Sunday, October 21, 2007

Using the web to put yourself out there

********UPDATE********* has got 20% off a lite portie till the end of the month...dammit why didnt I see this when I registered lol

click here to read about it!

Ok I am going to shamelessly punt a website now:

Today I got my first freelance job....

How you may ask?

I created an account on and paid R450 for a 6-month "lite" subscription (I still need to upload a portfolio though).

Lo and behold a week later a guy gives me a call and wants me to do a job for him which I can earn enough to pay off that R450 bucks and page a tidy profit!

Yay for me!

Freelancentral also has categories for writers and photographers and for just R450 for 6 months (I have already gotten 36 profile views and 1 job in the week my account has been live!) you can get enough cash to pay that back and then some! - give it whirl, put yourselves out there!!

punt over!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Opera: First impressions

So last night I had a rush of blood to the head and decided to download Opera- the web browser.

I am an avid fan of Firefox and last night I came to see why....

Opera was cool but there were key things which I found annoying different. For one thing everything was in a different place, from the refresh button to the load bar. Now I know you can get skins and all sorts to jazz up the look of the browser but for first time users like me there wasn't much I could relate with to make me actually want to move from Firefox. You can also supposedly customise Opera a lot...damned if I could see how though...maybe I was being stupid...

One other annoying thing was the fact that when you mouse over a link (say, in YouTube) it doesn't give you the link's title only the link's web address which can be really long and un-informative.

Opera also has tiny toolbar buttons- just like IE and one of the many reasons I HATE IE- what is up with that? I like to be able to find everything with my peripherally vision and not have to hunt out the damn thing to click on it- again, this could be solved with a skin? I am not inspired enough to try it!

The way the tabs are handled are also strange and quirky- for example there are above the address bar rather than below it which pisses me off having just used FireFox. It seems so much more sensible to have the tabs closest to the main window...I mean you are viewing everything there! Maybe there is a Firefox skin for Opera! lol!

When opening a new tab the tab says "blank page" for about 3 seconds before deciding to load the page you requested, that is just retarded in my mind- it makes it look like there is a lag time and lag in anyone's language is bad bad bad...especially for an online gamer like me hehe!

Other than that Opera is what it is: a browser- the "most compatible" browser out there.

It didn't inspire me, blow the back of my head out or even remotely prompted me to even contemplate moving from FireFox (but I will keep it anyway cos I want to use it to test my web pages out on it hehe).

Over and out for now

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Essay for Web development intensive

Hello there friends,

Below is an essay which I had to write for my web development course:

The topic was: "Define Web 2.0"

Let me know what you think! :-)

There is no clear agreement on the true meaning and definition of what the term Web 2.0 means for the internet and those who use it- this became patently clear in the research phase of this essay. In light of this it is prudent to evaluate the different meanings for the term which have been put forward. This, with the end of looking at the so-called Web 2.0 applications which have changed the way we are using the internet, can then bring us closer to understanding what Web 1.0 was and therefore what Web 2.0 is and ultimately what implications this has for journalists and the news media in general.

The term Web 2.0 was first popularised by Tim O’ Reilly at a conference in which the concept of a new web was brought up in a brainstorming session between O’Reilly and MediaLive International (Tim O’Reilly: 2005). The context in which this conference took place was the aftermath of the bursting of the “dot-com bubble” an event which O’Reilly calls “a turning point for the web” (Tim O’ Reilly: 2005). O’ Reilly went on to clarify this concept by stating that “the companies that had survived the collapse seemed to have some things in common. Could it be that the dot-com collapse marked some kind of turning point for the web, such that a call to action such as ‘Web 2.0’ might make sense?” Indeed, this notion of a turning point for the web is put forward in several definitions of Web 2.0. Francis Pisani, writing in the winter 2006 edition of the Nieman Report, describes Web 2.0 thus: “Web 2.0 is a catch phrase created after the dot-com crash to capture the dynamic capabilities and vision of the web when many had lost hope in its potential” (Francis Pisani: 2006). Wikipedia, an online participatory encyclopaedia and which arguably embodies what Web 2.0 stands for, goes further in its definition by commenting on the term itself: “Web 2.0 hints at an improved form of the World Wide Web. Technologies such as weblogs, social bookmarking, wikis, podcasts, RSS feeds (and other forms of many-to-many publishing), social software, web application programming interfaces (APIs), and online web services such as eBay and Gmail provide a significant enhancement over read-only websites.” The debate around the definition of the term Web 2.0 and its relevance has been centred on these aforementioned so-called new “technologies”, with some detractors to the use of the term Web 2.0 pointing out that these technologies were, in fact, not new at all but very much part of the “old” World Wide Web.

One notable detractor to the concept of Web 2.0 is Tim Berners-Lee who is widely credited with having invented the World Wide Web as we know it today (Gavin Clark: 2006). In an article for The Register ( by Gavin Clark, Berners-Lee is quoted from an interview he did for an IBM developerWorks pod cast as saying that the term Web 2.0 is “useless jargon nobody can explain and a set of technology that tries to achieve exactly the same thing as ‘Web 1.0’” (Gavin Clark:2005). This after the pod cast interviewer had, according to Clark (2005), “categorized Web 1.0 as connected computers and making information available and Web 2.0 as connecting people and facilitating new kinds of collaboration.” Berners-Lee bases this argument on the fact that “Web 2.0 relies on technologies that have been around for years” (Clark: 2005). Berners-Lee goes on to state that “Web 2.0 owes its existence to software and development methodologies already established in open source” (Clark: 2005) and these were pioneered during Web 1.0.

The argument put forward by Berners-Lee highlights the important fact that Web 2.0 is built on a base provided by Web 1.0. This is not dismissed by Tim O’Reilly (2005) in his explanatory paper on Web 2.0 and, in fact, O’Reilly goes to great pains to acknowledge this aspect of Web 2.0. When stating that Web 2.0 is a platform, he goes on to point out, “yet that was also a rallying cry of Web 1.0 darling Netscape, which went down in flames after a heated battle with Microsoft” (O’Reilly 2005). O’Reilly then brings Berners-Lee’s argument into his justification for Web 2.0 by stating that Web 1.0 pioneers such as Netscape “provided useful contrasts because later entrants have taken their solution to the same problem even further, understanding something deeper about the nature of the new platform” (O’Reilly: 1995). Thus O’Reilly acknowledges that the problems and challenges faced during Web 1.0 are the same as in Web 2.0 but that the power and use of the Web has shifted thus prompting changing approaches to solving the challenges faced by both the old and new platforms. However, O’Reilly does stress that there are marked differences between the way technologies used Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 operated, hence, while on the surface it may appear that Berners-Lee’s argument trumps O’Reilly’s, the similarities in technology used between the two platforms may be strong but the way in which they are implemented is markedly different.

O’Reilly highlights several key aspects which make up Web 2.0 strategies. These are the concepts of: the Web as a platform, the use of user generated tags instead of site driven taxonomy thus creating the concept of folksonomy, the user as a contributor- which ties into the concept of the user being trusted to contribute in a meaningful way, radical decentralization of information and file sharing and an overall richer user experience (O’Reilly: 2005).

In the instance of the Web as a platform, O’Reilly compares Netscape with Google in that Netscape sought to compel users to use their software when browsing the internet this tying the user in and creating loyalty through software updates and so on. This pitted Netscape against Microsoft which sparked the infamous “browser wars” of the ‘90s. Conversely, Google is fully service orientated with no software required for users to be able to benefit thus making it more dynamic than Netscape and able to innovate easier and give the user an enhanced web experience.

Another example of a site which implements Web 2.0 strategies, according to O’Reilly (2005) is O’Reilly (2005) describes Wikipedia as a site which has created a “profound change in the dynamics of content creation”. This is done through allowing the users to generate the content and create, edit and check encyclopaedia entries with minimal moderation from the site itself thus implementing the “radical trust” element of Web 2.0. This concept also ties into, as O’Reilly (2005) puts it, “the wisdom of crowds” where the users effectively moderate themselves and exchange ideas freely. Another aspect of this “collective wisdom” can be seen in the “blogosphere”, the network of weblogs which reach out to bloggers and non-bloggers alike through RSS feeds, which allow users to subscribe to their favourite blogs and search engines alike which can not only search for keywords within the text of a blog but also the tags which the blog author has chosen to associate with each post.

O’Reilly also points out that tagging is also implemented with great success in the sites like Flikr- which deals with hosting photos and He uses Flikr as an example thus explaining that, “tagging allows for the kind of multiple, overlapping associations that the brain itself uses, rather than rigid categories…a Flikr photo of a puppy might be tagged both “puppy” and “cute”- allowing for retrieval along natural axes generated by user activity (O’Reilly”2005). Thus, according to O’Reilly (2005), the lesson which tags teach us about Web 2.0 is that the “network effects from user contributions are key to market dominance in the Web 2.0 era.”

But what implications does this have on journalism? Francis Pisani (2006) points out that people are now offered a myriad of views on the world through the World Wide Web and this is beginning to overshadow “what journalists have to offer.” Pisani (2006) expands on this by stating that “tomorrow’s potential readers are using the Web in ways we can hardly imagine, and if we are to remain significant to them, we need to understand how.” Pisani (2006) uses the example of search engines and RSS feeds as a means of bypassing a route which would have been set-up by editors if the information had been consumed in a more traditional context: “search engines direct readers to articles, effectively bypassing editors’ guidance and, with RSS and aggregators, users grab what they want from sources they fancy and organize them in personal spaces.” The participation of users in making and reporting the news, generally referred to as citizen journalism, is also dealt with by Pisani. Pisani (2006) espouses that, in light of the changing ways users of the World Wide Web are interacting with what is there, “a new news ecosystem has to evolve, adapted to the multifaceted participation of people who not long ago were called an audience.” Pisani (2006) goes onto state that, “although citizen journalism is still looking for viable formulas, it is clear that journalism, as Dan Gilmore likes to say, is now less of a lecture and more of a conversation.” With this being the case it can be said that there is now, more than ever, close scrutiny of the news media and media in general by media consumers. Pisani (2006) comments on this by stating, “journalists will have to learn to practice their trade with the same rigour and demanding values in a much humbler manner.”

To sum up, the term Web 2.0 is clearly still a disputed term with the main argument against it being that it is useless jargon as the technologies supposedly used by Web 2.0 are not new and existed in Web 1.0. However, this may be true but the way those technologies have been implemented and how users and interacting with each other on the World Wide Web has, without a doubt, become just as important as using it as an information resource. The very information itself has become interactive with websites like Wikipedia allowing users to create and edit encyclopaedia entries. It is therefore not so much about whether or not the technology is new but rather how it is used. This has major implications for mainstream journalism as users are now able to use the World Wide Web as a platform to share their ideas and views without going through a gate-keeper of some kind. This is also true of how news websites are viewed with a myriad of ways users can navigate to them without even needing to go through the site’s homepage.


Clark, Gavin. 2006. “Berners-Lee calls for Web 2.0 calm.” The Register. (Accessed 5 October 2007).

O’Reilly, Tim. 2005. “What is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Model for the Next Generation.” O’ (Accessed 5 October 2007).

Pisani, Francis. 2006. “Journalism and Web 2.0.” Nieman Report: Winter Issue. (Accessed 5 October 2007). Keyword: “Web 2.0”. (Accessed 5 October 2007).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My mad xhtml skills

Today we learnt a variety of skills in New Media:

For instance:

How to make a

Horizontal line

a main header

a main header

a main header

a main header

a main header

a main header

A table

Row 1 Column 1
Row 2 Column 2


So I joined Technorati...

Check out my

Technorati Profile

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New York...a summary

Ok ok, sorry about the and work happened!

I can truly say that New York was one of the best experiences of my life.

Not only is the city so great but fact that I used my own money to get there and got to spend the time with the love of my life made it perfect. It was purely my time and we did things we wanted to do when we wanted to do them!

The city of course was awesome! If there was ever a contest for the capital of the planet New York would probably win- I know I am being all gushy but I can now see how people in the US just don't have passports and don't know where places like France are...they simply don't need to leave their country!

To be fair, New York is extremely different to, say, middle America for the simple reason that its a coastal city with an enormous influx of legal and illegal immigrants from places other than Mexico and a vibrant reading culture to boot (I mention the reading culture because they have have an excellent selection of media in NY).

In terms of what we actually did: On the first full day in NY we went to the Empire State building and there discovered the City Pass which gets you into most of the main attractions for half price. This we promptly bought and it became our what-to-see-next guide for the next week.

Here is a list of most of the places we went to while in the city: Ground Zero, The Chinatown flea market, Grand Central terminal, The Rockefeller Centre, The Natural History Museum, The Met, The Guggenheim, Central Park, The Empire State Building, 2 Broadway shows- The Phantom of the Opera and Chicago, Columbus Circle shopping centre, The 24-hour Apple shop, Hell's Kitchen, The New York Central Library, Times Square, lots of bookshops, a Radio Shack and we took the Full Circle Tour of Manhattan by boat.

I have never walked so far in my life but it was worth it! ;-)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Chapter 2- NY Day 1

I gained time when I flew over the Atlantic.

When I landed at JFK airport it was 10 in the morning (after having left Paris at 8 in the morning) and as I shuffled through passport control I was immediately gripped by a profound sense of uncertainty- here I was in a strange land in a strange airport and needing to meet the love of my life without the foggiest of which terminal she will be landing at or what her flight number was....this snafu was entirely my fault as I had somehow misplaced her flight details.

Now, if anyone was to ask me to choose any airport I would like to fly into it would have to be JFK- I mean, JFK is an airport folks! 7 terminals, each as big as a shopping mall, and a sky-train which would put the Gautrain to shame (or at least it will when the Gautrain is actually built). Impressive as all of this is, it doesn't help me one jot in finding Jen.

My first order of business was to get a new sim card to use in the US...After journeying to terminal 3 looking for somewhere to buy such an item I was told by an airport employee that I might be able to find something in terminal 4.

After walking the whole way up and down the terminal I finally found an electronics shop and got myself a sim card for the princely sum of $ didn't work for reasons I still don't know!

To say I panicked at this point is frankly an understatement. How the fuck was I going to find Jen??? The answer was right in front of me: payphones. My dad was luckily in the US at the time and I managed to get through to him on his American number.

All-in-all it worked out in the end. Jen's flight from Atlanta had been delayed and she ended up landing at terminal 2...which is where I found her at.

We found each other, found our luggage, found a tax and were on the way to Manhattan in no time.

The rest of day 1 was a blur- I had slept 4 hours in the last 20 and vaguely remember shopping for various essentials, checking in at the hostel, climbing the 4 flights of stairs to our room and then heavenly sleep...oh and eating my first meal on American soil: a jumbo slice of peperoni pizza- it was delicious.

until next time!!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Chapter 1 Part 2- Joburg to Paris

Welcome back, good to see you! ;-)

So there I was, cramped and suffering on a Delta Airlines (operated by Air Fance) flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle (or however you spell his name) airport, I was more than looking forward to getting on my connecting flight and getting on my way to NY!

We land on time at Paris and we all dismebark into surprising crisp morning air. I glance at a map of the airport as I exit the jetway- its huge and I am in Terminal 2E....I need to get to terminal 2F which seems just a short walk away, easy peasy...NOT SO.

We are herded to a bus stop, no air trains here, we have to take a bus to our terminal...ok, I think how bad can this be! Well, it was Sunday so I think we got the C team of the airport staff- a crazy middle-aged French women was driving our bus and screamed at us everytime we came to a terminal in rapid-fire French. The map seemed so simple i thought as we veered left and right through the back roads of the airport, dodging luggage buggys and various pieces of discarded equipment- if the plane journey was hell, Paris airport was purgatory.

When we finally got to the terminal (I had been standing on a swerving bus for the better part of 20 minutes-lord knows how people with only a few minutes to spare manage to get to their connecting flights!) We had to take an elevator to the third floor, then walk through a maze of corridors, up stairs, down stairs, up escalators and across travelators- it struck me that whoever designed this airport probably never actually walked through it....

When i finally made it to the main departure hall I thought I had was only half-way. The main arrivals hall at Charles de Gaulle is the biggest load of wank I have ever seen. It is an empty, austere place with wooden floors and a wooden ceiling of some synthetic looking wood that towers about 5 stories above funtionality whatsoever.

Then we get to the security, bear in mind that I havent been outside of the controlled area, been screamed at by a mad French bus driver, walked 6 kilometres but actually only covered about 200 metres as the crow flies and now some French guy asks me in broken english to remove my shoes!!!!!!


I was pissed off....

Another 3 kilometres i make it to the departure gate with an hour to spare....but without any Euros I couldnt buy anything so I just sat there and waited for my flight to leave.

The flight to NY was a daylight was uneventful except for the fact we were delayed because of technical difficulties....this is always a scary thing to hear and I looked out of my window to see a gaggle of ground staff staring at out starboard engine....not good, I just fell asleep again, at least I had the seat next to me free!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The trip to New York Chapter 1 Part 1

Ok, I have decided to post all of these together or when I have time, after the fact over the next few weeks as i didnt have time last week to actually sit down and do this stuff.

Chapter 1- getting there.

I am posting this part of my trip as it was...interesting to say the least, at least for me (and besides I have some things to say about it so hey...)

Ok, so I fly from PE to Joburg which was fine....

get my luggage in Joburg and trek the 3kms through the parking garage to the International terminal...what a load of bollocks that was. When i get to the international terminal I am met with a seething mass of humanity (some of them literally seething)... there must have been at least 2000 people and their families crammed into that check-in hall. My check-in desk was number 60 something and after jostling down there I was promptly given a window seat...which i didnt realise at the time- this was the affect my trip profoundly for the next 20 hours.

So I say my goodbyes to everyone over the phone and trek 3 minutes to the departure gate...the seething mass has transplanted itself into that austere space now and we are made to stand in the line for what seemed like eternity- my feet are already sore.

Finally I get on the is full but the two seats next to me are empty ("awesome" i think) and I begin budgeting which parts of my body to place on this new found space....they close the doors and start preparing for take-off- I am elated as I think that I am in for a good, roomy flight but just as we are about to push back from the terminal two (old) smelly British people arrive and plonk themselves next to me....

The didnt get up the entire flight....not once, I was trapped.

Tune in later for the second leg of my journey..

SL has a new Editor!!!!!!!

Ok, I know this is a week late and that I haven't blogged in AGES!! AGAIN!

I saw that SL has a new editor and, because her editorial was, to be frank, disgustingly short and left certain key questions unanswered I have decided to post an open letter to her on here which I have sent off to her as well- Stay tuned for a response, if I get any.

Dear Louise

I know this is a bit late but congratulations on your appointment as the new editor of SL.

I have been reading the mag on and off for about the last 7 years and I have watched it grow, morph and, in my mind, degenerate.

When I heard that SL was getting a new editor I was thought "excellent, maybe now we are going to finally see a revamp of the magazine!" So I trundled over to the local news agent and bought myself your first was, disappointingly, the same as always but I was willing to let that slide. I mean, after all, it was your first edition and hey, since magazines usually work a month in advance (or should) it was probably a hangover from the Dixon administration.

Now, if you are still reading, maybe its because I am studying Journalism that I my comments may be seen to be over-critical but as they say in the classics "wait there is more more!"

I know that the nature of magazines is that they are aspirational- ie: Their content is aimed at a target audience but that audience does not see themselves in the magazine, rather the content is about successful, beautiful people a few years older than the reader.

This is all well and good if you take into account that a lot of high school learners read the mag- I mean, there were still students in the vox pops for example and these learners were all aspiring to go to varsity one day etc and be just like those Wits and UJ students/models you always seem to have in there.

But lately this has changed...

All of a sudden we don't have current students but ones who have graduated. Ones with jobs, ones who haven't been students for years ie: people who I can hardly relate to (I plan on studying for a while longer after my honours) and I am sure high school learners cant at all!

I never knew the "underground", counter-culture, out-of-the-mainstream versions of SL- those were a bit before my time. That ethos of being different from all the other consumerist magazines on the market has been lost to the bottom line of the balance sheet now, such is life I suppose.

I suppose my question to you is really "who are you and why are you here" seeing as you didn't answer any of those questions in your first editorial! What do you intend to do with the position you have been placed in? Will the magazine stay the same? Become worse (more consumerist) or better (more about students).

Having said this, I suppose that students are consumers and that you are catering to that gap in the market....if you read SL with this in mind it does that rather well.

But can it hurt to see vox pops from "normal" students at varsities other than UJ and Wits?
Can it hurt to have campus reporters at each varsity writing about....well...student life?

Is it a crime to want to be able to "see myself" in the content SL churns out? The theory that this kind of interaction with media is only reserved for community newspapers is bollocks in my mind.

A balance needs to be struck between the consumerist (money making side) of SL and giving what the audience, which ostentatiously is made up of students, not only content they WANT but also content they NEED! I understand that you need to make money in order to put this mag out but don't forget, you also need an audience to read the thing...don't forget them!

I hope you appreciate the responsibility of what being an editor means and that you can stand up to your publisher if you want to change anything about the magazine.

I will be watching.

Good luck and kind regards.

Peter Barlow

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

So its been a while...

Right then, so its been a while since I blogged!

Time is an issue in my life these days and no, I don't make time to blog anymore- evidently.

My life over these past few months has been pretty busy. 4th year is great but Brian turns the heat up under us regularly and so we are always kept hopping up and down from one project to the next. So far this year we have: Designed logotypes for ourselves, re-designed Sci-Cue and then laid it out in shifts for a week (I had to distribute every was fun, NOT!), learnt how to use Illustrator (VERY cool program) and designed an ad using that, endured crit sessions for our 120 page magazine cover and done audience research for them, we had a visiting lecturer, Nick Lamond, who was at Rhodes in 2000 and who is a magazine fundi of note- just returned from Australia to do his MBA at UCT- lectured to us on magazines etc for 2 days and we have just finished designing a poster for Shakespeare SA- the best poster wins cash so I am holding thumbs, next up is a poster for the Schools Fest happening here in July, also for cash whoo hoo!

Well, that doesn't sound like mush but believe me it has taken up LOTS of time over the past few months...

Other stuff I have done: House sat the VC's house...for some extra cash- doing it again for 13 days from Friday (a tidy sum coming my way), went back home for the long weekend to go and get an American Visa as Jen and I are going to NY in June! (Jen is speaking at a children's literature conference and I am meeting her after that for a week of exploring NY VERY EXCITED!)

Well, thats my past few months in a nut shell...

I am sure I have left things out but hey.

I recently bought the latest SL and saw that Natalie Dixon is leaving!! My next blog will definitely be about that...see you next time!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Here comes the new academic year

Sorry for all of you who have already gone back to varsity/are working etc- I only start on the 12th of Feb! ;-)

As the Chinese curse goes: "may you live in interesting times" and this year is sure to be interesting.

Nevertheless, I am excited, what with Captivate, 4th year, the subject I am taking to make up my half credit (the subject is not particularly exciting but finally getting that credit is!) and a few potential job opportunities which might be coming my way its looking good at the moment!

A few blogging resolutions:
1.) I am going to start talking a lot more about design and layout of publications I consume, thus making it truly into "a designer's ramblings".
2.) I am going to be posting my J4 design projects up on the blog for comment! Please feel free to do so! :-)
3.) I shall continue to use this blog to post PERSONAL opinions as we as the opinions of others (please note that this blog is my personal space and I will say just about whatever I damn well please if I believe in it- if you have a problem with what I am saying then you can comment- otherwise hold your peace)
4.) I will blog more!!!! I promise!

Peace outside!