Tuesday, 24 February 2009

It's Tuesday, so it's clearly a Review and Rant day

So much to write about, so little time...

First up? The nice people at Virgin Books sent me a copy of Myleene Klass' baby diaries ' My Bump and Me' to read and review.

Now, I have to admit that I did not have high hopes of it (this from a person who devours chick-lit by the bin bag-full, who on earth do I think I am?). But, actually - as a person who has left the baby-jungle behind her and has sworn never to pick up a machete, or put on a safari suit and a pith helmet again - I enjoyed it.

It is very readable, written week by week, with each entry including useful information about the baby's development and pregnancy in highlighted boxes, along with Myleene's own helpful tips. It also includes diary entries from her partner; it's not so often that these books - and believe me, I used to read a lot of them - bother to do that. I mean, once you get pregnant, the men's work is done, right?

Not right if you are normal person and need the help and support of your significant other to get you through it, and Myleene, it turns out, is just that; 'normal' (or as normal as it's possible to be having been able to wear that infamous white bikini in 'I'm a Celebrity...'. Grrrr).

It also has a useful glossary in the back to help explain those terms which, first time into pregnancy, sound like a foreign language, and an index to help you reference how Myleene dealt with different situations at different times.

In brief, then, whilst this is not a book which gives you full chapter and verse, or which will replace the 'What to Expect When You're Expecting's of this world, I would say that this is easy to read, gives you an unsantised version of what pregnancy can really be like, and would be a good present for girlfriends who are thinking of / have just become pregnant. Even as a 'graduate' of the baby years, I quite enjoyed it.

Though I still don't want to go back there...

What's next?

Ah yes. The Rant...

I was contacted by a website which shall remain nameless last week, one that specialises in adult clothes from both designer and high street labels, and which has just introduced a kid's range to their offering. They wrote: 'We have spent a lot of time researching blogs relevant to our Launch, and have cherry picked your blog and feel it would be a wonderful platform in which we could build a relationship.'

Fancy words, huh? Ever-susceptible to flattery I took a look, liked what I saw, and wrote back to tell them so. I then asked what kind of 'a relationship' they had in mind...

'We would be very pleased for you to use the press release for the launch in any format with in your blog and we’d like to keep in touch for any possible partnerships with your self in the future, once the range is up and running.'


And I would do that, why, exactly?

I wrote back and pointed out that -no offence - in a world where we are constantly deluged with marketing messages, I wasn't sure what benefit simply writing about their new site would bring to either me or anyone reading my blog. If, however, they want to offer discounts, competitions, or some other incentive, then of course that would change matters.

To give them their due, they did respond, and stated that actually they thought my position was quite reasonable, which brings me to the point of all this rambling. We might 'only' be bloggers. The posts we write might 'only' be our musings. But they have value, and worth, if only to us, and we should take care that we maintain that. I don't know about you, but why on earth would I want to write about a new website just because someone asks me to? Am I that short of subject matter? (Well, clearly I am because I just wrote about it now...)

But still, I think it's about time that 'Respect the blog' - as Expat Mum posted on a week or so back - became something more of us do. Here's another example of what happens when people don't...

A couple of weeks back The Times featured comments from various bloggers in an article about privacy. I was one of them, and despite the fact that the excerpt they used from my e-mail wasn't the main point I had made to them at all, I stand by what they printed. I mean, if you swim with sharks (not that I'm calling either of the writers who wrote the article 'sharks', far from it, it's just a euphemism etc etc) , you have to be ready to be bitten, right? But it then turned out that some of the comments attributed to other bloggers, whilst written / said by them, had simply been lifted from other articles, interviews, or even the blogs themselves, and no permission (as I understand it) was ever requested.

That's a bit shabby, don't you think? Especially since British copyright rules state that 'when a work is fixed, in writing,... copyright automatically protects it.' Hmmm. 'In writing'? Like, say, on a blog? And just in case that's not clear enough, what does that actually mean? Well, that means: 'You should only copy or use a work protected by copyright with the copyright owner's permission.'

And the copyright owner, if you blog, write letters, send e-mails, write novels - in fact, the moment you put pen to paper - is you.

If you were a published writer in whatever form, you can bet that permission would be asked before someone else reproduced your hard work elsewhere. And I really don't want to get arsy about this. Hell, I only write a blog; I like it, but it's nothing special, so I'm delighted if anyone else pays me enough attention to want to quote me elsewhere. Be my guest. Just ask me first, please?

Now that's out of my system I feel so much better... Back to tales of pussycats and puppydogs tomorrow...


  1. A related issue-

    I don't mean to sound naive but it only just dawned on me the other day that there are blogsites ENTIRELY dedicated to promoting "friendly" websites and products under the guise of blogging. I really had no idea- it was so well hidden. I don't think it's necessarily a problem but it has to be open and honestly presented...every blog entry starting with "I was surfing the net the other day and found this really cool site/product/etc..."

    As for Copyright i think it might be still a hazy area for bloggers. Surely you're right, that as "authors" bloggers have automatic copyright over their work?? But in which country? The hosting country or the country of residence...?

    Journalists are pushing it a bit to quote without citation, but then again blogging throws everything into the public domain...

    to be honest there are quite a few blogs I find wittier and more interesting than the bulk of the British press/features editorials type opinion writers...and they're doing it for free!

  2. Ooh, good rant PM.

    Interestingly I am just writing a feature about social media and have been interviewing some planners at digital agencies who target bloggers. The smart ones all know that in order to get something written about in a blog, they have to offer something that adds value for the blogger, whether it's freebies, discounts or s link to their blog. As the number of brands targeting bloggers increases, I guess that WE will be the ones getting to cherry pick the best offers.

    Giggling about the people who wanted you to reproduce their press release! (Believe it or not, this happens to journalists too - very naive/unprofessional PRs sometimes ring up and say, so will you be printing the release then?)

  3. Berlimey I didn't know trhey were that blatant! But with cut backs etc in marketeding and PR bloggers will be targeted esp good ones like yours! Ohhh what it is to be popular!!!;)

  4. I agree about the Copyright issue, but it is a hard line to walk for those looking for information on the Internet. In our country, if it is online, it is free game, as long as it is attributed. If I, as a reporter, uses something from online, then I have to attribute where I pulled it from, blog or whatever.

    However, if The Times article was saying that these people contributed these comments then they should have been contributed, not pulled from the blogs, right? That is how I feel.

  5. I got that same e-mail and I just couldn't figure out why they would want to "partner" with me. They clearly hadn't ready any of my posts or they'd know that I have zero interest in promoting clothes - for me or my kids. It's bad enough that I have to buy them and keep them clean. I just deleted it tho' - not as polite as you.

  6. that is a good rant; did you feel better? best rants absolutely must be cathartic. as for the review; well done. must admit i'd have started wtih same attitude so very pleased you nicely suprised xx

  7. Ooh, I have Klass's book winging its way to me for review, and I have to admit I'm dying to hate it. Of course I'm open to changing my mind though!

  8. PM, a very impressive rant, did we train at the same school? I'm glad you're feeling better, purged in more ways than one!

  9. Great rant Potty. I think I need to think about this more. Not being very media savvy I do get flattered by people asking me to 'mention stuff' on my blog, and then get quite worried when I don't get time to do it. You've made me think, 'Jo, stop stressing, it's not like they're paying you.' Oh I feel tougher now. Grrrrr.

    And I just finished Myleene's book tonight and quite enjoyed it too even though I'm also not planning to increase my brood. I have a feeling my review will be similar to yours as I thought the same things. She did ok didn't she. :D

  10. I think you are totally wrong Potty Mummy (ah see, made you sit up and take notice there!)
    In America advertisers are falling over themselves to get onto mummy blogger sites because they recognise the power they weild.
    It hasn't quite reached that stage over here, but I suspect it's coming.
    You say 'I only write a blog' but if people are regularly coming to visit and read it is a lot more powerful than that.
    And very shoddy journalism for attributing quotes like that.
    They should have made it clear that they were just pulled from somewhere - a bit lazy really.

  11. Enjoying your blog and a very good and impressive rant! Not had a good rant on mine yet (fairly new to this etc) but I must transfer my school playground ranting to blog ranting (at least I won't have to encounter the bemused stares and raised eyebrows in person). Myleene Klass!!! She gets everywhere; she must be the hardest working showbiz bod there is. I must admit I get weird hormones postpartum and immediately want to do it all again...I even drive past the hospital (en route to my home so not that bad) yelling to my kids like a maniac "LOOK LOOK THAT'S WHERE YOU'RE BROTHER WAS BORN!" Maybe I should read Myleene's book to give me a reality check...Lord knows I could use one right now.

  12. Screamish, good question on the international copyright laws - will look into it...

    NVG - so glad it's not just me!

    TW, sorry, would love to chat but just have to take a call from my agent (as if...)

    J's Mommy, interesting. It may be that the online aspect changes it, though I suspect that is more of a US than a UK thing. Which of course goes back to what Screamish was saying.

    EPM, not sure 'polite' is what I was thinking...

    RM - of course it may just be that I'm easily please!

    More than, will be interested to see what you think!

    FK, please. don't talk to me about purging. Over enthusiastic consumption of pasta last night was not a good idea.

    Yay! Go Jo! No pushing around! Bloggers united! (and all that stuff...)

    Tara, you're right, I DID sit up and take notice (but then I always do...).

    Katherine, thanks for visiting and just make sure before you rant that none of your playground peers ever check in your blog!

  13. I have just finished my review of the same book. It's not quite as glowing as yours - do you think we were sent different copies?



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