Citizen Journalism in the Dublin Riots

Todays riots in Dublin, as shameful as they were, have highlighted one of the strengths of Social Media and Citizen Journalism; while RTÉ coverage seemed thin on the ground (and with those of the media whom did attend facing senseless aggression) most of the reportage of events have come from blogs, amateur photography (featured on places like Flickr and Indymedia) and mobile phones.
Here’s some superb footage of the rioters upturning a parked car and attacking another taken by a by-stander with a camera phone; apparently the images are due to be passed on to RTÉ.
Dossing Times, as I mentioned earlier, was giving a live update on the events as they happened, and has since produced an opinion piece on the event.
As cited on Dossing, places like Dilussioned Lefty gave an eye-witness account to the riot, and ElBlogador surveyed the damage from their perspective.
From a media perspective, Newstalk seemed to be the only traditional medium covering the events; RTÉ Radio 1 didn’t break from planned programming until 18:30 while, to the best of my knowledge RTÉ TV didn’t alter programming at all, but just dedicated the 6:1 News to the Dublin events.
It seems that people with camera phones and basic digital cameras were able to get amongst the idiots with more ease, while obvious Journalists (be they familiar faces or just people with huge cameras) were deliberately targetted in an effort by the rioters to avoid identification.
An interesting day for social media, and as always, boards.ie has plenty of threads for people to discuss it in.

My Visa card has been hacked (or An open letter to the good people at Visa(eur)

Good afternoon, unfortunately some processings have been cracked by hackers, so a new secure code to protect your data has been introduced by Visa. You should check your card balance and in case of suspicious transactions immediately contact your card issuing bank. If you don’t see any suspicious transactions, it doesn’t mean that the card is not lost and cannot be used. Probably, your card issuers have not updated information yet. That is why we strongly recommend you to visit our website and update your profile, otherwise we cannot guarantee stolen money repayment. Thank you for your attention. Click here [link removed] and update your profile.

Dear Visa,
Thank you for your prompt e-mail notifying me of problems with my Visa Credit Card, I appreciate everything you are doing to stop l33t haX0rz from getting their geeky little hands on my precious money.
I would like to notify you of some issues with your e-mail, however. This is purely for future reference;
1) My name is not Adam Madore.
2) To the best of my knowledge Credit Cards do not have online updatable profiles; I believe bebo does, however.
3) I don’t have a Visa card
4) I don’t have a credit card.
5) I have not had my head buried in my own ass and am aware of the realities of phishing.
6) I am not a moron.
7) Even if I was I would be unconvinced by a purely text-based e-mail from what purports to be one of the biggest players in International finance; perhaps next time you could at least try and use some HTML/images.
8) The domain visaeur.com is the worst fraudulent web address ever; ‘eur’ isn’t even a word, or an acronym. It is a currency though… I guess that’s a start.
9) The following images:

Are not even nearly convincing.
10) Linking to the real Visa Europe site is pretty self defeating, should I have assumed visaeur.com and visaeurope.com are the same thing?

Thank’s again for your help in protecting what I don’t actually have, if ever I do get a credit card you can be sure it will be Visa; you guys are protecting me from future crimes and accidents… actually; are you Sam Beckett?

DPP may begin to supply reasons for decisions

In a move which is certainly welcomed by this blogger, Director of Public Prosecutions, James Hamilton has said that an internal review is currently at an advanced stage which could lead to a change in the long time policy of not giving reasons for decision.
Hamilton himself seems to be in favour of the move, but has refused to make any official comment which may pre-empt the findings of the review.

Any increase in transparency can only be a good thing for this extremely important organ of the state.

Going Cold Turkey – Channel 4 pushes boundaries again

As I type I am watching Channel 4′s latest venture into controversial broadcasting. Going Cold Turkey is a week long documentary, part of Addiction Week, following a group of heroin addicts as they attempt to rid their bodies of the drug.
Channel 4 has always been at the fore of thought-provoking and challenging programming and this series is no different. At first it seems as though you are watching Big Brother for junkies but it quickly becomes apparent that this issue is not being exploited by the station.
On the first episode you are introduced to the people undertaking detox, given their backgrounds and shown interviews with their parents. General information on drug use is also provided. The programme airs twice daily at both 9:30 am and 11:00 pm; the first is aimed at young adults as part of the Channel 4 Education schedule.
The show raises questions, just like every other anti-drugs campaign; will the effect of this show soon wear off, meaning the next needs to be more shocking in order to work? Is this exploitation for shock or a genuine moral campaign? Will the people who need to see it, see it?
These questions are not easily answered, but you do have to commend Channel 4; they are always willing to target the heart of any subject and they pull no punches when doing so. This is certain to shock many people, it’s certain to raise great debate from a Political level down and it is sure to open many eyes.
This show features people whom are going through cold turkey; an anti-drugs advert in the extreme sense. It shows heroins effects on all levels, from the user to the family around them and it teaches serious lessons about the use of hard drugs. In my opinion, if just one person is changed by this show it was worth its while. There will always be drugs in this world, the only way to stop them is to show people how damaging they are, and the only way to do that is to show them the direct effect they have; no pamphlet or acted advert will ever make you aware of the reality of the situation; I urge you to watch this.

Gervais takes a step backward

As noted on TCAL, The amazingly popular Ricky Gervais Podcast, which has completed it’s 12 episode run recently is set for a second series beginning on 28th February. The show, which has been recorded in the Guinness Book or Records as the most downloaded Podcast in the world, recorded an average of 261,670 downloads a week in its first month and was hailed by many as the first real mainstream step into a typically offbeat pass-time.
The success of the show was probably due to a number of facts. The show was free, it was original content (rather than a re-run of the XFM radio shows) and it featured a world famous and critically acclaimed comedian. Now, however, at least one of those facts are due to change; the second series of the show will only be available to paying customers.
As mentioned before on this blog, charging for podcasts is not a unique phenomenon however this is one of the first podcast-unique shows to begin a charge and its popularity is sure to make the result much more interesting.
Listenership of the show is certain to drop dramatically once charges are introduced; that’s not to say that it will not be a profitable move. It is unlikely, however, to be something that will be much copied at present, not many podcasters have the same clout as Gervais does, certainly not in the mainstream market.
It will be some time, in my opinion, until podcasts are used to their best effect. Podcasts need to shake off the shakles that mainstream radio seems desperate to impose upon it. They should not be seen as vehicles for radio re-runs; this relegates them to little more than Video Plus enabled VCR’s for the iPod generation. They medium will stay in the domain of ‘geeks’ and home broadcasters as long as people at the fore of traditional communication ignore their potential and resist the urge to charge.

Why we’re getting nowhere in the Northern situation

The recent debate over the future of the Northern economy is a perfect microcosm of the Northern Ireland issue as a whole.
Naturally, Sinn Fein want to see the North’s economy tied to the Republic’s; if a full link was made the island would only be baby-steps away from a United Ireland. The SDLP, the more reserved Nationalist party of the North has also put forward its own proposals; “North-South Makes Sense” which detail a workable programme for greater North-South links.
On the other side of the political divide the DUP are, unsurprisingly, opposed to any moves that would see greater co-operation with the Republic, especially those that would see both states sharing a budget.
Speaking from a point of view that is extremely poorly versed in economic management it seems to me that neither side of the debate has the intentions of their own state’s at heart but is instead showboating for their constituants.
As it stands the fiscal deficit of Northern Ireland amounts to £5bn a year. Only a fool would assume that Irish politicians would be happy to take on such a huge cost, just like a fool would assume that the British government enjoys seeing this much money being sucked from their budget each year. Is Peter Hain’s support for a unified economy an attempt to rid the British of the huge cost of keeping Northern Ireland afloat? Who knows. Is Bertie Ahern likely to reject an honest offer of a unified economy? Probably not. The fact is that both sides (Ireland and Britain) have gains and losses to be made from a unified economy, handling the situation carefully would ensure that the gains would far outweight the losses.
Personally, I have no authority to come to a considered conclusion on the plausibility of a unified economy, I can only take the opinions of people like David McWilliams to make my mind up. The problem with this situation is this; politicians in Northern Ireland, namely the majority parties, are too busy flexing their respective muscles to actually engage each other in a fair debate on the matter. The DUP are too stubborn to admit that North-South links make sense, even if it isn’t at the scale that Peter Hain suggests. Sinn Fein are too ignorant to actually put a case forward for change; everything they do seems to be a poorly veiled move towards Unity, something Unionists, naturally, oppose. The SDLP have been considered enough to prove that North-South unity is a possibility but again the DUP refuses to listen; they want to see West-East (Northern Ireland-Scotland) links increased, stating:

“Bearing this reality in mind, the most obvious and natural area of co-operation is co-operation undertaken on an east-west basis, rather than the unnatural and politically-motivated north-southery”

To me, refusing point-blank to discuss North-South co-operation is about as politically-motivated as it comes. This issue, just like so many others, is destined to stalemate until one side or another gets the guts to move; something the DUP and Sinn Fein are unlikely to do at present.
What I find most interesting is this; both sides seem afraid to move for fear of angering the voters and losing seats but if this situation continues for much longer voters will become alienated and frustrated and move away from the majority parties. The DUP and Sinn Fein can only blame each other for so long.
I understand and respect the DUP’s stance on negotiating with Sinn Fein; but does that mean that no progress can be made at all in Northern Ireland? Do the DUP like seeing Sinn Fein hold the steering wheel on Northern Ireland’s future?

Irish Blog Awards records 1000 votes

Congratulations all around to those involved in and nominated for The 1st Irish Blog Awards; Damien has just announced that votes recorded so far have topped the 1,000 mark and there’s still a whole day of voting left for those absent minded blog readers out there.
Couple this with the recent announcement of a slick phone giveaway with thanks to O2 and it looks like this event has been a roaring success before it’s even happened.
So if you haven’t already, get voting now (you might even get a mobile phone for your troubles), and do your best to get along to the event itself on the 11th of March and show some support for Irish bloggers.

A big well done to those nominated so far, and best of luck to those who make the cut on Monday. Most of all, a huge pat on the back to Damien and all those working behind the scenes to make this event note worthy; let’s hope in the years to come things will get bigger and better.

Site News

Just to point out a few minor changes to the website that I’ve just made;

As mentioned yesterday I managed to get a digital copy of my college newspaper, The Dhúlaigh Reporter and have now transferred the relevant pages to jpg format and uploaded them to the site. You can find the entire News section of the newspaper (which I designed) here (click Page Layout).
You can also find images of the hard copy of articles I wrote for the publication on the relevant article pages; featured here (click print).
I only recently realised that a number of images used on the site weren’t linking properly; this was because the link to the source had a capital letter in a title where there wasn’t one in the actual folder. Bloody internet is so picky! Anyway, these problems have been resolved.
My CV, which was about 6 months out of date, has been updated.
Now, onto the most important change I’ve made. The News section; which I intended before to update regularly, has been upgraded to a WordPress-based blog. It looks the exact same but it allows me to easily update it as I just have to log on, type and publish rather than open the html page in Dreamweaver MX, edit it, save it, open up WP_ISP and upload it (along with any images included), check it and make sure it uploaded properly and perhaps go back for an edit.

Any updates will be mentioned here from now on but will probably be summarised here with a link to the News section which would include more detail.

Have a look, and tell me if you see any problems.

London’s LBC Premium Podcasts

It was always going to happen but now London’s LBC has started to charge for podcasts.
To be fair the full podcasts of their shows were never available, I came across the station when I found The Iain Lee Show Podcast, which consisted of about 15 minutes of the best bits of the day.
For an admittedly small £2 a month you can have access to the full length version of most LBC shows, archives of LBC podcasts, Online exclusive shows and special editions of shows also.

In my opinion LBC has missed the boat. They’ve done everything that I suggested as regards radio podcasts (extra podcast-only content etc.) but by slapping a fee of any description on the content has ensured that it is alienating thousands of potential listeners and has ensured that the basic ideals of podcasting will not be a mainstream pursuit.
I personally would love to hear the full Iain Lee Show, but as a point of principal rather than a point of pennys I refuse to buy it (besides, I can listen live if I’m around my PC at the right time).
When LBC drops their Premium podcasts after a lack of interest I hope they realise it’s because of their decision to charge rather than their decision to try something new.

Good old Gmail

When 1GB mail first came along many people scoffed; sure it was a huge benefit considering we had all become accustomed to 6MB, 4MB, 2MB mail etc., but most people tried to figure out why we’d ever need that much e-mail storage space.
To be fair, and while I am not the worlds biggest e-mailer I have only hit the 1/4GB mark after having an account for nearly 2 years; that’s a measley 10% of the total storage space available at present.
However; the e-mail client has prove its worth time and time again and forced the likes of Yahoo! and MSN to reply with similar products.
The superb Gmail Drive means you can use your account as the handiest high-volume storage medium in the world, accessable from any computer with internet access; no wires involved!
However, this post is not to big up the service in general, but to put forward a personal reason why Gmail has made life so much easier.
About a year ago I was editor of my college’s newspaper, The Dhúlaigh Reporter, shortly after that I created my personal portfolio website which, if you know me, you’ve probably seen. The plan was to turn my contributions from the newspaper into images that would be hosted on the website, the idea being it would offer a better idea of all aspects of the work involved, from design to writing. I wouldn’t need to rely on poor scans of hard copy either because I had the digital Quark files on disc. The process is essentially simple.
Being myself however, I kept forgetting to actually convert the quark files into jpegs until recently; at which point I realised that all the files were on my desktop computer back in Dublin and would be impossible to have transferred. Then I remembered that I had sent the entire newspaper digitally via my gmail account to the printers. I did a search of my sent mails, chose to view only those with attachments and found the right e-mail by date without even having to think about the subject title.
What does it mean? Well expect to see an update to my published/print and published/design pages very soon.

Thanks Google, you may be getting fair criticism for your caving in to Chinese demands but at least you can do some things right.