Skip to main content

A re-born blogger?


News Rewired Dec 2015: Additional notes

1 min read

I'm presenting at's News Rewired tomorrow.

Here are some notes to accompany the presentation.

All our (OnTheWight) historic JSA reporting

Netflix reporting questioned

Netflix stock had 7:1 stock split

Reports questioning if algorithm got confused


Discourse tips: 'Reply as a linked topic' feature - Great for keeping threads on-topic

2 min read

I love what the group behind have done. A very usable, mobile-first, open-source discussion forum. It's learned from the world of Social Media and has created a great tool.

Well, this afternoon I discovered a new feature that you all could find helpful.

Fixing the off-topic comment problem

One of the enduring problems with discussion forum (and it's the bane of an forum admin's life) is that discussion threads go off-topic. ie A conversation starts about one thing, then someone raises a point in a Reply that isn't directly related to the main discussion.

I did this myself in a private discussion thread just recently.

Reply as linked topic

Well, the very clever people who have written Discourse have anticipated that and have created an easy way of handling it.

If you put your mouse over a comment, 'Reply as a linked topic' appear on the right of the page (screen grab below)

How the link appears


Once this is done, it simply takes you to new topic that doesn't muck up the original thread, but creates a link, so you can find out where the discussion came from originally. 

All very neat isn't it?

(This is the screen it takes you too)

Next screen


Innovation - Presented at Cardiff 2015

1 min read

The links from the presentation made at the What's next for community journalism? Conference at Cardiff University


Generating income from a #hyperlocal | Presented at #JES2015

3 min read

Following guidance from Sarah Hartley, who's chair of the panel that I'm speaking on at the first Journalism Enterprise Summit (#JES2015), below are a list of things that we've tried over nearly ten years of running our Isle of Wight News publication, OnTheWight.

Sarah impressively boiled down her speaking guidance to three points: What have you done?; What have you learned by doing it?; and, What are you doing next?.

Below are the first two. They're made up of our experience, of course others may have had completely different outcomes.

If they don't make sense, or need more clarity, do get in touch.


What have you done?What have you learned by doing it?
Gained the trust of the Island - Quite a challenge
Published 23k articles
Built a commenting community - 112k comments
Built uniques peaking at 100k/month
Readers will support you - become advocates
Their loyalty brings protection and they will 'Fight your corner'

News in and of itself doesn't pay -
- Brings attention, but time consuming to create
- Barrier to entry is forever dropping
- Unsure that the majority appreciate quality
 Tried and stopped  
As VB - Had non-standard sized adverts Don't do it!
Art work will have to be custom
You can't use ads from ad networks
Social media campaigns Take care - don't pollute your social media stream
Competitions Don't bother. Applications are limited even for massive prizes - Dream Holiday - New kitchen
Built Web sites Takes you away from your core business
Client back and forth extensive
Long term commitment
Presenting / Fronting other videos Not bad
Decent money
 What we've stuck with  
Event promotions Generally easy
Unsure - Are they too cheap?
Display ads You need someone dedicated to sales - a sales person
Need good graphics skills - internally or externally
Educate clients - It's not just about clicks, it's about brand recognision
You need guidlines for ad creatives - It's your publication this will be on. Respect your readers' eyes - and their bandwidth
Sponsored Features (Native Ads in the new world!) It's highly effective for clients
Great distribution - Published to our site; 20k+ Social media; Highly placed in search results
Offering different packages - eg Small business start-up packages
Take Overs THE best way to be noticed
Quite bit of desigin/programming work - Three versions. Desktop/tablet/mobile
... but quite a bit of money
 Still trying to  
Have tried to recruit sales people You can try sales yourself - but mindsets are different. You also struggle to find the time
Don't pick just on personality - Doesn't work.
You need a 'closer' - An actual sales person with proven track record

Twitter #Intro yourself at #ODCamp to make the most of your time there

4 min read

I'm lending a hand at Open Data Camp (#ODCamp) this weekend by helping people Network while at the event.

The goal of this Network, or Speed-dating as some of the crew have called it - to help people coming to the event to get the most from it, not only in the sessions, but by having fruitful conversations between sessions that will serve to stimulate, or perhaps grow into collaborations. This could be swapping ideas, have questions answered, building collaborations.

There's 130 people going to the event, so there's no real way of me getting to know them all, no matter how much research I carry out in advance.

It got me thinking about ways/systems to help people self-network - Peer-to-Peer networking, if you like (Ah, P2P, that takes you back doesn't it?).

Easy discovery of people's interests

In last night's organisers' Hangout, it popped into my mind about how coloured stickers were fantastically effective at the late-90s First Tuesday networking events for joining mutual interests. There it was a simple two colours - One for I have money to invest, the other, I have an idea looking for investment.

Chatting the initial idea over with the others, it wasn't quite right. Having applied more thought to it, Open Data Camp isn't that simple, there's a lot more areas/interests. Given that you'd end up needing a look-up chart for what each colour meant, defeating the point.

During a phone call with Chris Gutterdige today we kicked the idea around and I think have formed the start of an interesting idea.

Self-declaring your via Twitter

Before the event, on the way there, or during the event, if attendees Tweet out one/a few Tweets about themselves, How they're connected to Open Data and what their looking for, the P2P networking can start online and hope fully flourish at the event when they meeting in person.

Essentially you're creating a bit of data about yourself.

Examples are often the best way - So I might Tweet

@simonperry I use open data in our journalism at @OnTheWight 

your interest

Another might be the equivalent of the colours badge stickers, but much more flexible a mix of the things that you do and your interests.


Other tag labels might be

Perhaps the area you work in -

- What your interested in sharing

Chris suggested - if there's an area of Open Data that you've got a strong knowledge about and are willing/keen to share. 



@cgutteridge Organisational Open data

- People you'd like to meet/chat with

The last idea was for people that you know that you like to meet up with. This one is lifted from dating/small ads - - Would Like To Meet.

@simonperry Others in news and those interested in Open Data for social good

@simonperry interested in data in journalism

All searchable

Of course this all bring the advantages of search-ability. If you want to meet up with people at who work in a particular field, they'd be easy to find and therefore connect to at the event.

Let's give it a go!

I don't know - this all might be a complete daft idea, or it might be something quite useful. Either way, let's have a play at ODCamp - if it's doing to work anywhere, this is a good place to start.

Of course, if you have any thoughts on this, want to meet anyone at , or just want a general chat about Open Data, just come and say hello.


Does #hyperlcoal stand a chance with 'Statutory Notices for the 21st Century' consultation?

2 min read

(These thoughts were gathered back before Christmas, but following some discussion on Twitter with Kathryn Louise Geels, I thought I'd publish them.)

'Twas the night (or two) before Christmas

Two days before Christmas day, the Department for Communities and Local Government put out a notice of a consultation with a foreword by Eric Pickles MP, who runs the department.

It's titled 'Councils and media invited to bring statutory notices into 21st century' - something that many in the hyperlocal world have been encouraging for quite some years. Given this, hopes were initially high.

Having read the documents, I find it hard to see this as a serious attempt to really change things or open the market to others such as new small media organisation.

It comes across to me more as an attempt to transitions the local media groups into bringing Statutory Notices into the digital age, while maintaining their central role in it - possibly giving council/government a bit of a price reduction in the process, by threatening a little competition to them.

Here's why

Below is a few chunks of text from "Statutory Notices for the 21st Century: Invitation to express an interest in becoming a pilot" (PDF) that led me to this.

  • "We may invite an independent person and officials from (list of five-ish names including) ... News Media Association ... to assist in the evaluation of Expressions of Interest. " 
    (News Media Association: The self-proclaimed "voice of national, regional and local news media organisations in the UK"  )
  • "We think that it is likely, given the timetable, that a pilot will need the co-operation of a number of partners to be successful, particularly the local authorities and newspapers within the pilot area."

  • "You will need to meet the assessment criteria set out earlier but when finalising recommendations for the Secretary of State we will also consider the overall number and nature of Expressions of Interest to achieve an appropriate balance across the pilots of ... different media groups, and ..."


Leaving aside the just-before-Christmas timingss of this, none of the above sound particularly healthy to me, especially the first, where a rep from the trade body of the current local media companies could well be involved in deciding if new competition are allowed in. Seems deeply flawed.


Local news groups centralising editorial enabled #Hyperlocal to get a foothold in the UK

1 min read

Tim Bourne (a friend and past colleague) raises the question of local news being decimated in the UK. Interesting points brought up on his recent personal experience.

Here's my response/take on it

I think the address of the Ealing Gazette's editorial office says it all Tim - It's 8.5 miles away, in middle of Hammersmith. That's not a local paper. That's a team trying to gather together goodness knows how many papers spread around a wide area, away from where they actually are.

It's past management decisions to centralise editorial to increase profits that enabled Hyperlocal news to flourish in the UK in the first place. Hyperlocal news providers are based in the community.

Agreed income have been hit by classified revenue loss, but past withdraw of editorial away from the areas they cover started the rot.

(Thanks for kind words about OnTheWight BTW)


Twitter's @Fabric looks like an interesting shift: Attempting to own Mobile

1 min read

(Summary of my Tweets, plus a bit)

Big strategic shift for Twitter. How they hope to become the Fabric of all Mobile Apps by giving easy to use tools to developers.

Twitter's @Fabric four areas: Mobile Analytics, Ads and Twitter function. Actually creates code in Android development.

Also Digits - Sign up for any mobile app using your phone number, not your email. Helpful overseas where many don't have email.

All of the tools are free, with the obvious upside for Twitter - Dollars from MoPub ads and loads of mobile analytics data.

Challenge: Rebuilding trust of developers

Of course, one of the biggest challenge for Twitter and is to regain developer trust - shattered by Twitter previously by getting them to develop Apps to help Twitter grown, then to launch their own to crush developer's work.

More info on Twitter's @Fabric

Fabric's own info | Twitter's own summary of Fabric functions | Wired on Fabric


This talk illustrates why #IoT data privacy is vital and needs to be in the individual's hands not companies

1 min read

This talk at GigaOmLive illustrates why Internet of Things (#IoT) data privacy is vital with the control and flow of the data these devices produce needs to be under the individual's control not just free flooding to companies.

Where (at 5:06) they're casually talk about 'The Voice of the Product' - What they're actually saying is that the thing you purchase and put in your home spends its time reporting back to the maker, delivering data connected to you and how you're using their product.

Unsurprisingly the Xively boss, Michael Simon, says 'The Voice of the Product', "Creates value where companies could never imagine." Darn right - they're find out loads about you, to then sell to other companies and work out what else they can sell to you.


Live Digital Marketing: Challenges and Insights chat

1 min read

I've been doing some work with Southampton Uni on their Digital Marketing: Challenges and Insights MOOC.

Yesterday we did a live chat using Google Hangouts. Lots of good and interesting points from some top practitioners and academic. The video is live for you to catch up on