Today on the internet 28/5/2012

What I’ve been reading today:

Like most of the UK, Manchester has for the last week had the kind of weather that makes you want to – in the words of Bridget Jones –  ‘panic, run out of the office, take most of your clothes off and lie panting on the fire escape’. Walking around, it seems that most people have succumbed to this – particularly in Fallowfield, where many of the students, untrammelled by offices, have been doing their revision in the park in various states of undress.

Amongst the minimally attired Manc masses, women who are covered up in the hijab, or other ‘modest’ dress, stand out more than usual. I’ve caught myself more than once thinking “I’m glad I don’t have to wear that in this heat”, and then wondered what I meant, exactly, by ‘have to wear it’. So I was interested to read this Comment Is Free piece by a woman who wears the hijab for feminist rather than for religious reasons. It’s a fascinating issue. Forcing any woman to cover up is clearly wrong – forcing her not to, other than for simple, short-term exceptions such as passport photos and security checks, is too. The issue of how we make the choices we do about what we wear is more nuanced – more often than not (and still more for women than for men), these choices are dictated not only by comfort and preference, but by the law, by our jobs, our income, our social circle, our upbringing, religion, and any number of other factors – but still, when you undress (sorry) the issue, it’s very simple. What women put on our bodies is as much of our own choice as what we put in them.

While we’re being strident – here’s a cheering interview with the hero that is Dennis Skinner. I’ve always said that, like Father of the House, the position of Dennis should be a semi-official role in the House of Commons. Though the traditions and institutions of the Commons are beneath contempt for the Beast of Bolsover, I still hope that one day an MP from a younger generation will be appointed Dennis of the House and charged with slagging off Black Rod and the Tories – but until then, long live Principled Skinner.

Video of the day:

I love this beautiful stop-motion animation of a night in a bookshop – the music, composed especially for this video, is lovely too. Also check out their earlier video, Organising the Bookcase, in which every book gets its name in the credits at the end.

And finally – the coolest thing I’ve seen on the internet today:

Weekend Reflections is a photography blog specialising in – wait for it – photos of reflections, taken at the weekend. They’re taken all over the world with a wide variety of compositions (and quality): I especially like the broken window and wing-mirror pictures below.

Today on the internet: street harassment, a low-budget British film and the happiest of pigs

A short one today, because the weather’s so beautiful I’ve been out basking…ha! As if. I was in the CAB in Salford where it is hotter than the surface of the sun and every time you turn a fan on, 900 pages of DWP bureaucracy blow in your face like some kind of austerity-era Noel’s House Party game. Anyway.

What I’ve been reading today:

Mostly just this, by Caf, about street harassment. It is very sweary but don’t let that stop you, for it is excellent. Here is a sample quote:

From the comments I’ve gathered, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only resolution is to stop being female, to walk around in a full body sack that hides any indication that I am in possession of a body, and which could possibly convince people that from my neck to my knees I’m actually made of Milkybars and jam.

Video of the day:

My friend Michael emailed me this link along with the words ‘Scary British alien predator film. Look good or terrible?’ I have thought about it and decided: good. What does everyone else think?

And finally, the coolest thing I’ve seen on the internet today:

Forgive me from stealing this from Stylist again, but look. It’s a pig on a deckchair. Look at his happy little legs.

Today on the internet: jobs, job interviews, Tom Watson and Lego

What I’ve been reading today:

Following the government’s reluctant publication of Adrian Beecroft’s report on how much higher employment would be if bosses could simply sack people “if they didn’t fancy them”, as one of my council colleagues put it today – I found this Left Foot Foward piece, from back in March, pretty illuminating.

Also revealing was Cameron’s attempt at a comeback when Ed M called him on this in PMQs – no, not the ‘muttering idiot’ comment on Ed Balls, but the usual going on-and-on about the unions. I’m not sure anyone is convinced by the PM’s repeated efforts to equate the  Labour Party’s trade union link to the Tories’ link to the likes of Adrian Beecroft, who has donated almost £600,000 to the Nasty Party since Cameron became leader. But it is Cameron’s apparent conviction that only someone in the pocket of the union paymasters would care whether workers could be sacked, at will, for no reason, that really demonstrates how out of touch he is. We know he’s never had a real job, but does he even know anyone who has?

Zoe Williams meanwhile has been watching Clegg going on about social mobility, and she makes a point that all parties would do well to pay attention to: social mobility, by itself, is worthless. It’s the equivalent of one of my residents coming to me and saying that their street is messy, and me giving them the bus-fare to go somewhere else. We should strive to improve the quality of life for people of every class, not just facilitating a way for the brightest people to leave.

I also enjoyed this New Statesman article by Ed Miliband on his relationship with his Jewish heritage, and this trailer for a Tom Watson interview in the next issue of Prospect, which prompted LabourList speculation about the future of Watson’s political career.

Video of the day:

On an entirely different note, here’s a video about making a giant wave out of Lego.

And finally – the coolest thing I’ve seen on the internet today:

If you don’t follow Rhodri Marsden on Twitter, you really should. He’s a funny tweeter any day of the week, but he also occasionally asks his followers about their worst experiences with dating, Valentine’s Day, Christmas – and, today, job interviews. Quite a lot of the responses were laugh-out-loud funny, and he helpfully Storified them here. It’s hilarious until you remember we’re all going to need to go to a lot of interviews once the government makes it legal to sack us for no reason.

Today on the internet: Stella, Mara and maybe you

What I’ve been reading today:

Following on from yesterday’s interesting reading about Wonga, this story about their (apparently past) habit of telling frightening lies to debtors to get them to pay up seemed pretty timely. Meanwhile, Stella Creasy had a great piece at Politics Home about how loan sharks have jumped the shark. Her amendment to the Financial Services Bill, calling for a cap on the cost of credit, was defeated by 41 votes, so the campaign is now off to the Lords. Still, that size majority indicates a number of abstentions – maybe the message is getting through.

Video of the day:

Last year Greater Manchester Police created this safety film aimed at first year students.

They want to update it for the new intake in September 2012. If you’re a Manchester student who has been a victim of crime or anti-social behaviour in the city in the last year and are interested in appearing in the next video, get in touch through the Manchester Student Safety Facebook page.

And finally – the coolest thing I’ve seen on the internet today:

I actually saw this a while ago, thanks to Josie off’f Twitter, but I keep being reminded of it and felt the need to tell you all how exciting it is. Do you remember Mara Wilson? She was the little girl in Mrs. Doubtfire, and the little girl in Miracle on 34th Street, and best of all she was Matilda. In the imaginary world I inhabited when I was about 12 – the same one where I had friend-zoned all three of Hanson – Mara Wilson was my little sister. I often wondered what happened to her post-child-stardom, and remember reading on IMDB a while back that she’d quit the film industry and gone to university, which seemed as cool, in an understated kinda way, as it was disappointing.

And then I woke up one day and it turned out Mara Wilson is a 24-year-old feminist writer with a blog. She blogs a bit about what it was like to be child actor, but she also blogs about the arts and misogynist iPhone games and why she couldn’t date anyone named David. And she tweets a lot. And she does it all while still looking recognisably like an older Matilda, look:

I’ve never simultaneously felt  so old and so proud of an imaginary sibling.

Today on the internet: debt, pensions and clothes-swapping

What I’ve been reading today:

I was a little surprised to wake up this morning to a small news item on the Today programme about Medway CAB in Kent teaming up with legal loan shark Wonga to run a survey on debt. Carl Packman at Though Cowards Flinch has a good summary of the online response, including his own New Statesman piece on the worrying extent of Wonga’s efforts to detoxify their brand.

Video of the day:

The 68 is too late campaign have a short simple video on why they oppose the Government’s pension changes – worth a watch, and don’t forget to sign the petition.

And finally – the coolest thing I’ve seen on the internet today:

Stolen from today’s Emerald Street email – a blog in which couples are photographed wearing each other’s clothes. Weirdly adorable.

Messing about with Storify

This week my new toy is Storify, a tool for searching out items from the social web – tweets, Facebook updates, Flickr photos, YouTube vids and more – and assembling them as a story. It seems to me the logical next step from Posterous and Tumblr – rather than just whacking up a single link or a copy of something you’ve seen elsewhere, you can seek out shared media on a specific issue and use it to create a coherent article.

It’s currently invite-0nly (invites are dead easy to get old of though, just enter your email address here) and in beta, which means that I’ve got slightly addicted to the feedback forum where you can suggest changes and improvements, and find out what changes are already planned. I don’t have an iPad but the drag-and-drop style of Storify is going to suit an iPad app beautifully.

So what to use it for? I’ve made two so far – on Sunday I put together a review/video collection of Friday night’s Elbow gig at the MEN, and this morning I used it to put together some thoughts on how to use social media for Labour campaigns (please feel free to suggest changes or additions to this. Oh, and a warning: it contains lots of Kevin), for some training I’m doing this evening. I’m going to be using the latter as the basis of a presentation of sorts, so we’ll see how well it works for that.

I’ve also considered it might be useful for:

– putting together a briefing on the social media response to a particular campaign/event/issue (basically, I’m always looking for an excuse to go on at my boss about Twitter :p)

– demonstrating an interesting or entertaining Twitter conversation (more effective than tweeting ‘OMG everyone look at @johannhari101 and @caitlinmoran’s last few tweets to each other, and almost as quick)

– creating a how-to guide: particularly if you’ve got videos available. I’m thinking I might do this if we ever start #mobmonday off again.

My Elbow story has gone down well mostly with other people who were also at the gig – including some of the people whose tweets I’d used: when you publish your story, Storify gives you the option of tweeting it at everyone whose tweets were included, which is an effective way of getting your story seen by people outside your own social network, as well as just being  polite 🙂

With both stories I’ve created so far, I was searching among a very limited number of social media items – in the Elbow story, I was searching for tweets, pictures and videos created on a single evening by people who actually attended the gig. So I’d be interested to see what could be made of an event with much more material available.

The obvious example there is the protest march on Saturday. Hundreds of thousands of people, vast numbers of whom are very engaged with social media – and many of whom had wildly different experiences of the day. I spent Saturday marching with a small group of friends, somewhere near the middle of the march, unable to see much (I’m 5’1.8″…) but definitely out of trouble; my housemate was right at the front for the speeches in Hyde Park; and of course I also have some people in my social networks who were part of the occupation of Fortnum & Mason’s. You can imagine how difficult it would be to collate tweets, pictures and videos into a story that represented the full range of experiences of an event as massive as Saturday – and how easy it would be to cherry-pick the bits that matched your own angle.

I haven’t seen any Storify articles that try to cover Saturday properly – the only one I’ve seen that related to it at all was by Greg Stekelman, who just used it to show a collection of his own tweets (and a photoshopped picture of Ed Miliband as a puppy. N’awwwww) – so if you have, let me know. Either way, if you’ve not got an invite yet, sign up!