Posts Tagged ‘resource’

Roundup #2 – essays and newspapers

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

After I did the last roundup, I wondered what the point of it is. I thought there is the opportunity for me to become slightly more knowledgeable as well as the opportunity for me to write a bit more if I offer more opinion instead of merely pointing to information with a brief description (as in #1); I will have to actually properly read and consider what I have read.

But, in the case of this week’s, that will not happen. Maybe it will never happen. Maybe I will work out what to do with these posts as I go along. Here are some ideas, anyway.

Motorway Man.

Should we allow drugs in sport? This is interesting.

The Election Project.

• Short essays from the The School of Life weblog.

• Sometimes an idea, like Newspaper Club, creates loads of excitement when one first hears about it. It made me think about what I would do with a newspaper. I have thought about producing a magazine, but never a newspaper; this is something new to me, and it is an idea that will stay in my head, somewhere in there, for ages until it is the right time for it to be used.

Roundup #1 – urinals and films

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

I started receiving The Guardian‘s “Green Light” emails last year, in October. It is just a weekly roundup of environmental news. I wasn’t really that interested at first; my first impression of it was that it seemed to be mostly about pictures of vaguely environmental things. Now, though, I do like receiving it, and seeing what The Guardian is talking about at the moment.

I thought maybe it’d be a good idea to do some sort of roundup of my own. It is largely inspired by the hundreds of shortcuts that I have saved to my desktop in the last couple of years, which I am currently trying to deal with. I don’t doubt that I will write more than one of these, but I do doubt that it will be once a week, every week, delivered on the same day. I will try, anyway.

Also, I am a fan of ideas in general, so perhaps not everything will be related to environmentalism. Finally, I do read more material than what is featured in “Green Light”, even if many links point to The Guardian.

• 10:10 has started a campaign to have Britain’s time changed from GMT in winter to GMT+1, and instead of GMT+1 in summer we would be on GMT+2. The idea is that it would be “lighter later” (as the campaign is called), and if it stays light for most of the evening (in the summer), until people are starting to go to bed, say, the need to use artificial lighting is reduced, and there will be carbon emissions saved in this. I wonder if there could be too much focus on the positive effects of extra daylight in the evenings, with not so much being mentioned about the extra darkness in the mornings. Lighter Later. One of the Guardian articles in favour of this change.

• I keep getting emails from Britdoc, and every time I get one I remember that I am no longer really interested in receiving their emails anymore. The last one I received, however, spoke of “the future of film distribution”, and I was glad I didn’t unsubscribe myself before finding out about this. Good Screenings allows anybody to show some social change films, the cost for which is decided on a sliding scale depending on who you are (multinational, charity), where you are, how many people you will show it to, and some other things. Erasing David, McLibel, and The Age of Stupid are some of the current films available to screen. Good Screenings.

• I read a review of the Magdalen Arms pub in Oxford, and the person said that the pub has PlantLocks outside. These are basically planters to which bikes can be locked. It’s good design, I think, to combine gardening and making a place uplifting with a “ride your bike in a practical way (rather than fantasising about how good bicicles are for transport and the environment) yet not get it stolen because there’s nothing immovable to lock it to” function. PlantLock.

• Why don’t we use urinals in the home? I don’t know, but if we consider using urinals at home, we might as well consider using a bucket and using it in the garden. Probably a lot of people live near to somebody who would utilise urine on their compost heap. The Guardian “Ask Leo” article.

• National Geographic teams up with Ambi Pur to produce those annoying air fresheners that plug into the socket and make my eyes sting and my nose run. Why? Another Guardian “Ask Leo” article.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

On Saturday, I read an email from YouGov about TellYouGov. It is described as a service to make sure your opinion on any topic is counted in a meaningful way.

Positive or negative sentiments about any topic can be expressed using Twitter, email or SMS (for only the cost of the SMS itself), and are displayed almost immediately on the website. The index page of the website shows the most recent comments; on the separate pages for each of the topics people have so far spoken about is all of the comments in the last 24 hours.

The leaderboard has a strange filter system for organising the topics of the last 24 hours (or 48 hours, 1 week, 2 weeks or 1 month) that I can’t understand but, basically, what’s near the top is the most spoken about.

The first sentiment I offered was by text. It was about cyclists, it was a negative comment (“Cyclists – They should wear helmets and have decent lights on their bicycles. Knowing something about how the road works would be good, too.”) and, surprisingly, it was one of a flurry of comments about cyclists. I didn’t know that anybody felt so passionately about law-breaking cyclists as I do.

Immigration, the BNP,  the Robin Hood Tax, climate change, supermarkets, customer service, recycling, food, jobs, litter, Aldi, the police, “nanny state”, work, mortgages, volunteering, Jamie Oliver, schools and palm oil are all of the other topics I have commented on.

I have also expressed sentiments about cheap meat, the working week, sustainability and Money Saving Expert. Annoyingly, none of these appeared. There is something about the system YouGov is using that means some comments do not get through; I don’t know what it is. In the case of the first two, I should have (and later did) marked them as “food” and “work”. In the case of Money Saving Expert, there were already comments about it, so I do not know why my own didn’t register. I don’t know what happened with the sustainability comment.

I like that there are no usernames displayed, and no conversations take place, though comments are often related to each other. I don’t like that it is only possible to see the last month of comments on any topic. I suppose it would be undesirable to keep all comments indefinitely, but I wonder if they might be able to go through the comments on each subject every day and compile the most interesting or something.

The website is a good idea. I like YouGov’s surveys, but with surveys there is no way for the person doing the stats to know exactly what your opinions are on the subject polled, unless there is a comment box somewhere. Even if there is space for comments, that’s perhaps not what they are most interested in. With TellYouGov, the people who might ordinarily commission polls have an extra source of honest information, information they might never get if from a poll’s resultant pie chart.

For instance, on the subject of cyclists, a lot of people are concerned or annoyed by some cyclists’ abuse of the law by not wearing a helmet and by cycling on the path. If the right person was looking at these comments (and those about the police not properly enforcing laws and even breaking some themselves), perhaps something good would come out of it. For this reason, TellYouGov could prove to be quite powerful. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen much in the way of blatant advertising, and I don’t think that it will be very useful for this purpose.