Monthly Archives: June 2002

Forget “the former audience”, we’re in the age of the “former electorate”.

The statutory instrument that the British Government was hoping to introduce that would allow all sorts of quangos to read your email and mobile-phone records has been postponed indefinately in a major climbdown by the Home Secretary (who’s son reportedly told him personally what a bad idea it was…)

Those mobilised by STAND and empowered by had a lot to do with it.

‘Co-operative relationships between strangers’ or SmartMobs as Howard Rheingold puts it; yielding fantastic results in a short amount of time. The BBC interviewed James last night [about halfway through this 2' 21" realvideo stream] about the part that e-activism played, and the Political Editor Andrew Marr’s quote afterwards is telling:

“…it’s been thanks in the end people armed with nothing more than internet connections and a bit of savvy, who have overturned the considered view of the political establishment.”

But I’ll leave the last word to the folks from STAND. Well done everyone!!!

“…we thought it was worth saying that you won. And the next time you’re talking to someone about these issues, and someone says “what’s the point?” – well, you now may now point at yourself, and mention how you got the government to blink.”

» Stand: 2002-06-19: RIP Order: Sometimes, you win.

From your friendly neighbourhood Warren Elllis, a collective effort where he’s featured saying nice things about creative works you and I ought to read, like:

Harvey Pekar has always worked from the conviction that comics can be about anything. He’s the one who produced the quote I’m always throwing at people when I talk about the power inherent in the form: ‘Comics are just words and pictures. You can do anything with words and pictures.’


I wrote about Shazam a while back – and now it’s live, and it works! It just guessed “Les fleurs” by Minnie Ripperton for me, which I thought would be a challenge. Of course, now I really have to try it on something I don’t know…

“Hear a tune on the radio, in the car, at the pub or anywhere the music is loud enough. Hit TBD to tag the tune, Shazam listens to the tune with you for 20 seconds and sends you a txt message with the name of the artist and the tune. You don’t need a special phone and you don’t even need to register to start tagging. Shazam has almost every track available, apart from classical music.

Now I just need someone out there on the lazyweb to pipe shazam through to audiogalaxy for me…

» Shazam – why tag it?

A piece on “the things we try and tell ourselves” through writings on armageddon.

“Broadly, demography is a lightning-rod for literary reservations about humanity itself, which can appear repulsive in sufficient quantity, or even seem to deserve its fate when bringing extinction upon itself. Alternatively, fiction can animate the humanitarian truism that, biologically, we all sink or swim together. This collective existential ambivalence helps to express the dichotomy that other people are at once resource and rival: we need social co-operation to survive, yet our fiercest competition for that survival comes from our own kind. Beneath the field’s dry statistical surface, there teems an irresistible Pandora’s box of paranoia, nationalism, racism, rivalry, misanthropy and apocalyptic dread. Consequently, demography is sure to tempt more fiction-writing dabblers to prise open the lid.”

:: New Statesman :: Population doomsday: Lionel Shriver: Monday 10th June 2002

[Via Overmorgen]

spook office?

The UK police, the secret service, and the tax man can find out where you’re surfing.

In August, so will the Post Office.

If a new rule passes Parliament, over
twenty government departments
will be able to spy on your browsing without a warrant.
Find out the facts.
Fax your MP
Stop the order.

You can go get the code for the banner ad above here. If you’re a designer/coder (I’m assuming the majority of people who come here are) – maybe you could contribute a banner ad design for the team? Mail them with your efforts at

On ma radio. The radio and music division of the BBC have come up with a lovely little HTML radioplayer app, which redistributes the BBC’s radio output as streams not solely by channel, but by genre. It’s mainly a outlet for the specialist music shows that the BBC produce, and there’s also some limited faceted classification applied to these to increase serendipitous discovery of previously hidden gems.

This from today’s Guardian:

“The simple addition of a list of shows based on musical genre will open up shows to people who would not normally listen to a particular station, believes Chris Kimber, head of BBC Radio Online. “Radio brands work both ways – they probably turn as many people off as they attract,” he says. “A lot of people still think that Radio 3 is wall-to-wall classical music, for example. But it’s changed beyond all recognition in the last couple of years. Using the player, someone who would never usually tune into Radio 3 might stumble across something they love on Mixing It or the Andy Kershaw show, which they wouldn’t otherwise have found.”

There’s also an interesting linkage mentioned in the Guardian article between interface choices and digital rights:

“The sticking point has been in agreeing terms with the record companies who control copyright restrictions on the music played. In a world where the music giants are paranoid about the threat posed by the internet to their industry, it was an arduous task to persuade them to allow shows that often contain records played months before their release to be archived. To mollify them, the BBC has agreed to archive shows for seven days only and to make them available only “as live”, and not for download on to a PC. You can skip through the shows in 15-minute chunks, but it is not possible to rewind them to listen to the same track again and again.”

» Guardian: “Web radio is finally getting its act together”

…you’ll fall for anything.

“On Friday, the Home Office petitioned parliament to add a vast array of organisations to that list. If their passes, everyone from the DTI, any local authority, the Food Standards Agency, the Home Office themselves (of course), and staggeringly enough, Consignia.

The final entry in the list says that “A Universal Service Provider within the meaning of the Postal Services Act 2000″ has the same power as the secret services to read your traffic data. There’s only one USP in Britain right now, and that’s the provider previously known as the Royal Mail.
If the idea that the fricking Post Office has access to your web logs (access which would cost a competitive company millions, and would probably get them investigated by the Data Protection people), let alone every minor apparatchik on the block, you might want to kick up a fuss about this. It’s due to appear before MPs on June 18th, and the Lords a little after.

I faxed my MP this morning. Felt good.

» “Post Office To Steam Open Your History File”


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