Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Porn to be Wild update

Sexperience making good Google impact – on Day 1 of new series ranking #1 of 532,000,000 on searching “sex education” (where it has resided since the last series in Sept 08) and #2 of 731,000,000 on searching “sex”!

In search of Sex Education

In search of Sex Education

Searching for Sex

Searching for Sex

Update 7.iv.09:

Nice piece in Broadcast about this today

Porn to be Wild

Anna Richardson vs Porn

Anna Richardson vs Porn

With headlines like “Porn Scandal Minister Faces Axe” in the press yesterday (they have a Minister for everything these days), what a great day to launch the next phase of Sexperience which accompanies the new series of The Sex Education Show: The Sex Education Show vs Porn.

The Sun ran a double page centrespread as only the Sun can – an outraged “Pornification of Our Kids” headline, bridling at the impact of porn on teens, laid over the torso of a stunna in black lace bra and panties, head cropped off not that any objectification was going on.

The site, updated for the new series, got off to a cracking start with

  • 414,000 pageviews in the first 3 hours!
  • 60,000 visits in those 3 hours
  • over 1,000 questions submitted by users in the same period

The Sex Education Show continues this evening at 9pm on Channel 4.

Pornification

Pornification

I got biorhythm

bafta awardThe old biorhythms seem to be zinging a bit this week. Nice Kiss & Tell piece in the Guardian yesterday about a new commercially-oriented dimension to my work, to complement the public service projects I mainly commission at C4. Hot Cherry are a cool outfit when it comes to getting the dirty job done in digital PR and marketing.

And the day got off to a fine start with a TV BAFTA Nomination for Embarrassing Bodies Online for the one&only interactive category – imaginatively entitled Interactivity. The other nominations are all BBC, but our odds have improved. Last year little old Big Art Mob was up against iPlayer which cost more in millions than BAM cost in thousands. This year we’re only up against Olympics 08. And Merlin. Let’s see if they can spot real magic…

Fragile

Natasha Richardson and her mother Vanessa Redgrave
Natasha Richardson and her mother Vanessa Redgrave

Delicate beauty

Watching the Six Nations rugby this weekend (the Ireland victory sporting theatre at its best) I couldn’t help seeing the incidents when players’ heads hit the ground (that happened in both the England and Ireland matches, with stretchers sent into action) in a new light, with a frisson emanating from our fragility. Our fragility as spotlighted by the genuinely sad news of Natasha Richardson’s accident and her rapid decline over just half a week.

I only encountered Natasha once, at a recent party of the old friend of mine who I met my wife through. The party was appropriately theatrical, with the historical venue done out like Mandalay (complete with Mrs Danvers), and Natasha appeared in a glittery outfit fitting the surroundings and her star quality. She looked fabulous.

Her poor husband Liam Neeson I’ve also only met once. It was in sad circumstances too. It was at the memorial for another old friend, actor John Keegan, at the Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn. I was introduced to Liam by Adie Dunbar. We had a ridiculous conversation about Dundalk and I found myself talking about the Four Lanterns take-away when what I actually wanted to say was “Liam, I think you did a cracking job with Oskar Schindler.” (It was the reverse of an encounter I had with Ralph Fiennes in the bar at the Almeida where I had the opportunity to say “Ralph/Rafe/whatever you call yourself, I think you did a cracking job with Amon Goeth” – and did.)

What can you take from a tragedy like this? To enjoy each and every day. To cherish the simple pleasures. To be conscious of everything you have, every privilege and happiness.

Watching the first episode of the new series of The Secret Millionaire last night, featuring ex-Rover boss Kevin Morley, you couldn’t help but detect that Kevin’s journey into the dark heart of Hackney has brought him back in touch with what really matters – he came to recognise the true value of his home and family, clearly regretting that his children’s growing up had passed him by while he was in the office. The one thing that seemed to escape him was that things like his collection of sports cars, which he showed off at the beginning of the programme with reference to shiny little models in a cabinet, come at a cost – beyond the readies he shelled out. Someone, somewhere pays for it ultimately. It could be a homeless person in Hackney. Or a starving family in southern Africa. Someone, somewhere always pays.

As Liam Neeson wakes his beloved wife and comforts their children none of the Hollywood glitz adds up to much. As my Irish mother-in-law always says (not a million miles from Liam’s home town of Ballymena): your health’s your wealth. Gandhi, much though I admire him, was more long-winded than Mrs Murphy: “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”

This morning I was involved in launching the government’s new White Paper on informal adult learning (doing a case study around Picture This and illustrating how Channel 4 brings motivation, purpose and inspiration to networked media), so with both learning and fragility in mind another Gandhi quote rounds things off: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Update 30.iii.09:

Bumped into Adie Dunbar at The Pigalle Club watching an intimate performance by Sinead O’Connor. Adie hails from Enniskillen, not a milion miles from Ballymena, and knows fellow thesps Liam and Natasha well. He underlined the great tragedy here by describing the powerful, positive energy the pair of them radiated together. In the words of the great Matt Johnson: “Love is Stronger than Death.”

In our lives we hunger for those we cannot touch.
All the thoughts unuttered and all the feelings unexpressed
Play upon our hearts like the mist upon our breath.
But, awoken by grief, our spirits speak
How could you believe that the life within the seed
That grew arms that reached
And a heart that beat
And lips that smiled
And eyes that cried
Could ever die?

Sham Rock

Happy Paddy's Day

Happy Paddy's Day

Cash Flow

So where does the cash flow?

So where does the cash flow?

When I first arrived at Channel 4 my job was Creative/Commercial Director of 4Learning. Channel 4 has always existed with that tension between public service and commercial, and I remember sitting down after the first couple of weeks, trying to reconcile that creative slash commercial, and writing down the 8 ways of making money off content slash services on the internet.

Yesterday morning (on the 20th anniversary of the day Tim Berners-Lee sent *that* memo which gave rise to the Web) I attended a very stimulating workshop at NESTA set up for the Digital Britain team (directed by Lord Carter which gave rise to a top class peer-to-peer joke) who are tasked with mapping out the way forward for the UK into the fully digital age. Among the colleagues in attendance were Charlie Leadbeater, whose critical response to the Digital Britain interim report was the springboard for the discussion; Mark Earls of Herd: How to change mass behaviour reknown; the energetic, insightful JP Rangaswami; Matt Locke, fellow commissioning editor at Channel 4; the always lively James Cherkoff; Roland Harwood and Jon Kingsbury of NESTA; Steve and Johnnie Moore; Joanne Jacobs (what is it with digital media and the scarcity of the fairer sex?); and Christian Ahlert of Open Business.

I found Charlie’s response to Digital Britain stimulating, particularly liked his categorisation of media into Enjoy, Talk and Do media (the first of these modes is usually couched in negative terms like Passive which don’t do it justice). But I felt the hole in the piece was a failure to address the lack of new business models to take over from the disrupted and digitally undermined ones. Beside a passing reference to “people who lose jobs set[ting] up microbusinesses online”, there’s very little sense of where the cash flows in this world of ‘mutual media’ or how most people make a viable living in what presumably remains a significant industry. Charlie did, however, address this issue early in our discussions yesterday. In this context, JP drew attention to Kevin Kelly’s illuminating blogpost Better Than Free which lists 8 ways to make money in the digital world. In super-brief, these are a set of “generative values” – qualities which must be nurtured and grown, and cannot be copied or faked:

  • Immediacy
  • Personalisation
  • Interpretation
  • Authenticity
  • Accessibility
  • Embodiment
  • Patronage
  • Findability

The thing about new digital business models is that people often second-guess or idealise behaviour when they’re trying to conceive them. I remember sitting in a meeting at Intellect in Russell Square in the early days of the Broadband Stakeholders’ Group and having at one point to ask people round a big table, as they blathered on about subscription and Pay-per-View: Who here has parted with actual cash money for digital content in the last month? And the answer, needless to say, was next to no-one.

So by way of experiment to test Kelly’s ideas and get a feel for how cash flows in the brave new digital age I thought I’d try to note down for a typical quarter what I spend on products and services from within the realms of digital content and networked digital services (i.e. media and communications). I won’t bother listing stuff like regular monthly bandwidth or mobile account (only where that’s over and above the routine). So here we go, starting now… (14.iii.09 17:30 gmt):

Date Purchase Amount

14.iii.09 iTunes Track of the Week Big fat zero, honey (nor is it worth anything much)

18.iii.09 2GB of extra bandwidth (cos of having to watch loads of Embarrassing Bodies off-line edit videos for work) £2.92

22.iii.09 2 x iTunes tracks for Mother’s Day mixtape £1.58

21.iv.09 Domain name renewal £12 (actually on behalf of Channel 4 on expenses)

The Low Life

In the week we learn that Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary’s proposition to charge people a pound for using the toilet on Ryanair planes is not meant as a joke, sick or otherwise, these new passenger instructions strike a chord…

Ryanair Passenger Memo

Ryanair - The low life airline

Adoption and celebs

Jane Fonda (adopter)

Jane Fonda (adopter)

I’m a little way into a web project about Adoption and during the research phase I needed to put together a list of famousfolk who were adopted , have adopted or have anything to do with the adoption of children. I called on my new media colleagues at Channel 4 to help compile the list and within an hour we had a pretty substantial roster, with dribs and drabs flowing into the pool of collective knowledge for the next day or two. As the information doesn’t seem to exist comprehensively on the Web I thought I’d publish it here for the future use of whoever may need it for whatever reason. But they can put it in alphabetical order themselves ;-)

Ewan McGregor (adopter)
Michael Winterbottom (adopter)
Kate Adie (adopter)
Kirsty Alley (adopter)
Mia Farrow & Woody Allen (adopters)
Jamie Leigh Curtis (adopter)
Emma Thompson (adopter)
Hugh Jackman  (adopter)
Steven Spielberg  (adopter)
Sheryl Crow  (adopter)
Nicole Ritchie (adopted)
Ian Wright (adopter) and Shaun Wright-Phillips (adopted)
Jamie Foxx (adopted)
Julie Andrews (adopter)
Pete Turner from Elbow
Oona King (adopter)
Michelle Pfeiffer
Fatima Whitbread
Buffy Sainte-Marie
Debbie Harry
D.M.C.
Jesse Jackson
Lee Majors
Nelson Mandela
President Gerald Ford
President Bill Clinton
Priscilla Presley
Ray Liotta
Steve Jobs
David Crosby (birth parent)
Joni Mitchell (birth parent)
Roseanne Barr (birth parent)
Billy Bob Thornton (adopter)
Brooke Adams (adopter)
Burt Reynolds (adopter)
Calista Flockhart (adopter)
Charles Bronson (adopter)
Diane Keaton (adopter)
Dianne Wiest (adopter)
George Lucas (adopter)
Isabella Rossellini (adopter)
Jane Fonda (adopter)
Kate Capshaw (adopter)
Kris Kristofferson (adopter)
Mercedes Ruehl (adopter)
Michelle Pfeiffer (adopter)
Stephen Spielberg (adopter)
Ted Danson (adopter)
Roman Abramovich
Rhona Cameron
Ice-T
Wendy James
Derek Jameson
Willie Nelson
Robert Newman
David J.Pelzer
Vanessa-Mae
Mordechai Vanunu
Ruth Westheimer
Samantha Morton
Sharon & Ozzy Osbourne
Clare Grogan (adopter)
Bruce Oldfield (?)
Anna Ryder Richardson (adopter and adoptee)
Chris Colquhoun
Toby Anstis (adopted)
Madonna (adopter)
Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt (adopters)
Nicky Campbell (adopted)
Dawn French & Lenny Henry (adopters)
Callista Flockart (adopters)
Sinitta (adopter)
Lynda LaPlante (adopter)
One of the Milliband bros (adopter)
Sharon Stone (adopter)
Meg Ryan (adopter)
Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman (adopters)

Feel free to add more via Comments for completeness and the greater good.

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