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Letter sent on Jan 29, 2016

Friday Reading S03E07

Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from journalist and designer Martin Belam, covering media, technology and politics. And frequently Doctor Who and 80’s music too.

If you only read one thing from the newsletter this week, make it this. A transcript of Tony Ageh at The Story in 2014 and it is a simply glorious retelling of how the BBC really managed to make the iPlayer.

I have news. I am (re)joining the Guardian next week, this time as Social & New Formats Editor in London. Everyone is thrilled.

And one of the things that I will find there is that people send real physical letters to the editor still. Not many. But still they come:

“Many letters are handwritten, many have beautifully printed stickers or letterheads bearing the sender’s address and contact details. Some apologise for having to put pen to paper, signing off with ‘Sorry for my handwriting — my computer has broken’ or ‘I have never owned a computer and my typewriter is out of action’. Some are addressed to our old Farringdon Road office, from which we moved in 2008, but still find their way to our new home at King’s Cross. Others have been word-processed before being posted, as many of us would have done in the 1980s or 90s before internet connections became commonplace. Unfortunately I don’t think I can report that any of them are written in green ink, but it is true that some are laden with block capitals (never a good sign).”

Quartz sees its readers’ behaviors evolving, so it’s evolving with them

Excellent Q&A with Jay Lauf that touches on the Quartz approach to ad-blocking, mobile revenue and apps.

Boggle your mind at these Facebook numbers.

They have a mere 934 million mobile daily active users. Here’s what that user base looks like [via Benedict Evans]

I’m a stuck record when it comes to moaning that people expressing opinions about changes to Twitter are inevitably a tiny sub-set of super-users of the service who have lost sight of the fact that their usage behaviour is an edge case. This is good from Walt Mossberg on the topic: “Twitter has become secret-handshake software — the troubled service is just too hard to use.

Anywhere but Medium” — Dave Winer

I’ve got a lot of time for Dave due to the olden times of blogging, but honestly, this post is so far divorced from the realities of how people use and consume the world wide web in 2016 as to be untrue.

A few days later, on the subject of escaping these “silos” of content he said:

“Ideally, I should be able to post the JSON file address for this post on Medium, and then all changes would automatically percolate through to readers who get to the story via Medium. And ideally, Facebook and Google would also understand that format, and we’re back where we were before all the silos formed.”

Who but the nerdiest of nerdy super-users understands what he is even explaining, let alone wants to publish in JSON?

Graham Charlton with a look at the Mail Online’s hub pages and internal linking strategy.

“Let us not be coy: there are some on the left who are stumped by poor white people. Their ethnic majority status seems to muffle sympathy for them. Their toughness on immigration is an intra-family embarrassment in Labour, like a grandparent’s enduring taste for minstrel comedy. Their lifestyles can arouse a priggish distaste.”

The UK Labour party’s farewell to the working class” — Janan Ganesh

Meanwhile, here’s a decent interview with the people behind “Jeremy Corbyn: The Musical”

Absolutely lovely photo-gallery looking through the production of vinyl records (although the article repeats the teeth-grinding “Vinyl sales are incredibly up one zillion per cent again” neglecting to mention it’s basically a shift from the square root of f*** all to just about f*** all)

“Try as I might, I now cannot convince people that I am not a journalist.”

Frances Coppola on living through a tweetstorm

“I was described as a ‘filthy Jewess’, and told to ‘get gassed, yid’ and to ‘put a gun in my mouth’. There were also helpful suggestions that I would benefit from being raped by a Muslim, and — inevitably, since I am neither young nor pretty — the comforting observation that no man would want to rape me.”

Interesting from Vice looking at the black market trading of the EA Sport’s virtual coins that you use in Fifa Ultimate Team. The game is very cleverly calibrated — if you play well, your team moves up to a higher league, but to play well in that league, you probably have to part with some cash to improve your squad. That has led, inevitably, to a trade in the coins.

I Tried To Infiltrate the Black Market of FIFA Ultimate Team Betting” — Jack Harry

This is a fab read from soon-to-be-colleague Alex Hern about his mind-blowing attempt to become a professional gamer: “Why my dream of becoming a pro gamer ended in utter failure

There’s a brilliant bit where he spends a paragraph explaining the tactics has adopted for his chosen game, and then pretty much nails the problem with nearly all niche journalism:

“It’s incomprehensible, unless you’ve already played the game, in which case it’s infuriatingly oversimplified.”

Ed is trying to win the National Lottery by watching Nicolas Cage films.

“I think it was just one of those ‘ping!’ moments when you realise that the home computer program is just audio on a cassette, so why not transmit it over air? It just seemed a cool idea.”

Old but gold — a look at how people used to download games to their computer over the radio. Almost easier than buying a physical disc for your PlayStation and then sitting through 8 hours of updates and patches before you can play it :-)

There’s now a drone racing league that feels like pod racing from Star Wars” — Jacob Templin.

Includes some stunning POV footage of what it is like to race a drone through a course at the Miami Dolphins stadium.

Regular readers might know that I am a season ticket holder at Leyton Orient. We’ve got a new manager. Last season he was playing in the Premier League. It’s quite a thing. Cue ESPN’s “At Leyton Orient, Kevin Nolan faces one of his biggest challenges

Even I know it is just a kid’s TV show about a silly man in a ridiculous box but there’s been a couple of good pieces this week about the forthcoming change at the top of running Doctor Who.

Steven Moffat has produced some great Doctor Who. So how did he become so hated?” — Jonn Elledge argues that Steven Moffat has been hard-done to by the fans. (Apparently Moffat did not appreciate this article)

Meanwhile Daniel Cooper makes a strong case that there were virtually no viable candidates to take over because of the structure of our industry: “Chris Chibnall is in charge of ‘Doctor Who,’ and it’s British TV’s fault

And Robert Colvile has decided that Steven Moffat = Donald Trump. But kind of not in the way you’d expect. Which is usually how Moffatt resolves a story.

Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from journalist and designer Martin Belam, covering media, technology and politics. And frequently Doctor Who and 80’s music too.

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