Surely there’s been some mistake…

Hello you lovely readers. It feels like a while since we last had a chat which didn’t revolve around me going OMG BOOKS THIS ONE IS GREAT READ IT NOW.

It is still book-related though. You looked nervous. Maybe a little concerned?[1]

So, I’ve read a lot of books recently[2]. Mostly they’ve been really good, but every now and again you get a book where some little detail jumps out at you and jars you out of the story. I’ve had a few over the years, and often wondered what to do about it.

Do I mention it in the review? Should I drop a note to the author? The publisher? Do they even care at this point? After all, the book is out in the wide world, and they’re unlikely (or indeed unable) to fix it at this point.

Case in point – I was reading a book recently which was set in London, but one of the characters came from Yorkshire. The book continued, and it transpired that the character in question came from Sandal & Agbrigg.

Whoa. That’s near where I live. Like, really near. Literally[3] around the corner from my house.

The trouble is that Sandal & Agbrigg isn’t a place. Well, it is, but it’s a train station, between Sandal and, you’ve guessed it, Agbrigg. You’d either say you lived in Sandal, or you lived in Agbrigg, but you’d never say that you’re from Sandal and Agbrigg. Sandal’s that side of the train line, Agbrigg is the other, more or less.

I can see[4] what the author has done – they’ve taken a map of Wakefield, picked a place at random and thought ‘great! A nice little suburb, that’d be perfect for this character’s backstory.’

It’s a tiny, tiny detail, and one which will only be picked up by people who know the area really well[5]. Doesn’t affect the overall story in the slightest, but jarred with me. It’s like seeing a TV show set in your city but the characters turn left down a street and end up on the wrong side of town. You can’t get *there* from *there*, it’s just not how the roads are set up. Or in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves where Robin arrives at Dover, takes a short lunchbreak and Hadrian’s Wall (boy, was he lost) then home to Nottingham in time for tea.

Worth mentioning to the author? Who can say. Thoughts welcome!

[1] Yes, this is a tortuous Princess Bride reference. You win ONE MILLION POINTS. Well done.
[2] Occupational hazard of being a #bookblogger, I guess
[3] Actually literally.
[4] Well, I can assume what they’ve done
[5] Or live literally round the corner

Stealing time

From “I Steal Time” | MORNING, COMPUTER, by Warren Ellis.

Walking in London with a friend from America who works in film. I stopped at a roundabout near Covent Garden, looked up. He asked what I was looking at. Everything, I said. It’s my practice. I take five minutes every day just for me, to look around and see where I am and be there.
It’s easy to feel like you’re living on borrowed time, and that time is running out. For five minutes a day, I like to turn the hourglass the other way. I’ve stolen six hundred hours from the countdown clock that the world would have drained away from me had I let it.

In the chaos in which we live our lives these days, with the constant pinging of notifications, the deluge of media and advertising, the constant thrum of people doing stuff, wanting stuff, needing stuff from everyone else, it’s important to stop and take a moment.

In the words of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off :

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Take a moment. Look around. What do you see?


I spotted this out of the window yesterday. Crepuscular[1] rays of sun on the Town Hall in Leeds.

town hall

Grabbed camera, took the shot. Quick tweak and upload to Flickr.

Cross-post to Twitter, bounce it up to Facebook, schedule a couple more tweets across the evening. Watch as the likes and favourites ping up. Retweets happen. People like it.

Woke up this morning a flood of emails from Flickr as the photo hits Explore. Tweet about it again. More interaction, more people like it.

Then ask myself the question. Why?

I took the photo because I like taking photos. The light was spot on[2] (and indeed was gone thirty seconds later) and I could tell it’d make a nice photo.

Why share it on Flickr?

Well, I’ve got a lot of friends on there, and I thought they’d like to see it. I like taking sunset photos, and the Town Hall looks ace.

Why Twitter? Someone commented that they’d seen the photo a *lot* on there.

Again, I’ve got friends on Twitter, some of whom live in America. They might like it too, so I’d post at different times, to give them a chance to see it.


Friends and family who live on Facebook. Surely they’d like it?

It becomes clear. It’s all about the attention. And here I am, blogging about the attention, drawing further attention to it.

So, why crave the attention? Would I go up to someone in the street and show them the photo? Pester someone in the supermarket or coffee shop?

No, of course not. But here I am, sharing it to the world at large.

It also raises the question of why blog? I’m sure we do it to amuse, entertain or even educate, but ultimately isn’t it all about showing off, even just a little? Here’s what *I* think of stuff. Here’s a nice photo *I* took.

Look at me, look at me, look at me now. Listen to what I have to say.

I’m not like that in real life, so why am I so garrulous online? There’s an advert on television at the moment which shows a guy in real life versus his online counterpart. His online self is slimmer, fitter, a better dancer. Online, we can be who we want to be, rather than who we are. I’ve written about this before.

Or are we just two sides of the same person?

Thoughts, comments, questions are, as ever, welcomed.

Are you the same online as offline? Do you blog, tweet, share photos? Why?


[1] and isn’t that a brilliant word?
[2] no pun intended

twittering vs blogging vs facebooking

I saw a question over on O’Reilly Answers entitled Twitter vs Facebook: Are Tweets Getting Quieter?, to which I tried to put together an answer. I’ve given it more thought though, which turned into this blog post. It got kind of long though…

Personally, I don’t think either Twitter or Facebook is getting quieter, but I do think that other forms of blogging, especially Livejournal, are losing traffic to both.

I’ve certainly noticed it on Livejournal, and others have mentioned it too – formerly prolific bloggers are falling away to the lure of the 140 character instant update. Instead of spending a bit of time thinking about and composing a post, it’s far easier to fire off a quick thought on Twitter.

I’m not saying it’s wrong. Some of you are also on Twitter and will know that I spend a lot of time on there. Less so Facebook, but that’s another story.

I think that Twitter does have its place in the current online social landscape. Personally, I love the stream of consciousness feel to it, and the variety of people you get posting on there who wouldn’t normally bother with more traditional blogging. It’s great to fire off a tweet with a cool link to something, or a witticism and get immediate feedback. I try and remember to post them up to LJ or here too, but not always.

However, it’s not so good for keeping up to date with everything – the Twitter stream is full and fast-flowing and not really designed for going back through more than the last hour or so’s tweets (depending on the number of people you’re following and how vocal they are, obviously). I’ve had occasions where I’ve only found out that something has happened to someone when they’ve posted on their blog wondering why no-one has commented on them being ill, for example. Turns out they tweeted about it several times, but at times where I wasn’t online, was busy doing something, or was fast asleep. Had the same person posted on their blog that something was up and I’d have been more likely to read the post as I *do* skim back a fair way when I read LJ, or blogs.

So, Twitter has it’s upside, and downside.

On to Facebook. I’m really starting to dislike Facebook. They have a rather cavalier approach to personal privacy, despite protestations that they want to keep your stuff private, and Facebook feels like it’s being taken over by the automated status update. I sorry, but I really couldn’t care less who is doing what on Farmville, Mafiawars or Bejewelled. Yes, you can turn them off, but you shouldn’t have to – I want Facebook to be *actual* updates from my friends.

Then you have the whole ‘friends’ issue. Do you accept the friend request from that guy at work who you sort-of-know but not really? Old school friends pop up and you end up saying ‘Hi! how the devil are you?’, exchange pleasantries for a couple of emails then never speak to them again.

I’m tempted to just nuke the account. But then how would my myriad of FB chums keep in touch with me? 🙂

Would I miss it? Probably, for a week or so. Then I’d get on with life as normal. Perhaps I should harvest emails of people I actually want to keep in touch with, *then* nuke the account. Hmm.

Twitter wins in one regard in that you can follow anyone, and conversely, can *stop* following anyone you’re not interested in. I wonder how many of the accounts following me on Twitter are actual people and not spammers? I assume that a lot of spam accounts end up being blocked and deleted after a while, but are there really 500+ people following my every tweet? Surely not.

Thoughts, comments, queries on a postcard, to the usual address, if you will. 🙂


You get to see a lot of tattoos at Centerparcs. Most of the time we were there last week was spent in or by the pool, and I amused myself by checking out the variety of tattoos on display.

They ranged from the tiny – butterflies, birds or flowers, to intricate and ornate scrolls and tribal symbols, right up to the full arm, leg or back. There were some stunning designs on display – one guy had a giant eagle across his back in glorious technicolour. Another had a dragon curled around his upper arm and shoulder.

There were a lot of names too – gothic script seemed popular, on the shoulder, forearm or across the shoulders. Skulls and grim reapers seemed to feature heavily too.

Now, I’ve often wondered what I’d get if I got a tattoo. But I can never think of anything that I’d particularly want on my skin in perpetuity. I’m not a football fan, so team logos are out. I’m not into any particular religion, so religious iconography is also out. I don’t like the tattoos of cheeky cartoon devils or cherubs, and can’t see the point of a cartoon character gracing my shoulder. Tribal tattoos are everywhere, and I think if you’re going to go for one of those it’d have to be a really bold statement – both arms from shoulder to wrist (I like symmetry, what can I say?)

I tried to think of what things I’m particularly into which would make a good tattoo. The Star Trek logo, perhaps? Or the Klingon three-pointed star? Stylish. But what would it say about me? Geek? Trekker?

Hmm. I really like my coffee – what about something related to that? Nothing really springs to mind, and getting the Starbucks logo emblazened across my back seems a little… corporate. How about a subtle coffee bean somewhere inconspicuous?

Maybe not.

Then sometimes I see tattoos like that of my friend Alex:

Which just suits her down to a T. It reads Curiosity > Enthusiasm > Action, in case it’s not clear.

So, dear reader. Do *you* have any tattoos? Do you want one but don’t have one yet? What graces your skin? And what, if anything, do you think would suit me?

Answers on a postcard, to the usual address…


out of interest, does anyone know how fast you dream?

Say you have a five-minute (subjective time) dream – does this take five actual minutes, or (as I suspect) does it happen at an accelerated rate?

The reason I ask is that I’ve noticed over the years that I manage to incorporate external stuff like the alarm going off into my dreams – this morning, for example, I was faced with a keypad, and on pressing the first key, the alarm clock beeped – I’m assuming it was the first beep as I usually wake up immediately on it going off.

So, either my body clock had attuned itself to know *exactly* when the alarm was due to go off (not impossible, as it goes off at the same time for several mornings on the trot, and only gets changed once or twice a week), or the dream was happening at such a rate that I’d built the keypad sequence and me pressing the key as my brain started to process the alarm beep. Or it could have retro-fitted the last bit of dream into the alarm going off, as I was waking up.

As ever, thoughts, opinions, comments and questions onna postcard, to the usual address…