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  1. says

    How about:

    ‘Scrutiny Blog’
    ‘Latest News from Dave Blog’
    Dave’s Comment Blog
    etc etc

    Hope you have fun thinking of a new name – gr8 site – well done!

    Melissa – Boris Johnson’s Office

  2. says

    Thanks for the kind comments and the suggestions Melissa. Half the trouble with the name is the fact that I seem to be writing on just about anything that comes to mind, so it’s tricky to pick one that isn’t too specific!

  3. says

    Bollocks to those twats – if I may put it that way. Sutherland is a shrewd judge of literature and an entertaining writer (see his weekly Guardian column). He’ll do well.

  4. says

    Nice list of novels but out of all of them Ishiguro is most likely the best. A great study of power and social class in a very closed soceity. Has very good echoes of the far east.
    The Remains of the Day – Kazuro Ishiguro

    Now the John Harris. Have to say that his book on Brit Pop was a veray good idea. However it was far to long for the subject matter, Harris needs to learn about struture. In fact for the central discouse of the book it would have sounded a lot better as a tright ten thousand word essay. Then saying this he may have learnt some lesson from that book. But I’m unsure about reading the new one.

    So Now Who Do We Vote For? – John Harris

  5. says

    Thanks Nick. The Harris was a bit of an impulse buy, and I am happy to admit that it was one my ‘free’ ones. It is less than 200 pages long though, I think, so he may well have picked up on the need for brevity. My main interest in the book is for the chapter on schools – in Billy Bragg’s review in The Guardian, he mentioned that “In Doncaster, a group of concerned parents take on the Labour council and a multi-millionaire Christian fundamentalist car dealer who wish to turn a good and improving local comprehensive into a creationist city academy” – this sort of thing scares the life out of me.

    If you’re a big reader, you might like Palimpsest a reading based forum I help run.

  6. says

    ‘… local comprehensive into a creationist city academy”’

    No way. Teach the bible my all means. But teach Darwin as well. Personally I’m a Darwin myself and approach to the bible is more or less rooted in Joseph Campbell and Claude Levi-Strauss. That’s the way it should remain. The bible as a book that has shaped our culture: only though in terms of literature and narrative. We can discuss the idea of God, and yet when we begin to do so we find that there are many God’s: all of them being concepts rather the reaility.

  7. says

    You’re right. Once I have found out more and read the chapter in question I will give the issue a thorough Googling and see what I can find.

  8. says

    Just a little word of advice before you google your head off. Treat all creationist rooted idea with a pinch of salt. They are more about a defence a bible rooted creation veiw point then about the logic of a good arguement, In other words it’s normally religion grasping at straw while trying to pratice censorship to suit their own idealogical world view.

  9. says

    You should try Blogjet BlogJet. It supports WordPress in a very good way. Easy and fast. Store local or on server (as draft or live).
    It is possible to edit the properties too: Comments (allowed/forbidden), Trackback (allowed/forbidden), Keywords, Excerpt, timestamp etc etc. Great!!!

  10. Alan says

    Page 132, halfway? My edition of The Wasp Factory has 184 pages (sad how I know that precisely, but what do you expect of me?) so I am guessing they’ve done another bumping-up to make thick thickies more likely to buy it on account of how fat books are better value than thin books. Ooh it makes me mad…

    Oh and. The original paperback of the Wasp Factory had a great gothicky typeface which actually added to the creepiness of the book. I suppose it’s all blandified now. Harrumph.

  11. says

    Mine has 244 pages, it’s one of the re-issues from a couple of years ago. The text is in what looks like 1.5 line spacing and the margains are very generous!

  12. says

    I am missing one thing: Stay authentic and write about something you like. Everything else will resolve in hard work and a lot of memory needed to keep track.

    Funny thing is: There are people out there who will like exactly that combination. :)

  13. says

    Nicole – you are right. What you are talking about is passion about the subjects you blog about, which can be infectious for your readers and, as you say, make it seem less like a chore. If it ever becomes like that you have to ask yourself: “Why am I doing this?”.

    I subscribed to your English language blog. Thanks for posting your thoughts.

  14. says

    I would agree wholeheartedly with everything – apart from the number of posts. Although feeds such as Scoble’s are great because of the wealth of information in them, there are others that are still useful and have a lot of original material, even if there’s only a post every week or so (The Daily Grind is about once a day while Brad Abram’s blog is about once a week). Often it’s not the number of posts that’s important; if the quality is good enough then a regular post once every few weeks will keep readers coming back.

  15. says

    Not quite. There are things I am passionate about, and there are things I am authentic about. The really passionate part is a smaller part of myself, the rest is the ‘normal passionate mode’. :o)

    But in sum it is about being passionated in what you do – and if you stay authentic, there are the things you do, so it works ;)

  16. says

    A better title would of been “Marketing with Blogs for Dummies”. Using the word buzz in this day and age can sound tacky…

  17. says

    Thank you for saying nice things about my two most controversial and hotly debated posts ever.

    I’ve been bored by business and professional blogs, some that are famous, which for some unknown and unknowable reason, load all kinds of private info into the posts, vacation reports, notes on restaurants, photos of children, favorite rock band CD reviews, etc.

    I considered it clutter, and decided the blogs were decreasing in practical value, so I quit visiting them.

    Then, I discovered the horrors of some real dangers of personal blogging: child predators who love reading about where the blogger lives, what schools, what church, what employer is connected with the blogger.

    Or relationships that have resulted in nervous breakdowns due to one party blogging intimate details of lover.

    Or identity theft enablement. Or stalkers, rapists, other enemies gleaning good private data.

    Irate employers. Angry co-workers. etc.

    Thanks for helping me caution bloggers to the realities.

  18. says

    Susan has a not-that-great list of things to do to increase traffic. She omits many key factors. Plus, she asked for suggestions from readers on other ideas, and I was going to haul off and post some to her article…but she doesn’t have comments enabled.

    How can she call her broadcast platform a blog if users cannot add comments?

    See my “Seven Laws of Blogging” at BLOGthenticity:

  19. Alan Carney says

    I have several invites spare if anyone wants me to invite them. I think it is an excellent service and will continue to use it

  20. Sunita Hansraj says

    I so look forward to Andrea Levy’s next novel.Is she in the process of writing it, and if so, when will it be published?

  21. says

    the dread
    Of dying, and being dead,
    Flashes afresh to hold and horrify…

    …is one of my favourite lines in all of poetrydom. I have it pinned to my board along with some ascerbic lines from Pope.

  22. says

    Hi yjmli. Yes, it’s a good system and should mean that the site is more usable and stable in the future. PhpBB is a bit of a victim of its own success in that there seem to be all sorts of nasties out there which seem intent on buggering it up.

  23. says

    ‘How We Are Hungry’ is all right but not great: never trust a Guardian review of an Eggers book, as he writes for the paper. The best story is “Your Mother and I” and a lot of reviewers seem to agree that “Up the Mountain Coming Down Slowly” is the best though to me it seemed like just another travel-story among many others. If only I’d bothered to review it on Palimpsest, you could have saved your pennies…

  24. says

    They come in a rather smart envelope, with the disc in a hardly-bigger-than-a-dvd round plastic case. The cool thing is that you rip one side of the envelope off, then stick down a flap, and there’s your envelope to send it back to Amazon. Very neat. It’s a shame that two of my first three came in knackered, but as I mention above, they have been pretty quick at rectifying it. I would seriously recommend this service!

  25. says

    Yes, you bastard. Still, despite my occasional antipathy towards Eggers and his cronies, there’s just something about the risks he takes that attracts me to his books – better to try something different and fail than stick to the same old.

  26. says

    I think I missed out Google Desktop Search here. This has become vital to me as I have abandoned browsing through folders entirely. How much easier is it to chuck a couple of keywords into the search box, rather than hunting through loads of folders? Lots.

  27. says

    Thank you Dave for posting this article from my site.

    The New Super Blogs are now emerging from the primordial soup of current blogospheric chaos.

    Blogs DO contain content.

    Blogs are for Communication, Collaboration, Collocation, Connectivity, and Community.

    Blogs are activist coordination zones for social transformation and usurping rogue regimes.

    Blogs are the upheaval and usurpation of the communications channels of the Powers that Pretend to Be.

    See my “The Blog Revolution” post of today.

  28. says

    Couldn’t leave this post saying ‘no comment’ at the bottom!

    Yes, it was a great day. Can’t be said often enough. Well done everyone for mucking in to make it something I look forward to looking back on.

  29. Col says

    I think it was a brilliant day. Thanks for making it happen – it takes a lot of nervous energy to organise something for a group of people, esp. ones you’ve not met in the Real World.


  30. says

    come on mate, we’re all dying for you to write some more here and at least tell us about the new job. if there’s nothing here to read, people might resort to reading my blog!!

  31. says

    Yeah, I am driving from Yardley in Birmingham, where I am staying with a friend, to Warwick every morning which is going ok. On Monday I left at 7.30 and got here at 8.45. Since then I have been leaving at 7.15 and arriving at 8.00.

    Go figure.

  32. says

    I respect and like Doc, but I don’t understand this.

    We must divorce our opinion of what a blog should be from the technical facts of what a blog actually is.

    BLOG = a communications, connectivity, and interaction platform that enables those without HTML skills to quickly and easily post web content to a global audience.

    Blogging is the opposite of talking. In my deconstructionist slant, I see blogging as a form of writing, not talking.

    But the “conversation” metaphor is still valid, as long as we put a non-phonological, non-aural meaning on it.

    Aside from video blogs and audio blogs, a regular blog is a textual medium.

    Doc called blogs “emails to the world” which I think is pretty accurate.

    A blog represents the democratization of web content publishing.

    A blog lets the average person express his or her thoughts to a worldwide readership.

    No other medium has ever been this universal and textual in orientation.

  33. says

    Got this to work in the end. A bit of a faff: I had to set up the mailing list addresses as contacts before I could set the rules up. Still, all working now!

  34. says

    Can anyone else see an unecessary extra What? on this post? It seems to appear on the main page but not on the permalink and comments page. Harumph!

  35. youjustmightlikeit says

    I only upgraded last night (mainly for the new podcasting functionality), i’ll let you know..

  36. says

    Fixed it, but it’s a pain in the arse. I had to click on the button to access my account settings. It through up a couple of errors before saying it was transferring me to the UK site. A couple more errors later, and I think everything is fine…

  37. says

    Wow, I googled my name and look what I find, I’m looking for the origon of the name Gaxor and I would like to know where the author of this came to be familiar with the name Gaxor. Please email me at Gaxor@Gaxor.Com. Thanks.

  38. says

    Good for him. I had never of heard of Sean Wright before but I followed his link in Google, so now he is that bit more famous.

    I enjoyed reading your blog and found your 10 tips on good blogging very interesting. Sadly I don’t know what an RS feed is but I will endeavour to find out, seeing as how it’s so important.

    I found you through Blogwise, I think it’s called.

  39. says

    Hi Dave. I am still having the same problem, having to go through the above process every time I go into the music store. Pretty annoying, eh?

  40. says

    I remember having to discuss “Practical Ethics” at university. I wasn’t sure if we were to take him seriously or tear him apart and throw him to the wolves.

  41. says

    I don’t know. I don’t necessarily agree with his views on just about anything, but I respect him for standing up for his ideas and taking on those who would wish to stifle debate on these things.

    Frankly, anyone who annoys swivel-eyed christian fundamentalist types is fine by me.

  42. says

    I hope you’ve got a nice comfortable chair to go with your new desk. I speak as someone with an interest in orthopaedics, especially backs.

  43. Col says

    People do ask for hard copies of such things, in my experience, so this is another useful ‘way of being church’ as the current jargon would have it.

  44. says

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  45. says

    Perhaps a techie like you can explain this to me, Dave. Why is it that TBL is always referred to as ‘the inventor of the World Wide Web’ rather than ‘the inventor of the internet’? Is there a difference, except that nobody calls it the world wide web? Or was the world wide web a limited precursor to the internet as we now know it, and so it’s just a bit of jingoistic chestbeating by British media, rather like the laughable notion that John Logie Baird invented the television (actually he invented a completely impractical form of television which never got off the ground, and Marconi invented the cathode ray tube television). Or am I gloriously off the case as usual?

  46. says

    The internet is different from the world wide web. The internet existed before the web did – in the form of ARPAnet, various bulletin boards, email, FTP, that sort of thing. The web simply refers to pages viewed in a web browser. This was originally HTML pages, but this has obviously grown to encompass various other technologies like PHP and stuff. But Berners-Lee DID invent HTML and the web (drawing on the earlier work of others, of course), largely as a way of keeping his documentation in order. The internet – essentially just a network like you or I have in our offices, only on a global scale – has existed since about 1983 when the TCP/IP protocol started to be used. See here for a more coherent analysis. Or John Naughton’s book, A Brief History of the Future which I could lend you if you are that bothered!

  47. says

    Yes thats right – I’m the vicar concerned in the story with the podcasts.

    So far about 3900 downloads and I am gobsmacked by the response. Maybe what is being down is hitting a nerve.

    This sundays theme – “Jesus’ Bad Hair Day”

    Bless ya heart

  48. says

    The Google Sidebar is certainly cool (as is Konfabulator, Desktop Sidebar, Apple Dashboard, and, eventually, the Windows Vista Sidebar). However, it is only part of the answer to having a fully integrated “personal intelligence agent” at your disposal. If you want to get a glimpse at the next two or three steps beyond what Google and the like are doing, check out my Mentations product at While still an early beta, I hope the intent is clear as to the direction we are taking it! BTW, any constructive criticism is most welcome.

  49. says

    Hi Stuart

    Sadly I no longer work in Scrutiny, and so my enthusiasm for the project has diminished somewhat. Some of the ideas mentioned were included in the Scrutiny Handbook I wrote for BCKLWN which you can find here.

  50. says

    Luckily, only about 5% of hits to our site are from users of browsers other than Firefox. This is mainly because most of the people looking at it so far are developers, but I’m sure this will change soon.

    I wish it were easy to program for multiple browsers at the same time, but IE is extremely unhelpful when debugging javascript.

    We do fully intend to support all the major browsers by the time the site leaves development stages.

  51. says

    Thanks for responding, Garret! It wasn’t really a criticism at all – I am a FireFox user myself. But it really seems to me that the tide is turning away from IE and towards browsers and platforms that are open and comply to universal standards – and this has to be a good thing.

  52. says

    True. Orlowski is undoubtably an arse, but surely no post mentioning criticisms of Wikpedia is complete without reference to at least one his rants.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Thomas!

  53. rick green says

    Thanks for the tout Wavid. And for setting eveything up. For the record, without your help, there would be no changes. You rock!

  54. Digger says

    This is good advice W, I’ve been pondering starting a blog recently, reading everyone elses is getting me inspired. Perhaps is wont be long now, and this set of advice is very helpful.

  55. says

    Well, not always! For example, it is possible that Word will record what you are writing in one document in another, if you have them open at the same time. It has caught people out who were applying for new jobs in work time, I believe!

    On a government level, like this, you might be right I guess. But on a personal level, it is always best to use RTF or PDF formats, for two reasons. One, it stops embarrasment like this happening, and two, it means that anyone can open your file, even if they don’t have Word installed.

    Also, there could possibly be serious ramifications if Word documents are used in a legal context…

  56. says

    Seem to be some problems with this site at the moment, can’t access it at all, and the graphic I have linked to doesn’t seem to be displaying at all…

  57. says

    I understand how you feel! Frankly, I’m amazed that all of our international users have put up with it so far. I wouldn’t write MyPIMP off yet though, we’re working very hard to get updates done, one of which will ofcourse include better date representation for the rest of the world.

  58. says

    Heheh. Way to incriminate yourself, Penrick! I hate to jump the gun or anything, but the words ‘clearly guilty’ flashed across my mind when I read the words “…who is defending himself.” The sure sign of a mentalist who needs to be locked up.

  59. says

    Well perhaps but it makes everyone’s heart sink when we’re in court and hear that someone is a ‘personal litigant’ ie representing themselves. It means the case will last ten times longer than it should and will be no better done as a result.

  60. says

    Ah I see. Well the site is crap anyway. It forces you to enter a book’s details by reference to the ISBN … except that it doesn’t recognise ISBNs of British books!

  61. says

    Find out how your company rates by using a little known rating system!

    Is your company a Scam, Dud, Scheme, Fraud Or Good Opportunity?.

    95% of the money-making opportunities on the internet have been worked to death or are not suitable to be marketed through the internet. How does your company and/or opportunity rate… I’ll leave it to you to decide if your service, product and/or money making opportunity falls in this category.

    Hurry you may NOT be happy with what you will find!

  62. says

    Cool, fame at last etc! Yes, I must get Erwin finished. I haven’t even read knovella’s last stuff.

    Is there any way of measuring the hits our story may have had as a result of this promotion?

  63. says

    Re the Nick Robinson blog: he’s a great political editor, effortlessly making politics brilliantly interesting (though I’m one of those sad sacks who thinks it’s pretty intrinsically fascinating anyway), bettered perhaps only by Mark Mardell, who has gone off to Europe, a subject worthy of a great explainer if ever there was.

    The Robinson blog though is partly recycled bits-to-camera: the piece on the new Tory tactics (excellently named ‘Tony Flattery’) was just a word-for-word dump of his script for that day’s report on PM/the Six O’Clock News etc.

  64. says

    Sorry mate, Stewart’s name is far better – Goal Mouths! Brilliant!

    Glad to see you let me in on the ground floor of this one! Tch! (Yeah yeah, I hate football as well you knew…)

  65. says

    I don’t think there is – there isn’t the option to put any kind of hit counter into the page with the story on, which is a shame.

    Yes, must get it finished!

  66. says

    I noticed that too – one of his Radio 4 reports was just pasted in. A shame, because I think he has picked up the baton from Andrew Marr really well.

  67. says

    Well, quite. I would have consulted you, obviously, but your expertise is elsewhere really! Pleased you like it, and Goal Mouths it is.

    Will get a proper URL sorted out this week hopefully, and then we can start promoting it properly.

  68. says

    Thanks Rick. It will hopefully be of some use, but the main aim is that it will serve nicely as a Google trap, with loads of information hopefully it will help attract people to the main business of Palimpsest, the forums.

  69. says

    Just used the ‘import’ feature now on the WordPress admin screen to pull in the posts from my old blogger blog. It’s nice to have everything in one place!

  70. says

    glad you liked this one, it’s one of my favourites but hasn’t received much critical acclaim (until now !). It was one of those moments when an image jumps out at you and has to be snapped.

  71. says

    The secret to making people think you take good pictures (which a few naive acquaintances in real life have accused me of) is to take absolutely loads but only show a very few. I reckon I have ten unseen pictures on my hard drive for every one that’s up on Flickr.

  72. says

    gmail as number 1? Don’t use google email services: their privacy policies are inadequate , they lock people out (always seems to reject my .coop email if it goes to a list @googlegroups, for example, and there are javascript/cookie funnies too) and the quoting and deleting interfaces suck (reportedly) which is encouraging bad behaviour with a size of effect not seen since the release of Outlook. Finally, to cap it all, google were a 2005 World Economic Forum sponsor and their “” hand-outs are a marketing project.

    It’s not like better webmails are hard to find. and many ISPs seem decent enough.

  73. says


    The list was unordered so I didn’t mean to make it appear that Gmail was #1 in that sense.

    I’ve heard of all the privacy stuff (heck – I even link to it on my email page), and those other things you mention are interesting. But…I just like it. I went through a process where every year I changed email addresses, and sometimes within those years I changed mail clients, but I have stuck with the gmail for getting on for two years now, and feel no desire to change from a user’s point of view. That must count for something, though I don’t deny it could be getting old and settled in my ways!

    The quoting thing is, though, a pain in the arse. Fortunately a lot of the people I email regularly simply don’t care about it; for those that do I take the time to quote properly.

  74. Digger says

    so I tried to find the cover of always on my mind on itunes – it be not there. Frustrated digger. Got some of the others though, great.

  75. says

    It’s nice if people *do* something about it as a result of the stink, like stop advertising google for free on their own sites, bookmarking it, and so on.

    Why would anyone expect better from google? They’ve been polluting the network with invite spams for years now. If they’re not held to account, they’ll think it’s worth trying to get away with it.

  76. says

    I think they expected better because of the explicit “do no evil” mantra, that Google trumpeted so much at the beginning. Maybe they just seemed like pretty cool guys. Who knows? But plenty of people did hold that opinion, whether they were correct in doing so or not!

  77. says

    The good thing about Gigablast is the gigabits. Don’t get me wrong: the cache is older than many other engines, but most of my searches are for fairly static pages which get drowned out in the SEO wars. I also love links to other engines along the bottom edge: I think altavista used to do that until it jumped the shark.

    I have a fairly large (30 or 40k) bookmarks file which I use first – and the links on my own site, too. Many seem to have forgotten how to bookmark in a structured way and the point of having a personal home page, or maybe they never knew because it’s still September.

  78. says

    How have you got your bookmarks set up? As a separate HTML file on your PC, or online? Or are they just saved in your browser?

    For the sites I use regularly, I find it quicker just to type in the URLs, to be honest.

  79. says

    Hey, don’t worry. Your comment has spurred me on to make my permalinks meaningful. What’s great is that the old, numbered, links work fine as well, so they won’t be broken.

  80. says

    It might be worth pointing out that you may need to set

    AllowOverride (All|None|directive-type)

    for the directory so that the .htaccess file works too. (I just had this problem, but am now all up and running),

  81. says

    Oh, I see. Sorry about that. Still, at least it had the effect of exposing everyone to my genius observations for a second time. Maybe, like watching a film more than once, people got to spot things they didn’t notice first time around…

    Am I making this worse for myself?

  82. says

    Hello Dave!! Bonne from the the Barn, just stopping by to “see you”. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been sick, hope you’re well on the way to good health again. I went through the crud back in December. Where is your website now? Or don’t you have one any longer? I was sure I’d been to it a couple of times. Man the print on your blog is really tiny.

  83. says

    Hi Dave, We’ve found and fixed the WordPress bug you came across … drove me nuts for a bit …

    The delay in typing is from the spell checker … try turning off check as you type. For speed of launch … yes we’re working on that too.

    What would be a feature that would get you to move from BlogJet (which I agree is also a good editor)?

  84. Jon Husband says

    Thank you for trying Qumana out.

    Rest assured, Dave, that we will be poring through your post and the feedback to see what we can improve about yours (and others’) experience.

  85. says

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for the comments.
    We’ll be releasing a new version soon which should fix the error you saw when posting.
    We’ll keep listening to user feedback to improve the program and hopefuly will convince you to make Qumana your #1 blog editor :)

    Thanks again!

  86. says

    Crikey, well, chaps, ten out of ten to paying attention to what users are saying!

    I think I was a little negative in my views above, and of course I appreciate that this is a product that still in beta.

    I’m not sure how keen I am on the interface – those big yellow and green buttons are very friendly, but they do make the editor window look a little untidy to me. With BlogJet, everything is in line and it is very small and compact, which appeals to me.

    But I might carry on using Qumana for a little while to see how things go – I am interested in the tagging – how does this work? Are they inserted into the ping to technorati somehow, or do they appear in the body of the post itself?

  87. says

    Oh tags are so simple. Click the insert tags button (it’s green) put your tags in, separated by commas like Qumana,blog editor,Dave Briggs click okay and the tags will be inserted into the post (at the insertion point).

    You can ping Technorati, if you’d like … add them to the ping list … (Preferences)


  88. Jon Husband says

    Dave, we have integrated Qumana into an RSS aggregator / newreader … Lektora ( which we own and will rename). And yes, I suppose we should find a way to integrate it into other feedreaders .. we’ve asked before for permission, to add a more fully-featured editor to Bloglines than their “Clip This”, but had no reply ;-)

  89. says

    Cool. Will have a look at lektora. Appreciate that your first consideration has to be for your own products – but I think that a lot of goodwill can be gained by opening things up to other products. I remember how pissed off people were with Google when their toolbar only supported Blogger, for example!

  90. says

    Oh – if you want to get Akismet up and running you need a API key. You can get one by registering a blog at and getting it from the admin panel. At least, that’s what I did…

  91. says

    well you can just click “show all” — but it does mean you have to remember which ones you haven’t read in a long time.

  92. says


    Glad you could take the time to check out our site. Those apps that you saw came pre-installed with a guest account, but there are actually many more available that others have written (head on over to add/remove apps, or simply go here

    We know our UI is very raw, we’re working hard on the redesign.



  93. says

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Sammo! Perhaps I was being rather negative in what I put – it’s obviously a great achievement to get the thing working at all. Will check out the other apps that are available – thanks for the tip!

  94. says

    Thanks for the comment, Amy. Yep, I ended up trawling through the ‘show all’ list and got rid of some of the dead wood. I guess I am just too used to having software do all my hard work for me!

  95. says

    So what’s the best online calendar? HipCal? Shouldn’t there be one tied to Gmail by now? I am getting embarrassed about the number of birthdays I’m beginning to forget, so I need some kind of permanent reminder that I don’t need to fill in at the start of every year… Either that, or if someone can show me how to use the calendar on my goddamn Motorola Razr, I’d be grateful.

  96. says

    Heh. Motorola phones are impossible to use full stop, aren’t they?

    I use HipCal – it’s fairly simple and quick. For a while they presented all dates in the American weirdo backwards way, but they have sorted that out now.

    There are loads of rumours about the Google Calendar, and I think it isn’t far off now.

    Also fairly good is the Yahoo! calendar, but I agree it is nice to have these things in one place.

  97. says

    Yeah, it’s certainly useful – and simple, most importantly. I guess this is something that really should be incorporated in WordPress itself!

  98. says

    Thanks for the link! We’re working on the IE speed issues, and will be rolling out patches this week to hopefully mitigate the problem. Right now its much faster in Firefox, but I know that doesn’t help IE users very much..

    Kiko wasn’t named after the footballer, but that’s a pretty cool connection. Maybe we’ll claim it in the future.


  99. says

    Cool. Thanks for taking the time to comment! I was trying it out at work which is an IE only zone :(. Will try it at home on FF and see how I get on. Thanks for pointing that out.

    John – as a FF user yourself maybe you should give Kiko a proper tryout!

  100. burnbabyburn says

    Oh nice, again, these pageflakes trolls wandering around in case they may lure an innocent to come and use their bulky package,

    Guys, why don’t you raise decent money like Netvibes just achieved and buy you a PR?

  101. says

    I don’t see the reason why you call us trolls. I don’t see the “lure” argument either. I am simply interested in users’ feedback because that is – last time I checked – the right way to build a community. Obvioulsy Dave was quite happy to check it out and I am quite happy to listen to his feedback and ideas. So I do not see this as PR but as customer feedback. If you prefer PR that’s fine. Maybe next time you can not make an anonymous post but leave your email so we can discuss your ideas and suggestions, too?


  102. says

    Dave, my name is Dustin, I’m a programmer here at

    I just wanted to say thanks for the review: we love getting good feedback and criticism.. it only helps us get better!

  103. says

    We would like to introduce you to our Megite: What’s happening right now service. It is the newspaper for anyone interested in what’s happening right now by intelligently uncovering the most relevant items from auto discovered news sites and weblogs.

    If you have an OPML file and don’t mind to send to us, we can create a personalized Megite for you too.

    You can check our web site at

  104. Jon Husband says

    *bought up* are pretty big words … and misleading. It is a distribution deal only, free download from Lycos for Lycos members / visitors.

    I guess this is how unfounded rumours spread ? !

  105. says

    You could have downloaded the packages you needed on another web-connected PC and copied them across to Ubuntu, it may have been annoying chasing depenancies, but could have worked….

  106. says

    Thanks for the comment – I will take a look. I have already recommended Zoho Chat to a project being run by some people in my office.

  107. says

    Thanks for the link back to my post.

    Overall I agree with you on your review.

    My initial impression wasn’t the best in using Zoundry either but I was able to side step some of the landmines that Zoundry laid due to the fact that I had used other Desktop Clients and stepped on them there.

    I would also have to agree with you that BlogJet is great. It is simple and to the point. It’s only drawback is that it is $50.

    At this point of my Blogging Career :-) $50 is a little much to spend on a hobby. That is why Zoundry is the best free Desktop Client in my opinion.

  108. says

    $50 – yes, it is annoying having to shell out for one service when others are available for free. This is why Qumana is such a good option, IMO. Also, the guys at Qumana are really keeping their ears to the blogosphere and listenting to suggestions and comments – they really want their system to be the best. So if we keep nagging, Qumana could end up being the best out there!

  109. says

    It is true, Qumana is the most active company IMO that is looking for user feedback outside of their own web site.

    Unfortunately though, their product is not in a usable state for the type of blogging that I do (Although I do not think that I am that different from the average Blogger that would use a Desktop Client).

    This brings me to my next point – What type of person uses a Desktop Client to blog anyway (I feel a post coming on)?

    It is usually the more advanced Blogger that finds the standard back end to be to limited.

    With this in mind I feel that if you are going to make a software to replace the back end, it should not be as good, but better, then the back end it is replacing.

  110. says

    Dan – I wrote about this a bit here. An offline blog editor is useful for longer posts, possily written over a few days, where taking one’s time and cogitating over what one is writing has a positive effect.

    Other posts are quick, speedy affairs where you have to capture the moment. For these, a browser plug-in like Performancing for Firefox, or the built in blog editor comes into play.

  111. says

    It’s true. For me using a Desktop Client helps me to better organized (my posts never seem to be short).

    I guess the point I was trying to make is that when you are a novice the default built-in tools are fine. But when you need more then Desktop Clients should be the answer (ie. provide MORE functionality).

    On a few of my blogs I still need to post as a draft and publish from the back end because I have plug-ins that won’t activate from a Desktop Client.

  112. says

    You certainly are not, Bubba! You are offering another perspective and style, which is refreshing. How are you finding WordPress as opposed to Spaces?

  113. says

    Thanks for trying it out. The Zoundry user interface can be minimized to simply show only the editor. For example, closing the sidebar (‘x’ or via file-view menu) and hiding the trackback/date controls will end up with only the editor and the toolbar. The sidebar is convienient for people to create links to previous posts. The tools can also be accessed via shortcuts (e.g. ctrl+L for linking) and the right-click context menu. I agree larger 20×20 (or 24×24) buttons are more usable, but in our case, it will take up most of the editor area. Frequently used buttons are shown in the toolbar (16×16, similar to Word, Outlook, etc) and all others functions/features (nearly all of the requested/suggested by the users) via the right click context menu.

    Zoundry’s image handling is one of the better ones. Simply drag and drop. No need to upload each image first. Access to resizing, image properties, alignment etc. easily provided via right click context menu. Most people are used where they had to link/upload each image via additional dialogs when inserted into the post – hence are normally suprised when only a thumbnail is shown in Zoundry (and do not have to do anything else).

    ps: We are collecting all feedback – mostly via our forums and emails – so, a version 2.0 will address any UI and other quirks (across platforms) :)

  114. says

    Sweet…always wanted to be a mentos fresh maker! Seriously, thanks!

    I really like the wordpress text editor and the approach to spell checking (I think I like it even better then word’s approach…just a minor tweak, but good). It has been a bummer to have the servers of wordpress go down (happened again last night).

    Blogging is fun and i’ve been doing it off and on since 2002. My grand master plan is to re-post all my content in one place at some point. Until then, I’ll keep using spaces (and may even after as the master point).

  115. rick green says

    Nice. Your new blog looks sharp, by the way.
    I’m not living up to much of your advice, but who knows, maybe one day I’ll be as on top of the whole blogging thing as you are. These points could certainly go some way to helping me along.

  116. says

    Nice, but confusing to neophytes. “Be sure you are in the Control Panel…” But, I set up a Blog, which was easy, and have spent an hour trying to find its Control Panel. This is probably something so obvious to old hands that they can’t imagine there’s a problem for newbys. But…please give me a hint.

  117. ustas says

    I’m using True Launch Bar – this is the quick launch replacement. It allow you to add menus into quick launch area. So I’ve added all used programs into some menus and clear my desktop.

    Other great True Launch Bar feature – plugins. These are the small applets that you can add on taskbar or menus.

    I don’t need the Start Menu now and removed it with Start Killer ;)

  118. says

    Thanks Rick. I guess I just have to watch what I eat and drink from now on. I’m currently being starved of sugar completely, which is Not Nice!

  119. says

    now wait a minute here…you come to my blog and tell me to dump Blogger due to slight temp maint probs, yet you complain now of Firefox 2 crashing a lot. perhaps you don’t know how to work it?

    WordPress is cool…if you have the paid hosting version.

    I advance Zero Budget Marketing as a clever ploy to show what can be done with nothing, no expense, so that when the global depression hits, I and my clients will be way ahead of the pack heading for the big cheese.

  120. says

    Yeah, that’s right, I don’t know how to work a browser. Is there even a wrong way to use FireFox?

    You blogged about the Blogger downtime. I figure you didn’t do that because you were overjoyed about it. I gave some advice – albeit bluntly put. That’s it – no need for the thinly veiled insults.

    I wish you and your clients luck in beating any future recession with free blogs. I’m sure it’ll be that which makes the difference between you and those that fail.

  121. says

    I work for NewsGator in technical support.

    Can we have a link on the main toolbar to send the current page to, or our blogs please?

    There’s a feature request already filed for this. (51970) I’ve updated it with a pointer to this post.

    If I clip a post in NewsGator for later viewing, can it be automatically sync’d to a News Bin in FD please?

    Also frequently requested and on the todo list. It won’t make it into 2.1, however.

    You might want to provide feedback in our beta forums instead of posting it here on your blog. We’re in the forums every day so any feedback there is guaranteed to be seen.

    Jack Brewster
    Technical Support
    NewsGator Technologies

  122. says

    Ha ha ha ha ha. BlogJet is charging money, $39.95, for their “blog editor tool”?

    Where did they get that business model? I don’t see any reason to use BlogJet, since I can do all that stuff in my Blogger post template, without the assistance of BlogJet.

    A blog post should be editable within the blog template, not needing any outside plug-ins or desktop editors.

    Ha ha ha.

  123. says

    I also noticed the very interesting article about Parakey. I can’t find any further information about it on the web though. If you’ve found anything, could you reply or email me?


  124. says

    Hi, I put some details of our Unit into your search engine but did not get any results. Would you add us to your site if possible as I believe we are one of a very few who offer this type of service. Our website is very basic at the moment but that is due to change over the next few weeks.
    Many thanks, Lee Russell
    Activity Organiser

  125. says

    Hi Lee

    Thanks for the comment. The link you provided doesn’t work – it looks like it might be an internal intranet site? A quick standard Google search produced this page about Wheatridge Court Respite Unit, but as that is a part of Gloucestershire CC’s main website, that will be picked up within that, once the Google spider gets round to it.

    Let me know if there is more I can do!

  126. says

    I’m not sure why that has happened, I’m prepared to guess though. Perhaps the repository meta-data hasn’t been downloaded if you weren’t online when installing.

    If you are using synaptic (system -> administration -> synaptic package manager), you could try hitting the reload button?

    Do you have the repositories enabled? See though make sure you have enabled the ‘Main’ repository too.

  127. says

    Oops, sorry, I didn’t read your post properly before replying. I’ve never came across that before, but it sounds like a reasonable assumption… If you still have problems when you get your DSL, you should stop in #ubuntu-uk on and see if someone can help you out.

  128. says

    Oh yeah. He SO explained it. Because Mike Arrington never has an axe to grind or his interests to protect. Please read Sethi’s response on CrunchNotes and then re-assess your post.

  129. says

    I literally just did, Mike! Sam puts his side of the argument well. It’s just a shame it’s come to this, I guess.

    Best of luck with the new venture – I subscribed straight away.

  130. Sam Sethi says

    David the early teething problems with the DNS and redirects are annoying for us too. Sorry about this we hope to have them fixed in the next few days.

  131. says

    Ach, it’s not so much a problem at the MyBlogLog side of things, it’s just that the colours don’t go great with my theme! It’s more my problem than anything – unless there was a way to choose colours by hex, like you can with Adsense…

  132. says

    I wasn’t getting any of the new gmail features till I noticed my girlfriend was, and the only difference between our accounts was that her’s was her display language was set to US english, whereas mine was UK english, changing it on mine, and suddenly I got all the new stuff.

  133. says

    Google sometimes ticks me with their “Holier than thou” additude but hey they are the only game in town right now. This is my invitation to you to join my community and visit my Blog: A Hannah Montana Fan Blog Please leave a comment, your opinion, suggestion or any tip on how to improve my blog.
    For those fellow bloggers and blog friends not into MyBlogLog yet check out the buzz on Hannah Montana. Come aboard, its fun and an interesting way to meet people online.

  134. says

    Hmmm. Your comment was sent by Akismet into the spam bin originally, Mark. I was kind and dragged it out.

    Thanks for sharing your view, but I don’t get the connection between Google and Hannah Montana (whatever the hell that is) though…

  135. infodroid says

    Using Ubuntu Edgy. I clicked the link and Firefox launched a small window with “Install Missing Plugin” button.

    I think what is happening is that the totem plugin for mozilla is not recognizing that it can actually handle the mp4 file.

    Instead, what worked for me is to download the video and play it yourself from Nautilus, command line, totem, etc.

  136. says

    Not a problem, Arvind! It’s a pleasure reporting on such a great service.

    Any chance of us seeing widgets for Netvibes et al with details of our Zoho files in any time soon?

  137. says

    I’ve been playing with Drupal for the last few days, and unless you feel you need it, you’re much better sticking with WordPress. Especially with lovely themes like this available. Give my regards to Guy, by the way. :)

  138. says

    Thanks for the comment, Simon. I think Drupal is an amazing bit of kit, but not right, as you say, for a single man personal blog.

    What I think is great is that there is a selection of off the shelf, open source software out there that can just about do anything you want: WordPress, MediaWiki, Drupal, phpBB… and they are mostly very easy to use and set up. Coupled with the cheap hosting that’s available these days, almost anything is possible!

  139. says

    Ya, I’m thinking I’ll do the 2.1 upgrade shortly, too. Thanks for the heads up!

    I actually found you through the 2000 bloggers photos — I happened upon Tino’s site a few days ago, and laughed when I saw my mug on there!

  140. says

    Col – thanks for the comment – I might look into darkening the text a bit!

    NetChick – it’s weird seeing your face up there, isn’t it?! WP 2.1 is well worth the upgrade, for the autosave if nothing else!

  141. says

    I didn’t request to be added either but am honored that I did. I too noticed a number of incoming links to my blog, hint how I found you. Thank you for the link up. What I am wondering is if anyone has received a few new readers from it?

  142. says

    I think I encountered Tino while he was building this months ago, I probably have an email exchange from back then. He did some surfing around, and obviously used some list like a blogroll or the Canadian Blog Awards page for some, since I know the two people next to me through their blogs.

  143. says

    There’s an interview with Tino (he’s linked it on his site) that says he picked the first 300 or so by himself. I’m #315 and I don’t remember signing up for it either. But it ‘s a very cool project and I’m honored to be included!

  144. says

    I always waituntil the dust settles…
    I remember when my parents purchased a BETA machine better product but everone went with VHS and BETA’s were faded out…

  145. says

    Hello there, I have opted out of the 2000 blogger list and now I get the joy of contacting all those who have added the code and requesting that my photo and link to my website be removed. Could you please see that my picture and link are removed and could you please email me when it has been removed? Thank you!

    Rose DesRochers

  146. says

    Funny there is comment on a blog that states “Um…Rose….since you actually had to request to have your blog included, it’s hard to believe yours was used without permission. Tino wasn’t just browsing the blogosphere pulling out random blogs. You asked to be included.” I like you did not asked to be included and wish I never was included. This has all been one huge headache.

    Could you please see that you update the code and use the newest one and remove Rose DesRochers (

    from the list of 2000 bloggers, please. :)

  147. says

    the link generator looks cool at first but when you try pressing the generate button multiple time the result sometimes gives a redundant result.

  148. says

    One of my favourites was on a Christmas theme, poking fun a the commercialism of the festive season. “Glory to God in the Highest” had been amended to eliminate the final letter ‘e’, so that it read “Glory to God in the High St”.

  149. says

    Not a hint of an argument from me as regards WordPress: quite simply, it’s best of breed. I’d hesitate to use the word ‘CMS’, since that tends to imply things like version control and workflow, which WordPress – by default? – doesn’t do. But the reality is… most websites, and I’d go as far as to say most organisations, don’t need a ‘CMS’.

    WordPress is free, typically installs in seconds, and does everything you need it to do (and more). Producing custom themes isn’t as difficult as the documentation makes it seem, incidentally. If PHP intimidates you, there’s plenty you can do with CSS and a theme like Sandbox.

    Not sure about the phone-in podcast though, Dave. The quality is inevitably a bit rough… and yet it’s being delivered as a high-quality MP3 file (128kbps). For me, it’s one or other: I’ll accept poor audio if I’m getting a tiny file as a trade-off.

  150. says

    Thanks for the feedback Simon. The use of the phone is just a short term thing till I get a working microphone sorted out. To be honest, I could have spent a little longer in Audacity editing it to make it a little better quality-wise.

    As regards CMS, well it clearly isn’t as sophisticated as many out there. But in terms of a quick and dirty solution, with static home pages and the simple privileges system, it’ll do for a lot of projects.

  151. says

    While I don’t agree with all of Tom’s points, I can see how search is critical to the delivery of government information and services. I think we have to take some of the responsibility here and ensure that the content we publish is both findable and reusable.

    Microformats are one way of delivering content that empowers the users (allowing them to reuse information that they have effectively paid to have created) and is also optimised for search. It means that the govt namespace becomes a usable database, rather than a sea of brochureware.

    Search isn’t necessarily broken, but our approach to it (at least in most jurisdictions) is not exactly ideal…

  152. says

    I sometimes wonder whether it would be preferable to abandon the bespoke work we’re doing with the IDeA CoP paltform and use an off the shelf development environment such as Ning. Not sure yet what the right answer is, since I also have to ensure the IDeA CoP solution is fully integrated with other (legacy) platform, such as the IDeA knowledge web site. Will be keeping an eye on NIng to see how it it develops.

  153. says

    I don’t think that the likes of Ning are really an option for the IDeA project, Steve. Part of the reason is its reliance on AJAX type technology, which is at present incompatible with the majority of browsers in use in the local government sector.

    Also, it is aimed mainly at the social end of social networking, though with a little work you can have something more professional in place. But for a small group who want to get something up and running quickly and cheaply, it’s a good option.

  154. says

    It’s a ‘micro-blogging’ platform, which you can update through normal posting (like we do to our blogs), through instant messaging or SMS.

    I wrote more about it here. Having thought about it though, I really can’t be bothered with it.

  155. says

    Dave – it seems Tim’s blog has stirred up a lot of adverse comment in the blogsphere. In particular, I thought that Euan Semple’s comments (the Obvious were a bit cutting. I thought it was generally ok, though a little over-prescriptive.

  156. says

    I agree, to be honest, that it’s a bit of a waste of time for the majority of blogs. But for those where there is a corporate necessity for ‘playing nice’ it’s a useful starting point.

    I’m not sure, though, how this differs from a policy on comment moderation…

  157. Col says

    Eee! North York Moors – where’d'you go? Whitby? Goathland/Pickering railway etc.?

    Hope it was sunny and fun.

  158. says

    Thanks Beth! I’ve been subscribed to your blog for a while thanks to the likes of Dale and Wilcox… Pleased the slideshow was of use, and thanks for the kind words about this site!

  159. says

    Thanks for the link, Dave. Funnily enough I was talking to someone who was initially in discussions with “Brown’s people” to develop the campaign site and they were categorically against WordPress (as a lot of old school web types are).

  160. says

    I’m amazed at just how quickly WP is proliferating across the web. I’ve started using it as a base for non-blog sites that I put together, because it just makes life so much easier.

    Perhaps it is the ease of use that puts the IT barons off!

  161. says

    That’s a good idea, David, hadn’t thought of that. Of course, by using one service over another, you are forcing people onto that platform.

    I guess the basis of my idea is to have a community where people have to do as little as possible to contribute or just to view. But is there even a need for such a thing?

  162. says

    I’ve been giving this subject some thought myself actually. I’m sticking a lot of things in a lot of different places, but I don’t really have an easy way to bring it all together for people like my mum. The ‘custom home page’ services like Netvibes (etc) can do something close… but it’s very much secondary to their main purpose, and it doesn’t give the kind of personal touch I think I’d be looking for. There’s probably a great business opportunity in this.

  163. says

    all good thoughts Dave, and I think you’re onto something many of us are considering (and DavidW and I were discussing just last week) – central community sites you have to log in to are facing an increasing risk of non-attendance because people simply don’t want to be tied into one central space; ideas that they have may well be relevant to one or more communities, may well be better presented on people’s own blogs (it’s their idea, why can’t they publish it?) etc.

    Working with on their online communities project is very interesting – there are clearly defined membership boundaries within which organisational issues need to be discussed – and some CoPs which are better off private, but from an originally formal and private CoP approach (out of neccesity), we are increasingly opening up the access to the communities, by seeing the platform as not a bunch of technical doohickeys, but as a sliding scale of access related to membership, guest etc. For example we offer blogs to members, and these can be public or private; whatever they want. Likewise we have begun aggregating members’ blogs from outside and re-publishing them in the member space, providing everyone with an ‘editor’s view’ if you like – this offers members on the platform an idea of what is going on outside, and those bloggers a chance to feel that their work is being appreciated.. this will grow into something more substantial in the future, but we’re just at the beginning.

    As a quick experiment in distributed community engagement (if you like), I did this site with some friends in Bristol to show our support for our local music festival:

    It’s basically a few flat pages and aggregation from flickr and upcoming – the point being we did not want a central space, but to be able to offer people the chance to offer a bit of themselves via channels they are already involved in… which is a thought I am increasingly becoming comfortable with… don’t build monolithic structures and wait for attendance, distribute your brand and trust others to manage their own channnels and how they can interact with you from there…

  164. says

    Thanks for these points, chaps. There are some pre-existing services for aggregating content into one feed and onto one site – like Suprglu for example. You can see my effort here. Perhaps in many ways this could do? Problems with it include a lack of personalisation, a limit on the number of possible feeds and issues around the display of certain content.

    I think there are two viable possibilities: using Drupal to display aggregated content – which may seem like nut cracking with sledgehammers, but the way Drupal modules can handle media and RSS is pretty cool; or with a flat file site like Ed’s, with a custom design and content displayed to suit, with a mixture of widgets and MagpieRSS.

    I think I am going to give the latter a try. It should be possible to get all the content to appear on one page, and use Yahoo! Pipes to generate an RSS feed for the whole lot. I’ve got a spare URL doing nothing at so will probably set it up there. As all those who have contributed to this thread write on vaguely similar topics, do I have everyone’s permission to use their feeds for this project?!

    If it works, I’ll be happy to make the source code all available for people to download and customise for themselves.

  165. says

    Good work.

    We were down the pub the other day, discussing how we might have done the Ashton Court site differently, and agreed that it would probably have been easier to have built the whole thing in WordPress from the beginning – we use blogger for the news page, but next time would do the whole thing in WP, using ‘pages’ for the flat files… I’m not sure about aggregating in WP (easy in Community Server/Drupal etc.) though…

    hope that helps :)

  166. says

    WordPress can do anything of course – all you need is the right plug-in. In this case, FeedWordPress turns a WP install into an feed hungry aggregating beast. I use it here, for example.

    The only issue with it is that for it to work automatically you have to get authors to ping the aggregating blog when they publish new content, otherwise it’s a case of setting up cron jobs which can be messy. Certainly beyond my capabilities!

    I’ve started using WordPress to create non-blog sites myself – see MediaZilla (a work in progress) for an example. It’s surprising how good the results can be.

    My simple ‘homepage’ approach on the Virtual Communities site should be up and running this evening. It might look a bit basic, but content first, style second!

  167. says

    Hey, thanks for the kind words about our service. Please be in touch with any ideas or suggestions about how we can improve it!

  168. says


    an interesting concept. Does this officially constitute a “mashup”, or do we consider mashups to be done at a coding level? I like the idea of simply bringing together all these resources. I’ve seen (and used) another servuices that does this sort of thing, but darned if I can find it now. I’ll let you know if I do.

  169. says

    Not sure if it’s a mashup – I guess not because each service is kept quite separate. Would be good to see the site you are thinking of – I can’t believe no one has thought of this before…

  170. says

    Good work Dave :)

    Keep it up!

    A few scrambled thoughts -

    1. is it a community, or an aggregation or interests?

    2. it makes me think of ‘facilitation’ and how to facilitate communities in this new world of aggregation – also in relation to the Ashton Court site we talked about – where online facilitation is adapting to all this – in part a technical decision made at root (widget) level as to what to include and not, and who to allow access to all those distribute groups that make the ‘community’ up…

  171. says

    I think the point is that he didn’t make the comparison he’s accused of making. Rather he quoted The Guardian which had made that point.

    I think that had you had the chance to read Owen’s blog you would have found him the epitome of politeness. He’s been smeared by the Daily Mail through the most obvious of misrepresentations.

  172. says

    You’ve missed a very important point about teh Bush/Hitler thing. Owen did not in fact say anything of the sort. He quoted the introduction, word for word, of a Naomi Wolf piece in The Guardian.
    REally rather different, don’t you agree?

  173. Tessa Darley says

    Apropos your original question – “is public sector blogging possible?” can I direct you to a very interesting article in Demos, collection 23, pp 166-175 entitled “Flesh Steel and Wikipedia: Flesh, steel and Wikipedia“? (sorry if the arrangement of this is coming out all wrong – not finding the tabs the easiest for a borderline luddite like me). In this article, Paul Miller and Molly Webb pose some interesting questions about government and online collaborative tools, and I think it’s important that we ask ourselves WHY public sector might want to have blogging, and take it from there. Is it for public consultation? Is it for improving service within the public sector (yes, I know in a way these are the same things, but bear with me)? Whatever, it’s an interesting article (along with quite a few there), and I recommend it, if not as bedtime reading, at least over tea and toast in the morning.

  174. says

    I think he should sue them (and we should support him). The likes of the Mail need warning off this kind of trashing — he would have a case but there is evidentally no legal clarity.

    I also await DfID’s response. What they should do is defend his right to free speech. They would know what he was doing and approve. He would have operated within any rules. If he has done nothing wrong, DfID should say so.

  175. says

    Paul – I can’t really comment fully until I read the post in question. I’m not making that mistake again! It does seem like Owen has been very harshly treated. Am not sure about the efficacy of legal action, though…

    Tessa, thanks for the link. Will check it out. In the meantime, it might be a good one to upload to the Social Media CoP library…assuming you haven’t already!

  176. says

    I assume this is some sort of gimmick. I certainly can’t take it seriously (and clicking on the links on the home page would lead me to believe we’re not meant to take it seriously). Any search engine worth its salt will aim to provide a high percent relevance in the results returned for any search query. Serendipity is more a feature of an individual’s personal interests, and hence coupling fuzzy logic with some understanding of the user’s interests (personalisation) is probably a more relevant goal. If a user is aiming for unpredictable results, then probably best to use something like Stumble – though at least this does add some value by building up a profile of a users likes and dislikes.

    I think I’ll stick with Stumble for my serendipitous searches for now!

  177. says

    Beth – that’s a very good (and challenging!) question. One which I think needs a whole post of it’s own, which I will try and get written tomorrow.

  178. says

    The ability to use Google docs and spreadsheets in off-line or on-line mode is becoming a more compelling alternative to Microsoft’s expensive and bloated Office products. Mr Gates et al must be getting worried!

  179. says

    Hi Dave – thanks for your kind post on Sphere and for adding our plug-in to your site. It’s always a big rush to bump into a site that has deployed our technology. Thanks again,

    Tony Conrad
    CEO & Founder, Sphere

  180. says

    Um, Google Calendar did not blow anything apart. 30 Boxes is doing very well now with 300,000 registered users and grabbing many facebook fanatics.

    30B has also been consistently ranked ahead of Google Calendar.

  181. says

    Thanks for dropping by to promote your product. GCal stands up very well in the reviews and comparisons I’ve seen, like this one for example. And there was evidence of competitors being blown away – Kiko sold itself on ebay following the success of Google’s Calendar.

  182. says

    Hi Dave,

    not a bad round-up :) DavidW and I are working on a very real project at this very moment where we are stringing the google stuff (and other bits like flickr). This should be very interesting indeed and we’ll keep you informed :)

  183. alex says


    Picked up this link from Dissident. Does the wording there mean you have been successful ?
    have you been on the Facebook Open RSA thread at all ? They seem to be debating facebook abilities. Quite relevant.

    Well done


  184. says

    Heh, I think Steve meant colleague in terms of the work we do together online, Alex. As for the other business – the interview is on Wednesday ;-)

    Will check out the Facebook stuff – thanks for pointing it out.

  185. Col says

    Hi Dave,

    just to say congrats on the job! I sent you an e-mail this morning to your change2 and gmail addresses as I wasn’t sure which you were using. Great to see you got the job you were really wanting anyway! Cheers, Col.

  186. says

    Hi Laura! Thanks for subscribing. I will hopefully be getting the site built up a bit more over the next couple of weeks.

    It’s a great guide to Twitter, isn’t it? I’ll be pointing to it when trying to explain what it’s all about to folk!

    I am on Twitter, at, but as you will see I don’t use it that often. I don’t seem to have a problem with updating my Facebook status though – I wonder why that is?

  187. says

    Hi Dave – just popped across to the Google maps bit, all updated since I embedded Google maps last on websites some months back. Looks alot easier nowadays, even gives you the embed code easily now without having to faff too much… Here’s how you do it -
    1 – go to
    2 – next to the little search tab on top left side, there is a tab “My maps” click that tab.
    3 – Click the blue link – create new map, give it a name or whatever…
    4 – On the map image itself you’ll see some icons next to the zoom in/out part on the left hand side. Drag the blue pin icon to where you want it on the map. It also brings up a little text box when you’ve placed it where you want it to be. Fill in the data you want it to appear.
    5 – You can use the other icons to do other bits with too.
    6 – When all done follow the links along the top right hand side above the map image – click on “link to this page”
    7 – Gives you a web link to your map, or embed code. Under the embed code there is a link to customising it further too.

    Or you could always use frappr!
    Be great to hear how you get along with it all!

  188. says

    Yes it is, as far as I am aware. You can do pretty much what you like with it as it is published under the GDL. The potential revenue for Wikipedia if it allowed ads on the site is gigantic (Jason Calacanis is constantly banging on about it) but Jimmy Wales wants to keep the site completely free of adverts.

  189. says

    No kidding that they’re targeting WordPress: it’s a bit cheeky to have a page title ‘WordPress Alternative’?! And for the record, WordPress doesn’t ‘require (you) to write code to use a CMS’.

    I suppose WordPress could ship with a built-in database: SQLite would be the obvious candidate, and a few have (reportedly) managed to make it work. That would make it even easier to set up.. although frankly, I have never once found myself looking at WordPress thinking ‘this is too complicated’.

  190. says

    The only thing I could say to criticise WordPress is that lack of a graphical installer – it would be nice not to have to edit wp-config when setting up a blog. Even Drupal has a nice web form to fill in these days!

  191. says

    Even better – find a hosting provider who offers automated installation via Fantastico. That gives you your lovely form, plus (even better!) single-click upgrades. When they get round to it. :)

  192. says

    Depends what you’re trying to list, Dave. Personally, I’d draw a line between WordPress-as-blog and WordPress-as-CMS. WordPress ‘sells’ itself as a blogging tool; and if you’re going to do a blog, frankly you’d be nuts to use anything else. But it’s an extra step to say ‘our site isn’t a blog per se, but we’re going to do it in WordPress anyway.’

    Oh – and between you and me – next week (hopefully), you’ll have a new one to add to your list. :)

  193. says

    I guess I am after any examples of WordPress being used by large organisations, as opposed to individuals and small operations. In other words, evidence that the big boys are getting interested in WP as a platform, rather than spending shedloads on bespoke or propriatary solutions.

    Look forward to your news next week!

  194. David says

    I’m sure you do have a sense of place. So I suspect the issue is about something else. But what? I’d be interested in hearing you elaborate on it a bit more.

    My own impressions were more nebulous – after Nick and Jon each repeated comments to the effect that there was no agenda, no particular purpose. Of course, Nick backtracked on that when he suggested that bloggers could bring down the (nonexistent) elected mayor of Birmingham. But that just means he’s operating in the realm of fantasy about Birmingham. You could too; it’s up to you.

    It was nice hearing your ideas last night, and thanks for putting together the search engine!

  195. says


    I must have sounded much more sombre than I intended! I was just rather jealous that these guys are so proud of where they come from. I don’t think I realised that the Birmingham in Birmingham Bloggers was more importan than the blogging!

  196. David says

    I think you might have a point there. :) It conjures up an idea about people anxiously trying to look nonchalant! But there is the fact of people who’ve made long-term efforts to do stuff in their town, and there’s still a question about whether place matters.

  197. says

    I think it does… the example was raised about whether a guy from Birmingham who blogs exclusively about his activities in World of Warcraft is really a Birmingham Blogger or just a blogger who lives in Birmingham. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I think that it is naive to think that what we write isn’t affected by our physical surroundings, at however deep a subconscious level.

    In other words, the way in which that guy writes about WoW is what makes him a Birmingham Blogger, not his subject matter which could be a million miles away from where he (and let’s face it, it is a he ;-) ) is actually blogging from.

  198. says


    Just wanted to add two penneth – I also had issues around the whole blogging in order to promote Birmingham I think it is missing the point. I liked your point above about the local context – for example my blog is about developing entrepreneruship in the creative industries – this is related to my research. But frequently it will have a local (usually WM sometimes Bham) context, story or perspective. I go to more events and conferences locally and I blog about them. However my blog (as I said that night) is not about marketing aything. I am not a travel writer. But like Stef et al., I would like the place I live to be great and for other people to recognise that. So if inadvertantly my blog helps that well then that is ok. However the minute it becomes contrived or superficially upbeat about Bham well then it wont work (IMHO). I think us being able to be critical is just as useful and that there is interesting activity, research and ideas coming out of here adds to the overall sense of Bham as a place.

    Waffle over


  199. says

    Charlotte – thanks for dropping by. One good thing that came out of the meet was the number of new RSS feeds I have subscribed to – and two of them were yours!

    The feelings seem to be fairly similar across many of the comments people have made on their blogs about the meet. Maybe it was just because it was the first one and that</b? Guardian article was fresh in people’s minds that the subject dominated so.

    I’d like to spend the next meeting just getting to know people better.

  200. David says

    Three points:
    1. The online conversation seems to be developing legs, somewhat after the fact. That’s nice.

    2. I have also subscribed to more blogs as a result of the meeting and subsequent reports. It also means I have a question for you on another post.

    3. Blogging and place: Dave Hickey said ca. 1995, in paraphrase: ‘if you are working in your (architecture) studio and listening to Jane’s Addiction on your walkman, and the design you are creating shows no evidence of what you were listening to, you are contributing to the division of labour’. Transfer that idea to blogging and place. If you are a writer living in a place and your work shows no evidence of that, then….

    The point about divisions of labour has to do with artifice, where the constraints we impose upon ourselves skew our sense of self and our ways of being in the world. The architect and the writer make choices about what to include and exclude, and the end product is a statement about those inclusions and exclusions. They reflect on the author, and on the community of users/readers.

  201. David says

    This isn’t about Google CSE per se, but about search engines generally. I have long wondered why search engines cannot search below the root directory of a website. Let’s say I want to search a subdirectory on a .gov site. If the material I want is in a /meetings/minutes/ subdirectory, why can’t I get the search engine to look specifically in that folder? Any thoughts on that?

  202. says

    Love Foxmarks for synching bookmarks (if you use more than one machine – I’ve used it to set up user accounts at relatives houses and it works a treat).

    Download helper is pretty good for sucking down any video or audio content embedded on a webpage.

    One other, name escapes me, (on my machine at work but not at home) for taking screengrabs.

  203. says

    Dear Dave,
    Without wanting to do too much self advertising on this subject, but we are working on a solution to this subject in the form of twidox ( The aim of Twidox is to create an online library of ‘quality’ documents which have been created and uploaded by our users; such as academics, researchers and non governmental agencies. Documents on the website will be accessible to all and will allow people to share their knowledge and help others in their work and research. This means documents will be quotable and students will be able to see the reading list from other people, allowing them to do even deeper research.
    All the best,

  204. says

    Hi Dave, thanks for the link (and for reading!).

    It’s been a very interesting project to be involved in – a bit poacher turned gamekeeper for me – and a real learning curve around some of the barriers that councillors face in terms of getting up to speed in these 2.0 times.

  205. says

    Andrew – it’s no problem at all. This is exactly the sort of project that should be shouted about from the rooftops, if only to get others in local gov excited about it!

  206. says

    Hi Dave,

    Sorry not to catch up more on the day. Just a quick note on the “big idea”. Don’t worry about looking for it. Chances are it doesn’t exist. It will be lots of small things done better than they were 5 years ago. The main point was we all have a shared agenda of getting the public sector to use the internet better.

    I do agree with though that a common theme for me was that jsut as the conversation got round to solutions as opposed to describing the challenge, someone would come in the room and say lunch/coffee/next session was served.

    However, this BarCamp was more about connecting and solidifying that shared agenda than actually solving problems. At least it was for me and I think BarCamp rule #237 states anybody can take their own meaning out of the event.

  207. says

    Great to meet, and I’ll blog tomorrow … meanwhile video of Jeremy here.
    One idea from a session I was at – Government departments invite consultants and other “outsiders” to come in and share share ideas without pitching. Seems good to me – if we are doing it on blogs anyway, more fun to do it f2f. I would suggest video conferencing, but it probably wouldn’t get through the firewalls!
    Thanks for Pageflakes – as you say, let’s see what we can join up. That could be small but useful idea.

  208. says

    @ Shane – you are right, maybe I am expecting too much too soon ;-)

    @ David – great stuff on getting the video online so fast. Hopefully it will be appearing via the YouTube feed on Pageflakes soon!

  209. emma mulqueeny says

    I appreciate the fact that there seemed to be a lack of ‘defining objectives and outcomes’ on the day – but, to be honest, for all gov webbies this will be a welcome relief and enable a more productive conversation. I quite like this… but I can see the frustration. In reality we are all stumbing blindly forward and one benefit of keeping an open discussion is perhaps finding the answer to your questions. So… perhaps the answers to your questions are the end-game, and what we actually need to work towards… as you say, much more thoughtage to be done

  210. says

    Em, it was a fabulous day and a remarkable achievement to get all these people in the one place – on a Saturday for heaven’s sake! – and to get them talking. I’m hoping that from this acorn grows a mighty oak of online engagement and collaboration. There are people itching to start work, so let’s keep the conversation going, and keep the momentum up so that they have something to do sooner rather than later!

  211. says

    Hey Dave. It was great to meet you on Saturday.

    I walked away reminded of the one big idea that we’re still grapling with:


    It strikes me we’re working out what to do about where ‘the state’ should be using technology to increase the practice of effective democracy – at the same time that technology, globalisation and new social movements are redefining democracy in a fascinating and dynamic way.

    In a sense the very foundations we’re standing upon are being changed by the actions we’re taking as we build on them…

    Or something like that…

    Ok – it’s a messy massive web of ‘big idea’… but I think they should provide the gravity we should aim to orbit aorund…

  212. says

    I made exactly that point about email being work about a year ago to Euan Semple, and got shot down like some kind of antisocial nutter. Since then, I’ve become even more convinced of it.

    The point about Google Groups, for me, is the fact that it opens up the possibilities: it’s an email server, in post-by-post or in digest format; it’s a web-based forum; it’s whatever you personally want it to be. Can’t really ask much more than that.

  213. says

    Agree entirely on the ‘distributed conversation’ thing – RSS gives us everything we need to make it work, too. I’ve tried to pitch this to a couple of big clients, thus far without success, but I’ve got plans… :)

  214. says

    @Tim – that’s a biggy, but a goody! I think consultation and participation are going to be key themes moving forward…but how?!

    @Simon – What we need is a white label version of pageflakes. The other missing thing is a decent way of monitoring blogs – Technorati and Google Blog Search are ok, but a better way would be for people to submit their blog feeds to be added to the index. Don’t think it can be done in Pageflakes, or any of the others though…

  215. says

    And, as I realised this morning after re-reading this post, the ‘Pages’ offer some kind of rudimentary wiki facility too.

    I am waiting for Google to do something interesting with JotSpot’s wiki services. It’s a missing link in Google Apps as well as Groups.

  216. Stuart Reid says

    Hi Dave – when I view the screencast embedded on this page, and also the original on the channel, I can only see a static image. Is there something wrong at my end, or at the end?

    Stuart Reid

  217. says

    Stuart, no need to adjust your set, that’s just my long and rambling introduction. As an opening to an online video, I appreciate that it’s as dull as ditchwater. But, hey! it’s my first go ;-)

  218. Stuart Reid says

    Hi Dave – clearly not that dull, as I did manage to listen to several minutes’ worth! :-)

    What was odd was that the picture doesn’t seem to change at all at any point, when you are clearly describing what you are doing on the page (and I fast-forwarded on the page and still no change). So it isn’t acting as a screencast – it’s just a static image with audio attached. Sorry if that wasn’t clear in my original comment.


  219. says

    Bloody hell, you’re right. I hadn’t noticed that – there’s a huge delay on the sound.

    Will upload it again and see if that sorts the problem out. Thanks for spotting it.


  220. says

    Thanks for the tips, guys. It’s going to take me a while to get used to things, but there seems to be plenty of help out there.

    But good call on memory. Reckon I will go the whole hog and get an upgrade to 4gb next payday!

  221. says

    Offline blog editor – I find ecto the best, but use 2.4.2 not 3 in beta. Marsedit good if you are happy to see/add some html. Qmana development for Mac seems stalled.

  222. says

    I don’t know why I like using the desktop editor so much. Strange really, in the world of always on internet! Am giving Flock a go, because it might answer my feed reading and bog posting issues in one go!

    Will have a look at Snapz if Skitch (where do they get these names?! Ah yes) doesn’t do the business.

  223. says

    Another alternative to iGoogle is Odysen. A couple of the key differences (Advantages!), is allowing you to integrate as many news feeds as you want into one news widget and the ability to re-size the widget to whatever size you want. Re-sizing is especially helpful with large news widgets, maps, nine day weather forecasts, photos, videos, etc. You can check it out at

  224. says

    Thanks for stopping by…I think! At least you aren’t pretending to be someone else!

    Must admit to never having heard of Odysen – have any other Davepressers?

  225. says

    If you’re looking for a powerful FTP editor, you should also try Yummy FTP. I much prefer it to Transmit, and it’s way better than Fetch.

    If you prefer interface over functionality, though, or need Amazon S3 support, then Transmit is probably your best bet.

  226. says

    Don’t forget Scribefire for offline blog editing – we use it for xPRESS Digest on Mac and PC and it’s great and has improved over the last couple versions. I like the ability to repost an entry to all manner of different blog providers really quickly.

    (I know you’ve got it on your list of Firefox add-ons but just in case you had forgotten it in your newly found Mac-ness!)

  227. says

    I’m really enjoying Flock. I had tried earlier versions, but it grabbed too much memory. Now no problem on my super new iMac:-) Good on PCs too I gather. As always depends what you are trying to do, but favourites come up in the side bar, or Facebook friends, or feeds, or media. Clipboard doesn’t seem to grab links as it should.

  228. says

    Hey, what’s this, a conversation going on in my comments that I am not a part of?!

    Thanks for all the suggestions chaps, will look into them in more detail!

  229. says

    Er, Wales Office strictly, Dave… they changed their name after devolution, when most of the Welsh Office work went to the Assembly in Cardiff. Apart from that… thanks for the kind words. But you’re not stealing any work from me, mate. :)

  230. says

    Post updated to maintain accuracy!

    Yeah, it was a desperate pitch but one worth making – who knows who else will be wanting to jump on the WP bandwagon now?

  231. says

    No problem, additionally I’ve just added your feed to our directory, for what it’s worth.

    Yeah, we’re a bit out-sized in press coverage by all the other well-funded solutions out there but believe this is still at the very early stages of what personalized web pages will be able to do.

    Hope you can give Odysen a try, the free-formatting can be a big help in managing lots of web content on a page. ie my personal home page has about 20 widgets, including many news (one big integrated news widget with about 15 feeds), notes, todo list, weather from multiple locations, stocks, file storage, a website bookmarker widget, and probably the most used is the slideshow widget. The slideshow widget I’ve used for 1) web 2.0 related pages 2) other technology HW related pages and 3) a couple hundred music/chord pages for guitar.

    Matt at Odysen

  232. says

    I’ll give you a real example where leaving your real name could be a problem. Barclays recently introduced a new PIN Card Reader for people to access their accounts online. For me it did not function and I was hacked off waiting 45 mins to get through to their call centre. I found a site that was discussing the issue and left a comment under my own name.

    I also had mentioned to my bank manager that I didn’t like the new system and that I wasn’t alone judging by what was being said online.

    The next day he called me back to let me know he thought my comments were unfair.

    Now I’m sure my lovely bank manager won’t hold it against me, but I’ll never really know until I need to ask a favour. Maybe I should have made my comment anonymously…

  233. Kevin Wright (anonymously) says

    All the points you make are good, but my concern is really the sense of security people get when they think they are anonymous.

    The media, in particular the tabloids, are littered weekly (if not daily) with information that comes from people who think they are talking anonymously.

    Anonymity only works if it is guaranteed – and no sensible ISP can expect to be able to keep user details private if they put up illegal, or even potentially illegal, content. I know that sounds very dramatic, but comments can so easily be libellous or slanderous.

    Additionally, conflicts of interest could expose anonymity. If you post something on, say, a website run by one government department, who says favours can’t be called in from another?

    Anyone who truly needs or wants to contribute anonymously will set up false accounts linking to false emails and false websites. This requires a lot of hard work on their part (the level depending on how paranoid they are and how much trouble they plan to cause). But this level of work is needed if you want to be anonymous – a simple ANONYMOUS tick box can just create a false sense of security.

  234. says

    I think your points are well made. I’ve so far resisted supporting a facility for anonymous contributions on the IDeA CoP platform for local government communities. I attended a facilitator’s workshop just before Christmas where this requirement came up (and the ability to post comments to other users’ blog entries anonymously).

    I can understand that some people may wish to submit a non-attributable item or comment, but I do worry that this facility could be abused if it’s made an officially supported feature of the platform – e.g. a ‘gripe channel’.

    I’ve suggested a compromise to those users who are presently lobbying for anonymous postings – give details of the post to the community facilitator and he/she will publish the item on the user’s behalf (e.g. with a preamble along the lines of “This issue has been raised by a member of the community. Please let me have your comments”. I know this still doesn’t guarantee total anonymity since apart from anything else, the facilitator knows who the person is, but I would argue that if something is so sensitive that you can’t share it with a trusted member of your own community, then you probably shouldn’t be publishing it all.

  235. says

    I still don’t get the big problem with anonymity.

    Yes, an anonymous comment carries less weight than one attached to a well-known and respected person. So what?

    Yes, anonymous comments are more likely to be abusive, but the blog owner can allow registered users to post and pre-moderate anonymous ones, but I don’t see the need for the site owner to post on their behalf as Steve suggests. Sorted already.

    Yes, the poster may have a false sense of security but if someone simply prefers some anonymity as opposed to be afraid of being tracked down throug court action then it isn’t an unreasonable step to take by using a false name.

  236. alex says


    Others sound by their comments to have enjoyed the FIR piece ; I would like to see it, but cannot. Is it on YouTube as well ?


  237. says

    The issue for me is that of trust. The whole point of social web based initiatives are too try and increase the levels of trust between the organisation engaging in the medium and those interacting with it. If the organisation is being open and transparent, and providing a platform for people to air their views, how can there really be trust if one side refuses to reveal their identity?

    As I and Steve pointed out, mechanisms can be put in place to get around the identity issue if it really is a problem, and the message is one thought worth passing on, but this really should be an exception.

    Of course, one of the risks of any organisation engaging with these tools is that negative comments will come out. The management of that risk is to ensure that criticism is handled positively.

    Perhaps it’s as much about perspective as anything. Anonymous blog comments are one thing, making comments within a professional online network might be quite another.

  238. says

    Thanks for all the kind comments.

    Alex, it’s an audio only podcast, so no visuals and hence not on YouTube. You can download the MP3 to listen to at your leisure from the link I provided in my post, or visit the FIR homepage to play it online.

  239. says

    I can see that anonymous postings might be relevant to open forums, but my earlier response – and the subsequent post by Dave – refers specifically to virtual ‘communities’ where the development of trust is a key ingredient for a successful community. In my opinion, anonymous postings reveal lack of trust, and providing this as a supported ‘feature’ for the community is sending out very mixed signals to the community. A bit like holding an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at your local pub!

  240. says

    I’m no expert but isn’t the AA a good example where anonymity is assured so that people feel more free to talk? Although many members may use their real name in person they are guaranteed anonymity outside the “fellowship”. The problem of an online community is that your comments last longer than the echo in the church hall or whereever the AA is meeting.

    Shane – I edited your comment just to make your link inline – it was throwing out my beloved page layout! DB

  241. says

    Heh. That’s what Mrs DavePress says. Only, whenever I give my phone number, I always say oh instead of zero, or nought.

    Maybe I’v just got some sort of really specific dyslexia…

  242. says

    Just replied to your Seesmic post on this. It sounds as though you could be in Google’s alleged “sandbox” (google for it) – may be something temporary. I dropped off of Googles radar for a while myself, but popped back after 3 or 4 weeks. Actually now I find that my posts generally don’t show up in Google, but my name does. It’s a bit frustrating, I feel your pain! :-)

  243. says

    NeoOffice is marvellous, and doesn’t currently have a great Mac version so the NeoOffice repackaging is probably the best option there (if you are looking for free). Alternatively Apple’s Pages in iWork is lovely. For raw text editors, I played with Smultron and then TextWrangler before Al Wood put me onto TextMate, which is just fantastic… but you really need to buy the book to get the most from it, it’s just so powerful.

  244. says

    Thanks Andy, caught your Seesmic reply too. I wonder about this especially in terms of Google punishing me for “dodgy” links, because I have noticed that a number of my posts are being replublished on splogs without my consent. It hasn’t really bothered me before, because they always link back to here so people know where the original content is, but maybe Google thinks I am producing spam blogs to boost my visibility?

    It’s possible.

  245. says

    Yep, I definitely want to give NeoOffice a go, the only thing that is stopping me at the moment is some stuff I read about it not agreeing with Leopard, which is the version of OSX on my MacBook.

  246. says

    Oh, now that’s interesting. I twittered earlier about the fact that my stuff is increasingly being linked on splogs too, so I wonder if that is why my posts don’t seem to show up on Google so much any more. Hrm! Good thinking.

  247. says

    Really, you shouldn’t worry about PageRank, Technorati rankings or any other metric that can be gamed.

    Instead, you should measure success by the quality of your comments, your email convos and how your blogging has had an impact on your professional standing and development.

  248. says

    Well I’ve been experimenting with this some more and I’m unable to get any of my individual posts to appear as Google hits. I can get my front page to show up, and that’s all. Intriguing. So I may be in an almost identical position to you. Grr.

  249. says

    Hi Dave — all this is on the to-do list. Except for attention reports, which already exist. See Window > Most Attention and Window > Least Attention. (Also, you can sort the subscriptions by attention: see View > Sort Subscriptions By > Attention.)

  250. says

    In my experience, there’s another one – closely linked to number 3:

    “But my job title is…” All this social media, wikified, open sourceification deconstructs job descriptions and career paths. People who’s self image and pension are linked to ‘PR’ or ‘marketing’ are scared that suddenly comms is everyone’s job. People who know themselves and their position as ‘IT’ are scared that computers are becoming means not ends. And anyone who makes a living with ‘comms’ on their job description are scared that they may just have to get out of the way and enable other to do it… better than them.

  251. says

    That’s interesting, Paul. I have often said in the past that one of the lessons I think organisations have to learn in a world of social media is that communications is no longer the preserve of the press office (say), and web work no longer belongs exclusively to the IT department.

    We are all communicators, and we are all web editors.

  252. says

    To an extent these reasons for avoiding social media just help remind me why I think social media can be such a good thing:

    Reason (1) is anti-innovation and experimentation. I’m pro-innovation and experimentation. (There is something in the critique that head-first experimentation and exploration of new ideas ‘in the open’ can lead to creating confusion amongst customers and can harm a unified customer experience… but that’s a reason for not rolling out an innovation to the core business without thinking it through – not an argument against experimentation and innovation per-se).

    Reason (2) and (3) are a big problem if organisations don’t have the ability to a) respond creatively, b) appologise if things go wrong, c) listen to their stakeholders and d) talk in a human voice. I think the ability to do a, b, c and d are important onces that I want to see developed in our public services at the very least.

    Reason (4) seems mostly an issue for traded companies. Where a big publically traded company or Multi-national has done something wrong, I’m not all that averse to there being a law suit.

    Reason (5) is the viable for me. How should we keep up? Well – perhaps we need to be driven by a pro-innovation, pro-human voice culture change, and then find the technology that supports us – recognising that the technology is pulling things in that direction anyway…

    That said – I think there are some other good reasons for caution around social media engagement worth exploring…

  253. says

    Dave – you’ve done a nice job getting a number of the major objections that businesses have to social media/community. Building on top of Tim’s refutations, one of the things we tell our clients is that customers already say bad things about them (good things as well.) If they are participating in those conversations, how will they ever correct the bad things that people are saying about them?

  254. says

    Looking forward to the mitigations! I hear these arguments nearly every day from all sorts of people in different organisations. They’re tricky to resolve despite our best intentions.

  255. Kevin Wright says

    Shel makes a lot of points, all of which I’ve heard before and all of which I’ll hear again. Thing is, Shel is talking about corporate sector communications. In public sector work, there is less choice, as they are

    A – Accountable to the public
    B – Trying to reach people that don’t engage

    As a result, if they don’t use Web 2.0 technologies, others will. Facebook groups sping up daily pro/anti various national and local government agenda’s and some websites now exist entirely to “watch” (which is normally speak for destroy) message credibility. These groups and sites reach a new type of person, a person who isn’t traditional “Hard to reach” but is disengaged from the newsletters and press release culture the public sector rely on for community engagement. The result can be a destruction of message, within these small but significant and growing groups.
    If PR professionals want to talk about loss of control when engaging in Web 2.0, they would be better looking at the loss of control if they don’t.

    Paul’s point is interesting too – and one that is very prominent in the public sector. Maybe communications professionals in this sector (and possibly other sectors) need to look a lot more at how viral campaigns etc can go some way to controlling Web 2.0 communications – rather than shying away from the problem.

  256. says

    beat me to to it – I’ve been using coComment for about a year. I originally had their sidebar widget for aggregating your content onto your own blog.

    I’m now thinking that doing something more tightly integrated with the API would be better.

  257. says

    I use a manual system that’s simple but efficient. After leaving a comment I click a toolbar bookmarklet to delicious the page and tag it “comment”. So that gives me a tag stream I can browse back through later if I feel like it.

    This wordpress plugin for subscribing by email is cool too.

  258. says

    I think every active blogger-who-comments feels this pain (I’m feeling it right now, so I might give coComment a spin!).

    My attitude is that it’s just a natural consequence of the call-and-response format of blogs. If you want to support real discussion then I’d suggest a forum is the way to go. After all, what is a blog but a forum where only one person can start threads and has a profile?

    Of course, this doesn’t solve the problem of potentially having all your output fragmented all over the place under different identities. Maybe there’s some kind OpenID or Google Social Graph API solution that could glue it all together?

  259. says

    Si – thanks for your comment. In terms of my online identity I see my blog as being just that – all the other profiles and stuff are really on the periphery. I love the idea of being able to aggregate everything I do on the web on DavePress.

  260. dp says

    Simon, I agree about the glue… and was hoping that OpenID rollout would make it easier to aggregate my own travels around the web. It hasn’t, so far. Would be nice if – instead of requiring an email address – a unique URI got pinged every time I used it in someone’s comment form.

  261. says

    Spot on James – there’s nothing like the thrill of finding out that somewhere out there someone is taking so much notice that they actually want to leave a comment…

    So, er, thanks!

  262. says

    Second James. Blogs can be pretty lonely places without dialogue. I’m all for comments on my blog rather than pieces written elsewhere. But I like your idea of somehow aggregating your comments elsewhere on your blog. Could be done manually of course but it can’t be that hard to create?

  263. says

    Guess you want some kind of equivalent to Delicious links entries with the content pulled from Technoratis. Something like ‘other appearances by moi elsewhere on the great unwashed interweb’

  264. Kevin Wright says

    I use Firefox at work and home now and love it.

    Sadly, this wasn’t the case when I worked directly in local government. I was told I could not use Firefox on my work system, and was often frustrated by the limitations of IE.

    I’ve never understood LG resistance to OpenSource “products”. Surly a public sector organisation would want to encourage free and collaborative software?

    As an IT tutor doing first steps ICT, I found it frustrating that many ICT qualifications required the use of MS Applications and that we could not install OpenOffice on student computers.

  265. says

    I don’t this issue is ever going to disappear whilst we rely on people, or their overworked IT staff, installing software on their local machines.

    Perhaps what the world needs is an incredibly clever bit of flash programming that would work on old browsers but perfectly render a website to the latest standards.

    You’d have to make sure that all the typical user interface methods – selecting text, printing, hot keys etc, all worked in the exact same method, but I believe this is achievable.

    Effectively Flash would be being used as an ‘online browser’ in the same way that Google Docs is an ‘online word processor’.

    Forget for a moment that generally old-school geeks think of Flash as a painfully slow, non-friendly experience and imagine that some geniuses did a bang-up job of it… it could work.

  266. joaquin says

    We are glad you have discovered cocomment and decided to join us, welcome! By using cocomment your blog gets exposed to our 860,000 users, thus increasing your chances of receiving more visits and the interaction wit uses on each post.
    If you have any questions please contact me, I will be happy to walk you through.

  267. says

    There’s stuff about this on Palimpsest. I am almost the complete opposite to you: ISJP I think, Introverted Sensing Judging Perceiving. Which basically makes me the Little Hitler of any office, rule-bound, hates to delegate but dedicated. Thanks.

  268. says

    Nice find Dave. Clever idea for a company to start ‘owning’ the commentosphere and all the small side thoughts as well as more considered rants (trackbacks) that are around…

  269. says

    Hi Dave – I guess that often I am a bi-polar blogger too. I know I should pace out posts which is easy to set up and do, but my own time management practice is that I often forget to do so! I’d set my own challenge up to definatly post on a Friday, although since being so busy on so many projects, that has slipped! It’s a good feeling when you do finally blog after a spell of being away though – keeps up motivation. And, there’s nothing like receiving comments too which often helps to keep momentum going!

    Have fun!

  270. emma mulqueeny says

    I think that where you are going with this is identifying a glaringly obvious need to develop a comms strategy for online communities. If people know HOW to communicate, WHERE to communicate and WHAT the rules are, they feel more comfortable with beginning, or joining in, a conversation.
    We are at risk of over-communicating (something I always do as my ‘stream of consciousness’ does not have an off button – nor an intelligence button). Online communities need direction, and a way to develop conversation from white noise to fully researched and consulted projects. Frankly, I am at a loss about where to start, but would be happy to pitch in if you were keen.

  271. says

    I agree – good facilitation is absolutely critical to a successful online community. People need to understand what the rules are and see that these are enforced when others step out of line. This makes them feel that the community is safe – they know, understand and can see the barriers in action. They also need encouragement that their contributions are important, being read by somebody. This makes them feel that their own presence in the community is important.

    Facilitation isn’t easy but it’s critical to success. As Emma puts it – it helps develop conversation from white noise to fully researched and consulted projects.

  272. joaquin says

    Great post for those getting started. Thanks for mentioning cocomment. Like you said, we help you track comments, also integrating with us you offer the service to all your readers, and expand you reader base by sharing your blog with our 860,000 user base.
    You can contact me with any questions or issues regarding integration, is very easy to do.


  273. says

    @emma – yeah, strategy is vital when planning communities, and indeed social media endeavours of any kind. If you just build it, they won’t come, resources need to be set aside to ensure people are engaged – it ain’t easy.

    @Matt – that’s an important part of the facilitator’s role, policing the community. But equally vital is the active promotion of more positive contributions.

  274. says

    Good stuff… thanks for that. The irony is that blogs that produce a great deal of linkage are often the fastest to grow – even if the linkage often means that they’re not necessarily producing original content. Do you think that blogs that don’t produce a lot of opportunity for links are always going to limp along? Er… like my latest one?

  275. says

    I love the analog notebook stuff. Wouldn’t be without me lil’ black book. But you can use Twitter as well. Just 140 that thought or link or idea and maybe pick it up later.

  276. says

    Great list Dave, really helpful and thoughtful. The point on notetaking is probably the most important in my opinion as its the idea generation that many people find so hard. One other idea – if you’re not so good at writing, consider regular but short video snaps hosted on YouTube and then integrated into the blog.

  277. Jon says

    I worked for a Local Authority for two years on a project designed to show their data on a map.

    On many occasions I found ways to do it for a lot less money, for instance using cheap servers on the Internet instead of in house machines (£50000 for a unix server !) and using MySQL instead of Oracle. The locals at the LA looked baffled at the idea of even bothering to try to do it for less money. The usual answer was “somebody else will spend it if we don’t”.

    Within the Authority several teams fought with each other and battled to control the maps and data. If the ‘business’ had had an owner he would have banged heads together to stop wasting his money, but the whole disfunctional mess was very very stable and is still in place today.

    If the public only knew.

  278. says

    Thanks for all the positive feedback guys.

    @William – it’s a tricky one really. I’d like to think that good content naturally attracts attention and readers. Perhaps if the stuff one writes doesn’t lend itself to having outbound links, one has to pimp your blog around in other ways: comments on other blogs, maybe emailing other bloggers who might be interested, using social networks like Digg and Reddit.

    @Paul – Twitter’s a good suggestion for an online notebook – and one you can update by SMS too… Maybe worth having a second, private account for this and have the RSS piped into your feed reader to remind you…

    @Andy – I’ve never read a book on blogging. Will look those up – I wonder if Kettering library will have them?!

    @Jeremy I keep meaning to do some YouTubing on here – my original post on comments etc was going to be a rambling video. Will look at my list of post ideas and see if any will suit!

    Actually I was thinking about expanding this post a bit and maybe make it available as a PDF or something for folk to download. Would that be useful?

  279. says

    And of course these days you could use Google Maps and it’d be even easier and cheaper.

    Cost is an interesting issue, of course, because whilst open source alternatives are cheaper and quicker to deploy than the bespoke solutions that government seem to be so keen on, you do need to find someone to support it for you, whether in house or bought-in. I think this is one of the real barriers to a wider take-up of more innovative IT solutions.

    The other is for all of government, whether central or local government, health, police, fire etc etc to start working together, sharing what works and what doesn’t.

  280. says

    Hits the nail squarely on the head, doesn’t it?

    Actually, I have known about this for a little while, and am sure there is a much filthier version of it out there.

    However, this one is nicely designed, to the point, and you can probably – just – get away with it in corporate presentations, etc!

  281. says

    What a horror story!

    But you do raise a very serious issue, reliability of hosted services. Its a question I always try to ignore even when asked it directly. But when something like this happens, it brings home how precarious all of this can be.

  282. says

    I like your distinction, and have used it on several occasions to explain the landscape to others. Actually, my response is worth a post of its own, so I’ll think about this one in a bit more detail and post later on it.
    Now, stop blogging and go and pack!

  283. dp says

    This is a timely post given that I’ve just written about ditching Thunderbird. Standalone applications will have my support for some time yet, given the slow speed and rudimentary controls of the AJAX and browser-based software I’ve used. Gmail is a typical example. But that also means I won’t be rushing over to try MM.

    The notion of email as key rings true for me. It’s got faults, but it also does more stuff succesfully than any other mode of communication. When someone develops an open but secure folder that lets me drop any media into it and share it with people of my choice I will stop using email.

  284. says

    Stories mate! Just good ol’ fashioned narratives. I know it’s a thing of mine but the power of telling a story that builds up the bigger business story is immense. I think that’s what the Microsoft/Naked Conversations thing is. What’s happening is people who are passionate about stuff are telling stories about that stuff – “I’m trying to make Windows Media do this so we can do that”, “I met this guy who…” That’s building up the bigger business story.

    In the much more important real world, I’m always telling charities and public orgs that they are full of stories (not case studies, real stories) of people they’ve met, families they’ve helped, successes, failures. Just telling those stories makes connections and conversations adn therefore ‘content relationships’.

  285. says

    Hi Dave -
    Nice summary. More on how I use asides…

    To help my blogging, last August I did the Better Blog in 31 Days project with others and used my blog to document my progress (which is still continuing as a community for others wanting to build on their blog at Better Blog on Ning.
    It really helped me to find ways to make my blog more readable and usable for the reader. During the project, and looking into my own info management and architecture of the blog, I decided that I would use the ‘asides’ idea.

    I’m a big fab of my ‘asides’ (categorise them as ‘side notes’ and have them only appear on my front page down the right sidebar, but in archives appear as normal) as they serve as little snippets/links to things that I found interesting, and are good enough in their own right for me not to reblog them or create an article when not needed!

    Originally on my blog, I had twitter feeds and others coming in direct on the page, but felt wasn’t right for my blog and what I was writing about to have my twitter streaming away underneath it all whilst I was finding my blogging voice.
    That may change, my twitter stream may come back or may not!!!
    That’s the nice part of using blog platforms, everything can change, new items can be added or tweaked easily.

  286. says

    That’s a nice list of seven. Here’s two more possibles.

    1) Debates.

    I’m currently trying out the format of debate posts by debating “The end of the organisation” with two other bloggers. So these debate posts are spread about three blogs, with more opinions in the comments.

    2) Open Threads

    I’ve discovered there are some quite different interpretations of what an “Open Thread” is for. Apparently some people don’t normally encourage long comments so these can be an exception. In my case I thought I’d try and encourage new commenters.

  287. says

    @Ed – pleased to be of service!

    @Jeremy – you swine, I have now been working on the widgetfest for days! It’s taking forever, but will hopefully be worth it…

  288. says

    @Paul spot on, completely forgot storytelling, which is probably the most important of the lot. Certainly the most honest.

    @Laura I haven’t gone for the daily tweets round up, as I have the last few in my sidebar and I am really not sure how much value folk would get from seeing half a conversation! Asides are great, especially when presented separately to main content, or within the main river but identifiably different, like on

    @Andy thanks for those two, again, some great additions!

  289. says

    Dave – nice one

    These types kinda relate to others you have mentioned, but have a particularly purposeful feel for me:

    Agenda setting: sniffing an emerging story, trying to substantiate, and interest others. I had a go at that with the piece on BBC local news . However, as any journalist knows, what’s important is not whether it is new, but whether anyone follows up. Sort of forward provocative summary.

    Building a narrative: as Paul rightly emphasises, telling a story, and doing it over time as a recurrent theme, set of events, ideas. I’ve tried to do that with the RSA Networks stories archived here, mixed with other related stuff.

    Build relationships. Difficult this, because it may just turn into strokes for friends and clients. I see it as identifying people you want to continue to share ideas with, admire, maybe work with, so make an effort to do something that links your interests. I guess my piece on the Innovation Exchange falls into this category. and of course pieces about my friends at Ruralnetonline.

    Excuse blog promotion, but I admire transparency of motive, so thought you might like to know mine :-)

    Now, are you going to do the different sorts of comments?

  290. says

    Hey Dave

    I like this. Making the different formats of session explicit in planning should certainly help in getting the balance of a day right.

    Hope to join you for seeing this in action on Tuesday :)


  291. pollyrt says

    Thanks for this. The timing couldn’t be better for me, by happy coincidence.

    As you say – so helpful to have stuff written down.

  292. says

    Pleased it’s useful, folks!

    @Tim Yes, it won’t be the most organised event ever, but this tool certainly helped! Look forward to catching up tomorrow.

  293. says

    Ya gotta love the idea of “mediate social networking”. It’s hardly surprising that the consultancy class feels as threatened by this as everyone else and so feels the need to create the myth that ‘this’ can be controlled, subsumed or ‘mediated’. I agree that this goes so much further than a new trick for focus groups. The problem is that at least ‘social networking as consultation’ can fit into the Gantt charts and tick boxes.

  294. says

    Hi Dave.

    During my day job, I work for the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

    Can you imagine what sort of information a friend feed, or lifestream, or whatever you call it, could serve up about you?

    It’s a stalker’s wet dream.

    I’m just saying.

  295. says

    Thanks Lloyd!

    Of course, what I failed to mention above was that the real value was in the conversations: off topics chats during the sessions and what was discussed at lunch etc. People connected with one another and that was cool.

  296. says

    It’s most definitely all in the lamination.

    Thanks again Dave for the organisation and effort to get this meet to happen :)

    Was good to put more faces to blogs and forum posts again… :)

  297. Hadley Beeman says

    I love your tact in “recruiting” facilitators… :) Thanks for the kind words in the write up though! It was a really constructive day.

  298. says

    Good move Dave. I bought a Wacom tablet a couple of years back, and simply would never be without one again. Haven’t seen the relatively new Bamboo, but my Volito is absolutely rock-solid and totally reliable.

    For those who haven’t yet seen them… the key is that the pen is wireless, and doesn’t even need a battery. Some kind of magnetic magic, I believe. Most cheaper solutions have either a cable, or a battery (or both?).

  299. says

    Simon – cool. Good to hear it’s actually a decent purchase!

    Nick – you’re right and I am looking forward to letting my 6 year-old loose on it and a painting application!

  300. says

    I love my pen too. If you weren’t a Mac geek I’d point you at Dragon Naturally Speaking. Now that does change the way you interact. And no, the Mac equivalent just doesn’t do it.

  301. says

    Yeah, the pen’s great. Makes you wonder why the mouse was ever invented when there was a perfectly good mechanism already existed (kinda).

    I know a bit about DNS – I used to work at the Computing Services at Cambridge Uni, and a colleague used to be the guy that wrote the documentation for it.

    I was talking about it this afternoon, actually, with Mrs DavePress. I was teasing her saying that now I have a mobile broadband dongle for the laptop, I could browse the web while driving with something like DNS. She was horrified.

  302. says

    “We haven’t yet begun to think…. … Some companies are already aware…” Interesting contradiction there. I think the fact is that a number of companies are thinking pretty hard about this! Not to say that there aren’t broader implications, but it’s fairly bizarre to say that people aren’t thinking about it and then say exactly the opposite in the next sentence.

  303. says

    So s the idea to use the slack capacity within the machines connected to the network. Will we all become web “render engines” for each other or am I just showing huge ignorance here?

  304. says

    Depends how you qualify ‘success’, but I’d certainly add longevity to that list. It’s going to take months, maybe even years of consistent effort to get proper recognition for your efforts. And I don’t just mean Google ranking or traffic; I mean serious personal credibility.

  305. says

    Briggsy, this is brilliantly useful – as ever – but I want more :)

    I get the feeling that there is much more to this list, and it could be that there are categories to these helpful links/tips: Search, driving customers, inspiration and management of blog?

    Regardless, thank you from a rank amateur

  306. says

    If it weren’t for my newly installed blanket ban on blogging about blogging, I’d be writing something about blogosphere monitoring right now.

    But then, I think there might be a business in offering that as a service…

    Thanks for the kind words, though.

  307. says

    Hmm, should you not write something about teasing your blog readers, getting boreed and moving onto a new subject without fully exploring the current?!! Go on, don’t stop

  308. says

    Heh. OK, so I will just have a few days off. I promise.

    In the meantime, back in the day I tried compiling a big set of blog advice posts from around the blogosphere, called blogbase. You might something useful there!

  309. says

    I thought for a moment it said sinus hotel – which frankly is no recommendation.

    It’s a sign of success for a platform. I reckon half the stuff I put on twitter qualifies as at the very least pollution because it is so random.

  310. says


    I would think you could get some members of the Social Media CoP involved in this. One issue I can see is getting the attention of organsiations that are slavishly following whatever Microsoft do (e.g. Sharepoint…arghhh!)

  311. Paul says

    Question on step 3, if I use a blogging platform and have my own URL, do I need to pay for a hosting service? Or, does blogger (or wordpress) host it for me?

    The only part of my site will be the blog for now. I will add other content outside of the blog down the road.

  312. says

    Thanks for your nice post. I also get some traffic from Twitter but I think this is also caused by twitters page rank in google. So people come to your blog through Google via your twitter statuses. Twitter statuses are sometimes in minutes indexed by Google. However, I sense that the some part of twitter community denounces automatic blog tweets. I therefore stopped it. What is your experience?

  313. says

    That’s a good point, re: Google results. Am surprised that tweets are appearing that quickly in the index though. The Google CSE based twitter search engine I made recently seems to lag a few days behind at least.

    I don’t know whether the auto tweets annoy people or not. I haven’t had anyone stop following me since I started them, and I find them really useful from others, with the result that I am spending less and less time in my RSS reader!

  314. says

    Twitter might be one source of website referrals, but I can’t agree with the word ‘awesome’. That’s ignoring the effect of publishing a full-content RSS feed.

    I don’t visit the site much, because I don’t need to. The site comes to me. Therefore, I don’t leave a website referral of any kind.

    My guess is that your number of Feedburner subscribers outweighs all your Twitter referrals, and most likely, all your website’s page views. That’s your key audience. Twitter might be the best of the rest, but it’s still only second-best.

    For the record: me no like those ‘New blog post’ tweets. Too cold, too mechanical. The RSS ‘description’ might make it feel a bit more human.

  315. says

    Hi Dave, as you know I hope to be able to join in with some of the etoolkit idea. But juggling and delivering existing freelance work and other consultancy and other projects often leaves very little time to be able to give good input when projects like this appear spontaneously, which is why I cannot commit to too much if anything at present!
    Too busy walking the walk and designing it rather than talking about it and collating notes on it currently. Looks like you have lots of good folk interested and look foward to seeing if and how it evolves into a resource for others.

  316. says

    I agree with SimonD (that’s happening a lot recently!). The automatic posting seems to me to be an approach which is clamouring for attention, rather than adapting what you share with particular audiences.

    I don’t do it at the moment – I stopped automatically adding delicious links to my blog because it seemed asocial to me.

    Fortunately Pete Ashton persuaded me to share my full feed and I’m just starting to appreciate the value of allowing people to use that as they will rather than as I will.

  317. says

    Good point(s) Nick. I stopped the automatic posting thing myself a while back, for precisely that reason. And to be honest, I almost always skip over those posts when I see them on other people’s blogs.

    There’s certainly room for automated tweeting – but it has to be explicitly ‘opt in’. I get a few BBC ‘breaking news’ tweets courtesy of Twitterfeed, but since that’s all that comes through on those particular accounts, I’m perfectly happy to get them.

  318. says

    I’m currently reading Cluetrain and Miscellaneous. So far, good reads both!

    Other books on my “to read” list:

    The Big Switch, Nicholas Carr
    Everyware, Adam Greenfield
    Now Is Gone, Geoff Livingston
    Wealth of Networks, Yochai Benkler
    Code 2.0, Lawrence Lessig

  319. says

    I’m certainly not claiming that Twitter is going to take over from RSS, just that it’s taking some of my attention away from the aggregator.

    This conversation seems to be covering a number of topics, including that around who a blog is written for as well as what measures of success exist for a blog in terms of reach.

    I have an average of around 80 readers a day by RSS. On a good day I get 150 hits to the site, on a bad one about 20. So RSS is a far more reliable source of readers.

    On the postings – it’s obviously a personal thing. I like them – I like seeing my own on my blog the next morning – and enjoy reading others. I see them as harking back to the original point of the weblog, a log of what’s been interesting on the web, with a bit of commentary.

  320. says

    Curiously Dave I wonder if it’s a matter of perspective and personality. You are using your blog as a tool for your own thoughts – in which other people share, so dumping the links there makes sense. I see your blog as something that I use – which means it should be how I want it!

    It’s not about you. It’s about me, me, me.

  321. says

    Any input you can have would be great, Laura!

    The recent stuff you, David, Nick and others did at Circuit Riders is just the sort of stuff we’d like to see in the toolkit: what works well, not so well etc.

  322. says

    I believe that you have the beginnings of a policy in here, Briggsy. There actually need not be any more than the civil service code, but perhaps explicit rules for engaging with social media would help clarify the position. I cannot help but feel sorry for the naivety of the civil serf – I admired her gumption! But not really in a respectful way – this day was always going to happen.

    Perhaps it is not all doom and gloom, this might be the catalyst for future blogging which is thoughtful, inspiring and educational.

  323. says


    Its nice to see someone making sense of all this. Way back when I tweeted the existence of the blog I was wondering how long it would take before ‘she’ was fired (which of course we don’t know yet…)

    I think this highlights unfamiliar territory for government, an ability to interpret the civil service code in a variety of ways and a lack of clear guidance.

    Whilst this might be a reason for pause in what civil service bloggers say and how they say it – I actually think it’s a great opportunity to encourage more people to blog, with clear guidance in place and an understanding of what is permissable and what isn’t.

    If you want to be a civil service whistle blower, a blog isn’t the right place – there are official paths of recourse. Unless you’d prefer a book deal…

  324. says

    If Control Freak inc (aka Microsoft) can get by on a Blogging Policy of ‘Blog Smart’ and they have enemies aplenty and commercial secrets, shareholders etc, surely it’s not beyond the brains of Whiethall to come up with something that can enable passion and ideas to come through while retaining corporate responsibility. Does the Civil Service need more codes, documents, rules et al? HR procedures have dealt with unprofessionalism, misconduct etc for years without needing to appoint a new grade to listen in on pub conversations. I’ve been working with the RAF and they are finding ways through this without problem. Surely Government can;t object to taking a leaf out of Microsoft or the Military’s book.

  325. says

    Some others that might fit the bill

    Purple Cow, Seth Godin
    Meatball Sundae, Seth Godin
    The New Influencers, Paul Gillin
    The Cathedral and the Bazaar, Eric Raymond
    The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda

  326. says

    One of the examples used on Newsnight last night as a possible reason why this blog ran into trouble was the criticism of working practices (meetings that ran on for several hours). It made me wonder whether criticising departmental systems was breaking the code. Does anyone know?

    Surely if there *are* systems in place that are less than effective – therefore increasing department costs, the tax payer deserves to know about them.

  327. says

    @ Jenny – but is it the place of the civil servant to make it public in this way? I think there is an issue of respect here – and the need to always remember who it is that pays their salary!

    I think that if any employee has an issue with the ways things are done, then they must take it up internally. I think discussing such things on a public blog is actually a pretty arrogant thing to do.

  328. says


    What if the issue *had* been taken up internally and nothing was done about it.

    Not saying that happened in this case and of course this is hypothetical anyway.

    Perhaps it raises the question ‘when is it (if ever) acceptable to break the code?’

  329. Joe C says

    The Tories have a fair point – Labour are way behind on this stuff, and they’re clearly resorting to plagiarism to catch up.

  330. Dr John Cameron says

    I was at university with Gordon Brown and knew quite a number of the present (and some of the now dead) New Labour politicians. I loved the Civil Serf’s comments. I absolutely recognize the Brown she describes. It will have driven him totally bonkers. He was nothing like as brilliant an academic as he encourages his minions to infer. There were lots of bright people at Edinburgh University and if he was so fabulous why could he only find a teaching post in Caly Poly by far the worst new university in Scotland. Willie Haig does not need staffers to make claims about his intellectual ability. He only has top open his mouth to make it quite obvious he is razor sharp. Brown is a strange, damaged individual who seriously believes he has a cosmic significance. Maybe that is what is needed to become Prime Minister and make millions of people unhappy but it unsettling to know such a weird guy is in charge.

  331. says

    At ruralnet|uk, we run xPRESS Digest – http:/ – a daily digest of 10-15 items of ‘regeneration news’ (as you’ll see from the content a fairly broad term), culled from around 100 sources (including most of the above). It is done by a real person every day with items being tagged appropriately and always linking to the original article (usually a press release). An email digest is constructed which goes out to our subscribers. xPRESS can be re-used in other places (eg a ‘rural’ or ‘Public Sector’ feed pulled from it or a feed from a search eg ‘Post Office’. We also get a few comments so it has the potential to be a conversation starter. It’s also a great searchable archive of news with over 8000 items from the past 3ish years. It’s a little bit of ‘digital curating’ we do, but it could be a lot more (and we do still only emphasise regeneration news)… Not sure where it fits in, but I think things like Digg are great but need a huge number of users to be viable. Because it is done by a real person it xPRESS costs money and so we are looking at ways of making it pay (sponsorship etc) any other models – user generated for example would be interesting, but I think its strength/added value comes from the filtering/curating role we do – all this stuff is out there already (although there are a staggering number of Govt departments and others that DO NOT HAVE RSS FEEDS FOR THEIR PRESS RELEASES AND SOMETIMES DO NOT EVEN PUT THE DATE ON THEM) but we work out what’s relevant so the subscribers/readers don’t have to and can either browse the headlines in an email (Web1.0) or grab an RSS feed (Web2.0)

  332. says

    Just to add two things to the previous comment.

    Here’s an example of a 3rd party taking a feed from xPRESS (they just take those we tag ‘funding’) and displaying it on their website:

    It’s amazing to us how many people comment on news we post (because they can’t do it in the place the original news item is published??). See ‘Recent comments’ in the right column here:

  333. says

    Interesting stuff, guys, thanks. I think any solution I put together will need automating, but it’s interesting to see a hand-crafted system!

  334. says

    One question strikes me:

    Who wants //all// government news in one place?

    Perhaps the trick is to provide guidance on how people can create localised/topical news portals – that pull together the relevant news feeds, web clipping and discussions into one place for that topic or locality.

    Before I realised xPress digest could provide all manor of RSS feeds I was running in through Yahoo Pipes to get just the youth related stories – and that sort of piped-news to automatically pick out the relevant news on a particular topic from general feeds could be a route to go…

  335. says

    Whilst the idea is to have all gov news in one place, the ability to drill down into it to specify areas of interest would definitely be a feature, Tim!

  336. says


    I think more that the idea I was throwing in was that a large proportion of the audience for government news wouldn’t identify themselves as being on the look out for government news – and would certainly not identify themselves as part of the audience for a site/tool giving them access to all government news – even if they could drill down to the bit they were interested in.

    They might, however, identify that they wanted ‘Health News’ of ‘Updates on Youth Policy from Government’.

    You could still have a central all gov-news-in-one-place tool with many different faces to meet this need – but I was thinking of how that could be more ‘demand driven’…

    (only half formed thoughts at this stage…)

  337. says

    Hi Dave – I publish a website for the Victorian Government in Australia and collect all the egovernment news I can find from around the world – – I am currently in the process of implementing a review facility to enable discussion to talk place – happy to take any feedback.

  338. says

    Thanks for these helpful tips – I’ve been using WordPress for ages and have never thought to see what that toolbar button does! I always just switch to Code view when I need to paste into the editing box. The insert symbol function will be really useful too.

  339. says

    Unless I’m missing something, it will have already been aggregated into an RSS feed to get it into Twitter in the first place. (I’m pretty sure that’s how Twitterfeed works: it’s a single RSS feed to a single Twitter account.) And the last thing Twitter needs is unnecessary server traffic..! :)

  340. says


    Thanks – will incorporate feedburner as you suggest

    @simond – I figured if Twitter survived SXSW it would be able to survive UKGOV announcements! :)

  341. says

    Oh Josh… oh dear :(

    I am interested in the linking rules. You have linked to Joshua March, so does that mean that in linking to his ‘anonymous’ blog you endorse his views? As would be the case under libel law… am going to ponder and blog on this in light of my cowardice with the Miliband blog.


  342. says

    I most certainly do not, as well you know! I merely link for my readers’ entertainment.

    This really is just another example of ‘you can’t be anonymous on the web’ – just a rather silly example, that’s all.

  343. says

    What I find most disturbing about all this is the feeling that people feel the need to be anonymous. Mr Marsh’s views are his own business and as long as they don’t harm anyone… well. But why not stand up and say: “this is who I am and what I think, now come talk to me”. There seems to be a growing feeling, partly driven by fear of bosses, that the only way to be ‘real’ is to be anonymous – possibly done more efficiently than this chap. That’s worrying because that then makes the norm of online voice one of ‘a role’, an ‘act’, a ‘message’ a ‘brand’ which is exactly what we’re trying to get away from.

  344. says

    Dave – I think you are taking too hard a line on anonymous blogs. Surely what matters most is the content? People may opt for anonymity in order to be unpleasant (or worse) or they may simply feel more comfortable with some degree of anonymity, and given Owen Barder’s experience of how any web-material in relation to a civil servant can be distorted, a degree of caution is not surprising. As your example and Civil Serf illustrate, an attempt an anonymity is no guarantee of protection if you do inappropriate things. If you want to see a good anonymous civil servant blog, check out I am sure the anonymity of this blogger is penetratable, but I don’t think that is a reason for seeking to out him!

  345. says

    Hi David,

    Serves me right for creating a blog when tired and feeling pissed off (best to wait til the iron’s cold etc).

    Interesting that you don’t think anonymous posting has any value though – would you care to back this up? In my view it allows an expression of thought not controlled by other roles one might have in life that require you to be professionally neutral. I was actually partly inspired to start up the blog from re-reading about alter-ego blogging in the Cluetrain Manifesto.

    Anyway, I accept the public chastisement, and have now deleted the blog (pretty pointless if not anonymous, for the time being). In the mean time, I would be very grateful if you could delete the actual quote from the blog, although I’m happy for you to include the sentence “I’ve kept this blog anonymous so that I can shout out what I think, and I want you to shout right back at me.”. This is simply because I’d like to keep my political views separate from my professional role.

    Paul – you say that there shouldn’t be any need to be anonymous, yet Dave himself in the blog above says:

    “Let’s hope inetworkmarketing’s business plan isn’t predicated on getting any government or public sector work…”

    With this Dave is claiming that my political views may affect my business career – something that I would have no control of, once my thoughts were public.

    The truth is, we live in a world which is very judgmental, and where people (everywhere) make business decisions about other people based on personal like and dislike. It would be great if this wasn’t true, and everyone could be completely open about everything, but it’s not.

    So, you are essentially telling me that my only choice is to shut up or publicly link my political views to my business which, you accept, could have serious negative consequences.

    Not really the utopian freedom of the web, is it?

  346. says

    @ PaulJ – One of the key attributes of social media is authenticity and with that comes trust. Both are impossible, in my view, when the person publishing the content is nameless. It also encourages people to think they are safe and to say inappropriate things – publishing under your own name makes you think twice automatically and that has to be a good thing.

    Fundamentally, I just don’t know *why* people would want to publish anonymously. What’s the point? If what you have to say isn’t something you’d want attributed to you, why bother saying it? There’s more value in being open and honest, like Jeremy and others, because it allows a conversation to develop.

    I’ve written a few posts on the topic if you need more.

    @ Josh – thanks for being open enough to respond on here. It’s a lesson for everyone to learn that you can’t be careful enough online, especially if you want to preserve anonymity. Hopefully the points I make above explain my stance on thi