Incredible Money Spent on Council Website

I have a post here about how Medway spent nearly £250,000 on a new council website.  Unbelievable.

As an aside, in the post I mention that most major label artists don’t spend nearly that much.  That brief comment is a result of two out of many experiences I have had in the music industry.  First, Simon Cowell’s label does well – so well that it props up Sony in many ways – that he spends cash on his artists.  The cost of those sites amount to roughly £50,000 or more, but not much more.  Second, a friend of mine is working with a really popular young band and their new and highly interactive website comes at a price tag of around £100,000.  So there you have it.

The Constantines

I just recently listened to an August 12th interview with the Constantines on CBC Radio 3.  It sounds like the band is calling it a day.  Well at least they are ‘slowing down’ in the words of the lead singer Bry Webb.  I could spend hours talking about why I feel terribly sad about this and why I think it might be the right time for the band to call it a day.  In the interest of time I won’t, however I will say that I have spent nearly 7 years listening to them and going to their gigs.  If the last memories I have of seeing the Constantines live are from SXSW 2008 then that wouldn’t be too bad.  I saw the band at least 5 times in those several days in March and even spoke to Bry on the street.  Alas, all is not lost.  Bry has a new side project called the Harbourcoats who are going to support Dan Mangan in Canada in October.

Various posts

I have had a few post over the last few days.  If you are so inclined to reading them, I have written about the amazing number of bans and regulation that San Francisco has here and I have discussed how a group of local developers have created an open source, free website for council information here.

This isn’t all that exciting, but I promise that there will be more soon.

Crafts in London

crafts, letterpress

As an American in London I often find that cultural differences vastly outweigh cultural similarities.  Yes, we speak the same language, but in only a vague and superficial way.  Would anyone in the US call an Ivy League graduate clever to mean smart?  No, but perhaps an Ivy League graduate who solves a NYT Saturday crossword is really clever indeed.

One of the most difficult differences for me living here in the UK is the complete lack of quality paper and cards.  Yes, we do have Paperchase, but would you really call them quality?  Where is my Paper Source or the vast array of letterpress stores like Greenwich or Gus & Ruby?  They are not to be found and neither are crafts stores or decent scrap booking.

With the advent of Etsy came an absolute boom in the interest of crafts in the US.  I think that boom may take a long time to come to the UK, but I am pleased to see two London base craft stores/centres that my friend Zoe discovered today.  First, the Make Lounge offers classes and a shop for all aspiring crafts divas.  Second, the Papered Parlour offers workshops and an exhibition space.  Both look like really great places and I am so pleased that crafting is taking off in the UK – at least a little.

Richard and Cass are back

The FT reports that a new ‘nudge unit’ has been created inside of Downing Street.  Unsurprisingly, Steve Hilton is a ‘co-chair’.  Steve is the man responsible for, among other things, a lack of user testing on the ‘big society’ concept that ultimately lead to an indecisive Tory victory.  But no matter now that he is in Downing Street.  He is back waving the favourite book of both the Obama administration and the Coalition Government – Nudge by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler.

The basic premise of the book, in case you have been hiding under a rock during both the presidential and UK government elections, is that people or society can be nudged into behaviour that is beneficial to the common good.  This is nothing new as marketing folks have been using the basic concept for ages.  Products in stores that are in need of shifting, for example, take a more visible and prominent position than other ones which may be placed higher up or lower down or in the back of the store.  Capitalist approaches to nudging does not bother me one bit, but when the government gets involved, I do start to panic that yet again the government is overstepping its bounds.  What is most insulting and completely arrogant is the very fact that the government assumes that they know best and that people or society can’t take care of themselves.  How truly shocking for a Coalition Government who are promoting their ideas of local activism and the big society.  Quite contradictory it seems to me.

Another blog attempt

In an effort to try out WordPress and to put together all things that I find interesting (and that may appeal to 1 or 2 other people) I am starting this blog.  So far the WordPress installation has been just fine and I think that there is a lot to be said for it.  I have been battling Typepad for the last few months and I have now abandoned it all together.  I could go on, but I would be the only one interested in the nuances of them both!

I will post more here later, but this is far better start than Hello World!