Author Archive

There will always be spare seats – please join the conversation

Friday, May 5th, 2006

Coffee and blogging I was talking to a journalist today about blogging and I was trying to express in a simple way what blogging is like. Using my previous analogy of me at a table in a pub sharing my views with you or the world, I changed it slightly to be me at a cafe, having a coffee and I’m talking about whatever I want to talk about and you can come along and sit down and engage with me on the topic. Then someone else can come and sit down and engage too. Then you and others can engage with each other and discuss the topic and agree or disagree with each others views.

Each of those commentors can then go off and sit at another table and join in on another conversation or get a free table and start to discuss something new or something sparked off from a conversation at another table.

In this coffee shop there are loads of tables with loads of conversations happening. The barista or waiter is Google who pops around every so often to every table and takes note of what’s being discussed and then goes back to the counter. Someone comes in and asks are there any tables discussing conservative politics/niche tech/anything and Google brings you on over to that table or points to two or three tables where the conversation on this is happening. There are always spare seats at a table and you can join in or just sit and listen. There are always spare tables too.

And ideally that’s where this analogy thingymajiggy should end. However what seems to be happening with the bigger bloggers (as in traffic not size) is that they’re getting so many people at their table who are chatting and sometimes arguing amongst each other that it is taking away from the blogger actually moving on to another topic that they want to discuss. Unless your blog is your full-time pursuit it’s going to be hard to keep the momentum if you tend to the comments and have to police it, but if you heavily moderate or kill comments totally you’ll be pissing off those people that helped build your current status.

To me it’s quite apparent that there are parallels to blog popularity and celebs who were pals with the media on ascendancy and now find they have too much attention. It’s the too much attention parallel I mean. I don’t mean that all the top bloggers are suck ups like Guy Kawasaki. They’re not.

This “too much attention and having a job and life outside of your blog” issue, I think, is what happened to Robert Scoble and his family room policy. More attention means less civilised people. I’m sure there’s some Attention/Jerk rule out there. That a change was needed I agree with but I was not in agreement as to his new policy. Still, his time, his dime, my whine.

Blogging chairs

So now the tables are being taken away, and rows of seating are being put in place, the main blog guy/gal who you previously had coffee with is now standing at a podium and the audience is either allowed to submit comments/questions with no guarantee they’ll be read out or they’re told they can’t say a word here but can get some tables outside and converse there. This goes back to the bad old days of talking at and not conversing with people. So now the one big conversation hasbeen smashed into smaller conversations at different tables and the barrista isn’t fast enough to take down which table is saying what, so you yourself will have to switch from table to table to see what 6 of the tables are discussing about the one topic or else use services like TailRank or Memeorandom which do help but it still means more moving about to hear all that’s being said.

While I don’t forsee many of us getting to be** super blogger top ten status**(you have to do this in a midAtlanic accent), it does in a way impinge on us as conversers with these bloggers. When I look at the likes of BoingBoing who removed comments and Slashdot who have a moderation system more complicated than a phoenticaly written George Bush speech I do wonder how bloggers can handle the increases in attention. Bring back Everything in Moderation. It’s probably not going to be a direct problem for us Irish bloggers but I bet as more and more people read blogs and write blogs, it will become a greater issue. How many of the top ten bloggers allow comments now compared to when they started out? And the top 50?

It seems that just like celebs, blogs will need some kind of communications manager once they hit a certain attention threshold.

Images courtesy:

Take responsibility for your telecoms child – What the Examiner didn’t print

Friday, May 5th, 2006

On what appears to be a weekly basis, a report is released showing how poorly Ireland is doing in the roll out of broadband. Soon after, ComReg – the Irish telecoms regulator and the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources deny that the situation is as bad the report says, tell us we’re improving greatly and come up with excuses for our poor placing.

After four years of these reports and surveys both ComReg and the Department of Communications are acting like the parents of a badly performing school child and are in complete denial as to the extent of the delinquency of little Tommy Telecoms.

Every year the European Union releases a report card on telecommunications performance of the EU25 countries. Every quarter ComReg release a similar report from an Irish perspective. In the EU report it shows Ireland has the highest line rental in the EU, it shows Ireland has the highest mobile bills, it shows that Ireland has the 2nd highest household landline bills and it shows Ireland doing very poorly in broadband adoption.

In the ComReg quarterly report line rental comparisons are completely removed, household landline bill comparisons are not included but replaced with a report on national call charges for which Ireland is actually cheaper than many European countries. For mobile prices Switzerland is added into the comparison charts. Switzerland is a non-EU country but just happens to be about the only country on the European continent with higher mobile prices. For broadband statistics ComReg declares that we are growing more than many EU countries.

The other parent, the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources is equally in denial. When regularly confronted with Ireland being near the bottom of every broadband league table the Minister and the Department of Communications have blamed the bursting of the telecoms bubble, the fact that Ireland was a “late starter�, the fact that there was no cable competition, the lack of computers in the country and even population density for not being near the EU average. All of these excuses can be quickly nullified on closer inspection.

What has been done though to rectify the situation? Simple professional advice from the Information Society Commission, Forfas and the Oireachtas Committee on broadband has been given and the Department has so far failed to act on any of the recommendations that were provided.

A good first step to better parenting is to be honest with the child and with yourself. Admit to the severity of the problems and then take the professional advice given and move forward from there. Not facing the truth is only going to prolong the problem and might lead to a stage where it can no longer be fixed. The broadband problems in Ireland have yet to be critically assessed by the Department.

The harsh reality is that Ireland is one of the poorest performing developed nations for broadband adoption. Last week the OECD showed that 22 countries were doing better for broadband than Ireland and 18 of them had faster broadband growth rates resulting in us falling even further behind the majority of the table. ComReg and the Department of Communications need to stop living in their shared delusion and start living in the harsh reality that consumers and businesses are facing when it comes to getting broadband. The broadband market in Ireland needs better parenting and once this happens everyone can work together and make Ireland top of its class.


The above was a piece the Examiner asked me to write for them which was meant to be in their “Broadbanned” special report this week. Obviously it got bumped. Shame. I’ll go add in relevant links later.

The Cork v Dublin blogger war has started

Friday, May 5th, 2006

Dublin makes a few digs and Cork fights back superbly. I’m sure our Rugby brothers from the Treaty City will be in our corner (with or without the prerequisite broken cherry bottle). I suppose the Wicklow crowd can be on the Dub’s side.

I’m sure all the Slugger crowd will want in on (another) fight too. Clonard, who are you loyal to? And you Galway? I wonder what the yanks think? No, no, not thems yanks. No, he’s one of us now anyway. These yanks.

If Dublin were more like Brittany then I’m sure Treasa would be confused about loyalties.

So yeah, in summary: Bring it fucking on!

Oh yes and to thanks to United Irelander for the video of a Dublin local:

Two syllables that shut up any Dub: Bono

Broadband choices post updated

Friday, May 5th, 2006

I’ve added a map and a few more bits of advice to the broadband choices in Ireland post. It’s one of the most visited pages on this site. I’ve written one or two pieces for print media which had their foundations on the broadband choices post and once they’re published I’ll edit the post to add more advice and more details.

Pearl Jam at the point tickets wanted – Snowball’s chance

Thursday, May 4th, 2006

Yeah I know they’re like gold dust but if anyone can get me Pearl Jam tickets (standing if at all possible) I’d be eternally grateful. I’d sell my soul if it was mine.

04 05 06 Thursday Weirdness

Thursday, May 4th, 2006

Philips Shave Everywhere shaver.

Via Digg 10,000th shoplifter wins a prize.

I was standing on the surface of a perforated sphere ..

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

Lyrics for “Transatlanticism” by Death Cab for Cutie

The atlantic was born today and i’ll tell you how…
The clouds above opened up and let it out.

I was standing on the surface of a perforated sphere
When the water filled every hole.
And thousands upon thousands made an ocean,
Making islands where no island should go.
Oh no.

Those people were overjoyed; they took to their boats.
I thought it less like a lake and more like a moat.
The rhythm of my footsteps crossing flood lands to your door have been silenced forever more.
The distance is quite simply much too far for me to row
It seems farther than ever before
Oh no.

I need you so much closer [x8]

When you have nothing to say, post some lyrics! Or sometimes if you don’t have the words to express it, then post lyrics.

I need you so much closer [x4]
So come on, come on [x4]

Irish Road Deaths Website with an Interactive map

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

Ken McGuire mentions that John Butler is going to build

I’m all for the creation of a website with a map of Ireland that lists all locations of the road deaths. What I’d love to see is a map that had more details in the popover such as time the accident happened etc. Perhaps additionally over time some stats could be run showing the worst places that accidents occur, per capita etc. There’s lots of stats out there but I don’t think they’re readily available and up to date on a web site. It might take a Freedom of Information request to get hold of the detailed information.

While it starts off with Google maps I’m sure over time that a nice mapping group might provide a free licence to use a more robust map. As we discovered with the broadband coverage map, it takes a while to load a map of Ireland with so many locations on it. Best of luck to John!

Scoble, fire your naming guy for wanting to cancel Christmas

Monday, May 1st, 2006

Scoble, fire the MS naming guy. Seriously. You said any marketing exec who did not have feeds on a marketing website should be fired. Your naming guy should be fired too. He’d easily get a job in another bureaucracy anyway with that backwards thinking. I watched the interview with MS Legal Army guy Don McGowan and yes I understand the ironic position MS is in. Since they try and utterly destroy anyone that uses one of their trademarks MS now has to keep going and find trademarkable names. Stop letting the lawyers run the company Scoble. Them fucking up the entertainment industry is testament enough that they shouldn’t be let off the leash. The more blood they get, the more rabid they become.

Apple can come out and call an operating system Jaguar or Tiger. They can call versions of their iPod Mini, Video and Nano. They have applications called Garageband and Aperture and OH MY GOD a mail program called Mail! All very common names for applications and versions of products. Creative have a music player called the Zen. Generic enough to be found in a LOT of Google searches. Sorry to be sarcastic but guess what? People are learning to use more than one word when searching. A p p l e Garageband. A p p l e Aperture. But here’s an intriguing idea and yes more sarcasm: The more people link to your page the higher up in rankings it’ll go so your product will appear first over time.

If this naming guy was around a few years back then hmmm, would there be Windows? Would there be Office? Would there be Word? Maybe the same reason that Apple can design a beautiful product and Microsoft can’t is the same for naming products. Creativity and freedom. Stop letting the bureacrats control how you breathe. I’m in total disbelief that you want to promote a “No Fun” rule when naming codenames. Lord almighty. If you are now getting all thought police on the codenames you are in no way going to be able to get down and have cluetrain moments with the general public. The only search test that should matter is “Microsoft products better than Apple products”. Will MS applications be found in that search reult?

Systems without guilt – Design objectives for a product

Monday, May 1st, 2006

Via Dave Winer: Dan Bricklin talks about guiltless systems:

Dave Winer writes that he stopped tagging the categories of blog posts. As soon as he missed one he felt guilty and then as the guilt grew he tagged less. He started just assigning things to a couple of categories and then not tagging at all.

Instead of making you feel bad for “only” doing 99%, a well designed system makes you feel good for doing 1%.