Saturday, 13 November 2010

Commenting on Commentary

I'm sitting on the bus to the Political Innovation Camp in Edinburgh, and while I rarely blog in 'real time' I thought it'd be worth drafting some thoughts about citizen journalism and political commentary. I already introduced some ideas in a couple of posts below, but some interesting things have happened in these spheres in the past week that give some food for thought.

The first was Keith Olbermann's very temporary 'indefinite' suspension from MSNBC and his show Countdown over some undisclosed political donations. The donations are neither here nor there, but it was an interesting turn of events for a few reasons. First, the rally of support for Keith that manifested so rapidly over, of course, the Internet. Second, MSNBC's ability to spin the incident as demonstrable proof that the cable network is somehow more responsible and less overtly partisan or activist than Fox news. Third was Meghan McCain (daughter of Arizona Senator and Presidential candidate John McCain) defending Olbermann on account of his being a commentator, and not a journalist.

There are blurry distinctions between journalism and commentary, between bona fide media formats and citizen journalism/commentary. As I asserted before there are nuances in the codes and grammar of each, and also in the expectation the reader or viewer garners from each medium. There are some rules that all must adhere to, such as regarding libel, copyright, plagiarism, confidentiality, etc. But it'll be interesting to have discussions about how commentary and blogging is currently perceived and how it can be used.

The other events concern twitter tags such as #twitterjoketrial and #iamspartacus. Over on this side of the ocean we've seen instances of social media 'commentary' (jokes and flippant comments) becoming issues of a legal matter, but more so, issues of action. I'm sure plenty of media fans and politicos are watching these two Twitter tags with many levels of interest, as they add a different, slightly more alarming, facet to this conversation on commentary, blogging and connectivity.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Employed Kyle!

I've been following Kyle and his employment-seeking-technique with interest, and am very pleased to find out today that he is now happily employed. There was plenty of that there 'dogged determination' on display, for sure, as well as clever originality, so I'm glad his campaign worked, and indeed it worked well:

Kyle Clarke

63 days, 452 tweets, 13 interviews, 15 job offers, 1 new boss... And a lot of BIG thank yous!

Even more interestingly for me though, Kyle linked to my blog post about his intriguing job hunting methods. Apparently I should be 'properly loaded' for managing to get high Google ranks! Total fluke, though, sadly I must admit. Would that it were true!

What he had to say also highlighted something I've known for a while - that this design ain't doing much for me. I don't love it. Originally it was a vague, subtle pastiche of the Directgov Jobseeking site and it's not really relevant anymore. I slightly changed the by-line at the top there, but I'm certainly going to overhaul my interweb presence at some point soon.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Life as we know it

When I started this blog I intended it to be about employment, and then politics. I never really intended it to be very personal.

The other week I saw this movie at the cinema. It's everything you'd expect from a Rom Com, except that it's not particularly romantic, and not particularly comedic; it's incredibly sad. I'm not usually one for Hollywood fluff (who am I kidding? I wrote an important University paper on Snakes on a Plane, I wrote a blog post about Post Grad, I once saw and almost enjoyed a Jessica Simpson movie...) but for some reason 'life as we know it' had me crying throughout.

This year, for me, has been punctuated by bus-rides and airport scenes (and Skype screens). Buses are never glamourous, even in movies, but buses are almost always interesting and variable (though sometimes for the wrong reason). Airport scenes are almost like the kind you see in the movies, but they are usually three hours longer and so far removed from any movie glamour with the sleeplessness, the screaming children, the queuing, and the crumpled plastic bags filled with old lipsticks and vaseline. Red-eye to London, layover in Paris, long haul to the USA, traipsing around terminals in Heathrow; I've been to five different UK, one European, and three USA airports since June.

There is a helpless frustration about being a lone traveller sitting in an airport lounge or trundling solely through security, or sitting trapped in a window seat above the clouds. For all the months I spend apart from my fiance at any one time, the moment I missed him most was on a delayed long-haul flight this year, exactly one hour away from landing. I sat boxed in by the porthole window and watched the little plane creeping towards its destination on the screen in front me, and sobbed for that whole final hour because I just didn't want to be sitting waiting any longer. One hour later I was in my partner's arms, but it felt like an age at the time.

An acquaintance expressed his sympathy for how hard it must be for me to be apart from the person that I'm going to marry; I was floored.

The reason I was floored is because earlier this year his girlfriend was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Recently he ran a half marathon, and then he and a truly amazing group of people ran 10k and raised almost £10k for Cancer Research in her honour. It was truly a awe-inspiring moment in what I can only imagine is an extremely challenging period.

My mum got her annual memo at work about their office secret santa last week. This year, because sometimes people get secret santas that they don't know very well, everyone has been asked to put up their likes and suggested presents on this sheet of paper on a noticeboard. Being a sarcastic British lady, my mum was going to put "£5 note" as a suggested present. Instead she wrote the URL to donate to my friends' fantastic efforts in the 10k. You can donate here too if you like.

Earlier this year, in a lovely twist of fate, my gran got married, was given the all-clear from cancer and is now thinking about getting a tattoo to celebrate. Some of my friends have even said they'll happily get tattoos at the same time as my gran!

And on the other side of the world, while my gran decides what design she'd like, my fiance is cultivating a 'manly' moustache and raising money for the likes of Prostate Cancer and other mens' health charities, as part of the fantastically chappy Movember campaign. He's doing this partly for reasons close to his heart, and partly because I'm jealous I can't grow such great facial hair for such a great cause. Whether you live in the US, or the UK, you can also donate to my man's efforts to emulate Teddy Roosevelt and see a silly picture of me with a moustache (his hasn't grown in yet).

Important things are happening in the world, and my partner has just started his own blog to document some of them. But equally important things are also happening in life, as we know it, right now.