Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

Link roundup

I find this stuff so you don’t have to:

Bookmarks for July 17th through July 23rd

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Delicious. There is also even more stuff on my shared Google Reader page.

You can also see all the videos I think are worth watching at my video scrapbook.

Bookmarks for March 16th through March 18th

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Delicious. There is also even more stuff on my shared Google Reader page.

You can also see all the videos I think are worth watching at my video scrapbook.

Bookmarks for March 13th through March 15th

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Delicious. There is also even more stuff on my shared Google Reader page.

You can also see all the videos I think are worth watching at my video scrapbook.

Theo Tait on Gordon Burn

Nice, longish essay in the LRB this issue, by Theo Tait on Gordon Burn’s Born Yesterday which I have written about now and again.

A more unified and organised book would have excluded many of Born Yesterday’s highlights: the brilliant description, for example, of Kate Middleton being hit simultaneously by a paparazzi ambush and a hailstorm, outside Tesco Local on the King’s Road: ‘It was like Kate Middleton’s appearance on the street was the cue for special effects to turn the rain machine on, for the music to be brought up high and the smokers, taciturn and sullen to that point, to become animated into a jostling crowd scene.’ Quoting selectively doesn’t do justice to a bravura five-page passage that works by its accretion of big ideas and weird local detail. The writing is often relentless and incantatory, but it is also sharp-eyed and full of vivid particularity. Here is David Beckham appealing on TV for information about Madeleine, ‘holding up a picture captioned with the single word desaparecida’: ‘the broad diamond-encrusted ring, the buffed pearl-cuticled nails, the big fuck-off watch’. It’s good to see the British novel, or whatever Born Yesterday is, showing a bit of experimental swagger. From time to time, I even found myself excitedly wondering whether Gordon Burn hadn’t written a sort of Waste Land for the rolling news era.

The News as a Novel

Born YesterdayAm reading Gordon Burns’ Born Yesterday at the moment. Burn is one of my favourite writers, whether he’s producing non-fiction such as his remarkable books about serial killers (Peter Sutcliffe in Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son; Fred and Rose West in Happy Like Murderers) or the recent Best and Edwards about the Manchester United players; or fiction like Alma Cogan and Fullalove.

His writes brilliantly about celebrity, and infamy, and describes rather than explains, leaving you to make your own mind up. In other words, he treats the reader like an intelligent person.

With Born Yesterday, though, he is drifting into more experimental territory, presenting news stories from last summer – the search for Madeleine McCann, Gordon Brown taking over from Tony Blair etc – as a continuous narrative, pointing out the coincidences and connections as he goes. In many ways with this book Burn is delving into the kind of stuff that B.S. Johnson would approve of, effectively writing a non-fiction novel. Johnson famously considered that telling stories was telling lies, and therefore a Bad Thing (for a good introduction to Johnson and his work, Jonathan Coe’s biography Like a Fiery Elephant is superb. He is famous for doing stuff like having a hole cut into the pages of a novel so the reader can see into the future by reading the text a few pages in advance).

Burn is fundamentally right in that the news these days is a novel. Much of the news and the way in which it is presented seems to have more in common with soap opera plots than traditional reporting: the McCann issue being a case in point, with the attitude towards the parents of the missing girl wavering between sympathy, then approbation, mistrust and back to sympathy again.

But the news now is a story in which we can all participate. Being halfway through, I’m not sure if Burn will touch on the role that we all can have now as citizen journalists, or social reporters. But the images that we take on our mobile phones and post to Flickr or Facebook, or the video we capture and stream through services like Qik, or the opinions we report on our blogs and social network profiles all add to the primordial soup of content from which the news will be formed. As traditional media organisations get more and more wise to the role that citizen journalism can play, we will see a preponderance of amateur news reporting, creating a richer tapestry from which the news ‘novel’ can be formed.

Burn has the advantage of looking back at events and seeing them within a wider context. Perhaps this is the role that traditional media will play in the future, pulling together all the threads of the content produced by us, reporting on what is going on around us.

Update: By sheer chance, there was an article on B.S. Johnson on Guardian Online yesterday.

Rethinking government news

Where do government and other public sector folk get their news from?

  • Info4Local
  • eGov Monitor
  • GCN
  • Kable
  • Individual government department websites
  • Any others?

I wonder if there is a possibility for putting together a one-stop-shop for news, aggregating the popular sources in one place. I’d also like to see conversations added to the mix, so the news items could spawn discussion.

There are a few models one could use:

  1. Digg, with user submitted news and voting for popular stories. Will people bother though? Could you automatically feed stories in via RSS? Would similar stories be grouped together? This option will include comments on each item though.
  2. TechMeme, drawing together the stories along similar lines. Lack of commenting might be an issue, and it’s a very complicated thing to get right
  3. OnePolitics, aggregating a set list of sources. Simple enough to get up and running, but doesn’t seem to sort content by topic.

Would appreciate any thoughts on this: Where do you go now for your news? Is there a need for such a site? Which of the three models would be of most use to government folk?