Good reads – 07 19 10

1. The Economist on the BBC

The Beep find friends at the normally free-market Economist (no less relevant after Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has started talking about reducing the license fee), highlighting how the technological challenges public service media organizations face today haven’t made the old political ones go away.

Yes, it is a clique-ish institution, and snobbish towards outsiders. I have bumped into BBC teams on four continents, at airports or election rallies or hotel lobbies late at night after some long story, and have routinely marvelled at their incestuous, clannish manner. In terms of insiderishness, I think only a travelling hockey team from a very grand girls’ boarding school comes close.

But the outrage is out of proportion to the sins of the BBC. Take a step back, and the BBC is not broken. I would argue it is the best broadcaster in the world: and thus on the rather short list of British things that are the best in the world.

2. California’s Gubernatorial race, money (and technology) versus people?

In American field campaigns, it is usually money, technology, and people lined up against each other when serious candidates from the major parties face off. But in California, the Republican (and largely self-funding) candidate Meg Whitman may have so much more money than the Democratic candidate Jerry Brown, who in turn probably has more support from member-based interest groups and activist networks, that it actually may be money and tech versus people for once. Whitman has spent $2.7 million on her website alone, according to the Mercury News. It will be interesting to follow.

3. Editors’ weblog on charging for comments and forcing commenters to publicize their identity

Editors’ weblog have a useful piece on The Massachusetts Sun Chronicle’s decision to start charging for comments, and publicizing identities–this has created quite a stir. A couple of weeks ago, Blizzard Entertainment burned their fingers on the personal identity side of this when they tried to force users of the World of Warcraft forums to use their real names, sparking a back-lash from the community, causing the company to back down.


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