Blog Archives

Curatorial urges

Saturday, 2 January 2010

I don’t call them resolutions, because I’m not resolute about them. But this weekend seems like a good chance to look at things with a fresh eye and see how to make my obsessions work for me.

One thing I’m realising is that I have a curatorial urge. A twitter analysing tool, Klout, suggests I am a connector but looking at my online life I think I’m more of a curator.

I’ve 133 RSS feeds going into my google reader account. Some are checked daily, some weekly. Articles I like are saved to my del.icio.us account. I’ve just added the RSS from that account to feed into my twitter account (this blog already feeds twitter). Del.icio.us and twitter can also feed my facebook account, although that’s a bit unreliable because Facebook keeps mutating. I’ve played with tumblr but I think I am a tad old skool and prefer to have just three clear and connected channels (blog, twitter, del.icio.us).

But there’s more to my curatorial habit than just going a bit linktastic. Two RSS feeds in the reader are flickr tag searches: tate and tate modern. If I see a shot I like of the Tate Galleries in those feeds, I click through and invite the poster to add it to the Tate Galleries group. Another feed tells me of any new images posted to the group: I check that one daily as people sometimes ignore the posting rules of the place.

It’s a very magpie habit. I don’t collect obsessively (unusual in Who fandom, where remembering how many episodes a Pertwee story had is considered by some as important). I just grab stuff I like and splatter it around, thinking others might like it as well.

So, my aim this year is to be consistant. Not in terms of content – that will remain as random as ever – but in terms of setting aside some time each week to bring everything up to date. It’s likely to be Saturdays, simply as that’s also the day I read a newspaper, but don’t hold me to it.

another brief test

Thursday, 22 October 2009

If I got this right then not only will you old-skool RSS reader people get this, a link will pop up in my twitter account.

Maybe.

mobile blogging?

Monday, 19 October 2009

hello? is this thing on?

if this works, it’s thanks to a wordpress plugin I installed yesterday but didn’t get time to test.

Fire!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

I’ve been following @samuelpepys since the summer. I did read the online Pepys’s diary for a while back in 2004 but there were one too many entries in which too little happened. Then this summer I read By Permission of Heaven about the Great Fire of London and someone mentioned @samuelpepys on a #followfriday. I discovered it was the same person who built the Pepys diary, and that we were in the summer of 1666. Rumours of the Dutch abounded, and occassional sickness.

And, of course, I knew what was coming in September.

Phil Gyford, the man who coded the site and the twitter feed, has set it up perfectly.

Jane called us up about three in the morning, to tell us of a great fire they saw in the City.
03:12, 2 Sept

The timing of it suggests someone who, having been woken with the news, reaches for their iphone/blackberry/other in order to share things immediately.

To the Lieutenant of the Tower, who tells me that it begun this morning in the King’s baker’s house in Pudding-lane.
08:12, 2 Sept

This is one reason why twitter is interesting and meaningful. It has the ability to create a sense of what an event must be like to live through unmatched by anything written after the event.

At the time of the Fire, there was much suspicion that the fire was started by aliens (in the older sense of the word i.e. foreigners). I can reveal this to be true:

See? Aliens.

Joan Fontaine – still not dead

Monday, 31 August 2009

Recent searches that ended up here:

  • The penguincubator
    It’s still brilliant. I was wishing for such a device just yesterday
     
  • lost in austin
    learn to spell, people. Austen, not Austin.
     
  • “above ground” piccadilly line poster
     
  • albert campion fanfic
    nope.
     
  • dr who eccles cakes
    I have this terrible feeling they meant to find ninth Doctor fanfic involving cake
     
  • fashion blog london girl reading a clockwork orange
    A tad too specific, I suspect.
     
  • is jane eyre metafiction?
    No. HTH.
     
  • is joan fontaine still alive?
    Yes.
     
  • the title of the novel by s. waters in which one of the protagonist is imprisoned in millbank panopticon
    It’s Affinity. I liked it.
     
  • was moquette used in the edwardian period
    I don’t know, but now I really want to find out.

Are friends electric?

Saturday, 15 August 2009

I did an interview the other week. Clearly, my geeky side is too well known as Julio asked me not merely about web 2.0 stuff but also about e-books.

E-books, read via the Kindle or other devices, are gaining some popularity in the States but haven’t really caught on over here. Aside from the lack of the actual hardware, I can see problems with the DRM, price per book, etc etc. But really, what I struggle to see is why a reader would trade the flexibility of a paperback book for the inflexibility and additional running costs of an e-book. So you can carry several hundred books around at the same time? You’ll still be screwed if there’s a power FAIL.

I spend 8+ hours a day looking at a screen, so I want a different experience if I then have a 3 hour train journey. An e-book reader emits light in order to create the words, the printed page absorbs it.

There’s a reason WHSmiths and the penguincubator set themselves up at stations, you know. After a long day at work, you want the soft magnolia page and the near-black print. And that’s as true now as it was in 1848 when Smiths opened their first branch in Euston station.

Ah, you might say, but what about portable music? You don’t cart around your vinyl Beatles LPs, do you? And you’ve been playing with your iPhone all week. I have, it’s true.

But music is a different sensual experience to reading. Music uses one sense only. If you’re like me, you might occassionally look out the train window and get a lovely audio-visual montage but primarily you’re just using your hearing. And the music itself drowns out the external noise. With reading, you’re not just using your eyes to take in the words. You can feel the type of paper beneath your fingers and you have to tune out the ambient noise. You can sometimes still smell the faintest suggestion of ink.

Giles: Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower or a, a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences… long forgotten. Books smell. Musty and, and, and, and rich.
The knowledge gained from a computer, is, uh, it… it has no, no texture, no, no context. It’s, it’s there and then it’s gone. If it’s to last, then, then the getting of knowledge should be, uh, tangible, it should be, um… smelly.

If I think of a book, I often get an all-senses memory. The Also People makes me think of being on a local train into Waterloo, pausing to look out at the passing estates and marvel at what I’d just read. Crime and Punishment makes me think of waiting at a countryside station in Cheshire, after a friend’s wedding, with insects buzzing in the wavering heat and Raskolnikov buzzing with vodka and guilt. Pride and Prejudice evokes the English landing at Exeter College, where I sat in an orange plastic bucket chair with some friends and developed a crush on my very own Mr Wickham. My copy of Jamaica Inn is my mother’s, and has too many associations to recount. Music is the same, of course. I wrote as much the other day. But with music it is the song that evokes the memory, not the physical object. Picking up my iPod doesn’t bring back anything very much at all.

I struggle to see e-books delivering the same overall experience as books, at least unless/until they do something so revolutionary with the form of writing that they deliver something uniquely new.


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