Friday, February 23, 2007

Sky ads highlight Ofcom cock-up

Sky have been censured by the Advertising Standards Authority for publishing misleading adverts in Whitehaven, Cumbria that incorrectly state Terrestrial TV will be switched off there this Autumn. Essentially, they should have used the word "Analogue", not "Terrestrial", which is going to survive quite happily as "Digital Terrestrial" (aka Freeview). The reason these ads have been running in Whitehaven is that it is the testbed for analogue switch-off; it's happening there in October this year.

The most ridiculous thing about that seems to be being over-looked in all this though. Ofcom have chosen to testbed the analogue switch-off in a town which cannot yet receive Freeview or Cable!!! Essentially leaving Sky a complete monopoly on digital television. Not only is this a complete distortion of the market that puts Freeview and Virgin right up the swanny, it is also a completely unrepresentative testbed for analogue switch-off. Bloody numpties, what a waste of time.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

David Palmer never had all this trouble...

I'm starting to become more aware of the discussions going on around America about Barack Obama's "blackness". I first heard about this on the Radio4 programme Feedback, where somebody had written in to protest at BBC reporters' use of the term "black" to refer to Sen. Obama when he's actually of mixed race. A google search for "obama black mixed race" will spit out allsorts of opinion, ranging from the pathetic and racist, up to the more interesting discussions of what being "black" means to modern American society.

Far from being about petty semantics, there's a very strong sense amongst some African Americans that calling yourself black means associating yourself with Black America's long struggle for civil rights - "Black, in our political and social vocabulary, means those descended from West African slaves" writes Debra Dickerson, who also says it in this interview with Stephen Colbert.

That distinction between "Black" and "African American" (which nobody can deny Obama is) is something new to me. In fact, Dickerson goes so far to label him with a new label - "he's an African African American" - which is, frankly, pathetic. As Colbert points out, she is asserting his blackness not based on his skin colour, but on the content of his character - "a truly special interpretation of Dr King's words". Is anybody else slightly frightened that when she says in that interview "we're not the same" it sounds slightly... er... racist?

I don't mean to paint myself as a truly enlightened modern multicultural thinker, but none of this should really matter. But of course it does. And while we middle class Guardian-reading white Brits allow ourselves the opportunity to say "yes yes, about time the yanks had a black president or a woman president" we mustn't forget our own pathetic record in that same area. We may have had a woman leader for 11 years (*shudder*), but we only just had our first black cabinet member, let alone party leader or Prime Minister. And as far as I know, despite British Asians making up around 5% of our population, there's never been an Asian in senior British politics.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Obama uses gmail

I really don't intend to dwell on the webbyness of the various presidential candidates but... Obama invited me to a rally in Los Angeles today (when I signed up, I told him my zip code was 90210!) and he invited me via his gmail account, Part of the web, rather than just on the web; good old Obama.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Obama declares he's running for president...

...and he does it in Abraham Lincoln's Springfield, Illinois webcasting the whole shebang. I think I'm right in saying someone got in a bit of trouble for using U2 as their walk up music in the last election... I hope they got permission this time, else I'm telling Bono.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

My Barack Obama

Oh my. My professional world and my interest in US politics merging into one. Shining light in the American presidential elections Barack Obama has a personalisation/participation/user generated content area of his website - it's called, of course,

There's nothing particularly revolutionary on there - create a profile, create a blog, get told about events near to your ZIP code, join groups of other supporters, and do some fundraising for your favourite Illinoisan African-American senator. To a certain extent, it reminds me of - it's a carbon copy of a million websites where you just create a profile for apparently no reason other than to feel like you belong to that website - but it's the latest example of politics embracing the web. Have a look around the rest of the website too - there's as well, run via brightcove, where you can watch all his little schmultzy telly messages and watch his announcement live later today (and no doubt a million stump speeches over the next two years as well).

Looking through the other candidates websites, underdog Chris Dodd has a section of his website called The Dodd Pod - at first I thought this was podcasts, but actually it's an opportunity for you to suggest songs that he should put on his iPod. Why you might want to do that, apart from to assert your recognition that he's clearly a hip cool daddio, I don't know. Of course, he has a blog, a myspace page, a flickr page, and a facebook account as well. And don't forget to join the Dodd Squad while you're there...

Hillary C's website is a little more reserved; she still has a blog, but you can't be a human being without one of those these days. There's a shedload of video on there, but again that's one-way traffic. Maybe she's still exploring the possibilities of web campaigning, as part of her exploratory committee. Perhaps it reflects the already clear distinctions between her and her more youthful main opponent (that's Obama, by the way, not Dodd). He is appealing to the young, the politically disenfranchised, the opponents of war, the minority groups, pretty much anyone looking for a change - all groups that have turned to the Internet's democratised platform as a way to make themselves heard.

Clinton is appealing to middle America, the politically apathetic, the white middle class people who hanker after a bit of good old pre-Bush democratic politics. From 1993-2001 they never had it so good, and they are quite happy for a little bit more of the same please - though, maybe with a hint less blowing up of Americans abroad. Her demographic aren't really likely to use the web in the same ways as Obama's - more turning to it for information and updates, than to actively participate with other voters. That's not to say that Obama's will necessarily provide that, but it certainly provides the illusion of it. And as UselessAccount's irony suggests, sometimes all it takes to make you feel part of something is to create a profile, then to ignore it and forget you ever signed up in the first place.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Snow fall in Clapham

It snowed in London. I set up a time lapse camera over night and during the day to film it falling and then melting again. I used a bit of freeware for the mac called Gawker, and I tried using the camera built into my laptop, but the glare from the screen reflecting on the window was too much, so I set up my camcorder instead.

It's about midnight at the start, and 8pm at the end. It took one frame every 60 seconds. At about 5am it seems like dawn happens, but really it's the light reflecting off the falling/fallen snow making the whole thing brighter. Quite cool. Then the sun rises, and during the day you see various people playing in the snow and then it gradually melt away (boo hoo) before sun sets again. Fun stuff.