Posted by & filed under #Brum, MA Online Journalism, Social Media.

I’m currently working on game based around a kind-of psycho-geographic version of the ‘six degrees of seperation’ idea. Basically, the game encourages players to (tenuously) link together Birmingham facts and myths. Here’s a version played on Google Wave before Christmas:

[wave id=’!w%252Bbh7I02lyA’]

It was quite fun but as you can see it collapsed when we used Wave to discuss ‘the process’ of the game. And I couldn’t engage enough people in Wave to make it worthwhile.

It might be more appropriate to run it in Twitter but I think before I jump on there I want to work out how to get people understand how the game runs. I was thinking I might put some rules up either here or on #Brum site.

If it has a click through WordPress page to I might be able to take the game to a second stage and prove or disprove the facts or myths, offering more background and links away from the focus of gameplay. This might be the journalism but the degree of proven truthfulness could be used as a points system of sorts.

Well there’s still a lot to work through… Would love to hear what you think of this idea, or if you have any strong opinions on the following questions then speak your brains below…

Is Twitter the best place to run the game?
Should I be wary of too many rules?
Any ideas how I can get more folk involved?
Should there be a live geo-tagging picture version – and might that get you extra points?
Is there anything we can use to graphically show the facts so it represents a load of spaghetti links?

Posted by & filed under Presentation.

Just before Christmas, I was invited by Capsule to talk at their first KMKY event in association with Created In Birmingham.

I’ve just found the audio on my dictaphone today so thought I’d put my talk online for you. You can right click ‘save target’ for the MP3 here or you can listen to it below.

I was first on so Jon Bounds introduces the concept at the beginning.


In addition to introducing ourselves we were asked ‘What would you do with a space like Vivid’. I decided what Birmingham was missing most of all was an informal meeting place for artistic creativity to flow. As it turned out there is one, but the fact that I didn’t know about it until the talk probably says more about the success of this ‘informal chit-chat’ night.

Posted by & filed under AOP Microlocal Forum.

These are ‘as live’ notes from the second part of the Association Of Online Publishers (AOP) Microlocal Media Forum which took place on 9th December. At the very bottom of this post there is also a recording which caught all of Roger Green’s presentation and most of the panel discussion.

Click here for AOP’s own round up of the event or here for Paid Content’s article.

AOP Microlocal Media Forum Part 2
Presentation: Roger Green Newsquest

Speaking for himself not necessarily Newsquest (NQ)
Current media model more robust than given credit for – lots of things tried over the last few years
Nevertheless NQ now compete with zero cost players

NQ cover 150 sites who have alligence with local
Use media brands they have run through central system at local level: enablers for local people
Engaging with audience they have grown consistently
Amount of time people spend interacting
Websites but also telephone calls and texting
Westmorland Gazette: huge growth in audience significant spike when news event kicks off – ie. recent flood coverage

Big challenge= less dictating and more collaborative process
Very hard to motivate community correspondence – fill newsgathering and information gaps – channel needs to be worked hard. In Bingley, Betty Newell is the local contact works information

Involving people in more of the stories that matter, Basildon Echo (Basildon Uni Hospital story) 15 significant comments added to the story by the time it wound down 60 comments which moved narrative on
Compared to BBC local story couple of interviews were getting recycled so didn’t really engage with evolving story
NHS project attempting to bring together information – but only a few comments since 2007

Can do local without news – very brave according to RG
Almost all of it catefully integrated – geocoded – doing more than is appreciated
Newpapers to local regional media brands

Adoption of Twitter – Cover It Live
Watford Observer: @Observer_Owl
Turfed out of office and worked remotely routinely work out of cafes: cafes approve good cache from it
Get more local stories out of it
Won’t claim every editorial group as equally adept at taking on these tools
Lancashire used Twitter anti-terrorist movement via Twitter
Brighton: Jo Wadsworth leading field in terms of followers to following therefore she listens as well as talks

Tactics for Publishers
Adopt tools and use effectively
Make up own mind but don’t be disco dad: nothing that is zero cost can be sustainable – make up mind on what matters ignore everything else
Geocoding not always necessary, must be relevant to story
Observe decent analytics
Be commercial – not just about journalism even not a lot, publishing, distribution and sales
Be prepared to partner- Bloggers can be ‘upset by partner arrangements’ especially if on terms of the partner – partnerships need to behave in humble fashion
Not sustainable don’t bother: no point in a shiny local website launched by a publisher around one news event. Hardly any coverage of major news events, even worse covered better in Wall St Journal
If already have some great local media brands then maybe not worth launching at all

Two way conversation – but no-one found a decent way of monetizing e-mail
Based around popular social networks: Scope to get more out of community correspondence – open to talk to anyone ’we can help monetize that type of publishing’

Roger Green ‘Look forward to partnering or taking you on’

Q&A Discussion

David Higgerson: Trinity Mirror
James Thornett : BBC Local
Lori Cunningham Johnston Press
Roger Green: Newsquest
Paul Bradshaw: BCU Lecturer Help Me investigate

What new skills need in micro local:
LC: Curration and oversight and a two way dialogue to bring forward
JT: Curration much more aware of market out there, awareness of local personalities – less about the brand and the company more about the people themselves
DH: Much more aware of impact of what they say and way say it. Journalists more open minded about the way to tell the story
PB: Social capital – contributing to their community being a participant. Understand distribution networks. Distribution part of journo’s role
RG: Can’t really add. Listening very important skill and distribution – related links to things

Struck idea of platform how people produce outside whether it’s a priority. Predicated on whether there is a destination but the assumption people won’t go to specific site…

RG: look for places to pick up content as feeds. Most people who use sites are regular users

LC: not one approach – it’s an evolving landscape, people are arriving through different manner. More consistent loyal users. As an experiment we’ve put 3 titles behind pay wall. Understand what dynamics are, quickest way to measure dynamic is to try it out.

Whether panel do pay to get information

LC: Wall St Journal
JT: No
PB: Bearded Magazine
RG: worth looking into Telegraph used to subscribe to Wall St Journal then Murdoch said would be free so never renewed.

Partnerships: are you going to pay for information from other sources
RG: Almost other way round with bigger companies in NQ experience. We do pay for information.
DH: Case by case basis.
LC: Fragmented network partnership which works with person.

What assurances do you have that BBC not threatening competition for local publishers?

JT: BBC local broadcasting as the state funded broadcaster are funded to deliver what the UK want. UK popular website, whole ecosystem would work together. BBC do have a sizeable audience in terms of traffic. We are in the same space, find a way to make ecosystem work.

Whether BBC are against pay wall?
LC: We have a viable parntership with BBC. But we see them as a threat. Well funded organisation coming into an area or two guys in a garage. There’s no easy path forwards.
RG: Wouldn’t add to that. Except to observe if not for BBC we’d all be working for Google.
PB: BBC if pulled out of local would be accused as ’London centric’ Needs to justify licence fee. Would like to BBC adding in certain areas. Similar to what PA doing.
DH: Would like to see BBC come good and link back to content.
JT: BBC local are county level publishing – not local on the internet. Works well for us.

Chris PA: Can you monetize atomised news?

PB: No don’t think you can. Have to look what people use news for. Distribution channels are quite high, difficult to make money no point buying in atomised news. Can’t charge for stickers in playground.
JT: BBC will look at buying picture or video.
DH: Could do better at following up people who lift content word for word. Sunday Mercury does need to chase. Maybe go after the sites that take that copy.

What about people who have blogs who don’t want to be citizen journalists still worth partnerships?
DH: Could work more closely with local sites. Exploring partnerships and what can give back. Perception that newspaper websites are nicking content from hyper local or papers considering sites are run by ‘sid nutters’ – Will Perrin.

Local versus location – is there a difference in definition?

PB: Yes. Legacy issues of local publishing. Online 3rd of audience is from outside area or people who used to live in the area. Opportunity to capitalise on that. Newspapers haven’t done a lot around monetizing ’location’.
LC: Of great interest. Looking to evolve something along these lines. Make sure syndicated commercial opportunities. Our publishing experience used to defined by geography not the case online. Bring those people together across boundaries.
JT: Trap not to fall into, unique set of location interests and personal interests spread across the country. The next step is personalisation of a set of content through mobile devices and small laptops disseminating news specific to location.

Advertising revenue stream, how demonstrate to advertisers money is well spent?
LC: Process of rolling out idea. How getting people to engage with sites how people coming to us. Thinking traditionally – build up local database not had before.
DH: Area need to explore more. Lot of advertising know going to business community. Northumberland- long ago trailing Addiply coming back time and time again. Now seeing more good than bad examples.
RG: The advertising we do carry is pretty accountable enough. Methods of selling if we were to sell for micro local.


You can right click ‘save target’ for the MP3 here or you can listen to it below.


Part one can be found here.

Posted by & filed under AOP Microlocal Forum.

We did intend to live blog this event via Cover It Live but unfortunately we couldn’t get onto the Olswang Wi-Fi or get a mobile signal for a dongle. Instead I made notes in Word and rushed them online in the interval. The event now been covered elsewhere so I’ve decided to keep the notes in a relatively raw format. At the end of this post is this part recorded it-its-entirety.

Sarah Hartley Presentation

Definition of microlocal
Reasons why microlocal exists – technology and closure of local papers
In US quote from Techcrunch: “Hyperlocal sites are becoming a hot commodity”

Examples in UK
Daily Mail – Local People
conversations community gossip rather than small news sites

Foming collaborations
CN group recuiiting citizen journalists – Carlisle get share of advertising on pages

ITN proposing grand alliance – hoping for topslice money from BBC licence

PA are looking into Public Service Reporting pilot (wire service for courts and councils)
Free to anybody for public subsidy

The Guardian :beat blogger

Financial return
Trinity Mirror exploring hyperlocal advertising in the North East
And paywalls

Second trend
Public organising themselves
Collaborating for investigations: crowd sourcing
And some getting fuinding from 4iP

They Work For You
Anything you want to know on local or national Mps.

Cover local council meetings – husband and wife team

Help Me Investigate
Investigate issues – using technology to change activity

The Culture Vulture
What do you want? Backstage access that you might normally get

Live events
People’s Voice Media across many media in NW
Salford TV

Pull Jeff Jarvis quote ‘ecosystem of many players with varying motives’

Potential for new partnerships
Possibility of state subs funding
Creation of new revenue streams/business models

Presentation: Paul Bradshaw
Monetising micro local

No one is selling content – What are they selling?
Platform: About My Area – pay to have hyper local platform
Ads: half hyper local efforts are selling adverts – more using Addiply service
Services: Talk About Local blog itself not making money effectively – helping authorities and PR services and unions with Social Media strategy
Products: t-shirts mugs events BiNS

Low cost = low profits
Multiple revenue streams – print is high cost entry and high profits so spread out streams – NY blog quarter comes from events
New effiiciencies – collaborating with audience process as product broker audience and vendor
New advertising models – based on performance big per thousand people click or complete a sale – Goggle sells on performance
Legacy as handicap

Decoupling + end of monopoly
People never paid for news they paid for package
Niche advertising separate from prices
Platform already paid for
Membership – engage in that online community
The 90 degree shift – moving from vertical to horizontal – spend 3 hours 40 on community sites- 2 minutes on newspaper- starting to engage with online communities

Independent’s view
Networked approach – being covered elsewhere I won’t cover it. Link is the content
Process as product – activity of going around area becomes content
Quality not quantity – spend a week on it because think it’s worth more


You can right click ‘save target’ for the MP3 here or you can listen to it below.


Part two can be found here.

Posted by & filed under #Brum, MA Online Journalism.

A few weeks back some ex-BCU students came to talk about their subsequent companies and discuss the process of their entrepreneurial endeavours to a large group of us in the MA Suite.

Due to other course deadlines and an annoying internet connection it took a while to get all material on line. But nevertheless I believe the entire session is worth a look.

First we heard from Daniel Bower the man behind eConversations the company which gave the web-world and the very successful

Next was Ruth Ward Director of Rewired PR. She told her story moving from Willoughby PR to setting up her own department in the company (Neon) to finally stepping out alone.

Finally Justice Williams MBE who has numerous Social Enterprises to her name gave a passionate talk.


This was followed by a Panel Discussion and Q&A Session.

We then interviewed all three people directly. Daniel Bower had a chat with Caroline Beavon.

And a clipped interview with Ruth Ward also by Caroline Beavon.

And finally Andrew Brightwell and myself interviewed Justice Williams

I found the session not only helped me think more seriously about my Enterprise project but, in the Q&As in particular I think there’s plenty of rich material which might feed into longer features on the Hash Brum website.

I think some of the comments are particularly useful in ongoing discussions we have had about Birmingham’s creativity.

Posted by & filed under #Brum, Gigs.

Tonight I’m going to head off to see Efterklang at a new Birmingham venue called The Asylum .

Poster by rainbow_donkeys

Poster by rainbow_donkeys

I’m still thinking of appropriate ways to write a music review for #Brum. I know that people have done Tweeting events before but trying to stop it being a novelty and integrate it more effectively. If you are going tonight and you will be tapping away occasionally on a keypad, do let me know. If you would rather enjoy the experience but want to get in touch with me via a more traditional route afters then also let me know – although snail mail is probably not the one. All suggestions and comments welcome, even if it’s ‘Why don’t you just enjoy the moment rather than try and flatten it with technology?’

If you have just stumbled across this randomly and you live in Birmingham, you should definitely come along it’s going to be ace! If you’ve found it because you saw them at the Barbican last night, it would be great if you could let me know what to expect.

Posted by & filed under #Brum, MA Online Journalism.

Third week in and we’re getting some content together and having a broader discussion how we can engage with our audience.

You can right click ‘save target’ for the MP3 here or you can listen to it below.


Please feel free to engage via the comments box too!

Posted by & filed under #Brum, MA Online Journalism.

So here’s the second meeting for the Hash Brum project. And everything we thought it would be is challenged!

In the end we’ve decided that the best thing to do is go out and get some stories, so hopefully tomorrow we will have some content.

You can right click ‘save target’ for the MP3 here or you can listen to it below.


Right I’m off to bed. This has been the slowest day on Virgin Media ever.

Posted by & filed under Gigs, Social Media, Uncategorized.

“Cycling to MAPS with new bike lights”

Was the first Tweet I sent out as I cycled up to Hare And Hounds, Kings Heath last night. My father-in-law had come round in the daytime and fixed my bike whilst I locked myself away in the study trying to get my head around Pixel Pipe. The up-hill pedal to the venue was an absolute pleasure. Nothing rattled for a change and I had brand new lights – one attached to my bike and another pinned to the strap of my camera bag – to guide my way.

I may have lost some of my cool by accidently leaving the camera bag flashing light on as I wandered up to the bar. But my mobile LED disco may have added further ambiance to Arc Vel’s superb set. The new solo project from the former (much missed) Grandscope member was aided by his own visuals, which according to another former Grandscope member Hydey, had taken a week and a half to pull together.

“Gutted only caught last song by Tour Eifel, quality electronica with home made visuals”

Arc Vel should have been second not first as the next act didn’t really compliment the shoegazing frug of Maps instead being a falsetto voiced navel-gazing guitar player called It Hugs Back… hmmm.

“Maps kick off with It Will Find You followed by Papercuts”

A strong start indeed, James Chapman has now employed ‘a Dane’ to add extra texture on tour. It sounds superb and the new material swims happily alongside the old. About five songs in Chapman speaks and it’s then that I realise that he’s pretty ratted.

“Maps (chap)man is smashed but septembers provide more than ample support” I Tweet.

And the fact I didn’t spot that predictive text made that message partially incoherent indicates my state too. It’s a funny situation actually that someone like Ozzy Osbourne can spend the best part of his music career off his face but live electronic acts should always be sober and serious whilst they prod away at a laptop. I blame Kraftwerk.

“At some point in the near future you’re going to choose between another pint or an album from Merch. How depressing is that?”

I Tweet before I head to the Merch store and find out that the new album is a tenner. It is signed though, and quality is worth paying for. Besides my freewheeling downhill cycle saves forking out on a taxi and is about 30 times more enjoyable.

  • Mapsboth3
  • Mapsboth2
  • Maps side
  • Maps James