Media technology

About Blogging Well

With the release of the Law Commission report focussing on blogging and whether or not bloggers are media, as is usual there is a certain amount of deus ex machina that an article about “blogging well” appeared in my feed reader.

Technology writer Dan Frommer  proposes 10 rules for better blogging, which match pretty closely to exactly what the Law Commission are talking about and the direction I have been moving this blog in over the past year.

Dan posts his rules as a reference but also to remind him to try to adhere to them. I will re-post them here too, and see if I can do the same as I think sum up where my thinking is at with the direction the blog needs to take:

  1. Above all else, factual accuracy and attention to detail. That’s the easiest and best way to build and maintain trust over the long-term. If a fact is wrong, fix it and don’t be shy about it. If an opinion or prediction is wrong, learn from it and consider explaining how you got it wrong.
  2. Write the site that you want to read. That covers story selection, length, frequency, style, vocabulary, attitude, humor, level of sensationalism, and more. Don’t publish anything you’re not proud of. Be yourself.
  3. Be more skeptical. Companies and people have no interest in telling any side of the story but their own. Often, that side is flawed, invalid, or incorrect. Let someone else be the gullible one who looks silly later: Always question everything. (But don’t let it turn you into too much of a conspiracy theorist.)
  4. Attribute well — the way you’d want to be attributed. Use names, link prominently, never plagiarize. Quote or paraphrase the part of an article that you need to make your point, but always with the goal of sending readers to the original site for the full story. (Some credit here to Henry Blodget, for Business Insider’s original excerpting policy in 2009. And to John Gruber, whose attribution activism is good for the web.) Aim to become as big of a traffic referrer as you possibly can — not only is that good policy, but it’s a great business asset.
  5. Add context. Don’t assume people know what you’re talking about, especially if it’s obscure or technical. That doesn’t mean you need to rewrite five paragraphs of back-story for every new update to a news story — that’s usually a waste of time. But at least make sure that a good explanation of what’s going on is a click or two away.
  6. Be critical, but don’t be unfair. You’re not a jerk in person. Don’t be one on the Internet. (Unless it’s funny, of course.)
  7. Care about your writing. Spell things correctly. Write clearly. Avoid jargon or meaningless business-speak. Learn how to use apostrophes. It really is a reflection of quality.
  8. Care about your design. Don’t make your site more complicated than it needs to be. Like editing text, you can often improve design by deleting. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have photos and illustrations, just make sure they’re adding to the experience. Try to keep load times as short as possible, and note that many readers may be using mobile devices (and slow connections) to access your site. Make the right tradeoffs between revenue, flashiness, and clutter.
  9. Don’t be the 10th person to write the same thing. Say something that everyone else will wish they’d thought of. It takes longer, and it’s harder, but it’s worth it. When someone beats you to it, share their work if you love it — then they’ll want to share yours.
  10. Try new things, all the time. Especially those that are a little outside your comfort zone. This is the Internet — don’t act like you’re writing for Time Magazine in the 80s. Stories can be pictures, charts, lengthy essays, numbered lists, or 140 characters. Measure how your experiments do, and take the results into account for the future.

Political Bloggers Survey

As you are all members of the NZ Bloggers Union I implore you to particpate in the Political Bloggers Survey.

You are invited to complete the New Zealand Political Blog Readers’ Survey for 2010. This survey is being conducted as a follow up to the 2008 survey which was conducted by Andrew Cushen as part of his Master of Arts in Political Studies from the University of Auckland.

The original survey provided an amazing amount of data about who reads New Zealand political blogs and their thoughts on the medium and its potential. This survey is designed to gain further insights into New Zealand political blogging to inform academic articles and presentations.

If you wish to complete this survey, please follow this link:

We would appreciate receiving your response by Sunday, 19th December.

Anatomy of a failed leak, coup, smear

Ok it has taken me almost a week from the first contact to today to piece together a time line of a clever, but not so clever attempt to manipulate, bloggers, media and the ACT party into achieve the aims of a rogue staffer.

The reason I am posting these details is because I am really very angry at the attempt to use me to orchestrate a political outcome within a party.

There is a great deal of muck flying around and some of the documents I have been leaked have also been leaked to other media sources.

On Tuesday after Roy’s reverse coup and set up had failed my inbox  was alight with rumours, innuendo and in particular emails from two anonymous email addresses who attached various documents.

Those two emails were [email protected] and TMO’s Call <[email protected]>. At the stage I received the emails I had no idea who they came from but the documents attached were supposed to leave me with the impression that Rodney Hide was a huge bully and that somehow Heather Roy was being treated appallingly, along with the impression that a good mate of mine was involved with leaking classified documents to other bloggers.  However after I smelled a rat and declined to publish the documents I sought and gained an interview with Rodney Hide.

It is now that I can piece together a rather strange sequence of events, emails, phone conversations and documents that show the real story of the failed leak-gate that was supposed to take out Wayne Mapp, Rodney Hide and various other ACT staffers and members.

For the record I don’t think Heather Roy is responsible for all of this, however she must be accountable because it was done in her name.

Email from first leaker

Email from first leaker

I received the above email in response to an earlier solicitation by “Kiaora Cuzzy”, where they accused me of being a “Hide lover”. I replied that based on the information I had thus far I was pretty disappointed in Rodney Hide and then this email arrived. It contained the Version 3 document that has subsequently been posted on the NZ Herald website.

Earlier I had received another anonymous email and from the content thought I knew who had sent it and so replied attaching this document for comment. Depending on the comments received I would decide whether or not it was authentic.

Email from not so anonymous emailer

Email from not so anonymous emailer

Here we have confirmation that one of my anonymous emailers is named Simon. Also that the document in question that has been leaked, not just to me but to other bloggers and to media is authentic. Note too that “Simon has also sent me a separate version.

That email contained some personal notes that are highly defamatory to the individuals named. I have spoken to each of these individuals and though they acknowledge the defamatory nature of them they think it is important for the context of the allegations to be known. They know who has made these comments as you are about find out. But before I show that email this is the one I received from “Simon” or the stage I received this the anonymous TMO’s Call. you will note that the details are strikingly similar to the powerpoint presentation published by the Herald some three days later. I received this email on the Monday before the ACT caucus had even met.

Email received by Whaleoil on Monday 16 August 2010

Email received by Whaleoil on Monday 16 August 2010

So, at that stage I was still in the dark. Then I received this email.

Confirmation of identity of TMO's Call

Confirmation of identity of TMO's Call

This was in response to my email asking for clarification on some of the details in the longer one previously. TMO’s Call has signed off his email as SEJ. SEJ are the intials of Simon Ewing-Jarvie and he is telling me that he amd Heather Roy are working together on the documents to be presented to ACT’s caucus Tuesday.

The next email I received from TMO’s Call contained a great deal more information, and almost all of it actionable.

Email from TMO's call with draft of Roy presentation

Email from TMO's call with draft of Roy presentation

TMO’s Call, again signed off this email as Simon. I refuse to publish the “Interesting Questions to ask” document and the “True Facts” document is an earlier draft of the document leaked to me minutes later by “Kiaora Cuzzy“.

What we have here is a deliberate attempt to create a story via the blogosphere and via the news media by a staffer of a Minister. This whole ACT saga appears to be nothing more than a staffer capturing utterly a Minister and then running some sort of paranoid end game to unseat leaders and ministers. The reason I am posting these emails and documents is that both Heather Roy and Simon Ewing-Jarvie are refuting any charge of leaking these documents yet as you can see they are both complicit in leaking them. If they sent them to me, they sent them to others.

I have also been lied to, and I do not take kindly to those who lie.

I spent some time this afternoon with Rodney Hide in an attempt to get his side of the story and to provide some context for the apparently damaging documents leaked by “Simon” and “SEJ”. What I can now say is that from all of my information that I have gathered, including a conversation with Nick Kearney this afternoon, Rodney Hide has acted in a manner appropriate to the situation. Given that I have now learned that Simon Ewing-jarvie, has never had, and never will get SIS clearance it seems remarkable that he was allowed to so utterly influence a Minister. I have had confirmation from other sources that Simon Ewing-Jarvie was marched from the parliamentary precinct and has indeed had all access, oral, written or otherwise revoke immediately. This person has attempted to hoodwink a great many people, including me, other media and unfortunately has hoodwinked the Labour Party as well.

To use his own handle it’s now the “TMO’s Call“. I’m pretty certain the result will be No Try. Kiaora Cuzzy remain anonymous, but given the close circle of those with access to the documents it can only be one of about 5 people.

After spending nearly a week on this, I can say without any hesitation that Rodney Hide has acted with the utmost integrity in dealing with this essentially rogue staffer.