Saturday, December 30, 2006

Podcast lectures for uni students

"A lecturer at a West Yorkshire university has abolished traditional lectures in favour of podcasts.
Dr Bill Ashraf, a senior lecturer in microbiology at Bradford University, says the move will free up time for more small group teaching."

This from bbc news

At the beginning of my teaching semester, I posted a blec ( web lecture) or Wele (A web lecture designed to be in the wiki format, though still some work to be done on the Wiki part). But it remains one of the most accessed pages from my logs.

It's probbaly not making my work any easier, but it is a transcript almost of the lecture I'm giving with various links for students. The pod has a much better ease of production, but , and these are issues students will likely grapple with.

1. Can it replace the lecture. No, but that's not what Dr Ashraf is saying
2. The quality of the lecture now resides on a new variable - how good is your pod. Other presentation skills come into play
3. What do the echelons of the university think about it?

"Your giving away trade secrets" is the refrain. On the other side of the spectrum, the University of Westmintser's out going vice chancellor, Dr Geoffrey Copland believes soon everything wil be open souce, and even podded - a direction that's been taken by the Open University.

At a Wiki Wednesday meeting in central london - a gathering of hard core wiki enthusiasts - I met a technician from Ravensbourne College who said they'd be using podcasts, so Dr Ashraf may not be the first, however certainly it appears to be the fiirst time it's been reported on.

I am hoping to catch Dr Asraf for a chat, if his inbox isn't full of requests which it probably is. Skype? Well yes except most unis firewalls don't allow skype penetration.

We'll get there. First few steps by Dr Ashraf. Giant leap follows.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

James Brown is dead. Long live the JBs

Very sad news indeed. I never met the Godfather, but by proxy, like millions was touched. I hope to write a fuller article soon, digging into my vinyl collection from the King label and the whole fraternity of the jbs, Lynn Collins, Fred Wesley, Maceo whom I had one of my best interviews with.

"When Mr Brown turned round and waved his finger at you as if he were conducting, he was actually docking your wages", says Maceo Parker.

This is obviously not how the hardeest working would want to be recognised, but it's what I remember most from that interview. James Brown is dead. Long live the King (label). Long live the JBs.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Law of Averages and Success

"So where would you like to be in ... say 5 years time?"

The clocks ticking away. Your palms begin to secrete even more. You're sitting opposite 3 figures. One's fidgetting with a pen, the other gazing at you as if you're about to confess a crime, and the interlocutor is waiting.

"I would like to be an editor"

There's a pregnant silence.

"So where would you like to be in ... say 5 years time?"

Clocks ticking. . .

"I would like to be a foreign reporter

Silence. .


'So where would you like to be in ... say 5 years time, David?"

I don't ****ing know. What the **** do you think I am a futurologist. If I said I wanted your job. You'd think I was an arrogant a***. If I pitch myself any lower, you'll think I lack ****ing ambition, so where do I wanna be in 5 years. Truth? Doing something I love doing. Being successful at what I do.. Yeah, not because of you. But because of the hard work, I'm going to put in and the law of averages.


I walked out of the interview room thinking that's what I would really like to say, but I'm weak and feeble. My final answer was average. My clenched fist almost made it past my oesophagus.

There is ambition; what we love doing; drive; bloody mindedness; and the law of averages.

A loose assessment ( seconds, there!) leads me to a conclusion - how we so easily misconstrue and become determinants at what they mean.

Ambition is good in the US. In the 80s it took on a more aggressive persona: "Greed is Good"- ala Wall Street's Michael Douglas' character.

In the UK ambition is to be left in the fridge with the half used can of beans. We all love doing something and working in the media has a high "I love my job quotient". But here too there are tacks on the floor. How much do I love you to want to stay on late and impress the editor who will remember my radiant chuckly reply when I spoke of drive, and combed my thoughts which screamed "Bloody mindedness".

We all want success: to be the best postman, most accomplished burglar, and a good journalist. And we'll do what we can legally to get there. But we're lumped into an ecosystem which rewards the antithesis to that we deem good character.

B****... HE IS A RIGHT W******
My diary shows I uttered those words possibly 1 trilion times in the beginning of my employ. Well actually I didn't but I must have heard it amongst the small gathering around the coffee machine.

There can be few professions in the world that are so personality driven, residing on ego ( in varying dollops) and insecurity.
And it's this unhealthy mix that is in part the daily catalyst to spring step to work to the sound of music, walk, then drag feet by midday.

But we love it. Many of us wouldn't do anything less. This is no place for shrinking violets my boss told me. Er what did he mean? I had no idea what he meant. Translation, if you can't shout about what you do, then no one will do it for you. Actually the more succesful ones are more tactful about how that's done. Oh yes and at some point you're gonna be loathed. Fancy becoming a manager?

Email 13.17 Sunday
As you know Jim there was a slight problem with the edit that carrie should have dealt with so we went back. Did you see that item on Ar** irrigation on Newsnight's newsbelt?

Inference: The sods working late again, post 10.30. No 11 that's when their newsbelt's on. Gosh how ambitious can you get? And look at the time of the email. **** off and die.

In part, the green mist could quite easily descend on me on these ocassions. But what was it that I/we felt envious about? Them or my lack of that killer "et tu brutus" stroke doing the same thing. I didn't want to

The web cohabits this wierd and wonderful world of contradictions. More so because of our abilty to interact, scrum and thwack that arrogant journalist/writer back in the face. Particularly joyous if it's the paper or journo you love to hate.

But as the new superstars of the web are showing, the old personal human traits so prevalant in the media are showing no signs of abating. One major differences is that this new group have had a rather meritocratic rise in blogospshere based on you, I and my pet dog sparky who would bark when he saw Amanda Congdon on Rocketboom.

No where would you like to be in say years; no where did you go to school; no er, we already have a person with a disability, ethnic background, er whatever in the workforce. This time it's me and you. Our blogs, the quality of them, our youtube videos, flick pics, sniper-edge pods say more about us than anyone could.

Yeeeeees, (i'm squirming) and No (very abruptly !)

Jon Snow on my reel produces the biggest reaction to this schizo-mania. Those who know me, will probably have guessed what it means, that when I sit down the chairs don't illuminate. Of the student's I know and have had the pleasure or working with, I can't imagine a more crass intro walking firstly into a lecture. Not because of what Mr Snow says, but by actually believing it.


But the Snow effect, a visual CV, the equivalent of those pithy comments for the paperback you're planning is a proxy vote of sorts, a short cut if you like Snow to cutting the author some slack, a grandfathering ping


Three pieces of advice passed to me, passed on. When considering a career into the media.

Find yourself a grandmother/grandfather - a mentor.

If your dad happens to be Michael Grade, mentor? They'll be coming to you? I was once paying a brief visit to the home of a very powerful TV exec. She sat me down with a cup of tea and begun to tell me about how I should work hard to get where I wanted and then segued into a tale of her daughter.

"Gosh she works so hard. She's just finished two attachments and even the Managing Director's are calling asking if she want to come back", she said gushing.

Yep, musn't be judgemental. her daughter probabaly did sit down to Gustav Holst's The Planets in Full Score, but it didn't seem illogical that the reason also her daughter was being pursued... you get it!

But grandfathers/ mothers have a place, and self belief as well. One of the professions I advocate to anyone/friends e.g. journalist aspiring journalist is to teach.

Because a) I'm finding I can shortcut all the ***p I went through by hopefully passing something on
b) the first time you stand in class you're as naked as the day you were born. If what you're saying doesn't make sense, watch out. Furthermore, there are no airs and grace in the lecture just what I refer to as the cauldron.

Everyone is equal, our respect reciprocated. It's an assymetric coms line, where often the more you're pressed, the more you learn about yourself. The more you learn about yourself, the more you want to push further.

I worked at so many outlets in my broadcasting career that I lost touch, and while a quick flash at my CV may look dandy, it's in part a card trick; huge highs followed by lows. In the UK in 92 I couldn't fnd work in the UK, so relocated to South Africa, ploughing townships and the most aweful places for a story. In 97 I emerged from an agency disillusioned and then like everyone else probbaly goes through badgered enough people to get work, in 2002 having dusted down the last year's general election, I begun to question whether this is what I really wanted to do.

And then I had a idea - though it wasn't called it then. here's an early incarnation if you're interested.

The law of averages says this it's a big numbers game. The 5 percenters. The more we play in the field, the more we're likely to get the ball. Success is relative. Hah I was once touted in the Evening Standard as some doer. What i want to do is pay my mortgage. The law of averages says in this ecosystem where there's a lot of back/foreground noise, find something you're good at and keep doing it. The law of averages says it's a big bell curve, that only a few will make it, a large percentage of us will do ok and a small amount will... well.

The law of averages says those who work hard will be rewarded and the best reward is that which you like doing, whatever that is

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I want my newsnight

So have your ever been watching BBC Newsnight and thinking I can do that. Well you can but Doh it's too late, at least this round to do anything.

Oh my Newsnight. . . er, yes, Oh My News . . . has you submitting to this bastion of British news your own take on events.
Sorry MAJIs and PGDipers, I missed this.

But it was brought to my attention by a journalist in South West Britain who I had the pleasure of coaching on the finer points of DIY TV.

This is an early piece, demonstrating her prowess as a young print journo turned video journalist . She shot everything her self.

Her email to me ff:

Hello david

Following my VJ training I made a very short film which was selected by BBC Newsnight... 13 films are on the Newsnight website and the 5 videos with most votes will be broadcast on Newsnight in January. Fingers crossed!

If you have time, it would be nice if you could watch my video and give me any construictive criticism (I know there will be a lot!). I hope you are not too disappointed. It is very much presenter-led which is unusual for me as I'm normally so shy but I hope my shots are ok, it was made in a day and a half!

My Video has been (re)named CARBON, it is number 7 on the page:

Briefly; I had a week off and a trip to Poland fell through cause I was broke so shot it in a couple of days. Edited it at work with pinnacle (YUCK! finally got final cut pro on my mac thank goodness). Looking to move onto docs next.


My reply... well now that's a job well done. Second real piece and makes it onto the deck of newsnight.. can't be bad.
Now for my offline chat with Alice.. er sorry, thank you but this is er a bit private..

p.s you could go vote for Alice or frankly anyone of the ones you think are good

Monday, December 11, 2006

er, X factor

It's pointless.Unavoidable. Despite slaving over my mac peering across the fields wondering how i'm going to cut my next film, on either side of the divide the din from the x-factor is proving a distraction.

I haven't heard much thus far. Am I really in a minority? But OMG for sheer songbirdness ( is that a word?) last week was good for me.

In a studio in central London, an audio specialists chuckles and fades up one of 12 buttons marked "drums", "vocals" . . and the rest.

When this track was first released it garnered such awesome reviews, you wondered what could better it. Well it betters itself. Marvin Gaye's" What's going on" stripped to its barebones in a surround sound studio is concert hall music personified.

Angels singing. Then slowly the mixer fades up thevarious data tracks, horns, etc. Sweet sweet music, but not to an industry last week clenching its first to move judgement on the retention of copyright past 50 years.

The reasons, livelihood of course but its also reminded me of a skewed debate at a digital media dinner. Call it the Mickey Mouse factor. Does copy/trade mark rights around this mouse encourage or discourage creativity?

Do current methods of retaining our creations spark new ideas or suffocate them? Is the mash up culture minor larceny dressed up as collaborations?

Me, I dunno.

But I am set on seeing how I get my paws on that Marvin track and . . . . listening to some real xfactor

Friday, December 08, 2006

The circuit

I exchanged a Q and A with Nelson Mandela and later shook hands in South Africa. I interviewed Moby in Wash DC; Fela Kuti proved alongside George Clinton to be the baddest interviews in London; and former head of the CIA James Woolsey provided a fascinating insight to me of his profession.

In Turkey diving 50m to WWI wrecks of Gallipoli, the ensuing interview with Ian Hamilton's grand nephew ( Ian Hamiton was the Commander in Chief of the campaign) was engaing to say the least.

Last week I added a further name. To many he floats on air. Similarly many of us will not know his name. He is Hillman Curtis. A Flash designer who in the late 90s revolutionsed an industry. To many in the design world he is one of the Masters of Flash and last Tuesday we spoke at length on camera, courtesy of Charles Amponsah from Reeltime productions behind the camera.

Why was I so enthralled? Hillman has now turned his hand to video and in a short space of time has reworked his aesthetic into something which could pull an audience to pay-to-view.

The ocassion was Flash on the Beach and the line up... well, honestly I was gratifed to be asked to present, looking at Next Generation TV. Thank you to everyone and their kind words afterwards.

If the highlight was Hillman Curtis, and Neville Brody, then Chris Orwig is someone I would like to package into a pill. Take one a day. Awesome presentation, indelible energy.

As the rest of the last couple of weeks go, it's been Digital Hollywood where I showed a short I made about how universities will shape up in he future; at the Front Line Club, Digital technolgy and the future was the theme; and a couple of articles here and there, and some great work from different cohorts of students.

I now feel the book I wanted to write is starting to write itself. Looking forward, we've only just begun. . . The strive towards a newer system to occupy the old wll feed my leftfield mind.