Jon Bounds is one of Birmingham’s most established and best-known bloggers. In this guest post, cross-posted from his own blog, he explains why he’s auctioning off that site, the reasons he started it in the first place, and the problems with the ‘hyperlocal question’.
I started Birmingham: It’s Not Shit back in the May of 2002, before there were really such things as blogs in the mainstream and the term ‘hyperlocal’ was not even a glint in an irritating theorist’s eye.
Pretty much everything that’s ever been on it, and definitely everything technical was written or created by me. I’ve had a couple of ‘columnists’ for short whiles and a couple of bits of ‘holiday cover’ but that’s all.
The site was flat, hand coded HTML until I learned of PHP and wrote a simple news updating section. Later I discovered that there wasn’t only a name for such things but software out there to do it more prettily and better.
But, it didn’t start because the media was dying, it started because the media was crap: crap at explaining why people connected emotionally with a place that—when looked at objectively—was a bit shit. Crap at self awareness, crap at understanding real life. The media has changed a little, but mostly the contents have just shifted in transit. Continue reading →
When people start out blogging they often ask what blogging platform they should use – WordPress or Blogger? Tumblr or Posterous? It’s impossible to give an answer, because the first questions should be: who is going to use it, how, and what and who for?
To illustrate how the answers to those questions can help in choosing the best platform, I decided to go through the 35 or so blogs I have created, and why I chose the platforms that they use. As more and more publishing platforms have launched, and new features added, some blogs have changed platforms, while new ones have made different choices to older ones. Continue reading →
On Friday I had quite a bit of fun with Churnalism.com, a new site from the Media Standards Trust which allows you to test how much of a particular press release has been reproduced verbatim by media outlets.
The site has an API, which got me thinking whether you might be able to ‘mash’ it with an RSS feed from Google News to check particular types of articles – and what ‘signals’ you might use to choose those articles.
Jon Bounds surely has the claim to the most memorable title of a hyperlocal blog. Birmingham: It’s Not Shit (“Mildly sarcastic since 2002″) is a legend of the local and national blogging scene in which Jon has been a pioneer. In the latest of my ‘Hyperlocal Voices’ series, he describes the history of the site:
Who were the people behind BiNS, and what were their backgrounds before setting it up?
There was, and to a large extent still is, just me Jon Bounds. Although I’ve now got a couple of ‘columnists’ and feel that there are people around that I can call on to let me have a break.
I’ve an odd background of a Degree in Computer Science and a postgrad (CIty & Guilds) qualification in Journalism (and a brief, not entirely successful time as a freelancer on very poor music publications), but it was really working on internet design books in the late 90s that made me think about “the web” as a method of sharing.
As a kid I’d run fanzines (computer games and later football), but there were real creatives getting to grips with the web at that time and that was exciting.
What made you decide to set up the blog?
The blog part of the site came a couple of years after the site itself — which was originally a much flatter website with funny articles/video and a forum. The idea behind the site came as a direct reaction to the terribly drab view of the city that Marketing Birmingham/the Council put forward for the European City of Culture bid in 2002 — and the fact that all of the local media went unquestioningly with it.
Birmingham wasn’t – and still isn’t – a city of loft living and canalside bars, yet “organisations” only seemed comfortable with that little bit of it. To cover the bits of Brum that real people recognise and care about is still the main thrust of the site. Continue reading →
For me, it is significant that this happened at all. Normally these sorts of events are dominated by large publishers with lobbying muscle. Yet here we had a group combining hyperlocal bloggers, successful startups like Facebook, Ground Report, Global Voices and the Huffington Post, social media figures like Nick Booth and Jon Bounds, and traditional organisations like The Guardian, BBC, RSA and Ofcom. Jeff Jarvis pitched into the mix via Skype.
As for the event itself, it began the previous afternoon with a presentation from Enders Analysis, embedded below: Continue reading →