It’s never easy to regulate big multinational companies. Governments are torn between attracting them to invest and trying to manage negative externalities that arise when the cultural or economic norms that the big companies have grown up with in their home market don’t fit these new territories.
Politicians in small countries acting on their own can often feel as if they are being trampled by a company bigger than them. The EU as a trade bloc can act as a power aggregater and tackle multinationals. But it is slow and cumbersome (see the decade-long Microsoft/Explorer dispute). Read more
I do like open data but the recent talk of big data puts me off – implicit in the language, although often inadvertent is the implication that you have to be big to get this stuff working for you. It makes me feel excluded – I am just a little guy with a little company who wants to make a difference in a small community. In fact just like everyone else I’ve met through my community work with Talk About Local. For opendata to deliver on its promise it needs to be open and welcoming to the little guy. Read more
It is good to see The Independent taking the plunge to be the first newspaper to try wholeheartedly to integrate augmented web content into their editorial workflow. We’ve been playing with location based AR here at TAL for a while and I dived in to do a cheesy video review of The Independent’s second day’s augmented content.
Some quick impressions:
it’s great that they have gone whole hog with the augmented content which is of good quality, not a gimmick. Their editorial approach is thoughtful, if still tentative one feels. There is video for instance of the police speaking about the bomb detector fraudster and of George Osbornes speech on devolution. I liked this as seeing the speech adds a lot to just reading it flat on the page.
voting on the opp-ed pieces is a nice idea – i haven’t seen that before
very interesting approach to archives – the app can take you to Patrick Cockburns series of articles on Iraq
pictures are a common augmentation, but they don’t work well on my mobile as they are too small, that needs a bit of work
getting into and out of a page is a bit clunky – you have to remember to X closed the window before you rescan
this can only be consumed on a mobile device a tablet or phone – it doesn’t work on your desktop. This is important for a mobile internet future.
while this could be done in a website, using AR creates an interesting new link between the dead tree paper product and the online content – you don’t have to type anything in. And most newspapers phone apps have trouble with hyperlinks anyway.
QR codes could have done all of this but they are dying out and are very ugly on a printed page – using markerless recognition allows very fluid inclusion of content i.e. you don’t have to print ugly symbols and can apply it retrospectively to stuff already printed (though a newspaper is unlikely to want to do that I’d have thought, a book publisher might). Ironically the yellow blobs that draw the reader’s eye to the content are human markers, albeit far prettier than QR codes.
the Independent will have to do a lot of marketing to drive uptake and have a compelling customer proposition as this is a new technology. Whilst the paper’s commercial status is unusual in Lebedev ownership it’s unlikely that they can keep giving it the whole of page 2 to promote. Expect to see competitions etc for Blippar users
presumably The Independent is paying for the service per click through up to some sort of cap. I suspect that technology like Blippar’s as implemented here is very easily bought in and requires little or no tech effort on behalf of the newspaper in the AR itself, but in the presentation of the content that it clicks through to.
tech is quite conservative at this stage – was slightly surprised that they didn’t go for a skinned/whitelabel version of Blippar with Independent branding, maybe that will come later if this is successful or maybe Blippar doesn’t offer that. There’s no attempt yet to serve content based on location of the user as reported by the phone e.g. ‘you can buy this Kate Middleton dress in the Topshop around the corner’ or ‘stories near you’ maybe The Standard could do the latter more easily.
markerless recognition (ie Blippar recognising the page layout and serving the content) worked well for me BUT I have an iPhone5 which is very fast indeed and was connected to a very fast internet connection by wifi. When i tried it in a cafe over 3G i didn’t get anywhere, but that could have been a 3G issue in that cafe. I need to test 3G again and with an iPhone4 to see if that can cope.
So it’s a good first try for The Independent and Blippar, expect to see others following maybe using Aurasma or Layar AR services. Here at Talk About Local we continue to experiment with location-driven AR for people who write about place and keep abreast of the AR field – see me making a plain English keynote about it at a major Guardian summit and on BBC TV – drop us a line if we can help.
There have been some consultation meetings held, separately by DCMS and Hacked Off to discuss the impact of the current Leveson implementation proposals on ‘smaller bloggers’. I made an unanticipated return from paternity leave to politely barge invite myself to these meetings yesterday and today to help DCMS and Hacked Off understand the perspectives of hyperlocal bloggers. I also ensured that a broad spread of hyperlocal site operators, including forums, nings etc were invited to take part. Read more
I have served on a number of public sector transparency bodies and have a long standing interest in media regulation. It’s always puzzled me just how far behind modern public practice the BBC is on transparency. And the recent reviews into BBC activities suggest that opacity is in fact a major problem. As Tony Hall is emailing his thoughts on the future of the BBC here’s an email he could send:
We need to rebuild public trust in the BBC as a modern public body, fit for purpose meeting the highest ethical and governance standards. The BBC has an especially high burden of responsibility unique amongst all arts institutions in that our funding status gives us powers in law to take money from people even if they don’t want to give it. And the BBC through its news services plays a critical role in the nation’s democratic life, holding public figures to account and helping people understand current affairs.
At the BBC we cannot apply lesser standards to ourselves than we would expect of others in this or similar positions.
A striking feature of recent years has been the huge strides made in transparency of public bodies. In the UK the belated introduction of freedom of information legislation, in the USA President Obamas directive on transparency, the drive to open data and at a UN level the Open Government Partnership.
The BBC has historically resisted calls for increased transparency into its affairs: trying to keep out the National Audit Office, strictly limiting the scope of FOI, having salary information dragged out like a rotten tooth. Even recently trying to defend a position that the Pollard Review papers were not covered by FOI even as we were publishing them.
The defence of this has been that we must protect our journalism. At times of course this is right. Perhaps there is an irreducible core of sensitive journalistic activity that needs to remain private, just as politicians argue that they need a private decision making space under FOI. But I am concerned that this argument has gone too far. In the modern internet world, now and in the future people won’t trust secretive institutions.
I hinted yesterday at my disquiet about senior salary levels – if the BBC had been left to its own devices these would probably not have been published. The levels would still be wrong and it would be our guilty secret. That is no way to run a modern public body. The Pollard review also brings into question how much our journalism processes actually benefit from being secret. A future for modern journalism, especially in the internet era should be open and transparent. I want a BBC where we have nothing to hide and the world can see the brilliant things we are doing with public money.
So I am commissioning a rapid review of transparency in the BBC conducted with outsiders with the presumption that the BBC should be radically more transparent than at present. Presuming also that the BBC becomes a model of transparency in comparison to other broadcasters and public bodies worldwide. I personally would like to see a new Trustee [corrected from Governor - WP] specifically tasked with increasing transparency and holding the organisation to account, but that would be for others to decide. The review will do as much of its work as possible in public and report within three months. I should welcome colleagues views by reply to this email, all of which will be published on our transparency blog I have set up today.
Comments are welcome as long as they are on topic and polite. These views are of course my own and don’t represent those of any body I serve on nor any of my clients.