WordPress Spam – Gobble The Gook

Freshly SqueezedI had a quick gander at Freshly Pressed today – WordPress’s shop-window of what it considers the best in the WordPress blogging world on any given day. I am not sure how this is decided – if there are real people reading through all our blog posts each day ratifying and rating each one or if they do indeed employ helper monkeys detailed in their annual report they so kindly sent me on the new year or even if there is some software algorithm that as if by magic assesses the prosy wheat from the babbling chaff.

Anyway what caught my eye were its stats. Yes there are lies damned lies and then there are statistics but these statistics seemed innocent enough. And it advised that today there were 838,238 new blog posts and 487,313 comments – it is a wonder we have any readers at all given that it seems we are all at it – blogging that is. But the comments themselves though substantial the maths does suggest that about half of all posts go uncommented. Indeed my experience is that some blog posts hog all the comments to themselves so suspect that nearer two-thirds of all blog posts go uncommented. That certainly makes this blogger of many uncommented posts feel a bit better at least!

However what those Freshly pressed stats do not detail and what is the eventual purpose of this post is the amount of unsolicited comments generated each day – in short the extent of spam.

Wordpress DashboardThe WordPress spam filters do a good job in my own experience. The odd one gets through and I usually remove them. I say usually – I did receive one recently following a post I wrote about Twitter from James who thought my blog was awesome – clearly based on the philosophy that though we may suspect insincerity there comes a level of high-praise where we think okay maybe they have a point! – he then went on to say that though he hates reading I somehow got his attention – note James does not merely say that he does not enjoy reading but that he hates it. Yet for all his antipathy still finds the time to read obscure WordPress blogs. He then said while adding if I did not mind (because that is what I hate about spammers not their unwanted attention but their lack of politeness!) if I could visit his blog (even more remarkable, though he cannot tolerate reading he can somehow endure writing!) and we could add each other to our respective blogrolls. I did not do this but decided his comment should remain – its absurdity was entertaining. Although I have a nagging feeling that I am not the first or last to have experienced James’ silky praising prose – perhaps you reader have too, though James may have been going by the name of John or Jill…

Where are we?! Oh yes – the spam that does not make it through the WordPress filter into the twilight of day that is the blogosphere.

I am not going to spend any time dissecting spam – anyone who has ever ventured into the wilds of the world wide web will have encountered it – and daily – we know what is, we know its dark ulterior motives and I have nothing to add, I am quite sure, to what you yourself have thought on the subject.

But it has to be said that WordPress spam is a special sort of spam – as it attempts to kill us with kindness the only thing getting murdered is the English language.

Witness this example from Kenos commenting on a post of mine about the animated graphics used in the 1990’s British Television series version of PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster:-

Would it be possible of which not every aspects happen to be reviewed while they could have been.

You are perhaps now trying to make sense of Kenos’ enigmatic observation. Do not try to make sense of it or even to navigate its grammar – just marvel at its faultless spelling and move on.

Another post of mine about an episode of a young British comedy Him & Her The Sleepover received not one but two comparably enigmatic responses.

The first from Priya Rawat is as follows:

Could not thank you enough for the blogposts on your site. I know you set a lot of time and energy into these and really hope you know how deeply I appreciate it. I hope I could do a similar thing for someone else at some point.

Firstly Priya, and I do hope you don’t mind me calling you by your first name, thank you for your generous words, you are most welcome. Note too how he or she is not just praising this one post of mine but all of my posts. I am touched too that if Priya has a blog or decides later to set one up it is now in the hope of inspiring a similar deep appreciation in another spammer sorry reader in the not too distant future.

Actually that comment was not that enigmatic – just flat out flattery – but this next one more that compensates. This commenter goes by just one name, Habilash – perhaps you are familiar with their work? If not, brace yourself:

tn pas cher.tall shelf nutcracker bricklayer shirtwaist linger palette frill laxative pakistani banger line esquire revolting diversity exhort. scurrilous bushel vainglory clarion midships tollgate northwestern underline unkind screenplay fever jailbird uncoloured? strolling blabber…

They go on for many many oh so very many more words but I thought the word ‘blabber’ was a suitable point to end it – I think you have the flavour of it by then.

To those of you perhaps lacking poetry in your soul you will have read the above as a dictionary-soup but for the rest of you I am sure you are as deeply affected by it as I was – and indeed I still remain. You have to imagine Habilash reciting this word-epic on stage each of the above words a declaration and a challenge punctuated by seconds of silence before the next revelation and perhaps accompanied by some music – free-jazz certainly works but industrial techno does not lose its meter either.

All I can say is Habilash I thank you, and I could not have said it any better myself.

Not all of the comments are as profound as those from the hallowed Habilash. One commenter told me that they definitely found something useful in my review of the BBC’s Evolution Series The Origins of Us but that its usefulness was impaired for them due to the web-page itself being reluctant to load and would I be interested in a new hosting provider. But since they were going by the name of Wireless Door Bell I just could not take them seriously.

Finally – well not finally but I feel I have to end this somewhere as I fear for the sanity of me and you adrift in the spam filtered netherworld – a comment from Kadry Place who had this to say

Very intreresting blog. It was very useful. I was looking exaxtly for this. Thank you for your effort. I hope you will write more such useful posts.

Kadry is to spelling what Kenos is to grammar.

But not only was the post I wrote what Kadry was looking for but it was exactly what they were looking for. Dear reader a teardrop has fallen upon my keyboard. The post they were commenting on though was The Cannibalistic Councillor – and reader there is no poetic license at play in my title here, it really is about a Councillor with an interest in Cannibalism. So then read again Kadry’s comment – ‘I was looking exactly for this’. So Kadry thank you but if you don’t mind I need to be going, I’ve got places to go to, people to see…

Oh censorious WordPress surely you must know by now that there really is an audience for everything!

Please Twitter, continue to go forth and be trivial

Continue to stream sound and fury signifying nothing.

Twitter imageThere is a problem with the title of this piece of course. That it assumes there is a single if multi-headed multi-hearted multi-limbed multi – you get the picture – beast wandering about called Twitter. Who has a jealous rival in Facebook and an old now near-reclusive one called MySpace. Except non of these organisations – and did I forget Google Plus but that’s just the problem with Google Plus – everyone forgets about Google Plus – are not sinister shadowy corporations recruiting us against our will to partake in their services. We check in of our own will and we can check back out just as sharpish. Most of us so far at least have chosen to stay.

Most it seems taking pot-shots at Twitter and Facebook and the like – I am going to stick with the catch-all term ‘the like’ here as frankly there are an awful lot of social media sites and perhaps by using this term it might persuade you that I am familiar with each and everyone of them when I am in fact familiar with just a few more than the four already mentioned – are those without Twitter followers, without Facebook friends. But granted there are those who entered, tentatively tweeted and suspiciously begrudgingly updated their statuses, decided it was not for them, made their excuses and left. Their disinterest is understood. So is their disdain. What rankles though is the superior attitude – that because it was not for them it should not be for anyone.

I am reflecting on this following a recent article in the New York Times online by one of their correspondents Timothy Egan on their Opinionator Blog. It was called Please Stop Sharing – and I responded with a comment. This comment was published as one of the Top Picks. I know lights should be hidden firmly beneath bushels yet here I am with scant regard for bushels shining said light of mine before your eyes which are now too busy blinking for me to see whether any disapproval in them.

New York Times Top Pick CommentAs an aside and a nod to humility you will note that said comment saw two words ‘the Telephone’ fused together as one idiotic term. Damn New York Times not allowing me to endlessly edit my own comments after they have been published!

Okay that is not actually the reason for this blog piece – well perhaps a little! – rather to respond further to the assertion of this piece that new social media is obsessed with the trivial and peopled by those who being called a moron would be a compliment too.

Timothy Egan’s piece is quite long but certainly not as long as many pieces you will read in the New York Times. The unwritten old-media law is that with more words comes more weight, more gravitas, more authority. And Twitter with its 140 character limit must then by definition be light, frothy and insubstantial.

But there is no correlation with being wordy and being articulate? Of being verbose and being profound?

That it s always necessary to be profound when it is almost never necessary to be profound.

Twitter is an obvious antidote to verbosity. You have to be succinct – though as an aside that does not stop some Twitterers from scattering their thoughts on a subject across multiple tweets – get a blog already! – and with its strict character limit is an encouragement to clarity as much as to triviality.

Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker - a tweeter before Twitter?

It is an encouragement too to the aphorism and the epigram – I am sure Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker would have been avid tweeters – though perhaps the opportunity to endlessly expound might have tired even their inexhaustible wit.

But even here there is the suggestion that Tweets must all be smart and significant. As if we should never make throwaway or meaningless remarks. Because that is the other undercurrent of pieces like this that writers of the old media live lives of continual high significance uttering spell-binding observations of the human condition in between their tea and toast, cruising the cultural Zeitgeist the rest of their waking hours before their palpitating head hits their pillow weary under the weight of so much existential exercise.

As if triviality and inconsequence were invented along with social media sites themselves. We – I am using the royal we here and I apologise if I have presumed against you and you yourself are one of those worthy hallow souls of the old apparently anti-social media but then I guess I am just a bit surprised to find you here reading this blog of mine – have always had a tendency for the trivial and the throwaway, of noting and commenting on small things as well as monumental things, and Twitter allows it a greater community, to share without restraint. And this will take on all shapes and forms – views that we don’t always hear or like intrude upon our protected worlds – where some would rather live in a world where their views are as echoes of everyone else’s.

But even then, at any time we can retreat and unfollow those whose insanities and inanities don’t match our own insanities and inanities. We can end up indeed in just the same circumspect carefully chosen company as in the non-digital domain. If that’s what we really want.

My response to the New York Times was nothing like this though – indeed the verboseness of this response would have been more fitting in a letter to that august journal in the days before the first spam Email had been sent (a second after the first Email had been sent)…whereas my actual response was succinct, not Tweeting succinct, but as good as.

What is also notable about it is that despite the Top Pick status accorded it, it has not elicited even one response – I would like to think the readers of the NYT were dumbstruck by my own revelatory brilliance and unsettling wit but alas more likely it was met with universal indifference as they stifled a yawn before quickly skipping onto the next – ahem! – non Top Pick comment.

And perhaps ironically, though it has had the recommendation of the Editors of the column it has had no recommendation from its readers. Pah! Perhaps the old asocial media high-bred hacks know better than their Hoi-polloi readers afterall!

Today’s PMQ’s on Twitter – damp squibs and other striking rhetoric

PMQ’s – sound-bites and fury signifying nothing?

I previously posted about the Leveson Inquiry and how it was being reported on by one of the subjects of its inquiry – namely the media. And not by the old media and usual commentariat suspects but by new media and specifically on Twitter – I am not aware the demographics of Twitter but it does seem they are a more representative voice of democracy then those in the employ of our Newspaper and TV media. It is also not just the voice of the people of any one country but of many countries – though not exactly ‘We Are The World’ either rather those of us fortunate enough to have the economic wherewithal to be able to access the world wide web. And in my case it is the English speaking world too as I speak no other language – well leaving aside my less than fluent attempts at French and Spanish!

Cameron at Dispatch BoxThis time I thought I would see how Twitter reports on an an entirely British Event – Prime Minister Question’s or PMQ’s – when the Prime Minister of the day faces questions from members of his own party and the opposition parties – well these days it is Opposition Party and that party being Labour as the other hitherto eternal party of opposition, the Liberal Democrats, is now a member of government, if a coalition one. The Leveson Inquiry is I accept a British Event too but one which has a wider global interest as it also has ramifications beyond our shores such is the global nature of media, whether of the old or new kind.

I would compare its response to how the old media reported it. Usually they condense its thirty minutes of political theatre down to a minute or two, such is the level of interest in it.

I would also have an official record of PMQ’s provided by Parliament itself in the form of Hansard.

This weeks record can be read here and I am not going to repeat it save the opening tribute to a soldier who gave his life in Afghanistan from the Coalition Prime Minister, David Cameron.

“I am sure the whole House will wish to join me in paying tribute to Rifleman Sheldon Steel from 5th Battalion The Rifles. He was a highly respected soldier who had achieved a great deal and shown much potential during his time with the Army. At this very sad time, our thoughts should be with his family, his friends and his colleagues. His courage and his dedication will never be forgotten by our nation.”

Unison Strike ImageMost questions were around the day’s public sector strike over pensions (also with its own hash-tag #N30), and the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s Autumn Statement from yesterday (along with the current state of the public finances and economy in general) as well as a few questions relating to other matters.

Regarding the public sector strike, Labour Leader, Ed Milliband, practised the high-wire act of criticising the PM for the government’s funding and handling of public sector pension reform whilst not himself supporting the strike (which was noted by Conservative MP Mark Spencer).

He began by referring to the Head Teacher who was on public record of opposing the strike back in June and of which the PM praised for so doing but which today had closed her school. He asked a number of questions about pension reforms and relating to the Chancellor’s Autumn statement of yesterday.

The issue of union funding was raised by Conservative MP Laurence Robertson in respect of the taxpayer contribution. Another Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg asked if the striking air-traffic controllers could be sacked!

On the economy Labour MP Lillian Greenwood asked about the cost of unemployment not just in benefits but in lost tax revenue. Labour MP Kate Green asked why government is freezing working tax credit. Labour and Co-Op MP Mark Hendrick asked the PM if he came into politics to sack three quarter million public service workers. Conservative MP Fiona Bruce asked about pension provision and protection for those in her constituency working in the private sector.  Labour MP Owen Smith raised a question regarding the tax contribution of banks as oppose to public sector asking if the distribution was fair. There were a number of other questions relating to the economy.

Movember Photo Gallery

Movember

There were too a few foreign affairs questions including Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson asking about the progress of women’s rights in Afghanistan and Conservative MP Chris Kelly asking the PM to condemn the attack on the British Embassy in Iran.

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell asked perhaps the most off-the-wall question of the day namely whether the sixteen remaining countries that fly the British flag ‘proudly’ will be defended by the UK!

At the outset the PM had commented on a number of MP’s who had grown moustaches in November as part of the Movember campaign (an annual November fundraiser towards funding and promoting  awareness of Men’s prostate cancer), Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams was clearly one of those MP’s identified as the PM praised him ‘for the magnificent specimen lurking underneath his nose’!

So then these were the questions. And what did the old media run with? Only that the Prime Minister had described the day’s strike ‘has a damp squib’. Why make substantive points when a throw-away phrase like this will get the old media’s short-span attention?

How though had Twitter reported it? It should be noted that despite my comment about the more diverse participation of the public on Twitter as against that on our old-time media many of that old-time media inhabit the new-time Twitterverse too – whether has news organisations or hacks in their own right.

Tim Montgomerie Twitter AccountThe question of a tax on banks drew opposing tweets. Tim Montgomerie, Editor of Conservative Home, tweeted ‘Cameron ridicules Miliband for proposing a bank tax and then spending it in EIGHT different ways: The Bank Tax That Likes To Say Yes’ whereas Alex Belardinelli with a Red Rose Labour Badge on his Gravatar commented ‘Nonsense Prime Minister – this is what the bank bonus tax would pay’ for with a link to the Labour Party website and a piece by its leader on how this money would be spent on 110,000 new jobs.

This tweet from Michael Moran echoing what many think about the adversarial theatrical nature of PMQ’s ” The ridiculous pantomime of #PMQs is a sharp reminder that if you want to lay off un-needed public sector workers there’s 650 @ Westminster” – and the ‘plague on all their houses’ attitude towards all mainstream political parties that pervades currently.

Channel 4 News Channel 4 News tweeted what was perhaps one of the best lines of the day by Ed Milliband – “Some strikers earn less than what the chancellor spends on his annual skiing holiday” – reminding us all of the huge income disparities between those on the Conservative Front Bench and the millions of teachers, nurses and other hard-working pubic sector workers striking that day. Though one tweeting questioning the arithmetic ‘Does George Osborne buy his skiing gear from Poundland, or did Ed Miliband make a bit of a gaffe earlier?’!

Left Foot Forward on the other hand questioned the arithmetic from the other side of the equation – Osborne actually 52 times more privileged than Miliband claimed: http://bit.ly/u7X2TU writes @alexhern #PMQs #n30.

Mehdi Hassan TwitterIn respect of the thread of party funding and the relationships between the unions and Labour, Mehdi Hasan, the Senior Editor of the New Statesmen, tweeted “”His entire party is paid for by the unions,” says a party leader whose party is 50% funded by the City of London”. Resonating with a recent Sunday Observer column by comedian David Mitchell ‘Better we fund our political parties then let lobbyists run the roost‘.

Michael White of the Guardian tweeted’ Strikes are wrong, Labour is in unions’ pocket is Cam’s message, pure 1980s Daily Mail stuff in very different times’

This tweet from Red Fabian acknowledged that the PM did at least have one of the best lines of the day – if scripted – but then they all are aren’t they?- “They’re all shouting in Unison. Or should that be on behalf of Unison?” Unison being the trade union for public sector workers.

The right-wing PM accused the left-wing Labour leader of being, well, left-wing! This leading to a number of Tweets asking if being called ‘left-wing’ is an insult! I guess that depends on whether you consider yourself as left-wing or right-wing! And is this sort of remark more suited to the playground than the chambers of parliament?

Helen Lewis-Hasteley TwitterHelen Lewis-Hasteley of the New Statement tweeted “that’s good of him RT @JamieWood_Sky: Michael Gove tells Sky News it’s not wrong to be left wing or right wing – notable as Michael Gove is the Conservative Secretary of State for Education!

Following PMQ’s there is, amongst political pundits at least, a kind of informal polling of which of the party leaders got the better of the exchanges – of late it has see-sawed back and forth between Cameron and Milliband.

This week the Guardian thought that Ed had the better of it – “Miliband bombarded Cameron pretty effectively with embarrassing statistics. @AndrewSparrow‘s snap #PMQs verdict” while an opposing thought from Peter Mannion MP – “Might it have been better if Ed Miliband hadn’t turned up for work today? #PMQs #PMQ #N30 – clearly not a Labour MP!

It was clear though that despite a variety of other PMQ’s the questions that exercised the Twittersphere most were the ones that exercised the old media hacks the most too – namely the public sector strike action and related government economic policy. But it also has to be acknowledged that much the best tweets were from the old media hacks themselves – if perhaps benefiting from being unshackled from their respective Editors and Proprietors.

There was also a notable number of tweets to the announcement that public funding of union salaries in workplace would be ended – “Petty vindictiveness from Cameron to end public funding for union salaries in workplace http://bit.ly/vKYL56 #PMQs #N30 via @GdnPolitics was but one tweet and a view much echoed by most Tweeters.

Is Twitter – gasp! – left-wing leaning then?! And should it be insulted by this, or just proud?!

Today on Twitter – Hugh Grant and the Leveson Inquiry

Twitter Leveson search resultsThe Old Media in the New Media Spotlight. Is there still enough in this Hacking Scandal for us to be Hacked Off about?

I decided to do an experiment. If I had access to the web but only through the Twitter lens how much of the world outside my walls could I know about? Is everything worth knowing – and indeed everything not worth knowing – available on Twitter?  If it is not tweeted about did it not happen?

I could very easily get overwhelmed by a tidal-wave of global tweets so decided to focus on a trending item in my own country, the UK.

Trending fifth was the Leveson Inquiry. Or it was when I commenced this piece – as of this pargraph it is now third – such are the ever-moving trends on Twitter. And the number one trendng item is British actor Hugh Grant who is currently testifying before the inquiry.

The Leveson Inquiry itself has its own website – in its words set up to provide the latest information on the Inquiry, including details of hearings and evidence, to the public and interested parties. The Inquiry itself was set up to investigate the culture, practices and ethics of the press with further detail on its remit given on this page.

The Leveson Inquiry photoI did a quick look on Google News by way of comparison of old media with new media Twitter in its reporting of this Inquiry (or Enquiry but let’s just settle on Inquiry!). It was certainly being prominently reported with for example the BBC running with the headline Hacked Dowlers Thought Milly was Alive.

The Inquiry could also be followed live with The Telegraph just one media outlet showing a feed of it.

And the Leveson Inquiry is not just a British news media story, it has global involvement and interest too. Added spice would be how news organisations most directly implicated in the hacking scandal would report it as against those with so far at least cleaner hands. In the USA The Wall Street Journal a News International title reported on the parent’s of Milly Dowler’s testimony. This particular item was also reported in Australia by The Australian.

But back to my experiment and Twitter – just how much would I be able to find out about the Inquiry’s progress today by reading Tweets alone? And by ‘Tweets alone’ I mean by reading their content not any links that will inevitably be attached to some them to other web-pages and news stories – linking indeed to the traditional media. These I would not follow as in my experiment the web is out of bounds to me bar Twitter and so the links would all lead to Pages Not Found!

Leveson Inquiry

Hugh Grant giving testimony

The very fact that this Inquiry was trending was already instructional to me as though I was aware of this inquiry taking place I was not aware of when it was due to take place. It was Twitter then that brought this fact to my attention.

One item temporarily out-trending the Leveson Inquiry was ‘Mungo’ – the only Mungo I could think of was 1970’s English rock group Mungo Jerry – but it turns out that Mungo is one of Hugh Grant’s middle names! – so yet another trending Leveson Inquiry item.

Another aspect of the Twitter attention of this issue was the sheer volume of Tweets it was generating – in just the fifteen minutes it has taken me to type up to this paragraph another 300 tweets using the Leveson Hash Tag (#Leveson) have appeared – I clearly am not going to be able to keep up!

Though most of those tweeting were individuals – both celebrities and mere mortals such as myself – news organisations were tweeting updates too, such as BBC News and Channel 4 News.

Simon Tomlin News Alliance TwitterOne such organisational Tweet was from yesterday from a self-proclaimed News Alliance who commented that ‘All newspapers have a financial and political agenda behind the scenes and they are not in the least concerned about #Leveson pseudo-inquiry’. It was not clear to me whether they thought such an inquiry should be taking place at all or that it should but did not have enough teeth. Clicking on to their Twitter account it became clear it was the latter with this following Tweet better summarising their position “Hugh Grant has proved the #Leveson ‘Inquiry’ will be a celebrity self-pity party for the most part. Let’s hear some real media corruption’…the account is also linked to a Simon Tomlin so then not quite sure if an alliance or just a one-man band. These anyway were pre-inquiry tweets from November 13. Back to today November  21 and the responses to the inquiry in progress.

Twitter Ben FentonThe first Tweet I came upon that struck me most forcibly, succinctly got to the heart of the matter of the corrupt relationship between the largely London-based media and the (Metropolitan) police. It was from Ben Fenton and read ‘One girlfriend was mugged. We called the police. It was the photographers who came round first. #hughgrant tells #leveson‘. Ben Fenton it transpires is old media from the Financial Times if quick to point out tweeting in his own capacity not theirs!

Unsurprisingly when an item like this gets shared it is not done so by a lone tweeter rather many others will tweet either verbaitim or with some small variation – others tweeting this included Paul Waugh, the Editor of Politics Home.

Twitter Ravi SomaiyaClearly there is no love lost between Hugh Grant and the British media – the Tabloid press in particular – with this tweet from Ravi Somaiya neatly summing up Grant’s contempt for them – “In the absence of information, they’ll make it up,” says Grant of British tabloids. It transpired that Ravi Somaiya too is old media being a journalist for the New York Times London bureau. I suppose one should not be surprised that journalists of the old media make use of the new media sites like Twitter and perhaps are their most prolific tweeters.

Hugh Grant’s involvement  in this inquiry relates to exploring how much privacy celebrities should have. Another aspect of this inquiry and much more political dynamite is the relationship between the British Government, its political parties and the press – and who has the real power in our country the British Parliament or News International – the Prime Minister or the Editor of the Sun or The Daily Mail?

One such tweet expressing some disinterest in the celebrity side of things came from Siobhan O’Neill – ‘Not sure why this guy is questioning Grant over his choice of statement to the press about his baby. Relevant how?’ Another from Dickson Edwards drily observing that the inquiry is turning into a posher version of Jeremy Kyle! This was retweeted a number of times.

Hugh Grant reserved most of his ire for one newspaper in particular – The Daily Mail – one of its columnist’s Amanda Platell sitting just a few feet away from him. The drama!

Twitter Index on CensorshipAnother organisation following this inquiry is the Index On Censorship who Tweeted ‘Grant and publicist on phone discussing press statement: “not ideal circumstances. I was dressed as a cannibal at the time.” Enough said!

Clearly not everyone watching the inquiry was enthralled to it with this tweet from Ivor Sawbottom (oh dear!) commenting that it was like watching paint dry. In contrast a tweet from Kirsten Han, a Singaporean blogger, considered it  anything but boring – ‘I just wanted a peek at the #Leveson inquiry and see what Hugh #Grant is saying – it has now been 45 minutes and I’m still watching’.

Joel Gunter Journalist UK TwitterA reminder of how interconnected modern media is was demonstrated in this Tweet from Joel M Gunter – ‘Attention from Hugh Grant’s #Levesonappearance has apparently crashed his Paul McMullan piece on the@newstatesman site’. Joel Gunter is a senior reporter at media news site Journalism UK – and I assure you I was not seeking out Journo tweets – they though were clearly seeking me out.

There was much observation that Hugh Grant was getting irked with the judge prompting this tweet from Sam Knight ‘New drinking game: Drink every time Hugh Grant rolls his eyes’. He did not say what we should drink but we can assume not tea.

Twitter Tom WatsonThere seems to be a Twitter consensus too that Hugh Grant is being given a hard time – harder than for example the Murdoch’s Rupert and James were given at the UK Parliamentary Inquiries when facing forensic questions from the Labour MP Tom Watson — I see this as a positive sign though and that Leveson is going to treat all those appearing before him with thorough scrutiny.

ITN London tweeted this Hugh Grant quote ‘My publicists throw their hands up over Britain, they say it’s uncontrollable!’ This was retweeted by Royal Forum Moron – I love some of the aliases used!

Twitter will also pick up on anything no matter how tangental and one curious trend was #Womanontheleft – clearly someone to the left of Hugh Grant on screen was attracting attention among the twitterati! Later all was revealed by a Twitter photograph of a lawyer as much interested it seems in the look of Hugh Grant as the words coming out of his mouth!

Graham Linehan Twitter AccountCelebrities were tweeting too including The IT Crowd and Father Ted creator Graham Linehan ‘I assumed it was, Mister Grant, that’s why I wasn’t going to read it out. Yeah, right!’ – this being an example of a Tweet that only makes sense if you were watching the inquiry whilst watching Twitter too!

And at 15.55 I decided to log off from Twitter with the inquiry and Hugh Grant still in full flow for if I were to report everything of note that was Tweeted this blog post would go on to ten thousand words and beyond. It just going to show how much can be said from so little. And this also based on the Leveson hash-tag had I used #HughGrant I would have generated further tweets still.

Clearly not all events will be as widely tweeted as the Leveson Inquiry. This was an event being broadcast  around the globe afterall. But it does show what a democratic window on the world Twitter is. Let us hope that it never becomes poisoned with political cronyism and other old-media misdemeanours.

Facebook Status Updates We Would Never Make

Or at least Facebook Status Updates we tend not to make.

We are what we pretend to be. So we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

So wrote Kurt Vonnegut in his novel, Mother Night, in 1966. And Facebook provides us the greatest and easiest opportunities of all to pretend? To pretend to each other, to pretend to ourselves…

Below I propose thirteen life status updates that are less than likely to become Facebook status updates!

  1. Status updated when watching a film-classic, or latest movie adaptation of a major literary work. Status not updated when watching a grainy porno illegally downloaded from a file-sharing site, or the shopping channel again or re-runs of a Soap that was axed in the Seventies.
  2. Status updated when back from an afternoon out with the kids at a museum, art gallery or park. Status not updated when back from traipsing your kids around an out-of-town DIY complex looking for plumbing fittings, shelving brackets and the like.
  3. Status updated with photograph of latest car purchased if brand new, big, sporting, expensive. Status not updated with photograph of latest car purchased if second hand, rundown, a couple hundred bucks of junk – think Big Dick Waving Contest.
  4. Status updated to announce to the world how much you love your soulmate and how wonderful they are and how lucky you are to have met them. Status not updated when you are thinking “what did I ever see in this person and where did it all go wrong…”
  5. Status updated to declare “You are more lovely to me today than the day I first met you”. Status kept quiet when wondering to yourself “You irritate me more with each passing day”.
  6. Status updated to boast – sorry share –  that you had a busy day putting up shelves around your home or undertaking some other DIY project.  Status not updated when you spent your day slobbing about your homestead knocking back beers and watching repeats on the telly with interruptions only to play video games
  7. 6am Status Update – when you have just woken up to announce to all your friends that you have a busy day ahead of you – and by way of just letting them know what an early-bird you are. 6am Status not updated – when just about to go to bed having watched as much night-time telly as your eyes can take and consumed as much pizza and chips as your stomach can take – and by way of not letting them know what an unreconstructed night owl you are.
  8. Status updated when back home late from a night clubbing ‘Had a bit too much to drink tonight, again! LOL!’ – status implied party animal. Status not updated when back home late from a public bar ‘Had a bit too much to drink tonight, again! LOL’ as status now implied desperate alcoholic.
  9. Status updated following an act of uncharacteristic virtue such as giving a pint of blood, having run a half-marathon for Charity, or having spent an afternoon with your last remaining grandparent for the first time in over a year. Status not updated following an all too characteristic act of if not vice then certainly unvirtue!, such as spending the afternoon at the bookies followed by a liquid lunch and a minor altercation with a passer-by on your way home.
  10. Status updated on the rare occasion you have prepared and eaten a meal around the dining table with your family, each of you discussing your day. Status not updated on the more usual occasion of having thrown something in to the microwave to then eat with your family in the lounge with TV on and no word said to each other bar occasional utterances from any quarter of “can we watch something else now?”.
  11. Status updated when the activity genie has got inside of you and something productive has actually been achieved. Status not updated when nothing productive has been achieved following yet another day of procrastination.
  12. Status updated when you realise just how much you have to be grateful for ‘”What a lucky guy/gal I am” etc. Status not updated with “WTF am I doing with my life’.
  13. Status updated to say how pleased you are for one of your friends recently posted achievements. Status most certainly not updated to say how jealous you are if not outright resentful of said friend’s recently posted achievement.

With each status update the tangled web of Facebook weaves our collective deception ever deeper?

Page Not Found – I don’t belong here…

Page Not Found 404 ErrorCame upon this today having clicked on a link for the Story Cellar website.

It was almost worth the page not being found, almost!

It is a bit like if Carlsberg did 404 Errors! Not sure if this remark works if you are outside the UK?!

Anyone got any other similar examples?

By the way Story Cellar was recommended to me via a Tweet from Stephen Fry – the site is a virtual book-club where members can download original unpublished short-stories from new and established writers.

You can also submit your own works to the site – any story of between five and ten A4 pages in duration.

I find the website a bit ugly to look at but naturally you should not judge a book by its cover – forgive me!

As anyone had any experience of this site, as author or member?