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January 30, 2010 / conceptbin

Public Service Broadcasting in Iceland

I published an op-ed piece today on the cutbacks at the Icelandic State Broadcasting Service, in the Icelandic newspaper Fréttablaðið.

Here’s a pdf of the article.

December 3, 2009 / conceptbin

The BBC Digital Revolution project

Here’s a confession. When the BBC announced the Digital Revolution documentary, produced in an open and collaborative fashion with raw(ish) interview footage and transcripts released online through the Digital Revolution Blog, I signed up to the RSS feed, kept an eye out for tweets from Aleks Krotoski… and then got distracted for a month or so.

Now that a lot of the rushes/transcripts are up, and available through a permissive license to download and edit, I’m becoming more and more impressed with the ambition and potential of this project.

Rushes will be added until 7 December. Then the fun starts, with a short film competition for anyone who wants to plunder the rushes for a 2-minute film on one of the four themes of the programme. They’ll be accepting entries from 14 December 2009 to 3 January 2010.

November 10, 2009 / conceptbin

More on podcasting

equipment-trainingHere’s a collection of good how-to guides for making and distributing your podcasts.

1. Prepare
Intro: How podcasting works (

2. Record
Basic steps: How to Create a Podcast in 10 Easy Steps
How to Create Your Own Podcast – A Step-by-Step Tutorial

How to Create a Podcast with No Technical Know-How

3. Distribute
Specific blogging platforms:
How to Publish Podcasts on WordPress
BloggerTumblrVox, and TypePad all make it very easy to post audio to blogs, once you have the file.

To use FeedBurner to link your blog to iTunes and other services, start with their helpful Feed 101 guide.

And just in case you want more How-to materials, I recommend How To: Survive in Tomorrow’s Online Entertainment Industry (via Mashable).

October 9, 2009 / conceptbin

5 Tips for Podcasting


I love me a good podcast. I subscribe to about ten of them from the BBC, Guardian, NPR, and more (see this post), so it makes sense that I make my own sometimes. The podcasting started because I was invited to guest lecture on the MA in Cultural Management at Bifröst University in Iceland. Making regular podcasts for Icelandic postgrads (and a few for my Greenwich students) I’ve learned a few things, mostly from the mistakes.

These rules of thumb are provisional, as all such rules inevitably are. Feel free to add more in the comments section.

1. A podcast is not a lecture. It’s a way of reaching your listeners when they’re on the bus or the train, rather than a sit-down-take-notes audience that you might find in a lecture theatre. The podcast is a specific medium which can usefully supplement lectures and seminars, but it’s not a substitute for either.

2. Edit while you record. Pause the recording if you don’t know what to say next, gather your thoughts, then move on. Nothing kills the pace of the podcast like a protracted episode of “ummm, uuh, I think…ummm…”

3. Be concise. I like to follow a 15-minute rule for my podcasts: Either the whole thing comes in at under 15 minutes, or it’s broken into 15-minute segments. Each segment should have a clear focus of some kind (e.g., on one concept, one topic, one problem). Separate the segments with a sound cue (music, pause, a change of some kind) that signals a transition.

4. Establish a rhythm. Talk at a pace that suits you, but if you’re a slow talker you’ll have to step it up. Like any radio producer will tell you, rhythm matters in order to keep your listeners from zoning out while you drone on. It’s obvious, but you must listen to yourself – otherwise you’ll never notice your own speaking habits and annoying tics so you can do something about it.

5. Introduce the podcast – even if it’s only a few minutes long. Add a short opening snippet when the main body of the podcast is complete. It only has to be long enough to give the listener a sense of what’s coming. You’re not talking to a captive audience; you have to earn their attention from the outset.

In short, remember the specificity of your medium. A podcast is inherently mobile, it unfolds acoustically (not spatially, like print and images), and it will probably be played while something else is going on. Imagine your listener out walking, doing the dishes, driving, sitting on the train or the bus. What kind of travel companion do you want your podcast to be?

June 19, 2009 / conceptbin

Sensation for Sensation’s Sake

Saraceno-inside-2My article Sensation for Sensation’s Sake: Affect and the Temptation of “Wow!”, originally published in the beautiful art magazine Sjonauki, has been republished in the Nordic online magazine

This was a fun piece to research. I wrote it in response to the Psycho Buildings exhibit at the Hayward Gallery in summer 2008. The show brought together a remarkable set of artworks that helped me think differently about aesthetics and representation. Like Carsten Höller’s slides at the Tate Modern and Anthony Gormley’s Blind Light, the works by Gelitin and Saraceno, among others at Psycho Buildings, were primarily about the user’s experience – touching, floating, falling…

Perhaps these works are part of a trend, but the recent recreation of Robert Morris’ Bodyspacemotionthings (1971) should remind us that art has emulated the playground for quite some time.

Bodyspacemotionthings has just closed at the Tate Modern, but I’m looking forward to Walking in My Mind, opening next week at the Hayward.


June 16, 2009 / conceptbin

For MICA MA students visiting Greenwich

GraffitiI had a great time today with a lively group of visiting MA students from The Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad, in India.

Because I covered a lot of ground in our seminar today, before heading out for a walk around Shoreditch to look at graffiti and discuss ambient marketing, here are the links and references.

May 22, 2009 / conceptbin

Research Tools

It’s the time of year when dissertation students start to think about what to do over the summer, and we scholars start digging out all the books and articles we didn’t get around to reading over the winter. Having just read Tara Brabazon’s Times Higher blog post on how to have passion for one’s research area while focusing on a topic and keeping all the notes and references in good order, I’ve been thinking about how I organize my stuff on- and offline.

I’m probably not alone or particularly geeky in that I work across three computers with different operating systems. Any software/service I use has to be on friendly terms with WinXP, MacOS and Ubuntu, preferably synchronized seamlessly across the intertubes. Now that it’s running Ubuntu, I seem to have my little netbook with me all the time, so this sync-business has become absolutely essential for keeping track of meeting notes, ideas, funding bids and all the bits and pieces of academic life.

Here’s the problem: Keeping track of sources, organizing the reading notes and making links between all the little things I come across online, in journals, in books, and in audiovisual media – I’ve never achieved that memorious oneness with my archive that I always imagined scholars to possess. But there are some tools… is great for materials that live online – it does bookmarks and does them well. However, it’s not ideal for group projects where you might want to share bookmarks within your team but not with the world. Right now I don’t see that as much of a problem, given that I don’t have many secret research projects on my plate. It’s my main bookmarking service, and the Delicious Add-on for Firefox gets a lot of exercise on all my computers.

Dropbox has revolutionized my file management for my own projects and collaborations. A lightweight application that integrates equally well with Finder on the Mac, Windows Explorer and GNOME on my Ubuntu machine, it has made teamwork so much easier by eliminating the constant emailing of files back and forth, with the attendant wrong-version-hell that inevitably follows.

Zotero is fast becoming my favourite management tool for articles, books and online sources. It’s a Firefox add-on that syncs references and notes across computers, and allows for tagging and organizing the reference collection in multiple ways. I’m experimenting with it right now on a conference paper I’m preparing, and so far this application seems very impressive. For one thing, it’s enabled me to rediscover a stack of journal articles on PDF I’d saved on one of my machines, and the drag-drop export into bibliographies on GoogleDocs has made it a breeze to keep track of sources while writing. The new 2.0 version just came out, and I haven’t gotten my head around all the features (e.g., group libraries), but as a basic user I’m very happy with Zotero.

The Zotero interface is a breeze to learn and use. It’s very different from EndNote Web, which only plays with Windows and Mac, and requires the purchase of proprietary software. We’ll see what happens with Zotero when I start using the and Word plug-ins for longer, more complicated writing projects. For more techie details, check out Dan Cohen’s overview of Zotero 2.0.

Mendeley, a new service that uses a desktop application instead of a Firefox add-on, seems to have a lot of potential. The problem for me is that it works much like Zotero, except the desktop app doesn’t quite agree with my netbook, so I haven’t felt compelled to spend time figuring out how it works while Zotero runs smoothly on all my machines. I’m curious to see how it plays out there among fellow scholars, because it looks very useful.

The main thing with these applications and services is that before you start using them extensively, spending time building your database, is to make sure at the outset that they offer export functionality. As with all cloud-computing applications you’ll want to have an exit strategy.

May 15, 2009 / conceptbin

Menningarlegur þungaiðnaður / Heavy Cultural Industries

(Podcast guest lecture in Icelandic, recorded for students on the interdisciplinary Prisma programme at the Iceland Academy of the Arts and Bifrost University).

Þetta hlaðvarp fjallar um hugmyndir Richard Florida um skapandi geirann, ásamt gagnrýni á þær og nýrri útfærslum. Hér er úthenda með heimildaskrá og tenglum í ítarefni. Lesið eftirfarandi grein (ath. hún er á 6 síðum) úr tímaritinu The Atlantic:

Florida, Richard. 2009. How the Crash Will Reshape America. The Atlantic. March.

Thungur-menningaridnadur (m4a)

M4a skráasnið spilast í iTunes, QuickTime, RealPlayer, VLC, Miro, og á flestum nýlegum spilastokkum og farsímum – í öllu nema Windows Media Player.

February 27, 2009 / conceptbin

“You won’t miss it until it’s gone”

It’s a sad day for local newspapers today. The Rocky Mountain News is shutting down, leaving Denver, CO with one metropolitan newspaper. Even though I live in London and have never even seen a print-copy of The Rocky, it’s a poignant reminder that local media now face a stark choice between having to reinvent themselves or vanish.

The video documentary of The Rocky’s last day, Final Edition, reminds us that the business model of local newspapers used to rely on classified ads for their bread and butter. That revenue stream dried up, leaving The Rocky and many other newspapers in similar circumstances to rely on print advertising and subscription fees to sustain their operations in an economic downturn that has seen advertising spend shift online.

There’s a real need for a professional class of truth-tellers, inherently suspicious and factual in their reporting. This, of course, is the journalistic ideal. Rocky Journalist Jeff Legwold says that the motto on the wall in the first newsroom he worked in was: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” The problem is that such an operation is expensive, and has to be paid for with something else.

Note that the video above comes to you via Vimeo, and one of the stories on The Rocky’s site today reports that “The world followed the closure on Twitter.” And how did I, a Londoner, notice this story in the first place? I saw it on the Talking Points Memo political news blog.

December 7, 2008 / conceptbin

Podcasts I commute by

headphonesThe delightful thing about a 45-minute commute is that it’s long enough to listen to one or two good podcasts. I was talking about this aural bonanza that pours into my audio player to a friend of mine who works from home, and I think she started to envy me the time I spend on London buses. Maybe.

Here’s the list of good stuff:

This American Life, the best radio show anywhere, ever, on any planet.

BBC Digital Planet, tech stuff, pure geek pleasure from the BBC World Service.

The Guardian Media Talk and Tech Weekly – more geeky good stuff. Media Talk makes me feel way more savvy about the media scene than I have any right to.

The New York Times TechTalk podcast – geekery from New York City.

The New Yorker Comment podcast. Without it I’d have no opinions.

NPR Live Concerts from All Songs Considered podcast. Impeccable live recordings of a wide range of artists.

The Moth storytelling podcast. Live performances, excellent stuff.

Savage Love because Dan Savage is a genius.

Slate’s Explainer Podcast. You can’t have too much bitesized knowledge lodged in your brain, good for dropping factoids casually into conversations.

…and of course the Icelandic culture show Víðsjá. If you close your eyes when listening to this, even the Tube feels like a cozy kitchen in Reykjavik.