Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Tom Coates nails the David Blaine thing

by Suw on September 24, 2003

Why do the Brits hate Blaine? Let Tom tell you because I really couldn't have put it better myself.

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MSN to close all chat rooms

by Suw on September 24, 2003

The BBC and The Guardian report on MSN’s decision to close all their UK chat rooms from 14 October because they are being used by porn spammers and paedophiles.

Chat rooms in the rest of Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and most of Asia are also for the chop. Rooms elsewhere will remain open but will be either moderated by an adult or require a credit card for registration prior to use.

It appears that the journalists, the Home Office, MSN and various children’s charities think this is a good idea, which does make me wonder which planet they’re living on.

No one would disagree that child safety on the internet must be of paramount importance, but will closing MSN’s chat room have any effect on how safe children will be on 15 October? I very much doubt it. There are a huge number of other chat room hosts and the pornographers and paedophiles will simply move to another location. The children they talk to will probably also move. Net benefit = nothing.

Alternatively, there’s the risk that children who have become attached to their chat friends will actually give out mobile numbers or street addresses in order to keep in touch, because they don’t want to part company from people they see as their peers. This is a far more dangerous outcome than simply leaving the chat rooms alone.

More intelligent would be to provide better education for children, both online in the chat rooms themselves and offline at schools, so that they understand that online interactions are not the same as offline life and that basic safety rules, such as never give out your phone number, must be adhered to at all times, no matter how well you think you know someone.

Parents also need to be educated as to the risks of online life and ways to minimise them – they have a responsibility for the well being of their children and if they do not adequately understand the nature and risks of online interactions then they are likely not to recognise a problem when it crops up.

By closing down their chat rooms, MSN are punishing a large number of people because of the activities of a minority instead of trying to deal with that minority effectively.

According to The Guardian, “There have been at least 26 court cases in Britain involving child abuse which have been directly linked to chatrooms.”

Call me a cynic, but that says to me that MSN are closing down the rooms not because they actually give a shit about child safety but because they’re afraid of being named in a court case and possibly sued. If they were really all that worried, they would tackle the problem properly not just storm off with their ball because they’re afraid someone else is going to kick it through a window.

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On the job front

by Suw on September 24, 2003

I sent my CV off to another eight agencies today, one of which actually had a job for me to apply for – a web project manager position in Leeds which would do me quite nicely. So fingers crossed.

I am, however, a teensy bit worried – most of the agents I’ve spoken to have told me that the new media market’s still rather sluggish and that they’re not getting in many jobs in the cities I want to move to. I’m not really surprised by this, but it’s rather disheartening nevertheless.

So, I’m thinking about resurrecting my career (if that’s not too strong a term to describe it) as a journalist. I’ve been looking at a short online course that I might do just to get me back into the swing of it. Not that I think my writing needs that much brushing up, as I’ve been writing professionally almost constantly for the last three or four years, one way or another. No, what I really need to get my head round is how to actually sell my work and get the money in.

When I was a freelance music journalist, I managed to get work from three rags, including the Melody Maker, but I never got quite enough money in to pay the bills. I started to double as a photographer whenever I could so that helped (although the Maker never did return my pics of Pulp, the bastards). But the music press seemed like a closed shop to me – you needed to be in the clique to get in the clique and I quite definitely was not.

However, what I’m thinking of now is not to pitch right back into the deep end again of having to earn enough to pay rent and stuff, but just to get a few bits and piece here and there to tide me over until I get a permanent job. Should it develop into something more solid than that, then all’s well and good, but I’d be happy to just to dip my toe in the water see what bites.

Although I wouldn’t go back to music journalism again, not even if they paid me.

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Another jaunt to Londinium

by Suw on September 24, 2003

Off to the capital tomorrow to talk to Chris Sheldon, a record producer who's worked with some rather big bands. Spent half an hour chatting to him this evening and he's invited me up to the studio to watch him work tomorrow. Once this is done, that will be all my research for SP2 completed. Already, my head is starting to seethe with ideas for new scenes to add in. Which is in stark contrast to how I was feeling about it all yesterday.

See, sometimes, it's just a matter of talking to the right people.

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