Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Google Street View

This month, instead of writing my Shetland Life article as I should have been, I once again found myself rumbling around the Internet convincing myself that I was undertaking some sort of informal ‘research’. But while looking for info on Shetland’s CCTV obsession and related invasion of privacy issues (a topic I shall return to) I was tangented by the ongoing debate surrounding Google’s controversial ‘Street View’ initiative, launched in the UK earlier this year.

‘Street View’ is a relatively new addition to Google’s arsenal of Internet implements; a service that allows users to view 360-degree panoramic images of streets in selected cities around the world.

Monday, 24 August 2009


As a young ‘un, I erroneously believed that one of my elderly relatives suffered from “Auld Timers Disease”; they were indeed old and I believed “Auld Timers” to be the official designation for the affliction more commonly referred to as “doiting”. When I disappointingly discovered the correct term was “Alzheimer’s” I noted with interest that it both sounds like “auld timers” and affects auld timers. Coincidence?

Monday, 1 June 2009

Copyrights and wrongs

My interest, nay passion for copyright is one of my guilty pleasures and was piqued after being ripped off by a record company as a teenage band member, which in turn compelled me to study Intellectual Property rights at university.

Copyright is a slippery beast to define. Essentially, in the UK and most of Europe, it is the ‘right’ given to the creator of a ‘work’, be it a piece of music, a book, a picture or any expressible form of an idea that shows substantive creative endeavour. The right to copy (hence copyright) allows the creator to make copies to do with as they please, and prevents other from doing so. The copyright can also be transferred or sold to another party. Not too interesting so far.

Sunday, 1 March 2009


As I toyed with whether to write about blogs, podcasts or netiquette this month I noted that each subject is a portmanteau: a compound word combining two or more words and their meanings. “Blog” is a portmanteau of “web” and “log”, “podcast” is a portmanteau of “iPod” and “broadcast” and “netiquette” is a portmanteau of “network” (or “internet”) and “etiquette”. Even Shetlink is a portmanteau of “Shetland” and “hyperlink”.

The word portmanteau, originally meaning a travel bag that opens into two hinged compartments, popular in 19th century Europe, is itself a portmanteau of “porter” (to carry, of Latin origin) and “manteau” (a cover or coat, of Middle French). Portmanteau’s use as designation of a metaphorical linguistic instrument is generally attributed to Lewis Carroll in 1871’s Through the Looking-Glass. Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the derivation of the odd words in Jabberwocky: “‘Slithy’ means ‘lithe and slimy’ . . . You see it’s like a portmanteau – there are two meanings packed up into one word”