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About The Authors

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson is a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. With a background in journalism, publishing and web design, Suw is now one of the UK’s best known bloggers, frequently speaking at conferences and seminars.

Her personal blog is Chocolate and Vodka, and yes, she’s married to Kevin.

Email Suw

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson is a freelance journalist and digital strategist with more than a decade of experience with the BBC and the Guardian. He has been a digital journalist since 1996 with experience in radio, television, print and the web. As a journalist, he uses blogs, social networks, Web 2.0 tools and mobile technology to break news, to engage with audiences and tell the story behind the headlines in multiple media and on multiple platforms.

From 2009-2010, he was the digital research editor at The Guardian where he focused on evaluating and adapting digital innovations to support The Guardian’s world-class journalism. He joined The Guardian in September 2006 as their first blogs editor after 8 years with the BBC working across the web, television and radio. He joined the BBC in 1998 to become their first online journalist outside of the UK, working as the Washington correspondent for

And, yes, he’s married to Suw.

E-mail Kevin.

Member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup
Dark Blogs Case Study

Case Study 01 - A European Pharmaceutical Group

Find out how a large pharma company uses dark blogs (behind the firewall) to gather and disseminate competitive intelligence material.

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All content © Kevin Anderson and/or Suw Charman

Interview series:
at the FASTforward blog. Amongst them: John Hagel, David Weinberger, JP Rangaswami, Don Tapscott, and many more!

Corante Blog

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

Is Flock the ultimate blogging tool for journalists? Almost.

Posted by Kevin Anderson

I first used Flock last year after meeting Chris Messina in Paris. He was working to get the word out about the read/write browser at the time. I really liked the idea, partially because it just makes sense as a concept. With blogs, photo-sharing sites Flickr and social bookmarking sites such as, it makes sense to have a support for these social tools on the browser level.

I have to admit. I downloaded it in December, wrote one blog post and quickly decided that it wasn’t ready for prime time. The tools didn’t work as advertised. I couldn’t even get it to work with my Flickr account, and it made life more difficult not easier.

That was then. This is now. A few weeks ago as I was looking for an RSS reader and other blogging tools to make life easier for my new colleagues at the Guardian. I downloaded Flock again. It’s now my default browser at work. The RSS reader alone is pretty good. RSS is the most under-utilised technology for jourrnalism bar none. For journalists wanting to use RSS, Flock is definitely worth a download (and this article is worth a read). It’s not as full-featured as NetNewsWire, but it’s damn good.

And from a blogging standpoint, it’s better than Sage, my favourite RSS plug-in for Firefox. If you see a post in your feed reader you want to blog, just click the blog button and up pops a window for a new blog post.

I actually like the uploader tool for Flickr photos better than Flickr’s own tool, although truth be told I haven’t used the Flickr uploader in a few months. But even more than the uploader, I like the fact that with a click, I can create a new blog post from my Flickr photos. I can easily see the pictures of my Flickr friends, too, which is a nice feature for personal use.

It has all the search functionality of Firefox and more. You can also set it to search your local history. It has all of the search plug-ins from Firefox.

OK, that was the good. Now for the bad, or at least the work in progress. I liked the spell checker because as you well know if you’ve read Strange for a while, I really benefit from a good editor. However, I discovered just yesterday that it puts span tags around the words it questions or changes. Well, initially, I just saw all the span tags and wondered WTF? It was only after a quick Google that I discovered it was the spell checker that was spawning the spans. It doesn’t look like a new problem, blog posts about it since the summer. I hope it gets fixed.

Suw downloaded Flock after finding Firefox 2.0 broke her can’t-live-without session saver plug-in. Here are her impressions:

I am finding that it isn’t behaving well when posting to a blog either - it just sits there and tries to post without ever completing the action (even though it does post). As you say, minor but annoying.

I also have a problem with the behaviour of their search bar - the sub-menu comes up whenever you click in the search area, instead of when you click on the G, (which is Firefox behaviour) meaning that when I am trying to select all by triple-clicking, it doesn’t work so well.

I have to admit, I am still liking Firefox better than Flock, but determined to still give it an honest trial

The HTML code is not entirely clean. I’m just looking at the source code of this post. The code definitely needs a tidy up.

But it’s getting there. Beginning bloggers could definitely do worse, and journalists who find Movable Type or WordPress’s interface daunting or difficult will find it much easier. It’s come a long way in the last year. I’m hoping that development continues and the bugs and quirks get ironed out.

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5 Responses to “Is Flock the ultimate blogging tool for journalists? Almost.”

  1. Will Pate Says:

    Hey Kevan, glad to hear you’re enjoying Flock despite a few little bugs. Feedback is crucial during our beta stage, so we really apprecaite it.

    I’ve logged bug 5760 for the spell check issue you noted and emailed Suw to help her with the issues she mentioned. If you notice any more of these, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll be happy to help out.


    Will Pate
    Community Ambassador, Flock

  2. Phil Says:

    Firefox 2.0 broke her can’t-live-without session saver plug-in

    WTF? Losing SessionSaver would be a deal-breaker for me too. But I’d read somewhere that this functionality would be built into Firefox 2.0 - not so?

    Getting back on topic, I will have another look at Flock - integration between Firefox and blogworld is good, but it could be a lot better.

  3. Suw Says:

    Certain aspects of Tab Mix Plus are built into the new Firefox, yes. You can enable a session saver which allows you to reload tabs from saved or the last session. But TMP was about a lot more than that. The reopen closed tabs was also essential to me, which is not built in. Also the way it stacked open tabs in rows, rather than having one very long one was nice.

    There is a new version of TMP out, but I am going to wait a bit longer and give Flock a proper trial.

    Will, thanks for your email. I’ll respond soon as I get a moment.

  4. Kevin Anderson Says:

    Thanks Will for the comment and the e-mails to both Suw and me. As I said, Flock is my main browswer at work now, and I’m hugely impressed with the improvements in both the stability and features since I first tried it a year ago.

    Also, thanks for some great customer/collaborator service on this one. The news industry could take a page from community ambassadors like yourself on how to be responsive to their audience, or as I often point out to sceptical journalists - the people who pay our bills.

  5. Abdelilah Boukili Says:

    It was thanks to flickr that I managed to spot the various pictures of Kevin Anderson in his various states of mind, serious looking or tipsy (holding a wine bottle). But despite his departure from BBC Haveyoursay, his pictures with the team are still on BBC blog:
    They are a record of the memorable moments he created with the team for BBC world audience.
    One thing that his pictures say about him is that he has team spirit, capable of linking with the rest of the world. Such as what Kevin Anderson is!!!