• "It's the music which has surrounded us our whole lives, but which most of us have never quite heard let alone listened to… and nearly all of it made in the UK." Two years old now, but this is a lovely little documentary about library music, with lots of interviews with composers and collectors alike; so nice to contextualise this stuff. (And: a reminder why secretly I always wanted to be a session player).
  • (tags: via:tmo )
  • "You can now browse your friends’ Liked items to find great articles to read." Instapaper now has social functionality, but it looks like just the right level of sociality for the product. I mainly use Instapaper on my Kindle, now, but will be sure to hit "like" on the stuff I'd recommend from the website. Now: to get Instapaper likes into Stellar?
  • "Built upon that sinking feeling of tuning into Radio 4 and hearing people acting at you, Radio 4b plays you a string of random programmes from Radio 4's factual archive. You might get the last thirty seconds of an episode of the Archers, but that's all. You will not hear middle-class actors tapping a teaspoon and talking about divorce."
  • Lovely trailer from BBC America for Law & Order UK. Sadly, it illustrates roughly what the British trying to make American-style procedural drama looks like. Lots of slamming things down. And tea. (Although: they don't know what "knackers" means, clearly.)
    (tags: culture tv bbc )
  • "The iPad is an intensely personal device. In its design intent it is, truly, much more like a "big iPhone" than a "small laptop". The iPad isn't something you pass around. It's not really designed to be a "resource" that many people take advantage of. It's designed to be owned, configured to your taste, invested in and curated." On the assumptions built into devices, and what understanding them requires.
  • "Ships will subscribe to the service through a third party, and receive the latest copy of the book when they dock at port. They tear out each page, and apply the relevant changes to their paper maps with a pencil and transfer paper. They’re paper map diffs, if you like." Awesome. And, as Tom said, it's a beautiful book.
  • "Here at the Cow Clicker ranch, we've learned an important lesson about cow clicking: people don't just want one chance to click a cow every six hours. They want as many opportunities as possible to click a cow every six hours." And then Ian launches the API. And Connect. And everything else. And wins again.
  • "More important: the game, Sand-dancer, is a good game. It is not the sort of example that exists to have one of everything in the manual. It is the sort of game that exists to make IF better. Aaron puts it together on your workbench. You can see the parts going in, and I don't mean rules and action constructs now; I mean character, background, voice, theme, and narrative drive. He explains what he's doing, and what each game element is for. He talks about story structure and shape of interactivity. He discusses what you have to do to get the player involved and what you have to do to put the player in control." This sounds great. Add-to-cart.
  • "I want all the young present-tense storytellers (the old ones have won prizes and are incorrigible) to allow themselves to stand back and show me a wider temporal perspective. I want them to feel able to say what happened, what usually happened, what sometimes happened, what had happened before something else happened, what might happen later, what actually did happen later, and so on: to use the full range of English tenses." There's lots in here. I think it might be good; it is definitely interesting, and worth returning to.
  • "In this programme we hear from colleagues, friends and former students as well as the great man himself about the beauty of nature and the importance of science to our understanding of the world." A lovely Archive Hour on Radio 4, on Richard Feynman; only available for a few more days, so grab it whilst you can. Delightful, and nicely structured.
  • Stanford's iPhone development course.
  • "Is writing ever NOT collaboration? Doesn’t one collaborate with oneself, in a sense? Don’t we access different aspects of ourselves, different characters and attitudes and then, when they’ve had their say, switch hats and take a more distanced and critical view — editing and structuring our other half’s outpourings? Isn’t the end product sort of the result of two sides collaborating? Surely I’m not the only one who does this?" Something else that's been on the pile (to link) for a while now.
  • "The craftsman as hero is a consistent motif in Ruskin’s artistic and social theories. To him, mechanisation and division of labour dehumanise workers, enslaving them to execute exactly the specifications of others. The only way to recapture the humanity in labour is to put the designer back in touch with the tools of the craft and to unleash the creativity of the maker." A lovely metaphorical piece from Matt Edgar, reminding me of how much I need to brush up on my knowledge of the Arts and Crafts movement, if only because of how much I appreciate their sentiments.
  • "At some point, I begin to feel that I am carrying entire Latin American forests home with me. Also, I am afflicted with a terrible need to stop and write things down, at almost every corner, slowing my passage through the city and impeding motion. I am locked in this ridiculous two-step, unable to travel more than half a block before sitting down and writing out more, papering over the last thirty feet, dripping more ink onto the street: this absurd project, this incomprehensible, incompletable urge, this terror of forgetting and compulsion to record." Beautiful writing from James, which has been sitting on the "to link" pile for far too long.
  • "Here is an extraordinary piece of film. It is a live outside broadcast of a British army simulation of an attack on a train in Britain. It went out at prime time on a BBC programme called Saturday Night Out. And it happened in 1956."
  • "Maps are having their F-64 moment, right now, which is important and wonderful but I don't think anyone really wants to live in a world with an infinite depth of field. It's an appealing idea but then something like the Hipstamatic comes along and we all get irrationally weak in the knees, all over again." As usual with Aaron, I could quote most of the article, but in this case, I'll pick my favourite piece of writing, rather than perhaps the most succint quotation; just read the whole thing. (And: I wish I could code or even write like this).

Shownar: or, so, we made a thing

03 July 2009

It’s been around the internet a bit already, but I can now show you what I’ve been working on for much of the time since I joined Schulze & Webb.

Enter Shownar:

What’s Shownar? Matt explained it over at Pulse Laser, the Schulze & Webb blog:

Shownar tracks millions of blogs and Twitter plus other microblogging services, and finds people talking about BBC telly and radio. Then it datamines to see where the conversations are and what shows are surprisingly popular.

And over at the BBC Internet Blog, Dan Taylor quotes the about page:

First, it will help you find shows that others have not only watched, but are talking about. Hopefully it’ll throw up a few hidden gems. People’s interest, attention and engagement with shows are more important to Shownar than viewing figures; the audience size of a documentary on BBC FOUR, for instance, will never approach that of EastEnders, but if that documentary sparks a lot of interest and comment – even discussion – we want to highlight it. And second, when you’ve found a show of interest, we want to assist your onward journey by generating links to related discussions elsewhere on the web. In the same way news stories are improved by linking out to the same story on other news sites, we believe shows are improved by connecting them to the wider discussion and their audience.

Of course, I didn’t work on this alone; as Matt points out, there was a good-sized team from both the BBC and Schulze & Webb, and it was great to work with so many talented and sharp people, all of whom have left their mark on the project.

People have been pretty enthusiastic so far, which is always nice to see. It’s also great been watching stories emerge – stories of what we found to watch or listen to in the office, ways our viewing and listening habits have changed, and there’s not much better praise than constantly wanting to use a thing you’ve made.

So there we go, Shownar. Another thing in the world.

  • Now that Net Yaroze has closed its doors, Edge catch up with some former Yaroze developers; they have some interesting things to say on the state of games education in particular.
  • "[Our heroine's] name is Marta Louise Velasquez, and she’s quite possibly the most unpleasant female lead character in the history of gaming. She’s also what makes TD2192 worth remembering." Indeed, I have many. She did not lead a happy life, I'll give Richard that.
  • "Critical thinking is the key to success!" Professor Layton is on Twitter. Officially. This is good.
  • why do it? To borrow from the site's About pages: "First, it will help you find shows that others have not only watched, but are talking about. Hopefully it'll throw up a few hidden gems. People's interest, attention and engagement with shows are more important to Shownar than viewing figures; the audience size of a documentary on BBC FOUR, for instance, will never approach that of EastEnders, but if that documentary sparks a lot of interest and comment – even discussion – we want to highlight it. And second, when you've found a show of interest, we want to assist your onward journey by generating links to related discussions elsewhere on the web. In the same way news stories are improved by linking out to the same story on other news sites, we believe shows are improved by connecting them to the wider discussion and their audience." Dan Taylor explains Shownar from the BBC's perspective
  • "Shownar tracks millions of blogs and Twitter plus other microblogging services, and finds people talking about BBC telly and radio. Then it datamines to see where the conversations are and what shows are surprisingly popular. You can explore the shows at Shownar itself. It’s an experimental prototype we’ve designed and built for the BBC over the last few months. We’ll learn a lot having it in the public eye, and I hope to see it as a key part of discovery and conversation scattered across BBC Online one day." Matt talks about Shownar on Pulse Laser.
  • "Shownar tracks the online buzz around BBC shows. It's an experimental prototype and we want your feedback." What I've been working on in the first three months at Schulze & Webb, and is now live. Exciting!