content, journalism, news, strategy

Worth reading: People will read your long stories on their phones (for two minutes, anyway)

Good news, publishers: People will read your long stories on their phones (for two minutes, anyway)
As publishers’ tablet dreams diminish, are smartphones picking up the slack when it comes to reading long articles online? A report out from the Pew Research Center [from May 2016] tries to answer that question, and comes away with some reassuring findings: Yes, people are willing to engage with longer content (i.e., news stories over 1,000 words) on their phones.…

Seems to be various schools of thought on this, how the length of the article affects chances of being read, or being read to the end, etc.

Underlying this question, it’s quality of the content, information or writing that really counts, especially for long-tale value.

May 6, 2016 at 02:50PM
via Instapaper

digital age, news

Worth reading: Your new iPhone 7 headphones will break all the time because of Apple’s obsession with minimalism

Your new iPhone 7 headphones will break all the time because of Apple’s obsession with minimalism
Deep within Apple’s labyrinthine website, beyond its beloved laptops, phones, and tablets, is a class of items that are universally reviled.

A couple of week’s old, but still interesting on the whole iPhone headphone jack saga

September 8, 2016 at 02:23PM
via Instapaper


Holiday ideas in and around Woolacombe, North Devon

Woolacombe on the north Devon coast is such a beautiful place, three miles of golden sands. I’ve spent many hours wandering along the beach, sitting on the dunes, taking in the view with a drink at the Red Barn. Letting the cares of the world drift away. What’s not to like?

Woolacombe beach looking out to sea on a sunny day
Woolacombe beach

Some ideas for what to do in and around North Devon:

  • From Woolacombe, walk up the steep, and I mean steep hill to Mortehoe for a cream tea at The  Town Farmhouse.
  • Spend and afternoon in Ilfracombe, wandering around the harbour, see Damien Hirst statue Verity statue and check out the beach through the tunnels.
  • Cycle the Tarka Trail along the riverside and disused railway route from Barnstaple to Instow, then picnic on the beach.
  • Take the Tarka Line train and enjoy the scenery from Barnstaple to Exeter [].
  • Visit the picturesque village of Clovelly, walk down the cobbled hill to the harbour. And when I say down, I mean doooown…
  • Explore Lynton & Lynmouth taking the cliff railway down to Lynmouth harbour.
  • Walk along the beach at Saunton Sands.
  • For the kids there is The Big Sheep near Bideford. 
  • Bust mostly just enjoy the relaxing atmosphere in Woolacombe, sitting and playing on the dunes, eating pasties for lunch, and fish and chips as the sun goes down, before a drink at the Red Barn.
  • Play pitch and putt on the lawns in front of, or just take in the views from the Woolacombe Bay Hotel lounge.
content, publishing, socialmedia

Twitter timeline ch-ch-ch-changes, where are we now?

So the rumours have come to fruition, a big change has begun arriving to our Twitter timelines, where we are shown an algorithm-driven stream of tweets as opposed to the current live feed unsullied by machines. The ‘best tweets first’ view is starting to appear as an option for web viewers, although users need to enable it under Settings for now – this will most likely change to the default at some point, with app updates no doubt incoming.

I’m unsure as to what the outcome will be in terms of use of the service, but #RIPTwitter was/is probably a bit premature.

From a Mashable post on the change:

The company pushed out an update Wednesday that makes its much-talked-about timeline redesign official. The new feature, which is live on Twitter’s app and website now, will show tweets that are sorted based on relevancy, rather than chronology, at the top of your timeline.

For journalists and marketers, there are other ways to view Twitter in a more focused or unfiltered fashion, Twitter lists and Tweetdeck being two solid options, see more here from FirstDraft: 10 ways local journalists can better cover their patch.

It is an inevitable conclusion to the problem of Twitter not drawing enough new users, alongside changes including the Favourites signified by stars morphing into hearts, meaning people were now ‘liking’ updates Facebook-style.

This was much to the annoyance of some (myself included) at the perception and way people had originally been using the favourite option, myself regularly as a means of bookmarking tweets to come back and view later. But we got over it and moved on, we may well do the same regarding the timeline rebirth.

Facebook users still use the service despite being delivered an artificially molded stream of updates based on various parameters. Although, via Mathew Ingram on

A survey by researchers from the University of Illinois showed that 60% of users didn’t even know that Facebook filters their feed at all.

But as Mathew Ingram points out aboutalgorithms being helpful for some,they come with risks:

By definition, algorithmic filtering means that you are not the one who is choosing what to see and not see… And while this may be helpful—because of the sheer volume of content out there—it comes with biases and risks

It’s never perfect, content of real interest fails to appear high up in people’s timelines, but we survive, and there is the option to view by ‘Most Recent’ under the Settings options.

But more widely what happens if this doesn’t work? A sale on the cards surely, and then a more uncertain future… the danger is, will it kill what makes Twitter ‘fun’ – more from Mashable?:

Twitter’s struggle, though, is that most people are not like me; they never got over platform’s messy nature. I’ve always believed that hashtags, which arrived after Twitter’s launch, were an excellent organizing principle. When Twitter figured out how to display trending hashtags, I thought it was a godsend. But it wasn’t enough for regular people who, perhaps, still associated the hashtag with telephones.

Twitter has been trying for years to make the service more obvious and accessible, right up to the new Moments, a feature they’ve force fed to existing users and one that has failed to inspire new ones.

In theory at least, the timeline change helps authenticated blue-ticked profiles which should benefit from being more prominently displayed (presuming they are tweeting interesting/topical content in the right way, nudge nudge!)

Blue pill or red pill: Which timeline is for you?

I just hope that switching between the algorithm and live timeline view is relatively easy.

Timeline control details from support:


  1. Log in to your account on and go to your Account settings page.
  2. Under Content, look for Timeline and toggle the box next to Show me the best Tweets first to change the setting.

Twitter for iOS:

  1. On your profile, tap the gear icon  and select Settings.
  2. Tap the account whose settings you’d like to adjust.
  3. Under Timeline, tap Timeline personalization.
  4. Next to Show me the best Tweets first, tap to turn it off.

Twitter for Android:

  1. Tap the overflow icon 
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Tap Timeline.
  4. Next to Show me the best Tweets first, uncheck the box to turn it off.

Further reading: 5 facts you need to know, from

content, news, publishing, socialmedia, tools

Pablo: your new favourite social media friendly image tool

I had briefly used Buffer’s Pablo social media-friendly graphic creation tool Pablo in 2015. It has options ready for best dimensions for using on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram.

But with the addition of the new Pablo (sadly only) Chrome extension, getting a tweet+pic with overlaid text was roughly 1-2 minute’s work.

Find an image (or upload your own/use from stock images within Pablo), then let the extension open it inside Pablo (no need to login at this point).

Inside Pablo’s tidy interface you can add/edit text and tweak the graphic layout using a few options. But it all looks professional and works well.

Once you are happy, you can share immediately or embargo using Buffer’s algorithm, logging in to Buffer with your Twitter login.

You can also download the final image for use later.

A couple of examples:

A story via The Scotsman, a tale of flooding in Scotland

And an Bronze Age archaeological find in Cambridgeshire, via the Peterborough Telegraph