Robert Freeman's whole Media, Business and Technology thing. Sorted.

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Teenager loses job over Facebook comment

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I was on BBC Look East last night, commenting on the news that a teenage girl was sacked 3 weeks into her job, for telling her Facebook friends that it was boring.

This certainly isn’t an isolated case.

I think that if you’re 16, putting a status update saying that you’re bored is exactly the same as leaning over to your friend in a cafe and saying the same thing. Employers should bear this in mind, but also new employees have to realise that the rest of the world doesn’t work like this yet.

The other important thing is social networking privacy.  Put those settings up to maximum and don’t add people that you don’t know.

Friendship is something to be earned, it’s not something you give away at the click of a button. As you get to know someone more, then you can release some of the privacy controls and let them know a bit more about your life.

Although I have to say, what’s this young lady doing on Facebook? Get over to Plurk!


Written by Robert

28 February, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Posted in General, Media stops completely

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My only email account to never receive a single spam message will disappear

In 1999 with the sudden appearance of ‘free’ dial-up based internet accounts, I joined – “Free internet access from the BBC”.

Here’s the original BBC News Online story (note the original publishing template – in all probability I worked on this story!)

Although I’m something of an email address tart, I’ve consistently used this address ever since (although I would only dial the access number about 4 times a year just to make sure the account stays valid).

The service is one of the few with full POP/SMTP access, which means I can use email software like Outlook and Thunderbird to access the email in my account. I’ve been using it on my N95 phone most recently.

So I was a little bit sad, although unsurprised to get an email into that account last week telling me that it’s all finishing. Here’s the detail direct from has been through various stages of closedown since the bubble burst, probably the most significant happening in 2002.

It’s been a little bit of internet history, which I’m surprised isn’t being reported, perhaps because the number of users is now so miniscule that no one has noticed that it’s been working up till now, even though it’s since offered broadband accounts.

At the end of June, spare a thought for a internet pioneer. There were many other free ISPs at the time (in the hundreds!) but none with quite the same name and brand associations.

It wasn’t the BBC Micro, but did help tens of thousands of people to get online during a critical period of growth for the internet.

If you also found the full POP/SMTP access helpful, livehacker has a post of how to do the same thing with gmail.

Written by Robert

17 April, 2008 at 7:05 am

Posted in General, Media

I must be addicted to Facebook

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Facebook is down this morning. And that’s annoying me. And I’m annoyed that it’s annoying me, because that means that FB has become important to me. And I dislike the thought of being dependant on a website 😦

What’s interesting, and I’m not the only person to have this problem is that my Facebook presence seems to have vanished, lets hope temporarily.

I can’t get in, and I can’t reset my password and one friend even rang to ask if I had deleted myself because ‘you’re not there anymore!’

Written by Robert

3 August, 2007 at 12:21 pm

Posted in General

I’ve got a new job at the Guardian

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I’m pleased and excited to report that in August, I’ll be Head of Video at the Guardian.

The Guardian is one of those publishers that I’ve admired for a long time.  They were the first newspaper to embrace the web in same way the BBC did and they clearly understand and have a strategy for the changes which are being forced upon the whole industry.

This is a new role, (together with a Head of Audio, in the scarily capable form of Matt Wells, currently Editor of Media Guardian) and means that the Guardian will be virtually alone as a national publisher in having its own dedicated video production effort.

The offices here at the Guardian and the Observer are from what I’ve already seen, packed with smart, creative and talented people.  That’s a great resource to be starting from.

We are not going to produce multimedia stories in the same way other newspapers have, but we’re not going to go down the road of making television either.

There’s so much which is distinctive about Guardian journalism, particularly an emphasis on international stories which other organisations don’t or can’t devote time to.  But this is not just about reflecting daily news, to retain and grow audiences we also need to stimulate and entertain too.

Feature material and the absorbing articles you find in the G2 section give great examples. Here’s a particularly memorable feature for me which is precisely the kind of thing which would make a marvellous multi-media report.

This is far more difficult and time-consuming to do when you add video to the mix.  In these days of user-generated content and every phone also being a video camera there’s the thought that anyone can make video, that it’s as easy as poking a fire.

It isn’t, and for the last 5 years if you’ve heard me in seminars or conferences, I’ve always included this fact : Craft skill will always trump mere access to tools.

A trained professional is always going to produce something better than a lucky by-stander.  Training and knowledge management for journalists isn’t superfluous when supposedly anyone can be a newsgatherer, it becomes far more important.

Regular readers of this weblog might have noticed a pronounced drop-off in the number/quality/length of posts in the last couple on months, my apologies but there’s been rather a lot on, and now you know what a large part of it was!

This may mean a subtle shift in focus in what I write about here, but I haven’t thought about what it might be yet.  So, for now, forward!

Written by Robert

11 July, 2007 at 11:31 am

Posted in General, Newspapers

Truly viral – Simpsons avatar generator

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I’m surprised and amused over the number of people I know on Facebook who have replaced their profile pictures with a custom Simpsons avatar.

It’s a brilliant gimmick to publicise the upcoming Simpsons film, and you can get one by following this link.

The show’s been on for over a decade and remains popular all over the world, we ‘get it’ because we’re all drawing on that shared experience. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t watched The Simpsons at some point.

But I wonder if we’re the last generation who are able to do this on such a scale. Given the fragmentation of audiences, is there less likelihood of a critical mass of people to give a viral campaign like this enough scale, for it to mean enough, to enough of the population to make them want to participate?

In the meantime, I haven’t yet changed my profile picture to a cartoon me yet, but I still might.

My Simpsons avatar

Written by Robert

5 July, 2007 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Fun, General

Sainsbury’s close online DVD shop – no one notices

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Ever been to Don’t worry. No one else has either.

For four years, Sainsbury’s ran this separate online shop which sold DVDs, CDs, books, games and the like. It closed this month.

I’m amazed that Sainsbury’s bothered for so long! The site didn’t even manage to grab 0.2% of its market traffic, according to Hitwise.

I’m a Sainsbury’s shopper and their marketing for this website’s been appalling. I’ve never read anything about it (until it closed), never seen anything in-store either.

When the main Sainsbury‘s site is so successful, why bother with separate entity? You massively reduce your chances of achieving critical mass.

Written by Robert

26 June, 2007 at 9:47 am

Posted in Business, General

Google’s just not fun anymore

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Have you noticed that the price comparison website Froogle has vanished?

Google have renamed it, and you can tell they did it by committee, because they’ve come up with the most bland, boring and utilitarian name imaginable : Google Product Search.

Google says that the previous name ‘didn’t clearly describe what the product does’, and even has to point out that it was a pun on ‘frugal’.

Maybe American speakers just don’t get this kind of word play?

Written by Robert

30 April, 2007 at 11:08 pm

Posted in General