Category Archives: London


London, capital city of the UK and England, home of the West End Theatre and 2012 Olympics

Is VIDEO on Flickr better than youTube?
Eurostar sponsors crowdsourcing
Marilyn and Ella at Theatre Royal Stratford
London social media development
Platform Art
London Bloggers
Foodie Greenwich to have no Kitsch in!

London, capital city of the UK and England, home of the West End Theatre and 2012 Olympics

Is VIDEO on Flickr better than youTube?

Better than youTube?

Video uploading to Flickr went live earlier today so it’s a big topic of conversation, especially the inevitable comparison with youTube the leader in the field. So is Flickr video better than youTube or just different?

Video on Flickr - better than youtube

My first reaction was delight to discover that the flickr video upload and sharing is totally integrated into the photo sharing community aspect of flick that made it so successful. Videos appear in the photostream alongside stills, and can be community tagged, commented on, sent to sets and groups, and blogged using “blog this” which is fantastic. The quality of the video and audio is superior too, with up to 150MB file sizes acceptable for a 90 second video. Why the 90 second limit? Well this is to avoid the problem of being used as a file download service for copied music videos, TV clips and films etc and to encourage home made movie clips from digital cameras, phones etc. So Flickr can avoid the enormous copyright problem that google inherited when they bought youTube.

“long photos”

Central to Flickr’s philosophy for introducing video, and something that youTube does not really have is the concept of the “long photo” which kind of fits in with the use of digital still cameras that have the capacity to take video clips. This service is for genuine user generated video, short clips about everyday life, surroundings, little art videos and so on. Not so much about long videos of talking heads recorded straight from webcams saying “um” and “ah” a lot either.

London Video group

Flickr groups by default can accept both pictures and video but I thought it might be useful to have a group for London Video that focusses on video only, still linked to the London photo group, London Flickr meetups. I’ve invited some flickr contacts from London and from the social media cafe as well, but anybody interested in video is welcome to join and upload anything vaguely London related. All in all, it’s going to be very interesting to see how creative people use the opportunity that Flickr video is offering.

To give an idea, here’s Billy’s bacon video from Flickr, embedded on this wordPress blog.

I know, you can already do all that with youTube but I feel there are some significant advantages with the Flickr Video implementation, aren’t there?

Better than youtube

Yes or no?

Posted in Flickr, London, social objects, video | 6 Comments

Eurostar sponsors crowdsourcing

Eurostar sponsors crowdsourcing

Readers of this blog may be aware of the unique football club Ebbsfleet United in Kent. The website “” mobilised 28,000 online football fans to chip in £35 each and make a successful bid to buy a 75% controlling interest in the club. So its the first football club in the world ever to be owned by an online community. Some say it’s the first business in the world ever to be taken over by an online community (do you know better?)



Now Eurostar is a well known and prestigious brand who were already sponsoring Ebbsfleet international football club, since it helps to publicise the new Ebbsfleet International railway station which is part of the high speed rail route from St Pancras to the Channel Tunnel. Eurostar’s reaction to the takeover is to embrace the change and piggyback onto the extra interest in the club, which generates free publicity for Ebbsfleet and everybody associated with it. They’ve also taken out some full page newspaper advertisements congratulating the new owners of the club – and naming each of us individually.

“Congratulations to the new owners of Ebbsfleet United”

Eurostar ad thumb
One further step which showed that somebody at Eurostar does actually ‘get’ the whole crowdsourcing social media thing is that they submitted alternative versions of proposed advertisements to the online community at myfootballclub to be voted on. I voted for it too. The one which won was then sent for publication. It emphasises the fact that Ebbsfleet International is now really owned by 280,000 ordinary football fans whose names have been dumped (with individual permission) onto the pages of The Times.

Eurostar blog:

Crowdsourcing – what’s next?

So what’s next in line for being taken over by an online community? It would be trivial to buy a top quality racehorse, small syndicates have been doing that for years. What about a Formula 1 racing team? A national radio or TV station? How about setting up a website to accumulate enough people to buy a brewery, a supermarket chain or a bank? You can only buy one share each, so no individual gets control.

Social Media Café

On a smaller scale could we get a couple of thousand Social Media people in London to sign up to buy a little cafe together? Of course we could. Then we’d have somewhere to go that pays for itself, with free access for shareholders.

London social media cafe:

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Marilyn and Ella at Theatre Royal Stratford

ella fitzgeraldI’m really looking forward to going to the theatre tonight. We’re not going to the West End though, but to the Theatre Royal in Stratford. That’s Stratford, East London, home of the 2012 Olympics; nothing to do with Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon. The show is called “Marilyn and Ella” and it’s about a famous meeting between Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe at a time of continuing racial segregation in the USA. Yes, it’s set in 1955, just a few years before I was born and when American society was run under a system similar to apartheid. So it’s a small, two woman production I think, but with a big subject plot and some big songs. The premiere was last night, so tonight, Saturday should be a big night too.

Theatre Royal

Theatre Royal Stratford

I suppose Theatre Royal, Stratford East is my local theatre, but I haven’t been for a few years. There used to be a series of excellent productions once a year which sometimes moved on to the West End such as “The Invisible Man” and “Zorro” but I think the moving force behind these died, and the raison d’etre for local theatre has moved more towards serving the perceived needs of the local community, a community which arguably doesn’t really exist except from a political or funding point of view. But the playwright is Bonnie Greer, an accomplished writer and whose performance on TV the other night in Question Time I think it was, well she just outshone everyone else on the panel.

Bonnie Greer

For the Sunday Herald in August 2006 Bonnie Greer said “I wrote this basically because the information has been suppressed, and if you don’t control the information, it controls you. That’s certainly true in the case of Marilyn Monroe, who was a victim of information control even after her death. She was the biggest movie star in the world and she made this kind of stand for Ella Fitzgerald. People at the time didn’t understand it, so they glossed over it, and now not many even know about it. Which means that it has never really been celebrated.”

Interestingly, this musical stage play began life on Radio 4 as “Marilyn And Ella Backstage At The Mocambo” and then at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2006 as “Ella Meet Marilyn.” The play has been competely re-written for the 2008 production, and if it has been crafted skillfuly for Theatre Royal Stratford then there’s every chance of a West End transfer in due course.


So part of my anticipation is to see if the question of the emancipation of the excluded black people as a whole class is brought up or glossed over through focussing on forging a pathway for the very few to rise up to become celebrities, leaving the masses behind them. The Marilyn Munroe icon has become a symbol of celebrity itself, so there are some interesting mixed messages inherent in the subject matter. The part of Ella Fitzgerald is played by Nicola Hughes who has been in Porgy and Bess and Chicago and Wendy Morgan from A Street Car Named Desire and The Bill is cast in the role of Marilyn Monroe. So that’s two very brave women to go on stage and play those huge stars.


I’m also going to enjoy the chance to hear some great songs performed live on stage.

Someone To Watch Over Me; My Funny Valentine; Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Wonderful old classics with which I am familiar not from the Jazz legends themselves but from the great covers sung by Mari Wilson in the nineteen eighties.

They Can’t Take That Away From Me – Lady Is a Tramp – Bewitched. Bothered and Bewildered – Every time We Say Goodbye – Just Two Little Girls From Little Rock – The Man That Got Away – Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend

Also some new songs by musical director Warren Wills.

Posted in London, Music | 8 Comments

London social media development

It was Wednesday evening so I went along to the Coach and Horses in Greek St, Soho to take part in an early user testing session for i-together’s new twitter and google maps mashup project. The usability test was run by Ofer Deshe of Flow Interactive who introduced himself as coming from a background in cognitive psychology, using techniques borrowed from ethnographical anthropology, so being chosen as the user to be observed was something of a privilege. I was sat in front of a laptop running a web service with no explanation or guidance, asked simply to explore and try to make sense of it. Well I just hope my slightly flummoxed attempts at navigation and comments provided some useful data.

Afterwards we had some wide ranging conceptual discussions which touched on ideas about public identity and personal security, activities or events as social objects, the natural development of some online communities into face-to-face meetups and much more. There’s still a fair amount of work to be done on the prototype service, both in explaining the concepts and making a winning user interface, but if anyone can do it then Luke, Benjie and Jof are in position to succeed with support from the vibrant and friendly London social media development community.

The Coach and Horses is also the venue for Social Media Café on Friday, and I was happily able to use the free wifi to update the cider wiki to mention the Westons Old Rosie currently on tap.

Posted in Cider, London, social media, social objects | Comments Off on London social media development

Platform Art

At Gloucester Road tube station there is one whole platform that isn’t currently used by passenger services. Rather than being a ghost platform though, it’s in use as an exhibition area for a piece of platform art called “Life is a laugh” by Brian Griffiths.


I can’t tell whether it’s a celebration or a mockery of retro computer games such as Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog but the whole point seems to be to make a pun on the overused word “platform”. I asked one of the staff if theer was any more information and he disappeared into the ticket office for ten minutes then came back with a leaflet. Unfortunately the leaflet contained no clues for me, just a rambling stream of consciousness type piece of prose covering all pages. Well, it brightened up my morning journey and gave me something to think about.




Posted in Art, London | 1 Comment

London Bloggers

Andy Bargery, who I met at a London Geek dinner last year, has set up a new home for London Bloggers, which is a blog of course, and a meetup tomorrow evening near Waterloo. I’ll be there. If you haven’t registered already, it’s too late but why not subscribe to the blog and come to the next one in February.

Welcome to the Home of London Bloggers
If you live in London and write a blog then you might be interested to come along to the regular London Bloggers Meetup. The next event is on Tuesday 29th January at the Camel & Artichoke Pub near to Waterloo, check out the Meetup page for more info.

If you can’t make it, check back here in early Feb for a round-up of the event and quite possibly a handful of photos. Then of course you can register for the next event in Feb.

If you are a London Blogger you might also want to add yourself to the London Bloggers Wiki page

Posted in Blogs and community, London, London bloggers | 1 Comment

Foodie Greenwich to have no Kitsch in!

By the end of January there will be one less reason to visit Greenwich, one of London’s more interesting centres, since The Flying Duck is set to close after thirteen years of selling unusual tat, memorabilia, retro designs, kitsch furniture and fittings.

This comes after the closure of Essential Records and Godards Pie Shop, representing a further step in the gradual decline and homogeneity of what remained a relatively unique shopping area.

Flying Duckoriginal photo by Jon

The owners say this is because they feel that Greenwich has lost some of its charm with more chain stores opening up at the expense of the independent trader. Not that they were competing directly with Woolworths, Marks and Spencer or W H Smiths but the niche market served by the curious little shop is probably better located in Brighton or Harrogate these days rather than south east London. There’ll still be plenty of Vietnamese noodle bars, Mexican burgers and posh fish and chips shops though.

The The Flying Duck online ecommerce site continues with a massive sale on all stock and I’m wondering if the rise and rise of Ebay, Amazon and Etsy as venues for buying and selling “long tail” collectibles may have a lot to do with it as well.

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Thanks for reading Andy Roberts articles about London on the DARnet Blog