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Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology correspondent

Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

Welcome to dot.Rory - these are my thoughts about how technology is changing the world and shaping our lives

Game on - e-sports takes off in the UK

Studio audience cheers at the League of Legends North American Championship Series in February 2014
Studio audience at the League of Legends North American Championship Series in February 2014

Next weekend, the World Cup Final takes place in Seoul in front of 60,000 spectators and a huge global TV audience. No, I'm not confused and this is not football. The contest in question pits Korea's Samsung White against China's Star Horn Royal Club and what they are playing is a video game called League of Legends.

E-sports, where game play is watched by audiences in stadiums and on TV, have been big business in the Far East for more than a decade. But now, as I found out in a report for Friday's World at One on Radio 4, the phenomenon is really taking off in Britain.

If UK e-sports have an Alex Ferguson equivalent then it's Michael O'Dell - but then as the owner and manager of Team Dignitas he's also the sport's Roman Abramovich. O'Dell was once a semi-professional games player himself, then built a team of 58 professional players based around the world. "It's gone from playing in our bedrooms, earning twenty quid in a tournament - and we were happy - to now where we could be earning a million dollars in a tournament, and that's not just one a year, there are a lot of tournaments with a lot of prize money." On top of that, the team has lucrative sponsorship and merchandise deals.

Michael O'Dell

He still lives in a modest home in Surrey with an office in the back garden from where he keeps tabs on his players. We watched as his star player Michael Santana - a gaming celebrity who goes by the name "Imaqtpie" - talked his fans through a session of League of Legends from the Team Dignitas Los Angeles base.

Streaming on Twitch TV he had attracted an audience of more than 14,000 fans just to watch him practice. Even between tournaments, that earns Imaqtpie a lot of money, upwards of ten thousand pounds a month just from the adverts that appear on his Twitch channel.

Read full article Game on - e-sports takes off in the UK

Twitter and the poisoning of online debate

Twitter logo

For anyone who believed the internet and social media would foster a new era of free expression and open debate, this is a depressing time. It seems no area of discussion is free from mindless and often vicious exchanges between people who have different opinions.

That has led some to give up on one social media service. Two prominent sports broadcasters, the BBC's Jonathan Agnew and Sky Sports' Jeff Stelling, have left Twitter this week, having had enough of the abuse aimed at them and their families. Another radio and TV personality Richard Madeley has called in the police over rape threats in tweets to his daughter.

Read full article Twitter and the poisoning of online debate

EE - is the couch potato cooked?

Remote control

"Britain needs a whole new way of watching television, and EE is the firm that will drag the TV industry kicking and screaming into the mobile era."

That's the message at the launch of the mobile operator's new service EE TV, which claims to be "the UK's most advanced TV service." Now it's evident that EE needs to be in TV, but its belief that viewers are impatient for a different television experience is open to question.

Read full article EE - is the couch potato cooked?

Will Tesco keep taking the tablets?

Britain's biggest supermarket chain is in crisis, with sales sliding and a furore over its accounting methods. So today's launch of Tesco's new tablet computer the Hudl 2 does not come at a great time. Indeed it provides another opportunity to ask whether the company has been distracted by trendy tech ventures when it should be concentrating on good old-fashioned retailing skills.

The first Hudl, which came out last year, was quite a hit - a pretty basic tablet at a very competitive price which has so far been snapped up by three quarters of a million shoppers.

Read full article Will Tesco keep taking the tablets?

Tax and tech

Apple logo

Here are two indisputable truths. Governments love to cosy up to technology companies. And technology companies - much like any other business - hate paying tax. So the relationship between the two can be summed up as a Facebook status - it's complicated.

This morning we have learned the extraordinary lengths governments can go to in order to persuade a giant American company to do business in its territory. The European Commission has published a letter setting out the reasons for its investigation into a tax deal between Ireland and Apple.

Read full article Tax and tech

U2, Bendygate and iOS 8.0.1: Apple's banana skins

iPhone and iPhone 6 Plus

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in Apple's PR department over the last week. A company that is legendary for obsessive control over its message has watched helplessly as things have spun out of its grasp.

First, there was the kerfuffle over the stunt which saw U2's new album given away free to every iTunes user whether they wanted it or not. That provoked a wave of anger and derision from people who saw the provision of a free download as a massive assault on their freedom and an insult to their taste in music. (For U2, it was a massive success, earning them a reputed $100m from Apple and sending older albums back into the charts). Unusually, Apple felt obliged to respond by offering a U2 removal tool.

Read full article U2, Bendygate and iOS 8.0.1: Apple's banana skins

Blackberry's Passport to a better future

It is the company that first brought us email on the move, and seemed to be in prime position to prosper in the smartphone era.

Then it all went wrong for Blackberry. But today sees the launch of a device which the Canadian company believes could win back the executives once addicted to their Crackberries.

Read full article Blackberry's Passport to a better future

Cracking the problem of online identification

Drawing of computer on blackboard with words "who are you?" on monitor

How do you go about proving you are who you say you are?

As more and more services move online - and fraud mounts - this is of growing importance not just to individuals but to the businesses and governments with which they interact. In many countries, the answer is an identity card, but that idea has met with lots of resistance in the UK.

Read full article Cracking the problem of online identification

Who has won the social referendum?

Facebook picture
Facebook is introducing a function allowing Scots to show they have voted

It was the 2008 Obama presidential campaign that first showed how politicians could use social media as a campaigning tool. Now the Scottish referendum could prove another landmark in the influence of the likes of Facebook and Twitter on debate.

Millions on both sides have taken to tweeting and Facebooking their views on the issues. But never mind who wins the referendum - who has come out on top in the social media battle?

Read full article Who has won the social referendum?

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About Rory

Rory has been watching the technology scene like a hawk for the last 15 years.

From the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s to the rise of Google and Facebook, from the Psion organiser to the iPad, he's covered all the big gadget and business stories, and interviewed just about everyone who's played a part in the story of the web.

Dot.Rory, his previous blog, was named among the Top 100 blogs by the Sunday Times.

He aims to look at the impact of the internet and digital technology on our lives and businesses. Rory has been described as "the non-geek's geek", and freely admits that he came late to technology - but he aims to explain its significance to anyone with an interest in the subject.

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