'The yellow blobs are, of course, tube trains. The fact that they're moving across the map indicates that this is, as near as dammit, real-time information about their positions on the network. And it's public data: you can sit at your computer in San Francisco or Accra and know how the trains on the Central line are doing just now.
How you react to this provides a litmus test for determining where you are on the technology spectrum. If you're of a geekish disposition, then what Matthew Somerville and a couple of his friends managed to do in a few hours with the train data and the application programming interface (API) provided by Transport for London will seem like a thing of beauty and a joy for ever.
If you're a non-technical person, then Mr Somerville's live map will strike you as an example of leading-edge uselessness: undoubtedly clever, but of no practical use to you and me. Of course it's important that Transport for London knows where their trains are at any given moment, but it's of little interest to anyone else.
If you're a securocrat, ie an employee of the UK's vast security establishment, then Mr Somerville's map will give you the heebie-jeebies. After all, you will argue, Osama bin Laden may be sitting in his cave in Pakistan at this very moment, monitoring the trains on the Central line on his iPad. And so indeed he might. The fact that being able to do this would be significantly less useful than having some devout followers in actual tube stations will not bother you unduly, because being a securocrat essentially means viewing the entire world and everything in it as a possible threat to national security.
If on the other hand, you believe that digital technology has the potential to refresh democratic institutions, then you will see the live tube map as a significant development. This is not because Transport for London is a democratic institution but because it shows what can be done when data is released to the public in a way that makes it not just useful to civil society, but usable by it. The last few years have seen a vigorous campaign – led by our sister-paper, the Guardian, by the way – to persuade public authorities to provide public access to the data that they routinely collect and store in vast databases. After all, so the slogan goes, "Free Our Data" – we paid for it, so we should be able to see it.'
When I saw title of Yann Gourvennec's Futurelab post ('How Teenagers - And Adults - Consume Media' I'm not afraid to admit that my heart sank anticipating yet more bobbins about the middle class Morgan Stanley intern who somehow became the mouthpiece and oracle for his generation's tech interactions. Thank goodness it was this:
The Morgan Stanley report entitled “media and the Internet, how teenagers consume media” is one of the most striking examples of instant information circulation on a global scale. Matthew Robinson — a 15 year-old trainee who was asked to put together a report on how his peers were using the media — no longer needs to work on his online reputation. In a flash, his report was on everyone’s lips (on everyone’s desktop rather) and widely used as a perfect representation of generation Y usage of media and – especially – the Internet.
On the contrary, the fact that a survey of one might be considered a representative sample of a 60 million population is a rather tale-telling instance of how adults, and not teenagers, have become used to consume the media. Call me old-fashioned, but I think I can highlight a few issues with regard to how information is handled in this report.
This report is often taken at face value as in this review by the Guardian, with no analysis or questioning of anything that is said in the report,
Teens are different from adults, but does that mean that their tastes/behaviours won’t change?
Marketing has taught teenagers to behave as consumers, hence their feeling – more acquired than innate – that they are a race apart. But in fact they aren’t. Teenagers are but adults to be, and should be treated as such, not revered as if youth was meant to be eternal,
Generation Y – a definition so broad it means nothing – is said to be more IT and especially Internet savvy than their predecessors. As a matter of fact, an in-depth (and confidential) survey carried out by Orange amongst a sample of 15 year-olds a couple of years ago showed that this is not quite true. Teenagers are actually better at using certain technologies such as instant messaging and they practice multi-tasking heavily – not forcibly a good thing the Guardian says – but aren’t more au fait with IT than their elders and when they hit trouble, they tend to call … their parents to the rescue,
Most real bloggers aren’t teenagers, and many of them are in the 40-50+ range; I can testify,
As a consequence of the above, Twitter is also used by the same people who use it mostly to publicise their content and share resources with their network and also a surrogate instant messaging system between members of that network,
As a result too, Twitter is indeed a tool for grown-ups and in that, I do believe Matthew Robson is right. Just because teenagers don’t use it now doesn’t make it less interesting however,
(a mere assumption I admit but it seems) the style of this report has little to do with teenage counterculture and a lot to do with Morgan Stanley,
This report is assuming that enterprises should fear teenagers who will join their ranks in the coming years. However:
By the time they do, they won’t be teenagers anymore, some of them will even have children,
By then, most of them will have learnt how to behave in the enterprise world,
When Mr Robson hits the job market, that is in approximately 10 years from now enterprises will also have evolved by dint of user pressure, young and old, who want greater freedom in the workplace and have even bought their own technology to bypass corporate rules (a concept known as BYOC),
Lastly, may I venture to ask who Matthew Robson is anyway? I wasn’t really able to trace him, even in facebook which I guess cannot be regarded as 19th century technology. So, despite my introductory comment, he might yet have to work on his online reputation, unless this too is an old-fashioned concept.
If a recent survey carried out by Lion Bar Icecream is true women prefer their men, fatter, scruffier and dirtier than GQ would have us believe. Here's David Mitchell's very funny piece from The Observer yetserday:
Half of humanity received some much-needed assistance from an
unexpected source last week. Out of the blue, Lion Bar Ice Cream leapt
to the aid of men. Like maggots in a wound, they didn't know they were
helping – they thought they were just garnering some desperately needed
publicity in an ice cream-unfriendly summer – but they may have
contributed to saving the world's males huge sums of money and an even
greater expense of time and effort.
Lion Bar Ice Cream
commissioned a survey into what sort of men women find attractive,
presumably in the forlorn hope that "a man with his face in a Lion Bar
Ice Cream" or "those hunks made ripplingly obese by an ice cream-only
diet" would be among the responses.
They didn't quite get that,
but more than 4,000 of the 5,000 respondents claimed to prefer a
slightly scruffy fellow, with messy hair and even a beer belly, to the
toned, groomed, David Beckham type, although I imagine they wouldn't
kick him out of bed for eating a Lion Bar. The media spin on it is
that: "Women have turned against the metrosexual look", presumably
because there's something very unattractive about a chap running after
a tube train with a hard-on.
"Fantastic!" the male readership may
now be burping from their sofas. "I'll have another couple of pork pies
and a Guinness. I knew I was over-washing!" And, indeed, these 5,000
women do seem very obliging: a fifth of them don't mind "a bit of body
odour", 10% have no objection to man boobs and another 10% like their
men to smell of beer. They like their men to smell of beer? That's an
evolutionary cul-de-sac if ever I heard one: "Oh yeah, pick the
paunchy, pissed one – he'll be there for you in a crisis." It's almost
impossible to evade the conclusion that most of these women were on the
A geographers methodology for measuring propensity for evil:
Greed was calculated by comparing average incomes with the total number
of inhabitants living beneath the poverty line. On this map, done in
yellow, Clark County is bile (see map on Page 2).
Envy was calculated using the total number of thefts -- robbery,
burglary, larceny and stolen cars. Rendered in green, of course, Clark
County is emerald.
Wrath was calculated by comparing the total number of violent crimes
-- murder, assault and rape -- reported to the FBI per capita. Vought
and his colleagues used the color red to illustrate wrath, so Clark
County looks like a fresh welt. Washoe is slightly statistically
duller. Everywhere else is a friendly pork pink.
Lust was calculated by compiling the number of sexually transmitted
diseases -- HIV, AIDS, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea -- reported
per capita. Here again, Clark and Washoe counties are worst. Carson
City County is a close third.
Gluttony was calculated by counting the number of fast food
restaurants per capita, and this is one category where Clark County is
bested. First in deep fry goes to Carson City.
Sloth was calculated by comparing expenditures on arts,
entertainment and recreation with the rate of employment. Here again
Clark County is beat, scoring only average on the scale of sloth.
And pride, lastly, is most important. The root of all sins, in this
study, is the aggregate of all data. Vought and his Kansas colleagues
combined all data from the six other sins and averaged it into an
overview of all evil. So pride, mapped in purple, shows the states two
darkest bruises: counties Clark and Carson City.