Friday, 23 April 2010

Tracking musical expenditure: March

This is a bit of a delayed addition in the series of posts tracking my expenditure on music and music related services, mainly due to work commitments, activism and the 'odd' media appearance (emphasis well and truly on odd).

March was a bit of a quiet month for music purchases. I bought a couple of CDs and some software which grabs missing artwork for digital music files. Nothing exciting there then. The software was one fo the MacHeist charity bundles hence the inflated price - there are many free alternatives out there but I was feeling charitable. The total spend in March was £33.03. If we just include the albums the figure is a more modest £19.73.  This brings the running total to £127.93 for albums and singles, and £1203.06 for all music-related activities.

The month ahead had me in two minds, especially given the ascension into law of the Digital Economy Act.  I was half toying with the idea of boycotting all music purchases as part of a 2 month campaign to hit the music industry in the pocket for all it's lobbying of MPs, but that went out the window due to Record Store Day - a day in which music fans are meant to support the good old vinyl and independent record stores.  Instead, I decided to invest money I could have spent on CDs on an anonymous VPN  More on that next month...

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Media student job opportunity

We've received an email which may be of interest to some of our media students:



I am the Project Manager for a Multi Media company. We currently have a requirement for students to complete some filming for us, towards the end of April/month of May. I have attached further details about this opportunity, including pay etc and would really appreciate if you could circulate this information in an email around the departments, as well as uploading to your career website.


We have a very short period to acquire students, and would greatly appreciate if you could help me with this as soon as possible.


I look forward to hearing from you.


Many Thanks,


Jenny Court Office Manager
(0115) 9411 444

Atomic House, 50 High Pavement, The Lace Market, Nottingham. NG1 1HW


You'll find the details here:


Earn as much as £60.00 per hour working for a Media company.

An exciting opportunity exists for individuals who are located all over the UK to video pre-arranged interviews on a simple to use hand held video camera as part of a National project. 

You must be:

·       Confident

·      Professional

·      Polite

·      Friendly

·      Presentable

·      Excellent communication skills

·      Ability to listen and ask questions

·      Have good initiative

·      Internet access

·      A mobile phone

·      Own transport

As a representative of AtomicMedia, you must approach the task in a professional yet friendly manner, be extremely flexible with filming dates and be available on weekdays in late April into May.  The role will require you to go into small and large companies to video interview employees with questions that are sent to you in advance– it’s a simple as that! 

If you have a Psychology, Media, English, Sociology or Drama background then these are preferable but not essential.  No previous camera experience is required as the cameras are extremely easy to use – in fact all you need is a steady hand!!

Each video will take approximately 1-2 hours to film and with a fee paid of £50.00 per video you could potentially earn up to £200.00 per day!

If travelling to a location exceeds 10 miles then an additional 0.20p per mile will be paid towards travel costs.  The maximum travel cost is fixed at £10.00 - 50 miles.

To apply for this role, please email Jenny Court at .  Please let us know of any relevant experience or why you think you would be good for this role. Also, please indicate the regions/areas of the UK you can cover.



Posted via web from robjewitt's posterous

Monday, 12 April 2010

South Shields: a tale of two towns?

Last week, David Miliband was back home in South Shields canvassing for votes.  The Guardian were keen to interview him as part of their Election coverage.  John Harris published a piece about the interview here:

I was in the video they recorded - you can find that here:

The Digital Economy Bill Acts Up

Apologies in advance - this post is meant to act as a repository for some of the more interesting responses to the Digital Economy Bill being passed into law, now the Digital Economy Act.  I'm planning on dumping a few links on here and following up with more of them as I find them.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive post in its current guise.

During the second and third hearings in the House of Commons, there was a great deal of interest in the proceedings of the House by people watching BBC Parliament, iPlayer, the Parliament webpage, and via Twitter.  Needless to say, the 'wash-up' was more of a stitch-up than anything else, lacking detailed and sustained debate.  The back-bench rebels were unable to defeat the party whips.  Many MPs voted despite not being present in the House of commons discussions - namely they were asked to vote in a specific direction by their party without even knowing what they were voting on.  For evidence of this, see this letter from MP Stephen Timms in which he confuses Interent Protocol for Intellectual Property! - He was instrumental in rebutting criticisms of the Bill throughout the third hearing. Democracy?

Quite a few interesting tools, posts and sites emerged around the political discussion:

Letters and responses:
  • ISPs like TalkTalk, BE and O2 were critical or muted with regards to the outcome via their company blogs.
  • Member of the Music Union, Steve Lawson, fired off this angry letter to said union.
  • Twitter was full of users announcing that they did not recognise the Bill - powered en masse by this site:
  • Several online petitions and open letters against the bill emerged.  Here's one via GoPetition.  
  • Here's a signed letter via Tumbled Logic which amassed more than 650 signatures in a very short period of time.
  • The Open Rights Group decided to fight back by organising local forums for protest and direct action
Data mash-ups

South Shields Digital Economy Bill No Show Miliband

More to follow...

If you find any interesting links be sure to comment or reach me via Twitter

Friday, 9 April 2010

BBC Blast reporter scheme opportunities

The BBC are hosting summer placements though BBC Blast for people looking to build their skills in the media.

What is the BBC Blast Reporter scheme? 
BBC Blast Reporter scheme is an opportunity for budding reporters to learn the tricks of the trade in hands-on work experience that will enable them to build on their knowledge of the media along with providing fresh and exciting opportunities in Sport and Music areas.

There is opportunity to work alongside BBC staff to create content for BBC's local websites and radio stations, which will be something outstanding for CV's and future career plans.

The application deadline is Friday 30th April 2010 and there are posts available around the country.

Information on specific reporter application forms follow for the Music and Sport reporter posts:



You can find out more information on the scheme and last years placements by clicking on this link: 

The BBC contact for this opportunity is: 

Rachael Smith | New Media Producer 
BBC Local English Regions 
+ Level 10, The Mailbox, Birmingham, B1 1RF 
( 0121 567 6790, Internal: 01 76790 
: /  

Download now or preview on posterous
bbc.pdf (1128 KB)

Posted via web from robjewitt's posterous

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

White 'wash-up' - democracy and the Digital Economy Bill? Part 2

The following is the response I received from Harriet Harman, after I contacted my MP, David Miliband:
Dear Robert,
Thank you for contacting me about the Digital Economy Bill and its progress through Parliament before the election. You will not be surprised to learn that I have received many emails on this topic in recent days and I understand why you are concerned by reports that the Bill could be passed into law without being properly debated in the Commons.
As far as the Digital Economy Bill is concerned there will be a full Second Reading debate this, so it will have a normal Second Reading debate. It has had considerable scrutiny already in the House of Lords: it had seven days in Committee, which is more than any other Bill in the programme, and three days on Report, whereas every other Bill in the programme had only one day. However, I know that people want it to be scrutinised in the House of Commons too, and there will be a further chance for scrutiny at the time of making the regulations to give powers to the courts to block access to internet sites in relation to copyright infringement. As that element of the Bill has generated much debate, those regulations will be subject to a super-affirmative procedure, which will operate in the following way.
There will be a public consultation on the draft regulations prior to their being laid in Parliament and they will be laid in draft in the House of Commons with an explanation of why they satisfy the necessary thresholds required to make the regulations. Those thresholds are set out in the Bill. At the same time, the public consultation response will be published. Draft regulations will sit in the House for 60 days and, at the same time, Committees of both Houses will consider them. That is the critical part of the super-affirmative procedure. It allows Committees, including Members of this House, to consider the provisions even though there will not be Committee stage in the normal way. Final regulations that take into account the recommendations of the Committees will be laid in Parliament and will be subject to the normal affirmative procedure. Of course, the Bill will make progress in the wash-up only on the basis of consensus.
Best wishes,
I'm afraid that the claim that this Bill has had enough scrutiny is simply unacceptable given its diversity and the implications it contains.  To also compare the length of time the Bill has been considered against the other Bills that are up for debate is duplicitous and a false argument.  It is irrelevant to compare this Bill to any of the others in the 'wash-up' process as they are simply not as contentious and potentially damaging to civic freedoms as this one.  To claim enough has been done is to construct a straw man argument.

There have been a number of people trying to foster and harness a groundswell of support for action.  Write to your MP (or even call them with this tool!) now and ask them to get behind the Early Day Motion EDM1223, proposed by one of the few MPs in Parliament last night, Austin Mitchell (Labour).  Not a single Liberal Democrat MP has signed it at the time of writing.  Also, you can ask to have your name added to this Open Letter

If you want to know if your MP showed up for the debate last night, the click this link (a nice Guardian powered tool), enter your postcode and find out.  If they didn't, call them and ask them why not.

White 'wash-up' - democracy and the Digital Economy Bill?

Last evening, the Digital Economy Bill was given a cursory Second Hearing in the House of Commons by a handful of MPs.  Normally, a Bill this size would normally be expected to have as many as eight hearings given that it touches on a wide range of issues including the function of media regulator Ofcom, the state of copyright, the role of Channel 4, the protection of children online, amongst others. Now that a general election has been called, this period is often referred to as the 'wash-up', during which any remaining bills are pushed through the House with little time for proper consideration.  The Labour party whips were in evidence in that the front-bench politicians (notably Ben Bradshaw and Stephen Timms) refused to engage in much meaningful debate.  It was left to committed back benchers and the occasional Tory to stand up for the electorate's wishes, who were given little time to make their valid points heard, hence I prefer to think of this as a white-wash-up.

There has been widespread criticisms of the Bill from many quarters.  Software pioneer, Richard Stallman, noted that there was a distinct irony that Gordon Brown was promising to bring broadband to everyone whilst also threatening to punish those consumers for actually using it.  The Open Rights Group and 38Degrees also took out full page adverts in yesterday's Times and Guardian hoping to voice the concerns of the public.  This was the result of a call for donations in which over £20,000 was raised in under 2 days.  They were hopeful that such prominent adverts would be noticed by MPs.

Digital Economy Bill advert by Open Rights Group in The Times 6/4/2010

All we ask for is that the Bill is delayed unitl a time when it can be given proper cosidneration rather tahn pushed through during the 'wash-up'. Jeremy Hunt (Conservatives) stated in Parliament yesterday that if this party got in, they would spend a good deal of time after the election editing the Bill so that it would be fit for purpose.  If they know it is flawed, then surely it is better to fix it before passing it?

The hashtag #debill was a trending topic on Twitter at the time as more of the electorate spent their afternoon and evening dedicated to criticisms of the Bill.  If only our MPs seemed to care as much as the public.  Several Twitterers captured screen grabs of the House showing how few MPs bothered to turn up, notably York University student, Greg Ebdon, aka Vanderdecken. You can see his images below (which he posted to Twitpic).  The URL for these tweets are here and here:

There has been a site created by Stef Lewanowski which highlights exactly how few MPs bothered to turn up and their stance with regards to the Bill, here.  The statistics speak for themselves:

  • 1 Bill
  • 20000+ letters written
  • 646 MPs
  • 40 MPs turned up
  • 10 stayed throughout
  • 5251 Twitterers
  • 16180 tweets

Today, a Third Hearing is scheduled.  This might just be one of the last times we have the opportunity to voice our concerns before the two leading parties aquiesce to the wishes of the major music labels.  I've written to my MP, David Miliband, yet again - he was conspicuous by his absence yesterday.  The email is below:
Dear David Miliband,

I was severely disappointed with the poor turnout for the Second Hearing of the Digital Economy Bill yesterday.  At no point did the number of elected representatives exceed 40 members, and in some cases fell below 15, several of whom were Scottish MPs who have noted that aspects of the Bill may actually be illegal in Scotland.  Irrespective of this, the Bill is far-ranging and ill-considered in it's current form and proposes a number of changes which deserve more than a handful of readings in the House of Commons.

Yesterday, the Labour party front-benchers, notably Harriet Harman, may have suggested that this Bill has had considerable consideration in the House of Lords, yet their sheer volume of amendments suggested by that debate warrants a similar, if not greater, level of scrutiny by MPs.  There were a number of MPs from the back-benches (particularly Tom Watson and Austin Mitchell) and the Conservative party (in this instance John Redwood) who suggested that a delay of several months might be beneficial in that it would allow for the Bill to be given due consideration.

It would makes sense to fix the Bill, after detailed consideration, before forcing it through in the current guise. The volume of traffic on popular websites like Twitter last evening, all focussed on the outrage of the voting public.  Make no mistake, the Digital Economy Bill will determine the voting patterns of many people invested in the technology and the creative sectors.  Poorly planned policies that go against the wishes of the electorate are hardly vote-winners. I trust that at the Third Hearing you will call for a sense with this issue

Yours sincerely,
Robert Jewitt

If Miliband's previous form is anything to go by, the best I can hope for is an out of office response.  However, the Open Rights Group are determined to fight this issue even if the Bill is passed.  They and I urge you to write to your MP now.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

MACM03 Consumption

A week or so ago I was teaching on the Masters programme in Film/Media & Cultural Studies at the University of Sunderland.  The module is entitled Consumption and my session was on consumption and cyberspace. The students had already had 9 weeks of material spanning Bourdieu, de Certeau and Fiske before my session. I threw together some slides for the students which you can find below in which I charted a brief definition and history of the term before switching the focus around engagement with digital worlds.

I screened a short extract from a BBC short film from the Wonderland series entitled Virtual Adultery and Cyberspace Love (video is embedded below), in which an unhappily married woman seeks love in the virtual world Second Life.

We also watched an extract from the recent documentary entitled Second Skin which looks at the lives of a number of World of Warcraft gamers.  The trailer is below:

The rest of the session revolved around getting the students to play a series of scenarios from a few different games on the Playstation 3 (yes, I lugged my own bulky unit into the University just for the session).

The idea was to get students to consider the success of games in recent years by asking them to play through a series of scenarios from a number of popular or critically acclaimed games.  The scenarios were:
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - The controversial 'No Russian' level
Heavy Rain - 'Hassan's Shop' and 'The Lizard'
Flower - opening stage

The aim behind the gameplay was to get students to think through their own moral motivations behind their gameplay choice and to reflect on their agency within structured systems