The life of Riley

I know it’s a sort of liberal utopian wet dream and I keep going on about it, but a number of things today have pushed me towards the view that our future will move significantly away from mass media, and that the change will happen much faster than most people currently expect. Indeed, the speed of progress in this change is really starting to accelerate, to become wholly entwined in the daily life of our media, and a frame of reference with which even the latest to adopt are becoming very comfortable.

The first thing is the sad story of the death of Olive Riley, the web’s oldest blogger.


Here’s an extract from an early entry:

“You 21st century people live a different life than the one I lived as a youngster in the early 1900s. Take Washing Day, for instance. These days you just toss your dirty clothes into a washing machine, press a few switches, and it’s done.

I remember scratching around to find a few pieces of wood to fire the copper for Mum.


Some time later, when the fire had gone out, Mum would haul the clothes, dripping wet, out of the hot water with a strong wooden copperstick, and that was jolly hard work. The clothes weighed a lot more sopping wet than when they were dry.

Then she would feed the wet washing into a machine called a mangle. It had two large rollers with a narrow gap between them, and a big metal wheel that had to be turned by hand. That was my job – and it was real hard work for a small kid.


Thank you to all my good friends who have sent me interesting emails and loving hugs by commenting on my blob [sic]. Love to you all, and please keep writing those comments.”

The second thing is a small thing. And it’s not, in itself, anything remarkable, but somehow it struck me particularly today. For a brief period years ago, I worked alongside Amelia Torode, who has a well-known blog. Amelia’s always had interesting things to say and often novel viewpoints on the things I’m interested in, so I read her blog and follow her on Twitter. This evening I saw this in a twitter gadget:

google stupid

The link takes you to this post on her blog. It’s exactly the sort of thing Hugh Macleod does all the time, and Scrobble used to do right up until I deleted him from Twitter and Google reader because I was having an overload problem. The post itself is really interesting and I’m glad I followed the link. But it got me thinking: isn’t this cross promotion actually a bit like this:


And this:


I don’t know how many people read Amelia’s blog, or follow her Twitter, but they’re all pretty interested in what she says in those places. And so, it’s probably a  pretty successful advert.

In the same vein, several million twitters promoted the iPhone last weekend,. Could brands really think of any places they’d rather be promoted? Even including search.

The third thing is Twitter’s acquisition of Summize, a small search-engine technology. Why is that interesting? Well look here or here, or here. This is the technology which will make twitter content available to people who don’t know the contributor (strapline: See what the world is doing — right now.”).

What will I be telling my grand kids when I’m 108 (assuming medical science figures how to reconstruct brain cells in the next 70 years)? ‘Well Johnny, you wouldn’t believe what we had to do in the old days. We had to promote all our blog entries on Twitter manually.’

1 thought on “The life of Riley”

  1. Thanks for the beautiful posting!
    I Look Forward To Your Returning to your Blog and learning more from you!

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