This blog is one

This blog is one today. I started a year ago in order to consolidate some of the writing I was doing in various places around the ‘net. Suffice to say that’s happened. Or rather, I’ve ignored the other spaces and just write here instead.

My stats indicate I’m updating this space regularly enough (176 posts = twice a week) and getting a modest amount of comments (408 in total, about two per post). I have no idea what a good measure is for traffic but feedburner tells me I have about 100 subscribers to my RSS feed and 20 people subscribe via email. I was averaging about 30 unique visitors a day although lately (and especially since Sunday’s London Marathon) that’s jumped to circa 150-200 visitors a day all looking for information on this year’s Birmingham half-marathon. You’re all very welcome, do take a look around.

The top five posts that best represent what I hope this blog is about are below:

My Long Lost Family
On finding a whole new branch of my family. A podcast I made that I still struggle to listen to this without welling up. Some great Irish accents here.

Social Media’s Hidden Legacy
On Birmingham’s social media scene and what it says about the city.

Getting Birmingham Businesses Online
On what I do for work and how I’m trying to think it through.

Allotment Year One
On the stuff we grow in our allotment patch

Tour of Bournville
A series of posts on running with my clubmates at Bournville Harriers.

Thanks for all your contributions over the past year – Birmingham is a good place to be blogging in and about; a really strong sense of community. Hope you’ll stick with it as I enter year two.

(pic monroe’s dragonfly)

Links for April 25th through April 28th

Some links for you:

  • Is social media marketing relevant to UK design and architecture companies? « – It turns out the short answer is yes. Useful rundown of benefits of using social media for this sector. Architecture is one of the two biggest components of Birmingham's Creative Industries (along with software). Hat-tip Lorna Parsons of Bryant Priest Newman
  • A Birmingham scene – Multipack – Great discussion on whether Birmingham has a viable web development scene. Thoughtful contributions all round.
  • Taking the Pain Out of Finding a Placement | Media Talent Bank – Media Talent Bank launches a section for placements. A really useful idea, especially given many students will opt for such placements in the summer while they wait for real work to pick up. BUT: this info shouldn't be behind a log-in section should it? Let's put it in an RSS feed and have it on the front page of Created in Birmingham. It would sit nicely beside the job vacancies info on CiB. I'm not sure what Media Talent Bank gains by making people log in.
  • Twitter sucks and so do you. Probably – Rory Reid, Computing Expert – Technology Blog at CNET UK – From Febrauary but hadn't noticed this before: "Finally, Twitter is fast becoming the tech equivalent of a tabloid newspaper or celebrity gossip rag. There's no harm in that, people can read what they like. The problem is that genuinely intelligent friends of mine — people who scoff at OK!, Hello! and any other publication whose title ends in an exclamation mark — have begun following stars on Twitter, as if it's somehow different to following their antics in the gossip pages." Hat-tip Brian Homer.
  • D’log :: blogging since 2000 » £44.5m boost to UK arts funding – D'log with a detailed run-down of the arts funding boost/cut – I can't keep up!
  • £4m funding cut for Arts Council | Created in Birmingham – CiB picks up on the cuts to DCMS and their impact on the Arts Council. No word as yet on the impact on the West Midlands. RFOs will be unaffected it seems. Any more acronyms you need me to fit in…?
  • Extenuating Circumstances – Digital Britain “Position Paper” – "A possibly idealistic, unrealistic but heartfelt position on the Digital Britain interim report in the style of a blog post. Bluntly: this is quite raw." Excellent post with some useful comments developing.
  • Birmingham Forum – Indepth | THE DRUM – The following Birmingham marketing agency heads gathered to discuss the recession. Makes for interesting reading:
    Dean Lovett, chief executive, McCann Erickson Birmingham
    Paul Bramwell, managing director, Brilliant Media Birmingham
    Steve Price, partner, Unsuitable/One Black Bear
    Ollie Purdom, director, Pitch Consultants
    Julia Willoughby, chief executive, Willoughby PR
    Jacqui Lennon, managing director, WAA
    Andy Walton, managing director, Golley Slater
    John White, managing director, Madison Soho

Best Lunchtime Run Ever

View Lunchtime run in a larger map

As I continue to plod my way through Edinburgh Marathon training I’ve taken to doing a bit of running at lunchtimes (now that I at last work somewhere with shower facilities). I thought it worth sharing the route with you as it’s a fantastic, popular, traffic-free run with a few interesting sights along the way.

The start could be from anywhere in the city centre or Jewellery Quarter but, as the map indicates, I start from the B1 building opposite Spring Hill library. I enter the canal near Summer Row and then proceed towards the National Indoor Arena. You could cross here and continue down the Birmingham and Worcester canal but better by far to head up the Birmingham Mainline canal, the M6 motorway of the West Midlands canal system.

I say that because it’s dead straight, very wide and with a towpath on both sides. And it’s full of lunchtime runners. Most just go up and down but I do a loop round the Soho loop. This runs at the back of the prison and then comes out again on the Mainline canal where you can head straight back to base. The straightness of the canal really lends itself to some short sprinting if you’re so inclined. There are several bridges so it’s worth trying to push hard between them and then recover to the next, repeating until you run out of bridges.

In total the run is just over 5 miles. It would make a pleasant enough walk as well. If anyone fancies coming along with me one lunchtime just ask.

Links for April 21st through April 24th

Some links for you:

  • Emily Bell: Channel 4’s quiet success story – "We can hope that over the coming months of horse trading over public service futures, the 4iP implementation is seen not as a potential saviour for C4, but as the kind of funding distribution for new content-driven services that enriches the cultural landscape."
  • From Jamaica Row – Rebirth of the Bullring | Media Enterprise – Rachel Jenkins on the MA Media Enterprise does a bit of networking by visiting an exhibition of Pogus Caesar's work in Hockley. Worth a flick through this site as it also has quite a few useful profiles of the media types that come and visit the students.
  • 4iP | Who is Accountable? Answers of a 4iP Proposal Form Please. – Looking for: "Ideas which are native to digital networks and help to enable an eco-system in which we help turn government, national and local, inside out and allow people not just to engage but to challenge and change."
  • Birmingham Recycled Episode 3: Dave Harte : Birmingham Recycled – A podcast with me by some students at Birmingham City University. The site they're put together, Birmingham Recycled is really rather good as a round-up of various bits of green news around the city.

Links for April 16th through April 17th

Some links for you:

Going Green presentation

On Saturday I presented my experience of being part of the Act on CO2 People Power campaign to a group of web development types who meet under the Multipack banner. The group have been meeting for about three years I think but recently have combined their informal meetings with a ‘Multipack Presents’ element. This month’s was called Going Green and I volunteered to talk about my experiences using a smart electricity meter and about what it felt like to be part of a PR campaign.

It was a fun hour with a nice bunch of people. They have beer and food! It was hosted at the rather nice studios of One Black Bear in Fazeley Studios.

My slides are below but if you need to hear what I was blabbing on about there’s a video also (bit dark though).

Links for April 14th through April 16th

Some links for you:

Links for April 8th through April 14th

Some links for you:

Did I miss anything?

And I’m back

As promised, I’ve now given my £40 to St Basils – happy to have you do the same if you wish. Although I do appreciate that giving up twitter is hardly some kind of great sacrifice so will understand if you’re not inclined to hand over a few pennies. It was generally harder than I realised though.

Oh and it is good to be back. I’ve been on so many ‘awesome runs’ and have been gagging to tell you all about them…

Birmingham half-marathon 2009

Presumably the city council will update their own site soon but it’s worth noting that this year’s Birmingham half-marathon on October 11th is also the world half-marathon championships. That means us casual Brummie runners will be racing with the world’s elite.

The IAAF page on the event is quite illuminating. From it you can glean that the elite women will start separately from the men at 9am with the men (and probably the rest of the field) starting at 9.30am. No word on whether the route will change but you do learn that top prize is $30,000 (puts my £30 to shame) and that “the payment of prize money is dependent upon the athletes clearing the usual anti-doping procedures.” I best leave my steroid-based asthma inhalers at home then.

The IAAF do a nice little descriptor of Brum: “This city has been the industrial heartland of the country; it is still important industrially but this has also made way for an increasingly high position in the service sector.” Yep – about sums it up. Of course I’m still hoping my prediction for Paula Radcliffe to run it as a warm-up for the New York marathon comes true but most of all I hope it’s as good a race this year as it was last time around.

(nice pic from Flickr by hartlandmartin. Note Bournville Harriers’ star female athlete Linda keeping those guys on their toes)