The Literary Internet

I got pointed at a kind of ‘interactive fan club’ for Angry Robot Books this week (cheers, Skuds). I have one of their titles sitting in the to-read pile, Moxyland by Lauren Buekes. When I get around to reading it, I’ll stick a review on here. Meanwhile I’ve signed up to the ‘Robot Army’. Seeing as I can’t get Firefox to work on one of my laptops, I’ve swapped out the links on the Ads bar on the left.

Meanwhile, I also stumbled onto something far more web-literate. Shadow Unit is a project which is based on the web, and is structured sort of like a TV series (indeed, it’s based on a unit of the FBI down the hall from the Behavioural Analysis Unit that is portrayed in Criminal Minds). There’s a wiki set up for it, and there are even character owned blogs which are updated in real time. It’s like, well meta!

I found it, by the way, because one of the project’s key figures, Elizabeth Bear, was guesting on Charlie Stross’s blog. Both writers are pretty interesting to read – especially in the light of various squabbles between publishing houses and Amazon over who who gets to profit most from the work of writer…

Regulator, heal thyself

The Press Complaints Commission has a new chair, Baroness Buscombe. Her maiden speech in this position basically follows these lines:

  • I’m a Tory peer
  • I don’t like regulation all that much, not like the government (boo hiss)
  • It was hard being in Opposition
  • It was good for the press to lay into MPs about expenses
  • The freedom of the press is very important
  • But you can be wrong sometimes, like when you criticise us in the House of Lords
  • Because the House of Lords is great at attacking the government when you in the media don’t
  • Self regulation is a good thing, and the PCC is marvellous, democratic even
  • But even though we shouldn’t bring in more press regulation, the internet is too free
  • Search engines and news aggregators are thieves
  • Google are bad because they think of the end users instead of us content providers

And thus the idea was born that the PCC should get involved in regulating more than just the newspaper industry. Blogs, it would seem, should come under their umbrella. Given how useless the PCC is, and how poorly the press seem to be doing at the job of not lying to us, I think it’s a bit of a cheek to think that they have anything to offer.

Liberal Conspiracy are running a letter, which anyone can sign, to object to the idea of extending the PCC’s remit to blogs or other media.

The power of the interwebs part 2

After outflanking overzealous lawyers for unscrupulous oil firms, the ‘blogosphere-twitterati’ axis had another shot at idiocy this week.

I don’t read the Daily Mail voluntarily, with it’s constant stream of drivel designed to invoke fear in the middle classes, the coded stories that play into BNP and racist tropes, utter tripe dressed up an science etc., but I did look at the comment piece by Jan Moir yesterday (here is a screen shot showing the original version, before it was ‘tidied up’ and retitled by the DM).

Despite her subsequent protestations of innocence and accusations of a ‘orchestrated campaign’, it looks very much to me like here homophobic article sparked spontaneous reaction. As for Trafigura, it was sparked by people reading the online version of a newspaper, and passing on their reactions to others. Rather than being orchestrated, what really seemed to happen was that people joined on to a bandwagon, adding their own suggestions (“complain to the Press Complaints Commission”, “oh, they will reject complaints if it’s not from those mentioned in the article, what about an advertiser boycott?”). Reading some of the articles and the comments beneath them, it certainly looks to me as if it was ad hoc, not planned out.

The most disgusting aspect of the whole affair is that Gately’s family are holding the funeral for him today. There really is a ghoulish element in the press – even though Moir said in her article that it wasn’t “being ghoulish to anticipate, or to be mentally braced for, [the] bad end: a long night, a mysterious stranger, an odd set of circumstances that herald a sudden death” having listed a group of still living people that she does this for, apparently. Sorry, but that pretty much is ghoulish – as is raking through the dirt on a guy barely dead a week and extrapolating all sorts of nonsense from it.

Anyone with any decency would at least hold off for the sake of his family and friends. Not the Daily fucking Heil though.

Good News / Bad News

Checking the recent activity on here, I noticed that there had been a few people clicking on the “Join Labour” ad (on the left hand side). Cool, I thought, someone has decided to join the party, and maybe I’ve helped to encourage them.

Turns out, though, that the link was out of date, and so whoever it was may have got a 404 screen, or if they were lucky, a relatively unhelpful list of possible pages.

I’ve fixed it now, so, should anyone be wanting to use it to join the Labour Party, they should be alright. Hope I haven’t lost us a member


For some reason Firefox ain’t working. A lot of people seem to have had problems with it crashing since v3.5 was released. As I tried the old uninstall-reinstall thing, I lost all me Add-ons and it still doesn’t start up without crashing. Worse than MS rubbish

So now I’m trying out Safari for a bit.

Quiet, innit?

No particular reason for my being quiet, and the only reason for this posting is that I noticed that the links needed a serious sorting out.

Renewed Labour and Let’s be Sensible have stopped months ago, and Labour Humanist hasn’t written anything since Christmas so they are gone. I can’t get on to Adam Brown’s site – or all I can get is a blank page – and I notice that Duncan Crow now has a blog so that was an easy 1-for-1 replacement (can’t have too many Tory councillor blogs getting publicity from me, can I?). Richard Symonds doesn’t use the Crawley Independent to blog anymore, he’s got his own forum which (once does contain the odd pearl of information about local doings, in amongst all the rest of what I can only call conspiracy theories, as much as it riles him).

The Crawley News site has been moved and relaunched. It’s much better, you get most of the paper’s stories and people can comment on them. The old one was shared with about three other papers based in Surrey (and was on and was very difficult to navigate. I’ll not comment on the quality of the journalism though. If you follow my other new link to the Maidenbower Forum, you will probably find someone moaning about grossly inaccurate reporting.

I know that there are probably a couple of new local sites that I should add in – Such as Ian Irvine’s blog, but I can’t remember what the url is and I’m about to eat my Sunday lunch soon.

Also, there’s going to be a new blog for Crawley to ‘celebrate’ all of the holes that appear in the town’s streets. When it’s up and running, it will get a trail here.

Local lad still doing well

I wonder if he knows it, but Iain Dale and his contributing baying Tory commenters have put our Skuds in the top 100 ‘left of centre blogs’ for the second year in a row.