iGod: church podcasts Sunday message

By on Nov 28, 2005 in BBC | 1 comment

According to the BBC North Yorkshire website, a Church in Harrogate has started podcasting their Sunday religious message. Pastor Tim Eldridge of Harrogate New Life Church told the BBC: "We put one message out on public view for about three weeks and we were just absolutely staggered by the number of times it was downloaded. About 160 times."

amazon patents user reviews

By on Nov 27, 2005 in law |

According to a recent article in, Amazon has secured the (US) patent for user generated on-site product reviews. So is this the beginning of the end for sites like the Guardian’s user generated travel site, BeenThere , epinions and all the other sites that depend upon user reviews for their content? Probably not. In 2002 BT unsuccessfully tried to enforce a patent which, they said, covered all hyperlinking. Anyway, this isn’t the first time Amazon has been awarded a patent covering social software / user-generated content. In 2003 they received a patent covering bulletin board (message board) style discussions. Scary stuff, but, unlike their patent for “one click shopping” which they have defended in court, as far as I’m aware, Amazon has never tried to enforce their patent on online discussions. So why does Amazon bother collecting patents if they aren’t going to use them? Well, it’s fairly clear that, before it started making profits, Amazon had to be seen by investors to be building some sort of value and intellectual property was one way to do this. The discussion patent will have been applied for years before (1999) it was awarded in 2003. Likewise, the reviews patent will have been in the patents approval system for years. My personal opinion (which you shouldn’t act upon without taking advice from a qualified legal professional) is that the on-site reviews patent, like the discussion forum patent, are simply a legacy from when Amazon needed patents to keep investors happy. The patents would be largely unenforceable and, even if they were able to enforce them, the backlash of internet users would likely damage the Amazon brand. It seems unlikely Amazon will ever seek to enforce their shiny new...

speaking carriages on trains?

By on Nov 25, 2005 in activism |

I’m always annoyed when I get on a train and realise the only place with seats left is the quiet carriage. It’s the complete opposite of the old smoking carriages where, if you could survive the smoke, there were all sorts of conversations underway. In the Guardian Weekend last week I came across “spark the debate”, a new advertising campaign where readers are encouraged to visit the Guardian website and get involved in a debate. The advertisement suggested an interesting alternative to pretending there is no one around you whilst in a packed tube train – talk to them: “It’s one of the sad ironies of modern urban living that the more neighbours we have, the less we seem to want to know about them. Nowhere is this more evident than on the daily commute to work. There we are, crushed together with the kind of physical intimacy one normally reserves for partners and spouses. We’re on our way to the same sort of offices, to sit in front of the same computer screens in the same parts of town. You’d have thought it would be the perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation. Instead we go to work in stony silence, unable to tear our eyes away from our Dan Browns or the adverts for travel insurance and spot cream.” “So here’s the proposition. Why not designate one carriage on tubes and trains as a “speaking carriage”, where passengers are encouraged to strike up conversations with each other?” I really like this idea since, afterall, I married a girl I met on a plane. :-) More at spark the debate on the Guardian...

Robin on BBC Radio Norfolk

By on Nov 24, 2005 in academic studies, BBC, online community |

I’m going to be appearing live on Nick Lawrence’s radio programme on BBC Radio Norfolk tonight just after 7pm GMT (that’s 2pm EST). He’ll be asking me about the growing importance of online communities in our lives, internet activism and online politics, whether there are any dangers that we’re going online at the expense of our neighbourhood based communities, etc. (Interview now available as a 12 minute streaming podcast here)

links for 22 november

By on Nov 22, 2005 in social software |

Flickr, Buzznet expand citizens’ role in visual journalism By Mark Glaser, Online Journalism Review Traditional journalists and newspaper sites tap into online photo communities to gather visual research and allow readers to contribute and interact. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. TagCloud TagCloud is an automated Folksonomy tool. Essentially, TagCloud searches any number of RSS feeds you specify, extracts keywords from the content and lists them according to prevalence within the RSS feeds. Clicking on the tag’s link will display a list of all the article abstracts associated with that keyword. How to make money on your news content website Forget what you might have heard: Journalists can earn money publishing online. Here are some tips from OJR readers. Mapping the revolution with “mashups” on ZDnet Some good background information and links to...