Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Back to the future...

More specifically, the future of news; a topic we've featured on this blog a couple of times this month. Following up on those posts, then, here are a couple of podcasts to download.

The BBC's ever wonderful Pods & Blogs has twice this month devoted a chunk of its weekly podcast to discussions and developments around the future of news. Most recently, this week's edition spent some time at the recent Media140 conference (on the future of real-time news) talking to folks from The Daily Telegraph and Reuters, as well as interviewing Guy Degen, who uses mobile technology and social media to enable his numerous freelance reporting endeavours.

For more on Media140 and some of the speeches and interviews just follow the link.

Going back a couple of weeks, Pods & Blogs was also at the JEEcamp unconference (JEE = Journalism Enterprise and Entrepreneurship), an event which describes itself as

an opportunity for a range of people to get together to talk about how on earth journalists and publishers can make a living from journalism in the era of free information, what the challenges are, and what we've learned so far.

An interview with JEEcamp's founder Paul Bradshaw kicked off the week's podcast, before attention was turned to the potential fate of newspaper cartoonists, Matthew Buck and Alex Hughes of The Bloghorn, the digital cartoon blog of The Professional Cartoonists' Organisation, being asked how media developments are starting to affect them and in what ways they and their colleagues are responding.

The show may still be available for download at iTunes; but if not, you can download it from this temporary link.

For more information about the JEEcamp, this article at Guardian Tech looks helpfully peppered with links.

Anyway, enjoy! (And maybe follow the show on Twitter).

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Could advertising be the new publishing?

To follow, after the video: Unwitting semi-prescience. Oversimplified economics. Early printing presses. AdBlock Plus. The April edition of Bearded magazine. Repeated use of the word 'content' as a noun. The Credit Crunch (but only in passing). Bill Hicks (ditto).

I was going through my phone the other week; apparently last May I thumbed a short note on it to the effect: "If this is an information/knowledge economy, and information is so available as to be almost worthless (assuming the traditional economic model, supply and demand, the value of scarcity, etc.), then is everything just a worthless bubble kept aloft by advertising?" I wish I could say that that was me anticipating the Credit Crunch; instead, what I then went on to note was an intention to post my ramblings here, add a link to a video of Flogos, and make some silly quip about advertising itself now being nothing more than bubbles.

Yep, looking for the cheap joke, as ever.

Nonetheless, while that post didn't make it onto here (until now), there was at least the beginnings of a point in it: the extent to which the online economy is supported by advertising (cue link to Chris Anderson) - basically, it relies on it. HEAVILY. And most of us acknowledge that.

Yet, at the same time, ask most internet users what they think about online advertising and if you don't get the full Bill Hicks rant, complete with YouTube link (NSFW), you'll be lucky to hear anything more positive than "Well, you just put up with it, don't you?" To which the answer is, of course, "No, you don't," not if you know about Firefox extensions like NoScript, Adblock Plus, or Mozilla's new experimental add-on, Jetpack, all of which are about as friendly to ads as your average Rentokil operative to an infestation of rats - and unlike rat extermination, entirely free.

But, of course, that's not the full story - online advertising certainly isn't seen by everyone as entirely akin to an unwanted infestation.

Many of us, without really even thinking about it, judge a site's legitimacy on the quality of its advertising - at the very least, if we're being told by a flashing banner that we're its lucky millionth visitor (for the third time today), we're going to be less likely to trust what it has to say than we would be if the advert came from a company rich enough to place its logo on only the best sites. And then there's viral advertising - if something entertains us, makes us laugh, or otherwise engages us in some likeable way, not only will we be happy to watch or interact with it, but we'll pass it on, post the video to our blog, sign up to its Facebook page, or even post our own imitations on YouTube.


Essentially, because that brand has done a little more than simply try to persuade us to buy something we don't really need; it's actually had the courtesy to give us something in exchange for our time and attention, even if that's only a quick chuckle, or a moment of wonder before we realise that, "Wait? No! Those sheep couldn't possibly have been trained to do that! (Although it's still kind of cool anyway)." Yes, we know that by passing on a links to a viral we're helping an ad campaign, but if the ad's done something for us it feels like a fair exchange.

To frame it another way: we don't mind adverts that are more or less equivalent to content.

That's hardly a new observation. But is there something new that can be done with it?

Here's where Bearded magazine* comes into things: specifically, an advertising space raffle on the April edition's back cover. For £10, if you won the raffle, you could place whatever you liked in that space (and somewhere online) for a whole year. What came to my mind was to use it as a cheap way to publish and publicise some of my short stories, while perhaps collaborating with an illustrator friend so that my presumptions might at the very least be enjoyable to look at.

I never got around to it, alas, but again there was the beginning of an idea there (and this is the one I've been rambling towards here): could advertisers be about to further rehabilitate the short story?

(It seems to be always either about to die or about to be saved, so I'm assuming it's basically fine and just needs a new reason to get out of bed).

In many ways, advertisers already find themselves in much the same position as the owners of the early printing presses. Not by owning the means of production, but by having become so essential to the survival of those that do own it that at least a chunk of pretty much everything that gets published - both on and offline - is determined by them. So why not use some of this chunk to actually publish something? And why not short fiction?

Imagine a one-page short story in a newspaper's weekend magazine, perhaps by a well known author, attractively illustrated, with links to more similar stories online.  It's unexpected, it's worth reading, it's not in itself an ad, and it's not so long that you'd skip over it - any fiction lover would be delighted. And moreover, what potential customer wouldn't form a positive opinion of a brand that's not only giving this away, but in the process also supporting the arts?

Or online; imagine, as a small web ad, an intriguing first couple of lines next to an arresting image, the full story (and others) free and only a click away, on Brand X's website. It's intriguing enough to check out and, once there, short enough to be read online, yet still long enough to keep a potential customer on the site; it'll be linked to, it'll be discussed, and in the process the relevant brand will be seen and engaged with.

But what can be done with the short story is mostly just the scenario that interests me - and essentially what we're talking about here is just branded content anyway. Nonetheless, if advertisers were to explore publishing genuinely creative, web-friendly, short stories in ad spaces, and generally making more use of the form, I can't help feeling that they might find that they've hit on at least one more persuasive reason for today's web users not to just zap web ads into oblivion - and with them, perhaps, inadvertently, the Web as well.

*it's about music, not beards; quite often the two happen to intertwine, though.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Truro Digital Britain Unconference: Report

I hosted what turned out to be a great discussion about the government's Digital Britain Interim Report at the Cornwall Social Media Café meeting in Truro last night.

Many thanks once again to Aren Grimshaw and Laura McKay for organising an excellent event, to Jay Cochran for sourcing an excellent venue (Vertigo bar) and to Toby Parkins and UKNetWeb for paying for the food.

As promised, I wrote up the report from the event this morning and submitted it to Kathryn Corrick, the instigator and co-ordinator of the Digital Britain Unconference series that has been taking place across the country over the past couple of weeks. Kathryn will collate it with the reports from the other events and submit them all to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).

The full text of the report I submitted is below. As time was very tight (event finished at 9.15pm last night, and deadline for submission was midday today!) and as the report had to be two sides of A4 max, plus there was some mild dispute as to the actual nature and extent of the broadband infrastructure currently available to Cornwall, plus my knowledge of networking technologies is sadly not that profound, there may be some things from last night that I have missed or slightly misinterpreted.

But I believe it accurately encapsulates the overall direction and spirit of our collective response to the Government's proposals. Please feel free to correct anything that seems to be wrong, or to add any comments. And finally, many thanks to all who participated in what was a very interesting and lively debate.

Digital Britain Unconference Truro
Report Submitted by Fiona Campbell-Howes, Radix Communications Ltd, Penryn, Cornwall

The Truro Digital Britain Unconference took place on Tuesday 12th May 2009 within the second monthly meeting of the Cornwall Social Media Café (CSMC), a group of people from Cornwall’s business, local government, not-for-profit and academic communities who have an interest in using social media to network, form interest groups, conduct business, and share ideas, expertise and information.

Fifteen people attended the meeting, including representatives from Cornwall Council, Cornwall Development Company and Cornwall’s digital industry. It consisted of a brief introduction to the report delivered by Fiona Campbell-Howes, followed by an hour-long discussion of the main points affecting Cornwall and the country as a whole.

As time was tight, the group chose to focus on the most pressing aspect of the report, which is the enormous discrepancy between the first of Digital Britain’s five objectives:

"Upgrading and modernising our digital networks – wired, wireless and broadcast – so that Britain has an infrastructure that enables it to remain globally competitive in the digital world."

and its statement of action no. 17:

"We will develop plans for a Universal Service Commitment to be effective by 2012, delivered by a mixture of fixed, mobile and wireless means. Subject to further study of the costs and benefits, we will set out our plans for the level of service which we believe should be universal. We anticipate this consideration will include options up to 2Mb/s."

The group welcomes the Government's recognition that next-generation access (NGA) broadband will be essential to maintaining the country’s competitive position in a global digital economy.

However, the group is deeply concerned at the Government's intention to leave the rollout of NGA up to commercial providers such as Virgin and BT. It finds the USO of 2Mb/s by 2012 deeply inadequate for those who will not have access to NGA – not to mention embarrassing for the country as a whole. With countries like Korea already investing in a 1Gb/s broadband network by 2015, failing to keep up with developments in broadband technology will be economically suicidal for Britain, which, as the report notes, has already fallen to 12th place in the European Commission’s league table of digital adoption.

Particularly worrying is the following statement on p.19 of the Interim Report:

"If these [Virgin Media’s fibre-to-the-home network and BT’s 21CN fibre network] are carried to completion, we can reasonably expect at least half of the UK population to have access to NGA services and possibly a periphery around that – perhaps as much as 60% or more."

As a county with a high proportion of businesses and individuals based in rural areas, much of Cornwall will fall into the 40% or 50% (perhaps more, if BT and Virgin’s investments are not carried to completion) of the population that lies outside of the NGA services being rolled out by Virgin and BT.

The group anticipated that the resulting 'two-speed Britain' would have a detrimental effect on rural businesses not just in Cornwall but also across the country, as next-generation broadband fast becomes a prerequisite for conducting business and participating in 21st-century society.

In particular, the following points were raised:

Cornwall has been immensely fortunate to benefit from EU convergence funds for the county-wide rollout of first-generation broadband. The ActNow project has ensured that 10,000 businesses and 99% of people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly now enjoy broadband download speeds of up to 8Mb/s (although actual speeds vary depending on distance from the nearest exchange, plus upload speeds are a fraction of download and are already not sufficient for some more rurally-based businesses who rely on transfer of large files, video streaming etc. – a warning of things to come).

This has allowed innovative businesses to be set up all over the county, giving a much-needed boost to the rural economy, reducing carbon footprint, employing people locally and enabling traditional and new industries alike to find customers across the country and across the world via the internet. ActNow says that "over 80% of businesses in Cornwall say that the Internet is now critical to their business."

Cornwall is therefore an excellent case study in how near-universal access to the latest broadband technology can regenerate and revitalise not just urban areas but an entire county. From farmers to web designers, florists to PR agencies, Cornish businesses have been transformed by universal broadband access, and the county as a whole has benefited.

Far from being the brave step into the future envisaged by the Government, the 'vision' outlined in the Digital Britain Interim Report will actually set Cornwall *back* to where it was in 2002. Businesses currently based in rural areas would be forced to relocate to urban areas served by NGA networks. This would put pressure on roads and transport networks, cause currently-vibrant small towns and villages to stagnate, and have a detrimental impact on the environment by increasing commuting.

In Cornwall, NGA is currently envisaged for just Truro and Falmouth – and that will be thanks to EU convergence funds, not commercial market drivers. (NB Virgin Media is not present in Cornwall at all.) The group felt that Cornwall was fortunate compared with counties that do not benefit from EU funding, and that the myopic ‘vision’ of a 2Mb/s ‘Digital Britain’ could set their economies back even more.


Members of the Cornwall Social Media Café believe that a USO of 2Mb/s (especially where upload speeds will be a fraction of that) is insufficient for Britain’s economy today, let alone in 2012. Handing over the rollout of NGA entirely to the market means that half the country will soon find itself unable to compete effectively in the national/global economy, losing out to urban areas and other countries that enjoy next-generation broadband access. Thousands of businesses will find themselves set back years.

In conclusion, the rollout of NGA cannot be left up to the market. CSMC urges the Government to reconsider this decision and to actively explore ways to invest now in an NGA infrastructure on which the prosperity and economic future of the whole country – not just its towns and cities – can be built.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Digital Britain Cornwall Unconference Tonight - More Thoughts

Some more thoughts ahead of the Digital Britain discussion at tonight's Cornwall Social Media Café meetup:

Our aims will be the same as the Birmingham Digital Britain Unconference taking place today - you can read them and listen to the live stream of the event here. That is, to prepare a response from Cornwall to the Digital Britain report before tomorrow's deadline for feedback

The main thing that strikes me is that the government's 'vision' for Digital Britain is so limited that it doesn't even reflect where things are at in Britain *today*, let alone in 2012.

Some of its principal points seem to be as follows:

2. By 2012 the everyone in the country must have access to broadband download speeds of <2Mb (there's no word on upload speeds).

3. Digital content (television, radio) will still be produced by the existing big media companies, but more of us will be watching television via things like the BBC iPlayer and listening to radio via DAB radios.

4. Most digital content will continue to be produced in London, except where public service broadcasting remits mandate that a proportion of content is produced in 'the regions'.

5. There will be a high-speed (20-50Mb) broadband infrastructure, but it will only be available in areas where it makes commercial sense for operators like BT and Virgin to offer it. Everyone else - small towns, villages, rural areas - will have to make do with the standard 2Mb connection.

5. Ordinary people will not produce their own digital content; they will only consume the content produced by big media companies. They won't need fast broadband upload speeds, because they won't produce anything to upload. People will really only use the internet to receive information and content from big media companies and the government itself.

6. If people do want to upload content, it will probably just be pirated stuff, so there needs to be a framework that protects big media companies from illegal uses of copyrighted material and does a better job of identifying and punishing offenders.

7. Despite all this, the internet and digital broadcasting networks will somehow be the saviours of the British economy and a framework for commercial and social innovation that will make Britain the envy of the world.

How Should Cornwall Respond?

As we have an opportunity to influence government thinking, I think we ought to show to the government that digital innovation can and does exist outside London and the big media companies.

On the back of that, I think we should argue that a two-speed digital economy (some areas on next-generation networks, some areas not) is not only a bad thing for those people and businesses who are based outside urban centres, it's also a bad thing for the country's economic prospects as whole.

To do this I think we should highlight some good case studies of recent digital innovation in Cornwall: whether by individuals, groups (even CSMC itself), commercial businesses, social enterprises or educational institutions.

From this we could and make a case for how much *more* innovative and prosperous Cornwall could be if the county had access to the same kind of high-speed broadband infrastructure (for both upload and download) as major urban areas. How many more jobs could be created, how many beneficial social enterprises could be set up, how many more vulnerable people could be helped, how much easier it could be to share knowledge, teach new skills etc.

Again, these are just starting thoughts for tonight's discussion - I look forward to hearing your thoughts (and to writing up and sending off Cornwall's submission tomorrow!)

Monday, 11 May 2009

Cornwall Social Media Café: Cornwall's Digital Future

Tomorrow night (Tuesday 12th May) will see the second meeting of the Cornwall Social Media Café (CSMC), organised by Aren Grimshaw from UKnetweb and Laura McKay from Deborah Clark Associates. It'll be held at the Vertigo Bar in Truro from 7pm.

A couple of weeks ago Aren was looking for ideas about possible formats for these events: should they just be informal drinks sessions, or should there be a guest speaker and discussion topic each time?

At the same time as Aren sent out his request, I was seeing a lot of chat on Twitter about the Digital Britain Interim Report, which sets out the government's vision for the UK's digital economy over the next four or five years.

It's still in draft at the moment, but when the final report is published next month, it will form the basis of future legislation, policymaking and public spending in the areas of broadband, mobile, TV and radio infrastructure, digital content and services, e-inclusion and digital skills.

A lot of the people I follow on Twitter weren't impressed with the unambitiousness of the report, or that the government seemed only to be seeking input on it from big media and telecoms companies.

Kathryn Corrick suggested that there should be a series of informal 'unconferences' across the country, at which anyone who has an interest in Britain’s digital future could get together to discuss what the government is proposing, and submit any feedback and suggestions for possible inclusion in the final report.

The deadline for feedback is mid-May, which means there's just time for CSMC members to comment. I suggested having an informal discussion about it at Tuesday's CSMC meetup, and Aren and Laura liked the idea – as long as I was happy to write up and submit any thoughts we might come up with, which I am.

The main aspect of the report that we could discuss and feed back on – especially in terms of how it affects Cornwall and the Cornish economy – is the part relating to broadband. Basically it makes two main points:

1. Next-Generation Broadband is essential: The government would like to see a nationwide next-generation (fibre-optic) broadband network infrastructure with download speeds of at least 20Mbps by 2015. The future success of our economy depends on it, and if we don't have it, Britain will lose out to other more advanced countries. (South Korea, for example, is aiming for a 1 gigabit broadband network by 2015.)

However, the government does not propose to invest any public money in this next-generation broadband network. Instead, it wants to rely on commercial enterprises like BT and Virgin rolling out 50Mbps fibre networks across the country.

What does this mean for Cornwall? Virgin and BT are unlikely to dig fibre-optic cables up to every village and farmhouse; it's not profitable, especially not in a recession. We'll be back to a two-speed economy: urban areas are already benefiting from next-generation broadband, but rural communities will have to stick with first-generation speeds of 1-2 Mbps. Cornwall's rural businesses, which rely increasingly on the internet for sales, marketing, research, etc., will be at a disadvantage, and the county's economy will very likely suffer.

2. Every home and office must have 2Mbps broadband access by 2012: The government wants to impose an obligation on BT and other providers to make sure every home in the country benefits from broadband access and download speeds of 2Mbps by 2012.

What does this mean for Cornwall? Without access to fibre-optic broadband networks, rural homes and businesses in Cornwall will be stuck with this 'low-speed' broadband option. 2Mbps is already not sufficient for some new internet services (e.g. reliable video streaming), and by 2012 it will seem as slow as dial-up does to us now. It's well known that actual download speeds vary significantly from the promised 'top speed' – and upload speeds are usually only a fraction of the download speed.

The ActNow project used EU development funds to make sure that (just about) everyone in Cornwall got access to first generation broadband. But there are no funds at present to help Cornwall move to next-generation fibre broadband. (Cornwall Council is actively looking for a private investor to fund it, but this will be difficult in a recession).

Hopefully this will give us a starting point for discussion tomorrow night!

For those interested in this and other aspects of the Digital Britain report, I recommend the following resources:

Digital Britain Interim Report (PDF) – the 86-page report itself

Digital Britain At A Glance – the BBC’s overview of the main points of the report

Charles Leadbeater’s response to Digital Britain (PDF) – excellent deconstruction of what’s wrong with the report.

Digital Britain Unconference blog – with details of all the other Digital Britain unconferences.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

"The current days of the internet will soon be over"

Following on from Fiona's excellent summary of Emily Bell's recent lecture on the future of journalism, at University College Falmouth, a couple of links to supplement the debate.

Today's post title is taken from Rupert Murdoch, as quoted in today's Guardian. Murdoch it seems doesn't at all hold with Chris Anderson's conception of the "free economy", and, encouraged by the Wall Street Journal's online subscriptions success, now anticipates that News Corp newspapers will begin charging for online content "within the next 12 months."

Quite a U-turn on his part, it seems: in November 2007, he was instead talking enthusiastically about dismantling the WSJ's subscription wall:

We are studying it and we expect to make that free, and instead of having one million (subscribers), having at least 10 million-15 million in every corner of the earth.

A much longer, and very interesting debate piece can be found in this month's Prospect magazine, which happily isn't charging online readers to view Steven Johnson and Paul Starr's exchange of correspondence on the question "Are we on track for a golden age of serious journalism?"

Readers of this blog will probably be able to guess the position Johnson takes up (broadly optimistic); while Paul Starr, who I confess wasn't familiar to me, provides the notes of caution, his main concern being to avoid the erosion of the press's ability to provide effective political accountability, as well as how to maintain funding for journalism without compromising it's independence. As for an overall conclusion; that was left for the reader to decide, perhaps in more ways than one.

UPDATE: Just spotted that has a blog devoted to these matters: The Great Transition.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Emily Bell on The Future of Journalism

[UPDATE You can now read Emily's own account of her lecture here.]

Last night I was lucky enough to attend a free lecture given by Emily Bell, head of digital content at Guardian News and Media, at University College Falmouth, where Emily has just been appointed visiting lecturer professor to the college's increasingly highly-regarded media degree courses.

Emily's topic was Journalism Ten Years From Now - a massively contentious topic as advertising revenues and print circulations plummet, editorial staffs shrink, new digital and social media platforms spring up everywhere and knowledgeable amateurs with blogs provide an increasing number of alternative, authoritative information sources.

Unlike net-culture visionary Clay Shirky, though, Emily doesn't think that print journalism has no future. Print will remain an important part of reaching the audience - but it will not be the primary conduit for journalism in ten years' time. Instead, going by the 'clues' we can pick up from the way journalism is changing today, journalism in ten years will have some or all of the following characteristics:

1. It will go where the audience is. Instead of hoping that people will go to their website to read or watch the news, journalists will need to take their stories out to where the readers and viewers are. Today, that means publishing stories on Twitter, on YouTube, on Facebook, as podcasts on iTunes, and so on. In ten years' time, those platforms might be different, but the principle will remain - journalists will have to take their stories to where the audience is.

2. Journalism will be networked, not siloed. Journalists will need to act as hubs, rather than destinations. They will need to create communities around themselves, linking and pointing to other stories, and connecting readers and viewers with other interesting people and information, not necessarily from their own organisation. This means getting involved in conversations with readers and viewers, rather than just publishing once and be done with it.

3. Journalists will need to be very reliable and trustworthy. Enabling readers to comment publicly on stories means that journalists can no longer get away with shoddy work - readers can and will set facts straight, add new information and deconstruct 'spin'. Part of the reason why the BBC's Robert Peston has become such a phenomenon is that his obvious deep knowledge of the finance industry means his stories and opinions are trusted.

4. Journalists will need to be ready to share information whenever they have it and in whatever way will communicate it best to the audience. This means they will need to be skilled not just in writing or broadcasting, but also in blogging, podcasting, video-recording, photography and so on, and have the technical skills to get that content out to the audience (in all the places that the audience resides) quickly.

5. Journalism will no longer be possible without the audience. Thanks to advances in mobile phone technology, nearly everyone carries digital recording equipment now, so there are 'digital witnesses' everywhere. This does not mean there is no role any more for professional journalism, though - Emily gave the example of Ian Tomlinson's death during the G20 protests: if it had not been for the fact that the Guardian had paid a reporter (Paul Lewis) to stay on top of the story and keep it high-profile, the hedge fund manager who had the crucial video evidence would not have bothered looking through all of his footage to find it and hand it to the Guardian, and the police would not have been held to account. Collaborations like these help journalism to expose cover-ups, untruths and miscarriages of justice - one of its most important roles.

Emily pointed out that all this is well and good, but what most people want to know is: where will the money come from to pay for all this professional, multi-platform, 'always-on' journalism? The truth is that no one knows, but there are some points that are worth making, viz:

1. News has never been profitable. Sky News isn't profitable; it's subsidised by other Murdoch enterprises. The Guardian isn't profitable; it's funded by a trust. BBC News isn't profitable; it's funded by the licence fee. It's very difficult to make a profit from journalism, although some new models are showing small profits, such as VillageSoup, a hyperlocal news community organisation in the US.

2. There is no point asking people to pay for online content; they won't. Emily said that people who are suggesting this as a solution now weren't online in 2001 when it was first tried and proven not to work.

3. Advertising won't go away - businesses will always want to communicate to customers - but revenues from advertising will never (again) be able to pay for modern news organisations.

Despite all this, Emily is optimistic that journalism as a profession will find ways to survive - as long as there are people who are passionate about uncovering and communicating the truth about important issues affecting our lives.

There followed a Q&A, which covered questions including:

1. Will we see an increasing in 'entrepreneurial journalism'? Emily said that examples like Rick Waghorn in the UK and Jeff Jarvis in the US show that there is a market for independent, authoritative journalists who can attract large audiences to a blog and make enough money from it to maintain it full-time.

2. What is Emily's view of user-generated journalism? Emily said there has been too much focus on the downside of allowing comments on news stories ('the noise of the rabble') and not enough focus on the fact that those comments throw up interesting new information, correction of inaccuracies etc. It is contributing to better, more accurate journalism. Media and politics have been too disconnected from the people they represent for too long - they need to be collaborative, not one-way communications.

3. Here in Cornwall there is a big digital divide - a lot of people do not have broadband/internet access. How will journalism serve their needs in the digital age? Emily said that mobile phone technology will soon make decent-speed internet access almost ubiquitous, even for the country's poorest people and remotest communities. The more pertinent problem is that many people do not and will not read the news - and that will not change, no matter what technology they have access to. 'You can watch TV all day and not see a single minute of news'. The real challenge - for journalists and politicians - will be how to get information to those who currently choose not to receive it.

4. How does Emily deal with information overload? Emily said she looks to filters like following trusted people on Twitter and using RSS to filter news and other information.

And that's it - if you were at the event, please feel free to add anything I've missed or correct anything I've got wrong.