Friday Reading (but on a Sunday) S13E26

Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from the Guardian’s Martin Belam, covering journalism, media and technology, and other interesting nerdy things he found on the internet this week. It is now in its thirteenth season. Sign up here.

Sunday is just as good as Friday for reading, right?

Formats Unpacked tackles a subject close to my heart – the live blog:

"The Guardian’s Politics liveblog kept me transfixed throughout the day. It integrated social media updates, video clips, images, plus incisive analysis and commentary with almost every update. And these updates were happening, in some cases, every 5 minutes. As a ‘reader’ you never feel as if you’ve missed anything – you can scroll back to pick up on particular things that might have taken place before you came along (a feature unavailable to rolling news channels), plus, you know that there will almost inevitably be another new revelation along any minute. But it’s not just about analysis and media, it’s also the fact that you feel as if you’re a part of (sometimes secret) club when you read and participate in a liveblog."

Formats Unpacked: The Live Blog – How a format became the perfect marriage of journalism, community and technology

For fans of me being somewhat dry and raising an eyebrow: I will be covering the Sunak / Truss debate live on Monday night for the Guardian. I'm also going to be covering some of the Commonwealth Games live too, which will make a very welcome break of tone from covering the Ukraine war live.

"The TikTok threat to Google’s business isn’t just limited to YouTube, as it turns out. Core Google services, including Search and Maps, are also being impacted by a growing preference for social media and videos as the first stop on younger users’ path to discovery, a Google exec acknowledged today, speaking at an industry event."

"Google exec suggests Instagram and TikTok are eating into Google’s core products, Search and Maps" – Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Chris Lindsay and Leona O’Neill have a book coming out called Breaking: Trauma in the Newsroom, which they describe as "a collection of stark, brutal and courageous stories written by some of Ireland and Britain’s most renowned journalists, camera men and broadcasters. They write about how their careers impacted their mental health, left some with PTSD, others anxiety and depression – and even made some walk away from their hard-fought for dream jobs after being worn down by a conveyor belt of trauma."

Dan Brown here with an interesting restricted exercise for generating Rapid UX Personas which is more about making people think about the options they've been given than the stereotype they are likely to produce.

"In a brainstorming session for a learning app, I used roles that were related to the person’s reason for learning: naturally curious, studying for an exam, or earning credits. Distinct from the reason, the need represented the scope of what they were learning: to brush up on an old topic, to learn a new topic, or to study a topic assigned to them. Finally, the challenge reflected the type of pressure they were under, regardless of their reason or objective: they were short on time or they had never used the learning app before. These combinations worked because the options themselves are independent of each other."

Ron wants to be sure that you didn’t miss this week’s Guardian Thursday quiz: Kate’s choir, hidden portraits and J-Lo’s spouse – take the Thursday quiz

The Boy Elledge pimping him and Flashboy’s new book about conspiracy theories with some data showing that frankly a lot of the British public think a lot of weird things: “We are all conspiracy theorists now – From who killed JFK to where Covid came from, most of us are susceptible to suppositions that align with our prejudices.”

Talking of conspiracies, next time you see somebody saying “We spent £37bn on an app that didn’t work! Where did it all go?” etc etc, here is the actual report from the National Audit Office about TEST and trace.

It found “£13.5bn expenditure by NHS TEST and Trace Service (NHST&T) in 2020-21, compared with a budget of £22.2 billion” and that the service carried out 102m TESTS. Those free lateral flow tests you kept picking up and using did not appear out of nowhere.

Here’s Glenn Greenwald whining “Like clockwork, a bunch of liberal idiots who haven’t seen the film arise to say it gives him ‘credibility.'” because people have suggested it might be a bad thing for him to share a platform with *checks notes* Sandy Hook-denying Alex Jones. Glenn, people aren’t criticising you because it is cancel culture or knee-jerk liberalism or whatever. They are criticising you because sharing a platform with a guy who has repeatedly made the lives of the parent’s of the Sandy Hook victims hell is a dick move.

A Twitter thread about “what if Stranger Things was British?” went viral this week but James Moran had the best response:

“It’d be called ‘This show never got made because why now and what’s it really about and it’s too expensive and what’s the audience and what channel could it be on and it’s too commercial and do they have to be kids and we already have a sci-fi and sorry the exec has now left'”

Obiturary / tribute from 2000AD for Alan Grant, whose strips I would have read in the early eighties.

“Yet even in the silliest of scripts there was always a sharply political edge to Alan’s writing. Drawing on disdain for the populist authoritarianism of Margaret Thatcher, stories such as ‘John Cassavetes is Dead’ and ‘A Letter from a Democrat’ mocked and criticised the country’s right-ward turn.”


A retro reminisce about the Lemon Stand game, except it was a text-and-maths arbitrage adventure about selling drugs in New York during the 90s.

“As with most successful computer games of the 80s by hobbyist developers, Drug Wars was cloned, ported, and built-upon over and over again. Dell released multiple versions himself, then a game called Dope Wars for Windows swept the internet in the late 90s. The DS title Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars includes the basic drug trading arbitrage mechanic, and there have been numerous mobile variants of the game as well. There was even a Zynga-developed social network version of the game, an MMORPG that was eventually dropped in 2009. And of course, everything that was at any time popular is now being resurrected in zombie metaverse form — yes, there’s a terrible-looking Dope Wars NFT project out there now too.”

“Throwback Thursday: Drug Wars Made Narcotics Fun” – MERRIT K, Fanbyte

As someone at peak concern that their nine-year-old is going to empty their wallet to a load of digital tat, this is great news from Minecraft:

“Each of these uses of NFTs and other blockchain technologies creates digital ownership based on scarcity and exclusion, which does not align with Minecraft values of creative inclusion and playing together. NFTs are not inclusive of all our community and create a scenario of the haves and the have-nots. The speculative pricing and investment mentality around NFTs takes the focus away from playing the game and encourages profiteering, which we think is inconsistent with the long-term joy and success of our players.”

Minecraft statement that NFTs are not welcome on the platform.

You be the judge: should I let my boyfriend have three games consoles? – I feel so seen


The House Magazine and Openreach Announce Political Journalism Fellowship

My god what kind of nonsense country are we living in?

“The 21-metre rule is, according to the Stirling prize-winning architect Annalie Riches, a bizarre hangover from 1902, originally intended to protect the modesty of Edwardian women. The urban designers Raymond Unwin and Barry Parker walked apart in a field until they could no longer see each other’s nipples through their shirts. The two men measured the distance between them to be 70ft (21 metres), and this became the distance that is still used today, 120 years later, to dictate how far apart many British homes should be built. As a result, entire British neighbourhoods have been designed with more attention paid to this antiquated rule than to the risk of overheating.”

Edwardian morals, Thatcher and bad design – why Britain’s homes are so hot – Phineas Harper

The BBC has made loads of previously unavailable local news/feature archives available: BBC Rewind

DOCTOR WHO CORNER: Louise Jameson points out she is one of her earliest TV roles in the background of this clip of Disciple of Death.

“Just as the National Lottery did for the pools, so the internet has long done for the pink ’un. The impulse, mainly among men and boys, dads and lads, for team gossip, player ratings, transfer speculation, something to discuss in the pub or the workplace, has not diminished, but it is not now confined to teatime on a Saturday. It is, like everything else, always in your pocket or on your screen, searchable in the sleepless early hours, tweetable over a lunchtime sandwich. Like all news, unmoored from its allotted time and place, its pink or green physicality, it has lost a little of its specific magic.”

“Final whistle for the ‘pink ’un’: British football’s last-surviving matchday newspaper closes” – Tim Adams

Leyton Orient have concluded almost the perfect* pre-season. Got tanked at home by a team a division above them. Lost to a team about 13 divisions below us. Scrappy last minute draw with a local team who consider it a grudge derby but we never give them a second’s thought. Picked up a load of injuries. None of the triallists have impressed. Pure joy.

[*Oh god]

This made me laugh a lot though. Orient announced they were renewing the sponsorship of “the Half-Time Bin Challenge” and SpiceAlbert tweeted:

“I love this. If you’re not an #LOFC fan, you won’t know how it works: at half-time, fans vote for who they think should Get In The Bin, based on their first-half performance. The player with the most votes has to get in and stay there for the rest of the match.”

TRACK OF THE WEEK: The Man For You by Patriarchy

There was a listening party this week for that World Of Twist album. They had such a cracking pair of opening singles, didn’t they? Here’s John Robb on why they are “the great lost Manchester band”.