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All entries in this category: BBC Manchester Blog Project

Bringing the BBC Manchester Blog Project to an End (is only the beginning...)

  • Robin Hamman
  • 28 Mar 08, 04:06 PM

The BBC Manchester Blog will be closing on Sunday. When Richard Fair and I launched it in August 2006 we had high expectations, not just of the blog itself, but of how the blog would help us to trial a new model of how the BBC and other broadcasters could engage with what the industry calls "user generated content". Our first post explained:

"For years, the BBC has been looking at ways to engage more directly with it's audiences. We've promoted email addresses on air and asked for photo submissions, we've stuck comment forms on the bottom of articles, we've spend countless hours building message boards and community platforms, our staff have reviewed and approved millions upon millions of messages - and what have we learned? That all this is expensive business.

In the past, whenever the BBC has sought to do something with user generated content we've built new platforms, taken on the role of managing all the content that floods in, asserted some rights over that content (although not ownership in the vast majority of cases) and, some would argue, exposed the BBC to legal and moral risks. Furthermore, doing things in the old way had a bit of a sting in the tail - if a service really took off, and sometimes they did, the BBC would actually face increased costs because our services often don't scale well.

This project is an experiment in doing things a bit differently. Rather than building platforms, we want to help people create their own stuff on existing third party (non-BBC) platforms. Instead of contributors sending us content members of staff here at the BBC sifting through that content in a bid to find the good bits, we're simply going to ask contributors to tell us where they're publishing their content online and we'll keep an eye on it. The BBC won't claim any rights over the content and won't own anything..."

Our new way of doing things raised quite a few eyebrows with some, at least initially, skeptical of our motives, and others excited by our attempt to try something a bit different.

As part of the project we ran a blogging workshop and organised some informal blogger meet-ups. And then you invited us to yours. We read your blogs and invited some of you to read your posts on the radio. We quoted from and linked to your posts and many of you linked back. Basically, we did what bloggers do through their blogs and comments and links - we had a conversation.

We have yet to write the final review of the project, in part because our time to work with the model came to an end a long time ago but the blog has carried on under a different guise. That said, below we've provided a brief summary of some of the key things we've learned from the project:

  • Being part of the community by participating as equals, as opposed to participating as a broadcasting organisation keen for new content but not interested in the community, brings with it many editorial and personal rewards.
  • Even if you use time saving tools such as RSS, social bookmarking and technorati, sifting through content and write posts that quote from and link to the best bits.
  • People don't necessarily blog or post content about the topics, stories and events that media organisations might hope they would - and, in our experience anyway, rarely post about news and current affairs.
  • As a stand-alone proposition, the amount of staff time and effort spent was high in comparison to the quantity of content generated and size of audience served. But, when we were able to use the contacts and content we found through the blog on-air that equation immediately changed. That is, in resource terms, the blog was costly as just a blog but much more efficient as a driver of radio content.
  • The best way to get noticed online is links and the best way to get links is to give good links yourself. That is, you have to play by the established rules of engagement and, online, that means linking prolifically.

Many of the ideas, tools and techniques we used as part of the BBC Manchester Blog have since been embraced by other BBC Blogs, websites and programmes. Indeed, word about the model we created for the BBC Manchester Blog has traveled far and wide, sometimes taking us with it, influencing a number of interesting projects elsewhere.

As for Richard and myself - well, we'll probably keep on blogging and, with any luck, will keep in touch with some of the great people we've met through the BBC Manchester Blog.

We'd like to thank all of you who took notice of or participated in the BBC Manchester Blog. You'll find links to some great Manchester blogs in our sidebar.

Finally, we'd like to say a special thanks to our good friend Kate Feld who, for a few months at the beginning of the project, became the BBC's first ever local on-air blog reviewer. If you want to delve beneath the surface of Manchester by reading it's blogs, Kate's Manchizzle is, in our opinion, the epicenter of the local blogging community.

Best wishes - and happy blogging.

Robin Hamman and Richard Fair



Hairballs and blogging

  • Richard Fair
  • 30 Dec 07, 11:41 AM

I’m not officially back in work until Wednesday, but it was either ‘nipping upstairs to do a bit of writing’ or cleaning up the umpteenth hairball that the cat has suddenly found a taste for. I think it’s his way of getting his own back for us all leaving him on his own on Christmas Day as we didn’t want to leave Mother on her own - I’d dread to think what she’d have resorted to.

So I spent a good part of Christmas away from home. Away from the computer. Away from all that food we stocked up on for fear of the shops never opening again.

And it seems that a lot of the Manchester bloggers have been (or still are) away too, with little sign of life in that place affectionately known as the blogophere. Of course the really geeky ones have still managed to update their blogs and picture sites despite being miles from civilisation or ‘another chance to watch Extras’.

IckleWeb was heading for Inverness last time I looked while Notebooks is spending a few days in that traditional New Year party hotspot – Llandudno. “There is a creative purpose to my trip”, she says, “as I'm thinking of setting a text in Llandudno. I did some research online and on Flickr, but obviously I need to go and see everything for myself.” So what are you planning on doing for the other six days of your week there?

From next week the BBC Manchester Blog will be getting a bit of a rejuvenation as mentioned in the last posting -speaking of which thanks to all those who sent me their thoughts. Actually when I say all of those who sent me their thoughts, I mean just Thomas.

We’re going to be featuring the best and worse of the Manchester Blogs each week with a picture of the week and from time to time we’d like to offer you the chance to write something for us about blogging and the blogging community as well as having non-blogging guest writers along to write about pretty much anything. We’re also looking to update the blog roll. We can’t possibly list all the Manchester Blogs – Manchizzle does its best to do that anyway - but we do want to know what you’re up to so we can send you some extra traffic. We’ll be listing blogs on merit.

Hang on, I can hear the cat mewing. It’s that mew that says ‘Hey I’m on my own down here and I have a little something for you’. I just hope he hasn’t bought another set of pans from bid.tv – it’s a long story.

User Generated Content

  • Richard Fair
  • 28 Nov 07, 09:06 AM

I do get carried away with new ideas. I was invited to speak at an event the other week showcasing a number of short documentaries about Berlin made entirely on mobile phones.

For the next couple of days I filmed everything that moved with my phone and stayed up all night editing. I even found myself dusting off the old keyboard and creating some bits of soundtrack. Great fun and all because I was asked to speak about ‘user generated content’ – how to get your stuff on the TV or radio.

In the new year I’m going to be exploring this more and more through this Blog, bbc.co.uk/manchester and BBC Radio Manchester.

Just about every media outlet is asking for your texts, e-mails, pictures and video clips. Hundreds of thousands get sent in every day but few are used. Are we all missing a trick? We’ve gone some way to exploring this already with the BBC Manchester Blog, but we’re only just scratching the surface.

I’d be interested in hearing your experiences of submitting text, e-mails and pictures to the media. Have you had things read out or images used? Have you tried and failed and now just given up? You can leave your thoughts here or e-mail me direct – richard.fair@bbc.co.uk - some may be quoted or read on-air, but at this stage, I’ll make no promises.

Manchester International Festival: Day 13

  • Richard Fair
  • 10 Jul 07, 08:57 AM

Apparently the quietest thing you can eat in a cinema is a prawn sandwich. This reliable piece of cinema etiquette comes to me from If you're sad and like beer... and she should know as she spends a lot of time eating prawn sandwiches or in the cinema, or both.

If you're sad and like beer... was just one of over twenty Manchester Bloggers who came to the BBC Manchester Blog Meet in the International Festival Pavilion. All huddled round various laptops like striking workers around braziers, we were somewhat conspicuous with only a couple of late comers asking if we were the bloggers. I'm not really sure who they thought we may have been sat there with more gadgets than Curry’s on the table.

It’s not the first meet-up we've had so it was nice to see so many new faces. “I like to put a face to a blog”, as Stephen Newton put it just before a myriad of camera flashes went off as bloggers took pictures of bloggers while other bloggers took pictures of bloggers taking pictures. And then they do that thing that people with digital cameras do. They come and show you the picture they just took.

“That’s you”. “Is it? Me? Gosh, I look just like I do in the mirror, only you managed to capture by bad side and my mouth looks like I’m hiding a gerbil in it. And this is going on Flickr? Oh, it’s already there. How fantastic is that”. But that’s technology for you. Gone are the days of grabbing the camera off them, opening the back and exposing all the film.

People blog for different reasons. You get those hardened bloggers - the ones that turned up with their laptops and passed free WiFi passwords round like Russian spies (sorry Julia) - the ‘If it moves, blog it’ type. Some don’t actually know why it is they blog - and some don’t admit to blogging as though it’s some kind of social disease – “I don’t blog myself, but I blog for others”. For some it’s a hobby, for some it’s a diary, for some it’s their work, for some it’s a way of networking, for some it’s a way of making money, for some it’s exhibitionism, for some it’s none of the above. They just do it because.

Thanks to all those that turned up. I must admit at being slightly worried about the picture of the cup that was left behind (see below). Nuts and bolts? Perhaps there’s a need for a blog about things people leave behind after blog meets.

Festival Pavilion
I had the offer of tasting some of Heston Blumenthal’s Chilled Summer Treats last night, but I decided to stay with the Bloggers and instead sampled the slightly warmer Mushroom Stroganoff in the Festival Pavilion. A good portion of mushrooms in a creamy sauce on a bed of rice with extra vegetables and salad served on a stylish plastic plate. All that and change from a tenner.

Under the canvas of the Pavilion with the rain outside I felt like I was on holiday in North Wales, the only difference being that Mum and Dad never had a live band playing folk music from around the world. The band was called “Muhumphamum” I think, or it could have been “Medhomemonth”. I made a proper effort to listen to their name when they were thanked at the end, “Mphftplumb”, I think the MC said but I may have been wrong.

Tonight
I’m off to see The Pianist. It’s had rave reviews so I can’t wait. I may even take a prawn sandwich with me for company.

Blogs
Those that blogged about last night’s meet are as follows (I will update this as more appear):

Notebooks
Cybersoc
Spinneyhead
Paul Hurst on Flickr
Mersey Basin Campaign Blog
It's a Blog Not a Log
Craig McGinty
Mamucium
More pictures on Flickr

Manchester Bloggers Facebook Group

  • Robin Hamman
  • 11 Jun 07, 09:53 AM

Each day, around 100,000 people join facebook, a social networking site that allows you to keep track of and communicate with friends and colleagues. Or, at least, that's how I would have described it a few months ago, before facebook started to allow [NY Times Registration Req'd] users to do all sorts of customisations to their profiles, like pulling in RSS feeds from blogs and integrating services like twitter.

Facebook was started by a student at Harvard University as a way to help new students meet one another. He then rolled it out across the American university system and, then, opened it up outside of academia. What once was just for students is now, some of those students complain, being taken over by their parents.

Social networking services like linked in myspace, facebook, twitter and others aren't for everyone but I often find them a useful way to keep in touch with friends and contacts. If you're on facebook, or fancy giving it a go, why not join the Manchester Bloggers Facebook Group that we just started. You never know, someone might poke you if you do.

(PS. Don't forget to think about your own personal safety when posting personal information online. See the BBC's Chat Guidefor more information.)

Feed Us To Join Us

  • Robin Hamman
  • 8 Mar 07, 05:31 PM

At the recent BBC Manchester blogging workshop we explained that we had set up an RSS feed reader to make it easier for us to keep track of any new posts made by Manchester's bloggers. We reckon there's no harm in you seeing what we're reading so here's a link if you want to have a look yourself.

You don't really need to know what RSS is or how it works to participate in the project, but if you're interested in learning more this introduction to RSS is a good starting point.

Do you think we should (or shouldn't) be watching your blog? If so, drop us an email: manchester.blog@bbc.co.uk

If you are listed you should get an email from us in the next couple of days with some excerpts of the BBC's Editorial Policies and our Producers Guidelines. To get a link from us all we ask is:

a) that you take a few minutes to read the guidelines
b) after reading those guidelines, you agree to let us know, preferrably before you hit the publish button, if you intend to or have broken those guidelines so that we can remove the link
c) we request that (although it's not mandatory) that you link back to us from your blogroll and, if possible, some or all of the other participants as well

That's it. In return we'll link to the front page of your Manchester based blog from our blogroll and, whenever we can, we'll highlight and link to the best of the content you post online.

If you don't see your name on the list of feeds we're watching, send us an email with your url and a short description so we can have a look.

Your Reviews of the BBC Manchester Blogging Workshop

  • Robin Hamman
  • 28 Feb 07, 05:37 PM

Rather than writing our own, no doubt glowing review of the first BBC Manchester blogging workshop, we thought instead we'd practise a bit of what we spoke that evening and link out instead. Just in case you missed it, you can find links to all the different tools and services we spoke about, along with a handful of tips and ideas, in the rather long winded post I wrote the morning following the event.

The first point of call for finding "the conversation", as many bloggers call it, about the workshop was Technorati where I searched for the URL of this blog which came up with around 5 or 6 posts.

I clicked through to each post or page linking to us and, if there were further links to be found there, clicked through to those too. Then, with loads of browser windows open, I set about bookmarking them using del.icio.us. You'll find the results here. This allowed me not just to keep track of the posts, but also to share them with other interested parties (eg. the boss, impressed mates, etc).

So, returning to those links, what did people think of the first of what we hope will be many BBC Manchester blogging workshops?

Well, my colleague Richard Fair certainly sounds relieved that I did most of the talking. After Richard did a short intro, and I waffled for a few moments, Julia helped us find our feet and get into the swing of things by telling us how she got started blogging. In her post about the event, which includes some of the better photos (silly me, I HAD two cameras there, I took ZERO good photos), does a nice job of encapsalating what it is we were trying to do with the evening:

"The goal of the workshop was to bring together the Mancunian bloggers of all degrees of proficiency and to cover a variety of topics, from choosing the right platform to making money with your blog."

Julia goes on to mention that Craig McGinty, brave soul that he is, got up and did a short turn towards the end of the workshop on how to monetise a blog. Craig is a freelance journalist who makes most of his living from the various blogs he authors, including ThisFrenchLife, which he used to demonstrate how you can make effective use of Google Adsense, Amazon Associates and other revenue sharing programmes. Craig's now kindly posted up some fairly extensive notes on what he said. Thanks Craig.

Ickle web came to the workshop with a specific goal in mind:

"An interesting evening all round, it was the BBC Manchester blogging workshop. Assembled were a wide selection of bloggers (and possible future bloggers) listening to Robin waxing lyrical on blogging. For me, I was looking for ways to sell some of my photographs as prints, posters and the like."

We didn't do a very good job of answering that one very definitively so if anyone has any ideas...

Speaking of photographers, Toast, who is taking a photo each day for a year, came along. Sadly he didn't take any photos of the workshop but if he had, believe me when I say they probably would have been really beautiful and insightful.

Ben Wright, who has just published his first novel The Fatal Verse of the Valley, has been too busy blogging the Oscars to write about the workshop.

Stuart, whose blog Modern Life is Rubbish has a technorati ranking in the low 2000's (that's REALLY good) and who wrote his own blog software because all the commercial stuff he used just couldn't support his traffic came along and scared us with acronyms: php, sql... uh, what?! Anyway, he said:

"What followed was a fairly casual walkthrough of some of the basics behind establishing, maintaining and promoting a blog - all fairly elementary but essential aspects of bloggery."

Next time I think we'll ask Stuart to stand up and do some of the less elementary bits! ;-)

Award for most complimentary (the cash we promised is behind reception - just give your name) blog post about the event goes to Johnathan at Wordcast who wrote:

"The evening was very well crafted for people new to blogs and old hands alike. There was something for everyone. They touched on the various tools you can use to blog such as; Blogger, Wordpress, Moveable Type and Type pad. They also touched on ways to monitor the effectiveness of your blog with services like Technorati and Statcounter."

By the way, that box by the front door that says "please put your used visitor pass here" was a bit lighter than we expected it to be at the end of the evening. Speaking of guidelines, Lewis wanted to know more about the BBC's editorial guidelines and, in particular, what we might and might not be willing and able to link to. Well, if it's any comfort, Mancubist didn't even turn up and he got a link soon after from the BBC England home page so we must not be too greedy with those links, aye?

For those I've missed, you'll have to forgive me - having entirely missed out on the 50p cans of fosters rumoured to have been available behind the bar, I made up for it at our apres blog workshop location with a small group of people who stuck around. If I didn't link to you but you were there do post a comment below with a link to your blog, flickr photos, myspace page or whatever.

Thanks again to everyone who came along. We really enjoyed it and hope to organise more of these in the near future.

The First BBC Manchester Blog Workshop

  • Robin Hamman
  • 23 Feb 07, 11:27 AM

A big thank you to the 20 people to turned up for the first BBC Manchester blogging workshop on Thursday evening.

Because it was the first session, we spent some time at the beginning introducing the project itself and explaining what both you and the BBC can expect. This was followed by a whirlwind tour of blogging tools and techniques which, we hope, gave everyone from complete beginners to experienced bloggers some useful ideas and information.

The tools we looked at included some blogging platforms that are easy to use and, where not free, at least offer you a free trial period to try them out: Blogger, Typepad and Vox. We probably should have also mentioned Live Journal, Myspace which offer some basic blogging features along with social networking. Some of the more technically minded people at the workshop also spoke about MovableType and WordPress. This isn't an exhaustive list - you may find other tools and services out there that more closely meet your requirements.

We also had a look at some bits and pieces that you can use in tandem with your blog to make your content available to a wider audience. Those included the photo sharing site flickr where you can host and "tag" photos then use the "blog this" feature to post the image to your blog. This is a good way of putting some of your blog content out where audiences are, so make sure you link back to your blog from the images you put on flickr. We also briefly mentioned NowPublic, a social news site where you can post newsie audio, video, images and stories and YouTube where you can post video - again, linking from this content back to your blog to help audiences find you.

There are lots of other bolt on services that add functionality to your blog. We pointed out StatCounter which is a useful tool for understanding more about who your visitors are and how they found you. We also briefly showed Technorati which helps bloggers track the buzz their posts generate revealing all the posts on other blogs that link to you. I also showed winksite, a service that makes it possible for people to read your blog on their mobile phone, and Last fm which tracks and displays the most recent music you've played on your computer or mp3 player.

Blogging is both the use of a blogging platform, often with lots of pieces of functionality from other services bolted on, but it's also a technique that enables you to become part of the conversation. Technorati, mentioned above, is the tool of choice for many bloggers who want to find and participate in that conversation. A lot of bloggers also use RSS feed readers to make it easier to watch lots of blogs and other news sources at once. I also finddel.icio.us useful because it allows me to bookmark and share interesting content and can also publish those links to my blog.

The first workshop was also a good opportunity for to find out a little bit more about you. It seems from the feedback that next time round we need to try to have two sessions, one targetted at beginners and that specifically helps them get registered for and start using some of the tools and techniques above, and another session targetted more at intermediate and advanced bloggers. The first session is pretty straight forward for Richard and I to plan so watch this space for details. The second session, however, is a bit more difficult for us to dream up on our own so please do drop us a line or post a comment below if you've got some ideas.

A few people have already blogged about the workshop. We'll do a wrap up post linking out to all of those in the next few days, giving people a chance to blog it if they haven't already done so. We're also looking for photos (silly us - we brought our camera and didn't take any pictres!) so if you've got some, maybe use this opportunity to post them to flickr and tag them with "bbcmanchesterblog" to make it easier for us to find them.

Finally, we'd really like for everyone who attended to post a comment below or send us an email giving us the address of their blogs so that we can put them into our RSS reader and start watching. In the coming days, we'll also send round an email with a few of our editorial guidelines so that you have a better idea of what we can and can't link to.

Many thanks again to everyone who came along and in particular to those who helped spread the word in advance. We're looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you at the next session(s).

Robin and Richard

Reminder: Blogging Workshop on Thursday

  • Robin Hamman
  • 21 Feb 07, 11:29 AM

The first BBC Manchester blogging workshop will be taking place from 6pm to 8pm on Thursday 22nd February at the BBC on Oxford Road.

Although they're quite friendly, the security guards on the door will need to check your name off the list and might want to have a peek into your rucksack so if you're planning on coming, and haven't done so already, make sure you email your details to us as soon as possible: manchester.blog@bbc.co.uk

The workshop will cover choosing the right publishing platform, tips for getting started, getting your content syndicated and noticed more widely, keeping track of "the conversation" your blog joins and becomes a part of, and ways you can make your blog pay for any costs you might incur.

We'll also be talking a bit about the BBC's Editorial Guidelines to give you a better idea of what we might - and can't - link to or talk about on air. The format will be pretty open, with lots of opportunities for you to interact with us (the BBC guys) and other bloggers.

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind

  • Richard Fair
  • 2 Feb 07, 11:04 AM

The best laid plans of mice and men - and bloggers for that matter, often go awry – especially when gale force winds bring Manchester to a complete standstill. One or two hardened (windswept) travellers managed to make it and enjoyed an informal chat over a mug of coffee before braving the trip home.

So, never ones to be beaten, we’ve rescheduled the first BBC Manchester Blogging Workshop for Thursday 22nd February. It’ll be at the BBC on Oxford Road from 6pm – 8pm and as before you’ll need to book your place by e-mailing us with your contact details to manchester.blog@bbc.co.uk (and it’s ok, we know all about Viagra and bank detail authentication).

The workshop will cover finding the right publishing platform, tips for getting started, getting your content syndicated and noticed more widely, keeping track of "the conversation" your blog joins and becomes a part of, and ways you can make your blog pay for any costs you might incur.

We'll also be talking a bit about the BBC's Editorial Guidelines to give you a better idea of what we might - and can't - link to or talk about on air. The format will be pretty open, with lots of opportunities for you to interact with us (the BBC guys) and other bloggers.

We can’t give any guarantees about the weather, but we do promise you a warm welcome at the BBC!

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind

  • Richard Fair
  • 2 Feb 07, 11:04 AM

The best laid plans of mice and men - and bloggers for that matter, often go awry – especially when gale force winds bring Manchester to a complete standstill. One or two hardened (windswept) travellers managed to make it and enjoyed an informal chat over a mug of coffee before braving the trip home.

So, never ones to be beaten, we’ve rescheduled the first BBC Manchester Blogging Workshop for Thursday 22nd February. It’ll be at the BBC on Oxford Road from 6pm – 8pm and as before you’ll need to book your place by e-mailing us with your contact details to manchester.blog@bbc.co.uk (and it’s ok, we know all about Viagra and bank detail authentication).

The workshop will cover finding the right publishing platform, tips for getting started, getting your content syndicated and noticed more widely, keeping track of "the conversation" your blog joins and becomes a part of, and ways you can make your blog pay for any costs you might incur.

We'll also be talking a bit about the BBC's Editorial Guidelines to give you a better idea of what we might - and can't - link to or talk about on air. The format will be pretty open, with lots of opportunities for you to interact with us (the BBC guys) and other bloggers.

We can’t give any guarantees about the weather, but we do promise you a warm welcome at the BBC!

Manchester Blogging Workshop #1

  • Richard Fair
  • 19 Jan 07, 09:56 AM

I just knew things weren’t going to be easy when just two minutes into my afternoon programme on BBC Radio Manchester, the power went off at G-Mex where we were for the Caravan and Motorhome Show.

Inside the exhibition we were warm and very much had warm summer days on our mind. Outside the wind was trying as hard as it could to get in. Across the country people were battling against the elements, but as so often happens in the UK, the adverse weather conditions was slowly bringing the transport system to its knees.

By 4pm Robin was coming to the conclusion that his journey from London to Manchester to help host the first Manchester Blogging Workshop was never going to be completed – well not in Manchester anyway.

The following couple of hours was met by a steady trickle of e-mails and phone calls from disappointed bloggers resigned to the fact that they were just not going to make it.

But in true BBC style, I felt that the show must go on.

We ended up with five bloggers – actually that’s four bloggers and one potential blogger – who joined me for an informal chat about travel tales, blogging and voles (thanks Kate).

We plan to rearrange the workshop in the near future and all those who have already registered interest will be notified of the new date. If you’d like to join us then drop us an e-mail at manchester.blog(at)bbc.co.uk and we’ll add you to the mailing list.

I’ve not heard from Robin since he sent me a text from Birmingham around 5pm last night, so perhaps he’s still trying to get home.

After Toast left the meeting he went off to find the subject(s) of his photo of the day. His quest is to take a picture a day for a whole year. This is what he found.

Poor Lewis had a bit of a nightmare journey to get to the Workshop, eventually arriving at 7.30. Read what he has to say about it on his blog.

Post Script:
Robin has finally touched base. He got home at 10pm, but the trouper that he is, he took loads of pictures of his travels and even ended up reporting for BBC WM!

Manchester Blogging Workshop Today (Thurs)

  • Robin Hamman
  • 18 Jan 07, 01:26 PM

Tonight's the night for the first BBC Manchester Blogging Workshop.

The workshop will cover finding the right publishing platform, tips for getting started, getting your content syndicated and noticed more widely, keeping track of "the conversation" your blog joins and becomes a part of, and ways you can make your blog pay for any costs you might incur. We'll also be talking a bit about the BBC's Editorial Guidelines to give you a better idea of what we might - and can't - link to or talk about on air.

The format will be pretty open, with lots of opportunities for you to interact with us (the BBC guys) and other bloggers.

If you haven't already sent us your name to get it on the list, drop us an email or post a comment on this post and we'll add you. Without a name on a list, it will be hard for us to convince the security guy we know you! Speaking of security, don't bring along anything dodgy (dirty underwear, handcuffs, etc) in your bags because they are liable to be searched upon entry.

Oh, and fingers crossed the train I'm sitting on somewhere in the Midlands gets me there before you arrive at the BBC on Oxford Road about 6pm (no entry after 6.30pm).

Manchester Blogging Workshop Today (Thurs)

  • Robin Hamman
  • 18 Jan 07, 01:26 PM

Tonight's the night for the first BBC Manchester Blogging Workshop.

The workshop will cover finding the right publishing platform, tips for getting started, getting your content syndicated and noticed more widely, keeping track of "the conversation" your blog joins and becomes a part of, and ways you can make your blog pay for any costs you might incur. We'll also be talking a bit about the BBC's Editorial Guidelines to give you a better idea of what we might - and can't - link to or talk about on air.

The format will be pretty open, with lots of opportunities for you to interact with us (the BBC guys) and other bloggers.

If you haven't already sent us your name to get it on the list, drop us an email or post a comment on this post and we'll add you. Without a name on a list, it will be hard for us to convince the security guy we know you! Speaking of security, don't bring along anything dodgy (dirty underwear, handcuffs, etc) in your bags because they are liable to be searched upon entry.

Oh, and fingers crossed the train I'm sitting on somewhere in the Midlands gets me there before you arrive at the BBC on Oxford Road about 6pm (no entry after 6.30pm).

Blogging Workshop at BBC Manchester

  • Robin Hamman
  • 30 Nov 06, 02:46 PM

The first BBC Manchester Blogging Workshop will take place at BBC Manchester at 6pm on Thursday the 18th of January, 2007. This free two hour workshop is for anyone who wants to learn more about blogging and/or creating and publishing content online.

The idea behind the BBC Manchester Blog has always been to use this as an experiment to see how we might be able to help people create and share content online. That is, we're hoping to use this project to help us find the good Manchester based content that's already online, initiate a conversation with the people creating it and see what we can do to help highlight that content by linking to it or getting that content on air.

So far we've had Kate, Geoff, Craig and Julia on BBC Radio Manchester. Geoff and Kate also appeared, along with A Free Man in Preston, in the piece about the Manchester Blog Awards that I did for BBC Radio 5 Live's Pods and Blogs

Having demonstrated to the bosses that there is compelling content (not that the were in any doubt in the first place - thankfully for us they really do get this!), it's time for us to move to phase two of the project: a workshop for Manchester based bloggers and would be bloggers.

Topics covered will include:

  • finding the right publishing platform - from blogger to typepad, flickr to youtube, myspaceto NowPublic there's a place that's right for you to publish your content online (and often it's free)
  • tips on getting started - naming your site or page, getting noticed, getting listed by directories and search sites
  • syndicating and sharing your content more widely - making it easier to find new audiences and for them to keep track of you using RSS, email updates, email lists, iTunes (for podcasts), and social bookmarking services like del.icio.us
  • techniques for finding and joining in "the conversation" - using RSS, technorati, co.mments and other tools to find and track the buzz you generate
  • keeping it going - how to make you efforts financially sustainable with google adsense, amazon associates and other revenue sharing programmes
  • We'll also introduce the BBC's editorial guidelines, and provide a quick legal briefing covering libel and other issues, because we want to help you keep out of trouble and to understand what we can, and can't, link to from the BBC Manchester Blog

You don't have to have a blog to attend and we think that both those completely new to creating and publishing content online, as well as those who find it old hat, could benefit from at least some of the advice and discussions we're planning.

The workshop will be run by BBC Radio Manchester's Richard Fair who, in addition to covering blogs in his new radio show and posting here, has had a number of blogs for years and by Robin Hamman (me!) who heads up the BBC's Blog Network, runs workshops for people authoring or producing BBC blogs, reports for 5 Live's Pods and Blogs, and whose personal blog has recently been listed as one of the top .02% of blogs globally by blog tracking service technorati. We're also hoping to have a number of guest contributors - TBC.

Space is limited so if you'd like to come along you have to do two things: leave us a comment below and send us an email at manchester.blog(at)bbc.co.uk

What is a Manchester blog?

  • Richard Fair
  • 9 Nov 06, 12:00 PM

I blog often. Too often some may say, but I promise I will get round to finishing the kitchen soon ok?

Sometimes I blog about Manchester. Things I see or hear or worry about. Sometimes there are other things going on in my life or my head that are not Manchester related and I blog about them.

So when I don’t blog about Manchester is it still a Manchester blog because the words are being typed into a computer in Manchester. And what if I’m at home (technically not actually in Manchester but close enough to see the early morning smog) writing about Manchester, is that a Manchester blog?

Looking through all the ‘Manchester’ blogs I keep an eye on, I’m surprised by how many of them don’t actually talk much about Manchester. The odd little quip here and there, but most of the time they’re talking about America or war or those little cotton things you shouldn’t stick in your ears but do because you can’t get your finger in there.

So I guess what I’m seeking here are some pointers towards Manchester blogs that talk almost exclusively about Manchester. Life, food, love, music, food, sport, food.

That’ll do for now. Anyone know the best way to clean dried grout of kitchen tiles?

The 43 goes to Salford Quays

  • Richard Fair
  • 10 Oct 06, 10:34 AM

There's no hiding the fact that the BBC Manchester Blog has close ties with BBC Manchester's website and BBC Radio Manchester.

The bigger plan is that all of these - and hopefully TV too - will feed into each other sharing ideas, contacts and stories giving you direct access to the programme makers and them ears and eyes on the ground.

BBC Radio Manchester has already featured a number of Manchester bloggers including, yesterday, Geoff who writes 43.

We were down at Salford Quays with Studio 6 (on-air Monday to Friday 2-4pm - you can listen online if not in Manchester). Geoff came and spoke to me about 43 and his short listing for the Manchester Blog Awards and read out one of his postings as an example of what he writes.

Hopefully in return Geoff will get increased traffic and interest and encouragement to continue blogging Manchester.

Hear Geoff on BBC Radio Manchester

Manchester Blog Awards: 16 October

  • Robin Hamman
  • 9 Oct 06, 04:41 PM

manchester_blog_awards_logo

The awards ceremony for the first ever Manchester Blog Awards will take place at Urbis next Monday (16 October) starting at 7pm.

The selection process, we're told, was difficult but there's now a shortlist of blogs vying for awards in each of the four categories: political, personal, arts and culture, and blog of the year.

The BBC Manchester Blog team will be there to cover the event for the BBC Manchester website and to record interviews for both BBC Radio Manchester and BBC 5 Live's Pods and Blogs.

More importantly, we're hoping to meet with people who are already creating, or want to create, great web content so we can discuss how we might be able to work together. To encourage you to walk over and introduce yourself, we'll be bringing a limited number of BBC t-shirts to hand out at the event. Do come say hello!

The event, organised by Manchizzle as part of the Manchester Literature Festival, is free, open to all and will be followed by drinks (the only thing you have to pay for) and live entertainment from Verberate. Andrew Wilshere at Newfred Rebooted created the blog awards logo above.

Your Coverage of the Labour Party Conference

  • Robin Hamman
  • 26 Sep 06, 04:27 PM

Have you been documenting or covering, in your own way, the Labour Party Conference in Manchester? Have you taken photos of the conference and published them on a photosharing website, posted a video to youtube, or put some audio online as a podcast?

If so, you can help us find your stuff by posting a link as a comment here, dropping us an email (manchester.blog at bbc.co.uk) or by tagging it with bbcmanchesterblog.

We can't promise anything, but in the past few weeks the BBC Manchester blog (this one!) has helped BBC Radio Manchester find several local bloggers with interesting stories to tell - first we had Craig McGinty on to talk about making a living from blogging and, more recently, Manchizzle to talk about the Political Blogging panel debate she organised at Urbis. Who knows, you might just be the next Nick Robinson...

Why Blog?

  • Richard Fair
  • 14 Sep 06, 01:34 PM

"I blog therefore I am" - René Descartes (misquoted)

But why do we blog? I can think of more reasons not to blog than I can think of for committing myself to the daily routine of writing blogs, reading blogs and commenting on blogs. But I still do it.

So why do we blog? How would you convince someone who has never blogged to start? I know people who've said that they don't blog because they've nothing to blog about, a concept that a vast number of bloggers have never really thought about (otherwise there wouldn't be as many as there are!).

Granted there are a lot of blogs out there that don't really serve a purpose other than to be a voice on the internet for the writer, but many more blogs do serve an audience. It could be for the sharing of ideas and opinions, problem solving, reviews, training, news etc. etc. But would we miss them if they were not there?

It would be interesting to know how Manchester bloggers first got into it. How have your blogs evolved. Are they personal online diaries or are they serving an online community in some way? And does being based in Manchester make any difference to what or how you blog?

Let us know why you blog by adding a comment to this post or by sending an e-mail to us. It'll help us understand a little more about what makes Manchester bloggers tick.

Photos in a Haystack

  • Robin Hamman
  • 24 Aug 06, 04:52 PM

I've been spending some time looking at photos tagged with Manchester on flickr. Lot's of time - there are 72,130 of them and that doesn't even take into account photos that have been tagged with the name of one of the nine boroughs.

So how does Manchester compare to rival cities? Liverpool has 33,178 and Birmingham, always the source of much lively debate on the BBC Manchester message board, has just 48,635 photos.

What does it mean? Probably not a whole lot other than that there are loads of people taking snaps of Manchester and the surrounding area. So many, in fact, that we're faced with a rather large haystack and need some help sifting through it.

If you've published photos on flickr (or another photo sharing site) and want to help us find them, please tag them with bbcmanchesterblog or send us a link.

Our favourite so far? This shot by Jane, who we mentioned in an earlier post, of light and an anonymous figure filling the void between the curved walls of the Central Library and Town Hall.

Starting a Conversation

  • Robin Hamman
  • 24 Aug 06, 02:16 PM

We've started to get emails and some comments on the blog from people who are interested in finding out more about this project. We're aware that the email address seems to be bouncing - it works internally, honest! Someone is fixing that right now so if you've been emailing please try again in a bit.

We've also noticed a few posts about this blog, starting with fairy tales for a digital age - thanks for being first. Spineyhead also reached out and linked to us - even after we failed to link to him in our first day online. Friends now mate?

Manchizzle, who recently organised a blog meet for Manchester bloggers (wish we'd known about it!) helped us get an awkward question out of the way early by saying:

For this, they will not be paid - well, not in anything but traffic and bragging rights (I can hear a few people snickering already about this being a clever way for the Beeb to land themselves some free, fresh, local content). But there's no denying that this could be an opportunity for some bloggers to increase their audience...

You aren't the first person to ask if this is just about the BBC getting some free content and we've put a lot of thought into this. It's true that some of the content from participants will appear on this blog and, perhaps, be used on the BBC Manchester Where I Live site or on-air. We could do this, so long as it fell within the normal "fair use" clauses of copyright law, without asking anyone. But that's not what this is all about. It's about building relationships with people who are, or who want to, create stuff and publish it online. We want to help participants build their own audiences and make their efforts self-sustainable.

With those goals in mind, we'd be happy, if asked, to show participants how to sign up for google adsense, amazon associates or other sources of blog revenue. It also means that rather than lifting participant's content wholesale or grabbing entire posts/videos/podcasts, instead we'll be excerpting bits and wrapping some editorial around it to encourage our audiences to visit the source. It's more of a showcase for the participants - which is why we said in the first post here that the BBC won't actually own anything: not the infrastructure used by participants or their content.

As you say in your post, this might just be an opportunity for *some* bloggers to get a bit of promotion and traffic out of the BBC. We hope that's exactly what it is. Thanks Manchizzle for giving us the opportunity to discuss that issue early on. Do feel free to comment below on our response!

We're Looking for Your Manchester Content

  • Robin Hamman
  • 23 Aug 06, 04:26 PM

As we mentioned in the first post, we're hoping to build relationships between BBC Manchester and people who are using, or want to use, the internet to create and publish some great content about Manchester. We reckon the best way to find potential participants is to open our eyes and ears to what's already online.

Our first stop was Britblog, a blog aggregator that lists UK based blogs according to their location, has 109 blogs listed for Manchester. Whilst, at first glance, it looks like some of those are spam blogs and others are long ago forgotten efforts, there are some promising looking blogs here. We've bookmarked the page and will start working our way through them over the coming days and weeks.

We're also using technorati to search for mentions of Manchester - which, rather dauntingly, there were over 1000 of yesterday - as well as mentions of any of Greater Manchester's nine boroughs.

That's a lot of potential blogs to look at already so we're using an RSS aggregator to subscribe to feeds from any blogs we decide to keep a better eye on.

I've also been looking around the photo sharing site flickr and have come across some excellent local photographers, for example Jane, whose photostream is full of beautiful shots, often taken in hazy light conditions, of South Manchester as well as other areas in and around Greater Manchester. If you have photos on flickr that you'd like us to see you can either email us with a URL to your photo stream or tag your photos with "bbcmanchesterblog" and we'll find them.

In future, we'll also be looking at other photosharing, podcasting and video sharing sites.

You can help us find good Manchester related content - blogs, photos, videos, podcasts, whatever - by posting links in the comments below or emailing us. Those links can be to content you've created, stuff you've enjoyed finding yourself, or ideas for content you'd like to create and publish online if you had the chance to learn how to do so. We're looking forward to your tips!

BBC Manchester Blog

  • Richard Fair
  • 23 Aug 06, 03:47 PM

One of the things we thought we'd do at the start of this blog was explain exactly what it is we're trying to accomplish. For years, the BBC has been looking at ways to engage more directly with it's audiences. We've promoted email addresses on air and asked for photo submissions, we've stuck comment forms on the bottom of articles, we've spend countless hours building message boards and community platforms, our staff have reviewed and approved millions upon millions of messages - and what have we learned? That all this is expensive business.

In the past, whenever the BBC has sought to do something with user generated content we've built new platforms, taken on the role of managing all the content that floods in, asserted some rights over that content (although not ownership in the vast majority of cases) and, some would argue, exposed the BBC to legal and moral risks. Furthermore, doing things in the old way had a bit of a sting in the tail - if a service really took off, and sometimes they did, the BBC would actually face increased costs because our services often don't scale well.

This project is an experiment in doing things a bit differently. Rather than building platforms, we want to help people create their own stuff on existing third party (non-BBC) platforms. Instead of contributors sending us content members of staff here at the BBC sifting through that content in a bid to find the good bits, we're simply going to ask contributors to tell us where they're publishing their content online and we'll keep an eye on it. The BBC won't claim any rights over the content and won't own anything.

What?!

Here's the plan in a nutshell:

  • We're looking for one or two participants in each each of the ten boroughs of Manchester
  • We'll organise a series of workshops for participants. During the first we'll talk participants through the BBC's Editorial Guidelines and talk about about the BBC's production values. Then we'll ask participants what sort or content (text, photos, video, audio?) they might want to create and we'll match them up with a BBC member of staff with production experience in that area.
  • Participants will then be shown existing 3rd party, that is non-BBC, websites that will enable them to publish their content online.
  • BBC Manchester blog staff will then subscribe to the RSS feeds of each participant and keep an eye on what they publish. We'll always link to the front page of their content, so long as they don't break the BBC's editorial guidelines, and when they publish something we think deserves to be highlighted we'll do so in the main body of the BBC Manchester blog.

Here's what everyone will get out of it:

  • The participants will get access to production advice and bespoke tutorials on creating and publishing content online using the tools of their choice. When their content is highlighted, they'll get (hopefully!) a burst of traffic from the BBC Manchester website. We'll do everything we can to help participants make their participation self-financing but won't be offering payment.
  • BBC Manchester will have the opportunity to build relationships with users/content contributors in a much more sustainable way in the past.
  • The BBC Manchester blog will act as a showcase for the project and, in particular, the best content that's been produced by contributors and highlighted by the BBC. This will be a "one stop shop" for BBC Manchester journalists who may want to read out content on-air, contact contributors for background information about a story, reuse a gig review on the website, or even ask a participant to go on Northwest Tonight (our regional TV news) to explain something they've covered online.

Would you like to get involved? If you've already got a blog, profile on a social networking site, flickr account, etc then let us know where to find it by sending an email to manchester.blog(at)bbc.co.uk

Robin and Richard

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