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Sunday 5 September 2010

Gay village residents mount legal challenge over street closure during Manchester Pride

I understand that residents in Manchester’s gay village area have mounted a legal challenge over the closure of streets during the annual Manchester Pride ‘Big Weekend’. Since 2003 the area has been fenced off over the August Bank Holiday — from Friday evening until the early hours of Monday morning. (more…)


Filed under: Gay,LGBT,Manchester — GS @ 3:16 pm
Saturday 5 April 2008

MP fights for photographers’ rights

Labour Member of Parliament Austin Mitchell, a photographer himself, has tabled an early day motion supporting the rights of people who take pictures in public places.

(more…)


Filed under: Photography,Politics — GS @ 6:50 am
Tuesday 13 March 2007

Iraq war has cost every person in Britain £88

The illegal invasion and war in Iraq has cost every person in Britain (all sixty million of us) £88 each.

‘The figures were released as MPs protested about the plight of Britain’s NHS hospitals’: The Independent.


Filed under: Politics — GS @ 3:19 am
Wednesday 15 November 2006

South Africa approves same-sex weddings

BBC reports:

South Africa’s parliament has voted to legalise same-sex weddings – the first African country to approve such unions.

The controversial Civil Union bill was passed by 230 votes to 41.


Filed under: LGBT,Politics — GS @ 5:24 am
Wednesday 23 August 2006

Here Come the Double Deckers

One of my favourite TV programmes as a kid.

As far as I can make out, this series has never been released on video or DVD in the UK (and probably not in the US either). The last time I remember it being on terrestrial TV here was in the Granada ITV region in 1990.

This is one of a vast number of British television programmes and films that remain unseen, languishing in a vault somewhere. There are British films that I’ve never been able to watch and there is no way to see them because they are not available anywhere.

As a content producer myself I understand the need for copyright. But, is it right that companies can deny us access to our cultural heritage and prevent us from viewing these for decades? Simply because they can’t be bothered, or can’t make a profit by releasing them.

There should be some way for people to see these. Either require the companies to make a copy available that people can borrow from a local library. Or make it legal to share non-profit copies of commercially unavailable material.


Filed under: TV & film — GS @ 11:02 pm
Thursday 6 July 2006

Rocketbust: the question the articles never asked about Rocketboom

Andrew Baron, the creator and producer of the videoblog show Rocketboom, and Amanda Congdon its star, have parted company according to reports.

In all the hype that surrounded Rocketboom in its first year online, there was one question that always went unanswered.

Print articles and TV reports were in awe of the show. Breathlessly, they told us how it was produced in an ordinary living room, had a quarter of a million viewers each day and yet cost just $20-$50 to make. Some even suggested that the main expense was photographic light-bulbs.

Andrew, the creator and producer of Rocketboom, was quoted as saying he spent some 8-14 hours making each five-minute episode. Which will be no surprise to anyone who has been involved in the time-consuming business of making television programmes or video.

But, as they predicted a rash of ‘user-generated’ Rocketboom-style programmes coming to a website near you, what none of these ‘anyone can do it’ reports ever asked, was how did the people behind Rocketboom pay the rent and buy food?

It was clear that making Rocketboom was a full-time job. After a year, I began to wonder. Did Rocketboom have a financial backer who had given them start-up cash? Was Andrew a rich-kid who didn’t have to worry about earning a living? Were they all on welfare?

Of course money isn’t everything, but eventually it became clear they did want to earn an income from the show.

As a video blog, Rocketboom has been a spectacular success. A phenomenon and I wholeheartedly congratulate Andrew and Amanda on what they did. But, as a business, it represents a missed opportunity of quite staggering proportions. I read they made about $80,000 from the one ad they had so far.

To be running for eighteen months, with 300,000 viewers per day, five days per week, and make only that, is just mind-boggling. With Google ads you can make $500 a year from a website that only gets 50 visitors a day…

History is littered with the tales of people who had great ideas or creativity, but failed to do what was necessary to turn those into an income. Rocketboom gave away its product under a creative commons licence. Its website and show usually carried no ads. It seems to me that the only valuable asset is the ‘brand’ and Amanda Congdon is a huge part of that.

Now the bubble has burst. Occasionally Rocketboom was brilliant (Amanda dancing in Russia), but often it was a bit too off-the-wall and left us scratching our heads in bemusement. Andrew was an expert on the RSS distribution side of things, with the result that Rocketboom was the first to make it big. It was a novelty and highly popular for that reason. That iconic combination of Amanda and the map… They captured a moment in time and I fear that moment is now over.

If I was Amanda, I would start making a new online show right now while she is so much in the public eye. If I was Andrew, I would sell the Rocketboom show, archives (which don’t have a lot of value because they are so topical) and domain name and split the money with Amanda, while they still have the chance to make some money from this. Otherwise Rocketboom is going to begin a slow fade into history without making either of them rich.

The worst thing would be to get tied up in a legal case for several years, by which time there will be nothing left to carve up. Time is of the essence for both of them…


Filed under: Net & technology — GS @ 11:17 am
Sunday 19 March 2006

British soldiers to face life imprisonment for desertion

So many soldiers are absconding from the British Army due to the war in Iraq that the Government is planning to change the definition of ‘desertion’.

Under The Armed Forces Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, ‘soldiers could now face life imprisonment if they refuse to take part in the occupation of a foreign country’.

As usual with Tony Blair, the answer is not to tackle the root of the problem — which is that he lied, the invasion of Iraq was illegal under international law and has been a total disaster. Not to mention that moral has been low because soldiers have sometimes lacked essential equipment such as body armour.

No, instead, Blair punishes the soldiers. Like so many other people, they see through him and have no faith in his leadship. So the only way to stop them running away is to theaten them with life in jail!

If I was in the armed forces I would be looking to get out as soon as possible, one way or another.

This is the twenty-first century and, when a soldier is being asked to put his or her life on the line, they should be confident that it is for a cause that is just and legal (and not just inside Tony Blair’s twisted head).

POST-WAR PROFITEERING BY US COMPANIES IN IRAQ

BBC Newsnight has a must-see report on how billions of dollars of Iraq’s money was directed to American companies to rebuild the country and much of it is now unaccounted for. Download it here while you can.


Filed under: Politics — GS @ 9:01 am
 
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