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Written on May 3, 2006, and categorized as Secret and Invisible.
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This evening I attended the We Media fringe meeting to which the very nice Robin Hamman invited me. Neil “Britcaster” Dixon was also there, acting in his capacity as itinerant BBC reporter and I was armed with a minidisk to catch the first hour or so of the guest speakers, who were:

*Dr Chris Yapp, Head of Public Sector Innovation, Microsoft
*Suw Charman, Executive Director, Open Rights Group
*Ben Metcalfe (benmetcalfe.com / backstage.bbc.co.uk)
*Michael Tippett, founder of nowpublic.com
Tim Ireland, online marketing expert and activist who blogs at bloggerheads.com
Paul Evans who blogs at nevertrustahippy.blogspot.com
Neil Dixon, creator of BritCaster.com
A political blogger who goes by the name of “Guido Fawkes” (order-order.com)

The speakers marked * are on this MP3 recording (67 minutes, unedited but strongly compressed – 27MB).

What most struck me about the meeting was how BBC-oriented the entire thing was – this post was nearly called “an evening with the WE BBC”. One of the more interesting parts of the recording is Ben Metcalfe talking about the BBC’s plans to place advertising on its foreign-served news site – activists please note.

Chris Yapp from Microsoft gave a pretty upbeat “pep talk” about convergence and illustrated that both children “digital natives” and older people – “digital immigrants” had roles to play in developing usage of the new media. I disagree with his view of older people. I am 44. I have been making audio recordings since I was ten years old and got hold of my brother’s cheap, lightweight Japanese cassette recorder and a condenser microphone. I’ve been producing multi-media since before the term was coined. This articulation is not a new thing – it’s just that finally businessmen, bureaucrats, technocrats have begun to pick up on what we’ve all been doing perfectly naturally for years.

Michael Tippet explained his citizen photo journalism, but had the misfortune to begin as hunger took its toll on the weary audience which dwindled from around 40 to a hard core of 20 or so, and some of the more subtle and fascinating things about the way people make news and take it away from news organisations failed to be addressed.

Tim Ireland explained entertainingly and intelligently how blogging rules the search engines, but still, he came across like a bit of a wanker – he showed us his JPEG Baby masturbation animation, which served mostly to lose the few remaining women in the audience.

Suw Charman has the role of online moderator for the We Media conference. Apparently – and Suw was not the only one to say this – the conference was, on day one at least, pretty awful. She was articulate in her despair regarding the them-and-us attitude, dismissive of the greats assembled on stage, and their lack of interaction with conference floor and the outside world. Her views on the differences between the traditional media and the truly interactive, fundamentally reciprocal nature of blogs, podcasts etc were put with clear emphasis on the need for the big corporations to understand what it is that they are attempting to deal with.

After she had finished speaking, I felt real hope – Suw is somebody just like me, I saw, telling everyone that it was bollocks, and then explaining why it was bollocks, unafraid, loud, clear and truthful. Good on you Suw.

Check out the conference tomorrow May 4th 2006 – add your input, or communicate with Suw direct by logging onto IRC Freenode channel WEMEDIA.

For those regular readers who are wondering where the fiction has gone – it’s still here! More is coming! But real life is insisting I cover these events.

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This thing has 2 Comments

  1. Deek Deekster
    Posted 4 May, 2006 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    From Lagowski: “I agree – the BBC and other rich companies are just trying to get in on the action – as you say – action that’s been around for years and that we’ve been a part of for years.”

  2. Glyn Wintle
    Posted 5 May, 2006 at 1:19 am | Permalink

    Its only fair to point out that Suw Charman is the Executive Director of Open Rights Group. The Open Rights Group is a new digital civil liberties advocacy group, think EFF, for the UK.

    Are you signed up yet? 🙂

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