Great Britain and the Fourth Estate

When I think of Great Britain I think of the BBC and I think of the Natural History Units. I also think of radio programs like In Our Time, From Our Own Correspondent and Hard Talk. I also think of BBC World and the quality of their news coverage. I mention these current affairs programs because I believe that the British provide quality content. They also inform, educate and entertain us. That is their purpose.

In a healthy media environment the media should inform and educate their audiences. They should provide us with the facts and context for everything they write about. They should provide us with neutral and unbiased information. Radio and Television broadcasters were held to this standard until recently. With Video on demand services increasing in number and with the number of channels made available through satellite broadcasting and digital audio broadcasting opinion has found its way on air. This made it easier for satellite and television broadcasting to share opinions rather than facts.

“I think people in this country,” declared Vote Leave’s Michael Gove, “have had enough of experts.” His fellow Brexiteers were quick to back him up. “There is only one expert that matters,” said Labour MP Gisela Stuart, also of Vote Leave, “and that’s you, the voter.” Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, suggested that many independent experts were actually in the pay of the Government or the EU. All three reminded voters of occasions when “the so-called experts” had made mistakes.

source: Michael Gove’s guide to Britain’s greatest enemy… the experts

The role of journalists and the Fourth Estate is to understand the questions that people are asking and to understand what information people need. In the case of BREXIT for example if the campaign focuses on Migration then the fourth estate should provide facts and information about migration. It should look at the push and pull factors. It should also look at the goals that the European Union has set itself and how those goals can either help reduce or encourage migration.

Newspapers and politicians should never say “I think that people in this country have had enough of experts”. The raison d’être of the Fourth estate, of newspapers, current affairs broadcasts and expert opinions is to provide people with facts so that when they go to vote they have all the facts.

BREXIT on one side of the Atlantic, and the rise of Trump on the other, show that the fourth estate has failed. It has failed to keep people informed and grounded in reality and it has failed to keep emotion out of the debate. The politics of emotion are being exploited and this is having a negative impact on how countries are run. Alastair Campbell spoke of this when live on ABC news Australia.

To illustrate the challenge faced by modern politicians watch how Obama has to pause and think as he responds to the question.

Newspapers such as The Sun, The Daily Mail and other newspapers can publish anything they want and people will believe it. The Sun said twice that the Queen endorsed Brexit and twice they were shown to be lying. In a post-fact media landscape the lies are easy to spread but very difficult to negate.

London, Ireland and Scotland were not subjected to the same propaganda machine and their vote reflects this. They voted Remain because they understood the implications of BREXIT and the benefits of Remain. Their familiarity with the topic made Remain so easy to justify that certain people said of my generation that we “should not take what we have for granted”. I would encourage the opposite, that a dismantling of the EU should be unthinkable.

The Fourth estate has failed to do its job and the British people will now suffer the consequences for months and years to come. The rest of Europe and the United States should do everything they can to encourage people to keep up to current affairs so that facts guide their decisions rather than rumours and emotions.

Thoughts on British European Identity

For several weeks or even months I was afraid that the EU Referendum, BREXIT, would result in a bad outcome. On Thursday the British people went to vote. On Thursday night I was watching. When I saw Gibraltar vote to stay in the EU I relaxed enough to manage sleep. On Friday Morning British people around the world woke up to the news that our nation had voted to leave the European Union. Some people were shocked and never expected it to happen. I was terrified that it would.

For months before Brexit I commented via the social media that I was tired of seeing so many anti-European stories. When I read about refugees I said that the story should focus on the push factors rather than shame European nations. When we read about Calais and refugees I kept commenting that we should read about how it is the British that are blocking the refugees from coming, not the French oppressing these people. I was so tired of the Anglo-Saxon Anti-European stance, both from America and the United Kingdom that I moved towards reading French language news sources, just to change perspective. It worked.

From Friday to Sunday I spent hours reading article after article to keep up with current affairs. I looked at online conversations. In articles and in social media comments I kept seeing the word democratic used. Brexiters were using that word to tell “Remainers” to just accept the democratic decision by the British people. If the EU referendum had been democratic I would stay quiet. Two aspects make me think that this was an undemocratic process.

British Europeans were not allowed to vote unless they were registered to vote in a General election and as long as they had lived in England within the last fifteen years. As I lived in England for five years but between General Elections I did not register to vote. As a result of this I was not allowed to vote, as a European Brit, in the EU referendum. We are at least hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised EU brits. Wouldn’t it make sense for British Europeans to have a say in this, as they have seen the benefits and challenges of being British in Europe?

O is for Opinion: Expert opinion, to be exact, which was actively mocked and worse by Leave, and turned out to be largely worthless as a vote-shifter. 2016 has been a bad year for punditry on both sides of the Atlantic — commentators were wrong about Brexit, just as they were largely wrong about Trump. We can expect a barrage of economic experts deployed in any snap election too, with just as little tangible effect on the vote. The question with ‘post-fact’ politics, which Johnson will deploy again and again and again as he runs for Prime Minister , isn’t just how to fight it — it’s what happens if and when the experts turn out to be right about the devastating economic consequences of leaving the EU. (See S is for Stab In The Back).


During the weekend we saw mentions that we live in a “post-fact” world. The case for Great Britain to leave the EU was made through emotional arguments rather than based on facts. We saw that “people are tired of experts”. Every person in favour of Remain has been called names over the last three or four days. When we discussed Brexit and presented facts they were ignored or dismissed. How do you argue with people who have chosen to “believe” rather than “prove with evidence”? You can’t. To them we were scare mongers.

By Sunday at least two or three campaign promises by the BREXIT camp were abandoned as unfeasible.


What makes BREXIT so frightening is that 52 percent of the British people who voted in the EU referendum voted for a policy with no concrete action plan. When people campaign for something as drastic as BREXIT you would expect them to have a plan. You would expect them to be jubilant and to say “Here’s our action plan and here is our timetable”. What we got instead were rumours and more opinions.

We are the easyjet Generation. Many of us remember when every European country had its own currency, many of us also remember when borders were guarded and passports were required. Many of us remember traveling to a number of European countries. For many of us asking “Where are you from” meant “Which country are you from”. In this context I really struggle to see how people could be in favour of BREXIT. It goes against logic to have borders once again. What about university studies. What about scientific research, what about cross cultural productions, what about business. What about travel, friendship, and relationships?

I would expect a society living in the information age to look for facts rather than feel good rumours. I would expect a society in the Information age to be harder to trick and indoctrinate. The opposite seems to be true.  I feel sad and sorry for the 48 percent who voted Remain. I hope that the government does what it can to bring their lives back to normal as soon as possible.

Flowing water – a visual experiment

Flowing Water – A visual experiment is a simple one minute video. The first images were filmed at the Arboretum in the Jura and the timelapses show clouds playing above the Jura near La Dôle. La Dôle is where the doppler radar is located. That radar shows rainfall and precipitation so that air traffic controllers can advise pilots of weather conditions.

With the amount of rain that has fallen over the last six or more weeks every river is full of water. As a result of this they are flowing fast and debris can be seen. When rivers flow fast they are fun to watch. The next step would be to capture waterfalls over a period of minutes or hours. If we stopped recording just as the rain stopped we might get interesting results. The peak wouldn’t appear until soon after the rain stopped.

I was lucky with these clouds because they moved quickly from one side of the screen to the other. They also formed and dispersed quickly. As a result I could set the interval to take images every few seconds. I could quickly see the result and adjust. When I filmed the clouds I filmed the ground and the trees as they came in and out of the shadow of clouds, I filmed a tighter shot where you could see the transmission mast and then I pointed to the sky and tried to capture the movement of clouds with blue sky as a backdrop. Some moments are fun to watch.

The First Day of Summer

The good weather is finally back. I took this opportunity to go out and film around La Rippe which is on the border between France and Switzerland. From here you can see the Mont Blanc and the Jura. If you look to the South West you can see Geneva’s Jet D’eau and the Salève.

I found the first location’s vantage point when I had a day off from work. I don’t remember where I was cycling or driving the scooter but I went up. To get to it you have to head up a steep hill which is good when you’re cycling as it builds up your endurance. It can also be fun on the way down.

Now that the weather has improved I have a number of locations that I want to film. I want to experiment both with 360 video and flat video. I want to go to interesting locations and share the highlights with you. The better the weather the easier it will be for me to get the material. I would have ranged further today but as I will be climbing this evening I prefer to preserve that strength and endurance. Tomorrow I can range further.

The three sports I would like to focus on this summer are climbing, both conventional and via ferrata, hiking and cycling. Each of these sports is feasible in the landscape around here. Hikes can take you by some spectacular scenery. The challenge will be to decide whether to film with the 360 camera or the conventional one. Time will decide. I can easily carry both cameras but it is always better to focus on one format at a time.

Half a Billion instagrammers

As of the 21st of June, the longest day, the day that Switzerland finally got some sunshine Instagram announced that there are half a billion instagrammers. That’s almost the same number of people who live in the European Union. Half a Billion users are sharing square images of their daily life.

A photo posted by David Azia (@d_azia) on

Instagram provides us with windows in to the lives of others.

Among those half a billion people are a lot of interesting people. We have a few of the Cousteau family. We have a few celebrities and personalities but we also have an increasing number of people that are part of our personal network. Friends, family and colleagues are on this network. They share key events in their lives, interesting adventures, familiar landmarks and landscapes. Instagram is a social network that connects people who look at the world with a photographic eye.

A photo posted by Louise Tee🐼 (@wzylouisey) on

Some images and some accounts make the lure of travel appear. Wouldn’t you want to travel and see this lake and those rock formations? It reminds me of sights and sounds you can get in Switzerland.

Remember that not all advertising needs to be about city life and city products. Sometimes Instagram can share the passion of the wild. You see an image of New Zealand such as the one above and it reminds you of the Alps. It also reminds you of your desire to get back up in the mountains.

A photo posted by Sierra Quitiquit (@sierra) on

This social network is ideal for lovers of nature and sports.

A photo posted by Suunto (@suunto) on

It also lends itself well to illustrating Humanitarian work.

I like Instagram and I hope that it continues to be used in a personal and educational way.

Watching clouds form as a 360 timelapse

Time-lapse videos are fun because we can see something happen faster or slower than real time. By watching this content we gain a better understanding of the world and how it works. For years I have been filming time-lapses and the results can be fun. In some cases we record time-lapses with video cameras and at other times we set an interval timer to take pictures every so many seconds. In this post you will be watching clouds form as a 360 timelapse.

I have chosen to share both the flat image and the spherical image. The reason for sharing both versions is to give you an overview of how objects move in both.

Spherical Version

With this version look to your right and you will be able to watch the clouds move through space. As they move you will see them grow thicker and then cover the sun. At this point everything gets darker. If you watch this video a few times you can watch the landscape change.

The next step would be to get a 360 camera somewhere high during a total eclipse of the sun by the moon. During such events you will see a grey mask cross over the landscape, you will see birds fly away and then everything will be dark. You can then turn around and watch totality, the corona and then the reverse process. The time is right for eclipse chasers to be at the right place to capture such an event as a 360 video.

Flat Version

With the flat version you can imagine where you would aim a standard camera. Would you try to get the clouds that are forming over the mast or would you prefer to look out towards La Dôle and watch as the large clouds form and float to block off the sun? In this image you can see from Villeneuve and Lausanne to Geneva and the Salève.

Having such a wide angle of view allows you to see everything that is going on in front of and behind the camera. The timelapse is a sequence of pictures rather than video so in future I hope to export the video in a higher resolution.

A 360 timelapse walk through the woods

Yesterday I went for a 360 timelapse walk through the woods above Trelex. I set the camera to take an image every 8 seconds. As the woods were dark and dense it took some effort not to walk in too much mud and not to slip too many times. The result of the timelapse is not as good as I had hoped. Ideally I want to find a way to fix the camera so that it looks at my direction of travel.

From this footage you see that the camera suffered with the lack of light and that because the camera occasionally rotated to the right it is easy to become disorientated. It is for this reason that it is useful to find wide open spaces when possible and to find places with a lot of ambient light.

What I like about this video is that we can see the various exercise locations. We can see the horizontal bars, the rings and other activities. When I design something to hold the camera steady while I walk with it I can have a little more fun. I could hang on the rings or play with the bars.

With a little luck the month and a half of bad weather is coming to an end and I will be able to go out and get to some interesting locations to film some time lapses.

There are a number of panoramic locations that I think would lend themselves well to 360° views. Imagine a walk by the lake side or a walk near the summit with a view of the landscape below.

What locations or sites would you like to see as 360° timelapse videos?

Thoughts on the Conversational Sharing of Links

Facebook and twitter were first and foremost about conversations between individuals. It is only later that thoughts on the conversational sharing of links became relevant. In a conversational environment you may see headlines and either comment or re-share them without taking the time to read the article. In taking the time to read the article you neutralise the conversation that you were having.

This is not restricted to Facebook and Twitter. Those who remember Google Reader remember that we used to star articles that we wanted to read later. We bookmarked the stories that we thought were interesting and other people could see what we highlighted. This habit continued on to Facebook and twitter.

According to a new study by computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute, 59 percent of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked: In other words, most people appear to retweet news without ever reading it.


The article and the researchers have failed to take in to consideration the tools that are available to social network users. On Twitter you had favourites and retweets. In theory a favourite serves as a bookmark and a retweet serves to share an article that you believe your timeline might find interesting. On Facebook they go further. You can like a post, re-share it or “save” it for reading at a future date. As people use likes to bookmark stories, share to distribute stories that are relevant to their friends or “save for later” for stories that interest them we see that sharing without reading is not the full picture. It does not look at why people shared the link. There is a chance that someone I know might like a story related to one or other of their passions or professional interests. In so doing sharing is not as senseless as the researchers imply.

The researchers made a few other telling observations, as well: Most clicks to news stories, they found, were made on links shared by regular Twitter users, and not the media organization itself. The links that users clicked were much older than we generally assume — some had been published for several days, in fact

If people follow only news organisations via a social network like Twitter then the social network ceases to become social and becomes an RSS aggregator. If it becomes an RSS aggregator then the value of such a social network declines. Do you remember when people were discussing curation, both at a friendly level and at a higher level? They were speaking of shared content and people sorting through what they thought was most interesting or relevant for the people who chose to associate with them. This explains why “clicks to news stories, they found, were made on links shared by regular Twitter users,…”. This is what you would expect from a social network. We trust the people we feel inclined to follow.

Among the many phenomena we’d tentatively attribute, in large part, to the trend: the rise of sharebait (nee clickbait) and the general BuzzFeedification of traditional media; the Internet hoax-industrial complex, which only seems to be growing stronger; and the utter lack of intelligent online discourse around any remotely complicated, controversial topic.

Clickbait and sensationalist articles are designed for a media landscape where people believe that clicks and hits are the purpose of a social network, rather than a sense of having had a good conversation with another person. Unique individuals should be socialising with those in their networks and as users get to know whom they have connected with so the sharing of news stories and information should match that knowledge.

The problem that I see is that no one knows their audience anymore, no one is trying to hit a niche. They share empty but sensationalist articles rather than the well written and thoughtful content that their followers, friends, colleagues and categories people would be interested in.

When people start to use social media to connect with like minded people once again, to have conversations and share interests then the quality of links shared will increase. Within a few weeks we may go back to a healthier social media landscape.

IFTTT – Instagram to Twitter

Instagram is still a healthy social network. It still finds an engaged group of users who want to share their adventures, meals, friendships and more with other users. Some of them love sharing selfies and others share beautiful landscapes. This keeps the network vibrant and young.

Twitter on the other hand has neutralised peoples’ passion and engagement with the site. They wanted to become google reader, they wanted mass following of key accounts, they wanted to neutralise the social, conversational aspect and they have succeeded in their goal so effectively that now an IFTTT rule reduces the need to visit twitter.

IFTTT Instagram twitter
Which network do you prioritise

When you share your instagram photos as native twitter photos you are hiding that you are disengaged from Twitter. By hiding this disengagement from the social network you are hiding that you may not respond to replies, mentions etc. By not responding to those interactions you are negating the purpose of your presence on the social network.

Twitter declines further
The once social network Twitter continues to decline

When you fail to interact directly with websites such as Twitter you perpetuate the notion that twitter is a place where bots interact with bots because humans are no longer present. When humans are gone, when interactions between users no longer take place then what remains of the “social network”?

Two hundred and ninety six thousand people have added this recipe to their IFTTT accounts. A quarter of a million people have chosen to spend time on Instagram rather than twitter. For this reason it makes sense to share pictures via Instagram. We will see your instagram account and we can start following it. In so doing we spend our time more effectively. Instagram still has a future. If you post to the networks that you want to use there is a good opportunity that others will want the same. Lets cut out twitter. 😉


Content creation and Social Networks

Content creation and Social Networks both fulfil our need to communicate with others. In one case we are working on the long form and creating content in blog form, photographs, well produced videos and more and through certain social networks we do the opposite. On twitter and facebook we spend most of our time writing two or three sentences at a time. These posts are quickly out of date.

Content creation and Social Networks: Twitter can push people to associate it with video
Twitter can push people to associate it with video but I always saw twitter as a conversation tool. As long as they do not see themselves as a conversation tool I see no reason to spend time on their network. Other videos sources provide a more pleasant experience.

Content creation in the form of article writing, blogging, well produced video, photo essays and more take time. You need to think of an idea and you need to think of a narrative. You need to find 300 words of content. You need to find at least two or three minutes of content if not more. If you challenge yourself to create this content then you see why facebook, twitter, vine and other short or quick social sharing platforms are so popular. It also explains why Geocities and other platforms eventually implode.

According to recode Twitter is making a huge video push — and tweaking Vine’s six second limit in the process.

The move is also symbolic of Twitter’s willingness to change elements of its product that have become part of its identity. Last month Twitter tweaked its iconic 140 character limit to get people tweeting more. Now it’s tweaking Vine’s six second video restriction, too. Former Vine boss Jason Toff (who left in January for Google) told Recode last fall that Vine’s video limit was not “overly sacred.”

Vimeo differentiated itself from other video sharing services in that it showed that it wanted high quality edited videos rather than rushes like we used to find on Google. In the last few months the quality of videos on youtube has really increased. There are a number of gameplay, engineering, fitness videos, how-to instructional videos and more. Finally Youtube is a source for serious content. We will see when Vine, Snapchat and other video services establish the same reputation.

Letter writing and blogging are similar. Recently Documentally started letter writing again. These “letters” are newsletters written every friday and sent by e-mail to a small number of people. I too have started “letter writing” but as blog posts. The beauty of “letter writing” is that we can write when we have time rather than when people are available. As these are asynchronous people can read what we wrote ten minutes or ten years from now. Now that instant messaging style social media conversations are sent back to the history books we have a greater freedom to choose where we share content.