Writing from June 2003

We’re all reporters now

Last week I mentioned (penultimate paragraph) that companies probably don't connect how they deal with journalists to how they deal with employees who have weblogs. ie, many companies now contain well-read writers (webloggers) and don't necessarily think of making explicit what company news is and isn't public. Whereas they'd be very careful when talking to professional reporters. Anyway, Ben Hammersley today talks about how webloggers should respect "off the record" events as much as mainstream reporters do, following "a little fuss" kicked off by a weblogger reporting a briefing when journalists in the same room were obliged not to.

In Misc on 1 June 2003. 8 comments. Permalink

Life as a 19th century fire-eater

Last year I read Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor (Amazon US, UK, or the full text online) which was written around 1850 and is his journalistic attempt to chronicle the lives of poor working (and non-working) inhabitants of the city. There were a couple of passages that were even more eye-opening than the rest, which I meant to publish here. Here's the first one, from Mayhew's interview with a man who usually earned his living as a fire-eater on the streets:

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In Misc on 8 June 2003. 2 comments. Permalink

Arthur Brown, 1914-2003

Thankfully, I'm not used to reading obituaries of people I know, which perhaps makes it more sad to read the recent obituary of Arthur Brown, who died in March. Well, implying I knew him is overstating things a little. I remember going, when I was younger, with my parents, to the annual Christmas parties he hosted with his wife. One year, when I was small enough to do so, I had a lot of fun pretending that a furry rug on the arm of a sofa was some breed of mountable animal. Another time, during holidays from college in Bristol, an old but sharp gentleman told me about attending university there sometime in the early decades of the century. I was always too young and socially inept to feel quite at home but I remember Arthur being a great host and having a wonderful voice.

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In Personal on 9 June 2003. 3 comments. Permalink

The Believer

Last week my friend Ted kindly sent me issue 2 of The Believer, McSweeney's monthly magazine: "There are book reviews which are not necessarily timely, and which are very often very long. There are interviews which are also very long."

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In Misc on 10 June 2003. 1 comment. Permalink

Revamped Haddock Directory

I've just launched a completely redesigned Haddock Directory. I was bored of the old low contrast design which had been around since 1999 so I decided to rewrite the dreadful old code from the ground up. And, the biggest relief, I've finally eradicated HTML tables from all my sites in favour of CSS. It feels like I've "finished" everything, or come as close as one ever does.

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In Web Development on 20 June 2003. 1 comment. Permalink

The Big Brother universe

Big Brother is the only such "unreality" type show I've ever got into, and every year it has me hooked. This week one of the housemates in the UK house, Cameron, has swapped places with one from the Big Brother Africa house. With the travellers' fellow housemates not knowing until the new arrivals turned up.

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In Television on 24 June 2003. 5 comments. Permalink

The Mapmakers

I just finished reading The Mapmakers (Amazon US, UK) by John Noble Wilford which was wonderful. The two aspects that fascinated me most: The simple acts of triangulating and measuring the world in order to capture it on paper, from objects to geometry to images. And the increasing knowledge cartographers gathered over the centuries, making the process of mapping more accurate and far more complicated. It's a great read, only suffering from a severe lack of relevant illustrations. I'd love to read more about cartography, but most of the books on Amazon seem to be either more historical works or complicated sounding academic tomes. I think I'm looking for something in between; more technical than The Mapmakers but not so technical I can't understand it.

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In Misc on 28 June 2003. 4 comments. Permalink

Hire me!

Having been made redundant from UpMyStreet and enjoyed a month of working on my own projects, I'm now looking for freelance or contract work. So if you need an Information Architect type, or someone who can design and construct websites with decent HTML, CSS, PHP and MySQL, drop me a line. I build clean, usable, accessible and robust sites with well-commented code. I'm reliable, literate, a nice guy and I like baking cakes. My CV is here.

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In Personal on 30 June 2003. Permalink

Domestic geeks

One of the great things about geeks is the way they (or, I admit, "we") submit apparently mundane events and actions to exhaustive levels of analysis. There seems to be a mini-tradition of trying to make domestic tasks as regular and efficient as possible:

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In Misc on 30 June 2003. 1 comment. Permalink