Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A dabble with APIs?

So like most of those sharing the class with me in Digital Media Technologies, I’m pondering what kind of website I would like to create.

One thing that has been of particular interest to me, and at this stage has almost totally eluded me is being able to pull in information from API’s. I have made a few stunted attempts, but so far have failed miserably.

So with 2011 being a new year, this seems like the perfect opportunity to break that barrier and have a greater understanding of how I can use different API’s to feed content to, or enhance what data we already have.

But what to do!

Should I choose one API Provider, like Flickr, and make something cool and unusual, perhaps with some sweet HTML5 twist.

Or should I see if I can interface with a number of different APIs, and trying to build and filter the data in a meaningful way in a simpler mashup?

Programmable Web has a great rundown on some of the most popular api’s.

Twitter and YouTube seem like the easy options. But I think this needs more investigate. And from what little I’ve read so far, it looks like I need to learn more about XML before I start.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Google Docs update messes with my spelling

I for one was waiting with bated breath for new Google Docs to roll out to my account, I wasn't expecting the update, which brought wave like collaboration tools into the online office suite, to actually contain a downgrade, of sorts.

It might just be because I'm a little bit obsessive compulsive, but I like to ensure my often garbled typing passes at least the most basic of spelling checks.

A big part of this is having the feeling of a nice clean document, devoid of any nasty squiggly red lines which mean I have made a mistake. In any writing there are bunch of names, addresses, and ideas which might not be covered by the basic Google dictionary.

Unfortunately, the 'new' Google docs decided to do away with this essential feature, completely removing the ability to 'add to dictionary'.

What on earth was Google thinking? Do the people at Google actually use their own software? At what point did they think, ahh.. they dont NEED that, you can get other people to check your spelling in real time..


With Google poised to develop their own Facebook killer, I hope they manage to change focus a little from engineering at the bleeding edge, to creating user focused solutions.

Buzz has so far bombed because it failed to recognise what most users actually want, please stop making the same mistakes with your productivity products, or it will be hard to argue that going Google, in both the corporate and personal settings, is actually a viable alternative.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Race relations causing a pre-emptive media firestorm

John Saffran isn't exactly Australia's favourite son. He got his first big break after drinking his own urine for the ABC's race around the world. His career has been similary mired in controversy, with his first ABC show taken off air after he campted outside Ray Martins house.

Despite this, his outlandish but thoughtful hijinks have allowed him a relatively successful Television and Radio career. And his latest show, John Saffran's Race Relations, has already caused a huge reaction, with Kim Dalton, ABC Director of Television, taking the unprecedendted step of urging viewers of the pedantic variety not to tune in an article published both on ABC Unleashed and News Limited's The Punch.

From the article:

"I have some blunt advice for some of the people who will be reading this article on Unleashed/ThePunch. And it is not the kind of advice you would expect from the ABC's Director of Television.

My message is this: think carefully before you settle into the couch tonight for the 9.30pm premiere of John Safran's comedy-documentary Race Relations. If you think you are going to be offended or outraged (or want to be offended or outraged) then don't tune in."

Ok, so Safran may be getting up to some outrageous things, and with the world of social media, the ability to turn comic controversy into a full blown moral panic is all too easy. As Director of TV, Mr Dalton is obvioulsy going to be coming into some heated criticism over the show, which will feature Saftran being crucified (complete with nails) and masturbating on camera"

From the Hey Hey blackface debarcle to the Chasers Sick Kids to the Cotton On Kids controversy, social media reaction, in particular on blogs and Twitter, have helped fuel outrage against comedians.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Twitter delays maintainence for Iran protests.

When the twitter founders created their simple little messaging service. I doubt they had envisioned that scheduled maintainence could become a international political issue.

However, with scheduled maintenance looming, and the #iranelection protests hitting fever pitch something had to give.

With tweets coming it at over 1/sec with the #iranelection tag users were getting worried that one of the main conduits of information for those in and outside of Iran would be taken away for scheduled maintanence.

The twitter community wouldn't have it. Soon a groundswell of support engulfed the community with #nomaintainence swinging to the top of twitter trends only minutes after it was announced from the @twitter account.

After a few hours of concerted tweeting an retweeting on the #iranelections and #nomaintainence hashtags, reports were filtering through that twitter had postponed the maintainence

"..our network partners at NTT America recognize the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran"

That's only three hours from inception to result. It is clear that Twitter and its users has become a powerful tool both for dissemination of information and for helping the service evolve.

We have already seen the pressure that Twitter users have placed on unresponsive mainstream media. Not only as an alternative medium for information, but also to guide the people with the reigns in their grasp.

Good work !

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tracking the #IranElection via Twitter, Livestation and apparently not CNN.

The Iranian elections have proven to be yet another example of the mainstream media's failure in the face of real time broadcasting of events via twitter and television news channels.


I prefer to use Peoplebrowsr as my day to day twitter/social media client. It has all the advanced features you need to keep track of a large follow count, research and keep many social network feeds in one place. Peoplebrowsr is also great for drilling down on specific users or keywords. Especially specific users in Iran such as @iran_change

"Police attacking people who run away to houses!!!" http://i44.tinypic.com/scqmoy.jpg- @iran_changes

But it became unweildly with the tweets coming in at over 1 per second for the hashtag #iranelection.


The solution I found was Twitterfall. By pointing the Twitterfall search at #iranelections, placing it on a seperate monitor I can have a large feed of all the current tweets that I can glance at to sense a mood for the tweets.

Interestingly a large portion of the tweets are related to #cnnfail. Or CNN's apparent extended delay in reporting the riots currently occuring in Iran. It is clear that the mood in the twitter community is that mainstream media is becoming increasingly irrelevant to them in getting information.


For these kind of events I would also highly endorse that you also use Livestation. Its an excellent Windows program that allows you to stream some excellent 24hr news channels including AlJazeera, BBC World News and Russia Today.

It proves to be an excellent free resource for access to traditional broadcast media channels.

More than anything else I am trying to show that a mash up of readily available tools allows almost anyone to track breaking news to a depth that would not have been possible just a few years ago.

And throwing all your eggs in one basket wont really help. Pulling all three tools together has allowed me to feel more on top of a breaking news situation than I have ever been able to before.

And as for CNN - you seem to be bearing the brunt of the mainstream's media's failure.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Twitter is talkback on steriods

I can't help wonder, after all this Twitter mania, whether people are getting a little overworked about twitter. But then again, the passion is important if we are to prepare those in positions of power, who may be loathed to learn that being swift to adapt

Ok, I'll be honest. I love the bloody thing. At the moment, its the best and most useful tool out there. Why?

Is it because its a conversation? Well.. no.

Whilst it is true that twitter is more conversational than say television or newspapers, the same cannot necessarily be said for talkback radio, email, instant messaging and more. In fact I think as a technology it is close to talkback in its interaction level.

Twitter is talkback on steriods

And thats why I love it. After listening to talkback radio all day for 3 years during a stint at Media Monitors, I have to admit I became fond of the thing.

Talkback is essential structured around the personality of the presenters. At its essense, the talkback radio listners tune in regularlybecause they trust that person in some way. Whilst it may not necessarily be because they agree with what they say, but they do trust them to act in a certain way and filter the news in a way that matters to them.

The content largely comes from the listeners. Recently I was watching Dave in the life - Shock Jocks with one of my old Media Monitors buddies Brent Ballinski. I actually found a lot of insight in what, of all people, Bob Francis had to say about talkback. He sits there and "hopes to god that people call".

Realtime user generated media started long before even Youtube graced us with its presence.

Twitter enhances real time user genereated media

But what does it do that broadcast could never hope for. Was it timeliness. Well not excatly. Radio is almost instant. No, its about enhancments and choice.

Imagine a talback radio show, but with a bit more pull than push. It allows the real time broadcast of thoughts, ideas and topics.

When you follow people on twitter, there is a trust that you will find something of value in this other person. You decide to pull down their stream. With easy access to enhanced information. Ttwitter can use the entire web as a platform, it is that simplicity that makes it special.

Recent data that shows that 10% of the community provides 90% of the tweets. This is a ratio that lends itself to a broadcast medium. The State of the Twittersphere report also has some interesting stats to further reinforce its use as a broadcast medium.

You follow the broadcasters you know, and the hastags and trending topics just the talkback callers would be focussed in a stream on a particular topic.

The steady stream of, sometimes insightful, sometimes banal and sometimes downright scary comments is eerily similar to what can be heard on talkback on occasion.

But imagine a custom radio station with all your favorite personalities and information, posted live as they were created. Making them both timely and personalised to the user.

But what does this mean?

Whilst it would be nice to get caught up in the hype that is twittermania. It would be wise to realise that it is just another part of the further fragmentation of media channels. Its an exciting new medium to make no mistake. And one that has the ability to change the perception of social media.

  • Digg was always about the herd mentality. It was about games and power and pure populism. But it was always tied to a website;
  • Myspace was about making yourselft looking cool, so a great place for musicians and teenagers;
  • Facebook is for your friends, the ones who you socialise with. But not really used for serious business;
  • Linkedin pimps your resume;
  • and Twitter is lets you get the information, news and opinion you want, from the "broadcasters" you trust.

So it doesnt matter if people are overhyping this medium a little. Just because it is here today doesnt mean there wont be a much better service right around the corner which we will flock to in droves. But for the moment, its the best one we have.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ignoramus - Fox mistakes Obama for an "Ignorant Lawyer"

This is classic daily show moment of zen. Revel in the delicious irony of a Fox newsreader making a complete fool of themselves.

Moment of Zen - when the stupidity of the news needs no accompaniment.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Messaging client Trillian Astra - The quest tofind the perfect client

I had high hopes for Trillian Astra . At a glance i thought I may have found true synergy. I want something that combines all my status updates and instant messaging into one little package.

However after trialling it I found that again, it still doesn't do all the things I wasn't out of these clients.

  • Combines all my twitter and Facebook status updates in the one place
  • Has awesome sleek visual interface
  • great unified notification system with excellent visibility of updates. But...
  • MSN, ICQ
  • access to my GMail and Facebook inbox
  • No Facebook chat - I really need Facebook chat in a client
  • Twitter interface is awful - reply is hard to read and treats twitter like an instant messaging conversation. It really needs a separately styled interface for twitter/facebook status updates.
  • Annoyances - cant click a link directly from a notification window or from users history. Come on, this is the internet. You can't even copy and paste the tweets. You must be able to do better than that Guys

I think the basic problem is that Cerulian Studios have tried to squeeze twitter into the instant messaging model.

But really, thats not what its for for me.

Looks like I will have to keep my crazy round robin of messaging clients until I find something that truly does it all. Til then is a constant flirt with Meebo for instant messaging, a bevy of twitter clients, and occasionally Digsby Tweetdeck, Twhirl, and occasionally Digsby to try and find the eternal combination.

I just hope one day that I can finally see all my stuff in the same place, in real time.

Some kind of messaging hybrid craziness.

All I really want is an:

  • awesome functional twitter client combined with;
  • awesome functional IM client (including Facebook);
  • the ablity to read all my news feeds in one place (twitter, facebook etc.) but most importantly
  • It has to work
Is that too much to ask


Monday, December 8, 2008

How to recognize a moral panic,, won't someone think of the children.

With all the Henson controversy lately, and the subsequent fakefurore, one thing struck me. The so called 'victims' were exceptionally articulate young ladies, who appeared, despite their tender age, to have a full understanding of what they were doing and the political context in which it took place.

There is so much fear and panic being generated, that the police have to take action.

Today was another dark day for those who like to think rationally, and without fear. And it wasnt just one attack on the freedoms we should all fight for, it was two.

Ever heard of Rule 34.? Perhaps not. But im sure you know about The Simpsons. You know the yellow, four fingered cartoon characters.

Well a supreme court judge has ruled that an image of Bart and Lisa going at it, is child porn.



Yep.. Child Porn!! Like the exploting children kind, because.. as the judge pointed out. Bart and Lisa are people.

Lets just deconstruct this. Download a rule 34 image from the internet by browsing a web page.

For your troubles you get:

1 x $3000 fine
2 x 2 year good behaviour bond.
3000+ x google results with your name and child porn.

How fucking ridiculous! Its a cartoon. If it was a person, it would be 28 years ald. Its NOT a person. It has four fingers, and its a joke.

I feel so sorry for this guy, particularly because I accidentally downloaded a number of those very same simpsons pictures when researching this topic. Are we going to arrest google for hosting the thumbnails?

Umm.. perhaps not.

So I though this was a bad day for Australian rationality. It couldnt possibly get worse.

Uhh.. nope, it could.

A Queensland man has been charged with reposting a video clip of a man swinging a baby around. Thats right RE-POSTING. He didnt:

  • Touch the baby
  • See the baby
  • know the baby
  • take the video, or
  • post the original video
he simply
  • reposted something he saw on the internet.

For this the police raided his house and treated him like a pedophile, and now he has been charged with child abuse related charges.

Some of the most cherished photo's I have are (and I suspect many people) of me and my best friends naked in a bath when I was literally knee high. If I upload that to my Flickr account, does that make me a child pornographer?

After today, I'm really not sure.