(james benedict brown) on the road

Parlez-vous anglais (royaume-uni)?

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 18 November, 2008


Pictured above, a genuine screengrab from Facebook seen today. More salt in the wound of those who seem vaguely upset that American software corporations a) distinguish between American English, Australian English, Canadian English and (errrrr) English English); and that b) assume the latter three are inferior to the first.


Govanhill GreenMap now live

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 16 October, 2008

In 2001 I was briefly involved (via the University of Sheffield School of Architecture) in a project relating to the design and promotion of one of the first evolutions of the Sheffield GreenMap. Seven years later, I’ve been honoured to have a small hand in the Govanhill GreenMap, one of a new generation of user-generated Green Maps that uses the Opengreenmap platform.

Quite simply, a green map is an environmentally themed map that uses a standard legend of symbols to plot the locations of a community’s natural, cultural and sustainable resources such as recycling centres, heritage sites, community gardens, toxic waste sites and ethical or social enterprises. They’re particularly useful in urban areas because city dwellers can find it pretty difficult to locate these resources. At the time of writing the half dozen or so volunteers who have contributed to the Green Map have plotted almost fifty sites in our small district of Govanhill. The map is now live and there for you to explore, comment on and contribute to.

Screenshot: forecasting

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 12 August, 2008

And this is summer time. I’m going to have to get used to this, I think.

Shipping rates

Posted in Uncategorized by James Benedict Brown on 17 May, 2008

AbeBooks is one of a number of handy websites for sourcing discounted books from around the world. It’s also preferable to the big online stores like Amazon because instead of buying books from one multinational source, Abe and others put you in touch with individual book sellers and bookshops who’ve uploaded their inventory.

That means each seller has their own delivery rates, depending on the number of books ordered and the delivery speed. And for every seller, another chance for a computer glitch to mess up the numbers. So while £8.69 isn’t an extortionate amount for trans-Atlantic postage, I’d expect slightly faster delivery…

Globalisation: more virtual newsroom architecture

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 25 March, 2008

A few weeks ago I wrote about the relocation of the Canadian Global National newscast to a “virtual” studio in Ottawa. One interesting question being, what’s the point of moving your news anchor to the nation’s capital, when all that indicates that Kevin Newman is in Ottawa is a computer-controlled image of the Canadian Parliament behind him?

I’m very interested in the architecture of television news, because it crosses into all kinds of interesting fields of study to do with architecture and the projection of power, security and knowledge. It’s also one of the most readily accessible situations in which virtual architecture finds environment in which it is ready to demonstrate its potential.

The “virtual” treatment of the Ottawa studio has now been applied to the Global Television affiliate CKMI-TV in Montréal. Even when I lived in Montréal I didn’t watch CKMI much, mainly because TV didn’t play much part in my life, but also because the channel’s principal evening news bulletins were broadcast too early in the evening for me to watch. The concept of a 17h00, 17h30 or even 18h00 English language news bulletin in Montréal being to catch the captive audience of anglo housewives waiting for their partners to come home. From that any Montrealer or Montréalais(e) reader will know exactly what sort of political leaning Global Québec takes.


Here’s a shot of Global Québec anchor Jamie Orchard opening an edition of the evening news. See that bustling newsroom behind her? Yep. It’s a hive of activity down there at Global Québec. Or so you might imagine. The physical set isn’t the only thing that has been put out to pasture. A number of control-room and on-screen staff have been laid off as well, victims not only of a remotely controlled programme (the news studio is now controlled from Vancouver) but also of the cancellation of This Morning Live, CKMI’s breakfast programming. The creation of a virtual newsroom doesn’t just dispense with the need to have that buzzing newsroom behind the anchor, it also dispenses with the need to have people working in every regional news studio controlling the cameras and cue-ing up reports.


If there is one good point to note about the application of this virtual studio, it’s that so far the design has been better applied in Montréal than in Ottawa. This opening pan shot, looking down on the anchor and the desk (the only real things in the entire shot) works better than the acuter angle of the opening shot on Ottawa: the perspective is, at least, more believable. That said, I imagine there have been a few instances in which Jamie Orchard has or will be tempted out from behind her desk to stand in front of another hideously mis-proportioned long shot of the non-existent studio.

I can’t claim to be close to any informed sources in the Canadian media industry, but Global has no made no bones in announcing that Global Edmonton, Global Calgary and Global Toronto will be the next affiliates to welcome virtual newsrooms. And that means control-room staff there might do well to start refreshing their resumés.