Is this Future Shock?

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Archive for the ‘Twitter’ Category

Twitter – what it is, and how I use it.

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I was chatting IRL with a valued colleague whose catholic spread of knowledge I enjoy greatly, and he told me he was finding his way round twitter. I said something dismissive like “Well, I only know bits and pieces…” and I thought that as I have to write a presentation on aspects of social networking I might start things about twitter

Twitter is :

  • a way of telling the world (and/or your friends)what you are doing now
  • a way of building links to colleagues and strangers
  • a microblogging phenomenon
  • Twitter says “Twitter is for staying in touch and keeping up with friends no matter where you are or what you’re doing.”

Basically, you can share 140 character snippets from your mobile, your messaging client, the web… with anyone who is interested. They can see these snippets on their mobile, their messaging client, the web or any one of them if they choose.

What will twitter do for you?

@pistachio asked the question “Twitter make you …what” folk answered

  • more socially aware
  • less alone
  • more knowledgeable
  • more informed
  • more inspired

amongst many other things.

I’ve learnt a great deal from it – including how to make Sicilian Spaghetti – and built links with a range of people in a wide range of countries, with a vast range of jobs and hobbies and interests.

How do you use it?
Fitting what you need to say in 140 characters can be quite challenging. Most folk use some of a range of Microformats

@ replies
Beginning a tweet with, say, @steveellwood alerts folk that this is in reply to something I’ve said or tweeted. This lets them choose whether to follow me or to track back what I’ve said. More than two or three of these in a row makes me feel it should have been done by a direct message (which is done by beginning a tweet with “d steveellwood “, and would only be visible to me, not the world and their spouse)

l: location details where you are – so folk can find you. This can be down to country, town, road, or house. Look at Twittermap and search for steveellwood, and it should show whereabouts I am.

++ or using plusplusbot you can show your pleasure or displeasure with a service, a product or an individual – for example, shows what I have done that is noteworthy or notorious… you do need to “follow” plusplusbot on twitter for this to work.

#hashtag by adding a #(hash) to the front of a word, you can tag the word to make it easy to search for mentions of the word by other folk. e.g. Discussions at BlogTalk 2008 – again you have to “follow” hashtags for this to see you.

What do you use with Twitter?

Terraminds for free search of the Twitter information stream: you can search for topics or individuals – and the search can be saved as RSS.

RSS (Really simple syndication) – is a web format used to publish frequently updated content. You can take RSS feeds from all over the place – including this blog – but it is very useful for twitter.

Some people publish large volumes of “tweets”; they can drown out the less frequent posters in the webclient. One example is Hugh Macleod (@GapingVoid). For his posts, I take an RSS Feed ( and look at it in my RSS Reader.

You won’t always see every tweet that mentions you; some you’ll miss, some will be folk you don’t follow… so using Terraminds referred to earlier you can do a search for yourself (n my case, and then get an RSS feed of the search.

Twittermap to see where folk are

Twitterkarma to see who follows me and I follow back

YouTwit a mashup to watch those who *I* follow

Gridjit – a grid view of who people twitter with – see mine

Tweeterboard – conversation analytics for some twitter users….

Snitter, twhirl, twitbin – all clients for twitter. You can also use most standard messaging clients.

Are there rules on how to use it?

Yes; No; Maybe.

Twitter works by consent; people will only see what you publish … if they choose to. Be boring, rude, irrelevant… and people won’t follow you. Be offensive, and they’ll block you from following them.

My colleague Phil Whitehouse(@Casablanca) wrote the 10 Commandments of Twitter

Robert Scoble, a very well known blogger (@scobleizer) writes how he breaks the 10 rules of Twitter

Paul Downey, another colleague, (@psd) divides folk into twits and twerps (Twits good, twerps bad).

Follow your own rules, and enjoy it.

Caroline Middlebrook wrote a fairly nice guide.

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Written by SteveEllwood

March 3, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Posted in Twitter

Ownership of Social Networks? or the data we give them?

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Following a couple of interesting tweets on Twitter, I started following Brian Kelly and, as usual had a look to see if his blog was interesting. It is, and I’ve joined in with his Pownce experimenting – you can find me here.

One of his latest posts touched on ownership of social networks asking:

  • Who should own the social networks?
  • Should ownership of social networks be any different from other software services we use in our institutions (including VLEs such as Blackboard, Web 2.0 services such as Flickr or blogging services such as Edublogs Campus)
  • How should a transition to a change of ownership take place?
  • How realistic is the transition strategy?
  • How do you know what this is what the users actually want?
  • How will social networking services be funded under alternative ownership resources? And if the answer is increased taxes, how will you get that past the Daily Mail readership which seem to be influential in informing policy discussions for both the Labour and Conservative parties?

This followed concerns being raised by Frances Bell and Josie Fraser about the ownership of the social networks – particularly Facebook.

As an employee of a *huge* telecom/ICT firm, the idea of any state ownership of social networks seems faintly odd. If we trust private firms to provide the infrastructure that these social networks run over – because, of course, we can always switch to another supplier – why *wouldn’t* you trust private firms to run the social networks?

The social networks – be they Facebook, Orkut, bebo, MySpace or something from ning – are the pipes that we deploy our social graphs across. Pete Johnson gives a good explanation of graph vs. network.

Now, if I can take my graph off that network… [hey, isn’t that beginnning to look like Data Portability – and aren’t Facebook saying they’lll play?] … can I use it somewhere else? Which bits of the data are mine is a different issue.

Well, not yet. But maybe soon. And when that happens, won’t these concerns about who runs the “pipes” be less significant?
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Written by SteveEllwood

January 23, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Wikis, social networking and Facebook

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I’ve written before about wikis and the intranet, and how I saw advantages in their use.

My colleague Sandy – who has the patience of a saint – sighs, and explains that scalability and control are a bit more of an issue when you have 100k users rather than 30.

I counter with Knowledge Management working better when you have involved Communities of Practice, pointing out that wikis are ideal for those and we go round again.

I was interested to see Abigail Lewis-Bowen’s view at the Intranet Benchmarking Forum which suggests that

“it’s important to provide Wikis and Blogs only after processes for publishing “formal” information channels to the Intranet are well established.  If the right people are publishing to the right place on the Intranet, and there is good editorial workflow and governance, then the Intranet is sturdy enough to add an open, less-structured layer of content.”

Basically, if your intranet functions OK, go for it; require authenticated log-in, provide good how-tos and link the formal stuff to the “under-Web” [lovely coining by Paul Miller in his Trends for 2008]

Social Networking

Still lots of interest at work in:

  •  what this is (yes, I know you know, dear reader, but I’m still working it out; so have patience).
  • what can we get from this – and an interesting term I hadn’t heard before – Social Capital. I mean, I now know it’s been around for years, with the first cite being around 110 *years* ago.
  • how we can facilitate it – what tools, what processes?

I think it’s partly culture, partly tools,  and partly process.

As part of my Personal Development Plan(PDP), I’d decided this was a key area to understand and try and utilise. My company’s culture encourages us to drive robust PDPs. I’d found a range of tools – each new one pointed to by posting on previous tool, and learned from them. The process is the bit that is currently blocking wider acceptance of this; how do you measure the value. As long as nobody starts talking about a business model  I’ll be happy.


I’ve had Facebook for a while, but following the irritation I – and a number of other friends – had been feeling with Vampires, “funny” videos, LOLcatz I removed FunWall and SuperWall. I update my status via Twitter  – and so do many others, and am currently using Twitter more – but I still use Facebook.

It’s still a nice application for seeing what your friends/colleagues are doing and provides a way of managing the various contacts – true, I want to be able to escape from the walled garden – but that looks like it’s coming.

I’ve been able to build

  • online relationships with the people I’ve “friended”
  • knowledge of Web2.0
  • understanding of some of the tools
  • links with people I’d never have heard of…

 JP Rangaswami says

“The information that flows through a social network exists in three dimensions. One dimension is time, past, present and future. A second dimension is number, one to many. A third is movement, static to dynamic. When I share my contact details with another person, I am providing static, present, one-to-one information.  When I share what I am intending to do with a whole community, I am providing dynamic, future, one-to-many information.

The motivation to provide information is, at least in part, driven by an expected value of the information coming out of Facebook. And one other thing: the comfort level of providing, to a community, what is essentially private information.

Generation M and their successors are comfortable with sharing their past actions, current state and their future intentions with the community they belong to; they’re comfortable with sharing changes to states and intentions as well. They do this because they believe new value will emerge from that sharing. Collaborative, communal value, shared value.”

I think that’s fair – and I look forward to how we’re going to use “Facebook for the Enterprise” to leverage the social capital we’re looking for.

Written by SteveEllwood

January 18, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Posted in Facebook, JP, Twitter, Web 2.0, wiki

Twitter, tweets, twerps and now twivers

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Doc Searls in another interesting post posits that part of the reason for the success of Twitter is the contrast between live vs. static and light vs. heavy

What makes Twitter so good is that it’s lightweight and not ambitious about running your life. It’s more service than site. It’s part of the live Web, even though you can still find it in the static one…the twin points of live vs. static and light vs. heavy.

I think I agree with that; I can dial up or back my interaction with it. I follow some pretty heavy twerps and don’t find it too hard  – as I turn off my SMS notification for them – but I get to see their funny/clever attention getting stuff online – and focus on the twits more closely.

As an aside, I also *love* how fast the twit/twerp meme has travelled and some of the kickback  it’s received…

… and lots of the fun with twitter is how fast you can check what’s arousing ire by a quick terraminds search.

 I’m still learning with this all the time – but I love it (rather more than my mild regard for Facebook). I haven’t had to unfollow anyone yet…

Written by SteveEllwood

January 8, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Twitter, Web 2.0