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Getting Paid for Doing Bad Things (12″ version)

This is the extended version of my earlier blog post. The BBC finally ran my commentary so for those of you who want more info, here it is: Think of it as product placement for the Internet. It’s been around a while, but I just figured out how it works, and it made me realise that the early dreams of a blogging utopia on the web are pretty much dead. Here’s how this kind of product placement works. On the Internet Google is like a benevolent dictator: it creates great stuff we love, and with which most of the net wouldn’t work. But it alsoContinue readingGetting Paid for Doing Bad Things (12″ version)

Gay Lesbian Syrian Blogger? Or a Bearded American from Edinburgh?

Here’s a cautionary tale about how hard it is to verify whether someone is who they say they are: Syrian lesbian blogger is revealed conclusively to be a married man Tom MacMaster’s wife has confirmed in an email to the Guardian that he is the real identity behind the Gay Girl in Damascus blog Syrian lesbian blogger has been revealed to be Tom MacMaster, an American based in Scotland. Public domain The mysterious identity of a young Arab lesbian blogger who was apparently kidnapped last week in Syria has been revealed conclusively to be a hoax. The blogs were written by not by a gayContinue readingGay Lesbian Syrian Blogger? Or a Bearded American from Edinburgh?

Lost in the Flow of The Digital Word

my weekly column as part of the Loose Wire Service, hence the lack of links. By Jeremy Wagstaff A few weeks ago I wrote about the emergence of the digital book, and how, basically, we should get over our love affair with its physical ancestor and realize that, as with newspapers, rotary dial phones and reel-to-reel tape decks, the world has moved on. Digital rules, and ebooks now make more sense than papyrus. Not everyone was happy. My bookseller friends won’t talk to me anymore, and don’t even mention my author ex-buddies. One person told me I was “brave” (I think he meant foolhardy) inContinue readingLost in the Flow of The Digital Word

SideWiki’s Wish Fulfilment

A piece in today’s Guardian attracted my attention–“SideWiki Changes Everything”—as I thought, perhaps, it might shed new light on Google’s browser sidebar that allows anyone to add comments to a website whether or not the website owner wants them to. The piece calls the evolution of SideWiki a “seminal moment”. The column itself, however, is disappointing, given that SideWiki has been out six weeks already: Few people in PR, it seems, have considered the way that SideWiki will change the lives of beleaguered PR folk. In time, this tool will significantly change the way brands strategise, think and exist. SideWiki is going to challenge PRContinue readingSideWiki’s Wish Fulfilment

How to Get Your Pitch Read Part XIV

One way to try to get the journalist to read beyond the headline/subject is the EMBARGOED tag: Although it does sound somewhat pompous, and can backfire if it’s not a story worth breaking an embargo for. Likewise a subject line prefaced by BREAKING NEWS: As you can see, MySpace’s PR seems to think anything to do with their client is BREAKING NEWS, and deserves CAPS all the way. Both of these are in danger of Cry Wolf Syndrome. Use them too many times and they wear out. Another, better way to get your press release read than to send it and then recall it: IContinue readingHow to Get Your Pitch Read Part XIV

Filtering Communications So They Don’t Drive Us Mad

A dear friend was supposed to drop something off around 11 pm last night. I turn in around that time, so I just nodded off. Luckily I didn’t hear her SMS come in around 1 am. But I could have. I consider the phone the primary communications device–if someone has an emergency, that’s how they’re going to reach me–and so you can’t really close it off. But how do you filter out stuff like my ditzy friend SMS-ing me at 1 am to tell me that after all she’s not going to drop something off? In short, how can we set up filters on ourContinue readingFiltering Communications So They Don’t Drive Us Mad

Google’s New Interface: The Earth

I’ve written before about how I think Google Earth, or something like it, will become a new form of interface — not just for looking for places and routes, but any kind of information. Some people call it the geo-web, but it’s actually bigger than that. Something like Google Earth will become an environment in its own right. I can imagine people using it to slice and dice company data, set up meetings, organize social networks. Google is busy marching in this direction, and their newest offering is a great example of this: Google Book Search. This from Brandon Badger, product manager at Google Earth:Continue readingGoogle’s New Interface: The Earth

A New Image for Your Email Address

John Graham-Cumming, author of Bayesian spam filter POPFile, points me to a neat tool he’s created which will turn an email address into an image that may spare you some spam from bots scouring web pages for email addresses: This site converts a text-based email address (such as me@example.com) and creates an image that can be inserted on a web site. The image contains the email address and is easily read by a human, but is intended to fool web crawlers that search for email addresses. I can’t guarantee that this is foolproof, but Project Honeypot reports that image obfuscation of an email address isContinue readingA New Image for Your Email Address

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