I love the BBC’s ‘World Without’ documentaries

The radio documentaries, aired by the BBC World Service, look at what we would be missing if everday mundane things had never existed. This week they look at copper. “Without copper there’d be no lighting, electrical power for lighting, no radio, no renewable energy systems, no working automobiles, air conditioning or refrigerators, no digital electronics, no computing, no safe drinking water distribution…

Timewise, I’m motivated to embus (and other frowned-upon words)

Every now and then newsrooms receive edicts banning overused phrases and ungainly words. The use of access and impact as verbs springs to mind – something we were on constant guard against on the Business pages of the Daily Telegraph when I was there a few years ago. Apparently, this is nothing new. The NZ Herald in its 1966 Manual of Journalism exhorted its writers thus: “In recent years, without making them pass any sort of entrance examination, we seem to have admitted dozens of words which usually have little excuse for appearing in a newspaper. Some examples: ‘Few air services operated yesterday because of fog.’ Why not: ‘Fog stopped most air services yesterday.’

The email ‘pebble pile’ effect

A nice observation about email expectations from Merlin Mann, a software usability expert quoted in Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: Email is such a funny thing. People hand you these single little messages that are no heavier than a river pebble. But it doesn’t take long until you have acquired a pile of pebbles that’s taller than you and heavier than you could ever hope to move, even if you wanted to do it over a few dozen trips.

Country Calendar still hits the mark

Country Calendar must be one of the few New Zealand media institutions that truly count as ‘iconic’. The weekly programme, which casts light on NZ farming, hasn’t looked back since its launch in 1966 and the current theme tune must be one of the most readily identifiable sounds for any Kiwi. This clip gives a glimpse of what the programme used to look, and sound, like.