Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Camping it up

Regular viewers will know that I'm fond of a camp. I'm also very fond of a good cuppa. It turns out that I'm not the only one. Which is lucky really, or I'd have been drinking tea and talking to myself last Thursday afternoon. Fortunately, fourteen other intrepid tea drinkers braved some shocking Edinburgh weather to gather in Spoon Cafe on Nicolson Street to talk about all things digital and government. A strong, pungent blend of central and local government and academic types discussed topics as diverse as joining up social media strategies, technologies enabling home working and hyperlocal news. [If you want to follow these fine people, there's a Twitter list for that.]

Here's the tweetage:

And here's a quick analysis:

When: Thursday seemed as good a day as any and the 1600 - 1800 time slot allowed folk to pop in on the way home.

Where: Spoon was really busy when the first campers arrived and there was only a small table free. By the time all 14 of us had arrived we were split over several tables. This was down to my lack of planning really - I had intended reserving a table, but never got round to it. To be honest, I thought maybe five or six people would show, so it wasn't a priority. Anyway, some pointed staring in the direction of a poor chap sitting on his own and we eventually got a large bench that seated us all. We may have upset the staff a bit with our constant moving around, and in my personal experience, service can be a bit erratic. But it's a central location, and the orange blossom tea is very nice.

What: There were mixed feelings about whether there should be a specific topic for discussion and/or presentations. Some felt that a bit of structure would be helpful - particularly if you need to make the case to your manager for attending. Others preferred the more free flowing discussion. I'm thinking we'll give a topic a go for the next one and see what happens.

As a proof of concept, I think we have a success on our hands, so we'll return to Spoon for the next teacampscotland on 14 June. With a topic, probably. And possibly a new hashtag (#youllhavehadyourteacamp ;) )

While we're on the subject of camps...I'm off to Orkney tomorrow for IslandGovCamp. You can take part by registering as a 'remote attendee' or follow the action on Twitter (hashtag is #IsleGC12).

Monday, 7 May 2012

Desert island tweeps*

So, there's been a fair bit of sniping on Twitter about this article in yesterday's Observer. Lauren Laverne gives what is actually quite a nice intro, but then it all descends into a bit of a celeb Twitter love-in.

I don't think we can really be too critical of the fact that celebs follow other celebs - these are the people they socialise with and who they have most in common with after all. What is pretty galling about the article, is the implication that because the celebs follow these accounts then we should too.

Anyway, earlier today, @corrinnedouglas came up with the rather brilliant idea of crowdsourcing a version for us 'real people'.

So, off I went to have a think about my top three follows. And it was really hard. Really, really hard. I follow almost 1500 people and I wouldn't want to give any of them up. How to decide? Well, some criteria was obviously required. Should it be tweeple:

  • who post interesting links?
  • who I have good conversations with?
  • who spark ideas in my head? 
  • I've met in real life?
  • who are controversial?
  • who make me laugh?
  • who make me want to scream?
  • who like libraries?
  • I'd be happy to have round for tea?

But I doubt I could narrow it down to three in any of those categories, or even in an 'all of the above' category!

I had another look at the article and there doesn't appear to be any consistency in how the celebs have decided on their favourite tweeps. @johncleese follows @mrmichaelwinner "because he is Michael Winner"; @salmanrushdie follows @shteyngart (Gary Shteyngart) "because he's funny, has a dachshund and travels a lot"; @emmafreud follows @prodnose (Danny Baker) because "he's a brilliant, inspired, wise commentator on our strange world and his stranger imaginings of it". So, that didn't help.

And then I thought, who am I to tell anyone who they should follow? As Lauren points out in her intro,"one thing everyone agrees on is that nobody agrees on the point of Twitter." So we all get something different out of it (I've blogged before about why Twitter works for me, if you're interested).

So, at that point I stopped worrying about criteria. I'm not recommending Twitter feeds for you to follow. Instead, here are three people who have taken the time to join me on my personal Twitter 'journey':

1. The first person on #mytwitterthree list then is @snap2grid, aka 't'other 'alf'. He's the one who introduced me to Twitter in the first place. He doesn't tweet as much I'd like...but is good value when he does. He mostly tweets about nerdy stuff. He's a writer, so he knows how to get the best out of 140 characters. And he's generally very funny and/or clever.

2. Second on the list is @euan. One of the first people I followed (and who followed me back!) and instigator of a fairly pivotal moment in my Twitter life. I went to see him talk at a British Computer Society event in Edinburgh a few years ago and got the shock of my life when one of the first things he did when he got up to speak was ask where Lesley Thomson was sitting. When I put my hand up, he preceded to ask what I'd bought at the shops. Turns out he'd read a tweet I'd sent earlier in the day while doing some shopping on route to the talk. That was quite a big deal for me - someone was actually reading my tweets and was willing to have a conversation with me! "Euan is a one man digital upgrade solution for companies that really want to get their heads around all that is new in social computing" (testimonial from his website). And he knows that the emphasis should be on the 'social', not the 'computing'. He's recently written Organizations Don't Tweet, People Do: A Manager's Guide to the Social Web, which should be required reading for anyone 'doing' social media. I'm hoping I can get him to come and talk to our senior managers!

3. And my last but not least top follow is @dianebrodie. I've known Diane for several years and would consider her a good friend, but have only recently started following her on Twitter. Mainly because I didn't know she had a personal account. She's been quietly doing brilliant social media stuff at UK Trade and Investment for a few years now. She tweets about social media and webby stuff, and art and tractors. And she's a librarian. I may be responsible for getting her to start tweeting (rather than just using Twitter to follow people)...and I'm hoping this post encourages her to tweet more (but I'm also a bit worried it'll have completely the opposite effect :))

So there you go, three good tweeps that I'd happily take to a desert island (whether they'd want to come with me is, of course, another matter...). Follow them, or don't follow them, that's entirely up to you.

* blog post title shamelessly stolen from @comms2point0

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Stuck on Storify. Or, do as I say, not do as I do...

When I’ve got my official ‘social media adviser’ hat on, I generally try to steer people away from starting with the tool. I get approaches along the lines of "we want to use Twitter, can you help us?". But when I ask why they want to use Twitter and what for, they tend to go a bit quiet and mutter something about "well, everyone else is using it". So I get them to take a step back and think about what it is they want to achieve. And then we have a discussion about which tool/s will best help them get there.

That’s not to say that I always take my own advice…

So, a confession: I’m a wee bit addicted to Storify. It's what all social media tools should be: easy and intuitive to use, and it works well across all devices.

I’ve recently used it to curate content from events:

But that hasn't been enough to feed my habit…and I’ve been giving some thought to other ways to get my Storify fix. 

Hence, as a bit of an experiment, I’ve Storifyed my week on Twitter. My thinking went something like this:

  1. I don’t currently archive my tweetage.
  2. I often tweet/retweet something and then instantly forget about it.
  3. I tweet quite a lot.
  4. My tweets probably reflect the veritable information smorgesboard that constitutes my ‘area of professional interest’.
  5. I need to be better at following through on some of those thoughts/ideas that get sparked off by something I’ve seen, or a conversation I’ve had on Twitter. Sometimes they get blogged about - but more often than not, they're left hanging...)
  6. Storifying my tweets on a regular basis might be a nice way to be more systematic about recording my activities, thoughts and ideas.
  7. Making the effort to capture my tweets in this way may also prove to be a useful prompt for reflection. It should also help the blogging process.
This is the result of a weeks worth of tweeting: (it embeds very nicely as slideshow, see below)

My thoughts so far:

  • Slightly more tweetage here than there would be in a normal week due to a day of event tweeting. I think in future, I'll record events separately.
  • Could make more use of the text boxes for the reflection bit.
  • It's not really a 'story'. Does that matter?
  • Maybe a thematic rather than chronological approach would work better?

So, proof of concept is still to be validated :) I'm not sure this particular tool is the best one for helping me achieve what I'm trying to achieve. But while my love affair with Storify continues, it will probably be the one I use :).

If you want to know more about Storify and how it works, Steve Dale has just written a very comprehensive blog post on that very topic. 

For some great government examples, have a look at:
Anybody got any other examples of Storifyication?