Reforming the news from London on devolved matters: towards a project

From a Welsh perspective there is a clear problem of inaccuracy when the media in London reports stories about devolved matters.

For example in a story about education or health in England the papers, television or radio incorrectly refer to the United Kingdom or fail to refer to any country whatsoever. Or there is a lack of attention to the vitally important differences in legislation and policy between Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and England.

This of course can lead to confusion, and lack of awareness of where powers are held and who is accountable. Despite the efforts of media who focus on Wales matters there’s a significant percentage of people in Wales who receive this misleading news, typically from London outlets.

The That’s Devolved project consistently highlights examples. There are some instances where the journalists and editors have corrected headlines and stories as a result. From a devolution perspective it works well. Many onlookers have learned more about the powers of the Welsh Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, and Stormont through the efforts of the project.

A while back I was thinking of the journalists’ own perspective. I had some enlightening conversations with experts and friends about this. Can a campaign or resource be created to be used in response to these journalists, and help change attitudes?

The result was a website I created called Say England.

The rationale was to convey the problem from a perspective that most English journalists understand – the English perspective.

It seemed more difficult to persuade them to care about Wales or that ‘devolution’ is worth trying to understand. (The few who do pay attention are very special.)

Currently the website is a single page listing some advice for journalists and others. It can be posted in replies on social media all day long.

It names other roles involved in the media narratives who get this wrong – for many different reasons.

Unfortunately the Say England website is a project that has not been completed or launched.

The project is stuck – at least for me. You may see its potential perhaps using the site as a rallying point for shareable content, campaigns, updates on progress, lists of good, bad and ugly, or something else. I’ve most probably reached the end of the line with it. It’s reached a point where I would consider giving the domain name to anyone principled and enthusiastic who wants to take it on, use it, and develop it.

Please let me know in the comments below or by email if you want to take over the project.

Bilingual WordPress website in Welsh and English for CULT Cymru

Here’s an example of a multilingual website (Welsh and English) I developed recently for the CULT Cymru training programme.

It’s all built on WordPress with a few custom things for this site, such as the design theme. Another example is that I developed a new plugin to show the testimonials widget (which is on the right in the screenshot above). This selects a testimonial randomly from the batch which are stored as a custom post type. This has to be done in the language that the visitor has chosen.

This is what the testimonials look like for editors on the back end:

The process was also an opportunity to move from an older domain name to the new cult.cymru name as well.

How to create maps of Wales: castles, rivers, post boxes, cycle routes, and more

Here’s an easy and fun guide on how to create maps of Wales (or anywhere) with pinned features.

You don’t need any previous experience of mapping or handling data. Creating maps is not an activity for specialists only. It’s easy.

Even though travel is not possible right now it’s nice to dream about visiting these places at some point.

It’s been very enjoyable to work as part of the Mapio Cymru project team to improve mapping and open data in Welsh over recent months. The guide is part of our effort to show OpenStreetMap as a resource to more people, and identify elements of the map which need improvement.

Have a go at the guide.

Tarian Cymru – some reflections on the work

About Tarian Cymru

A group of us have been running Tarian Cymru for over two months now, and over 1400 people have contributed over £74,000 towards PPE for health and care workers in Wales.

PPE is still needed. Have you donated yet?

Set-up

Running Tarian Cymru is a lot of work: fundraising, comms and publicity, finding/procuring/buying/importing PPE, liaison with workers, packing, distribution.

The whole initiative has been a unique experience. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

It’s amazing to think what’s possible when a group of people come together (remotely) to accomplish something specific rapidly.

It’s so encouraging to see how much activity there’s been for the goal, how generous people have been – with their time, money, skills, and resources. The list of music projects alone is staggering – to name one thing.

I’ll probably have to document the whole thing sometime. In the meantime I tend to make notes here about web projects…

Web

The website is for donors, supporters, as well as the workers.

There was an obvious need for a memorable and clear name, and a simple domain name to share on radio, TV, etc. The web address of the GoFundMe page and social media addresses were not suitable for this.

Then the website had to be ready in an exceptionally short time – in minutes.

Usually I run WordPress software on a server. This means creating a theme, choosing plugins, writing code, maintenance… But I had to avoid the temptation to have so many options and setting and tweaks this time. There simply was too much else to think about on the Tarian Cymru initiative.

Everything runs on wordpress.com – there are two websites for the two languages, Cymraeg and English.

There is a language switch in the menu and in some of the pages and blog posts (the latter by hand). The interface in Welsh makes use of  translations people have done over the years.

Sometimes it’s best to just do things in the fastest possible way, and sacrifice flexibility/options.

Finally

If you’ve read this far then you should consider doing a challenge for the Tarian Cymru appeal.

Settled website: helping people with settled status applications

I’ve built a website for a brand new charity called Settled.

The charity helps people who need to make settled status applications to the Home Office to stay in British countries after Brexit.

The process is complicated and confusing already, and there are many of other factors which make things even more challenging like the life circumstances of the people applying.

The first version of the website is in English only with many languages to come very soon. There will also be a means to browse listings of face-to-face sessions, and a platform for volunteers with the charity as well.

On the way to Brittany for Gouel Broadel ar Brezhoneg 2019

This weekend I’ll be taking part in Gouel Broadel ar Brezhoneg which will be an event held in Langoned, Brittany.

There are two things on my schedule:

  • a presentation about digital media in under-resourced languages including some discussion of my Wikipedia work and Twitter bots
  • and a DJ set of music from Wales.

I am looking forward to learning a few more rudiments of the Breton language, which has some similarities to the Welsh language, and practising during my time there.

Google and Bing do not offer a machine translation service for the Breton language but there is a basic machine translation service through Apertium.