It’s cliché for a reason

boards.ie, one of my favourite websites (and one of the few forums I spend any time on), recently conducted a census of its members for information and advertising purposes.
Of the 43,305 existing members (according to Big Boards) just over 1,400 voted in each of the five categories, meaning that only around 3% of the population of boards.ie actually took part in the census. While you can be sure that the actual active population of boards.ie is much lower than 43,305 it would still leave us with a small percentage of poll takers. So for a census the turn out wasn’t great but for a survey it gives a pretty good reading of the people on the forum.
What I found most interesting about the results is that they seem to match just about everybodys image of you average internet user. For example, nearly 87% of the polled were male; a pretty amazing majority that would rule out any possibility of a boards.ie Utopia surviving!
Next up is age. At first glance there seems to be a respectable enough spread across different age groups, but when you put them together to make an 18-30 group you find that 66% of the voters are within this range. Adding another 5 years on the end to make the group 18-34 would up the numbers to 80% of voters. So it’s fair to say that they vast majority of users on boards.ie are 20 to mid-30′s.
Now for marital status. 55.5% of users are currently single. This group is a whopping 35% ahead of the next nearest option, Monogomous Longterm Relationship which is at 25.5%. Just under 16% are currently married and less than 1% are divorced.
The final group of note is Occupation. This result is the final nail in the coffin of any argument relating to Internet usage. 29.5% of users work in the IT industry, while another 37% are either secondary, third level or postgrad students. This means that around 67% of boards.ie users are either students or in IT. The next nearest group is the self employed at 6%. It should be noted, however that 20% of users voted “Other” as their line of work was not covered in the individual options.
What I found funniest about the whole thing though, was not that the average boards.ie user is a male between 20-34 whom is single and works in IT (or as a student), it was more the fact that I am average in so many ways. I am 20, I’m male, I’m a student and I live in Dublin (like 51% of users). I am different in the fact that I’m not single and I won’t be moving into IT eventually.
I guess it goes to prove the constant reminder that people give on the likes of the Games forum, the posters on boards.ie are not representative of the population of the country. You’re damn right we’re not.

Google maps

With my upcoming trip to England in mind, I recently took a spin on google maps, to see just how well everything worked. Google tend to make very nice software and I wasn’t let down here at all.
With the postcodes of my new home and new college in hand, I was able to locate them on the map and get directions from one to the other (as well as travel time). Once I had that sorted I could also search for the nearest pub, chipper and newsagent. The important things, you’ll understand.
Certainly some great work by google, the intergration of a local search and satellite photographs alongside Google’s ability to make idiot-friendly software means that Google Maps works an absolute treat.
I also noticed today that you can look around Ireland too, and you can get it pretty damn close with the satellite images too. My only complaint being the fact that the search function doesn’t seem to be up to much (You can put some of the blame on Irelands non-existant post code system).
So if you’re going to England for a while or a week, try it out. You could easily plan your entire trip from the comfort of your own home and without having to fork out for stupid fold-out maps that make you go blind.

The importance of being live

My friend Piaras Kelly has sometimes mentioned the importance of a strong online presence for the modern Irish (or International) company. It is true that in the world we are living in people expect to be able to google your or your company’s name and instantly recieve a wealth of information in relation to you.
This is why it baffles me that pretty new Laptop Shop in St. Stephens Green still hasn’t gotten around to making a proper website. The beginnings of it are there alright, basic contact information at a decent domain, but I went online to find out how much they were selling mic adaptors for the ipod and now I have to wait until some time tomorrow if I choose to ring. The chances are I won’t get around to it and it will slip my mind until I’m next in Stephens Green or worse still, shopping somewhere else that stocks the item I require.
For a company that is built on technically minded users, surely an online presence is a must, and something that should have been there from day 1. What does it say about a computer based company when they seem to ignore the one thing that has revolutionised computer use forever?

finallygotmyownwebspace.com

Well, readers of my blog alone may not have noticed, but I’ve finally moved into the horribly overpopulated world of the .com domain owner.
As of early Tuesday, www.adam-maguire.com and www.adammaguire.com (you decide!) are jam packed with my lovely portfolio.
The website itself is the same as the one I have on cdfemedia.com, but now I have my own proper domain and hosting service which I can use as I wish for as long as I wish (as long as I keep paying the annual charges!).
In a world where everything needs some kind of noticable online presence I think it’s important to consider moving into this territory. For me, I enjoyed creating my website and enjoy maintaining it. I’m always keen to push my technical knowledge as far as I can, I enjoy blogging and I like the idea of having my own little signpost on the vast hypermotorway that is the Internet.
As before the site will be mainly dedicated to showcasing my portfolio of work but I also hope to expand it into something much bigger over time. You’ll see. At the moment I want to stick with my design but that may have to change depending on where I go with my .com over the next few months.

Until then, let me know if there are any issues with the site. I had a few glitches that needed ironing out and hopefully I’ve spotted them all.

Updates

My site has been updated with a number of reviews, something I’ve been meaning to do for a few weeks now.
Over the coming days there should be a flurry of changes to the set up on my blog and on my main website, some of which you may have noticed already.
In relation to the blog I’ve messed around with the template a little to increase the width of each post. The original columns were far too thin and there was just too much white space going on to excuse it. I’ve also gotten around to creating a categories system, something I’d always wanted to have but could never work out. Many thanks to John over at Freshblog for his help in getting this together.

I have a number of things I want to get done over the next week, and I’m in a very proactive mood for once, so keep your eyes peeled for more posts and news

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What online media means to the student

As a journalism student it can often be a daunting prospect to have to face the big bad world of Irish media. Stories of in-crowds and closed shops make starting points hard to find while sources and leads can often be even more difficult to find. It can seem at times that you’re stuck in a catch-22 situation; you need sources to get a good job but you need a good job to build sources.
Online media is without doubt a liberating resource to a start-up reporter, columnist or even presenter. Once you have an ounce of ability you will find some site to carry your message and get your name out there. With the right amount of enthusiasm you can acquire a respectable portfolio of work in reviewing or commenting. The growth in podcasting has also offered wannabe radio presenters the chance to verbally strut their stuff to a potentially gigantic audience.
The question many may ask themselves, however is ‘what does this mean in the long run?’. It’s understandable to question the strength of an online portfolio, especially when compared to one based on more traditional media such as print or television. It’s all well and good to have written 20 review pieces for somerandomsite.com but anyone can do that. Right?
Arguably, yes. Any random surfer can work their way into writing for a site of any description be it through persistance, timing or something else. The thing many people forget, though, is that this is true for all types of media; new, old and in between. There is no journalistic job out there that demands a qualification because journalism is such a unique industry. Where other careers may rely on individuals whom are highly trained in, lets say a specific computer programme, Journalism only needs the individual to have a good grasp of their language and all its tricks and traits. Naturally a qualification helps but it doesn’t guarentee a thing, either.
Forgetting about the ease of writing for a website for one minute, what else does it do for your future career? Well with your work you can now proudly call yourself a published writer. It might sound like a bit of a white lie, but it’s true. You can also proudly point your status out to potential employers. What do you think they’d prefer to hear; “I wrote this about a film I went to see once just so I could put it in my portfolio” or “I wrote this for somerandomsite.com while I was a Film Reviewer there”? It may not be the finest publication in existance, but it is a publication nonetheless.
Finally, ignoring the advantage such work gives you, the opportunity to practice your skills is priceless. If your dream is to review movies, music or TV for a living you’re not going to get there by writing reviews for yourself. You won’t get there by giving a detailed and eloquent analysis of the film/song/show to a friend of yours. The only way you will perfect your abilities is by writing for someone or something other than yourself. This will give you a chance to get to grips with your failings and deal with them. Even if you write a bad piece you’re unlikely to get a reply of “This sucks, don’t bother me again”, you’re more likely to get something even remotely useful like “This is ok, but it could be improved in the following ways…”. The experience will also be useful for learning about differing house styles, a very important part of writing. You may have a style that suits you but it doesn’t quite fit the magazine you’re working for at the moment. Do you quit? Demand they change their entire format? No, you tweak your style for them. It’s not selling out, it’s adapting to demand. It doesn’t mean you have to write a less or more critical review, nor does it mean you have to write a dumbed down version of your work, it just means you have to target it in the right direction. House style and target audiences can often seperate the movie/music/tv buffs from the critics as it demands that you think in a less personalised way. You must not look at the question as “is this a good film/song/show?” but rather “would my reader be interested in this film/song/show, and how can I best explain to them why the will or won’t?”. It also encourages you to think in context; not to wonder if the piece is bad by your standards but instead how it looks against its peers.

Now, it’s all well and good for reviewers and comment writers. It’s easy to review something like a film, you just have to go to your local cinema. It’s easy to write a comment piece on something, you just get typing. Reporting online is probably the least student friendly. The reason is that it seems to have all the trappings of traditional reporting; you don’t have the contacts or sources and so you don’t have your own story. Also, there seem to be fewer sites which offer chances to upcoming reporters as news sites are usually much more professional and established. So what can you do?
The best way is to make a name for yourself where you can and blogging is the key. You’re not expected to be first in the world with a story but if you can keep your eyes peeled you and your blog could become notorious for posting some of the big stories before most other places (or even just writing better than most other places). This can be from other blogs, from breaking news sites or even from stories you have pieced together from existing stories. If people know your site to be the best place for the type of news they want, they’ll be back every day. They’ll also know your name. Of course, you’re not expected to lift other peoples work and pretend it to be your own, instead you would link to their work or at least credit them. All you’re doing is presenting the story in your own words or with your own alterations; you may decide to slant it, balance it or spin it, it’s up to you and what you want to be known for. That is really what news is about; a story breaks and each part of the media takes the information they get, interpret it in their own way and gather whatever else they can. The culture of super-fast news seems to have blinded many people to that, they seem to assume that if you don’t get their first you shouldn’t bother at all.

The truth is that online media is not going to get people jobs who would not have gotten them before. Sure it has created new jobs, but they are only being filled by people who deserve them. It’s not as if all the real journalists are busy with real media and so the dregs of the barrel are thrown to the computers. Online media will, however give more people more of a chance. It might be a chance to earn a reputation. It might be a chance to build up some confidence in your abilities. It might be a chance to practice. It might be a chance to call yourself published. Whatever opportunity it has for you is up to you. Blogs, podcasts and site after site have given people like you the chance to be the media; it is however your ability and your willingness that will decide if you can achieve the most out of that chance.

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Shooting In London

With so few hard facts coming to us at the moment, it’s very difficult to get a good picture of exactly what has happened on the London Underground today.
From passengers comments it seems as though the man was tripped just after entering a carriage and was shot five times at close range. It could be argued that this was excessive force and he should have just been arrested, but it is also arguable that given a second more he could have detonated a bomb, assuming he had one.
That brings me onto my next issue; naturally we all expect to know more as the day goes on, but I would like to find out why he was seen as a threat. Was he being watched for weeks? Did he have something undeniably dangerous visable on his person? Was it just because he ran away from police? Was it just because he was Asian?
I’m not, nor is anyone in a position to make judgements or even solid comments on what has happened this morning but I think it’s only right that questions are asked and the answers are given sooner rather than later.

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NewsCorp takes Intermix

Murdoch has made his first big online purchase, Intermix; the people behind the ever-growing myspace.com.
At a number of speeches recently Murdoch has spoken about the need to embrace the Internet, and has commented that the sections of his existing empire had not yet done this.
So far myspace.com has become a place for users to blog, chat, share music and pictures and do much more, so will the new owner make any changes? A quote from the NewsCorp press release seems to suggest that it might:

“Intermix brands, such as Myspace.com, are some of the Web’s hottest properties and resonate with the same audiences that are most attracted to Fox’s news, sports and entertainment offerings.”

I’m not sure where they figure that one from, but the singling out of Fox would suggest to me that they see some kind of link up potential here. To what degree? Fox banner ad’s? Fox headlines slapped across peoples blogs? Fox workers each having their own Myspace.com site? Who knows, but I’d be surprised if the place is left un-touched.

Saying that it is a big money spinner already and while Murdoch loves to push his own ideals he probably realises that a place like Myspace.com doesn’t work quite the same as a Newspaper/station (in the sense that content is not created by a centralised source but instead by the audience itself).

This may well just be NewsCorp buying into a successful company after the work is done so it can make some more money while also getting an easy foot in the online door, or this could just be a small expense to fool people into thinking that the company gives a crap about new media. One thing is for sure, this type of website is very different to anything else NewsCorp owns and is sure to be hard to control with the same rigidity.

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