Tooting my own horn

It’s not often I toot my own horn, but I’m going to let myself do so on this occasion. I usually find self-congratulation quite difficult as I am haunted by the feeling that I Should Have Done More, but it is nice to occasionally have a little recognition from someone else. I’m thus quite chuffed to be listed at No. 50 in the Telegraph’s list of The 50 Most Influential Britons in Technology.

I’m on the list, apparently, because of Ada Lovelace Day – the international day of blogging about women in technology that I organised earlier this year. There are only five women in the Telegraph’s lower 25, listed yesterday. I can’t help thinking that’s slightly ironic, not to mention another indicator that we have long way to go before Ada Lovelace Day becomes unnecessary.

I can’t deny that it’s nice to be recognised. I remember feeling equally chuffed when, years ago, The Guardian added Strange Attractor to its list of essential blogs. We still sometimes even get traffic from that archival page! But I also think it would have been nice to have been recognised for some of the meatier work I’ve done, such as being a social media pioneer or founding the Open Rights Group.

Of course, lists are always subjective and there are plenty of “Eh?” moments with this one. Baroness Greenfield is someone I think is hideously misguided, not to mention often flat-out wrong and whilst she may be influential it is entirely the wrong sort of influence. The majority people included come from ter intarwebz, with only the aforementioned Greenfield (“scientist”), Tanya Byron and James Dyson working in other fields.

I hope that today’s second part includes more people from other areas of technology. Nanotech, biotech, electronic engineering, software, games – none of these areas are represented. I suppose it could be argued that influence these days relies on having a hefty presence on the web and that because this is a list of influencers the web is going to be over-represented.

There’s also the perennial argument of “Why do a list anyway? They’re just a waste of time.” That’s a view I often sympathise with, but I have to admit there are a lot of people on this list I’ve never heard of, just as I’m sure the vast majority of readers will not have heard of me. Wouldn’t it be nice if this list was titled Interesting People You Might Not Have Heard Of, because that would have been both more useful and more honest.

Still, I shall enjoy my little moment of pride in what I have achieved. … Right, done! Now to get on with Doing More!

links for 2009-09-24

  • Kevin: ProPublica is using money from the Knight Foundation to hire two companies to improve its abilities to raise fund online and through traditional means of institutional and foundation fund-raising.
  • Kevin: Dan Kennedy blogs about a Clay Shirky Presentation: With newspapers supplying about 85 percent of accountability journalism, Shirky said that what we need are a large number of small experiments to try to make up some of the gap. He divided those experiments into three parts:

    * Commercial: The traditional advertising model for newspapers, magazines and broadcasters.
    * Public: News organizations funded by money unconnected to commerce, the prime examples being public radio and non-profit news sites.
    * Social: Journalism produced mainly through donated time, including certain pro/am crowdsourcing initiatives such as Off the Bus, a citizen-journalism project that covered the 2008 presidential campaign for the Huffington Post."
    The entire post is well worth reading. There is a lot to digest in this discussion about "accountability journalism".

  • Kevin: This is definitely one of the posts where the comments are probably just as important as the post itself. Why? Emily Bell, the head of digital content at The Guardian, and Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger respond to comments. In response to the a commenter implying that layoffs at the Guardian are due to the amount of money spent on our internet operations, Alan says: "That's not actually right. Since 2002/3 our spending on (operational and capex) has exceeded revenue by just £20m. There's a crisis in the industry, and the Guardian is no more immune than anyone else, but it's a myth that we've plouged lunatic sums into digital."
  • Kevin: Marshall Kirkpatrick attempts to explain the real-time web in 100 words or less. He begins: "The Real-Time Web is a paradigm based on pushing information to users as soon as it's available – instead of requiring that they or their software check a source periodically for updates." He asks for input.
  • Kevin: Wendy Parker looks at a the possibilities of a one-man news operation taking over a local news site in Kansas City Kansas. "Nick Sloan, 24, purchased the Kansas City Kansan from Gatehouse Media and will be a one-man news operation, covering suburban Wyandotte County." She has a nuanced, pragmatic take on the project. "It’s important to outline the possibilities for hyperlocal news, and to offer words of caution. But it’s also unfair to fold any single effort either into insanely optimistic projections of success or into a dismissive argument that they are unlikely to reach their readership or earning potential.

    Each project deserves to be looked at on its own merits, in the context of the unique community and niche it serves."