay the service provider you decide to put adverts on your site.  Once your site is up you search for it typing in different search terms. If like most people you don't go further than page two on a Google search you will probably be disappointed. You will have to persevere and go a lot further.

This blog has what I consider to be some pretty good pages but they don't even appear in the first 20 pages of a Google search. That page is pretty much dead in the water unless I do something to try and push it up the search engine rankings. Sometimes this can take months. One page on this site has developed a successful search engine ranking after a few months. It is called A Chronology of European Cinema. According to the Firefox browser it has a Google ranking of 4 / 10.  The reason why this page is powerful is because there are an enormous number of external links and some internal links to what I consider are the best available web pages on individual films publicly available. Over time the page has attracted users. The combination of these things gradually pushes the content up in importance. The number of hours to research the page is enormous and it is still ongoing. By comparison a reasonably useful page on Keira Knightley gets nowhere on the Google page ranking indicator. The page isn't in the first ten (probably 50) on this search term which got 9.3 million hits from Google. No surprises there then! The point is that to your site / pages will have to fight their way up popular search terms. Because my entry has a tag and some links to The Duchess starring Keira Knightley and about to be released a search of the term "The Duchess Film" found my page on page 9 of a Google search - not bad but not nearly good enough! you need to think about a range of relevant tags which might attract some users to your page.

Please note during searches I have found that pages which have come out without registering in the Google rankings can come very high on the actrual search whilst other pages with higher rankings can come in a couple of pages lower. for example one search turned up a British Film Institute Screenonline entry which was justifiably in the top three of a British director search yet the page wasn't ranked by Google. There were no external links though because that it the policy of the site who want to control their content. This almost certainly reduced the search engine ranking but had no effects on the results becuase it was obviously a very popular page. Screenonline has a great institutional critical mass which no blog or small website can hope to emulate.

As you can see from the above example the first thing you need to do is to make your site and your pages attractive to search engines. Search engines like Google are the most important web tools in existence. Without search facilities the web simply couldn't function. There are tens if not hundreds of millions of websites, blogs etc. there has to be a way of accessing them. Google has been the most successful search engine to date because it managed to develop algorithms which searched the web more effectively than other search engines. Search engine technologies are continuously developing and they also try and ensure that the content of the site / page matches the search term. In the 1990s website designers used to add lots of irrelevant meta-tags to their sites. As a result you would get an Australian Scuba diving outfit as the first search hit when you were searching for a French film which happened to have diving sequences in it. Search has improved a lot since then becuase it was very frustrating for users and held back the development of the web.

SEO: Using Links to heighten the Page / Site Profile

SEO is a bit of a 'black art' with Google using around 200 different parameters as it works out its rankings, which are inherently dynamic and therefore change conitnuously. This means that a website needs to be managed. Just because it is high in the rankings month doesn't necessarily mean it will be in a few months time. One reason for this is that people might come along with better pages on the same subject which means yours might get pushed down the rankings. The web is a cpmpetitive place even though collaboration through links can be mutually beneficial!

I have just discovered this useful page which seems to accord well with the experience I've had with the 'Chronology of European Cinema' page I used as an example above when it comes to increasing the profile of a page or site. I wish I had discovered it before however I seem to have worked out quite a few of these ideas for myself. On this site I'm trying to make entries better than other websites that I have discovered whilst researching the pages. Alternatively if I have not time to write a totally individual entry I try to put in a really good set of links to other relevant sites. The next step would be to annotate these sites. In that sense this is rather like providing annotated bibliographies in the hard copy world. Keeping these up to date howver is a serious problem as sites get bigger. In the real world of business based sites and blogs where people are seeking an income keeping these link pages up to date in the dynamic world of the web requires more human resources, unless somebody has developed a programme to do it for you. Even then that is difficult because it requires personal judgement based upon knowledge. Anyway here is Blogstorm's list of things to do:

It isn’t going to be easy but if you really want to linkbait in your industry then the path is quite straightforward:

  • Find all pages on Wikipedia that relate to your niche
  • Write more detailed versions with better images
  • Email all the people who link to the Wikipedia pages and gently point them to your new page
  • Find subjects where Wikipedia doesn’t have a page
  • Create a quality page on these new subjects
  • Use your existing link equity to help the new pages rank
  • Wait for people to find and link to these pages

In 18 months this strategy will probably give you enough links to outrank Wikipedia for every term you target. (My emphasis: Blogstorm Linkbait entry

There are some things to note here. Firstly  the comment about 18 months. You are not going to develop some super website / blog overnight. The whole thing needs to be considered as a process which develops. Patience and steady ongoing development work is essential! It may be rather time consuming to track down and email Wikipedia users

The idea of using Wikipedia as some sort of benchmark is a good one because Wikipedia pages frequently have a high ranking. Despite the problems of Wikipedia it is continually developing and entires are only likely to improve. The may well be pages that aren't linked to by Wikipedia and you need to search for these as well. for example in the world of British cinema the Screenonline site has many excellent entries. I frequently link to these until I get time to write a better one. As the quality of these is usually very high each page is hard work, however the point is to continue to add value to both my site and by implication the web as a whole. This is the importance of the idea of Web 2.0, sharing and developing information and ideas. This is one reason why search engines encourage sites to make links.

The question of linking out (to other sites) from mainstream media sites is subject to research  to see if this creates more links in.  There does seem to be  some correlation between the two figures indicating that providing outgoing links  can benefit even large mainstream media companies.

What is Linkbaiting

Well I hadnt' come across this term until today however the underlying meaning is pretty straightforward. Here is a useful article from the About Weblogs site on linkbaiting (Google page rank zero at time of writing).

Tagging Blogs

The way that search engines work to update their information is by using programmes called called webots or webcrawlers which search sites and even read some of the content to check it against  the  tags  which have been used by the web publisher. Another system that helps find blogs is the Technorati search engine. you can 'ping' technorati with you tag and then it will be entered into its search engine. It is obviously useful to enter as many systems as you can to help people find your blog:

Tagging is a software tweak that's already used on photo-sharing site, for example. Here's how it works: As the site's users post their photos for everyone on to see, they tag a photo taken in, say, Iraq, with a tagline, "Iraq." A blog search engine called uses these tags to retrieve search results. If you entered "Iraq" into its search dialog box, the engine would serve you up with news stories, blogs -- and photos tagged with "Iraq" (See this article on for other examples of tagging).

Such tags could completely change the way we blog and communicate, believes Glenn Reid, who, while at Apple, created iPhoto. In a recent blog entry, Reid gives a great example of the possibilities: All reader comments on all blogs could, potentially, be linked up based on their tags, so that, instead of following individual blogs, people would be able to follow conversations on specific topics (such as Iraq) conducted on hundreds of blogs. (Business Week: The Future of Blogs )

Websites and Metatagging

Websites work slightly differently to blogs and the way to encourage them to be visible to the serch engine web crawlers is to create metatags in the HTML:

Meta tags are HTML codes that are inserted into the header on a web page, after the title tag. They take a variety of forms and serve a variety of purposes, but in the context of search engine optimization when people refer to meta tags, they are usually referring to the meta description tag and the meta keywords tag.

If you are making a website using a programme such as Dreamweaver you will need to plan your metags carefully.

Please now go to the entry on content


Webstorm SEO and Webmarketing Blog. This entry on 'Linkbait'

SEO Wisdom - How Great Content Brings Top Rankings

15 tips to increase Blog Traffic

The Three C's of Blogging

Linkbuilding versus Linkbaiting

Help Search Engines Find Your Blog by Letting Them Know Where It Is

SEO is Dad: The 30 Easiest Ways to Get Links and Exposure (I think you need to take some of these with a pinch of the proverbial salt, they can be quite time consuming. I still think excellent content is key for long-term development.

Online Media Studies Centre: Improving content with Web data and analytics

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August 31, 2008

Web 2.0 Opportunity For Entrepreneurs: The Huffington Post

Web 2.0 Opportunity For Entrepreneurs: The Huffington Post

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Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington by Cummings FT

I almost always find something of media related interest in the Financial Times Weekend and this weekend was no exception. There was an interesting article by Joshua Chaffin on the rise and rise of the Huffington Post an extremely successful blog based "online-newspaper" in the US. It is run by Arianna Huffington whom some of you may remember from the 1970s as the infamous anti-feminist Arianna Stassinopoulos.

In many ways Chaffin's article supports some of the points I was making in a discussion of the issues being raised by some media analysts around the need for Media Studies 2.0. My argument then was that the present user generated content from blogging and similar types of new media associated with Web 2.0 would eventually fragment into work which was being done professionally / semi-professionally and a more leisure-based hobby based type of approach. The latter being very much a virtualisation of small scale hobbyists, magazines etc. These might generate small amounts of advertising for relatively small niche markets. For the more serious bloggers the aim is to make a splash and also to earn money through the enterprise because to blog seriously and to research the content would be pretty much a full time job and the rest. This means that inevitably the best bloggers will either re-prioritise their time to do something else, be highly succesful at blogging so that they generate sensible amounts of advertise revenue / sponsorship to make a living or else they will build a user base which might conceivably be seen as 'added value' if a fully fledged media company decides to buy them out and use the virtual real estate and pay a salary for the generation of future content.

The Huffington Post and Arianna Huffington don't quite fit any of these models. She became a born again blogger early on and, given her past, is extremely well connected at higher levels in Californian society. As a result she has beeen able to gain professional advice, as well as venture capital from people like Alan Patricof to help establish her political blog. According to Chaffin's article it is receiving in the region of 4 million unique users per month. The blog was founded in 2005 and is now one of the most popular political blogs.

There has apparently been much talk about expansion of the blog with the intention of establishing new sections. She is hoping to raise another $10-20 million dollars to back this expansion. some people are speculating that the site could be worth $200 million however this could be rather an overestimate for as Chaffin notes cautiously:

...the site is not consistently profitable .Bloggers have not yet proved they can convert traffic into advertising dollars. (Chaffin  W/E FT  p 11)

Naturally this argument was of interest because anybody trying to raise $10-20 million for a blog is redefining the meaning of the term which originally signified slightly geeky people whipping out their thoughts to the world which for the most part ignored them. Here Web 2.0 is turning into a serious media venture. OK the model doesn't precisely fit but it shows that there is venture capital money out there backing likely looking ventures and trying to establish new audiences interacting with media in different ways, which accords with the spirit of my argument. Certainly Jeff Jarvis has been impressed as Chaffin has noted in the FT:

"They laughed when Arianna sat down at the keyboard, but she was right, and she's built something pretty incredible," said Jeff Jarvis, a journalism professor at the City University of New York who also writes a media blog, BuzzMachine.

So how does a site like this make money and how does it build its audience? these seem to be the critical questions for new media enterprises which makes them exactly the same as so-called old-media. Everything must change so that everything remains the same to paraphrase Lampedusa in The Leopard! Chaffin put it very clearly in an earlier FT commentary in 2007:

These days, Ms Huffington and her partners tend to recoil slightly when the Huffington Post is called a blog. To them, blogging is merely the latest technology tool to transform the news industry - just as cable television yielded CNN and the 24-hour news cycle. While that tool may be central to their success, their aim now is to expand the Huffington Post into a mainstream media business - a path that other blogs are also pursuing as the once-fledgling medium becomes more professionalised.

What Happens at the Huffington Post?

The Audience

Well, with 4 million unique hits per month its a little hard to define the audience however to put the numbers in perspective the Guardian released its figures a couple of weeks ago and the numbers were in the 18 million range with the Daily Telegraph lagging not too far behind. Obviously a key difference between these well established British dailies which have developed  parallel web-based facilities is that they have already got a brand name, a well developed regular readership and a well developed peripheral readership who probably buy / read the paper on an intermittent and possibly regular basis. I usually get a Monday Guardian for the media pages for example but the Weekend FT and the Independent occasionally as well. Yes they are available online but I actually like a hard copy especially on the train if I'm travelling that way.

Both the Guardian (8/10 Google ranking just for the blogs page ) and the Daily Telegraph (7/10 just for the blogs page)have developed blogs from some of their regular correspondents. So has the Financial Times (6/10 Google ranking) although the FT has a more sophisticated system for registering and providing online services primarily targetted at business users. There is then a parallel subscription service as well as the online advertising model that they all use. The BBC Blog Network (7/10 Google ranking) is a recentinitiative by the BBC to centralise all their blogs as well, to date people have been accessing them independently via links on the current newspages for example. Doubtless the Google ranking will rise as more people discover the page full of links to all areas of the BBC. As a regional paper the London based Evening Standard blogs page gains (6/10). Even a much smaller paper such as the Coventry Evening Telegraph blogs and forum page gains a Google 5/10 ranking. This quick research of the web based aspects of older media organisations shows that many if not most of them are in the process of making well organised transitions to a web based format runnng in parallel with the main services previously offered. With the exception of the BBC (for obvious reasons) all seemed to have a healthy balance of adverts, so advertising too is making a good transition to the web. None of the sites mentioned seemed to suffer from irritating pop-ups.

Obviously potential advertisers will be given access to at least some of the key analytics benchmarks in terms of not just number of hits but regulararity of use, and the most accessed columns and pages and how long users stay on them. The cost of advertising can then be worked out in a similar way to hard copy. Furthermore the greater the use the better the quality of advertisers drawn in which means better graphics, more amusing adverts etc. In reality good adverts provide users with a far better media experience and can prove to be an attraction rather than an irritant if they are well used.

Audiences for mainstream media sites in the UK seem to be strong. Remember 4 million hits per month is in the region of 120,000 hits per day and the problem with measuring who "unique" users are is difficult if people are not logged into the site's own system as then a regular visitor could be using the site from different computers. Chaffin reports that Huffington's site has 4 million unique users  as measured by the analytics system but these  cannot be totally accurate and it may be possible to "cookie" the books:

Authentication, either active or passive, is the most accurate way to track unique
visitors. However, because most sites do not require a user login, the
most predominant method of identifying unique visitors is via a persistent cookie
that stores and returns a unique id valu
e. Because different methods are used to
track unique visitors, you should ask your tool provider how they calculate this

A unique visitor count is always associated with a time period (most often day, week,
or month), and it is a “non-additive” metric. This means that unique visitors can not
be added together over time, over page views, or over groups of content, because
one visitor can view multiple pages or make multiple visits in the time frame studied.
Their activity will be over-represented unless they are de-duplicated.

The deletion of cookies, whether 1st party or 3rd party, will cause unique visitors to
be inflated over the actual number of people visiting the site
. Users that block
cookies may or may not be counted as unique visitors, and this metric is handled in
different ways depending on the analytics tool used. Ask your tool provider how
blocked cookies are managed in their tool: it is important to understand how this
impacts other metrics with regard to these visitors.
(Web Analytics
Association Standards Definitions
. My Emphasis)

What Future for the Huffington Site?

Huffington has been a social networker for decades gradually moving from right to left in the political spectrum, opportunism  eclecticism  if not 'me-ism' are the core values I suspect. Here's what one interested blog critic has to say:

The very things she has been mocked for over the years—her ability to shift swiftly from topic to topic, her swashbuckling political rhetoric, her penchant for attention-getting—are what the online world is all about. She’s found her home in the blogosphere.

Walking into the offices of the Huffington Post, I have a dizzying flashback to 1995: It’s an airy dot-com loft that—unlike, say, Air America, whose corporate cubicles we’d visited that morning—feels exceptionally well funded. Bright Pop Art splotches adorn the walls. Twenty-five-year-olds huddle on sofas eating takeout. There’s an MTV-logo-shaped fish tank in the lobby and a massive portrait of Muhammad Ali and, of course, a pool table.
(Adam Ash Blog 2006)

As a consummate networker and has somebody who keeps churning out books over the years Huffington has gained something of a brand name and being an 'early adopter' along with some financial backing and a business plan has helped her to gain an online presence and she is clearly trying to compete with established media forms. The reality is that if one visits the Huffington Post  site it is rather more than just a blog but laid out professionally with tags across the top and a range of pages dealing with things such as entertainment, business etc. Huffington on today's visit has her latest blog comment posted., with enough of her own characterful interpretations of whatever to attract a certain audience. The 'blog' is effectively an online newspaper which provides a range of links to other news sources. The front page has developed an excellent Google weighting of 8/10. This is only one point behind the BBC Online News Front Page which is currently 9/10. However these figures could exaggerate the Huffington site's importance because of the way search engines work.

Google reportedly has over 200 parameters when it assesses the importance of sites and pages within them via is web-bots. One aspect that Google values as good web 2.0 promotion is lots of linkages. It may well be that a more detailed analysis of the Huffington Post pages shows strong attention to this, certainly as something which is more parasitic in terms of largely acting as a hub and organising links this site's importance in real terms could be exaggerated. It is quite obvious that the web weighting by Google of Huffington Post is skewed when compared with the BBC. I don't know if the BBC release their web useage numbers broken down to the public but as it is probably one of the largest sites in the world if not the largest with thousands of pages available online. I strongly suspect that being based in California Huffington has a couple of smart tecchies working very hard on web optimisation, probably from an SEO optimisation consultancy. This would certainly fit in with Huffington's overblown real world persona.

Chaffin reports that The Huffington Post relies almost totally on news collected from other links although he managed to find an example of somebody who managed to upstage the professional news reporters. The reality is that Huffington swans around and a bunch of minions who know something about specific areas such as fashion, business or green issues sort out linkages. There are a few other bloggers on the site who presumably are regulars. Some bloggers will write for nothing as guest posts into order to advertise their own blogs. I suspect this is what Huffington gets, success berreds success and it drives down the cost of her content:

Sell Your Guest Posting Services:

Most bloggers write guest posts for other blogs for free as a way to promote their own blogs. However, you can also offer your guest posting services for a fee. (Make money blogging)

If that is the case it largely bears out my theory that the best bloggers will get sucked in to something else.  Some advertising is via Google and others appears to be sponsored links. The site itself is keen to get registered users and the temptation to become registered is increased by some web marketing which offes lots of freebies, but you need to register first to access information about these!

Overall then overheads appear to be quite low compared to the sites of conventional organisations, in that sense it is a sort of parasite as it appears to contribute little to the public sphere as such merely act as a sort of hub and as an advertising vehicle. Whether this will prove to be a feasible new media business model remains to be seen. My interests are firmly in the range of already existing news organisations which are already developing excellent web based and new media systems. If I want continual updates I can connect with an RSS feed anyway.

My own suspicion is that once the intitial palaver about Web 2.0 / Media 2.0 dies down, things will gradually default to the mainstream media unless people like Huffington can compete for the highest quality analysts currently employed by the BBC / Guardian / New York Times etc. This though would mean money to put people into the field otherwise it hard to discern what the Huffington Post offers that can't be gained usually for nothing.

Once the hype is stripped out of the notion of Web 2.0 the issues of having the time to undertake all this possible interaction becomes paramount for most people. As for the Huffington site, well venture capitalists are usually working to a tight business plan. Real world businesses usually take 5 years on average to move into consistent profit, and the Huffington Post has been going for three. When venture capitalists are involved they are usually looking for an exit at a very high rate of profit (Return on Investement or ROI) and they are not known for being altruists. As with much about the web there is much hype and speculation. They are probably trying to get the revenue streams and user figures up in order to exaggerate the value of the site and then sell it on to some other media firm making a quick exit. This looks as bad an investment as ITV for the long-term, I quite simply don't believe it. I've more confidence in Second Life.

Please note I haven't put a link into the site quite deliberately, I don't want to push it further up the Google rankings and add "virtual value" to what is largely puff.


This morning's Media Guardian is carrying an interesting article on yet another business model for the record industry in the digital era. You too can become a venture capitalist. Well at least it could be more fun than being an investor in Northern Rock :-). (Health warning this isn't a recommendation).

Web Analytics Association

Blogs get the old-media habit. Joshua Chaffin Financial Times

Deals Pioneer Gets Second Wind. Joshua Chaffin in Patricof the venture capitalist behing the Huffington Post and other technology start-ups

Return to Developing  Blogging Skills Hub Page

December 23, 2007

Growth of the Blogosphere

The Growth of Blogging in 2007

What is Blogging? 

Please go to BBC Webwise site if you are unsure. 

In 2005 a survey found out that:

Research conducted among taxi drivers, hairdressers and pub landlords - backed up by conventional market research of more than 1,000 adults in the UK - has found that seven out of 10 people don't know what a blog is. Nine out of 10 don't know what podcasting or flashmobbing are. ( Blogging v dogging)

By 2006 the BBC World Affairs Correspondent Paul Reynolds had this to say:

I regard the blogosphere as a source of criticism that must be listened to and as a source of information that can be used.

The mainstream media (MSM in the jargon) has to sit up and take notice and develop some policies to meet this challenge. (Bloggers: an army of irregulars)

The November figures from the Netcraft organisation suggest: that in 2007 there has been an increase of 40 million sites since the start of the year:

Much of the growth in sites this year has come from the increasing number of blogging sites, in particular at Live Spaces, Blogger and MySpace.

Web 2.0 is clearly making a phenomenal difference to the lives of literally millions of publishers. This is a phenomenon which is really without precedent. The Gutenberg revolution was obviously a massive step in human development but how what we are witnessing now will be considered in a few decades time is liekly to be seen a huge leap forward in the development of humanity. In terms of culture as well as wealth and methods of education and doing politics interactivity is the way forward.


One blog created 'every second'

Blogs vie with news for eyeballs

March 15, 2007

Glossary for New Media Technologies: A–N


This glossary was originally created for the AS New Media Technologies Unit.

Please note that this glossary is updated and expanded fairly regularly. It is intended that this will give you access to a wide range of terms that are conceptual as well as technical. You don’t have to learn all the terms just use the glossary as a point of reference to help you out if you get stuck. Hope you find it useful.

The development of Web 2.0 with the ability to gain feeds about new media technologies should make it easier to keep updated.

Students are strongly advised to add in feeds from sources such as the BBC Technology pages onto their own blogs in order to keep abreast of any changes.

The Glossary

Advertising. Any new mass media has enormous advertising potential as it can bring together audiences and advertisers in new and more effective ways. See paid for search and online advertising.

Analogue. Non digital form of recording and reproduction. Standard terrestrial TV is still fed from analogue transmissions however these are gradually being replaced by digital free-to-air services transmitted by the BBC. See linear editing.

ASDL. A broadband digital transmission technology which can send far more data down existing domestic phone lines than either conventional modems or ISDN. BT’s system offers half a megabyte per second. In Japan the latest in ASDL technology is offering Megabytes per second. This is more than adequate to use full-frame video streaming. Even faster FTTH technology is being pushed in Japan. Being cheaper to install it is now the major competitor to digital cable links provided by companies such as NTL. It requires special equipment at the exchange. ASDL is likely to be available to 90% of the population by mid-2005.

BT are also experimenting with mid-band.

Bandwidth. The amount of digitally encoded data which can be transmitted by particular systems.

Blogs. User generated material on specially created programmes that require no knowledge of coding and mark-up language. Now used for a variety of purposes from personal to political and company driven. A core part of Web 2 (2.0) if you like. Here is the Wikipedia entry

Blueray. See Format wars

Bluetooth. This is a wireless system which allows different products to communicate with each other using a common protocol. It is able to transmit large amounts of data. Portable computers can link to desktop computers or mobile phones via Bluetooth. You may well have a mobile phone with a Bluetooth wireless earpiece for example.

Broadband. The digital Holy Grail is having all homes linked to broadband networks which can handle huge amounts of digitally encoded data. It should be possible to be engaged in such things as video-conferencing and downloading films in real-time simultaneously in the same household. Likely to take several years to be fully developed and installed in a significant number of households. An important feature is the ability to have two of more computers from the same household linked to the internet. Currently it costs about £30 per month. Rumoured that the latest hard-disc recorders will add broadband internet access and be able to stream video and audio to TV, See also digital set-top boxes. Since writing this not so long ago the scenario has changed dramatically in the UK. This January 2007 story from the BBC shows "BT as having signed up 10 million broadband users".

CD Rewritable. This is a CD which can be recorded and then recorded over rather like an audiocassette. Not all CD-Players can replay these however as the system works on different laser frequencies. See also Rewritable digital media.

CD-Rom. These are CDs which are Read Only Memory (ROM). These are used for selling computer programmes. The data on them cannot be changed.

Citizenship. This concept builds on earlier ideas of citizenship which focused upon economic, political and social concerns. Economic citizenship gave people the right to trade, political citizenship gave people the rights to vote and have representative electable governments with powers limited by law. Social citizenship gave people the right to health care, education and pensions. See also cultural citizenship.

CMS. see Content Management Software.

Content Management Software. Content management software helps users organise their download materials. iTunes is probably the best known of these. It can be used to subsribe to podcast services for example as well a place where music or video content may be purchased. You can click this link to go to the free iTunes downloads site. (This should not be deemed as an endoresment of Apple's CMS above any other ones.). News from the BBC 12th of Jan 07 says that iTunes has made a deal with the Sundance film festival to make films available for download.

Convergence. You must know this term for the OCR AS exam*. This is the current process whereby new media and communications technologies are changing not only our media equipment but changing the ways old media institutions have worked. It is also globalising and changing our systems of gaining knowledge. The process is still in transition with new developments rapidly emerging. In a few years these processes will have matured and will be less dynamic. The way that mobile phones are now turning into multi-player gaming machines or able to provide location based information and send back images by wireless technology is a good example of convergent technologies creating new markets. See iPhone for a good example of this.

Cultural Citizenship. Cultural citizenship is about access to systems of representation within the arts and media to ensure that all have the knowledge and capabilities to represent themselves.

Cybersquatters. These are companies or individuals individuals who have registered variations or misspellings of its key brands, such as “Xbox”. They can make a lot of money out of this and also get respectable brands bad reputations.

Device for digitally storing still images. Whilst still unable to achieve the levels of image definition of conventional film higher capacity chips and storage systems are continuously eroding the quality difference. With the correct devices an image can be transmitted over the web instantaneously.

Desktop Recording Studio. The growth of podcasting has seen a growth of available desktop recording studios with some being USB powered and others having separate power supplies. Often small but flexible units they provide an interface with analogue microphones and computers. They can be combined with powerful software to create different effects and they can also have inputs from devices such as CD players and electronic instruments. empowering users to podcast onto the internet they are powerful tools in the collaborative and user generated world of Web 2.0. Below an early model the Lexicon Omega and the more recent Digidesign MBox2.

Lexicon Omega Interface

Digidesign MBox 2

Digital Distribution. It is necessary to differentiate between models of 'Business to Business' distribution and 'Business to Consumer' distribution. Digital forms of distribution can be advantageous to both small-scale ‘cottage’ industry sized companies and large media corporations. Digital videos can be distributed globally by specialist we-sites globally when users have high speed connections. They are only likely to find individuals often with little purchasing power. Large film companies can distribute to points of mass exhibition such as cinemas or outdoor arenas by high speed optic fibre cable or else via digital satellite links. With encrypted technologies it is now possible to release a film globally in cinemas if necessary in different versions for different markets on the same day. This will reduce piracy and maximise marketing opportunities whilst reducing significantly distribution costs. The ability to respond instantly to audience demand by downloading onto servers instead of relying on expensive and relatively slow multiple copy distribution will help increase profits and retain and develop audiences.

Digital divide. A very important social and cultural concept of the ‘information age’. This term refers to those who have access to a wide range of digital communications systems in terms of cost and knowledge and those who are excluded from this. It is becoming a serious problem of citizenship.

Digital set-top box. These boxes can receive digitally transmitted TV and Radio transmissions via satellite ( typically in Britain Sky), cable ( typically in Britain NTL and Telewest) and a standard TV aerial ( Freeview). Pace in conjunction with Sky + and others with hard disc-based digital recorders. Sky + has a 40 Gigabyte hard disc. A similar box is now being offered to Freeview viewers. It has a twin tuner and a 20 gigabyte hard disc. With a twin tuner it is possible to watch one programme or listen to radio whilst recording another.

Digital storage medium. Generic term for a wide range of storage media such as mini-disc, CD, CD-ROM, Hard disc, floppy-disc etc. These media may sometimes be designed by a company to only fit their products. Others will be generic. Some will be read only such as a CD or DVD game or film. Others are random access and as such can be totally or partially used many times.

Digital Versatile Disc / DVD. A disc which although the same size as a CD can hold many times the amount of data due to a combination of more sophisticated data compression systems, the ability to store and retrieve data from different levels of the disc. This means that moving images can be stored in a way which is more permanent than tape and maintains its quality over time, whereas tape particles lose their magnetism and lose details. Research is going on to more than double the storage capacity of the current DVD’s by using different laser technologies. The ‘versatility’ referred to in the name means that the equipment incorporates technical standards which means that digital information relating to images - static or moving sounds or text can be stored and retrieved.

DRM. (Meaning 1) Digital Rights Management. This is a major concern for companies and individuals dependent upon traditional copyright legislation to protect their intellectual rights. Within the the world of the web the Napster free downloding company became renowned for breaking these copyright rules in the USA. It was eventually forced to concede by the big record companies. 'Pirate downloading' is still seen as a major problem by many media comapnies. At the time of writing Viacom was taking Google to court with a $1 billion law suit relating to the copyrighted material availble on YouTube which was bought buy Google in 2006. The Wikipedia entry states:

Digital Rights Management (generally abbreviated to DRM) is an umbrella term that refers to any of several technologies used by publishers or copyright owners to control access to and usage of digital data or hardware, and to restrictions associated with a specific instance of a digital work or device. The term is often confused with copy protection and technical protection measures; these two terms refer to technologies that control or restrict the use and access of digital content on electronic devices with such technologies installed, acting as components of a DRM design. 

DRM.  (Meaning 2) DRM or Digital Radio Mondiale is the world's only, open standard digital radio system for short-wave, AM/medium-wave and long-wave. It has been endorsed by the ITU, IEC and ETSI. DRM is the only universal, open standard digital AM radio system with near-FM quality sound available to markets worldwide. Unlike digital systems that require a new frequency allocation, DRM uses existing AM broadcast frequency bands. The DRM signal is designed to fit in with the existing AM broadcast band plan. Below a Morphy richards DRM Radio.

DRM Radio

DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting for Handhelds). At 2007 CEBIT Nokia showed off its N92, which is due to launch later this year, which has a DVB-H tuner built in as well as access to an electronic programme guide so you can plan what you watch on your handset.

DVD-Audio. A music format which by having a higher sampling rate than conventional CDs can create more ‘natural sounding’ music.

DVD-HD. This is a new high definition format which Toshiba and its backers including Microsoft launched in 2006. It is one side of a format war with Sony who along with many consumer electronics heavyweights such as Philips and Panasonic have now launched Bluray. This is also supported by many Hollywood Studios.

DVD Recordable. A new breed of domestic machines has now appeared which can record TV or films in DVD format. Whilst currently still very expensive it is probable that they will replace the VCR in most households in 5 years time. They will be able to record digital radio signals as well. There is not currently a standardised format which makes things difficult for consumers.

Digital Video. Often called DV as an abbreviation. The ability to 'capture' moving images without the use of film on a digital storage format. The data can be edited ( post-production) digitally and streamed onto the web or put on a DVD or CD.

Dolby surround sound. This is a digital sound decoding system which provides the surround sound features now standard in cinemas. It is also a feature of domestic audio visual surround-sound systems and can disperse the sound around up to 7 ordinary loudspeakers and a sub-woofer to deal with very deep bass sounds known as a 7.1 system.

Download. The expression for taking things from the Internet and putting them onto your computer either temporarily or permanently.

E-commerce B2C. ( business-to-consumer): IdTV and mobile are likely to be the devices which dominate this sector by volume rather than by commercial value. ( see also T-commerce )

Encryption. This makes it impossible to use media texts without having specialist software able to read the security encryption. This is to reduce software piracy and will enable large companies to retain more effective control over their products. Digitised products can be kept in high security systems and downloaded in encrypted form by cinemas for example. See digital distribution

Entertainment Phones. The world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer is producing a new product clled Ngage. Containing on-board memory cards it will be able to play high speed games. The phone will be expensive and currently the possibilities of multi-player gaming on-line are perceived of as very limited. It requires the development of the youth market who are least able to afford this level of sophistication.

Firewalls. This is security software which stops unwanted e.mails or hackers getting into your computer when it is online. As such it is much more sophisticated than straight-forward anti-virus software. It is becoming increasingly important to have this software installed as the internet grows in size and complexity.

Flash Memory. Flash memory is solid state memory. It exists on cards such as Secure Digital cards commonly used in digital cameras and also as USB Flash Drives It is fast, versatile and more resilient to damage by dropping than conventional hard drives. The technology is advancing quickly and for high small computers which firms like "Samsung envisage as 'Super-Blackberries' it will be the first choice over conventional hard drives. For those wishing to conduct electronic warfare the Swiss Army USB drive knife seems like a perfect solution. Doubtless they will be found on Chanel lipsticks soon!

Flash Memory Swiss Army Knife

New memory for 2007 is going to be HHD or Hybrid Hard Drives. Vista the new Microsoft operating system is supporting them and Apple is also in the game. See HDD for more info.

Format Wars. "HD-DVD / Blueray Hybrid."

Free-to-Air. Digitally transmitted TV and radio services which cost the viewer no more than the standard licence fee.

FTTH. Fibre to the home technologies currently being pushed as the next big thing in Japan. This would enable a home to be watching several films in different parts of the house.

Global Positioning System ( GPS ). The ability to find out where you are in the world through special equipment including expensive mobile phones. These link with a satellite to give a precise position. See also Location-based services. Latest gizmo ‘The Hoppy’. Aimed at tourists this device monitors GPS satellites and gives an commentary stored on mini CD using MP3 data compression technology. When triggered by the GPS signals. It can be connected to the car stereo giving information to the driver in real time.

Google. An example of an internet search engine. It became a member of the American stock market in 2004 and first started in 1998. Its founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were worth an estimated $10 billion each in August 2005.

GPS. See Global Positioning Systems.

HHD. 2007 will see the first Hybrid Hard Drives appear on production models of computers. This is likely to be particularly relevant to the "high end laptop market. However Sandisc has already announced a flash memory card which is claims is superior to HHD (see below). Whatever else the effect on small devices which demand high storage such as HD-video are likely to see these appearing.

Sandisk 32 Gb flash drive

Hard-disc recorder. A digital recording machine which records other digital sources on a hard disc similar to the ones found in computers. The advantage over a CD or DVD recorder is that material can be more easily edited before being recorded on another more permanent medium such as a recordable CD. (See also under Broadband).

HD-TV. High definition TVs came on sale in Britain in a big way in 2006 in the run up to the World Cup. whilst the quality is undoubtedly excellent when you see one with a live HD feed there is a problem in the UK of a lack of available programme material in HD. Rumour has it that many people are happily watching their HD TV not realising that the images are not being broadcast in HD. HD-DVDs also became available in 2006 led by Toshiba who have also brought out an HD-DVD Recordable. See also format wars. For a technical break down of the superior definition see "Wikipedia definition".

Hype Cycle. The Hype Cycle, used by Gartner to track the adoption of new technologies, has five distinct phases: “Technology Trigger,” “Peak of Inflated Expectations,” “Trough of Disillusionment,” “Slope of Enlightenment,” and “Plateau of Productivity.” "Link to debate between Gartner and Second Life reported by Reuters Jan 04 / 07 ."

Hypertext. The new aesthetic of the digital era. Originally perceived as the ability to move around a text through links making a medium non-linear and allowing a viewer to make some narrative decisions interactively. Dan Fleming (2000) suggests that there will be hyperlinking across media forms to produce metaforms.

IdTV. Interactive digital television. Currently at a simple level of development. Press red button to vote yes/no on an issue on the programme, or to get a brochure if it is an advert. 32 million households in Europe were expected to have this by end of 2003. This is likely to develop into a way of buying which means that media companies will gain transaction fees as well as advertising. In 2003 interactive games were the most successful market development in interactive TV. The rapid growth of the internet as an important vehicle for buying goods and services may well have made this technology semi-redundant since the time of writing and up-to-date sales figures havn't been seen. Certainly along with mainstream TV this seems to be a technological dinosaur.

Immersive environments. see Virtual Reality

Information filters. Media products which review various media outputs and industrial activities to synthesize and perhaps analyse these products and processes. These are necessary to cope with information overload.

Information gateways. A service, programme etc which provides access to media filtering and media metaforms.

Information inequality. Sometimes described as the ‘Digital Divide’. This expresses the concern that society will become polarised between the ‘digital haves’ and ‘have-nots’ forming another division in society. The lack of availability of information or else low quality information will directly impact upon citizenship.

Information Society. Many sociologists and media commentators are now suggesting that advanced western societies are increasingly becoming societies based upon the use of digitally stored information or data. This is increasingly affecting all our social cultural and scientific systems. Leadeing commentators on this such as Manual Castells have changed their ideas to calling contemporary society the Networked Society.

Interactive. This is an essential term to understand. Digital technologies are provide a wide range of interactivity which allow audiences to interact with the media product such as a TV show requiring some input or the ability to access certain stories stored on news programmes. Audiences can also provide feedback to media institutions large or small about their needs desires and criticisms of a media text in real time. This means that the man of the difficulties of creating and retaining an audience can be facilitated through these interactive monitoring systems. With mobile phone systems location based services can be accessed and information sent received such as booking a hotel or finding out what is on.

Interactive TV. The ability to feedback information into the TV system. This requires digital technology. Typically the flow of information from the receiver

Interface. Interfacing is the way in which people use technologies. A mouse or keyboard is the way we usually interface with computers. For games machines and consoles a range of joysticks were developed. The latest ways of interfacing are through digital imaging where a digital camera can image a subject and store this in the machine in ways that link to icons on the screen. The person can trigger these icons remotely via the camera link. This is the next technological step towards a more immersive environment. Both gamers and various sorts of artists such as dancers are beginning to exploit this technology which will become increasingly common. For one of the leading places to investigate human computer interfacing check out the MIT Media Lab. Wacky stuff including intelligent clothing.

Internet history of: See BBC History of the Internet

Internet Search Engine. To navigate the internet effectively it became necessary to invent new software to make a rapid search of the millions of domain names which mushroomed on after the start of the World Wide Web in the mid 1990s. These include search engines such as Yahoo and MSN. The most successful to date is Google. The way in which the companies who run these make money is by selling advertising space. See Paid for search.

iPhone. January 2007 CES saw the awaited launch of Apple's iPhone. This is a fine example of convergent technology in which a phone is able to download both music and video. The screen is a widescreen. The phone is also controlled via a touch screen rather than conventional buttons. Steve Jobs is claiming to have reinvented the phone. Some find Apple less than tempting however...

The Financial Times editorial comment found time to poke fun at iPhone at the weekend (Jan 13th 2007).

iPhone Launch Jaunuary CES 2007

iPod. An MP3 style music player which has been produced by Apple and has rapidly become a design icon much as the Sony Walkman did in the 1980s. At the time of writing (Aug 2005) Nokia the mobile phone company has planned a phone camera which will also be able to store s much music as a mini-iPod which it considers will rapidly outsell iPods. These phones are now comonplace but iPod is still ahead of the game. See also iTunes / podcasting.

Below iPod Nanos:

iPod Nanos

IPTV. IPTV is the current holy grail for the giants of the new media industries which is "delivery of video content via the net". Ideally this should be accessible in all rooms being streamed from a computer. Various industry linkups are being made between Microsoft and BT for example. Apple too is very interested. Another company on the scene is Sony who wish to use their long awaited Play-Station 3 to provide Blueray streaming to well Sony TVs of course1.

Apples Internet TV vision

ISDN. This is a high-speed data-link for computer communications. In Britain BT kept the price too high and people used conventional modems. It runs at 128 Kilobits per second twice as fast as an ordinary modem and it is possible to use the phone at the same time. It is now being superseded by ASDL and broadband technologies. At time of writing in 2007 it is now dead in the water as Broadband has taken off.

LAN. This is a local area network in which two or more computers are connected together. In the past this has been done by installing special cards and cables to connect to computers together physically. This is likely to change very soon with the commercialisation of Wi-Fi.

Linear editing. Video-recorders are examples of this technology. Unable to immediately access any of the date unlike data on a hard drive. This kind of editing is very slow and there is a loss of quality involved. To reproduce the text on the internet, via digital satellite or on DVDs the text must be digitally re-mastered. See also non-linear editing.

Local area Network. See under LAN and Wi-Fi

Location-based Services. The ability to be able to locate a person’s mobile phone handset, by working out which cell it is nearest to. Information can be passed to the emergency services for example. The new mobile network ‘3’ uses GPS to provide more accurate positioning. This information can be updated as a person moves.

Long Tail The. At its heart the idea of the long tail is straightforward. Online distirutors are able to carry much larger stocks or else can order instantly from small suppliers who are prepared to keep their publications / music available for enthusiasts. It is now much easier for consumers to access these products instead of being limited to what any particualr high street shop chooses to carry on its shelves.

Below representation of the long tail in the media through an analysis of Rhapsody an online store.

The Long Tail in Media

Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. MMRPG’s for short. They are pervasive ( diffusing ) virtual environments populated by human-controlled digital people from around the globe. Players develop characters, work towards goals, solve puzzles. They are the visual marriage of text-based adventures and chat rooms. They are proving particularly attractive to women. Below image from the popular World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft

Media ‘metaforms'. This is (1) the growth of television programmes, print media, websites devoted to other media. Some consider these programmes as just a case of self-absorption and a loss of contact from ‘the real’ ( wars, disasters, politics and policy etc.) Others argue that this is a sign of a growing need for data to make sense of other data leading to new relationships between audience and ‘text’. The metaforms which comprised the ‘Blairwitch Project’ can be seen as an example of an aesthetic life of its own being created which is not secondary to an original product. There was a movie, book and websites which became ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ all of which were self-referential but also blurred the distinctions between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’.. See also hypertext. See metadata gateways. (2) Growth of cross-media marketing strategies see total marketing.

Metadata gateways. These are currently being developed perhaps most successfully on the web and are likely to transfer to other media forms with the increasing convergence of technologies.

Metaforms. See media metaforms.

Midband. This offers 128 kilobits per second internet connection which is three times faster than a standard connection. Calls can be made simultaneously but will halve the net connection speed. This speed is still only 25% of an ASDL connection. The system is likely to appeal to those in rural locations without access to cable or ASDL. This is rapidly being made redundant.

Mini-disc. A rewritable digital recording system which can comfortably work when mobile. It records at half the data rate of conventional CDs and therefore quality is compromised. The rapid rise of MP3 and iPods is rapidly making this redunant technology.

MPEG. A data compression system which allows the recording and transmission of images using relatively small amounts of memory.

MMRPG. See Massively Multiplayer Online role Playing Game.

MP3. A digital compression system for transmitting music over the internet with short download times. The rate of sampling is only about half as much as on conventional CDs therefore quality is compromised. It is claimed that psychoacoustically people effectively notice little or no difference.

Narrowband. This is a standard internet connection via a dial-up modem. Maximum speed of these is 56 Kilobits of data per second. In reality depending upon line conditions these modems connect at about 40 kilobits per second. This is fine for basic e.mail and text-based websites. Audio, video and software downloads require broadband connections. A disadvantage of narrowband is that the phone cannot be used at the same time.

Non-linear editing. This is using hard discs on computers or now dedicated hard-disc digital recorders to edit sound and images. It is non-linear because any part of the information can be easily accessed unlike videotape which has to be dealt with on liner editing suites. This form of editing is especially useful for Digital Video enabling small-scale film makers to create and place their products on the internet fast and cheaply. See also linear editing.

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