Ten reasons why Brits love Twitter

23 01 2009

So it is official, Brits absolutely love the micro blogging (no I don’t know what that means either) service Twitter. According to online trend watchers Hitwise UK Internet traffic to Twitter has increased 10-fold over past last 12 months.
As techy gospel UK TechCrunch notes

UK Internet traffic to the website has increased by a staggering 974% over this period. Hitwise also admits that Twitter is probably even more popular than its numbers imply, as Hitwise is only measuring traffic to the main Twitter website, not access via mobile (it’s big on the iPhone, I can tell you) or third party applications like Twitterrific and Tweetdeck.

So why is this? It is obvious why Twitter is growing on the other side of The Pond

1 The Yanks invented it 2 Culturally Americans are not afraid of sharing their plans, achievements and disappointments. 3 They have just had their May 1st 1997 – a one time moment of political optimism which is made for sharing over 140 charactars.

But why then do us Brits love it so much? Well here are the results of our scientific survey of an office full of Twitter devotees

1 We did kind of invent it – Except it was called text messaging and was used on mobiles and you only shared with one person. The American never got texting the way we did so maybe Twitter is their text alternative.

2 As a nation we aren’t that demonstrative – Stiff upper lips and all that. One of the reasons why blogging isn’t as big over here is that we really don’t have that much to say. 140 charactars give us more than enough words to express ourselves.

3 Moaning about the weather – Our national pastime and with Twitter we can talk about our favourite topic with a large group of people instantly. Brilliant!

4 Celeb stalking – Ok, so I might not be too bothered about what Philip Schofield has for breakfast, but Brits do love to find out about their lives of their favourite celebs. Interesting to note that Stephen Fry now has more Twitter followers than either of the heavyweight Yanks Scoble or Calacanis.

5 Public transport – In British cities this is obviously completely shit, so what better way to let the entire world know that you are few minutes late because you have ducked into Starbucks are waiting for the non existent bus

6 We love mobiles – And those all you can eat data tariffs mean that we can happily let the world know our every move without having to worry too much about the cost

7 Queuing – Well we are used to be being a little patient, so Twitter’s consistent down time doesn’t annoy us as much as it would say the Italians.

8 No ads – Yep it is almost a public services, a bit like the BBC. We are used to that

9 Flirting – We perfected the art of the flirty text years ago. Twitter enables us to take that coy but complimentary comment to another level.

10 We are too busy to blog – Allright so our economy might be going down the toilet but most of us are still wedded to that old Brit work ethic. So while we might not have the time to blog we can def find just enough time to tweet

Anorak Publishing launches

20 11 2008

Hi all

Here’s the official word on a new start up I have put together will Paul Sorene of Anorak. There’ll be a bit more background on it tomorrow (Friday).

Top British website Anorak.co.uk re-launches, while founder announces arrival of new online publishing company

• Top UK media/politics site gets re-design
• Site owner Paul Sorene announces Anorak Publishing with three new sites in the pipeline
• Ex Shiny Media CEO, Ashley Norris, takes role as Chief Executive

Anorak, one of the UK’s longest running news and media websites, has unveiled its new re-design. The site’s owner, Paul Sorene, has also announced the formation of a new online content company – Anorak Publishing.
The brainchild of freelance journalist Sorene, anorak.co.uk has been delivering an irreverent slant on the media and politics for the best part of a decade. The re-designed website maintains Anorak’s stated mission of keeping tabs on the tabloids, but also includes revamped sections on media, strange but true, celebrity, sport and tech.
The site, which currently attracts 300,000 unique readers each month, now also boasts a crack team of freelance writers including award-winning journalist Paul Berger, Private Eye’s Ed Barrett, the voice of US satire ‘Iowahawk’ and Ollie Irish ex Editor of Stuff Magazine.
‘Anorak is one of the leading UK websites that focuses on media and politics,” says founder/editor Sorene. ‘It was very interesting how sites like Salon, Drudge and Instapundit played such an important role during the US election. Anorak is the nearest thing the UK has to those sites and with the financial markets in meltdown, an election less than a year and half away and the media in turmoil we certainly have plenty to write about.’
Sorene also announced the arrival of Anorak Publishing, which will develop a series of websites aimed at British men. ‘The new titles will keep the same anarchic spirit and high editorial values of Anorak but will focus on niches like music and sport,’ he says.
The first title to emerge from the stable is PopJunkietv.com an irreverent music website which Paul has worked on with ex Shiny Media CEO Ashley Norris.
‘PopJunkie started life as a weekly vidcast,’ explains Norris, ‘but it was always intended to develop into a fully fledged site. The site’s writers, Victoria Shortt, of award winning UK music blog Victoria’s Jukebox fame, and Sean Hannam, deliver taut irreverent and engaging copy covering old music, new bands and upcoming music technology.
Norris, who will work with Sorene on Anorak Publishing as CEO, says he has always wanted to work with the Anorak founder. ‘I think the site is on its own in British media. No other independent website covers its core topics of media, politics and celebrity in quite the same way. Paul has a unique voice.’
‘I feel confident that with anorak.co.uk as the flagship title and with the new launches that are in the pipeline Anorak Publishing can be a major player in British online media,’ says Norris.

Paul Sorene and Ashley Norris are available for quotes, interviews, Lattes etc. Please email shinyashley@googlemail.com

Could the BBC open up the iPlayer to social media/indie video?

7 11 2008

erikhuggers460There’s a very interesting interview with Eric Hugger, the Beeb’s digital tsar over at The Guardian. It is very pleasing to hear that he hasn’t entirely forsaken his web background and talking about making the iPlayer available internationally and even embracing social media.

‘He said the iPlayer should be opened up internationally, that bbc.co.uk needs to introduce more social media and that the corporation is working to develop industry standards so that content can be developed more easily for a range of different devices.’

So what does introducing more social media mean? Quite probably a few more blogs and wikis on the BBC homepages. However it did get me thinking as to quite how the BBC could atone for its previously very sniffy attitude towards social media (ie independent) content.

Imagine how cool it would be for the iPlayer to also offer access to vidcasts like Viropop, Megawhat, ChannelFlip and (cough) PopJunkieTV. It would give the Beeb an opportunity to bring new British web based content providers to a much larger audience. Maybe shows which started in bedrooms in north London could even up as BBC comissioned programmes. The start ups would love the wider distribution for their shows too.

Not only would it deliver the iPlayer loads of extra content, but it would also take away a USP of sites like Joost, BT Vision etc and strengthen the iPlayer’s position from whatever Kangaroo and Hulu offer when they launch in the UK next year.

Ok, so there may be some issues around BBC brand values and advertising strategies to be overcome, but the move would send a clear signal to the many critics who think the BBC is stifling new media innovation in the UK that the corporation is opening up to social media.

The really exciting part could be when the iPlayer emerges as software for the main home TV screen. How cool would be to have access to independent vidcasts on what will almost certainly become the de facto Internet TV standard in the UK?

Well just a thought.

The Guardian ditches old school blogging…

9 09 2008

Yep the redesign of its blogs, which is completed this evening, signals the end of the organisation using an old school blogging approach .

Firstly the paper is leaving Movable Type, which is the pro blogging software favoured by among others Huffington Post, and is now working with a new format R2.

Perhaps more importantly from a reader’s perspective, the re-designed blogs now only offer a very short intro, or to use the old media word standfirst, on the home page. To read the story users have to click through to the page.

The reason The Guardian has done this is that being less generous means more click throughs, more page views per users and subsequently more ad impressions served.

However one of the beauties of blogs is that a user can read a great deal of content without leaving the home page. In my book sites that don’t give the reader at least a third of the story are, gasp, websites rather than blogs.

Of course the Guar’s blogs will keep all the trappings associated with the format, namely opinion focussed articles, links to other stories etc, but are they blogs now? What are blogs anyhow? It’ll be interesting to see how readers respond.

IPC websites’ big rise in traffic – that’ll be the porn then

6 08 2008

A few days ago IPC announced a huge rise in traffic for some of its male focussed websites. The big story was the incredible leap in unique users for the NME which has now topped 3.5 million monthly readers. It is richly deserved given that the quality of the content on the site has improved massively in the past few months. I would love to know how much IPC has spent on the site, but I am guessing it has received then kind of budgets that its rivals, like Pitchforkmedia.com can only dream about. It will be interesting to see if NME maintains its slight lead over Pitchforkmedia over the coming months.

The other site to rise dramatically was Nuts which in a year has more than doubled its traffic. Now the magazine version of Nuts is the subject of a serious debate at the moment with Tory MPs arguing that its sets a bad example to the nation’s young men. Those MPs probably haven’t bothered to spend too much time on the website for if they did they would probably explode.

IPC is basically offering a soft porn website for underage males. I find it incredulous that a company who has such a rich pedigree in producing quality, respected magazines and the odd website,, would want to publish such trash let alone crow about how many readers it has. In case you don’t want to go there I did the research for you and if I tell you that the highlight is a Big Brother contender from last year in 30 different naked poses you’ll be able to guess how horrendous the rest of it is. Well actually there is some classy UGC in the guise of Assess my Breasts. Horrible

Now I have no issue with Nuts the mag. You pay your money and you take it home and it least it has some good reads in there. But anyone can view the website, and essentially all they are doing is ogling at naked women.

I am sure IPC has demographics which prove that the average Nuts.co.uk reader is 21 and old enough to buy a pint of Fosters, who coincidently are among the main advertisers, but I would have thought that most 21 year olds would find pornotube a little more enticing than Assess my Breasts

So well done IPC, congratulations on a great leap in traffic for Nuts. I am sure there are plenty of other porn sites doing great business too.