Friday, December 01, 2006

Rosie has left the building

Friday afternoon
Development spend: £7036
Cakes eaten today: One... and a bit of another one
Months since last pay cheque: Four

Yesterday's lecture to the first year journalism students on online journalism was disappointing, mostly because around a third of the students didn't turn up - and the no-shows were largely the single honours journalism students.

Do they really think they can afford to miss classes on the future of the industry they're studying to join? Or is it that, being younger, they think they already own the net and know what it's about?

The one thing that did become very clear during the lecture was that they know next to nothing about what it's about. It wasn't just that they didn't understand the difference between the net and the web, you don't have to understand the technical bits to use it well, but only one of them (out of around 100) had ever posted a video onto a site, only one student had (or admitted to having) a blog, and almost all the sites I showed them they'd never visited.

What was worrying was that they'd become passive consumers of this non-passive medium, in the same way that they were passive consumers of TV, radio or newspapers. They were mainly myspacers and iTunes downloaders and thought that meant they owned the space they were traveling through.

Rating videos and digging stories is a long way from setting web agendas.

I wonder whether adding click choices and comment boxes on websites is making it worse by making the audience think it's in charge of the remote control, when really all they've been given is the on/off switch and a couple of brightly coloured buttons?


Work on tidying up sweeble is motoring along and the new version of the homepage design, which I've just been looking at, is a zillion times better than the beta site. Can't wait to see it up live. Or more accurately up live, all the links working, all the text formatted properly and all the targets going where they're meant to go.

Hopefully that will all happen by the end of next week and the December 10 deadline I've set.

We've also got some good stories up there this week - much closer to what I think it needs to deliver to get people engaged with the concept of writing their own news. Still a way to go but I'm a lot less worried about the relaunch now and that people will be able to understand what sweeble is about the first time they arrive at the site.


Rosie the rat seems to have moved out. In anycase, I haven't seen her breakfasting in the wood shed for a couple of weeks now. But her place at the feeding station has been taking over three argumentative grey squirrels.

I'm thinking of greasing the bird table pole. And videoing the falling down fun for sweeble.

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