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Comments Fixed... Perhaps

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Just a note to say sorry to anyone who spent time commenting here and then saw their words disappear into a black hole claiming I'd be moderating. Something broke, and to be honest it's all sticking plasters and Sellotape behind the scenes. Anyway, I think it's working again. And I've put live what comments I've got from the last few days. I fear I may have lost a few though.

I should note that I only played with settings because I was getting a torrent of comment spam, most of which was getting posted come what may.

In the medium term I need to work on migrating this blog onto a more up to date blogging platform - and that's almost certainly Wordpress. And then I can also employ a more up to date commenting system.

In the meantime, here's a photo I took recently.

Trent Park in May-11

Some First Thoughts on the New Flickr

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A new look Flickr has been unveiled today (or last night). It seems to be part of Marissa Meyer's attempt to make Yahoo more relevant. And of course Yahoo has also just paid an awful lot of money for Tumblr. Yahoo is a company without the letter "e".

What follows is based on some very limited time spent using the new look site, and what immediately comes to mind for someone like me. I should first say that I've been a Flickr user since 2005, and currently have upwards of 10,000 photos on the site. That doesn't represent "all" my photos however. I tend to treat Flickr as a site to show off the photos I want made public or shareable. My own NAS archive has upwards of 100,000 photos to put that in perspective. And there are still many photos and negatives that don't exist in digital form.

In general I find the new look better. Gone are the white spaces, and every centimetre of monitor space is handed over to photos. Perhaps it's a tad over-zealous, but it's better than what we had before, which seemed unchanged since I became a Flickr member.

Photos by default are now on a black background - a lightbox view. This works well with my photos, and I have no objections. However, I do think that users should be able to choose between white and black. If I were an illustrator, or use predominantly light/pale colours in my photos, white might suit them better.

I don't actually mind too much that descriptions, tags, EXIF and comments are below the fold. Perhaps this will have a knock on effect with the community aspect of Flickr, but I still like the maximised use of space.

In places the new look feels a bit rushed. There are signs of the old website still here and there. If they really did rush this redesign then they've done well to make it as smooth as it is. There are some rough edges to be sanded off though. And a bit more flexibility from a user perspective wouldn't go amiss.

The big thing is that they've giving everyone 1TB of space for their photos. There's no two ways about it. This is a lot. They've done what Gmail did when they launched against Hotmail, and blow their rivals out of the water with regard to space. Google had only recently made a big issue about their unified 15GB of space. This is a clear retort to that.

But if everyone gets 1TB, then why would I pay for "unlimited" space? Well the "Pro" account is going. I've paid $25 a year for nearly my entire time on Flickr. And my 10,000 photos in JPG format wouldn't take anything like that amount of space. So in many regards, the space doesn't really matter because nobody (well, hardly anybody) is going to use it. But free does introduce ads. So Flickr is now offering a $50 option to go ad-free. I believe that I'll be "grandfathered" on my $25 account - which includes stats as well. But would I pay $50 to remove ads? I'm not sure. And I'm not sure that Flickr would earn anything like that much from me. It feels a bit high, and I'm not sure I understand that part of the model.

I certainly don't understand their "Doublr" option which gives me 2TB for $500! OK, anybody who needed that amount would clearly have more than 1TB and therefore be in the top 0.05% of users in terms of space used. But $500 is absurd. If you're using that amount of space then you really shouldn't be using Flickr for your photographic needs. In any case, there are much better options for that kind of storage in the cloud at much better prices. I can only assume it's some kind of psychological device to make consumers believe that they're getting $500 value for free with their first terabyte.

You would imagine that even now, Flickr engineers are making it very easy to send photos to Tumblr blogs (there is a Tumblr button already). The marketing message of the "1TB of data" seems to be that we upload every photo we have to Flickr rather than just our selects. Then sharing specific pictures to social media or a Tumblr blog is where we curate? In any case, say you have an interest in steam engines. In amongst your regular photos you probably have a few steam engine specific photos. Sharing those to Tumblr where your steam engine enthusiast friends can see them makes sense.

I must admit I've never quite "got" Tumblr. The long lists of people who "like" or "reblogged" things never entirely makes sense. And does "reblogged" mean "steal"? I'll stick with this blog thanks!

Allied to all this, there's a very decent upgrade to the Flickr Android app, and overall I'd say that they're on the right path. I think the service still needs some tweaks and clean-up. But it's heading in the right direction.

Whether coming weeks and months make me regret anything I've said here remains to be seen...

[Update] One more obvious problem is the constantly unclickable footer of the homepage! As you scroll down to click on it, more photos load. It needs to be moved!

And I'm a little confused about the whole "stats" thing. It's being sold as something "Pros" get. But it's not mentioned in any of the now available plans. So if I join up today and pay nothing, $50 or $500, it's not clear that I get any stats. To be honest, I'm not sure that this should be considered that special! I'd expect any site to give me that kind of granularity. You get it on YouTube for example.

In Praise Of... What?

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In Praise Of

Here's a curious thing.

The Guardian has a regular "In Praise Of..." column on its leader page where rather than just moaning about things, it'll sometimes, well, praise something. It's quite a refreshing change to read something positive in that part of the paper.

Last night, I saw the column above published online, and while I was going to mention it being a little odd, I just put it down to the fact that The Guardian has quite a sizeable US operation, and that's what I must be reading.

So when I saw the column in print in the very much British print edition of the paper (see photo above), I was perplexed.

In praise of... satellite radio starts by referencing a music festival in Dawson City, Canada, and a weather report from Hobart, Tasmania. The online piece links directly to relevant websites.

At first I thought that whoever wrote this really did mean "satellite" radio. In the UK, we have a very limited view of satellite radio. It's mostly national BBC and commercial stations with a few local services and a number of niche stations aimed at minorities of one type or another.

Sky Radio

In the US, subscription satellite radio is quite a decent success - in terms of subscriber numbers anyway. SiriusXM has a broad range of services, many of them exclusive to the satellite service, all available for a fee. Small Canadian and Australian stations are notable by their absence though.

So what on earth is this piece talking about?

Do they mean "internet" radio? I think they might.

I suspect that even if you've never listened to the radio via the internet, you probably have a vague notion that it comes down the same wire that your internet connection does. As opposed to coming from a large metal object orbiting at 22,000 miles above the surface of the earth.

The piece ends, "Sure, Radio 4 in the background provides a homely sustenance; but there's an entire world out there to listen to." And I wouldn't disagree for a moment. But that's not satellite radio.

Google Keep - Here To Stay?

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It's been really interesting to read the response to Google's new product launch this week - Google Keep, a multi-platform note taking application.

Most of the discussion seems to have been less about how good the product is, and more about whether it's worth getting too reliant on it in case Google, down the line, decides to shutter the service.

The launch comes just days after Google did indeed announcer the closing of a service that many people - myself included - relied upon: Google Reader. And as I said at the time, it made me reconsider quite significantly, my reliance on free services.

In this instance, the competitor that Google has in its frame seems to be Evernote. At the moment, the service clearly isn't up there with Evernote. Indeed it all feels a little flakey for a launch, not even properly integrated with Drive (although we're told that's coming). Evernote is truly multiplatform, and works with hardware and even paper products! There's a strong eco-system, and there's a paid for service. Evernote's future depends on this core product.

But Google has practically infinite resources, if it wants to get into an area, and it could of course just go out and buy Evernote I'd assume.

Which brings me to another recent Google shuttering - Snapseed on desktop. Google bought Nik Software, essentially to acquire the mobile version of its Snapseed photography app. However Google has closed down the desktop version of the software, and now photographers are concerned about what will happen with other Nik software aimed at desktop machines - in particular products like Silver Efex Pro. It's a bit specialist and therefore probably not a core Google product. Will they spin it off? Sell it? Or close it? Maybe they'll actually develop it.

Nik Software is, one imagines, a profitable company. And Snapseed aside, its products cost money (too much in Europe, but that's another moan for another day). And there are rivals to it. So we're not in a Google Reader situation.

Paying for products and services doesn't guarantee continuity of course. There's nothing to stop companies go bust, or taking different directions. You don't have to look far back to find companies that you'd think would be around forever, yet are no longer with us 2013.

But that's probably something to consider with any cloud based service.

James Fallows at The Atlantic voices many of my concerns.

Gmail's Worst Feature

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The more I see it, the more I hate and loathe Gmail's utterly awful and relatively recent innovation, its "Consider including" functionality.

It pops into a space under the "To" box when I add an address to an email. I think Google think it's useful in some way.

It's not.

Here's the thing: when I choose to write an email, I know exactly who I want to send it to. I don't need a computer to suggest who I might want to cc in with it. Even if I regularly send all my email to two people, there are times when I only want to send it to one of them.

As it happens, I'd wager that 90%+ of my Gmail is sent to a single email address. At work, sure, I send email to several people at once, or group mailing lists. But in my personal life, it's mostly one to one conversations.

I don't even understand why it's advantageous for Gmail to suggest additional names for an email. "We notice you're sending an email to your partner, have you considered also sending it to their parents, their brother, their uncle and their niece?" "Why? No I hadn't. Thank you for helping me think!"

I'll give you an example about how utterly useless it is. I regularly send or forward emails from my personal Gmail account to my work email account. Sometimes it might be a link that I'll follow up later at work. Other times, it's forwarding something on to myself that will prove useful to either me or someone else at work. I send a reasonable quantity of mail "to myself" in this manner. And I do the same in reverse. It helps me order my life to some extent.

Every time I send a Gmail message to my work account, Gmail suggests cc'ing my boss. That would be utterly inappropriate 99% of the time. If I want to forward something to my boss, I'll choose to do it myself. Apart from anything else, I prefer to use my work email account for conversing with my boss. Gmail just doesn't know better.

Gmail also suggests forwarding all these emails to someone I simply don't know at all. How the algorithm has come up with this name, I know not. It's possible I once communicated with them, in some way, at some time. But I don't remember it. And I definitely don't know them. The algorithm is flawed to think otherwise.

And I can't switch off this "feature". I certainly can't tell Gmail that it got the suggestion wrong. So every email sent to myself like this, without fail, suggests these names that are utterly irrelevant.

Even worse, one slip of the mouse or keypad, and I might actually inadvertently include one or more of them on my email.

Extensive searching just finds lots of other users also looking at ways to either remove it or "optionlize" it. The only thing we can do is use Google "Suggest a Feature for Gmail" site, and suggest that they do this. You have to manually suggest it, and I have done. I suggest you do too if you find it as irritating as I do. I could understand it if this was a Labs feature. A user choice. I can't think of who might actually want this functionality, but I suppose someone might.

So someone at Google, please at least allow an option to turn it off.

It's intrusive, invasive (far more so than your advertising based around keywords in the email, which at least pays for the service), and is doing a disservice to Gmail.


PS Yes, there are a few CSS or Greasemonkey scripts kicking around which turn off this "feature", but surely this should be built into the product?

Two Screen TV

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At the end of Sherlock on Sunday I picked up my phone and pulled up Twitter to see what everyone had been saying about it. Since I'd watched it live, there was a lot of #sherlock activity. Amongst people I follow it was very popular. That's not surprising - it's excellent!

But then I started scrolling down through the older Tweets, and I realised that many people had been busy Tweeting throughout the programme.

Not that I was actually surprised by this. People Tweet during just about anything these days. But it has made me think a little about the good and bad of using social media in alongside television.

Television producers are now more and more thinking about "two screen" programmes. Or at the very least, they're being asked to think about utilising it. That might mean something as simple as putting a hashtag onscreen at the start of your show, or having some kind of interactive element to programme for viewers at home. Playing along with a gameshow answering your own questions, or being able to view live stats for a sports event without needing to wait for the programmes' producers to choose when to display them.

So far in the UK, on-screen hashtags have mostly been limited to non-fiction programming, be it Have I Got New For You, live sports coverage, or Question Time. But in the US, sitcoms now regularly have their own hashtags, and there are instances of stars of the programmes Tweeting throughout the show. (Mind you, US networks are happy to promote other shows during the show you're currently watching. ITV does this a bit, but I don't watch an awful lot of ITV outside of sport and drama, and they don't do it in dramas. The BBC learnt their lesson after an ill-conceived promo during Doctor Who in 2010.)

Now comes news that Sky is partnering with Zeebox, a tool specifically developed for social interaction with other viewers during TV shows.

But this all leads me to ask the question - how are we supposed to actually watch these shows?

Does viewer engagement in social media work well with big live event and reality shows? Certainly. It can definitely increase your engagement with the shows, and your enjoyment of them. These programmes lend themselves to it well. There are frequent intervals - during the performances for example - which allow you an opportunity to engage. If you're not paying attention to a presenter's link, it's unlikely that you'll lose the thread of what's happening. These programmes are already asking you to pick up the phone, so why not Tweet or get on Facebook at the same time?

And for producers and stations, these programmes work even better. You need to be watching live. That means bigger viewing numbers from the live broadcast, and on commercial television, no opportunity to fast forward through the ads.

But beyond that relatively narrow band of programming, I'm really not so sure. Live sport works well, and perhaps there are some cogent points of view being discussed in less than 140 characters during Newsnight or Question Time. But that's where it ends for me.

If you're making a drama series, don't you actually want viewers to, well, watch your programme. Indeed they might actually need to concentrate a bit.

Clearly, how much any given series requires you to give it your full attention can vary. Some series, like the archetypal police procedurals have to work on the basis you tune in and tune out at various points, and soaps also have to work on the basis that you're not necessarily paying attention 100% of the time.

That's led to a style of programme-making that sees very short scenes with plenty of repeated plot exposition. You'll especially notice it during US dramas made for one of the networks where "act breaks" are a significant part of the show's structure. Two cops sitting in their car or doing a bit of walking and talking, telling each other what they already know are a part of the structure. The audience might have been distracted! And we don't want them to lose interest altogether because they now don't know what's going on!

Of course we've always had distractions in our homes, from those annoying questions from other members of your family who wants to know who that blonde woman is, to the phone ringing, or just eating our meals in front of the box. But I wonder if the likes of Twitter and Facebook aren't someone more demanding of our attention?

For a start, in the past you could have carried out your conversation with someone else in the room, or on the phone, while still looking at the screen. And these days, if someone phones me, I can "live-pause" what I'm watching anyway.

Funnily enough, one of the things the recent spate of sub-titled fiction has brought to light is that, unless you're fluent in Danish, you really can't do anything during The Killing or Borgen apart from watch the programme and pay attention. Anything less and you're probably going to be lost.

But in general, if writers and producers are acknowledging that substantial portion of their audience are being otherwise "distracted" then we run the risk of further "dumbing down" our programmes, and writing them for a highly distracted audience. And that will probably lead to less engagement.

Now some may be brilliant polymaths who are able to absorb all the subtleties of the drama they're watching, while at the same time carrying out several simultaneous conversations on Twitter, without missing a beat. But I suspect that this isn't the case for most of us.

So instead, you're either missing nuances in the drama, and not fully appreciating it, or the writers have fashioned it to take account of the second screen, and made it "idiot proof".

My worry is that writers and producers are now having to make their shows for an audience that has a kind of collective Attention Deficit Disorder. Simpler plots; lots more exposition; scenes that last less than 30 seconds; black and white characterisation.

Watch the average daytime or early evening "factual" programme on any of the main channels, and you'll know the score:

intro;
coming up;
segment of show;
still to come;
another segment;
coming after the break;
break;
previously...;
segment;
later;
segment;
next time...;
credits.

The same bit of footage from the fourth segment of the show will have been shown about five times during the course of it.

Is that what we want from all our television programming?

In summary - for TV drama, put the laptop/tablet/mobile down, and just watch (Unless it's during an ad-break. And having written this blog, I'll get back to the football I'm watching).

Ridding Social Media of Pointlessness in 2012

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Happy New Year

In the last few days, we've seen a couple of storms in teacups. There was the BBC's "Faces of 2011 - the women" (or "pandagate"), and then yet another Jeremy Clarkson faux pas.

In the former, widely picked up on by social networks like Twitter and Facebook, and quickly followed up on by newspapers, we were supposed to be appalled that the BBC had apparently chosen a panda as one of the women of 2011. This coming swiftly on from the all-male Sports Personality of the Year shortlist. Proof positive that the BBC is sexist?

Well... no. It's a list in the BBC News' "Magazine" section of the website and just reminds us of some of the faces of 2012. Not the women of the year.

Was there a more appropriate actual human being that whoever wrote the article could have picked? Probably. But it really doesn't matter. At the end of the day, it's a relatively pointless list. There are some serious people on there, like US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was shot and Eman al-Obeidi who had been beaten and raped in Libya, but like any news review, the list mixed the serious with the frivolous. In 2010, the list included childrens' cartoon character Peppa Pig. I don't remember a similar outcry. And back in 2004, Marge Simpson was on the list.
In fact, if you go back and look at previous years, the list was much more frivolous than in more recent times, with significant numbers of incumbents being reality show winners and breakthrough pop acts from any given year.

Then there's the latest Clarkson outrage. Seemingly he's been insulting India by making an edition of Top Gear in India. Clarkson plays the oaf and buffoon, alongside his willing accomplices. But having seen the programme in question, the main problem was that it was simply a substandard episode in general. I don't think any of the weak humour was any better or any worse than we've heard elsewhere. Was it crude and schoolboyish in places? Absolutely. Could they have done better? Almost certainly. But I don't really care.

If they continue to make substandard episodes, then the programme will get cancelled at some point sooner than it might otherwise. In the meantime, listening out for every utterance that Clarkson makes with the seeming intention of forcing the BBC to sack him is both pointless and at the same time, chilling.

I might not particularly like some of the things he says, and I'm pretty sure that his politics are rather different to mine. But I don't care. I don't have the right not to be offended at all times. Particularly if that offence is not being very funny (case in point - Mrs Brown's Boys, which keeps getting recommissioned for even more unfathomable reasons than Two Pints of Lager ever had).

This latest episode, rather worringly, seemed to have been kicked off by a report in The Guardian. Yet hatred of Clarkson, and more particularly, the BBC seems to actually be a Daily Mail trait. Although Clarkson and the Mail aren't miles apart in political terms, he does write for papers in the News International stable rather than Associated Newspapers. So that probably has a bearing. And of course, he broadcasts on the BBC, so the Daily Mail has to give him a kicking as part of their ongoing campaign against the broadcaster1.

These are just two examples that I've given more time here than they deserve. But the same could be said for Clarkson's joke on The One Show during the recent strike, or whatever nonsense Liz Jones, Richard Litteljohn or Melanie Phillips has written in their column on any given day. There's always a new "outrage", and social media environments do much to ferment and spread it.

Yet in the end, they're mostly pointless and unimportant. Has someone said something hideously stupid/sexist/homophobic/racist/anti-science/intolerant/whatever? Probably. Are they fools? Probably. Should I be getting my knickers in a twist about it2? Probably not.

So how about in 2012, not sharing that link online.

Don't go reading articles and columns you know are going to drive you mad.

Don't complain to Ofcom or the BBC about something you've not seen.

Don't take offence at things that are just stupid or unfunny rather than actually offensive.

Don't call for someone to be banned or sacked because you don't agree with them. That can go both ways and someone who's views you do agree with might be sacked if we go down that route.

Instead, try to get concerned about things that actually matter. Injustice in the world; the oppressed; the needy; the downtrodden.

Care about what man is doing to man3.

There are so many stories out there that do need to be told. And in a celebrity-obsessed culture, they perhaps need our help even more. They're the stories that don't make it into the tabloids. You won't read about them in Metro or the Daily Mail online. They're the stories we should be sharing on Twitter and Facebook.

Of course it's still possible that some columnist will say something so vile it could be considered a racially aggravated public order offence or similar. But they probably won't. So don't waste time on them.

In the meantime, concentrate on what actually matters in 2012.

Happy New Year.

[UPDATE]

Some graphical evidence that explains what I'm talking about.

Media UK Mail

And "breaking news"...

Breaking News

(I think the rather more important news is just below that Breaking News strap)

1. In case you think I'm being unfair - and you probably don't - try this experiment. Head over to the Media UK Email Alerts registration page. Sign up to the Television newsletter, and just see how every day, when it arrives, there'll be a minimum of one Daily Mail-sourced "anti-BBC" story of one description or another in their digest of television stories. In fact, I'd quite like to subscribe to a digest that excluded the Daily Mail from the list of sources! (Can you make that happen James?)

2. Meant in a non-sexist context.

3. Ditto.

Picture taken using an Android app called Aurora Bulb. But I need to practice a bit more to get my timings, and ideally not stand so still in shot.

Google Reader

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I've been shut away at the Radio Festival for the last few days (more about that soon), and since I was largely using a tablet computer there, I hadn't yet properly used the new "improved" Google Reader until today.

I'm late to the party, although it seems that basically nobody who actually uses Google Reader, likes the changes Google has made to it.

I'm going to leave alone the style issues. On the one hand, it desperately needed a makeover to keep it contemporary. But on the other hand, it did just work.

I could posts that I wanted to keep track of, and importantly, I could share posts that I thought others might be interested in. Was it a perfect social system? No. But it worked.

Google is heavily investing in Google+ and you wonder if the subscription levels are where they might be, because it seems that they're moving heaven and earth to get more people to sign up.

Google seemed to be falling out of love with Reader when it relegated it into the dropdown from its position in their new(ish) navigation bar that's consistant(ish) across all their products. It first disappeared briefly before we were told it was moved in error, but latterly it's dropped away in place of "Sites" - a button I've only rarely used. You might imagine that Google could either build a bespoke navigation bar based on individual usage of its products, or allow users to choose which applications appear on the list themselves.

As it happens, that was the least of our problems. They've now made the social aspects of Google Reader essentially useless. If I want to share something on Google Reader now, I have to "+1" it. And while I can limit the number of people of who see it, but sharing just to the people I want to share it with, the experience is awful.

First of all, the "+1" pop-up is still a bit buggy, and at least one item I shared had the pop-up disappear below the bottom of the browser window. I couldn't see the options for who I could share with at all as they disappeared off the foot of the screen.

Secondly, I can essentially share with everyone, or a selection of people that I choose. Now while the functionality of Google+ that allows me to share with sets of circles that I've defined is useful in many contexts, this is one case that it isn't. If someone follows me on Google+ who I don't know (and there seem to be an awful lot of people in precisely that boat), then I can't easily put them into any circle at all. So I don't. They go nowhere. But that means that I've no way of discovering whether these people are following me because of the unique range of media/technology/literary/cycling links that I share.

Of course I could share everything with everybody, but that means that others might find themselves drowning under a torrent of my shared links. I need a place in Google+ - if that's where it must be - that I can go to find the shared links.

And that takes me to the third major problem. At the moment, I only actively follow a relatively limited number of people on Google+. And frankly relatively few of them are active posters. But as more people use the service, and post more to it, then the stream becomes really unmanageable. Previously, if I was away from a PC for a few days and came back and wanted to see what my friends had shared in my absence, that was easy to manage. I'd click through their links and move on. Now I have to scroll through everything that's happening in my stream(s) to see if there's something "essential" that I've missed.

It's a mess.

And that's after just a couple of hours' usage. That's before we get into the dull look, the lack of "Note in Google Reader" Javascript buttons that allows me to share anything I find on the web, and the general rubbishness of Recommended for you.

I hate to be the person who doesn't like change. Gmail's changed this week, and - so far - I've no real problems with the new interface. But in this instance, Google has really damaged - fatally? - a truly fantastic product.

As someone who works in the Android eco-system, the cross platform usage of Google Reader on a PC, tablet or mobile was a boon. But now, I'm wondering if I was rash to give up Bloglines all those years ago.

Is there something else out there that will meet my needs?

Cookie Deletion

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I do wonder sometimes whether or not digital media industry is desperately trying to cause more problems to itself than is absolutely necessary.

Take cookies.

Cookies are clearly very useful. They serve many purposes for many websites, as well as advertising networks and so on. They can be very powerful. And users find them useful - when I visit a site, it already knows who I am, and cookies help me carry out tasks that I want to carry out.

And yet, and yet, and yet...

According to a recentish ComScore piece of research 26.8% of users in the UK delete their cookies in a given month, this rises to 35.0% for third party cookies (the difference seems to be do with security software settings).

So already, lots of people are deleting their cookies, but - in a given month - most won't.

I wonder, therefore, if the digital media industry is helping itself with some of the things it's doing.

- We have Facebook seemingly not removing (or making inactive) cookies when users logout allowing them to track usage of individuals on Facebook enabled websites even when they've logged out (Facebook has promised to fix this [UPDATE] They have).
- Airlines' websites "seem" to remember whether you've searched for a specific flight before, and also "seem" to put the price up when you search for the same flight a little bit later. More and more savvy travellers are learning to delete cookies before searching for flights.
- The same is said to be true for some hotel groups.

I'm firmly convinced that most people do not realise quite the extent that they're being tracked by cookies. I'm also firmly of the view that it's their security software that is "managing" their cookies rather than users diligently going into their browsers' settings and deleting cookies.

But moves like the above only mean cookies fall directly into the public gaze. And I'm fairly sure that the public isn't going to like what it finds.

Then there's the small matter of the European directive on cookies that might still be on the backburner right now, but at some point is going to be enormously unpleasant for some.

Cookies are going to be much bigger news than they have been previously - of that much I'm certain. And the news isn't going to be good.

Taking Your Twitter Followers With You

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Twitter

A few weeks ago, Matt Deegan wrote an excellent piece about radio and usage of, and infatuation with Twitter.

He argued cogently on many aspects of stations' use of Twitter. But towards the end of his piece he raised a question that I'm sure many stations think about depending on how their presenters are using the medium:

Also from a cynical business perspective, presenters are plugging their own accounts on your time, to [station owners'] audience. Their growth in followers comes directly from them being on your radio station. The numbers they amass and the relationship built can then be transferred to your competitor radio station.

When Chris Moyles finally disappears off Radio 1 to a new station, he'll be giving 1 million Radio 1 fans reasons to switch radio stations.

Matt's solution is to have presenters host the stations' account while they're on the air. They pass on to the next guy or gal and so on. This may work in some places, but I'm not sure it's really what the audience is after. Part of the fun of following one of your favourite personalities - and that includes DJs - is hearing their thoughts on The Apprentice or learning about the mundane details (or otherwise) of their lives outside their broadcast hours.

But Matt absolutely has a point about potentially sending a presenters' biggest fans off with him when he ups and moves across to a competitor.

We've already have Jonathan Ross take his @wossy fans away with him when he left the BBC. And now there's a very interesting question (and answer) arising in television.

Today it was announced that the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg has been lured away to ITV, becoming their business editor.

On the one hand, it's just the usual movement of people around their industry. But on the other, it raised the possibly the first major case of someone with a signficant Twitter following being poached by the direct opposition.

As The Guardian's piece says, she's a significant user of social media, primarily on Twitter as @BBCLauraK where she has nearly 60,000 followers, and her Twitter username has been promoted on BBC News programmes.

Did Kuenssberg set up her Twitter account herself? Or is it a BBC sanctioned account?

I'd guess the latter, since she has now tweeted:

As you've discovered I will become @ITVLauraK in September! Thanks for all the lovely tweets - Back in Westminster tomorrow

While it's relatively straightforward to change your Twitter name - as long as the new one isn't already taken - it seems as though she's starting afresh. Currently the new account is dormant but already has 443 followers at time of writing.

In this instance, then, the BBC seems to have ownership and she'll be rebuilding her following from scratch.

She being in the BBC News department, there are some undoubtedly strict rules about what you can and can't do with regard to social media accounts. But what would happen if Rory Cellan-Jones upped and departed? His "official" Twitter account has 12,600 followers, but his older "personal" account has nearly 27,000 followers.

[Update] Interesting thoughts from The Guardian's Jemima Kiss.

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