Radio 4’s Craven: how drama takes on cyberbullying

Friends and followers will know that I’m a long-time fan of audio drama, be it on radio (most often Radio 4) or via other commercial outlets, such as Big Finish.1

In recent years, the regular slots that Radio 4 has for dramas has accepted more and more returning series – one of the reasons why those strands were renamed two years ago – the Afternoon Play becoming the Afternoon Drama, and so on. One of my favourite regular schedule slots is the 15 Minute Drama, short serials taking up the last quarter of Woman’s Hour from Monday to Fridays and which are now, as a matter of course, repeated in the evening and with an omnibus on Saturdays at 12pm on sister digital station Radio 4 Extra.

And in that slot, one of my favourite returning serials is Craven, a crime drama starring Maxine Peake as DCI Sue Craven, heading up a murder investigation team including Michael Obiora (Hotel Babylon, Casualty) and David Crellin (Emmerdale, The Cops). While DCI Craven herself had a tendency to sound unremittingly grim in the first few episodes, by its just-completed fifth series2 it’s settled into an analysis of grim (and sometimes topical) murder cases by a team that has settled into a pattern of occasionally prickly professional relationships that are nevertheless imbued with mutual respect.

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Arts 2.0: Twitterstorms and social media stats

My latest Arts 2.0 column for The Stage is online today, reflecting on an eruption of comments on Twitter following agent Stuart Piper’s piece of Wednesday mentioning that some producers are informing themselves of performers’ online footprint.

My first draft of this was absolutely fuming at the sheer stupidity of some people on Twitter. I took most of that out, so that the column could focus on the issues rather than weigh in and get things kicked up again. Of course that does mean that the page views for my column will be rather lower…

WordPress Wednesday: PostRank

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[Note: I’m doing a lot of work with WordPress at work at the moment, so am accumulating plugins, coding tips, tutorials, etc., like nobody’s business. Something I started (and then quickly stoppped) doing a while ago was a ‘WordPress Wednesday’, writing at least one post a week that talked about an element of WordPress and its associated plugins. I’m going to try and keep it going for a little while longer this time…]

There are a bevy of “popular posts”-type plugins for WordPress around. They will look at various metrics – page views, number of comments, etc., – and use an algorithm to work out which posts to include in a widget or other form of display. Some use information collected within WordPress, others connect to third party statistical information, such as Google Analytics, and others do some combination of the two.

One I’m trying out is PostRank, which was developed by a company that has now been bought by Google. In the words of the plugin authors:

PostRank measures the audience engagement with each story by analyzing the types and frequency of online social media interactions – comments, tweets, diggs, etc. The more interesting or relevant the story is, the more active your readers will be in organizing, responding to, and sharing it.

The collection of popular stories the widget generates (see the sidebar) looks pretty spot on to me. It avoids the mistake that others have made of counting hits from Google Images (a search for quite a common word results in many hits for one post that’s several years old now), instead concentrating on actual user engagement.

As well as the widget, the plugin adds an PostRank column to the list of posts in the WordPress admin area so I can see the engagement of my most recent posts at a glance.

All the information is useful, although the design out of the box is a little garish for me, especially when sitting on a template based on WordPress’s default Twenty Eleven theme. The widget has eight selectable colour schemes to choose from, plus a ninth ‘style-free’ option ready for you to apply your own CSS. If I keep the plugin around, I’ll move to that option, but it will take a little time to work out the relevant selectors.

For more information about PostRank, visit the website. And if you’re using the built-in plugin search facilities within your WordPress site’s admin section, be warned – there’s an unrelated plugin also called PostRank out there. Click on the ‘plugin details’ link before installing to make sure you’re looking at the correct one.

WordPress Wednesday: PostRank3Scott Matthewman2011-09-22 17:47:38[Note: I’m doing a lot of work with WordPress at work at the moment, so am accumulating plugins, coding tips, tutorials, etc., like nobody’s business….