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Friday, January 25

Blogger's Favourite Movies

Tidying my profile link and then the profile, I noticed I could click on movies I'd favourited. This gave me the top ten of popularity, amongst Blogger users of these movies.

Clicking through was an exercise in revelation as some were far more well-known than I thought and others had interesting, not always predictable, fans.

Not in order of addition, some movies I could watch over and over

I also investigated clips and found out just how enormous the YouTube archive is getting, though not every thing's there and not every scene I'd pick.

A couple of scenes from Tarkovsky's "Mirror"

Storica introduzione di "Manhattan", film che più di ogni altro può essere considerato capolavoro della poetica del grande regista Woody Allen. Scritto da Allen e da Marshall Brickman, accompagnato dalla storica colonna sonora di George Gershwin.

Trailer for Amarcord directed by Federico Fellini

Just going wider to Google Video Search brings up more gems.

La Dolce Vita
Anita Eckberg e Marcello Matroianni nella celebre scena della Fontana di Trevi, dal film "La dolce vita" di Fellini

Peroni's beautiful and stylish portrayal of Fellini's 1960s Italian classic La Dolce Vita. This advertisement is the colour version of Peroni's stunning La Dolce Vita commercial — a great pastiche of the opening scene but I couldn't find the original :{

'e-suicide'? Nothing new

Danny Finkelstein at The Times looks at copycat suicides, supposedly spawned by the web, and finds them part of a long tradition.

Too right. One word: Valentino, the silent screen heartthrob.

At the news of Valentino's death, two women attempted suicide in front of Polyclinic Hospital; in London a girl took poison before Rudy's inscribed photograph; an elevator boy of the Ritz in Paris was found dead on a bed covered with Valentino's photos.

While Valentino was lying in state at Campbell's Funeral Home, New York streets became the scene of a ghoulish carnival as a mob of over 100,000 fought for a last glimpse of the Great Lover

From Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon.

Kenya: where is the BBC?

Here's today's BBC Online headline:

And here's Kenya's headline:

More about the troop movements on Siasa Duni's blog and others.

Very little continuing political analysis about Kenya on the BBC's site, although this was published on Monday.

Note the author. Let's hear more from him. Keep the star reporters at home (less carbon miles for one thing).

It is right to report the violence but not when that's the whole story and the impression is left that it's solely 'tribal' or little explanation is given.

BBC Online has the vastness of scale to do way, way more to report what's happening or - at minimum - link to it. There's not even cross links to their other huge resource, the World Service, which has specialists.

I don't think their coverage lives up to their responsibilities and, given their resources, is pretty pathetic.


More background from the Kenyan blogosphere:

· Very interesting post about division and 'dobbing-in' to authorities in the diaspora and how Kibaki backers are using the web to, amongst other things, say that Raila Ondinga is funded by Al Qaeda.

· Never mind the BBC, the same author has no time for the efforts of Kenyan MSM:

For the rest of their lives, Kenyans will have a healthy skepticism for the media. As of January 2008, Kenya will have the largest number of healthy media critics ever known. Why? Media personalities, such as Mildred Ngesa, Catherine Kasavuli and Carole Mandi, people that Kenyans looked up to, have turned out to be fickle and unprincipled. As it strived to cheapen its stories, the Kenyan media as a whole was cheapened. They allowed Michuki (Minister and loud Kibaki backer - very like the Zimbabwean tyke, Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo) to cello-tape their mouths. They cannot call themselves journalists. It is not enough for them to come out on national TV and emotionally say that they are forming a group because “Somewhere, the story has been lost.” If the true story has been lost, then it is because they were asleep while they were supposed to be telling it. I venture to surmise, however, that the true story is alive and well, because Kenyan bloggers have come out and done the job that the Kenyan news media is supposed to do. Kenyan journalists should be ashamed of themselves. They have let Kenya down. Many people now trust Kumekucha more than they trust their regular dailies. [Kumekucha says: Kofi Annan appears to have waved his MAGIC wand and viola all Kenyans are ululating with bliss. )

Kenyans who never cared much about media personalities have had their attention rudely drawn to the fact that their newspapers and televisions might not be giving them the whole story. Circumstances have forced Kenyans to begin to ask themselves what might be written between the lines; what is not being told; what the purpose is, for what is being told. This is very healthy, because it will hopefully bring a sense of accountability to the media. Pretty soon, people will begin to ask questions. How could Ugandan soldiers venture into Kenya undetected? Why did I have to read a blog to find out about a woman whose daughter was raped in the Rift Valley?


On Day One

The Better World Campaign, a coalition of groups which works to build a stronger relationship between the United States and the United Nations, is trying to raise the status of foreign policy in the US Presidential campaign with this new site.

It wants overseas contribution and will sort and sieve it to provide some real numbers, if it's taken up.

On November 4th, 2008, Americans will elect new leadership and a new direction for the United States. Help shape a new way forward -- share your thoughts, upload videos and tell the next president what to do on the first day in office to improve our standing in the world.
You can:
  • Post your ideas (including videos) for the next President
  • Vote on and discuss other people's ideas
  • Tell the Presidential candidates (and friends and family) what you think
Mohammed YunusMohammed Yunus, amongst others, has already contributed.

Contributions will be whittled down to the most popular in each of nine categories. They will then be presented to the newly-elected president when he or she is sworn in.

Here are some aides memoire:

Thursday, January 24

Send Kenyans some love

Very easy to show some support for Kenyans by sending some money to the Red Cross via MamaMikes.

I just bought someone a mattress and a few other items.

You can send just £5 - lunchmoney in the UK - and that will make a difference for someone.

Aussies should boycott the Daily Mail and Sun

This is how the Daily Mail has been spinning the 'drugs death' of Heath Ledger.

Nobody knows yet what exactly killed him but all the evidence thus far points to a fatal prescription drug interaction.

Australia is in national mourning and it's worth recording just how this British tabloid is treating their favourite son.

Also worth noting that I tried to add a comment saying 'shame on you' but the Mail doesn't like criticism of its behavior appearing on its website. Unlike The Guardian and others.

And they're not the only one - Aussies take note.

By contrast, this is the Australian tabloid 'spin'.

Blow me away travel maps

Absolutely stunning project from MySociety, a bunch of geniuses, on truly useful travel maps.

This mapping work was very important because it provides a potentially revolutionary new way of working out the best place for people to live and work.
You can see some examples here.

This one shows which areas it makes more sense to get public transport to work in Edinburgh, and which areas it makes more sense to drive.

They compare car vs cycling and one allow users to set both the maximum time they’re willing to commute, and the median house price they’re willing or able to pay.

There are two ways in which you can get a travel map of this sort centred on a location of interest to you.

If you’re a interested user, you can contact your local transport journey planning organisation, for example Transport for London or San Francisco BART, and encourage them to work with us to get a system like this working interactively on their websites.

If you’re a rich user, or company, you can commission us to create bespoke maps – we’re a non-profit after all and all the money will help run our other projects. And if you’re really rich, you can work with us to develop a real-time service of the sort that the transport agencies should be doing. Francis Irving from mySociety has written a technical review on the challenges of developing a real-time map generation system.

If you’re interested in working with us on this, email

Wednesday, January 23

Why Ken is losing

Compare and contrast these emails from Ken Livingstone's campaign and Barack Obama's.

Click for full-size

Just a terrible campaign email. Why does Ken need donations? Where is his rebuttal? Where are his allies? And, most importantly, why should I believe him? And who the heck is 'we'?

By contrast, Obama has recognised that the 'Barack=Muslim' meme isn't going away and impales it with John Kerry (losing Dem. 2004 candidate). Great ammunition for his supporters.

Ken needs to hire some online campaigning advisors, like, today.

The audacity of hope

Astonishingly powerful speech by Barack Obama from the 'bully pulpit' at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the church where Martin Luther King and his father pastored. Well repays 45' of attention. He's good.

"I wasn't born into money or great wealth, but I had hope!" he declared, bringing the congregation to its feet, cheering and clapping. "I needed some hope to get here. My daddy left me when I was little, but I had hope! I was raised by a single mother, but I had hope! I was given love, an education, and some hope!"

The Tweety Effect

Fascinating post on Media Matters by Eric Boehlert about a new net created phenomenon - the Tweety Effect.

'Tweety' is US TV commentator, MSNBC's Chris Matthews.

The meme, which Boehlert examines in detail, is that the barrage of sexism directed at Hillary Clinton by Matthews and other TV pundits directly affected the New Hampshire result as women voted for Hillary and against the media.

Matthews has referred to Clinton as "She devil." He has repeatedly likened Clinton to "Nurse Ratched," referring to the scheming, manipulative character in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest who "asserts arbitrary control simply because she can." He has called her "Madame Defarge." And he has described male politicians who have endorsed Clinton as "castratos in the eunuch chorus."

Matthews has compared Clinton to a "strip-teaser" and questioned whether she is "a convincing mom." He refers to Clinton's "cold eyes" and the "cold look" she supposedly gives people; he says she speaks in a "scolding manner" and is "going to tell us what to do."

Matthews was forced to apologise — by bloggers.

So we have a new Net term :}

Tweety Effect
1. where the misogyny of a talking head in the MSM so enrages a demographic that they go out and vote in a manner that will put egg on the face of the talking head.

Wesly Ngetich

Kenyan Marathon Runner Killed by Arrow - 14 hours ago

Wesly Ngetich, 34, won the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn., in 2005 and 2007. He and at least a dozen other Kenyans withdrew from the Rock 'n' Roll ...
The Associated Press - 157 related articles »

Photo/hat-tip: K. Praslowicz

Kenya Crisis - Online response flourishing

More inspiring online responses.

SMS as Information Channel in Post-Election Kenya

"Kenya IndyMedia solicits contributions of either cash or airtime minutes from not only within East Africa but from around the globe. Text messages with sufficient minutes attached are sent out to potential interview subjects, who then ring up one of IndyMedia's reporters. With the interview recorded, either John or a fellow activist then trudges over to one of Nairobi's cyber cafes. Paying about $1 an hour for Internet access, they're interviews are posting posted online for all the world to hear. Some of these SMS-enabled recordings have appeared on the Kenya IndyMedia website. Others are now airing on international radio."

Naburr is connecting with villages connected to NGOs by SMS.

Twitter is the only channel which can connect back to mobiles, allowing users to view posts without an Internet connection. Kenyan Twitter channels: KenyaNews - afromusing

Peace for Kenya and Kenya’s Post Election Humanitarian Crisis Facebook Groups.

Worknets Wiki.

Google comments on Kenyan use of YouTube.

While Kenya's future is uncertain, YouTube remains a window into the challenges the country faces – in other words, you don't need expensive satellite TV to catch the news from the region or footage of the chaos.

Hat-tip: NetSquared.

Previous posts with more links:

Paint The White House Black

Been catching up with and - yay! - got re-exposed to this P-Fonkay jam from George 'presient' Clinton's 2nd album release "Hey Man... Smell My Finger" on Prince's Paisley Park/NPG Records label in '93..

Spooky ...

Tuesday, January 22

Kenya bloggers postscript

from joseph karokis blog
My post on the inspiring development of the Kenyan blogosphere has been picked up. This got me adding a couple of observations — points which I'm not picking up elsewhere.

1. One of the new tech angles in the crisis is SMS/Mobile. This is enormous in Africa and widely used - people send money by text. As there's a total news media blackout, SMS has been key for news. The blogosphere is keyed right into this, with many relaying messages and using SMS networks to find out and distribute news. As well, the big East African forum Masada includes SMS discussion. I'm not aware of anything like this anywhere else — Kenyans are in advance of the US/Europe I think?

2. All types of bloggers feel that they must contribute. I have seen golf blogs, religious blogs, business blogs all chipping in and receiving comments - suggesting a thriving online network of ideas spreading out way beyond the usual suspects. Again, I'd suggest this is a new phenomenon.

There has been some comment online bemoaning the lack of interest in Kenya - notably from Robert Scroble - But it's not 'white guilt' that should get Scobalites interested alone, just look at the tech issues and there's something of great interest which seems to be passing the commentariat by.

London Mayoral race online: postscript

Ian Douglas at the Telegraph has had a look at the online presence of the London Mayoral candidates and has a similar conclusion to mine [Web oiling US campaign, not so much in London]: Boris is winning.

Ian points me at a Ken supporter website, which is dire, possibly worse than useless as it's not responding at all to the smears.

Brian Paddick has a website too. Plus Facebook/Twitter but they're unused - which, again, is worse than useless because an untended web presence provokes a general feeling of neglect. All the US campaigns learnt that lesson very quickly.

Brian does have more 'standard' web campaign components than Boris though, including SMS, which is pretty sophisticated (Obama only started that a few months ago). Like this banner:

Advert for Brian Paddick website

Plus the LibDems do have an organised and networked presence online and have had for a while. Experience helps and may help Brian but I would expect the Tories to copy him.

Douglas loves Barack Obama's website. Actually, you could now look at all the Democrat candidate sites and many Republican's and say similar things. A year ago some were leading but everyone's caught up - so there's precious little first mover advantage. However for both Obama (youth) and Ron Paul (Libertarians) their natural supporters are web-savvy anyway. So there is an advantage for them in being able to use the web to organise/fundraise their base where it was much harder before.

The problem for Ken is that he's a bit like Guiliani in his approach to online. It's very obvious that it's not a serious factor in his campaign. As time wears on, this will become more and more obvious - and cost him votes.

Sunday, January 20

Column width · Bigger isn't better

The poll I ran came in with 'narrow' as the favourite for text column width.

I wasn't surprised, as I've always taken the idea that newspapers were onto something — around the twelve word mark and the eyes/brain needs to stop and go to another line.

That's why sites which have text running the full width of a screen wear the eyes out (unless your eyes are already worn out, or it's a mobile screen).

Guru Jakob

Readability: How easy is it to read the text in various columns, given their allocated width?
And talks a lot about scrolling. Which is increasingly prevalent user behaviour.

Resizability is the key, meaning fluid design.

As for the content, Jakob was talking about 'Inverted Pyramids in Cyberspace' in '96. Again, something newspapers have always done.

The more things change ....

Web oiling US campaign, not so much in London

Techmeme's sister site Memeorandum watches the flow of news - and dirt - across the blogosphere and beyond

The Times recently ran a story about the 2008 US Presidential race being 'the Internet election'.

It's not quite.

All the main presidential campaigns "think that the internet is just a slice of the pie ­ they don't realise it's actually the plan", as Andrew Rasiej, the founder of TechPresident, which has been following the online race for some time, puts it.

The campaigns tend to view the Web as a "direct mail for the 21st century, an exercise in top-down control where they create the message, tell us how to vote and where to send the money", he says.

The idea of 'the list versus the network'.

The online success of the libertarian GOP candidate Ron Paul is actually nothing to do with his campaign - his supporters have generated his out-of-proportion 'presence' on the web themselves. not really surprising given that so many libertarians have driven the web's growth.

That online sucess has got 'offline' votes for 'Dr Paul' and for Obama. The media's just not paying much attention. This caused Paul supporters to resort to parading down the Las Vegas Strip last Saturday surreally shouting
'We’re not just the Internet. We’re flesh and blood.'
Nevada is fertile territory for Libertarians, according to the Guardian. And Paul did well in the Republican caucus. They pounded for the Dr.

None of the other GOP candidates have shown much interest in the Web. Commentators have suggested that this may have something to do with the make-up of typical party members.

What the Democrat campaigns have done is simply hire from the same youthful pool - often those who ran Howard Dean's ill-fated 2004 campaign, which first showed the power of the web as a political organising and fundraising tool, especially with new voters.

TechPresident has been detailing how the 2008 campaigns have tended to corral and be slightly afraid of letting supporters loose.

Talking about a just issued question and answer video from Hillary:
Instead of asking supporters to upload videos of questions, or to text or IM them — which would have been a natural thing for young voters to do — she asked them fill out a web form. Thanks to the closed nature of web forms, once participants hit “Submit” their questions went up the stovepipe and couldn’t be shared among other supporters. Not a very networked, webby way to behave, and typical of Clinton’s top-down style.

I actually find this video a tad patronising. I'm sure the kid whose music video I posted earlier would be better 'pissing inside the tent', but I can't imagine Hillary's tight campaign 'reaching out'.

Both main campaigns have been using social networks but, again, in this tightly controlled way. Edwards has picked up attention for making early, wider use of the web, using sites such as Eventful ('find and post local events anywhere in the world') to get the online to actual 'fleshmeets'. But now everyone is doing the same.

What the campaigns do appear to have spawned - I think that's the right word - is various organising sites that double as attack-sites. Hillaryis44 is one such site, fingered as a focal point for dirt aimed at Obama.

Allen points to Webb aide, Sidarth, referring to him as "Macaca" [18]
He would be right to have something to fear, as the web finds cracks and burrows it's way in at the wavering and acts as an amplifier for lies. Bad news gets out, quickly. Remember 'Macaca'?

The web is driving the election in that way - as a news source it's unrivaled. I've watched stories head from blog buzz to TV mainstream. Like the Obama= Madrassa/Muslim Manchurian Candidate meme.

Currently it's an attempt to link Obama with black radical Louis Farrakkan via Obama's church. Another lot is trying to tie him to Kenyan election violence. Smears can work but they can also backfire.

: One interesting bit of data about the web and the race, just put out by Yahoo, is that Clinton’s Buzz Score” — “the percentage of Yahoo! users searching for that subject on a given day, multiplied by a constant to make the number easier to read” — similar to Google Trends —went up and up in the runup to the New Hampshire primary. At the same time, Barack Obama’s score spiked downward. NH was where the polls got the result dramatically wrong, but they missed the change as they were a couple of days old.

In the run-up to Iowa webstats service Hitwise, similarly, picked up spiking online Obama buzz.


Despite us having a similarly high web penetration, the UK is way behind this game. Politicians have very little clue as to how to use the web and look likely to continue to be blindsided.

Try googling 'Boris for Mayor' or 'Ken for Mayor' or 'Brian for Mayor' — you'll only see Boris in there with his mates. Ken is nowhere, neither is Paddick.

Boris' web presence will earn him lots of London Mayoral votes I predict!

The Tories in the UK have by far the longest web involvement and a lot of smart people ready to start 'piling in' - as Boris' would undoubtedly put it.

Ken, by contrast, has a problem with the Mayoral Site being his sole web presence - it's not really his, it belongs to the office and that'll restrict him. Plus his mates aren't defending him online. So he has zip web presence as far as I can see.

Does this look like a campaign website?

One whole section is devoted to 'Statements'.

And Ken's got problems.

The New Statesman's TV company is about to publicise alleged "astonishing and shocking" drinking habits and being "a law unto himself", via Channel Four, then YouTube and virally.

London's paper the Evening Standard has four attack stories on its website last Friday.

He'd better get his web-act together.

Huge proportions of the London electorate now get their news via the Web and things like video of Ken knocking back the booze and endless sleaze stories circulating online cannot be just laughed off any more.

Polls currently show it too close to call.

"I Got a Crush...On Hillary" (take that obama girl!)

Truly bizarre music video. On several levels.

'Those thighs, those eyes'. 'You're the sexiest candidate'.

Views: 484,179

As is this, er, lesbian version by 'Hott 4 Hill feat. Taryn Southern'.

'The usa would be a better place if everyone could get a taste of you.'

Views: 1,100,219

NB: these vids are getting ten-times the numbers that official 'youth' campaign vids are getting.

10 Suckin' Years

Am I detecting a little trans-Atlantic ribaldry at the end of this back-to-form riff between Jon Stewart and Britain's own John Oliver?

'Memories ... '

It's funny what appalling titbits stick in the mind from that episode ...