Thoughts from Blog-ingham

YouTube 5 Years on – Leave the Lunatics Running the Asylum – They’re doing a Good Job

Posted in Current Affairs, Internet, People, Social Media, Uncategorized, Web 2.0, YouTube by adamellis1985 on February 15, 2010

Introduction

I was browsing my Twitter feed yesterday afternoon and I noticed a link posted by @guardiantech, which was entitled, “YouTube’s fifth birthday: watch its top five videos.” It stirred a few thoughts in my mind that I will explore in this blog post.

Firstly, it made me realise how incredible YouTube’s growth has been in such a short period of time. Secondly, it made me rather nostalgic about how many great things I have seen on YouTube and I will share some of those with you in the same way The Guardian did. And finally, it made me slightly concerned about the ever expanding Internet juggeranut that is Google. As Google continues to expand, steamrolling the Internet landscape, re-inventing the YouTube commercial model and simultaneously looking for its’ return on investment, I fear we may lose some of the things that have endeared us to that site for the past five years. YouTube is a crazy and bizarre place at times but that is one of the things that has made it so great. The people behind the videos are YouTube and without them it’s nothing.

Happy Birthday YouTube – My, How You’ve Grown

So, YouTube has reached the tender toddler age of five years old. I can imagine many teenagers wondering what came before YouTube in that space. And the answer really is, not much. Google bought YouTube for $1.65bn in 2006 less than a year after its launch but is still working on ways to make money out of it. At that time, 100 million videos were views every day and 72 million people visited the site each day. YouTube now streams a monstrous 1 billion videos a day. It’s a scary figure and I can’t get my head round it. It’s growth is quite simply astronomical and causes quite a headache for ISP’s providing the bandwidtch to cope with their customers appetitie for an ever expanding library of online video content. If you want to see how far YouTube has come, check out the Web Archive where you can check back month on month to see what the site used to look like. YouTube is now of the most visited websites in the world sitting at number 3 for 2009 behind only its parent company Google and of course, Facebook. People my age have grown up with YouTube and found amateur videos that are inspiring, cringeworthy, hilarious, sad, endearing and sometimes outrageous. Here are just a few of the best videos I have viewed on YouTube over the last few years:

The Battle of the Kruger

Filmed by holidaymakers in the Kruger National Park in South Africa, this is an incredible video and probably something that even the professionals would struggle to find themselves in the right place at the right time to film. It is a once in a lifetime clip.

Where the Hell is Matt?

This is one of the most heartwarming, life-me-up videos I have ever come across. I don’t really know why but I just like it. Perhaps it’s because a guy called Matt has decided to do a silly dance in many countries across the world and invited anyone who lives there to do it with him. Simple but brilliant. YouTube is the perfect forum to share it. If you want to find out more about Matt and how he made the videos and the story behind it, then check out his website.

100 Greatest Hits of YouTube in 4 minutes

For me this video sums up what YouTube is all about. It is an eclectic (substitute electic for other adjectives such as, crazy, mental or bizarre where applicable) mix of brilliant amateur clips that you just wouldn’t have seen before YouTube came along.

Google and a Changing Commerical Model

This leads me on to my final point which is about what YouTube represents and why people like it? YouTube is changing the way we consume online content and moving beyond the amateurish realms of videos of babies giggling and having 50 million people view it. Google is looking for its ROI by using YouTube as a plaform for much more than your average person sharing their holiday videos. More and more online content consumption is via video. Google is not missing a trick here and is raising YouTube into a fully fledged adult capable of bringing in massive revenue streams to get its’ return on investment. YouTube recently announced the rights to stream Inidan Premier League Cricket. The two-year deal gives the Google-owned YouTube the exclusive rights to stream IPL matches online, with the two companies splitting revenue from sponsorship and advertising.  YouTube are moving into content areas traditionally owned by broadcasters such as BBC and Sky and they must be looking over their shoulders now at the Google backed video giant wondering how they can compete in the future. This move was on the back of YouTube moving into the live music market and winning the rights to U2 broadcasting their gig at the Pasadena Bowl, in California, in October via YouTube, to fans in 16 countries around the world.  Google has been making its mark on YouTube, professionalising it and moving it beyond the You’ve Been Framedesque amateur clips. Furthermore, the expansion of corporates into YouTube for having their own communications or marketing channels has also been noticeable. YouTube now even features a Corporate Brand Channel, which teaches you how to plan online marketing campaigns. YouTube styles itself as being a “powerful, creative and efficient partner for your next campaign.” (Source: http://www.youtube.com/user/advertise)

Don’t Like Change

All this is fine and Google needs to make its money back and the new channels on music concerts, live sport and online events streamed via YouTube only adds another dimesion to the its appeal. But what attracted us all to YouTube in the first place was the appeal of seeing normal people (well, people anyway) sharing their amusing, uplifting or downright deranged video clips. I just hope Google doesn’t ever take that precious channel away, as I know I for one would miss it!

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Facebook: Photos, Tags and Categories – How to Improve the User Experience?

Posted in Current Affairs, facebook, People, Social Networks, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 by adamellis1985 on February 12, 2010

Facebook has been frustrating me recently coming up with rather superficial enhancements to the layout when you log in rather than concentrating of enhancing the core functionality that drew so many users to the platform in the first place. The recent launch of a new layout split into three linear columns of shortcuts on the right hand side, your feed in the middle and suggestions and ad’s on the right, looks nice but it doesn’t make me want to stay with Facebook over another social network. Perhaps the launch of the new layout was to coincide with Googles’ foray in the social networking space with their launch of Buzz this week.

The topic of this blog post is about Facebooks’ core functionality and when I say it frustrates me I am going to talk specifically about its app for photos. Facebook is a great place to store and share photos with your friends who you are connected with. It has a simple interface for uploading albums and a tagging feature to mark your friends are in the photos and then they are alerted that you have uploaded a photo of them. It has been hugely successful having passed 10 billion photos in October 2008

If you’re the number crunching type, here are some other facts and figures from Facebook’s photo vault:

* 2-3 Terabytes of photos are being uploaded to Facebook every day
* They have just over one petabyte of photo storage
* They serve over 15 billion photo images per day
* Photo traffic peaks at over 300,000 images served per second

Source: Stan Schroeder

Photos may be a popular part of the Facebook package but it can still improve. The photos functionality has remained too static and has not progressed to work alongside the sheer volume of photos that some people now have on there. Facebook needs to look to FlickrPhotobucket and Picasa to see how the storage and viewing of photos needs to be made more manageable and accessible.

If I take my Facebook profile as an example of an average twenty-something user; I have 1,330 photos, which I am tagged in on Facebook, 42 albums I have uploaded of approx 50 photos each so roughly 2000 photos on Facebook.

I think Facebook could improve its service in two ways by developing its tagging feature beyond people to categories of the actual photos. Firstly, by allowing users to tag individual photos or whole albums with categories and then browse them and secondly by allowing users who are connected with friends to share tags so they can browse a tagged category of similar photos combined from a number of different connected Facebook users.

Tagging photos and sub-categorising beyond the album structure

As I mentioned the volume of photos on some users’ profile means finding the pictures you want to see can become difficult. I am not proposing this for the Facebook stalkers out there and there are many who would find this service useful. It is quite the opposite. I am proposing it for people who don’t want to flick through hundreds of photos of the same person but want to get to a category where they have a shared interest and/or may appear in some of the photos. There are two features, which cover some of that functionality already. One is the album categorisation where you can upload and label an album with a title and description but albums are too rigid for getting what you want when you are looking for photos. Secondly, Facebook added a very useful, ‘photos and person X and me’ so you can browse them.

But why can’t they extend tagging further to categories? It has worked with tagging individual people in photos so users are happy to manually categorise their photos. For example, I would be interested in tagging some of my photos with #skiing or #football. Then anyone who is interested in where I have been skiing could check those photos out by browsing across different albums through selecting the right tag (as long as I had tagged all the right photos) Secondly, if I play football with someone and they want to check out football photos but nothing else they could work with the #football tag. This would rely on people choosing the right tag. And of course the tagging system for categorising photos would still stick to networks and people who have privilege to see your photos. There is also a second application to the feature of tagging which I think could prove even more useful

Tagging across different connected users’ photos

Once you have the ability to tag individual photos with single or multiple tags building up a catalogue of your photo is categorised not just by an album name, users have the ability to extend that out beyond their own profile. So if a user and a number of friends wanted to use the same tag to share photos which would compile photos from all their albums and make them accessible through a tag then this could be very useful. For example, a number of people like to relive their youth and share photos of when they were at school with their friends. But how they currently do this is not the easiest way. They start by setting up a ‘group’, called ‘Remember the days of School X 1993-1999’ and then they all upload their individual photos for the same topic of when they were at school to the photos section of the group. They could bypass that by having a shared tag of #oldschooldays # school etc and apply it to the whole album they upload to their profile or individual photos. They could then combine their favourite photos of the same topic from as many different Facebook users as necessary to browse them all together. Again privacy settings would prevail.

Open up photos to search

A further piece of functionality this would open up is search. If users embraced the idea of sub categorising their photos beyond static individual albums they could then search to find the photos they want. So a user could go to the photos section of Facebook and select in a tick box or a search box the users they want to search (their 5 best friends for example) or they could search all their 400 (or however many) friends but the results might then be overwhelming. They could then enter in the photo category search box whichever topic they were interested in, be it #nightsout #sport # school # work or #christmas and browse photos in a different more accessible way.

Conclusion

Anyway, just a few thoughts from me as an active Facebook user. I dropped Facebook an email with the suggestion but sure they have already thought of this or someone has!

Will the real President Obama please stand up?

Posted in Current Affairs, International Relations, People, Politics by adamellis1985 on October 9, 2009

It was announced today that Barack Obama has become the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Winner. It is a decision that has shocked the world and led many to question what on earth he has won it for and whether he will even accept it? While statesmen and dignitaries across the world congratulate him on his accolade and wonderful ‘achievements’ (I use the word in its loosest terms), the rest of the world look on and see a Commander in Chief overseeing two wars, crises on the domestic front and the worst international economic crisis ever. But admittedly he didn’t start any of those events himself.

The decision shocked the world including none other than President Obama himself, who was awoken to the news by the White House press secretary. Mr Obama had no early indication he was to receive the award and only found out about it when his press secretary called at 6am, which was just an hour after the decision was announced in Oslo, to break the news.

It must have come as a huge shock to Obama. Firstly, as he did not deserve it and secondly because he was asleep and clearly not expecting to receive the call. Obama being asleep could be construed as his humble nature and not expecting the award but really it was just that he didn’t have any idea he was going to win. If I were ever in the running for a Nobel Peace Prize then I would have been pacing the room waiting for ‘that call’. However, Obama was happily tucked up in bed, probably dreaming of what he can achieve in the next 4 years of his Presidency and maybe 5 years beyond that with re-election. Obama would have been dreaming of bringing the Iraq War to an end and bringing the American troops home, restoring stability to Afghanistan and bringing peace to the Middle East while passing legislation on healthcare reform on the domestic front and restoring the world economy to prosperity with a US led recovery.

President Obama addressing troops in Iraq

President Obama addressing troops in Iraq

In Obama’s dreams, at the end of that distinguished list of achievements, he would have been hailed as one of the greatest statesmen ever to live by stated heads, academics, the media and the American people and maybe even given the nod for a Nobel Peace Prize. I would not have been surprised if on hearing the news of his award, Mr Obama would have awoken somewhat confused and could even have been excused for thinking that he had slept straight through to 2016 when he might actually warrant being considered for the achievement more seriously.

After rubbing his weary eyes and letting the achievement sink in, Mr Obama had to react to the news and in an address at the White House said that he was, “surprised and deeply humbled” by the award. Or that could be code for, ‘what the hell have I done to win this? I’m pretty embarrassed. Maybe I should check what I have won it for?’ From 1901 to 2009, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded 90 times to 120 Nobel Laureates – 97 times to individuals and 23 times to organizations. Vietnamese politician Le Duc Tho is the only person to have declined it.

To clear up the ambiguity and shock, which came with the decision of who the winner was, the Nobel Committee were good enough to point out why he had won it, which was for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples”. Note the precise choice of language here. It was for his ‘efforts’ and not his ‘achievements’. This decision is politically motivated and could prove a very clever decision in the long term. Obama has been granted his annual financial bonus at the start of the year before hitting his targets. The Nobel Committee are telling Obama to make sure he stands up and delivers against his promises. End the Bush wars, reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles, bring peace to the Middle East, pacify North Korea and bring some agreement and cohesion on climate change. Any one of these accomplishments could warrant a Nobel Prize but Obama has not completed or even really started out on the road to sorting out many of these issues.

So it is a pat on the back and a well done so far but much more work to do and don’t let us down. Defending the decision to grant the prize to Obama, Nobel Committee head Thorbjoern Jagland said, “It was because we would like to support what he is trying to achieve”. Hopefully Obama can live up to the hype, hope and promise of his campaign of ‘Can we do it? Yes we can!’ It seems that the Nobel Committee have been swept up in the hope, rhetoric and promise of change. Remember he has only been in power 8 months and a lot of Americans are beginning to question if they were wrongly swept up in the same furore that brought Obama to power. Obama must have been added to the shortlist of nominees almost within his first two weeks in office, in which time all he had time to do was choose his Presidential desk and change the curtains George and Laura Bush had in the Presidential bedroom.

It is a shame that such a well respected coveted prize has been reduced to a political tool such as the move to  pick Obama as winner demonstrated. Former Polish President Lech Walesa, who won the prize in 1983, questioned whether Obama deserved it now. “So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far. He is still at an early stage. He is only beginning to act,” Walesa said.

And as a former winner, Walesas’ comments point out the distinguished company he finds himself in now as a winner of the Peace Prize. But he should not be there yet. Obama is being held in the same esteem as 1979 winner; Mother Theresa who devoted her life to charity and missionary work, Marin Luther King, who won in 1964 and was the leading figure in the civil rights movement and Mikhail Gorbachev who won in 1989 for helping bring the Cold War to an end, a war that could have brought the world to an end through the promise of mutually assure destruction. And then there is Obama, a former Senator only eight months into his Presidency.

Obama is the first African American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize since the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. There were a record 205 nominations for this year’s peace prize. Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Chinese dissident Hu Jia had been among the favourites. Now, if we take Morgan Tsvangirai, he would have been excused for pacing around waiting for a phone call from Oslo while Obama slept well in the White House. Tsvangirai has battled tirelessly against the despotic Zimbabwean regime led by Mugabe. Tsvangirai has been arrested, beaten, threatened with assassination and has kept hope and brought change, something that Obama is yet to achieve. On 11 February 2009, Tsvangirai was sworn in as the President of Zimbabwe.  We have to remember that Obama already looks like a Saint (which might come soon at this rate) compared to his predecessor. The change between Bush’s unilateralist foreign policy and Obama’s world outlook has maybe also had an influence on the decision.

Tsvangirai trying to make things work with Mugabe

Tsvangirai trying to make things work with Mugabe

So eight months into a so far undistinguished Presidency, this may be a wakeup call for Obama (quite literally in this instance) to stand up and take account and start acting. There is a lot of work to do and I, as well as many others believe Barack Obama could be the man to bring the international community together through multilateralism, end the Afghan and Iraqi wars, bring a peace resolution to the Middle East and lead the world out of the economic quagmire it has found itself in. But he has not done any of that yet. Who knows, if President Obama achieves even just a few of the things on that list, he could well win a second Nobel Peace Prize?

Goodbye Sir Bobby – Where is Sport without people like you?

Posted in Current Affairs, Football, People, sport, Uncategorized by adamellis1985 on September 22, 2009

Yesterday, friends, family and colleagues gathered at Durham Cathedral to pay their last respects to a sporting legend. Sir Bobby Robson died 31st July, aged 76 after losing his fifth battle against cancer. It was fitting that it took place in Durham, the heartland of Robson’s beloved North East where he grew up and close to Newcastle United where he enjoyed a successful managerial spell around 10 years ago. Sir Bobby was a football icon, playing for England in a successful playing career before managing some of the biggest clubs in the world including Barcelona and nurturing the talent of household names, such as Romario, Ronaldo and Alan Shearer. Robson was not only a footballer’s man but he was also a gentleman and a fair man.

Sir Bobby Robson (1933-2009)

Sir Bobby Robson (1933-2009)

Robson’s achievements in football included winning European trophies with Ipswich Town and taking England to the semi finals of Italia 90 and a posts width away from a place in the World Cup Final. He also won numerous competitions with Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven and Porto. He was an early mentor to one Jose Mourinho at Barcelona as well. But his efforts stretched beyond sport where he used his high profile status in his great efforts in raising money for cancer and the Cancer Trials Research Centre he helped set up at Newcastle’s Freeman hospital. Once he had to give up football coaching he set himself another stretching target, which was target of raising £1.5m for the new unit, and reached that sum in eight weeks. We need more Robson’s in the world.

In the summer when a great sporting man died, sport has been dragged through the mud yet again with scandal after scandal. The early summer saw 1980’s football hooliganism return in the shape of rioting Millwall and West Ham fans in a Carling Cup match at Upton Park. The pitch was invaded four times and outside the ground was a scene reminiscent of an evening out in downtown Baghdad. A great image for our bid to host the 2018 world cup and for onlookers seeing how we are preparing for the 2012 Olympics. Then just in the last week, Manchester City have been embroiled by disciplinary issues. Firstly Emmanuel Adebayor playing aginst his old club Arsenal put the boot in, quite literally.

Adebayor stamped on Robin Van Persie’s face and could have blinded him. I suspect Robson would have had a thing or two to say to Adebayor in the dressing room, which would have been a little firmer than Mark Hughes’ pathetic defense. Hughes said I looked him in the eyes and asked him if the did it on purpose? He said he didn’t and I believe him. Come on now Mark, is he really going to tell you he was trying to re arrange his face because he hated his ex-teamate?! Robson would most likely have apologised to the fans and put Adebayor on the transfer list. You only have to cast your mind back to what he thought of Craig Bellamy and Kieron Dyer fighting each other on the pitch when they were teammates. Robson’s eventual efforts to get Dyer out of the club led to a fans backlach against him, however, it was the right thing to do. Hughes and Adebyaor have let themselves and the fans down. Then in the Manchester derby just this weekend, a Manchesater United fan ran onto the pitch to celebrate a goal with the players (which he must have thought was allowed or have been blind drunk or both) and Carig Bellamy (him again) slapped the fan in the face.

But these issues of bad sporting etiquette extend beyond Robson’s realm of football. I wonder what Robson would have thought of Falvio Briatore’s diretive to Nelson Piquet to deliberately crash his Formula 1 multi million pound car into a wall so his teammate could win the race? Don’t forget that Briatore is also asscoiated with football in his capacity as a director at Queens Park Rangers. Not for long I suspect.

What Reanult did wasn’t just playing hard and doing everything you can to win. This is plain cheating. There is no two ways about it. And how do the FIA try to uphold sporting and fair play standards? By giving Renault a suspended two year ban. Yeah that’s a real deterrent. Great job.

And then there is the gentlemen’s game and a real man’s game that is Rugby Union. But what would Robson have made of Dean Richards instructions to wing Tom Williams during the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Leinster in April to fake a blood injury while he was in charge at Harelquins? Richards asked one of his players to bite down on a blood capsule so that he could leave the field and they could make a subsitution that would have otherwise not been allowed to get a kicker on in the final minutes of the game? Can’t imagine Robson would have thought much of that. Real blood injuries…fine…man up and get on with it if you can. I’m not sure Robson could have even fathomed what a calculated, deliberate fake blood injury could even be.

The point is that we need influential people like Robson at the top of the sporting game and with the ability to influence and uphold the standards to keep sport moving in the right direction. We need less Adebayors and Briatores and more Robsons. Sport shames itself week in week out across Football, Rugby, Formula 1 and even Tennis. But it is how people are punished and how sport learns from its mistakes as a community that we will move on from these issues. Overturning Eduardo’s ban for blatent diving because FIFA are scared of Arsenal’s mite in world football does not send the right messages to the grass roots of the game and it’s not the way to go. Sporting associations need to take more of a stand against violence, corruption and cheating in sport. It would be easy to stamp out (no Adebayor pun intended) all the issues mentioned above. Fine Renault £1 million and ban them from competing for a few races. Then see if one of their drivers ever miraculously drives into a wall again. Ban Adebayor and arrest him for assault and fine Manchester City an exhorbitant amount of money (they can afford it). Otherwise in fifty years time there will be no more memorial services to celebrate the lives of sporting legends and people like Sir Bobby Robson.

Londoners and the Tube

Posted in Culture, People, Travel, Uncategorized by adamellis1985 on September 3, 2009

I have just spent a couple of days in London with work and I am currently writing this blog post sitting on my very comfortable Virgin Train service back up to Birmingham New Street. My numerous journeys on the Tube while I was in London were comparatively less comfy. After a few days in the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s foremost business and economic centres, it made me think about London as a place. London is a weird, wonderful and remarkable place and perhaps even the most famous city in the world. It was voted just this week as the 14th best place to visit for tourist purposes on the planet and was only beaten by places such as New York and Mauritius.

What is London?

London. Home to the Prime Minister and the Queen. The skyline is dominated by some of the globes most easily recognisable landmarks like Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Gherkin and Canary Wharf. London is also a gastronomic capital with the finest eating establishments in the Michelin guidebook and home to chefs, such as Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing. And then there’s the shopping and the hotels, Harrods and The Ritz. And not forgetting the sport and world-renowned venues like Wimbledon and Wembley, and of course, London as the forthcoming host of the 30th Olympiad in 2012. But this blog post is not an advert for why to visit London. For me, what really defines London and sets it apart from other British cities is its other 8 million inhabitants speaking a combined total of well over 300 different languages or ‘Londoners’ who live there besides the Queen and the PM.

Londoners

‘Londoners’ are busy people. London is a city on the move, all the time, both day and night. This brings me on to the main topic for this blog, which is human observations about travel in London, and particularly Tube etiquette.

Now, one area where Londoners are easily distinguishable from Brummies, Scousers or Mancunians is there approach to the daily work commute. Are Londoners actually busier than their brethren from the wilds of the North? Are there fewer hours in the day south of the Watford gap? Does London operate on a 23-hour clock? London is a cultural microcosm where patterns of behaviour are learned and people are conditioned to behave like Londoners.

So how would one pass as a Londoner if they were moving to the city from a faraway place, such as Newcastle (which I guarantee very few Londoners could even locate on map) and had never visited before? Well there are some very simple steps to take to pass confidently as a fully-fledged Londoner for a newcomer. 

Tube Etiquette

Firstly, Londoners under no circumstances look where they are going, especially when using public transport. It is quite normal to barge into people and then mutter something under your breath like it was the other persons fault for blocking your Napoleonic march. It is most unconventional to look where you are going or apologise for bumping into someone. I have not been fortunate enough to witness the phenomenon of Tube rage first hand but I am told it can be quite common at peak travel times. So be on your guard when squeezing into the tube at the last minute before the doors close. Make sure you don’t make someone else pop out at your expense as you step on. This could cause issues.

Secondly, you must always be reading when making your way to or using public transport (particularly the tube) Again, you must read even if this means sacrificing your eyes for their traditional use of assisting you in navigating your way through the inevitable crowds of fellow commuters. It is perfectly normal to actually read while you are walking along in London while in a city like Leeds this may lead to stares from people wondering what the hell you are doing or envious looks from others at your remarkable multiple tasking abilities. While others in Liverpool will nod knowingly to themselves and think you must be one of those ‘Londoners’ up on business for the day. Now, back to more pressing matters……the choice of reading material. This may vary from books to magazines and newspapers such as the Metro, Evening Standard and the London Paper are all popular choices. It is acceptable to collect a free paper on the way to The Tube purely because it is free and you like a bargain and then never read it. Most unread papers are left behind the seats or at the bottom of escalators. Adventurous Londoners will even patronise their Netbooks or Laptops while engaging in the daily commute.

Thirdly, a new Londoner must participate in the fun and games of the escalators and stairs, which are obviously inescapable in the underground. One has to remember that we deciphered earlier that Londoners are either busier than others or they operate on a shorter daily clock. It is only in London where people would walk down the escalators at a break neck pace to cheat the kinetic and inevitable motion of the escalator and beat the stationary non-movers on the escalators down by at least 7 or 8 seconds. But these precious seconds could prove vital to a Londoner. Outsiders should only stand stationary on the left hand side of the escalators at their peril blocking our budding Usain Bolt’s from steaming past. If you were to stand stationary on the left hand side of an escalator, beware; this could cause extreme huffing and puffing from the blocked commuter. Whereas in Birmingham New Street, for example, which I might add, it is the busiest train station in the country, there are no designated escalator express lanes and it would be unclear whether the right or left hand side is the ‘express’ route.

Finally and most importantly to avoid injury to yourself, you must beware of anyone standing on the tube with a suitcase. Do not stand near them…sit with the Londonders at this stage. If a traveller has a wheelie suitcase it usually means they are in London for a holiday or for business overnight from another city. Beware of them particularly when the tube comes to a stop or departs a station with a sudden jolt of motion. They are the ones who will fall over, grab anything they can including an innocent stable bystander to stop themselves collapsing in a heap on the tube carriage floor or even, most entertainingly; actually fly halfway down the carriage when there is a particularly forceful jolt.

Learned or needed?

Obviously this post has been written from a slightly sarcastic standpoint. However, I love London and have many friends who are Londoners. Also many Londoners do need to make their way in a quick march as the transport network can be so congested it can take an age to get to meetings and appointments. Also many Londoners don’t adhere to any of the behavioural triats discussed and potter along at their own weary pace. Sometimes though I find myself in London and slowly being conditioned into the ways of the masses. I might sometimes hurry my steps even though I am not in a hurry but I am following the herd mentality. So what baffles me is whether these behavioural traits I have mentioned associated with Londoners are a necessity of completing the journey to and from work or social events or if this is a conditioned behaviour? I think it is learned. It is not particularly important whether these traits are the result of social conditioning or whether Londoners actually are busier but I thought I would note down my observations either way. What does seem obvious to me though is why many people my age only ‘do’ London for a few years and that is because they are simply fed up and worn out from the commuting!

Why have I started blogging? Seems a good place to start

Posted in People, Social Media, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 by adamellis1985 on August 29, 2009

Blogging has become a common literary (0r visual) form of communication in today’s world. Blogging is becomming almost as common as writing letters was fifty years ago or emailing is today. But why do people choose to join this new culture of communication when they do? And why do people choose to blog rather than deliver the same messages via other social mediums? These are a couple of questions that have gone through my mind and as this is my first blog post I thought it was a decent place to begin with a little bit of reflection about why I have joined the blogosphere now and why I choose to blog?

Why now?

I have been fascinated by a number of other blogs on the Internet for some time now, including Robert Peston’s BBC Business blog, Mashable, Freakanomics, Confused of Calcutta and Life Hacker. It dawned on me that I had a huge interest in a number of areas demonstrated by the range of the topics in the blogs mentioned and perhaps I could add some opinions and thoughts on topics that I am particularly au fait with. I first started blogging nearly two years ago but in a far more insular, defined space. I wrote a travel blog as I made my way around Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. I chose a blog, as I thought it was the best way to communicate my experiences in South American with the people who were interested enough to hear about it (but I will come back to that later) Since I started working at BT I have become more aware of what social technologies like Twitter and blogging can offer and have become more engaged in them both in the Enterprise and in my personal life. Therefore, this seemed an appropriate time (also it’s raining outside) for me to transfer what I have learnt and observed into a blog.

Why do I blog?

This answer will vary remarkably for each different blogger you ask so my answer is tinged with a little bias from my own viewpoint. I am certain that this question has been laboured over by thousands of other bloggers out there so I will not summarise their thoughts as I have deliberately not read the answers to this question as I wanted to approach it from a fresh perspective.

Firstly, blogging is a method of communication and differs greatly from a letter, an email or Facebook messages direct to you wall or inbox because it offers the wonderful element of choice. One can’t really claim they haven’t seen a friend’s ‘gap year’ weekly message if it is delivered by email or straight to you Facebook Inbox. A blog sits alone on the Internet and the reader seeks to consume the latest blog posts and chooses do this by ‘subscribing’ to new posts. Coming back to my trip to South America, I was loathe to share what a ‘life changing, soul enhancing’ (fortunately I never actually had a blog post with that title anyway) time I was having with my friends back home while they toiled away with the beginning of the recession trying to find jobs after graduating from University or saving their pennies to do a similar trip to myself. Therefore I chose a different medium for sharing my stories and thoughts about South America and in general what I had been up to. I therefore chose to write a travel blog and offer the URL to anyone who was interested enough to what to know what I had been doing in Patagonia or how my trek up Macchu Picchu was and they could take it or leave it.

Secondly, blogging is a form of democratisation on the Internet and can open up debate and the sharing of thoughts and knowledge on specific topics. You only have to think back to the peaceful revolutions in Eastern Europe, the social media explosion in Iran after Ahmedinajad’s recent ‘re-election’ and the popularity of blogs in Cuba, a country where that is still a dangerous past time to be engaged in. I hope to share my views in this blog in the future on topics I have a certain level of interest and knowledge in and will steer clear of other topics. So blogs are a point of learning.

And finally, blogging offers a totally different form of communication to other social mediums, such as Twitter and Facebook. For me, I am a fan of both Twitter and Facebook and frequently use both. But equally I acknowledge that they both occupy a fairly inane social space in the form of ‘what are you doing?’ Now, I am the first to admit that I like to engage in filling in witty responses or slightly gleeful announcements of where I am going on holiday to that question on Facebook or summarising my weekends’ activities in 140 characters on Twitter. But does anyone except my Mother really care what I have eaten for dinner or where I went on a sunny Saturday afternoon? I think not. Admittedly, Twitter does also serve a more mature purpose as well demonstrated by its current demographic of users, including academics and business leaders.  Therefore, what my blog won’t be is a self indulgent real time report of what I have eaten for breakfast, when I read the paper, which paper it was and when I had lunch. There is nothing wrong with blogs that are like that but mine won’t follow that trend so please feel free to remind me if it ever reverts to that. I will attempt to deliver a blog with some insight and commentary on topics such as Politics and Business, Social Media, Sport, Travel and The Arts (a posh term for music and cinema).