Directors' blog

Links, thoughts and updates from the directors of Dim Sum Digital.

Archive for the ‘online’ tag

How can hyperlocals and the mainstream media work better together?


In some areas a thorny issue and one I’ve been asked to help explore at Saturday’s London Neighbourhoods Online Unconference.

This event will be the first opportunity that many community sites and blogs from across the capital have had to meet offline and get together to explore issues of mutual concern.

But of course many of their issues will be repeated up and down the country too.

So I’m asking hyperlocal site owners, community news publishers and neighbourhood bloggers, wherever you are – what issues do you have with mainstream media? How would you like to see things move forward?

You’re welcome to help with some input into this session even if you’re not going to be present (or London-based) by letting me know here.

I will also update this blog after the event to share what comes out from the session with you.

Topics I’m thinking about that might be of interest so far are;

  • How newspapers are structured i.e. who to contact and how.
  • What happens when things go wrong, how complaints are dealt with.
  • Copyright and linking. Good practice and things to take into account.

Looking back at the live blog I was involved in at the, TAL unconference in Leeds in April, the session on big media was dominated by questions around content payment and problems with the lifting of content. Are those still big issues for you?

Please do let me know what you think and feel free to share any experiences in this area.

Written by sarahhartley

September 23rd, 2010 at 6:30 pm

How Do Awards 2010 – the winners

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Unfortunate timings might have put the annual north west awards ceremony up against the Leaders’ Debate but, thanks to the wonders of twitter, the ‘ow dos became a second must-have back channel event last night.

Several hundred of the region’s most influential media and creative industries folk attended the awards dinner with around 75 companies shortlisted for the 14 awards.

Congratulations to all those who walked away with awards – the Best Media Website ( and Best Newspaper (Crains Manchester Business and the Westmorland Gazette) particularly caught my eye but the full list of winners can be found here.

Written by sarahhartley

April 30th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

What impact has social media had? I asked……


At various locations in recent months I’ve been stalking online experts with my trusty Flip and asking them one question: How has social media impacted on The Media?

And here, in this short video, is what they said. Many thanks to Mercedes Bunz, Christian Payne, John Popham, Laura Oliver and Paul Bradshaw.


Written by sarahhartley

December 16th, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Join me at 1pm for questions about online journalism


Later today I shall be joining a live Q&A session about online journalism at the Guardian’s careers website.

It starts at 1pm and we’ve put a few hours aside to offer advice to anyone starting out on a career online.

Because of the never-ending diet of stories about newspaper cuts, closures and lay-offs (in fact I nearly headlined this brief signpost “So you still want to be a journalist?”) many people seem to think it’s time to turn tail and look for a different (more lucrative) career.

But I hope that isn’t the case.

Being a journalist is still, imho, one of the best jobs on the planet and there are a whole raft of opportunities opening up in the world of the web.

So, less of the doom and gloom. I’m looking forward to contributing to a discussion which focuses on the future.

If you have a question for me, or one of the other panellists (see the full list here) , please do join us later.

Written by sarahhartley

August 21st, 2009 at 11:45 am

Where’s the new stuff?


Is there a lack of new online communication services coming on stream – or perhaps it’s all iPhone app related advances instead?

Following on from a conversation earlier this week I’ve been doing a bit of an audit of services I subscribe to and have come to the conclusion that there’s not much must-have new stuff that’s surfaced in the past few months.

Or maybe it’s that I’m not finding them. If s o what am I missing?

At one stage, about 18 months ago, there seemed to be something new coming on stream very day. OK, some didn’t even stick long enough to make it onto my bookmarks – anyone still doing Plurk or Brightkite? – but others were persevered with.

Updating the contacts page on this blog, I’ve now removed some listings of places I no longer find essential – but there’s very few additions.

What came in;

* Skype: Has become properly useful with my mobile and remote working patterns.

* Qik : Reliable and invaluable mo-blogging tool.

* AudioBoo: Only just added but expected to stick.

* FriendFeed: Still not an everyday, but starting to see its value, particularly as a live-blogging tool.

What went out;

* The second Twitter account I had been using for live-blogging in Manchester. All Twitter activity will now be consolidated @foodiesarah.

* Bambuser. Was in regular use until the service failed at a particularly important live-blogging moment.

* Utterli: Has been utterly pointless since the UK phone number service ceased.

* Seesmic: Wasn’t a regular haunt although, of all the above, this is one I’m keeping an open mind to have a return to.

Any recommendations or suggestions of new stuff gratefully consumed.

Written by sarahhartley

June 28th, 2009 at 11:21 am

Posted in Journalism

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Ambitious plans for BBC online in 2009


Bigger, faster and more personalised – that’s the direction the BBC news website is travelling in according to head of editorial development and multimedia journalism Pete Clifton.

Addressing students and academics at Salford University this afternoon, Mr Clifton gave a presentation to demonstrate what’s in store for online users – and for media jobseekers in the region.

He said that journalists being recruited in the future would all need to have online skills as well one other specialism, but he thought that would not seem unexpected for graduates from courses such as Salford’s journalism course.

And he said the move north would undoubtedly open new job opportunities for journalists in the region.

“The MediaCity expectation is that we will be able to work across more platforms. Online skills will be the other skill that everybody has to have,” he said.

Users of the website can expect more of social media feel to the site in the coming months. A project called Identity will open up the possibility of a passport-type registration which allows users to travel into different services and another called Spaces, which will give users their own pages.

But he assured the audience that the BBC would not become another Facebook. He said: “We want to make the site feel more social, make the activity of others obvious. We won’t be turning ourselves into a social media site, but giving more of a feel as to what others are doing on the site.”

And the site will continue to be underpinned by an improved breaking news service.
He said: “A lot of audience testing came out with the updating of stories being an issue.

“A fundamental of a successful news site is how we deal with breaking news. It has to be at the very forefront of that. They have to rely on you to do breaking news really well. Yes there’s all the polishing after that, contextualising and analysis but you have to put up the stories quickly.”

The site redesign will make it more obvious to users which stories have been updated and when, even if the running order of the pages has remained constant for an hour or so.

Some of the other developments coming up in the next year for the BBC sites include;

* Bigger video players and more profile on the front pages.

* Larger pictures and galleries which are navigated by thumbnail pictures to encourage users to stick around on the site.
* A new look for the local site which is currently being tried out in Norwich and aims to hold the news elements and local sites together better.
* Moving the management of the mobile sites into main news CMS to make uploading quicker.
* After the success of bloggers such as Robert Peston and Nick Robinson, the blogs are being redesigned, they are wider templates and we’ve learned a lot about how effective they can be about telling stories and letting people know what’s going on.
* Taking inspiration from the work carried out by the meta data team at the New York Times, BBC journalists will be expected to start putting more meta data tags around our stories. “When you start to do that you can start to do many more things automatically than we can at the moment,” said Mr Clifton.

It sounds like an ambitious lists of developments and one which has an ethos running under it which will encourage consumption of content in places other than the website – expect widgets, sharing options and embeddable video.

Written by sarahhartley

March 25th, 2009 at 8:48 pm

links for 2009-03-24

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  • The Teesdale Mercury has been publishing near my old home in the Dales since 1854 and will probably still be publishing in 2054 thanks to its hyperlocal nature, acceptance of digital technologies and independent ownership. This 100 year archive made possible thanks to a lottery grant is an example of why that deserves to be the case.
  • Some sense from Steve Yelvington on the subject of pay to view websites which signs off with: “Your online staff hates the idea and they’ll do everything they can to undermine it. Yeah, you can fire them. Why don’t you get a table saw and cut off the fingers of your right hand while you’re doing it? I’ve seen this happen time after time as newspapers consolidate print and online staffs, and the “formerly known as print” people conspire to expel the “formerly known as online” people. The result is a great leap backward. It’s self-destructive.”

Written by sarahhartley

March 24th, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Votes needed for museum project

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Do you visit museums?

If you’re like the majority of the public then then answer will be ” sometimes”.

But what is it that stops people going more often or from trying out new or different museums?

According to a Mori poll its because there’s “nothing of particlular interest to see”. A massive 41 % of those polled expressed this as their reason for not attending – but the paradox is obvious.

How can people know there’s nothing for them in the museum if they don’t know what’s there?

VOTE for this project here.

It’s the same dilemma that newspapers face when they undertake market research – how do know you don’t like the product if you’ve never tried it?

And so the Comunity as Curator project was born. We saw it as a way of using digital technologies to disrupt an online communities’ everyday search and share activity in order to expose the user to museum content they wouldn’t otherwise experience.

Since the crowdsourcing of the idea I carried out on this blog back in August, this project has caught the imagination of many.

Although quite an involved concept, applying some Web 2.0 thinking into the public engagement of museums seems to make sense to today’s online audiences.

The emails and tweets I received certainly helped shape the final bid which went forward to Manchester Beacon’s Mapping Creativity competition.

Community as Curator has now progressed to within a heartbeat of actually winning the £25k commission to see it become a reality.

And that’s why myself, and the rest of the team behind this bid, need your votes.

Have a look at the summary of the project here and see if you can give it your support. Votes are cast by clicking on the stars at the top of the page.

Alternatively, please leave a comment (you need to be registered to do this).

Whether or not museums are your passion, if you are interested in the democratisation of public institutions using digital tools, then this project could establish a model which could be applied to other areas.

So VOTE, please!

Online communities slideshow

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This slideshow is intended to give a brief introduction to online communites. It aims to explain how communities form and develop using interactive tools.

I used a couple of examples from my own experience – Manchester City and Manchester Barcamp – plus a look at some well-known cases worldwide.

The slideshow was just part of the presentation I gave to the NATO Public Affairs Conference in Lisbon last week which also included video and a blogging workshop.

Questions, comments, contributions (as ever) welcome.

Written by sarahhartley

October 5th, 2008 at 10:37 am

BT, let your Welsh people go (online)

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In rural north Wales, the arrival of broadband has been a lifeline for many. It’s transformed Tesco from being the greedy out-of-towner into a £5 delivery service for the elderly living in isolated places, it’s provided an affordable form of telecommunications for those whose relatives moved away and it continues to provide entertainment, news and information to places where even radio can be a challenge.

So when it goes wrong it’s serious.

This week it went wrong.

In a small, isolated village (which is two and a half miles on single-lane track from the nearest badly maintained B-road) download times dropped to achingly slow rates. Groceries couldn’t be ordered, emails couldn’t be received and calls couldn’t be made.

The residents got together and all agreed – ring BT. Regardless of which ISP they were with, they all require the BT line and the fault has happened before. They knew what was to blame.

When it’s gone wrong in the past, all the ISPs tell these people to ring BT – that can be after spending £40 plus on holding, transferring and generally being bounced about by ISPs seeking to pass the buck.

Calls were put in. Overseas calls centres were baffled. BT continued to insist they required the appropriate notifications from the individual ISPs. The exchange is a long way from the houses. You don’t say!

The runround continued throughout the Bank Holiday weekend.

Until, fed up with it all, an 80 something year old woman got in her car, drove half an hour plus to the nearest BT exchange and banged on the door.

Normal service is back on the way now.

Perhaps there’s a better way?

Written by sarahhartley

August 26th, 2008 at 7:53 pm

Posted in Life

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