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Category Archives: rants

The CSR, Foursquare and me

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So the coalition is currently defending the proposals set out in the spending review. The people up and down the land are having their say on how they will be affected and asking why all the cuts couldn’t be focused on people who aren’t them. Well now it’s my turn. There is one particular cut in the military budget that I find very upsetting.

The HMS Ark Royal, for years a literal flagship of the Royal Navy, will be scrapped as soon as possible, 4 years before it was due to be decommissioned.

Why am I upset about this? Because I am the current Mayor of the HMS Ark Royal on Foursquare.

When I joined Foursquare on the day it was launched in Manchester (thanks to a tip off from @martinsfp) I could wander around becoming mayor of all I surveyed. Now that there are thousands of Foursquare users in my city, I’m down to a paltry 6 mayorships. And then Cameron comes along with his budget cuts and cruelly dispatches 16.6% of them.

I’m considering a march on Parliament.

Proposition 8 – The Musical

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I’d like to write a concise, informative and amusing comment piece about the events in California surrounding proposition 8. Thankfully, those chaps at Funny or Die beat me to it in this video starring Jack Black and John C. Reilly. They say pretty much everything that needs to be said… in the style of an am-dram musical.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

“Prop 8 – The Musical” from Jack Black

Excellent. You can follow the furore on Twitter by looking at this twitter search.

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daily_mail_cannabisI’m getting sick of mainstream media reporting on non-stories tenuously associated to the internet just so they can write a headline that contains the name of the current “in” social media application. These headlines work especially well if crowbarred into a story about another hot topic that can be easily sensationalised. The resulting hot topic mash-up is guaranteed to sell papers and give Daily Mail readers something to get all frothy and indignant about.

Over the last couple of years the frequency and ridiculousness of these stories has escalated. Two years ago it was MySpace Thugs Trashed my House or similar and in the last year or so Facebook has been accused of being responsible for identity fraud, economic ruinmurder and cancer.

I was most pleased last month when eight newspapers and one news television channel were forced to apologise and pay settlement charges to a family after running stories describing how a “Facebook party” had gone “out of control” and that gatecrashers had “trashed” the house in Marbella. It came out that the news “journalists” involved didn’t know or didn’t care that the party wasn’t gatecrashed, only led to very minor damage and in any case was organised on Bebo, not Facebook.

The worst example of a paper using a web application to fabricate a story was last month when the Scottish Sunday Express, as Graham Linehan put it so well, won the race to the bottom by describing the impish Internet behaviour of Dunblane teenagers as “shaming the memory” of those who died in the Dunblane massacre 13 years ago.  They too were forced to apologise.

This year’s main headline-grabbing SM service is Twitter. So I shouldn’t be surprised that last week a story broke about the upcoming report by Sir Jim Rose that will make recommendations for an overhaul of primary school education. The leaked report features many recommendations including the teaching of health and environmental matters and that certain topics from history, notably WW2 and the Victorian period should not be taught at a primary school level. There is also going to be a recommendation that by the time pupils leave primary school they should be familiar with modern sources of information including blogs, wikipedia, podcasts and twitter. Guess what the headlines were?

Pupils to study Twitter and blogs in primary schools shake-up
The Guardian

Pupils ‘should study Twitter’
BBC online

This is a leak from a report recommending the biggest shake up of primary education in 20 years and they focus on Twitter? There of course followed lots of discussion on public phone-ins, panels shows and editors columns about how disgraceful and silly this was. Calm down everyone!

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