Friday, July 18, 2008

I've been shamed into writing a blog by a recent digital workshop. Whilst setting up my own and dutifully adding the Gaol House blog to my list I was shocked to see it had been saved by 396 others.

So I promise there will be a bit more activity on here from now on, and if any of those users fancy sharing links, that would be great.

Friday, March 07, 2008

25 Years of Gadgets

. . . Were presented to us by Mr Rusbridger himself. Exciting new developments include e-books, and the portable journalist kit (which allows the reported to attach their mobile phone to a collapsible keyboard and a recording device). Rusbridger continued to explain that technological developments were leading to a new breed of reporter, as comfortable with pod-casting and blogging as they are writing articles. This vision of a new, multi-tasking model of journalism included researching skills, traditionally the preserve of the library. The talk proved a timely reminder of the increasing incursion of Google into the researcher's domain, and the importance of remaining relevant in a changing environment.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Lies, damn lies and statistics.

The Royal Statistical Society organised a half day workshop on the use of statistics in reporting. A number of speakers were allocated 15 minute slots to give us a quick run down on the basics of their trade. Topics covered included: statistical terminology, data collection methods, league tables, rankings and statistical modelling.

Wading through the maths-speak (standard deviation, confidence intervals, regression to the mean, standard errors and distributions) the talks brought up a number of interesting points. The key message of the morning was the need to approach all statistics with caution, and to never accept as given what they appear to prove. The workshop was peppered with examples of numerical misrepresentations: such as the dangers of believing surveys of people's drinking habits (which only account for 50% of total alcohol sales) and the high levels of inaccuracy in ranking systems (which fail to factor in bad/good luck)

The programme was intensive, technical, but ultimately rewarding; I will certainly be more careful when passing on figures in the future.

In a follow up email I was informed that they are considering preparing some resources for their web pages to cover:
basic explanations of statistical terms, principles and methods
and 'plain English’ versions of the above suitable for use in reporting
. . . Which should prove very handy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Press Events Calendar

Is Islam good for London? I really don't know, but I now know there's going to be a discussion about it, courtesy of Roy Greenslade's blog. His newly launched Press Events calendar aims to be as comprehensive a guide as possible to all manner of conferences, debates, lectures and speeches, in Britain and elsewhere, that touch on journalism. Looks like a great resource - just wish I had the time to go to all the events.

The perils of the sandwich.

So it's all change at Alton Towers. Roger is off and
into his shoes will step John Mulholland, current deputy
editor of the Observer.

Mulholland once wrote for the Guardian's media pages,
before leaving to edit the Sporting Life, the turf bible beloved
of the late, Queen Mother. However, Mullholland's tenure at the
Sporting Life was brief. Having nipped out for a sandwich one
lunch time, he returned - with sandwich - only to learn that
his bosses had sacked him.

The advice, then, is simple : always get your sarnies
from the trolley.

Friday, November 09, 2007

A recent trip down under revealed that the image of the librarian is once again under the spotlight. A new ABC sitcom, 'The Librarians' hit Australian tv screens last month, introducing an ecletic mix of fictional information professions which tick all the politically correct boxes - there's a muslim, a wheelchair user, a homosexual, even a bit of dyslexic eye candy for the head librarian to ogle . Apparently the show's creators did their research, visiting a number of public libraries around Melbourne and to get real librarians interested in tuning in, they sent out a short video, reassuring librarians of their respect for the profession. Their solemn promise - no 'shooshing' and no cardigans seems to have been kept; the tanorexic, drug dealing children's librarian in the pick mini-dress certainly sends the twinset and pearls scuttling back to the charity shop. Interest from the Australian library community has hit fever pitch, even the Australian Library and Information Association has set up a blog dedicated to the show. The show's creators were recently interviewed by the in Sydney Morning Herald. Time for a UK comedic take on our esteemed profession?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

On this day . . .

Been having a bit of a hunt on the web for new "on this day" resources. Here's some gooduns:

British library Lots of historical events and pretty pictures too.

BBC: On this day Events taken from the BBC news archive since 1950.

The New York Times: On this day Historical events from an American perspective

Biography channel: born on this day For the birthdays of historical figures.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Facebook and the media librarian

There's been an awful lot of column inches of late dedicated to the "valuable business tool" that is Facebook, but does anyone genuinely believe its anything more than an enjoyable exercise in time-wasting/stalking? What use, if any, can it be put to in the context of media librarianship?

There's a school of thought that we should be on Facebook simply because its there, and that to fail to keep abreast of the latest developments in Web 2.0 is to risk becoming outdated and irrelevant. But to adopt this argument is to encourage the blind adoption of whatever latest intetnet craze the "kids" are talking about. Without relevant application there's little or no point to that shiny new pod cast, RSS Feed or (cough cough) blog.

So what practical use can Facebook be put to?

Its important to remember that Facebook is fundamentally a social networking tool: its natural territory is the embarassing drunken photograph, the "witty" wall post and the ever popular "poke". However this format also lends itself to the exchange of ideas and the accumulation of contacts. To give one example, I used my status to ask about popular news-blogs, and within an hour I'd been sent an extensive list of favourites from friends and acquaintances I'd never have thought of asking in person.

Also, it shouldn't be underestimated just how many journalists are falling for their own hype: Guardian News and Media and the British Broadcasting Corporation both have their own Facebook networks, as do numerous American media associations. These networks provide us with a link to our users, and effective social networking can lend us a heightened profile amongst them.

Another useful tool offered by Facebook is the ability to form groups centred around common interests. "media librarians and proud of it" could prove a useful forum, as could "Librarians and Facebook."

In short, Facebook could prove an important tool in networking, sharing information and promoting our services. These opportunities should not be overlooked.