Home from Texas…

…and I feel a little… well… low, actually.

I think it was probably inevitable – no one can take such a sustained assault on their preconceptions or their liver without some comeback.

I am comforted, however, that I take back home with me some incredible new friendships with people that really inspire me.

There are also a lot of good ideas that the SXSWM team are taking back with them that, given the right reception here in Brum, could have a significant impact on raising the city’s profile in social media.

I have made myself a little list of things I want to write about. I am going to put them in this post so that I make myself follow them up. They are:

  • Trust and authenticity online and its application to mainstream media.
  • The power of conversation through video (and how Seesmic demonstrates that).
  • The benefits and problems of live streaming as part of the newsgathering process.
  • The application of gaming strategies to business networking.
  • How SXSW will change my behaviour in the newsroom.

I guess I have my work cut out!

My head hurts…

…due to a number of things:

1. Because it’s 5.45am and I can’t sleep.

2. Because I met so many interesting people yesterday my brain is buzzing.

3. Because I drank far too much with the Seesmic crowd last night.

SXSW is nothing if not intense – I’m, spending half my time in awe of the people I am speaking to and the other half running around fretting about who I’ve missed.

The Seesmic VIP party last night was fantastic (thanks to Phil Campbell for inviting me!) – great little roof garden event with VERY strong cocktails.I met a fantastic bunch of people who were less interested in the future of media online and more fascinated with the fact that, as a kid, I ate at the infamous Priory from Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares.

Really enjoyed meeting Cathy Brooks from Seesmic, who showed me how video could fit into the idea of building trust between journalist and reader (here’s a video of me really NOT getting how it all works!). Only a very small proportion of Seesmic users join in the online conversation, but it seems the community that has built up is extremely aware of authenticity and will critique those users that they find interesting. I like that idea that, by being a Seesmic user, you learn and are encouraged to be, more conversational and more open.

Also, podnosh will be pleased to know, I finally met up with Kitten Fluff who, as well as having an interesting take on mainstream media’s transition to digital, has a great voice for rock – as demonstrated at the BarCamp Austin kareoke we ended up at.

I think a lot of what I learnt yesterday will only really hit me in a few days, or weeks, time. But I must say, I’m having a blast!


So I was woken up an hour ago by shaking walls and the crashing of books falling off their shelves. It looks now as if the UK has been hit by an earthquake. Reports so far vary suggesting its magnitude was between 4.7 and 5.3 [edit: modified to 4.9 at 0245].

It’s the second time the earth has moved for me in Brum – the first being the Dudley earthquake in 2002.

The difference this time (as well as it being bigger – rumours are that this one was the largest earthquake in the UK for 20 years) was that I could confirm instantly that there had been a quake by logging on to Twitter, whereas I spent hours in 2002 convinced the rumbling must have been an explosion. As my Twitter account demonstrates, there were a fair few of us wondering what had shaken us out of our slumber.

It was interesting too that the first report I saw about the earthquake from a news organisation was via a tweet from Bounder. Through Twittersearch he had found a report from Twitter-based Dutch news service BreakingNewsOn. I then found other links to sites including a Seesmic (apt name for this) video blog from Midlands-based Documentally. [this was blogged seconds after the quake, I am told] I even tried to put my not-so-great skills into a Google map of the epicentre. [which, according to Podnosh, scooped Sky News!]

More on how the story unfolded from ReadWriteWeb. I’m off back to bed!

Preston: Day 1

Phew! The first day of the residential is over. So, before a large glass of wine helps me to forget everything we’ve learnt today, I thought I better write a few quick notes.

The biggest thing for me was how much technology is out there that journalists should and could be using right now.

I remember being very impressed when playing with Google Earth on a friend’s iPhone – the GPS functions was stunning (Any rich person got an iPhone going spare btw? I’d love one, but can’t afford it!). It was brought home to us today that in just a few months everyone will have mobile GPS on their phones and will start expecting information to be geotagged. We should be doing that now!

Another one was mobile video. Here is another view of Preston (can’t get it to embed) and our lecturer Mark streaming video from his Nokia N95, which is now part of the mobile kit for all Reuters journalists.

Mark’s using Bambuser, which streams driectly to the web. It is still in alpha so, as with Seesmic, I’m going to have to put it on the list to play with later. But it made my head spin to think how easy it is to capture breaking news on mobile video and have it online instantly.

Other good sites to play with: Jaiku and ShoZu.

Right, off to the bar…