Monthly Archives: May 2004

Ad man blogs

One of Russell Davies pictures of Egg, Bacon, Chips and Beans
Russell Davies used to be something important in online advertising – but that was before anyone had heard of online advertising. These days he’s something important in advertising. He’s keeping three (count them) weblogs and each is a jewel. I particularly like his two nicely differentiated homages to the greasy spoon, A Good Place for a Cup of Tea and a Think and Egg, Bacon, Chips and Beans. The latter is practically a work of art and should probably be lottery funded. While you’re at, check out his ‘ordinary’ weblog, which is nicely written, clever and interesting. I think Russell is the kind of articulate, engaging bloke weblogs were invented for.

Kitchen sink ethnography

kitchen_counter.jpg
There was something on the radio the other day about mantelpieces. An academic has been making a close study of what people keep there – she reckons they’re a good way of understanding the way we order our lives. I’m sure she’s right but I wonder if we couldn’t learn more – especially now – from other, busier parts of our homes: our kitchen counters, for instance. Here’s a 4MB MPEG of ours. Go on. Upload yours. Let’s start a project! Don’t be shy…

Making bbc content visible

Finding anything at The BBC’s web site is close to impossible these days. The site is deep (lots of layers), it’s very wide (lots of channels, departments, shows, regions, teams…), it’s unstructured, it grows quickly and without central control and there are, as far as I can see, no standards for marking up or indexing content as it’s added. Lots of people don’t bother with the Beeb‘s own search function and get Google to do it for them using the ‘sitesearch‘ syntax. In fact, Google (let’s be fair: any reasonably good web index) provides an effective replacement interface to big web sites like bbc.co.uk – but we need something better here, something fit for the purpose: making visible the important licence fee-funded assets held at bbc.co.uk.

I’d like to download a small, smart application that would do for bbc.co.uk what Quicksilver, LaunchBar and SixDegrees do for my hard drive. These clever little apps all, with detail variations, index my hard drive, address book, email and bookmarks to make them more accessible. Quicksilver, for instance, allows me to type a name, compose an email to that person and return to what I was doing with a few keystrokes or launch an application by typing a fragment of its name or find and dial a phone number in my address book without having to click even once. This is highly adapted, next generation UI thinking and we could really do with something like it to give us access to the content walled up inside The BBC.

How about a downloadable app that provides the same clever, keyboard-driven access to a continually updated index of The BBC’s web site (XML, or at least improved markup, would make this better but we can work with what we have). Typing a fragment of a show’s name brings up a compact palette of related pages: the RealMedia stream, the programme support web site, the presenter’s bio, a press release, related links… Hitting tab gives me second level choices (download audio, email producers, print transcript…). Hitting return activates my choice and dismisses the palette. Bingo: a useful, accessible BBC web site with no dark corners.

Why I’m getting lots of extra traffic (and still won’t be buying any Google shares)

Bowblog’s site traffic has nearly doubled in the last few weeks. I’d like to think this has something to do with the sustained wit and verve of my writing but I’m afraid it’s almost all to do with this entry, in which I dole out free worthless investment advice to people thinking of buying Google stock (James Crabtree added some interesting comments too). If my traffic boost is representative then Google’s IPO is already producing an economic lift for the net, even before the date’s been set – at least for bandwidth providers.

The FT has a good briefing page on the IPO (for most of which you’ll need a subscription). Business Week has a useful Q&A for the planned Dutch auction and some scepticism about the company’s longer term prospects.