Tag Archives: Twitter

Social Media Week London – Friday

And so to the last day of Social Media Week London. I only made it to two events on the final day. First was The Future of being Social hosted by the Like Minds Club in which a panel of five distinguished media professionals grappled with what amounted to an impossible and unwise subject to predict. No one really knows the answer but the room where we were seated was packed to the rafters, reflecting the audiences desire to get some insight.

The panel traded jovial banter and disagreed over the perfect analogy for social media. First the ‘village’ was put forward, presumably taken but not referenced from Marshall McLuhan’s “Global Village”, and then ‘bazaar’ taken and referenced from Eric S. Raymond excellent book about the rise of open-source software, The Cathedral and the Bazaar. Perhaps the most articulate and succinct was Alan Moore, describing himself as, innovator, entrepreneur and mentor, who spoke about how our society needed to be more participatory. He’s also the author of the publication No Straight Lines: making sense of our non-linear world which discusses, amongst other things, “the emancipation of our information-behaviour”.

An interesting debate ensued but no one came close to sticking there neck out to predict the future of social, and nor should they because doing so could make them look rather silly in a few years time.

Next it was off to the other side of the City and Farringdon for the Twittamentary, a hour long documentary about everyday people who use Twitter. It’s directed by Tan Siok Siok, who crowd-sources the stories and videos for the project. The film is essentially a road movie accoss the United States that shows the diverse uses of Twitter from buying a pizza, stock trading and travel journalism to sex workers and homelessness.

[pro-player image=http://www.timrileydigital.com/phddiary/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/twittamentary.jpg width=’465′ height=’308′ type=’video’]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6svkZQoqik[/pro-player]

Social Media Week London – Thursday

Thursday began with three events at the Design Council. The first, The Future of Sharing discussed whether web users future will “embrace a world of ubiquitous sharing, or come to reject added noise and clutter”.

The event was prefaced with a consumer survey presentation by digital agency Beyond which looked at the future trends in online sharing.

The Current State of Sharing

The definition of online sharing within the context of this survey is very broad and can mean anything from sharing a link to your recently uploaded YouTube video or to the automatic sharing of your online activity. This is a term know as “frictionless sharing”, which posts your online activity through the use of applications directly to your profile without the need of a “like” or “share” button. Frictionless sharing was widely discussed as a social marketing tool. I question, however, its value to the social media user as it creates unnecessary noise and clutter and can interfere with the online conversation. This was backed up by a straw poll of the audience where only 4 people out of a room of around 170 wanted more frictionless sharing. However the assembled panel of marketeers recognised its value realising that recommendations from friends and colleagues are more valuable for selling products and services than traditional advertising and marketing are. Indeed this issue seemed to identify the course of the day’s attention.

The full survey can be viewed and downloaded at Beyond’s Future of Sharing web page.

Later in the morning there was a panel discussion entitled The Psychology of Online Influence. This event is also the title of a forthcoming book  by Web PsychologistNathalie Nahai who gave the first presentation concerned with new insights from the fields of neuropsychology and neuroaesthetics. The main angle of her presentation was discovering how we can apply these fields of research to “influence and communicate persuasively online”. Again this event was heavily weighted towards marketing and the value of social media tools and online communities to it.

Thursday afternoon began with massively oversubscribed Google@SocialMediaWeek, which was an interesting mix of both academic study and the features of Google+. The event started with a presentation from Robin Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University. He is the person to whom the phrase “Dunbar’s number” derives. It’s a reference to the number 150, which Dunbar claims is the “cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships”. Professor Dunbar’s presentation, titled “Why the Internet won’t get you anymore friends”, was academically orientated, as one would expect, and full of valuable and interesting research conducted over many years. His conclusion suggested that the reason we “won’t get anymore friends” on the Internet is the size of our brains and the behaviour we carry forward from our primate ancestors. This was followed by Alex Bentley, Professor of Anthropology at Bristol University who used some of Dunbar’s data to ask the question “Does the Internet really change how we interact and decide?” which looked at the mapping of social behaviour and “how ideas, behaviour, and culture spread through the simple means of doing what others do”. This is a question that I think that will be ongoing for some considerable time to come.

However, these two academic heavyweights were just a prelude to the main Google+ presentation. As I mentioned earlier in this post, much of what interests marketers about social media is the high value placed on personal recommendations and the ability for these recommendations to be converted into sales. Mobile Sales Director at Google UK, Ian Carrington qualified this by revealing an astonishing statistic that individuals are 300% more likely to make a purchase if someone they know has recommended it to them.

This led on to the main theme and big idea of the session, the development of “circles” on Google+ and the use of the “plus 1” (+1) button that’s becoming ever-more prevalent on blogs and webpages (indeed, this blog already has one, below!). The idea being that everytime one of your friends, or someone in one of your circles, clicks on the +1 button this will personalise your Google searches to reflect your friends/circles choices. Personally I think this sounds annoying and there appears no way of turning the feature off. It certainly takes the serendipity out of searching the web. This reminds me of a book I read recently, The Filter Bubble by Eli Praiser, which discusses invisible algorithmic editing on the web and its potential implications.

The event ended with a very entertaining (and brave!) live demonstration by Beth Foster, Senior Google+ Strategist of how Google+ ‘hangouts’ works.  It was a bit like a conference call or a multiple Skype call except the experience felt more like being in a room with your mates…. only one that would allow anyone to come in. Very impressive and lots of fun.

As darkness fell I made my way into Soho and Londata II: Taming the firehose – putting data to work in social media, an event hosted by data management company Media Science. To my pleasant surprise there was an array of free alcoholic drinks (sponsored by Windows Azure) including, tastefully, some organic pale ale which was very much to my liking. After a bit of networking and a few drinks we were given three presentations on the merits of social media, data modelling and management (I wouldn’t blame you, dear reader, for thinking that drinking alcohol would’ve been a mandatory requirement before listening to three presentation on this subject, but this was not the case).

And so to the final event of the evening. I’d  managed to get one of the last batch of tickets for the Social Media London Official Closing Party at The Penthouse on Leicester Square. Again there was a generous free bar and food arrived at regular intervals on trays. This was purely social but in the physical sense although there had been a good use of the Twitter #smwldn hashtag all day… as you would expect from an event like this. Suitably stimulated both mentally and physically I made my way home.

Social Media Week London – Tuesday

I’ve spent most of the last few days at various Social Media Week events in and around London. Yes, I know, social media is happening online all the time but this is a week where the virtual meets the physical. I’ve just got around to writing up the events of the week so this is the first of a number of entries relating to experiences during the week. This first entry is intended as an over view of the week and my first day.

The week is made up of events held concurrently at 21 major cities around the world and also accessible virtually through SNS and live streams. The main drive of the subjects and topics is marketing led but includes discussions on the broader issues surrounding social media and the web. The main theme of this years events was “Empowering change through collaboration”. However, this theme has tenuous links to to the events I visited.

Social Media Week London had a multitude of events with the vast majority free and, in most cases, sponsored my commercial organisation. One of the recurring themes discussed at many of the events I attended was the use of the term ‘Big Data’ and the access to and analysis of large data sets. IBM claim that “everyday, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data – so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone” (IBM). Indeed, Google CEO Eric Schmidt stated at the Atmosphere 2010 conference that “Between the birth of the world and 2003, there were five exabytes of information created. We [now] create five exabytes every two days. See why it’s so painful to operate in information markets?” (although how this comparison and calculation has been achieved is not divulged). So this is already a well discussed debate and, as the last sentence in the quote alludes, one pertinent to the modern company. With the constant generation of ever larger amounts of data comes the issue of how companies and individuals can harvest it, analyse it and, of course, issues of privacy that are inexorably link to it. “Big data” appears to have moved up the agenda with many of the company presentations at events offering services to digital businesses. However, the impact on privacy and data protection were given little regard.

Given my area of research I tried to limit the events I attended to less marketing led subjects although it became apparent that most linked to this subject somewhere in most events. In Tuesday morning’s Is eyewitness news, news? a panel discussed the impact of citizen journalism through social media and the use of user-generated content on news gathering. This mainly boiled down to issues of trust, authentication and accuracy. Adam Baker of Blottr caused consternation from both panellists and audience when he suggested that if something “trended” on Twitter it was probably true. Many examples were given to contradict his claim but Baker qualified this by saying reports on Twitter would be checked before his site would publish.

In the afternoon Mark Stephens CBE, owner of law firm Finers Stephens Innocent, discussed the legal minefield of copyright and intellectual property in the digital age in Freedom of Tweet: Censorship, Governments, Marketers & The Law. He discussed the recent high-profile cases of super-injunctions to suppress stories and their effectiveness in the age of Twitter and social media’s worldwide reach. Stephens suggested that a more effective strategy for anyone wishing to go down this route in the future would be to employ a PR firm to mitigate and pre-empt the story’s release with favourable news. Censorship and freedom of speech were also covered with reference to the UK’s freedom of speech organisation Index on Censorship, the Electronic Frontier Foundation affiliated online rights organisation Chilling Effects and the recent protest over SOPA.

 

Transforming Audiences 3 conference

Last week University of Westminster hosted Transforming Audiences 3 conference which is held bi-annually. I was one of a number of PhD students helping with the organising. One of my tasks was to take photos, some of which are included in this post. A conference programme including list of events can be found here.

Unfortunately David Guantlett, the lead organiser, had to miss the conference due to the imminent arrival of his second child but sent a message to the conference (below).

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There was a list of high-profile and internationally known keynote speakers throughout the two-day conference, notably; Nancy Baym, author of Personal Connections in the Digital Age; Jean Burgess (left), co-author of YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture; Adriana de Souza e Silva, co-author of Mobile Interfaces in Public Spaces and Net Locality and Patricia G. Lange, co-author of Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out.

 

Nancy Baym (right) was the first keynote speaker on Thursday. She gave a very engaging presentation on the the relationship between audience/fans online relationship with musicians titled: Biting and Feeding the Hands that Feed, Audience – Musician Interactions Online. Download her presentation here.

It must be noted that Nancy’s book, Personal Connections in the Digital Age, has been evaluable to me in the groundwork of my research.

 

I made two presentations at the conference. The first was for the pre-conference COST Actionʼs Working Group 2. Iʼd been asked by them to give a 25-minute presentation that links my industry experience to my research project. I gave this the title ʻFrom Punch-cards to Social Media: A Digital Lifeʼ. It tracked my 30-year association with digital technology via broadcasting to the digital tools available today. The second presentation related directly to my researched and was delivered in the ʻuser-generated contentʼ parallel session at the main conference. This initiated much positive feedback and comments and really the first time I had enjoyed presenting. Both of these presentations served as a very useful experience not only for the opportunity to communicate my research project but also for the feedback and comment from the audience.

Above: Lunchtime and delegates discuss the conference and share media

The conference was subtitled Online and Mobile Media, Everyday Creativity and DIY Culture which was reflected in the wide variety of subjects covered in many of the parallel sessions throughout the two days of the main conference. Abstracts can be downloaded here.

As you would expect with a conference about transforming audiences the conference adopted the Twitter hashtag #TA3. This was used extensively and to great effect. It helped give an added source of comment and discussion during the presentations. It was also a good way for people who weren’t able to make it to keep in touch with the proceedings. I took and uploaded photos of the keynotes on my phone and these were shared too.

British Library & Question Time

The snow has nearly gone and yesterday was was a eventful day. I had my monthly meeting with my supervisors in the  morning. This time at the British Library which is always an inspiring place to visit. We spoke for about two hours and mainly discussed my impending deadline for the Application to Register and Plan of Work which outline my research. This has to be reviewed and accepted by a panel of academics who judge whether it will contribute to knowledge and is sufficiently original to warrant pursuing.

There were just minor changes to the document and for the rest of the meeting we discussed the practical implications of the research, the books I needed to read. I feel I’m a little deficient in my knowledge of the sociological background surrounding subject so I was recommended some books to read.

Before Christmas, while  watching Question Time on BBC One, I applied to be a member of the audience on the programme as it was visiting my local area. On Monday I was called by a producer and last night was in the audience. We were asked to submit two questions and they pick a sample and the author get s to ask the question to the panel. My first Question was about Alastair Campbell and the Iraq Enquiry. My second is about the breaking news story concerning Google adopting to remove censorship from it’s Chinese google.cn website after a cyber attack on its gmail accounts. “Was Google ethically wrong to set-up in China and right to stop playing by the censorship rules now?” This was probably a bit obscure for the likes of a mainstream political programme but in internet circles this is big news. Needless to say I didn’t get to ask either of my questions.

Went down the pub afterwards just in time to watch the end of the Rovers v Villa game on TV. We lost again!

Earlier in the day I visited my Twitter account and found that David Gauntlett has uploaded another of his videos. This covers ideas from his forthcoming book Making is Connecting. He’s very prolific and a bit of a rising star in his field and he’s also building quite a reputation. I feel privileged that he’s my supervisor.

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