Posts by: "Tom"

Idea: would allow people who feel their vote may be wasted to swap with someone in another constituency.The idea came this evening when a friend and I were discussing how she really wants to vote Lib Dem and I Green. She lives in Brighton, and I live in Richmond Park. So we agreed we could swap votes. That way we increase the chances of a first Green MP, and minimise the chances of Zac Goldsmith getting in. Simples.

I’m no web developer but I do have a sense of what is possible, and there is a lot of information available that would help build such a site. Asking users for their postcode, it could potentially use datasets from and mysociety to allow voters to identify whether their vote ‘counts’ in their constituency, and which other constituency would benefit from a vote for the party they would wish to support.

Okay, so using the site could be something of a massive act of faith (that your vote ‘buddy’ would vote as claimed), but it could help progressive leaning voters acheive the parliament they desire. Call it ‘voter solidarity’!

It may seem illiberal but I don’t want to work to encourage the extreme right wing. Therefore I suggest the ground rules would be that you can only swap with other people who want to vote for progressive parties.

I’ve registered the domain above ( is currently occupied) and would love to see us use the possibilities the web offers better to represent the people’s wishes.

Clearly time is short (I wish someone had thought of it a month ago – or maybe they did!), but if anyone would like to help build it, please do get in touch.

Dear Susan,
Thank you for your response to my previous correspondence. Whilst I can appreciate many of your points I would much appreciate a further response to a number of urgent points.
Firstly I would ask that you probe more deeply into the veracity of the report of the 17th March which you cite. The point has widely been made that the figures on which the report was based were highly speculative and biased and take no account of the benefits of New Media on the industries which the report describes.
Your researcher Erin kindly said that she would let me know if the bill were to come up during the wash up process, which it I heard from other sources that it did, today.
I have therefore been following this reading of the Bill in the House, and note that it seems you were not present this Tuesday to debate this ill-thought out, poorly debated and heavily lobbied bill. Please correct me if I am wrong.
I note from your current position within the Liberal Democrat Party and from your voting record that families are clearly important to you. Please could you let me know as a matter of urgency how you think that allowing a bill to pass that could criminalise and cut off Internet access to families sits with your party’s policy, and indeed with your personal sense of morality.
You write in your response to my previous letter that you hoped that controversial parts of the bill would be subject to maximum scrutiny and that it would be possible to change them before a final decision is made.
Therefore, lastly and most importantly, please can you reassure me that you and your colleagues in the Liberal Democrat Party will be there in force today to oppose the third passage of the bill.
I await your urgent response,
Yours sincerely,
Tom de Grunwald

Posted via email from TdG

Twitter has announced a new method of interaction, which they are calling @anywhere. It will allow us to tweet or follow a new user directly from a participating website – up till now, these have involved using either the API via a third-party application, or visiting the webpage.

@Anywhere will use a small amount of javascript to make tweeting possible without a page refresh. It sounds like it pretty much extends API access to the Web.

Initial participating sites will include Amazon, AdAge, Bing, Citysearch, Digg, eBay, The Huffington Post, Meebo,, The New York Times,, Yahoo!, and YouTube.

When I started using Twitter, I loved that it was flat – you could follow anyone you found interesting and they could follow you – or not – if they felt the same way. Of course that started to change, notably when Suggested User Lists started shepherding new users towards the accounts of established celebrities (which, as has been pointed out elsewhere, destroyed follower count as a useful index like Google’s Pagerank).

Imagine being able to follow a journalist directly from her byline, tweet about a video without leaving YouTube, and discover new Twitter accounts while visiting the Yahoo! home page—and that’s just the beginning.

It sounds fun! But I’m particularly excited by how this will spice up TV viewing. Event Television viewing has been revolutionised over the last year or so by the public backchannel that is Twitter – hashtags have allowed strangers to debate, discuss (and perhaps mainly lark about with) live TV such as BBC Question Time (#bbcqt) or Britain’s Got Talent (#bgt).

Such behaviour (along with more sophisticated multiplatform conceptions) have led to a trend towards “2 screen” viewing.

But with the BBC this week announcing its ID system will be compatible with OpenID and other distributed authentication systems (OpenID, Facebook Connect, OAuth); at least two channels to date simulcasting over the Web; and web-style ‘widgets’ coming to the box in the living room (from a variety of directions!), will people still need 2 Screens?

Posted via email from TdG

This beautiful film has for its protagonist the camera, and its muse, architecture. If that sounds pretentious, you might not like the film, which seems to have caused a stir for its use of technology, namely Vray and 3dsMax – but it’s the elegance and pace of the shots, the sense of love and wonder at the architecture which it depicts, and the wresting of some kind of narrative out of ‘inanimate’ buildings which set it apart. Music plays its part here, the elegiac quality of the soundtrack mediating between the time scales of humans and of buildings.

If the film has a weakness – only one person, the photographer, and one motto appear, which therefore act as something of a manifesto – it suggests that architecture is art for its visual and cinematic qualities, rather than the active use of the space which it defines. But this is paradigmatic to our age of iconic, signature buildings, and not therefore a problem with the film, but of the times. There are signs that this architectural paradigm is shifting in concert with the economy.

I await Alex Roman’s next films with anticipation.

Posted via web from TdG

The Digital Britain Unconference final, collated report is up and can be read, signed, linked to, blogged and otherwise enjoyed here.

If you approve of the report’s recommendations (collated from over a hundred people’s suggestions), please do consider signing (by leaving your name in the comments).

See previous post or the dbuc09 site for background!

Digital Britain Unconferences - Final report

Digital Britain Unconferences - Final report

Over the last couple of months I’ve had the pleasure of helping to create a dialogue around the UK government’s Digital Britain report. The story has been better told elsewhere, but essentially, during a meeting of some of the bigger and more established players in the UK media, Bill Thompson tweeted with the idea of having an unconference and quickly, Kathryn Corrick, Dan Hon and I (amongst others) concurred.

I suggested a simple tag to keep the discussion unified, set up a Twitter account and blog to co-ordinate information, and Kathryn, who has really driven the whole process, set up a Yahoo! Group to start getting events off the ground.

A few weeks later and we’ve seen twelve events in towns and cities around the country, including a virtual discussion of rural issues, a family unconference, hundreds of tweets tagged with #dbuc09 – a real public consultation about the future of Britain in a digital world. At one point during the Birmingham event, we were victims of our own success, when #dbuc09 started trending on Twitter and thus garnered unwanted attention.

It’s been great working with Kathryn, Bill and Alastair Duncan (who’s made an invaluable contribution to the editing stage of the process) amongst many, many others. It feels like a fascinating example of how collaboration around a common purpose can work using free web tools – something future government consultations could take from. I’ve been enormously impressed and heartened by the ideas and spirit shown by all who have participated, and encouraged that the good folk behind the report are listening. I look forward to reading the final report!

I took on the task of collating the reports from the London event, which have been published in this PDF. The idea was to embed a slideshow and audio on the blog, but as it wasn’t possible (for technical reasons), I thought I would post them here.

Digital Britain Unconference London 6 May 2009 (dbuc09) by microclimate

Everybody wants to be the good guys! No surprises there..

Negotiations on a new deal for YouTube UK to continue to show certain music videos have broken down with the Performing Rights Society, who collect license fees for public ‘performances’ of music (including radio, TV etc) and dish them out to musicians.

Interesting to compare the PRS statement and YouTube blog post on why this has happened.


PRS for Music is outraged on behalf of consumers and songwriters that Google has chosen to close down access to music videos on YouTube in the UK.

Google has told us they are taking this step because they wish to pay significantly less than at present to the writers of the music on which their service relies, despite the massive increase in YouTube viewing.

Google had revenues of $5.7bn in the last quarter of 2008.

Google sorry, YouTube:

Our previous licence from PRS for Music has expired, and we’ve been unable so far to come to an agreement to renew it on terms that are economically sustainable for us.

There are two obstacles in these negotiations: prohibitive licensing fees and lack of transparency.

We value the creativity of musicians and songwriters and have worked hard with rights-holders to generate significant online revenue for them and to respect copyright. But PRS is now asking us to pay many, many times more for our licence than before.

So which is it – are PRS charging more, or Google/ YouTube trying to pay less? This is starting to look like the kind of divisive positioning which music fans – and musicians – have been suffering for so long. Each party claiming to be on the side of music lovers and casting the other as the bad guys.

Fans have become accustomed to Music Industry mistrust of New Media, and cast the PRS in the ‘Man’ role (see the comments in the YouTube post). Meanwhile like a couple of others I can’t help wondering who is really the David, and who the Goliath here.

What do you think?prs-vs-youtube-iandelaney

The other day I went to Kew Gardens, courtesy of my sister Natasha. It was a cold, wet, rainy day and unusually there were few colourful flowers around – but we had a lovely walk, and came into the Palm House, a beautiful example of pavilion architecture from 1848.

Whilst really no expert on them, I have a soft spot for Arcadian interventions. Whilst I revere truly wild, unromanticised wildernesses, I love the way that the Victorians turned their creativity to framing nature, such that nature and culture work together to create poetry. In wilderness no civilisation; in Arcadia civility and nature collide.

The Palm House represents this beautifully: the plants, which in the 18th century were curios, have become the foundation of one of the most important conservation collections in the world

I’m seriously considering joining Kew soon.. Maybe we’ll meet there!

OK, so I realise that I may be a bit behind the herd here, but I just wanted to share a couple of the tools I’ve been exploring recently that help me get work done at the moment. They’re predominantly Mac based, but please feel free to leave a comment if you have found similar tools for Linux or Windows etc.


Quıcĸsıɩⅴεʀ (normally written Quicksilver) is the big find. The simplest way of using it is as an application launcher, but it can do a lot more than that. Install all the plug-ins and it essentially becomes a way of performing actions in any programme. For example, type a piece of text and link it into an email. Search for a contact. Tweet. You can even send command line pronts with it. The main limit seems to be your imagination. Admittedly, it takes a little effort to get set up, but that effort is rewarded in spades.

There’s a great video of Quicksilver’s creator (mysteriously named A1c0r) here , talking to Google about the philosophy and workings of the programme (via Merlin Mann).

Here’s a good guide to some of the things you can do with it.

Lastly here’s a new project from the same guy, now working at Google (I suspect he got the job just after the talk linked above. They clearly see the strategic benefits of ubiquitous, easy seamless desktop/ web search). (Via Rory Cellan-Jones).

Lastly, in order to meet my pledge to keep my inbox empty through 2009, I needed a tool to help me file emails in volume. Mail act on may be just that tool. Install and set up a couple of rules, and you’re away. (I will pay for it at the end of the trial if I don’t work out how to do the same in QS!). Essential for my emerging GTD regime.

Following on from Sunday’s announcement in the Times about Isis’ film on the First Lady of France, Carla Bruni, there has been a fair amount of press in the UK and Ireland (I work for Isis).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the pieces have largely been concerned with Carla’s discussion of her private life, although it might be more interesting if they had focused on her music… The Daily Telegraph, The Irish Independent , The Sun, Hello! Magazine and Marie Claire are all in on the action.

The Telegraph focus on Carla's private life

And today, The Times (again), The People, and New York Magazine have joined in the fun. Watch this space!