Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Glastonbury 2010

I'm going to try and list the acts that I caught at Glastonbury 2010 while I can still remember what happened!
  • The Kleptones (Dance West)
  • The Magic Numbers (The Other Stage)
  • Joshua Radin (The Other Stage)
  • The Stranglers (The Other Stage)
  • The Courteneers (The Other Stage)
  • Snoop Dogg (The Pyramid Stage)
  • Vampire Weekend (The Pyramid Stage)
  • Florence + The Machine (The Other Stage)
  • Hot Chip (The Other Stage)
  • Groove Armada (John Peel Stage)
  • The Orb (Clubhenge)
  • DJ Zorro (The Pussy Parlure)

  • Reef (The Other Stage)
  • Brother Ali (West Holts)
  • The Phenomenal Handclap Band (West Holts)
  • Seasick Steve (The Pyramid Stage)
  • The Dead Weather (The Pyramid Stage)
  • Shakira (The Pyramid Stage)
  • The Orb (The Glade)
  • Candi Staton (The Park)
  • George Clinton and Parliament (West Holts)
  • Wonkavision (Arcadia)
  • ++ some craziness in Block 9 and Shangri-laa...

  • Paloma Faith (The Pyramid Stage)
  • Temper Trap (The Other Stage)
  • The Drums (John Peel Stage)
  • MGMT (The Other Stage)
  • Faithless (The Pyramid Stage)
  • Stevie Wonder (The Pyramid Stage)
  • Lucas (Glade Lounge)
  • Tristan (Glade Lounge)
That looks about right to me but I bet I've missed a few acts (edited to include those that I've managed to recall)

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Virgin Media's poor timing

At the time of writing I am tapping this message out on my iPhone as Virgin Media has just died in my house. I was watching the final 15 minutes of the England vs Slovenia game only for my V+HD box went off with the message: 3200. I tries to watch the rest of the game via the web only for my Internet connection to be dead. Tried the phone and that's dead too (although I don't know of any phone commentary services!). Is there anyone else in the Lawe Top (NE33 2HA) area cut off?

Posted via email from robjewitt's posterous

Sunday, 20 June 2010

University of Sunderland: visualising the vision

Tomorrow we have a media team away day where we get to discuss, as a department, the recently announced 'Vision Statement' for the Faculty of Art, Design & Media.  Before reading the 3000+ words I decided to drop the statement into a word-cloud generator like Wordle to see if there were any interesting patterns to be detected.  This is what the statement looks like (click on the image to expand):
What can we make of this?  Well, if the frequency of the wordage is anything to go by, then the greatest emphasis seems to be being places on the 'students' (and rightly so).  The other key words that seem to be jostling for second place seem to be our 'programmes' in the 'faculty', as well as 'research' and 'media'.  What does this tell us?  Perhaps very little, perhaps a lot.  I'll have to read the document in full before I make up my own mind.

"My Sunderland 2.0" - implementing our own bespoke social network

On Monday I've been volunteered to present at our media team away day on how best to implement and use various web tools to aid student engagement with module content.  I don't have too much time to spare as there are a few other people presenting in the same session, covering things like:
  • the integration of our community radio station, 107 Spark FM, into our production modules
  • the development of iPhone/Android applications for learning
  • the use of social media, like Facebook study groups, Delicious social bookmarking, Twitter hashtags, etc
One of the things the University has been building and implementing over the past 6 months is its own attempt at a social networking site for staff and students, as a riposte to some of the security and privacy concerns that have been associated with delivering educational content across different third-party commercial sites.  This is where "My Sunderland"comes in...

We've already had a central launch point for staff and students to locate the types of content they may find useful (ie the original My Sunderland), such as access to the VLE, module catalogues, telephone directories, docushare, etc,  but, as has been evidenced from the many staff blogs and study groups across various social media sites the existing provision for actually engaging in a dialogue with students has been pretty clunky or restrictive.  In particular, I'm thinking of the "Discussion" tools in WebCT here - the user interface leave a lot to be desired and is hardly intuitive (for staff or students).  Student feedback on this issue regularly points out that learners prefer to discuss their module content in more familiar surrounds that are easily navigated, hence the plethora of Facebook groups for many of our modules.

Enter "My Sunderland 2.0"

In January this year, a new beta version of My Sunderland was launched which seeks to offer staff and students a bespoke communication space with all the features and facilities of the earlier space, but now dressed in the guise of a funky Web 2.0 social networking site - think of this as "My Sunderland 2.0".  This site offers a lot of interesting feature that were missing from our earlier offerings - we can create blogs/pages/communities around all manner of content, from community events or things happening on campus, to self online modules capable of hosting audio and video content.  Best of all, everything that can be created can be given its own privacy setting from the following options, meaning that only the people you want to see the material can see it:
  • Private (only the creator)
  • My Friends (only people who have accepted friend requests on the service)
  • Logged in users (all users of the My Sunderland service)
  • Public (the entire web)
  • Community xyz (only group members of specific user created communities)
These are quite powerful privacy options.  Many staff find it uncomfortable befriending students on social networking sites like Facebook as there have been many instances of students who have exploited that relationship, either by verbally abusing staff members or abusing the fine line that demarcates the public and private spheres.  I'm sure I'm not alone in having been contacted inappropriately by students around assessment time.  Of course, it goes both ways.  There are many a time I've witnessed students talking about their nocturnal activities or their great feats of alcohol endurance over an assessment period, only to be contacted by them begging for an extension of some kind.  Facebook filters are nebulous and often difficult to keep track of, but with these My Sunderland controls only the people you want to see the content are going to get the message(s) you post.

There are several other features that are available, and I'll list a few with a brief description below:
  • The Wire - this is a status update service akin to Facebook or more appropriately Twitter (140 character limit)
  • Pages - a homepage which can be used host information and subpages
  • Communities - create and manage your own communities based around modules, classes, interests, etc.
  • Blogs - maintain your own personal or committee-specific blog
I'm going to create a few simple screencasts walking people through the basic features and I'll embed the video in an update to this page in a few hours...

Any staff member or student can login into the new My Sunderland space, so go ahead, try it out now.


Video walkthroughs of the basic tools and features can be found below. Click through for HD versions with better resolution.

The profile tool

The wire tool

The dashboard tool

The blog tool

The activity tool

The communities tool

Overall, there is a lot of potential here.  WebCT is fine for uploading .doc or .ppt files, but for anything else third party solutions have tended to be the order of the day (embedding Slideshare presentations or YouTube videos live in the page).  If you wanted to get creative, you really had to know a little bit of HTML or create distinctive spaces within a module space.  For instance, the headers and the footers of a folder were editable with HTML with the centre of the page being given over to hosting files, but the pages seemed clunky to use and ugly to look at.  Also, a module space could be hard to navigate.  By adapting the look and feel of common social media tools My Sunderland 2.0 seems to offer a more customisable and friendly interface to staff with more rudimentary tech skills.

Remember, it's still in the beta phase o there may be bugs that need ironing out still.  Let me know what you think

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Tracking musical expenditure: 3/4

I've spenta few ours tidying up the spreadsheet and breaking down the data into coherent months.  This has enabled me to create some simple visualisations of the expenditure to date:

The next graph shows the peaks and troughs of my expenditure:

This final chart shows the albums and singles only:

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Tracking musical expenditure: May

I'm three quarters of the way through my year long tracking experiment and May sees an unexpected distribution of the expenditure on music related items (see pie chart below) with 38.9% of sales going on vinyl. I don't own a record player!  Granted, I bought two records to give away as birthday gifts to my brother-in-law but I did buy one for myself.  I guess I'm firmly in the demographic that still buys physical media saying as digital music sales only accounted for 1.6% of sales.

How does this all break down in the bigger scheme of things?

May's total spend came in at £48.73.  This does include clothing/merchandise (a rather fetching Sonic Youth - Goo T-shirt) so if we exclude that to focus on music only sales the figure comes in at £35.74 (singles = £27.75; albums = £7.99)  The total expenditure to date is £1295.53 with the total for just albums and singles coming in at £192.62.  In my next blog post I'm going to look at which formats I've been buying most.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

ORG CON! Book now

The Open Rights Group are organising their first conference dedicated to digital rights in the UK, taking place on Saturday July 24th (10:30am-6:00pm). It will be held at City University London and the sessions will include the following:
  • James Boyle on the future of copyright, in London especially for this talk
  • Cory Doctorow talk and panel on how artists can make copyright work for them
  • What MPs are doing about Digital Economy Act (Tom Watson, Eric Joyce, Julian Huppert)
  • What does the 'Right to Data' mean? (Heather Brooke, Rufus Pollock)
  • Opening up the Data Protection Directive: Can of Worms or Opportunity (Privacy International)
  • Dismantling the Database State (No2ID) 
  • Theft! A History of Music (Jennifer Jenkins)
This looks like a great line-up! The keynote speaker, James Boyle, has a great pedigree.  He wrote The Public Domain (available here as a free ebook!), which is core reading on my MAC309 module.  He is also William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law at Duke Law School and founder of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain. Professor Boyle was one of the original Board Members of  Creative Commons (2000-2009), which works to facilitate the free availability of art, scholarship, and cultural materials by developing innovative, machine-readable licenses that individuals and institutions can attach to their work.  You can find his Twitter feed over as @thepublicdomain.

Anyone who reads this blog should know who Cory Doctorow is.  He's a Canadian blogger, journalist, author, and activist.  Doctorow is a regular contributor over on www.guardian.co.uk.  He's spent many a year campaigning in favour of copyright reform and is a keen supported of the Creative Commons, and one of his recent novels, Little Brother, was a fictional account of a terrorist attack in San Francisco and the ways in which the state used surveillance technologies to impinge on the rights of citizens.  In typical Doctorow style, you grab a free ebook of that excellent novel from his www.craphound.com site.   He's co-founded a free software P2P company; he helped establish the Open Rights Group; and he was also the European Affairs Co-ordinator for the Electronic Frontier Foundation which saw him actively involved in Brussels-based discussions of EU copyright reform . You can find his Twitter feed over as here: @doctorow

One of the other highlights will be the Freedom of Information (FOI) campaigner and former journalist, Heather Brooke, who was instrumental in exposing the recent UK government MP's expenses scandal.  From as far back as 2004 she started requesting the expenses of 646 MPs but met considerable resistance, finding considerable success in obtaining access to publicly funded data in 2008.    This campaign was the subject of a BBC Four documentary, On Expenses.  She's published a number of books including Your Right to Know: A Citizens Guide to Freedom of Information and more recently,  The Silent State: How Secrecy and Misinformation are Destroying Democracy.  You can find her Twitter feed over as here: @newsbrooke

They will also be hosting training sessions, including one offering advice on how to lobby your MP.  I've booked my ticket already and availability is limited so if you want come along then you can click through to their site and pay via PayPal or Google Checkout

Pricing is cheap too:

Sunday, 6 June 2010

World Cup 2010 bets

Just in case people forget who they picked on Friday night, here is a list of the World Cup teams and the relevant people.  The winner gets £50 and the second place team gets £14. C'mon Serbia!


  • South Africa - Danielle Pollard
  • Ghana - Phil Wile
  • Ivory Coast - David Scudder
  • Nigeria - Paul Carr
  • Cameroon - Chloe Dent
  • Algeria - Rob Jewitt
  • Japan - Kim Olley
  • Australia - Lee Peters
  • South Korea - John Allison
  • North Korea - Nicola Farrell
  • England - Nicola Farrell
  • Netherlands - Louise Scott 
  • Spain - Spain
  • Serbia - Paul Bell
  • Italy - Paul Henderson
  • Denmark - Craig Selby
  • Germany - Suzanne Mullen
  • Switzerland - Suzanne Mullen
  • Slovakia - Lisa Wardale
  • France - Amie Mullen
  • Portugal - Claire Scudder
  • Greece - Rachel Jewitt
  • Slovenia - Craig Selby
  • Brazil - Paul Carr
  • Paraguay - Paul Bell
  • Chile - Caroline Riley
  • Argentina - Rob Jewitt
  • Uruguay - Carly de Silva
  • United States - Emma Glozier
  • Mexico - Gary Glozier
  • Honduras - Jo Henderson
  • New Zealand - Anth Parkin

Posted via web from robjewitt's posterous

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Trends: UK disposable income

I've been pretty interested recently the amount of money people spend on entertainment, culture, services, etc.  I've been trying to find some useful and trustworthy data on the levels of disposable income in the UK so that I can compare it to some other datasets (I'm thinking of mapping the level of disposable income against recorded music sales or recording industry claims about the scale of piracy).  I've found numerous reports funded by the UK tax payer that offer some interesting accounts of income levels.

However, I'm no economist.  I'm not even a statistician.  I often find comprehending big numbers a problem. I did manage to stumble across a rather simple looking dataset over on the National Statistics website that seemed to correspond with a period of time I'm interested in (1970s - present).   This only covers the period from 1971-2001/02 but it's useful enough:

The yellow line is the median/average amount of household disposable income over the period in questions.  The 10th, 25th, 75th and 90th refer to the percentile points in the group, or in plain English, the bottom 10% of households refers to the smallest income earners whereas the 90% refers to the highest income earners.

What does this all mean?

In short, from 1971-2002 the typical household disposable income increased from £180.12 per week to £311.08 per week.  There appear to be some marked inequalities in disposable income distribution, with sharp rises in the 1980s for the most wealthy earners, before stabilising in the 1990s. However, the trend does seem to indicate that the wealthier earners are the ones experiencing even greater levels of disposable income.  For example, the disposable income at the 10th percentile increases from £99.04 to £159.18 over the period (an increase of about 60%), whereas the 90th percentile increases from £314.31 to £635.90 (an increase of over 100%).

It would be interesting to factor into this the cost of living and inflation over the same period.