Friday, 26 March 2010

National Archives UK on Flickr

Thanks to Peter Scott's blog for reporting that National Archives UK has added over 200 images to Flickr. The photos have no known copyright restrictions so feel free to copy gems like this poster.

Monday, 22 March 2010


Satyagraha, Philip Glass's opera about Mahatma Gandhi's early struggles against racial discrimination in South Africa, is currently playing at the ENO. I went to see it last week and the production is three hours of stunning music and staging. See here and here for expert reviews, and here for a digest of the plot.

Satyagraha was the Sanskrit name Gandhi gave his theory of non-violent, or "passive resistance". Central to promoting these principles was the Indian Opinion, a weekly publication that at its height had an estimated readership of 20,000 in South Africa alone. As such, newspapers are a running image in the production, particularly in Act II where giant rolls of newsprint are stretched across the stage, before Gandhi ends up disappearing into a mass of paper and people.

I was curious to know how the paper was viewed in Britain and so turned to the Guardian/Observer digital archive. As part of the Miscellany column, the following piece appeared in the Guardian on January 24 1905:

(click to enlarge)

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Tweeting while you work

Twitter's detractors usually dismiss the site as a plaything for those with too much time on their hands. Supporters point to its social networking capabilities and power as a serious journalistic tool, citing its use in the June 2009 Iranian elections and Trafigura case.

But what value does Twitter offer for everyday working life and business? That was the topic under discussion at the recent SLA Europe's Tweeting while you work: Making the most of micro-blogging, discussion.

The three panelists - Hazel Hall, Julie Hall and Judith Woods all use Twitter in their working lives - for exchanging valuable information, promoting themselves and, in the case of the last two, generating business. Slides will be available soon. One piece of advice, though, that all gave was that it is important to maintain separate business and pleasure accounts. The aim should be to cultivate your own Twitter 'personality'.

It was refreshing to hear such enthusiastic and knowledgeable speakers. They were so good in fact that the Chair, Bob De Laney, LexisNexis Director, News & Business, UK & Ireland, had very little to do. However, he did lob in the question as to whether the panelists would still be such enthusiastic tweeters if they had to pay for the service. The response was, a yes, a yes, and a possibly. Good news for some.

Hazel Hall slides can be seen here.

Monday, 8 March 2010

BBC listening figures and the Freak Zone

With talk of the BBC closing 6 Music and the Asian Network dominating the headlines, it's worth looking at what sort of listening figures other stations get. Katy Stoddard, a Guardian researcher/librarian, has posted all the most recent figures on the Datablog. Bottom of the list is Five Live Sports Extra, although I suspect it's running costs aren't that high. Why though isn't anyone talking about closing 1Xtra?

I'm a fan of 6 music, or at least parts of it. If the station does close, I suspect that the brilliant Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone will survive although it will probably be reduced to an hour and banished to the early hours of Radio 2. A suggestion - why not drop Aled 'keep the faith' Jones's Good Morning Sunday show and replace it with Maconie. The Freak Zone includes plenty of spiritual music and the most recent show's featured album was Black Sabbath's eponymous debut.