My first job was as a Runner at the BBC World Service. Amazing and inspiring – Bush House corridors lined with UN Sec-Gens telling stories about how their lifeline, their connection to the world, was the WS.

I vox-popped members of other services to get an international view on stories for Outlook (which in the late 90s was a live, daily, 1hr magazine show) – and ruined the tapes by saying ‘Hmm’ and ‘Oh, right’ in the background instead of leaving the vox pop recordings clean.

I opened the post for Steve Wright’s show and read about a Ugandan factory worker who was 5 mins late every day because he couldn’t miss the end of the show – and when his boss finally challenged him about it and he confessed the reason, the whole company got free breakfast if they came in early to listen to the show on the canteen tannoy.

This all was an inspiration. But most of the people I worked with then are gone – cut. The craft has gone with them. But for me, still at school yet able to go back 4 summers in a row, it was the start. That was the experience that got me into FremantleMedia (worked on The X Factor, Got Talent, etc), and now I’m in Stockholm working in games, running Candy Crush Saga.

I really doubt this would have happened without that experience at the BBC – it gave me a feeling and a love for how something can be made from nothing and can mean so much to so many people around the world.

From our hands, to their minds.


For more musings on why the BBC World Service is so great (well, maybe – I’ve never actually written about that before), follow @toddmgreen on Twitter and sign up for emails.

Laters ~ Todd

Picnics in the rain

In Oman you can wait 6+ months for rain.

So when it does rain, people jump out of their cars to take photographs, students beg for class to be cancelled, and families picnic under the downpour.

Seems mad to me, living in the UK. In London it rains on 44% of days. Everything is seen differently by different people.

A friend’s dad told him:

Son, not everyone’s going to like you – that’s just how it is. Everyone sees you differently.

I found out last week that my friend had died. So this one’s for him.

Rest in peace mate x


Links: Rain stats, Oman blog and photo.

Initial idea came from From Our Own Correspondent, but I can’t recall which episode.

For more posts, follow @toddmgreen on Twitter or join the mailing list.

Small numbers

This ammonite fossil is 170 million years old.

That’s a hard number to grasp, so let’s put it in context.

It’s just over 2000 years since we switched from BC to AD. For us, 2000 years ago is ancient history.

But 2000 years are nothing to this little fossil. What proportion of his existence do those 2000 years represent?

Not much: he is so old that the entire AD era – starting when the Romans ruled Britain, Augustus was on the throne, and Jesus was born – is only 0.00001% of his time on Earth.


When Arthur Evans excavated the Minoan civilisation at Knossos, he created a competition: a prize for the first man to dig down to the Minoan layer. A strong incentive!

The result: much of the Roman layer was destroyed.

Incentives work… sometimes, a little too well.


Links: Arthur Evans, In Our Time on The Minoan Civilisation.

For more pseudo-historical odds and sods like this, follow @toddmgreen on Twitter or join the mailing list.

Primitive car safety testing

Another story from the Robert McNamara archives.

Before becoming Secretary of State, he worked at Ford on car safety. He described their testing programme in The Fog Of War.

I said, “What about accidents? I hear a lot about accidents.”

“Oh yes, we’ll get you some data on that.” There were about forty odd thousand deaths per year from automobile accidents, and about a million, or a million two injuries.

I said, “Well, what causes it?”

“Well,” he said, “it’s obvious. It’s human error and mechanical failure.”

I said, “Hell, if it’s mechanical failure, we might be involved. Let’s dig into this.” I want to know, if it’s mechanical error, I want to stop it.

“Well”, they said, “There’s really very few statistics available.”

I said, “Dammit, find out what can we learn.”

They said, “Well, the only place we can find that knows anything about it is Cornell Aeronautical Labs.”

[Cornell] said, “The major problem is packaging.” They said, “You buy eggs and you know how eggs come in a carton?”

I said, “No, I don’t buy eggs. I never have — my wife does it.”

Well, they said, “You talk to her and ask her: when she puts that carton down on the drain board when she gets home, do the eggs break?”

And so I asked Marg and she said “No.”

So Cornell said, “They don’t break because they’re packaged properly. Now if we packaged people in cars the same way, we could reduce the breakage.”

We lacked lab facilities, so we dropped the human skulls in different packages down the stairwells of the dormitories at Cornell. Well, that sounds absurd, but that guy was absolutely right. It was packaging which could make the difference.

Testing and iteration by dropping skulls down stairs. Smashing!


More McNamara here (my post on the terrible odds for WWII US pilots). Full interview transcript here (I made a few edits for clarity’s sake). Image by pegasus22 on Etsy.

If you’d like more McNamara-related posts, follow @toddmgreen on Twitter or join the mailing list.

The Strangeness of Silicon Valley

From a conversation between John Naughton and Judy Wajcman:

The technology industry is actually rather small. And dysfunctional. And solves its own problems. But Silicon Valley has convinced us that the problems of a small set of socially-unusual people (who sleep at their desks and have no social life) are actually our own problems too, and that we need products and services that help to solve them.

In case proof of this were needed – here’s Elon Musk (PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla founder) on relationships:

I would like to allocate more time to dating. I need to find a girlfriend. That’s why I need to carve out just a little more time. I think maybe even another five to ten — how much time does a woman want a week? Maybe 10 hours? That’s kind of the minimum? I don’t know.

Clearly a genius, but a rather strange one. The other side of the Valley.


Links: Naughton/Wajcman, Musk.

For more oddness, follow @toddmgreen on Twitter and join the email newsletter.


The Robots Already Won

You can relax! Our robot overlords already took control.

Three examples of their successful infiltration:

1. Ipswich Town’s PR teambots

Ipswich defender Tyrone Mings paid off all his mum’s debts. Wonderful news! A footballer with a conscience!

An Ipswich spokesman said it was:

A private matter between Tyrone and his mum.


2. Verizon CEObot

Verizon spent $4,400,000,000 (that’s $4.4bn) on buying AOL. Blockbuster deal!

Lowell McAdam, Verizon chairman and CEO, said:

Verizon’s vision is to provide customers with a premium digital experience based on a global multiscreen network platform. This acquisition supports our strategy to provide a cross-screen connection for consumers, creators and advertisers to deliver that premium customer experience.


3. Local councilbots

Water fountain dating back to 1853, adorned by Biblical quote. Historically interesting! And possibly significant!


Game over, see you later. MAYBE.


Links: Mings, Verizon, Water.

For more warnings from the future, follow @toddmgreen on Twitter or join the newsletter.




Now on

I have (finally) created a profile on

It’s a site which now has >10m users (by which I think they mean registrations), and which aims to make academic research freely accessible to all.

There you can find my first academic publication (on IP on interactive TV), plus slides from three talks:

  • How Data Can Make You More Creative
  • The Biggest Problem in TV is… Split Attention
  • European Media Management Association conference presentation of the IP in interactive TV paper

If you’re an academic, or interested in reading academic material, hit me up on

Quantified Selves

The Quantified Self blog has recently featured not one, but two of my posts – as part of best-of summaries on money tracking and on running.

How kind! Thanks very much to Ernesto Ramirez for that.

My next QS project is about health. Every day since 1 January, I’ve been tracking my body fat %, plus recording what exercise I’ve done, and noting down any ‘bad’ things I’ve eaten/drunk.

I want to find out:

  1. How much body fat do I have – and what is a healthy amount? I assume 0% would look a bit weird
  2. What effect do exercise, sloth, bad foods, and booze actually have on fat? Is the effect immediate, lagging, or seemingly random (i.e. dependent on other factors that I’m not recording)?
  3. How often do I actually eat/drink ‘bad’ stuff?
  4. Will I manage what I measure, and gradually reduce the % as time goes by?

It’s been two months so far, and patterns are starting to emerge. Full write-up coming either later this year or early next, depending on how long I keep up the measuring.

Stay tuned to find out what I learnt, how you cut down your body fat, and whether I am indeed mad enough to keep track of my own for a full 6-12 months.


~ Todd


To find out what happens, and what you can learn from my experiments in order to manage your body fat %, join the mailing list.

Three Years of Running Data: 1,153km with Nike+ and Mind

In 2014 I did 56 runs, averaged 1:00 hours per run, and covered nearly 400 miles – enough to get me from central London to Aberdeen, Galway, Limouges, Frankfurt, Bremen, or deep deep deep under the North Sea.

I’ve been digging into the data – first for 2014, then all the way back to April 2012 when I first started using the Nike+ app – to see what the patterns are.

Here’s a chart showing km per month (bars) and km per run (line). Orange bars are for months in which I did a proper race event. For imperialists: 10km = 6.2 miles, 21.1km = half marathon (13.1 miles), 42.2km = full marathon (26.2 miles).

So, what does this data show?

  • Inconsistency: I haven’t run evenly across the years – the peaks around the orange bars show that I build up for the race events
  • Specific training schedules: In some cases you can actually see my training/resting schedule for the race months in the data – e.g. in October 2014 I did four half marathons (4 x 21.1km), and it’s clear from the total (84.4km) that I did absolutely no running in between – I needed the rest!
  • Recent sloth: I’ve pretty much taken a break for the past two months :)
  • One crazy month: I went nuts in February 2014 (two months prior to my first full marathon), and did 123km in one month

February 2014 is certainly an outlier. Doing 123km in a month meant an average run of 15km every 3 days. Just thinking about it makes my knees hurt.

What was my motivation for doing so much running that month?

There were three reasons:

  1. I enjoyed it
  2. I wanted the best possible marathon time
  3. The marathon helped to raise money for Mind

The first two reasons are easy to see in the overall numbers. 2014 was a big year: 1.5x more miles than 2013, and over 5x more than 2012. In 2014 I did my first marathon (Manchester, 6 April), and then the Monster Month – which comprised six half marathons on six consecutive weekends (1 training run, 4 half marathon races and 1 Tough Mudder, September-October).

Overall, since starting to track my running in 2012, I’ve done a total of 123 runs, covered 1,153km = 716 miles, and logged almost 100 hours on the road. That would get me to Barcelona, Bologna, or Oslo.

But while the running data is interesting, it’s not the full story. The charity element – reason number 3 for all that running back in February 2014 – is important too.

I combined the Nike+ data with the donations data. What is every mile on the road worth to Mind?

  • £24.03 donated per hour of running
  • £3.32 donated for every mile
  • £2.06 donated for every kilometre

That is unbelievably generous, especially when you scale it up to >1,100 kilometres, >700 miles, and almost 100 hours of running over the past three years.

Total donations to date stand at £2,379.20. Incredible. Thank you so much!

Medium-difficulty sporting events like mine have become a very popular way of raising money for charity. So here are a couple of notes on what I’ve learnt about fundraising:

  1. Ask and ye may receive – or rather, do not ask, and ye certainly shall not receive
  2. Share a personal story – I raise money for Mind because several people close to me suffer with mental health issues. Sharing that information not only laid plain the reason why I had chosen Mind, but also led to donations from long-lost friends – presumably because they know people with mental health problems too.
  3. No pain, no gain. After 7 days with zero donations, I received £150 within 6 hours of posting this photo:

If you’re planning an adventure like this – good luck. Keep track of what you’re doing and you’ll be surprised what you can learn.

And yep – that’s blood coming from my nipples. Don’t forgot your tape!


Thanks for reading – for more posts like this, sign up for emails or follow @toddmgreen on Twitter.

And if you’re specifically interested in posts about running, the best one I’ve written so far is this: 10 Surprising Discoveries During My First Marathon.

%d bloggers like this: