Monday, 31 March 2008

Blogs are Old Hat, Young Chap?

Reading the biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and among the many interesting insights (e.g. there was no big clamour for him to bring Sherlock Holmes from the dead and he kept writing Sherlock Holmes stories well into the 1920s) was how much Conan Doyle was a bit of a blogger in the (of course) pre-blogging, pre-Internet, pre-computer, pretty much pre-electricity etc. age.

What made me think of a parallel or two was the huge amount of work and energy that he put into contributing articles, firing off letters commenting on other people's articles (and then firing back counter-replies and counter-counter replies) and joining and being an active member of countless clubs and a spinning kaleidoscope of special interest groups. This was in addition to writing hundreds of short stories, novels and poetry. The late nineties and Edwardian period saw tremendous activity in the publishing industry with new magazines being launched and heavy pamphleting about a plethora of issues. Much of this was self-publishing akin to today's social media movement - albeit done by the upper middle classes and in print.

Faced with all these opportunities to see his words in print Conan Doyle simply could not stop himself. The blizzard of activity is overwhelming and even more impressive because all he had was a pen and paper and later a wonky second hand typewriter rather than a laptop and an Internet connection.

I suspect his attitude to information technology would have been warped by his well-known obsession with spiritualism - the belief in the afterlife, which Conan Doyle and others saw as a basis for a new all-unifying super-religion. Spiritualists regarded key technologies like electricity, radio and photography as revealing the spirit world - e.g. unexplained (actually often faked) ghostly auras on photographs or radio waves being the same method the dead communicated to the living. The movement got a huge boost by the First World War because so many people died so young so suddenly and many times with no information about what happened or even if they were dead. Their bereaved friends and families were desperate for closure and the idea of making contact with the dead held huge appeal.

The Internet as a means of universal connectivity certainly would have excited Conan Doyle's mind and - as we all know - is very much a tool for all sorts of wild n wacky obsessions of the kind that appealed to him.

So Conan Doyle, a blogger? Elementarily not because he went over to the Other Side in 1930. But potentially he could have been the world' s greatest blogger. And given his beliefs is desperately trying to get through to get a broadband account and pump out his reports from

Friday, 14 March 2008

Happy Birthday Flickr

Flickr, the Yahoo-owned, photo-uploading, image-hosting, memory-collecting site has just celebrated its Fourth Birthday. To put into perspective the success of this site, in the minute that I’m writing this a further 4,493 photographs have been uploaded. A search for ‘Grant’ returns 183,293 results, ranging from ‘Grant Lake Falls’ to ‘Richard E Grant on the District Line’ (in the interests of parity ‘Butler’ returns 64,661 results and ‘Coomber’ only 226).

While in an Art Gallery recently I came across a project where the artist had searched for ‘sunset’ and printed 1,000 copies of the result, making a powerful collage. I’ve been reliably informed that a number of bands now even get their album covers from Flickr.

Uploaded photographs can of course be linked to blogs, and in a splendid ‘Web 2.0’ moment, I was able to link 30 of my best photographs on Flickr to my facebook profile. Now snaps of Accra, Bangkok, and Coffs Harbour sit proudly next to my ‘wall’.

The more snaps I uploaded, the more comments I received (all positive – its bad etiquette to post particularly negative ones). Similarly, I was invited to post my photos in groups such as 'UltimateSkyscraperShots', which is apparently significant. It is certainly a compliment when you browse some of photos that your work is then displayed alongside.

Before sites like Flickr, the majority of the photographs now online would doubtless be sat idle on someone’s hard drive. Thankfully, they are now out there for all to see.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

BBC Wowed by New Zealand Technology Stars

We're coming to the end of our work for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise at CeBIT. Our international team led by GBC Germany with support from GBC UK has done some excellent work at CeBIT, drawing crowds of the world's media to the stand to see demos and meet some of New Zealand's best and brightest high tech companies. What has stood out for us this year is how the BBC has covered NZ companies in tremendous depth - a testament to the hard work of our team, the news value of the NZ tech companies and the whole NZTE marketing effort.