Friday, October 31, 2008

Police await Siemens workers demo - Thessaloniki 2008

After the annual 28th October parade in Thessaloniki workers recently laid off from the local Siemens factory attempted to march in order to protest the closure. Τense scenes followed with the riot police until permission was given and approximately 100 people demonstrated outside the Macedonia Palace hotel where Greek president, Karolos Papoulias and other politicians were staying.

Somebody on minimum wage in Greece would have to work over four months to stay just one night in the presidential suite. However, the price does include an American style buffet and a wonderful view of the sea. A great comfort, no doubt to those 240 Siemens employees who lost their job this month.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Round up the usual suspects

I'm starting to sound a little like Forrest Gump. You know the scene when he's on the bench waiting for the bus, chatting away;
"they invited me and the ping-pong team to visit the White House.

So I went, again.

And I met the President of the United States again."

"So I went to a parade and I saw the president, again.

Got threatened by the police again."

Yep. I decided that would take pictures of this years Oxi day parade so I went down to the seafront and snapped away, and managed to get pictures of the president of the Greek republic, Karolos Papoulias, the leader of the main opposition party, Giorgos Papandreou and other assorted political bigwigs.

At some point all the cameramen and photographers were shooed off to the side and I ended up amongst them. A little later I saw some guys arguing with a teenager who'd climbed up some scaffolding to get a better view. He clambered down but then jumped up onto another wall for some reason reluctant to move. Intrigued I decided to take some pictures and quickly I realised that people were hemming me in, discreetly trying to block my view of what was happening. Despite that I took a couple of shots and then returned to follow the parade.

Next thing I know two rough looking guys, wearing mirror shades start beckoning to me, telling me that I had to delete my photos. When I told them that I wasn't as I had every right to take pictures in a public place they turned nasty and said that as they were cops they could take me in for questioning and confiscate the camera.

Next they said something that scared the hell out of me. They said that they knew exactly who I was from what happened last year (see here for the full story of that little encounter) and that ,"I was known to the authorities".
"You mean after I got the crap kicked out of me by the riot police?"

I don't know why but they managed to push all my buttons and bring out stubborn streak in me. So I argued that I wasn't going to do anything till I saw some ID. Eventually they showed me it and demanded again that I delete the photos, which I did. Once again they invoked this mythical law that the no one is allowed to take photographs of the police on duty. No lawyer I've talked to or media professional has ever heard of such legislation.

To tell you the truth, I only brazoned it out them as I know they'd be loathed to make a scene in such a public place. Other photographers have not been so lucky in their dealings with the police. For example leading French photographer, Olivier Jobard, who was beaten and arrested by police in Patras this year when he refused to hand over his camera (
see here for the full story).

I stuck around for another hour or so and then before the parade ended ducked into the crowd and got out of there as quickly as possible. People, especially foreigners, have a strange way of becoming very clumsy in the presence of the police. They trip and land on window boxes resulting in weeks of hospitalisation, fall off balconies in cafes or find themselves dead at the bottom of river beds.As you can imagine I wasn't about to get myself involved in a delicate legal debates with these guys.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I feel a strange disconnect with my surroundings

Bloggers beware

I just got this is in my email;


I'm contacting you to share that the Chapeau Blog Awards early bird call for entries is now open.

Chapeau Blog Awards is the first awards contest solely dedicated to elevating the image of blogs!

I hope you decide to take advantage of the early bird entry rate of $195 and enter today at Chapeau Blog Awards

If you'd like to hold for a while, no worries. Please let me know if you'd like to help promote this contest via an awards button I can send to you for your blog."

I hope you decide to enter. We'd love to honor your blog.

Cheryl Hendricks"

Yep, for the amazingly economical price of $195 you too can enter your blog. Ok, just let me think about that again. You want me to pay nearly 200 bucks to enter a competition!!!!!!!! Strangely enough they don't mention what the prizes are. Perhaps, a trophy engraved "World Class Sucker 2009".

As scams go this is a bit more sophisticated than most. Still, caveat emptor, blogging dudes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

28th October 2008

Military parade , originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Andreas Papandreou

Lions led by donkeys

Today Greece celebrated Oxi (no) day which heralded the country's entry into the Second World War.

The riot police at the 28th October parade, Thessaloniki

The riot police at the 28th October parade, Thessaloniki

The riot police at the 28th October parade, Thessaloniki

Hundreds of riots cops made sure that workers from the recently closed Siemens factory didn't spoil the traditional 28th October "Oxi" parade. God forbid, the politicians present should be made to look bad.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Taken during today's parade on Tsimiski St

Panagiotis Psomiadis, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Remembering Doisneau

What cross would Christ have worn?

Only Love Can Break Your Heart

The music is by Neil Young, who I hated when I was young but has grown on me over the last couple of years. All pictures by Teacher Dude.

Only Love Can Break Your Heart

"When you were young
and on your own
How did it feel
to be alone?
I was always thinking
of games that I
was playing.
Trying to make
the best of my time.

But only love
can break your heart
Try to be sure
right from the start
Yes only love
can break your heart
What if your world
should fall apart?

I have a friend
[ Find more Lyrics at ]
I've never seen
He hides his head
inside a dream
Someone should call him
and see if he
can come out.
Try to lose
the down that he's found.

But only love
can break your heart
Try to be sure
right from the start
Yes only love
can break your heart
What if your world
should fall apart?

I have a friend
I've never seen
He hides his head
inside a dream
Yes, only love
can break your heart
Yes, only love
can break your heart"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Separated at birth?

I just came across this strange coincidence. In March I wrote this on the blog and for

The ghost of Mexico City comes back to haunt Beijing

Stop me if you've heard this one before. An authoritarian one party state uses blunt military force to squash a popular uprising. Hundreds are killed or injured and the government fears that attempts to burnish its image abroad by holding the Olympic games will be tarnished by images of dead protesters splashed across the world's media. (Click here to read the rest).

and today I came across this article in the Economist from April 24th.

The ghosts of Mexico 1968

A DEVELOPING country gets the Olympic games as an acknowledgment of its new, exalted status. An authoritarian government, awash with money, exploits the chance to project a peaceful, progressive image. Critics of the regime use the games as a chance to demand more democracy and human rights. There are demonstrations, forcefully broken up. (Click here for the rest of the article).

Actually, the rest of the article is radically different from mine but it follows the same logic. But before I say that have been plagiarised I have to say that I use other sources all the time. Indeed the idea for my post came from reading 1968: Marching in the Streets by Tariq Ali and Susan Watkins. That and my anger at the way the Greek authorities did their best to surpress any possible protests on the Olympic torch route (see here).

Still, it is gratifying to think that you have perhaps influenced the flow of news and ideas in the mainstream media.

Greek style lemon and mustard chicken

This is one of my favourite recipes, a variation on a traditional Greek recipe. You'll need;

And to the supermarket you shall go.

1 chicken - well, I guess that makes sense.

2 a kilo or two of potatoes. You need to very exact in your measurements.

3 a cup of olive oil. Extra virgin from the northern olive groves of Mt Parnatha. Alternatively, anything from the local supermarket that doesn't taste like it came from a refinery.

4 one lemon

5 a large onion

6 a cup of long grain rice

7 pinch of salt, pepper and a couple of teaspoons of cumin and mustard.

The fun starts here.

1 Chop the onion and heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a frying pan,

2 Gently fry the onion until it starts to soften then add the cumin. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes then add the rice.

3 After a few minutes add a cup of water and turn up the heat.

4 Cook some more (without covering the pan) until most of the water has been absorbed.

5 In the meantime peel the potatoes.

6 To make the dressing mix the reminder of the olive oil, salt, pepper and mustard. Add the lemon juice and two cups of water and whisk until they are blended.

7 Use the rice mixture to stuff the chicken.

8 Place the chicken and potatoes in a "gastra" (a covered oven dice, widely used in Greek cooking) or you could you a Pyrex dish instead. Pour the lemon, mustard and oil over the chicken and potatoes.

9 Place in an oven at about 180c (43,000 f) for about two and half hours. Just keep an eye on it now and then and add more water if necessary.

Me and Lydia made this today and it was delicious. I know this isn't strictly a Greek recipe but it has all the elements of Greek cuisine, at least here in the north, which uses more spices than its southern counterparts.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Baptism, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

Blog musings


If a tree falls in the woods and nobody blogs about it, did it really happen?

Friday, October 24, 2008


Baptism, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

The picture I didn't take

I'm rushing from Menimene, desperately trying to get to my next lesson on time, swearing that this time I won't be late no matter what they traffic is like. Damn, the cars in front of me slow down, meaning I have to once again weave through the semi-parked vehicles ahead. Suddenly, I see an old man in a wheel chair rolling down the middle of the dual carriageway, forcing cars to swerve left and right. I get off the bike and waving frantically at the oncoming traffic manage to get to the guy before he gets hit.

I have no idea what he's saying to me (some language I don't get) . All I understand through his gesturing is that he wants to get to the crossroads half a kilometre behind me. A group of four people sat idly next to their car on the other side of the road following the scene with a bored kind of curiosity. I curse them under my breathe, despising their polished indifference.

Greek government walks out of parliament

Karamanlis - Greek PM under siege

With a parliamentary majority of just one the ruling New Democracy party of Kostas Karamanlis is fighting for its political life amidst scandal, economic downturn and growing popular dissatisfaction with the Greek government’s track record on a range of issues.

Today at 6pm (local time) the government faces a vote on whether to allow to a parliamentary investigation into the most recent in a string of scandals to hit the country. Despite vigourous denials of any wrong the entire ruling New Democracy parliamentary body has decided to abstain from this evening’s vote.

The latest scandal to rock the present administration claimed its most recent victim yesterday when Minister of State and the government public spokesman, Theodoros Rousopoulos resigned over alleged involvement in the Vatopedi land swap case. Bowing to intense political pressure from opposition parties Rousopoulos stood down from his post. However, he denied any wrongdoing and attributed his fall to baseless and unfair accusations by the left - wing PASOK party.

The Vatopedi case came to lighty earlier this year when the 1000 year old Greek Orthodox monastery attempted to exchange Lake Vastonidi, which was originally designated a wildlife reserve for a 40 million dollar conference facility in Athens, built with tax payer’s money for the 2004 Olympic games.

The high profile deal triggered a series of investigations in the Greek press over the terms of the purchase and the highly irregular way in which the lake had been obtained from the Greek state.

Since then there have been a series of embarrasing revelations in the media over connections between high ranking members of the current conservative government and the Vatopedi monastery bringing to light the shadowy, often tangled web of financial and political interests that link the Greek state and Greek Orthodox church.

The vote and resignation of one of the prime minister’s closest political associates weakens still further the government’s chances of seeing out the rest of its second term in power. Repeated clashes with trade unions over pension reforms, hundreds of high school sit-ins nationwide and plummeting opinion poll results point to the mounting unhappiness many ordinary Greeks feel at the inability of the New Democracy government to fulfil its electoral pledges to improve basic services and deal with the with endemic corruption marks much of public life.

Greek government walks out of parliament

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Blog wars

It seems that the conference on Monday here in Thessaloniki on participatory journalism and blogs has sparked off a mini-war between bloggers and the more the traditional media’s supporters.

I think that inadvertently the conference organisers have given us a text book example of how the new channels for collecting and desseminating news can run rings around older forms not just in terms of speed of response but in quality of reporting.

The two day event which started in Thessaloniki on Monday and moved to Athens on Tuesday was billed as a discussion on the influence of new media on old media and vice versa. Present were member of the Greek media establishment and academics from the Journalism and Mass Media department of the Aristotelion university of Thessaloniki as well as bloggers from the city.

So far, so good. The event was also to be webcast live and those following at home were invited to comment and send in questions to the panel.

However, the reality of the situation proved to be a mite different. Technical delays meant that the first panel started an hour and a half late and that the much vaunted wi-fi coverage proved as elusive as it was erratic. That alone would have been unfortunate but the problems with basics such as microphones, projection screens, lighting etc. meant that quite soon the whole situation descended into farce.

To add insult to injury the lack of technical preparation which matched by the lack of knowledge shown by many of the academics and older journalists invited. Yet it was their voices that dominated the debate at many points. Apparently, bloggers are insecure, psychologically unbalanced, vindictive souls only too willing to be used as puppets of the CIA and other like minded organisations. We don’t check our sources, we say nasty things, we don’t write properly and we are deeply disrespectful of our “betters” in the media. Well, at least that is something I agree with.

The first and last panel discussions were often little more than diatribes aimed at nasty bloggers (who by the way weren’t invited). Those who did turn up to this luddite slug fest spent the day wondering whether to laugh or cry at the level of discussion. Later we did decided to both and blog about it.

To say the response from those bloggers who followed the debate either on the internet or on the spot was scathing would be an understatement. They quickly and mercilessly dissected the thoughts, ideas and vanities of those taking part.

On the other hand the other side in this particular turf war took their time about responding to these comments. They ate in their fancy restaurants and patted themselves on the back for being so bold as I guess they had not bothered to follow the debate on the net. As a result the speed and vehermence of the criticisms must have come as a shock.

I think that fact that most of those present were a captive audience of journalism students, not about to upset their future grade point average with untoward criticisms lulled the academics into a false sense of security.

Slow they may have been, but they did get the message. This post on the official conference blog in Greek entitled 48 hours After (lovely title, just about sums up what they don’t get about instant access and response) in which they or one of their minions most probably, decried the awful way in which the bloggers wrote about the event and patted themselves on the back for being so very up to date.

Pleaseeeeeee the 90’s are over. They even had the nerve to say that the event was the culmination of five months preparation. Five months!!!!!! Please, not so loud people may hear you.

I looked at the 20 odd comments on the post and just one was critical. Most seemed little more that congratulations from the students to those organising the event. I actually posted a comment but mysteriously my thoughts on the conference didn’t make it pass the censors.

Actually, I think that attitude was indicative of the whole event. There was little attempt to reach out and engage in any meaningful dialogue. I don’t think that people had the chance to ask more than a dozen questions during whole event. Indeed the only meaningful exchange of ideas happened at the very end when guest speaker, Dan Gillmor chatted with the few students who didn’t scurry off to get their attendance certificates and us bloggers.

Instead this was a grandstanding event designed by those at the university to show how hip and web 2.0 they were. Unfortunately. the whole thing blew up in their faces when they realised that they didn’t control the direction of the debate outside the conference and that their ignorance of the subject would be exposed to a wider audience.

Monastery land scandal claims second Greek minister

Greek government spokesman - Theodoros Roussopoulos

With the resignation of Theodoros Roussopoulos, the Vatopedi monastery scandal claimed its second Greek minister. Roussopoulos, minister of state and the ruling New Democracy party's media spokesman. quit this evening denying any wrong doing as did Giorgos Voulgarakis, maritime minister in his resignation in September.

The Greek Orthodox Vatopedi monastery, which is located in Mt Athos became implicated in an alleged land deal scam when it attempted to acquire a conference centre built for the Athens 2004 Olympics. In return for the 40 million euro facility the monastery offered lake Vastonida in exchange. Greek media investigations revealed that not only was the lake obtained from the state by the monks in suspicious circumstances but that the monastery had been involved in a series of dubious land dealings throughout the country.

Under intense public pressure the conservative government of Kostas Karamanlis originally agreed to opposition demands for a vote on a possible parliamentary inquiry. However, In dramatic turn of events today the entire ruling New Democracy party has decided to abstain from tomorrow's crucial parliamentary vote at 6pm.

The resignation of the two public prosecutors assigned to the case citing political interference has simply added to impression amongst ordinary Greeks that the government is attempting to bury the investigation.

Greece hit by massive strikes Greece hit by massive strikes

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Anti-government demos - Thessaloniki 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Snakes and ladders and young EFL/ESL learners

Snakes and ladders, originally uploaded by deebeeandswivel :D.

Over the last couple of years I have been doing more lessons with younger learners of English. It makes a welcome change from the usual exam obsessed classes I teach. However, it does involve approaching the subject from a completely different angle.

Here is a teaching idea that you might find interesting as it can be used to recycle/revise a whole range of ideas using snakes and ladders. Currently I'm using it to help revise numbers 1 - 100 but that is just the beginning (click here to play online).

1 Some alternatives might include creating questions for each ladder or snake. When you land on a snake or ladder to go up or avoid dropping down you have to answer a question correctly. This could be anything that you have already covered.

E.g. What is this (showing a picture of a pen/chair/notebook etc)


Count up to ten.

2 When you throw a six you answer a question. Get it right you double your score. Get it wrong you do not move.

3 Every time you throw you get the chance to double your score if you answer a question correctly.

As you can see the questions can be about anything so the possibilities are endless.

To involve the students more you could get them to write their own questions or vote on the rules they want to play by. In addition younger learners could make their own boards.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thoughts on "Participatory Journalism: Blog and New Media" - Thessaloniki

I thought I'd write a little more about the conference held in Thessaloniki and Athens on the role of citizen journalism, participatory media and more traditional forms of news coverage. I spent most of Monday listening to the different debates going on between bloggers, journalists and academics (see here for my first reactions). The debate then moved to Athens on Tuesday but unfortunately, I wasn't able to follow it on the internet as I had work to do and some citizen journalism of my own (click here) as Greece was in the grip of a wave of strikes and protests.

In the meantime I checked out what the Greek language blogosphere had to say about the subject. Reactions to the organisation and handling of the debate range from the cynically bemused to the scathing. A lot of criticism was aimed at the hosts of the event for the seemingly endless technical problems which effected everything from microphones (working, not working, δεν γνωριριζω/δεν απανταω) to the wi-fi coverage which seemed to disappear almost as quickly as it appeared.

In addition the hostile reaction of many of the Greek academics and older journalists in the first panel (see here for participants) combined with an ignorance of what is meant by participatory journalism didn't add to the quality of the debate. Instead they seemed to fixate on blogging and the supposed problems it causes. They totally ignored other channels such as Facebook, Twitter, cell - mobile phones and Youtube. If they had been students they would have got D- for preparation.

Instead there was a lot of time spent of the problems of anonymity in blogging and its lack of quality control. This theme was repeated again and again during the two other panel discussions and I was lead to the conclusion that many of these guys would be far more comfortable working in say, China or Iran where the authorities know how to deal with any pesky bloggers who write anonymously. On the other hand some of the mainstream journalists taking part such as Nikos Xydakis, who tried to give a more nuanced take on the topic.

Thankfully, in the second debate the bloggers invited, Asteris Masouras and Vasillis Sotiropoulos had the chance to argue the case for the benefits that a more democratised, internet media might offer.

The highlight of the day was the talk by Dan Gillmor (click here to see a talk he give on citizen journalism at the University of North Carolina) who came to the conference at his own expense!!!!!!! and managed to raise the tone of the day's debate. I particularly enjoyed his view that now was a great time for someone to start a career in journalism as the cost of tools for actually producing and desseminating news had fallen to the point that anyone can do it. On the other hand he added that traditional journalistic values such as objectivity, thoroughness and accuracy would not go out of date.

One comment that he made that I found particularly pertinent was that journalists need to listen. A real irony in an event that lasted a whole day and in which the audience were permitted no more than ten questions. The organisers were more interested in grandstanding than in engaging and exchanging views with anyone but themselves.

I think the saddest part of the whole day was looking at the audience made up mainly of journalism students. As far as I could see only one had a laptop (on which he played Solitaire for the duration of the debates) and nobody seemed to be using any video or other recording device. They sat, bored, occasionally scribbling down notes whenever their professor spoke.

The few bloggers present stood out like a sore thumb not simply because they were using technology invented after the advent of the combustion engine but also by the enthusiasm they showed. Unlike the soon - to - be mainstream journalists, they did not rush for the doors at the end of the day to pick up their certificate of attendance but rather hung around chatted and asked Gillmor about his views on a variety of subjects.

Update. I managed to find this talk on Google Video which is basically the same talk as the one Gillmor gave yesterday. Actually, it is probably a fuller version as he had to cut down as his original talk at the last moment when the organisers couldn't get the translation equipment to work.

Greece hit by massive strikes

Greece was hit today by a a wave of stoppages which effectively paralysed the country.  Journalists, teachers, air traffic controllers and many other unions staged the action in order to protest against the economic policies of the current conservative New Democracy government and to express their dissatisfaction  with the Prime Minster, Kostas Karamanlis's recent record on issues such as pension reforms.

The move by the Greek government to inject 28 billion Euros into the country's banking sector has also fuelled an angry response by  people facing failing public services and ever growing unemployment. In addition the latest economic scandal involving a Greek Orthodox monastery in allegedly illegal land deals with the New Democracy administration has merely added to the Prime Minister's woes.

According to the main opposition party PASOK, the Vatopedi monastery land swap scandal is the 45th such case in the current government's 54 month in power.

Greece hit by massive strikes Greece hit by massive strikes Greece hit by massive strikes Greece hit by massive strikes

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Dan Gillmor

Dan Gillmor, originally uploaded by Teacher Dude's BBQ.

I decided to stay till the bitter end of the "Participatory Journalism: Blog and New Media" conference, despite the near constant griping of the New Stone Agers who teach journalism at the university here in Thessaloniki. What kept me hanging in was the presence of other bloggers who with their passion, wit and enthusiasm made the whole day a wonderful experience.

In addition, I really wanted to hear Dan Gillmor's take on the whole citizen journalist phenomenon. I wasn't disappointed by his talk which was both insightful and inspiring.

For the reactions of Greek language bloggers click on the links below.

- Ανέκδοτο περί συνεδρίου συμμετοχικής δημοσιογραφίας
- Όταν τα παραδοσιακά μέσα κάνουν έφοδο στα νέα…
- Συνέδριο; Δημοσιογραφία;
- Συμμετοχική Δημοσιογραφία: Blog και Νέα Μέσα
- Δημοσιογραφία και πολίτες ΙI ή ένα συνέδριο γι’ αυτά
- Livestreaming από τη διημερίδα
- What is journalism?
- Λα-λα Λόλα να ένα blog
- New Media Conference συμπεράσματα
- Social Media Tales: ένα συνέδριο κι η σφαγή των αμάχων
- Οι δικές μου εντυπώσεις από τη “διημερίδα”

Citizen Journalism and the Traditional Media

"Participatory Journalism: Blog and New Media"

I'm currently at the media conference here in Thessaloniki on citizen journalism and I feel that I'm in the lion's den. Thankfully there are a few other bloggers around to give me moral support in this luddite stronghold.

Here are a few notes I made during the first few talks. They are a rough draft so please forgive any typos and the like. I'll tidy them up later.

With a delay of over an hour and wi-fi non-existent the 2008 conference on participatory journalism started. In the old days they used to say that money was the root of all evil, now it seems it is blogs. The conference so far seems to be a celebration of self-congratulation with a strong dose of fear mixed in, reflecting the traditional media's sense of terror over new means of communication.

A call for the incorporation of the new forms into the ancient regime. The problem is that like a dying empire the newspapers have a future no more assured that that of the Romanovs or the Hapsburgs. They desperately seek to define the coming changes in the vain hope that by naming the beast they can somehow control it.

At last something I agree with. The difference is not between new and traditional channels but between good and bad journalism, in that respect both sides have lot to answer for.

The issue of the reliability of sources was raised. The point was made that bloggers, in contrast with regular journalists do not check sources or cross check information. Once again we come up against the idea that print journalism is the gold standard to which all others, including bloggers should aspire.

In one way their argument would be perfectly valid if the world of newspaper reporting was filled with Woodwards, Bernsteins and Pilgers. Yet even the quickest of glances show that this far from being true. The reality is that much of print journalism is little more than gossip, political PR and life style musings. In that respect, bloggers, beholden to no one for either their living or their future career are given the freedom to utter blasphemous truths that may not find a place in traditional media.

Access to power corrupts, complete access corrupts completely, to paraphrase Acton’s famous maxim.

In Greece, page after page in the newspapers is devoted to political coverage. However, a closer look reveals much of this is simply the thoughts, words and programs of those involved spewed onto the page with little or no criticism or analysis. the paper follows blindly the political line set down by the owner and the journalist is reduced to little more than a rancid mix of cheerleader and stenographer.

In such an environment to talk of integrity and professionalism borders on the ridiculous. The traditional media, through the compromises they have made either with the political administrations or vested economic interests have left the moral high ground and headed for the swamps.

The old charges are once again dusted off and brought out. Like old war horses they are are paraded to show that the new means of communicating are part of why the world is going to pot. Too much information, nobody is listening anymore, we don’t live our lives we record them, blah, blah blah.

Like old men bemoaning the morals of the young they refuse to see that anything good in the new world emerging. Their minds go back to fabricated pasts, beautifully crafted histories in which uncertainty, compromise and painful truths are airbrushed out with all the care and attention of a Stalinist propagandist removing Trotsky from photographs of the October revolution.

I look around at the room, at the young journalism students bored and restless, fidgeting while they wait for the talk to end. Some are taking notes, only a couple have a laptop or any other electronic means to record what is being said.

I have the terrible feeling that they are being trained by the professors speaking to be typewriter technicians, with a body of knowledge long outmoded, desperately waiting for history to be reversed, for some golden age to be restored. "Just you see the quill is set for a come back, believe me."

The blogger next to me asks the students behind me;

“Do you study journalism?”

“Yes, we do.”

“Where is your laptop?”

“They didn’t tell us to bring them.”

There you have it. Sheep led by donkeys.

The subject of anonymity on the internet has come up in the discussion with the idea that it allows people to express themselves in ways that are not acceptable in other situations. Their almost total technical ignorance is frightening. They seem to be totally unaware of the role of IP providers or the existence of an IP address. They are seemingly unaware of the opposite arguments concerning the suppression of free speech in countries such as China and Iran. They are terrified that somebody may say something nasty and so scream for control.

For the reaction of other Greek language bloggers who followed the event click on the links below.

- Ανέκδοτο περί συνεδρίου συμμετοχικής δημοσιογραφίας
- Όταν τα παραδοσιακά μέσα κάνουν έφοδο στα νέα…
- Συνέδριο; Δημοσιογραφία;
- Συμμετοχική Δημοσιογραφία: Blog και Νέα Μέσα
- Δημοσιογραφία και πολίτες ΙI ή ένα συνέδριο γι’ αυτά
- Livestreaming από τη διημερίδα
- What is journalism?
- Λα-λα Λόλα να ένα blog- New Media Conference συμπεράσματα
- Social Media Tales: ένα συνέδριο κι η σφαγή των αμάχων
- Οι δικές μου εντυπώσεις από τη “διημερίδα”

For updates on the conference click here and here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mash it up

I posted this video again just to remind myself that you can a lot using the simplest of internet tools. The video was made using Microsoft's Photostory 3 (which can be downloaded free from here) and pictures of Thessaloniki I took using a cheap (and now even cheaper) point and shoot digital camera. The music is Help Yourself by Death in Vegas.

Weird scenes inside the classroom


This exercise is aimed at post-intermediate EFL/ESL students and is a great way to practice listening skills using real life examples.

1 - Ask students if they have heard any strange or unusual stories in the news. If the subject matter is too difficult for them to express in English allow some limited use of L1 or get them to write down the words they need in L1, translate them and write on the board. The others have to guess the story's content.

2 Do the same thing from one of Yahoo Odd News stories. For example (click here);

flowers, sorry, 92 year-old, burglary, England,

3 Students write down a few sentences about what they story could be about and then compare them with their partners.

4 Give out a photocopy of the story or get them to find the story using the words in a Google search.

5 Students then compare and contrast their own version with official one. This is great practice for students doing the FCE/CAE/CPE exams.

6 Next, explain to students that they are going to hear ten weird stories from the BBC's Newsbeat Odd Box. They have to write down as many details of the story as possible.

Just be careful about which ones you choose as some stories may be unsuitable for younger students.

7 After playing the video once allow students to check their answers with each other. Play it again.

8 Students then work as a class to write a paragraph for each video. They then take turns in reading out their paragraphs.

9 Explain to students that they are in charge of a national TV station and that they time for just two of the stories mentioned. They discuss in groups which ones would be most intereting for a national audience and why.

10 Elict answers

As a follow up ask students to choose one of the stories from Odd Box and find out more information about it. this could be presented in the form of a TV report which can be recorded by students using the video camera on their mobile phones and posted via YouTube onto a class blog.