Sunday, 28 November 2010

Double Measures

Moral fears about drink have often exercised British newspapers, something that soon became apparent when I began compiling material for Double Measures: The Guardian Book of Drinking. From concerns in the 1860s about drunken children, the dangers of absinthe, the very act of drinking itself during WW1 to current debates about 24-hour licensing, the paper has not been afraid to warn of the dangers of drinking alcohol. That said, the editorial lectures are leavened by plenty of celebratory pieces about all things grape and grain.

Many of the articles were accompanied by cartoons. As Drawing Drunks, a new exhibition at the
Cartoon Museum demonstrates, artists and cartoonists have long played out the dilemmas over drink in the country's press. The Today Programme recently reported on the exhibition and a number of cartoons can be seen here (unfortunately the museum's site is a little out of date). One of the most famous is William Hogarth's Gin Lane.

Read Martin Rowson's piece about the love-hate relationship between editors and cartoonists here.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

LIKE 20 and the art of networking

With the Christmas party season almost upon us, LIKE20 focused on how to be more successful with your networking. Guest speaker Lesley Robinson passed on a few tips but the bulk of the evening was spent putting the theory into practice. Simple advice such as catching someone's eye or having a few pre-prepared opening gambits soon made sense and before long the room was alive with the sound of some serious networking.

So far, so good, but what happens when you want to move on from a conversation and engage with someone else? Extricating yourself from a group or person without giving offence is much harder to do than making the initial contact. Lesley offered some ideas but unfortunately there wasn't much time to put these into practice.

Chatting about this after the main networking session elicited a number of responses. More than one person suggested the simple, direct, and usually effective, 'eff off, you're boring me' approach. Fair enough, although someone else commented that having a host/hostess to connect the like-minded etc. might be a more subtle way of going about this. Good idea, although not always possible. At professional events
it is usually easier to move onto the next person as everyone (hopefully) knows the rules of the networking game. Of course it's harder to do at social gatherings - guess it's just a case of getting out there and practicing...

Once again, a great LIKE event. More of Lesley's networking tips can be read here.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Beyond the echo chamber

Complaining or commenting about something in an enclosed space acts like an echo chamber with the same things being heard over and over again. No matter whether it's in the social media sphere or a trade journal, airing the issues may be reassuring for those involved but has little impact outside the space. This is particularly true in the library world where there is an awful lot of chatter about the forthcoming cuts in services but little that makes it into the mainstream media. It was with this in mind, that SLA Europe organised Marketing Libraries Outside the Echo Chamber, a seminar that aimed to show information professionals how to reach beyond the converted.

Held at the City Business Library, one part of the the evening was taken up with Escaping the Echo Chamber, a talk by Ned Potter and Laura Woods. Using a series of examples they built up a strong case for the need to challenge inaccurate reporting in areas where non-librarians and opinion formers will take notice. A good case in point is that of a blog post by the influential marketing guru Seth Godin who wrote, amongst a number of things, that 'information is free now'. Naturally there was a huge response but it was Toby Greenwalt's response on the Huffington Post that was probably read by the most. Another point made was to use a popular medium to get the message across as illustrated by this very funny film on YouTube. There are lots more useful links on their respective blogs and presentation (which, incidentally was a brilliant demonstration of Prezi.)

How to go about putting all this into practice had been demonstrated by two of the organisers behind Voices for the Library, a campaign that "seeks to highlight everyone who loves libraries to share their stories and experiences of the value of public libraries". Bethan Ruddock and Jo Anderson gave a truly inspiring talk, describing how they they were getting (and encouraging others) a positive library message across through stories in the local press, commenting on popular blogs and writing on forums such as Comment is Free.

There was no doubting the enthusiaism of all of the speakers. However, Ned seemed to suggest it was an information professional's duty to promote libraries. As he put it,
"if people don't know how we can help them, they won't come to us for help."

This was an evening that challenged all those present to do something. Thanks to SLA Europe and also the City Business Library staff for hosting the event.

Friday, 19 November 2010

History of Social Media Infographic

Those Who Dared recently featured a post about Munroe's Map of Online Communities which showed current levels of social activity around the globe. Now there is a History of Social Media Infographic, a timeline that acts as a useful companion piece to the map. Produced by Skloog, it traces everything from the birth of the telegraph in the late 18th century to Google Buzz in the present day. It's so easy to forget that Wikipedia is nearly 10 years old and Second Life has been around since 2003.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Books about journalism

Michael Frayn's Towards the End of the Morning (1967) is often cited as the ultimate 'old Fleet Street' novel. Set in an obscure national newspaper it follows the lives of the journalists from the crossword and nature department in the decling years of the street. Most of their time seems to be spent in the pub, usually accompanied by the stout-drinking Lucy from the library, moaning about workloads and life on the paper. The novel is very funny and much loved.

However, many other fine books have been written about Fleet Street - something that has been dubbed hack-lit. This month's
Press Gazette features a piece about Revel Barker's Books About Journalism which republishes long lost classics. A former Mirror Group executive and brains behind Gentlemen Ranters, Barker's catalogue includes such tales as as Murray Sayles's A Crooked Sixpence and Anthony Delano's Slip-Up, not to mention the ever popular Waterhouse on Newspaper Style.

The Press Gazette publishes his top 20 classics but plenty more can be found on the website.