About RADIO NERO Episode 4

Monday, 13 October 2014

LISTEN: RADIO NERO, EPISODE 4

Brianna Wu, a developer who received a death threat on Twitter last week, approached me on Sunday, suggesting that we talk to bridge the divide between pro-GamerGate and anti-GamerGate supporters. Though I am a reporter and not a member of the movement, I felt well placed to do this, so I said yes.

Wu originally told me that she had made the same request to Adam Baldwin, but that he had “declined.” This turned out not to be quite true: in fact, he had offered to meet with her the next time she was in Los Angeles.

I suggested to Wu that we record a segment for my internet radio show, RADIO NERO. I told her that I was prepared to prerecord the interview and discuss edits before broadcast, as I had done for a previous interviewee, Damion Schubert, who was very satisfied with the result and the time we took to re-record answers he wasn’t happy with.

I also told her we would need to record within the next two days.

Wu agreed to these terms enthusiastically. “I would love to do your radio show,” she wrote, “As I think it would be great to help calm things down. Please send me some questions ahead of time. I think you’ll find in regards to journalistic ethics, we agree on practically everything.”

So I wiped the schedule for the show clean, cancelling and postponing other segments. We then asked Wu four, perhaps five times to get a slot in the diary. Wu did not respond to these emails, but I did not think anything untoward was up at the time. She was at a conference, and dealing with the fallout from her unpleasant evening.

Meanwhile, I sent over indicative questions for the interview, which I said were on the harsh side, but fairly reflected what I wanted to talk about. I did not want to be accused of springing any “gotcha” questions on her. Wu marked which items she was happy to answer, and which she wasn’t. There were around 30 questions; she had concerns about seven of them.

I agreed to every request she made, even though I knew listeners would be disappointed that she would not be challenged about what appeared on the face of it to be hypocritical behaviour on her behalf. I also postponed the release date of the episode by 24 hours, to give Wu more time to prepare, and to get her personal circumstances in order after a traumatic evening.

As I write this, Wu has postponed talking, or simply not replied to our emails, for the third–it might be fourth–time. I do not now believe she ever had any intention of fulfilling the commitment she made to us. I am left with no option but to cancel this week’s show, since there is no longer time to book guests, record, produce and release an episode this week.

This is a horrible shame, because this episode was a chance for me, a reporter sympathetic to the objectives of GamerGate, to have a detailed, honest conversation with a critic and a victim of online harassment.

My hope was that this could be a moment of convergence and understanding that would lead to a new, calmer chapter in the relations between prominent female developers, some of whom have received disgusting threats on the internet, and GamerGate supporters, who have been blamed for those threats, often in the absence of any evidence that they were responsible for them.

Putting together a weekly show of 90 minutes takes a huge amount of preparation. It’s also not free. I will have to pay $250 in production and technical staff time despite there being no show this week. We will also lose $250 in booked advertising revenue for this show.

Plus, I invested time myself in preparing for the interview. My time is at a premium at the moment, while I write my first book, fulfil daily column commitments and record a documentary for one of the larger British television channels.

Truthfully, the time and money are neither here nor there: I’m simply furious, really furious, that I was taken for a ride, and my team was messed around, as so many people warned us we would be. I should have listened to them and known that the constant promises–”we will do this”–were going to amount to nothing.

I’ll finish with a little tableau from my conversations with Wu I found revealing. It’s from a private email, but given Wu’s slipperiness and how angry we all feel about the way we have been fobbed off, I feel released from any obligation to keep our correspondence confidential. In any case, the emails were not marked as off the record.

In the course of discussing her appearance on the show, Wu wrote the following:

This is what I would also like to do, and I hope you’ll be up for it. I would like you and I to pick a location, perhaps San Francisco, and I’d like to open a crowdfunded event where people of ALL SIDES OF THIS can donate to pay for our flights and hotels. And I’d like you and I to simply have dinner together. Maybe we could also bring along other people with the movement on both sides that would also like to see this deescalated – I was thinking Maddy Myers for me.

My response, predictably enough, was: “I’d love to have dinner together to talk–I think it would be enormously constructive–but I’m not comfortable with asking people for money to make this happen. Can we not sort it between us?”

There has been no communication about this idea from Wu since.

Questions

Here are the questions I was planning to put to Brianna Wu on the show.

- You were recently doxxed and threatened online. The act was reprehensible, and whoever is responsible for it needs to be charged and punished. Can you tell us briefly what happened?

- Have you experienced any other hostile online activity? I noticed a tweet in which you suggested some financial data might be at risk.

- First of all, let’s put the conspiracy theories to bed: you obviously didn’t send that stuff to yourself, did you.

- What’s happening with the police and FBI? Are they trying to track down the culprit? You’ll be pressing charges, I assume? 

- How has this affected you and your family? Have you felt able to return home yet?

- In your tweets following the threat, you assumed a GamerGate supporter must have been responsible. What were the events that led up to that moment that led you to that conclusion?

- Wasn’t it a bit unfair to tarnish and entire movement based on the actions of what must surely be one or two fringe elements? Wasn’t that a bit hasty? On July 22, for example, you said you had a stalker with access to your personal information.

- On the show last week, Damion Schubert suggested that there are hackers and trolls out there targeting both sides of this debate. The sort of people who want to see the world burn. Do you think you might have been a victim of such an attack?

- You clarified on social media that it “seemed a logical induction” to assume you were doxxed and threated by GamerGate. But critics will say you did this on Twitter and only after the press ball was rolling, and the narrative had become established. Do you accept that you jumped to conclusions?

- Would you, as a sign of good faith, delete the tweet in which you blame GamerGate? It has been retweeted over 7,000 times, been responsible for a lot of abuse to GamerGate supporters and picked up widely by the media, despite the fact that there is no evidence for the claim, and most people seem to think it was a malicious third party.

- What should be done about the raft of stories that place the blame for this squarely at the feet of GamerGate supporters? Or do you you think the movement had it coming, for being associated so closely with threats and abuse to women in the games industry? 

- In my experience, people in fear of their lives tend not to announce it on Twitter. And the police generally instruct threat targets not to announce their whereabouts. Why did you publicise the threats made against you? Do you understand why some people might consider it to have been opportunistic? You were, after all, hardly a neutral observer. 

- If you’ve been in fear of your life, why did you tweet your exact location at ComicCon on Sunday, down to the stall number? Isn’t that asking for trouble? Do you see why people don’t take threats seriously when people are merrily tweeting their precise location to thousands of strangers 48 hours after death and rape threats? It tells me, as a journalist, that you didn’t take them seriously in the least bit. If I’m being honest.

- On 6 October, you tweeted: “#Gamergate is a madness that dreams it’s a revolution.” What did you mean by that?

- Numerous threats have been made against public figures, male and female, before the existence of GamerGate. So it stands to reason that they will continue after it’s gone. What, then, is the point of blaming GamerGate supporters, most of whom I’ve found to be polite, reasonable people? What will be accomplished? This behaviour will likely continue anyway, so why are so many people trying to silence a movement that is sincerely campaigning for what it sees as desperately needed reform in press ethics?

- Some people are unhappy with you because they say you created a meme about them that used an image of an autistic child. They say, in effect, “you started it.” Are you blameless in this situation, or did you stoke the fires on purpose? 

- Why was it “harassment” when 8chan and GG members replied with their own versions of a meme you started about them? The way one person put it to me was: “It seems like Brianna joined a pillow-fight and was playing too rough… then someone hit her with a pillow full of bricks.”

- You mentioned that this 8chan thread was “60 pages” long. To people who don’t know about internet culture, that sounds like a gigantic torrent of unpleasant content. But any creative or meme thread on any board runs that long, doesn’t it? Wasn’t this just stirring the pot?

- You created a Twitter account by the name of Jake Harper or @brololz, which used the GamerGate hashtag to tweet jokes about Tomb Raider death scenes and erections. Do you understand why some observers might consider you a provocateur? 

- Every movement on the internet has extremists at its fringes. Why do you think GamerGate is being held to such an impossibly high standard? Isn’t this like blaming all Muslims for the actions of ISIS?

- Do you believe GamerGate is full of misogynists, racists and homophobes?

- Why do you think the women on the pro-GamerGate side, some of whom have also been doxxed and threatened, have received no press coverage at all?

- Why do gamers object to feminist critiques of video games so much? Is it because they hate women? Or is it because they simply find the work of Anita Sarkeesian ridiculous?

- What, in your view, has gone wrong with video games journalism, and who are the main culprits? Do you agree with GamerGate that there is a problem in video games journalism?

- Do you have any suggestions about how the industry could move forward? Do you support Damion Schubert’s idea for a consumer body? Should there be some kind of press charter? What’s your view?

- Why do you think organisations such as GaymerX, a support organisation for LGBT gamers, are so reluctant to engage with people who don’t share their politics? What’s the point of a safe space if it’s only there for some people? Isn’t it more like an elitist club?

 

New #GameJournoPros leak: the email summaries

Monday, 22 September 2014

Today I reveal more leaked correspondence from the #GameJournoPros emails amd a complete list of members. Highlights from the email summaries leaked to us appear below. Telephone numbers have been redacted.

 

Producer wanted

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

I’m looking for a freelance producer for a series of radio shows – more like podcast episodes, really – discussing the major issues in the #GamerGate saga: press ethics, the role of feminism, video game culture, politics and so on.

Each episode will last under 20 minutes, and feature 2-3 prominent names in the gaming industry, journalism, politics, academia or pop culture.

You’ll need to handle the recording and editing of the shows, organise the technical side of things (conference calls and uploading the shows to a suitable platform) as well as working with me to book guests and arrange recording schedules. It doesn’t matter where you’re based.

I’m recording these shows at my own expense, so it won’t be an enormous amount of money. Perhaps £50 ($80) per show, for someone who’s able to take most of the technical work off my hands. So it would suit someone who’s already engaged with the issue and fancies a producer credit and a bit of pocket money.

If you’re interested, drop me a line with a CV or a few lines about why you’re keen and what you’ve done before.

 

Tech City News video producer charged with child rape

Monday, 16 June 2014

leydonChris Leydon, who produced video content for technology news blog Tech City News and was a freelance video editor for the Guardian newspaper, has been arrested and charged with child rape.

Leydon was charged with three counts of sexual assault, including one count of anal rape, and four counts of possessing indecent images of children. He was released on conditional bail in March of this year.

Leydon, 25, of Hardwick Place, London, who has been employed by tech blogs, tech events companies, the Guardian and even venture capital firms to produce video content, was first arrested on 15 March 2013.

He was later charged, on 11 March 2014, with anally raping a boy under the age of 13, and of sexually assaulting and inciting to sexual activity another boy, who was 10 or 11 at the time of the assault, contrary to the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

He was released on bail in March of this year on the condition that he did not contact either of his alleged victims, nor come into contact with any person under the age of 18 years unless as a result of unavoidable everyday activity.He is due to appear in court on 21 July.

 

The Next Web imploding, PandoDaily in shame… yes, technology journalism still needs to be fixed

Monday, 22 July 2013

July has been a rough month for tech blogs. Robin Wauters, a talented startup reporter, announced just now that he has been let go from The Next Web. Brad McCarty is also out the door. But they’re not the only ones.

Wauters wouldn’t be drawn on the subject and I don’t know McCarty, but I am told by those in the know that both Alex Wilhelm, who posted obliquely on the subject last week, and one other (very senior) person I can’t name yet are leaving the site, too.

They join Matt Brian, Jamillah Knowles, Anna Heim and Amalie Agathou as people who either left or were fired from TNW already this year. If you spot a trend there, you’re right: all the good reporters are going or gone.

“I have no clue which direction they plan to go,” says one source. “They’re clearly not profitable nor able to keep talent. [TNW] is going to stop covering news though, that at least I know.”

Meanwhile, PandoDaily has been humiliated in the most abject manner, immediately after having to deny claims that it has already burned through all its funding.

Let me be clear: I take no pleasure in any of this news after my own horror story earlier this year. If anything, it’s simply another cautionary tale about how hard it is to make a media business work.

I believe it comes down to quality, integrity and strong editorial direction. These sites aren’t turning a profit because they aren’t providing a good enough overall product.

If there’s any light on the horizon here, let it be more media entrepreneurs betting the farm on quality, rather than rehashed press releases and made-up news.

Because, if you ask me – quite aside from various financial woes – readers are getting pretty sick of the sloppiness, contempt for basic journalistic ethics and downright terrible writing that has plagued technology journalism for so long.

 

Residential home

Monday, 15 April 2013

axel-springer

I have today been appointed writer-in-residence at Axel Springer’s new Plug&Play Accelerator in Berlin. It’s a cool project – more credible and considered, it seems to me, than Telefónica’s efforts in Munich and London – and I have some experience of working (and playing) with the ebullient Robin Haak, among others. I think it will be fun.

The full press release is pasted below, for those interested.

 

Broadening horizons

Sunday, 14 April 2013

View from the office

I’m in the south of France, on a post-MIP creative retreat with a hand-picked group of technology entrepreneurs, television commissioners, network producers, actors, entertainment professionals and, later this week, a media-minded MP. We’re discussing TV formats, trends in media and ideas for new media business models in a villa nestled in the beautiful, mountainous French countryside above Tourrettes-sur-Loup.

And it occurs to me how dramatically the technology industry would be transformed, were founders to shake off the limitations of self-regard and spend their downtime with great minds from other worlds. The number of thrilling new business ideas discussed casually over Bordeaux and pâté is remarkable. It’s a testament to the organiser, my friend Robert Loch, that such catalysis is going on.

Then again, the space for this sort of thing is still wide open, because the entertainment industries are crying out for innovation and expertise from technology. The posers in the TechCrunch beauty parade haven’t the faintest idea how to interface with such enormous and lucrative industries and markets, so consumed are they by photo-sharing, by social networking and by congratulating themselves at shoddy conferences and laughably amateurish awards ceremonies.

Not least among the many reasons for start-up failure, it seems to me, is this utter lack of imagination, ambition and, yeah, sex appeal. We can do better. A little modesty is called for: rather than the frankly desperate cult of “disruption” and its systemic disdain for the content industries (and just about everyone else), entrepreneurs would do well to take a moment and try learning from those they arrogantly suppose their platforms and APIs are set to displace.

The future is more complex – and collaborative – than you think.

 

Ich bin ein Berliner

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

As friends will know already, Berlin is rapidly becoming my home from home. Part of the reason is the extraordinary friends I have made there, particularly in hy! founders Hans Raffauf and Aydo Schosswald.

I’m thrilled that Hans & Aydo have this week given me an excuse to spend even more time in the city I love by asking me to come on board as Editorial Director of their terrific invitation-only event series.

I’ll be helping to put the programme together for an event I already know and love. Axel Springer-backed hy! is by far and away the most credible and inspiring gathering of entrepreneurs and creatives in Europe. I look forward to contributing to its ongoing success.

I’m moving to Berlin full-time, with immediate effect. I’ll still be writing regularly for the usual complement of European & US newspapers, magazines and websites – but a bit less often.

 

An open letter to my friends in the technology industry

Thursday, 4 April 2013

We have to talk. This thing you’ve been doing, it has to stop. When I ask you for a recommendation for an app, or a restaurant, or a new brand of toothpaste, I do not need to know that the CEO is a personal friend of yours. We all have impressive-sounding address books because this industry is the size of a postage stamp. So cut it out.

Seriously. It’s like a sickness. (Before I go on, let me just get one thing out of the way: it’s an illness I have periodic and obnoxious bouts of too. This post is partly an attempt to shame myself out of bad habits.)

It impresses no one. It adds nothing to the meaning of a sentence and it just makes me think the speakers are cocks who locate way too much self-esteem in utterly fucking unimportant things. And that makes me sad, because I know they’re not cocks. That’s why they’re my friends.

Is there any industry as pathologically addicted to name-dropping as the start-up world? I only ask because this particular epidemic seems to be spiralling way out of control. You see, I was talking about this last night to two dear friends of mine who are chief executives of two of the most successful British internet start-ups. I won’t name names but you’ve probably heard of them.

There are always outliers and eccentrics: blow-hards who swank and bullshit their way through, fibbing and flirting to get what they want. Like Julie Meyer. She’s kind of a big deal. (I can introduce you, if you want.) But seriously: when did “Oh, and she’s a really good friend of mine” become as necessary to the end of a sentence as a full stop?

I don’t need to know who people know - if they even actually really do – at every possible opportunity. When I ask how they are, I don’t need to know the name of the hotel they’ve just checked out of, as if that’s somehow relevant, or which class they flew home in. (Don’t even get me started on airport lounge bragging.) I don’t need to know that they were speaking at a conference; that they were there is all the information I need. Even that is often unnecessary.

At it’s simplest, this behaviour is a class giveaway. These are working class-nerds on the make – or, in some cases, achingly nouveau wide-boys desperate to show off because they’re so insecure about their newly acquired social standing. Beta males to a man and hating every minute of it. We get it, you had no friends at school. My friend Anthony, who used to be Mark Cuban’s PA, and I were laughing about this with Tim Ferriss at a dinner in San Francisco in 2010. Ferriss picked up the check.

At times it can seem as though the technology industry is one big happy family. Except, as we all know, it isn’t.

The problem with all this constant public back-slapping, self-congratulation and obsequiousness is two-fold: first, that you forget the almost preternatural power of a subtle, private endorsement from someone with serious clout. Like that time the president of a huge American foundation who’s on the board of like seven multinational corporations, and who is now a friend and fan, put in a good word for me with some conference I wanted to speak at.

Or that time I was at a dinner with Steve Ballmer opposite. He probably doesn’t remember me, but I know Larry Ellison does because his office got in touch to invite me to lunch in Redwood City. I don’t think I ever got back to them because I was invited to a private island for a meditation retreat with the cast of a US TV show. That was a fun summer.

Second, when everyone’s being nice to each other and praising everyone else, no one is really saying anything, are they? It’s a bit like politics, where the rows are all basically bollocks because the whole Establishment is run by a tiny elite who all went to the same schools and who don’t really disagree on anything. I’ll bring this up when I have dinner again with the leader of the UK’s third largest political party. He’s a hoot!

If it’s not a pat on the back or a bit of self-aggrandisement, no one wants to know. You see, the tech industry has inherited oppressive thought police culture without the style or substance even of politics. (That’s a good line, actually; I might mention it the next time I’m in the House of Commons. I dated an MP, you know.)  Nor does it have the effete charm of the fashionista who air-kisses and daaaaaahlinks! her way through a cocktail party. Nor, even, of the movie industry, where at least mutual compliments are passable because everyone’s so damned good looking.

This reminds me of the time I was couch-surfing in Beverly Hills in 2008 and at a pool party just off Mulholland I was talking to a really cute guy for about an hour outside by the pool and we nearly made out and it suddenly dawned on me that it was Tobey Maguire. At least I think it was Maguire; it could have been Gyllenhaal. Whoever it was, he offered me coke. I was shocked, and said no.

The tragic irony of all this saccharine sucking-up is of course that the characters at the top of the air-kissing tree are such grim, sociopathic bastards. Except the ones who are my friends, of course, who are really just very misunderstood. I just wish people would be honest, like Aaron Levie from Box. I met him in 2010. He gave me his business card.

I wouldn’t have brought all this up but I thought a touch of comic verisimilitude might help me make my point.

I mean, to drop such things gratuitously would be appallingly gauche.

Wouldn’t it.

 

Google Glass and surveillance culture

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

I’ve written a long piece for Slashdot’s original content channel on Google’s new wearable computers. You can read the whole thing here.

Consumer hardware may not yet have the power to capture and process olfactory search terms, but it is more than capable of augmenting sight. Thus we have been gifted Google’s latest, most horrendous idea: a wearable, Internet-enabled computer it has christened “Glass,” but whose inelegant aesthetic is better represented by the product’s goofy unofficial moniker, “Google Goggles.”

It’s an audacious product for a company no one trusts to behave responsibly with our data: a pair of glasses that can monitor and record the world around you. But they do so much more than that. Let’s not beat about the bush here: these specs are a thing of wonder. They can email, take pictures, record video, provide walking or driving directions, conduct searches, translate signs… the possibilities are endless.

But if Glass becomes as ubiquitous as the iPhone, are we truly to believe that Google will not attempt to abuse that remarkable power?

 

Relatable

Thursday, 21 March 2013

I’m reading a lot at the moment. I’ll post extracts from time to time that I’ve found helpful or enlightening. In the meantime, though, here’s something that simply made me giggle, from David Brooks’s The Social Animal. (I have always said that white middle class males are the real persecuted minority.)

Popular, good-looking and athletic children are the subjects of relentless abuse. While still young and impressionable, they are force-fed a diet of ugly duckling fables to which they cannot possibly relate. They are compelled to endure endless Disney movies that tell them that true beauty lies inside. In high school, the most interesting teachers favor the brainy students who are rendered ambitious by social resentments and who have time on Saturday nights to sit at home and develop adult-pleasing interests in Miles Davis or Lou Reed. After graduation the popular and good-looking have few role models save for local weathermen and game-show hosts, while the nerds can emulate any number of modern moguls, from Bill Gates to Sergey Brin. For as it is written, the last shall be first and the geek shall inherit the Earth.

On a related and slightly more serious note, Bobo culture, together with the outrageous behaviour of technology companies, are the reason, I think, that the “geek” is becoming the most hated subculture on the planet – among ordinary people, that is.

Don’t be fooled by the tech press: geeks and tech entrepreneurs aren’t, and won’t ever be, cool. They have many virtues, but coolness isn’t one of them.

 

The age of the troll is over

Friday, 3 February 2012

A common misconception about those awful people in the comment box who screech obscenities at journalists and toss insults as though they were green salad, whom we in the trade call trolls, is that they are sad old – or, indeed, young – men who sit in front of their computer screens in yellowing underpants muttering curses and slogans as they type. Actually, if you were to meet a troll, you probably wouldn’t notice anything odd about him. Or her. But one thing’s for sure: after five minutes, you’d be longing to fling yourself down the fire escape – anything to escape their company.

The dedicated troll is never amusingly eccentric. On the contrary, a troll is a 24-carat bore, someone who has spent years emptying parties with their “small talk”, but who now has the miraculous opportunity to force their way into a conversation. These creatures know they are hated, but because they are hiding behind inane pseudonyms, that doesn’t bother them.

They take delight in the literary equivalent of farting in a lift. Their odour is repulsive, but, when they step out into the lobby, they could hardly look more ordinary. Spruce pensioners with tidy comb-overs and UKIP membership cards in their blazer pockets; 35-year-old “indie kids” who still play bass guitar in dad’s garage; sour-faced primary school teachers who would rather people assume they were lesbians than admit that even the flashers in the park find them off-puttingly plain.

 

Introducing The Kernel

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

From an in-depth examination of how technology is reshaping our lives, to rumours on the entrepreneurial social scene, The Kernel will take on every question in business and technology.

On Monday, the first issue of The Kernel will go live. I say “issue”, but as a digital magazine we’ll be publishing articles throughout the month. Our big pieces and many of our features – the flagship essay, interviews and our digital “agony aunt” column – will, however, appear monthly. In the intervening periods, you can look forward to sharp, entertaining analysis from guest experts, who will attempt to explain how technology is changing our lives, and pieces by our regular columnists. Don’t expect a packed publication schedule right away: we’re about quality, not quantity.

Breaking news isn’t really our thing, which is why you won’t see a news section on the site. We think that market is crowded enough already. Instead, The Kernel will offer comment, reports, analysis and thoughtful and amusing writing about technology, media and business: long-form, high-quality content that gets people thinking. Some of our content is for those in the technology industry; other pieces have more general appeal. You can help us as we find our voice by letting us know which pieces you’re enjoying and which you’re not.

We’re big on entrepreneurs. Not just those in the Silicon Roundabout beauty parade – though we’re certainly covering them too, with tongues planted appropriately firmly in cheek – but the businesses and inventions you don’t hear so much about that promise to revolutionise industries, and the social, political and personal ramifications of technological innovation. We’re also about the people, places and ideas behind the headlines, which is why you’ll find a cheeky and irreverent Scene section about the individuals and events helping to usher in those disruptive ideas and products. There’s also an Editors’ Blog – a place for snappier, short-form content which will be updated more regularly by our senior writers.

The Nutshell

But the website is only half the story. Our email bulletin, The Nutshell, is where much of the action will happen. What were the biggest stories this week? Who’s had a good week? Who’s had a week they’d rather forget? Who was spotted where, and with whom? The Nutshell comes out every Friday afternoon and contains intel, rumours, tips, sightings and speculation, as well as a round-up of the best content on the web, our own and from other blogs, newspapers and magazines.

There’s nothing else like The Nutshell in Europe. We think it’ll rapidly become the must-read weekly bulletin for anyone working in or interested in technology in Europe – which is why, in the future, The Nutshell will be a paid subscription. But if you sign up now, you’ll get it for free for the first three months and you’ll get the option of a discounted rate when we switch to a paid subscription model. We’ll also keep you posted on developments back at The Kernel. There’s no obligation beyond your first three free months, so go ahead and pop your email address in the box below.

You’ll be able to submit tips for inclusion in the newsletter if there’s something you’d like to see appear, whether it’s a brilliant article you’ve read this week or something juicy you’ve overheard at the office. Look out for the tips box on the website on Monday. Of course, everything you submit to us will be treated with the utmost confidentiality.

Mission statement and values

We believe that much of the purpose of journalism is to hold the powerful to account and to reveal facts and express opinions about which those in authority may be apprehensive or uncomfortable – not to act as a mouthpiece for others or a redrafting service for corporate press releases. We will scrutinise those in power, fairly and without fear or favour, but always with a consideration of public interest.

We will be transparent about our methods and honest about our mistakes. Our deep and excellent connections in the emerging technology industry mean that writing about people we know will be unavoidable, but we will disclose relevant conflicts and let readers decide whether our opinions are trustworthy. We encourage you to write to us, to comment on what we publish, and to write responses of your own, which we will point readers to if we consider them valuable contributions to the debate.

We also believe that scepticism and rigorous enquiry are central to the practice of journalism. Some of our writers hold very strong opinions. We see no shame in occasional contrariness when it is thought-provoking and well-argued, so we will encourage them to make their case forcefully, but with care, supported by appropriate evidence. No single writer or column should be interpreted as reflecting the opinion of The Kernel, and no writer is exempt from our exacting editorial standards and processes.

That doesn’t mean The Kernel has no opinions of its own: where there is consensus among our editorial board on a particular issue, we will use leading articles and editorials to express our view.

Finally, we believe that having a sense of humour is important. You can expect send-ups, satire, gentle teasing and even the occasional bit of coarse language from our columnists and on the Editors’ Blog. Technology is often not, in itself, a particularly enlivening subject, but we aim to make our writing entertaining as well as informative. As Kingsley Amis put it, “There’s little point in writing if you can’t annoy somebody.”

What you’ll see at kernelmag.com on Monday is a snapshot of the kind of content we think is lacking elsewhere. Much remains to be added and we look forward to soliciting the advice and contributions of our readers. Over the coming months, we will be adding new columnists, more staff writers and we will be listening to readers’ responses to our content. We are open to critiques of all kinds and we will be responsive to them.

So dive in on Monday, take a look around, and let us know what you think. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook to be kept up to date. And if something inspires you to write an article of your own, do get in touch.

Stephen PritchardManaging Editor
Milo YiannopoulosEditor-in-Chief

The Kernel

 

Tech City has spent £1million on admin in one year. Where will it end?

Monday, 12 December 2011

It’s the object of widespread ridicule from those not endlessly flattered and sucked up to with invitations to swanky drinks parties. It spent £55,000 on a website everyone hates and which fails to meet even the basic standards of modern web design. It is coming under increasing fire for shameless appropriation of others’ achievements.

But Tech City, the wasteful pet project of trendies in Downing Street that has so successfully used internet businesses in east London as PR for the Government, has already burned through at least £1million.

I was surprised at how small that number was, initially. But of course it doesn’t include all the other bits of Government chipping in to help, the extensive schmoozing going on overseas and God knows whatever else they’ve charged to someone else’s budget. Nor does it include the investment fund. So the real total cost is probably something like three times that amount. Think what three million quid would have done if simply given to Seedcamp to invest in start-ups!

Thanks to a Freedom of Information request I submitted in November, the annual budget of Tech City has been revealed today as well. £150,000 is set aside for marketing and communications. £250,000 for events. £220,500 on employing civil servants elsewhere in Government. And a little under £1.2million in staff and consultant costs.

These are staggering sums. How much of that is chief executive Eric van der Kleij’s salary, I wonder? (Tech City wouldn’t say: they’ve come up with an ingenious way to dodge FoI requests, and public accountability, by muddying the employment arrangements of their staff with contracts from PA Consulting and Grant Thornton.)

I ask again: what, precisely, has been accomplished with this massive splurge of cash?

 

My new magazine launches 19 December

Friday, 9 December 2011

My new online magazine covering technology, business and innovation from a European perspective will go live to the public on Monday, 19 December 2011. We’ve assembled an excellent set of writers and commissioned some fascinating and thought-provoking content from entrepreneurs, investors and academics.

We’ll be in open beta until January, at which point more content will drop, we’ll announce the full line-up of columnists, the design will be finalised and we’ll have a party. That’s all for now. See here and here for background.