This week it looks like twitter may be overloaded. I've encountered many error pages (checking on followers, DMs, and lists).

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[colour matters...even in the twitterverse]

New Box UK Study Finds Twitter Users of Both Sex More Likely to ‘Follow’ White Women

Between June and October of 2009 London-based digital agency Box UK (http://www.boxuk.com) conducted two sequential social experiments to test how Twitter users reacted to being followed by strictly controlled test accounts. The results strongly suggest that given a choice of following black and white people of either sex, Twitter users are more likely to ‘follow’ white women, and least likely to follow black women.

This distribution also holds when the data is sub-divided into male followers and female followers for each account, showing that both sexes are most likely to follow White Female or Ambiguous accounts, and least likely to follow Black Females. We can also deduce that on average, female twitter users are 30% less likely to follow a request from a stranger, than a male twitter user.

“While it may be rather premature to conclusively argue that white women get more followers on Twitter than non-white women or men, we do know that a digital divide does exist and that certain groups of people tend to explore new applications with greater speed and enthusiasm. Without wading into a debate on technology users, more information on the aggregate of Twitter users is necessary to come to any real conclusions about their use of technology,” says Dr. Tina Basi a sociologist specializing in ethnography for design.

Basi, who previously worked with Intel’s Digital Health Research Group argues that, “perhaps what the data is pointing to, is that our relationship, as users, with new social media remains somewhat perplexing. We are still struggling with using Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, as ways of engaging and connecting with others, and instead, fall back on using them to simply keep tabs on others. The internet, as a medium, still holds the spectacle of say film or television, and seeing someone on your screen attaches a celebrity like status to them. The lack of reciprocity for some of the Twitter accounts created in this experiment, might better reflect our assumptions about celebrity and tendency toward voyeurism, as opposed to forming any real argument about Tweeters.”

Twitter is an increasingly important platform for conducting social experiments, with its ability to tap-into and measure human communication and behaviour on a massive scale. As the platform grows, we expect to see businesses and academics harnessing this capability to ‘invisibly’ survey the real behaviour and reactions of people, enabling a new wave of social research and customer intelligence.

Read more about the methodology and report here.

Image from Dan Zambonini's post on the report findings.

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[twitter: the film]

Oddly, I actually read about this first in the uni's newspaper but the first movie (mokumentary?) all about twitter is being developed in England. Apparently the idea was made public in February this year but it seems things are really taking off now.

Although I do appreciate twitter for the numerous informational and networking possibilities, I'm not quite sure how it will prove in terms of movie subject.

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[amplified individuals // amplified leicester]

Sue Thomas is leading a project - Amplified Leicester - a city-wide experiment in social media, and there'll be an opportunity to participate on the 11th of September:

We're looking for people who are open-minded, enthusiastic and curious.

Amplified Leicester is a city-wide experiment to
- explore diversity and innovation
- build a network across diverse communities
- create, share and develop new ideas
- use social media like Facebook and Twitter as an amplifier

This is an opportunity to work with people you might otherwise never meet and learn how to:
- benefit from Leicester's huge diversity of people and cultures
- generate lots of new ideas quickly
- think like a futurist and see the bigger picture
- organise and collaborate better
- be persuasive in different social situations
- share and develop creative ideas
- manage the stream of information which bombards us every day
- choose the best people to collaborate with
- make the most of different kinds of resources - social, economic, creative

Participation is free of charge but places are limited. Deadline for applications Friday 11th September 2009.

Find out more and download an application form from http://www.facebook.com/l/;http://www.amplifiedleicester.com

For an informal chat, please contact Sue Thomas or Thilo Boeck:
Sue Thomas t: 0116 207 8266 e: sue.thomas@dmu.ac.uk
Thilo Boeck t: 0116 2577879 e: tgboeck@dmu.ac.uk

Amplified Leicester is managed by the Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University in partnership with the DMU Centre for Social Action and Phoenix Square Digital Media Centre. The project is commissioned and supported by NESTA, an independent body with a mission to make the UK more innovative.

“A group that thinks in diverse ways will address a problem from many angles.” Charles Leadbeater, The Difference Dividend

Note: Also of interest, a talk by Andrea Saveri on amplified individuals or this presentation which Andrea did for last year's NLab Social Networks conference.

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[twitter & politics]

Is Twitter now a part of U.S. foreign policy? The Washington Post reports that:

The State Department asked social networking site Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance earlier this week in order to avoid disrupting communications among tech-savvy Iranian citizens as they took to the streets to protest Friday’s reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

That sounds like a wow. Only maybe not. A few grafs down the Post also reports that the White House downplayed the request this way:

“This wasn’t a directive from Secretary of State, but rather was a low-level contact from someone who often talks to Twitter staff.”

But a senior State Department official told the Post that the contacts were quite official.

“One of the areas where people are able to get out the word is through Twitter,” said a senior State Department official in a conversation with reporters, on condition of anonymity. “They announced they were going to shut down their system for maintenance and we asked them not to.”

On the other hand, is this all being blown out of proportion by the Twitter-loving press?

“Twitter’s impact inside Iran is zero,” said Mehdi Yahyanejad, manager of a Farsi-language news site based in Los Angeles. “Here, there is lots of buzz, but once you look . . . you see most of it are Americans tweeting among themselves.”

Re: Twitter's impact inside Iran is zero? Not sure about that. If people are doing something outside of Iran, wouldn't that have an impact within?

See these stories too:

  • Iranian Youth Protests Could Outlast Ahmadinejad Rule
    "Since the election, reformist Web sites, as well as Twitter and Facebook, have been cut off in Iran, although Iranians are evading the controls via proxy"
  • Iran's Twitter Revolution "Ahmadinejad will twitter to his supporters he will save Iran from the rule of the twitter mobs and the Ayatollahs and mullahs will twitter"
  • Dissecting Twitter's Role In Tech, Society, Politics"The Iran situation, where Twitter continued to provide communication resources to Iran residents after the government had shut down other communication"
  • Iran's Protests: Why Twitter Is the Medium of the Movement "The U.S. State Department doesn't usually take an interest in the maintenance schedules of dotcom start-ups. But over the weekend, officials there reached out to Twitter and asked them to delay a network upgrade that was scheduled for Monday night. The reason? To protect the interests of Iranians using the service to protest the presidential election that took place on June 12. Twitter moved the upgrade to 2 p.m. P.T. Tuesday afternoon — or 1:30 a.m. Tehran time." (this link via @SteveCadwell)

Article from Richard Koman at ZDNet.

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[employment: phd in digital literacy practises of immigrant youth]

The digital literacy practices of immigrant youth for the formation of identity and learning networks (0.9 fte)

This project is focused on the analysis of the everyday digital literacy practices of Moroccan immigrant youth.While the past several years have seen an increasing amount of research on the digital literacy practices of youth, within and well beyond theNetherlands, relatively little of this work to date has focused on immigrant youth and their productions and interpretations of social media (e.g. weblogs, Hyves, YouTube, texting, Twitter, gaming). This project will provide a unique contribution to the field by developing ethnographic studies of youth as they use social media and integrate it into their everyday lives in the Netherlands.

We are particularly interested in how digital literacy practices are used to produce identities and learning networks. What are the shapes and scales of new media networks for Moroccan immigrant youth? How are these new networks changing, and how are they related to social networks with longer histories (e.g., extended family, community)? How do networks formed through practices with social media support the development of local, national, and transnational identities? How do such networks also structure new social spaces for learning?

These questions are addressed in this project through ethnographic research that will be augmented with other research methods, including social network analysis and survey data.

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[digital citizenship: the internet, society & participation]

Today I attended a presentation given by Karen Mossberger (Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago) on Digital Citizenship: The Internet, Society and Participation. Overall the presentation was interesting however I don't think the data told us anything really new...but it certainly backs up what we already surmise. Poor people and African-Americans and Latinas/Latinos has less access to computers and the internet and this filters through to less participation in public life (voting was one of the examples). The definition of citizenship put forth was that by T. H. Marshall, basically you need to participate to be a full member of a community. Citizenship is also a "developing institution" according to Marshall. So how to develop citizenship through digital means...well, Mossberger didn't really talk much about this. She concentrated on providing statistics which empirically show the digital divide. It was pretty apalling. In this day and age (here I am, using a computer, on the 'net, blogging) there are people who are too poor, or without sufficient education which in the States seems to mean you're not white...the statistics were incredible. Of course there are poor white people but apparently they are not on the 'net because they're not interested in it. From Mossberger's research, African-Americans connected internet/computer literacy with better jobs etc....and the statistics back this up. The issue of broadband access also came up. Sure people can use computers (for a bit) at a local library etc...but interestingly enough there are certain neighbourhoods where there is no DSL access (i.e. no affordable access) to the internet...only cable. That's another deterrent. I would have been interested to know what the statistics *really* meant in terms of "going online." Was it for checking bus times? What about banking online and using SNS? Mossberger at the end suggested it was more for *entertainment* purposes....but I guess what we're looking at here is not just issues of access (of course) but issues of literacy. *How* to properly navigate that content/information. Mossberger's latest project, results to be publishes as we speak, looks at Chicago neighbourhoods and notes the use of internet. I wonder what that will show. Two things aside from the presentation that I would like to share here.
  1. There were 18 people at the presentation today. 16 in the audience (then the speaker and the introducer). Out of the 18 people 7 were women. All were white.
  2. Mossberger made this comment at the end re: twitter: "I don't care what movie you saw lastnight. I don't have time for this." Actually, I think twitter (like mobile 'phones, especially if we're talking about financial cost) has it's uses. Just look at how the knowledge of swine flu is spreading/trending via twitter....
Of interest to those working with participation policies, internet access, excluded groups or web 2.0 in general, check out Mez's great article at Futherfield: The Sound of Reality Lag: Versionals are the New Black. See also Mark Pesce's post on Digital Citizenship (scroll down for a comment by Mez).

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[better business blogging: twitter tips]

I'm all for blogging and I think twitter is extremely useful (for some people). I've had some very helpful feedback thanks to tweets I've put out asking for feedback, recommendations, suggestions and advice.

However, my use of twitter is a little more organic; it fluctuates with my current research or projects rather than a long term strategic goal that you'd have if you are going to try to harness it (and other social media applications) for *purely* business use.

Suaad Sait over at The B2B Lead Blog has some tips garnered from Rich Karpinski's B-to-b followers flock to Twitter article.

Business Tips for Twitter Use:

  1. In your Twitter bio, clearly spell out what business you are in, who is posting to the account and even what you hope to get out of it. That creates transparency and the underpinnings of trust.
  2. Find people to follow. They’ll likely follow you back, broadening and enriching your conversation.
  3. To start, sit back and watch conversations unfold. As your comfort level grows, be proactive by participating in and starting conversations related to your business.
  4. Be generous: Offer more than you get back and always try to be responsive to peers and customers.

A caveat as Jon Miller notes, "Tweets don’t yet show up in Google search results, and links can’t influence your SEO rankings.”

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[twitter and future of creative technologies]

On Thursday at The Future of Creative Technologies Conference it was bandied around that twitter, though used, isn't really worth (financially) much. In fact, when someone suggested that twitter and business model don't go hand in hand there were quite a few appreciative guffaws. A recent post by Steve Clayton also touches on the subject: "Wow…quite a story from Kara Swisher today that Facebook was interested in buying Twitter

for $500m. Okay, I love Twitter as much as anyone but $500m is a big chunk of cash for something that isn’t making money at the moment. That’s not to say that it couldn’t and I think the only way Twitter is going is up but in the current climate, that’s a big wedge.

Personally I think Twitter is right to hold out but hope it’s all a big game of Russian roulette."

Photo by John Wardell (Netinho) on flickr.

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[breathing earth]

During my presentation yesterday for the Creative Writing & New Media Online Master's students (who met in Leicester f2f for one week) I referred to some interesting narratives that are merging story with geographic information and/or maps. Two projects I referred to were The 21 Steps and a school trip project by Emerson College. In line with my developing interest on the role of geographic information (and the like) in narratives, the following project fits right in - linking cultural narratives (of co2 emissions, births and deaths) with countries. Thanks to a tweet today by @fromthehip aka Ingrid Kopp, I found The Breathing Earth Simulation:

The countries in red (at the time of this screen capture) - US, China and Saudi Arabia - are "currently emmitting 1000 tonnes of CO2." It's also interesting to see how the birth/death rates compare:
Someone dies/is born every:
China: 3.5 seconds/1.8 seconds
Saudi Arabi: 8 minutes/42.7 seconds
US: 12.8 seconds/7.3 seconds

In Canada: 2.1 minutes/1.5 minutes
In the UK: 51.8 seconds/ 48.9 seconds - so in the UK deaths and births seem to be pretty balanced. While Greenland seems to be the country with the slowest death and birth rates: 20 hours/9.8 hours

The project is created by David Bleja.

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[transdisciplinarity and communication]

A little while ago I tweeted that I was working on a transdisciplinarity check list (things to read, watch and listen to) as a way of mapping the field and setting the scene for a conference I'm going to run and a journal I'm going to start (no prob!). Christy Dena, transmodiologist extraordinaire, saw my tweet for help, tweeted back and wrote a blog entry with loads of links and information on transdisciplinarity. Interestingly:

"there are (at least) two very different implementations of transdisciplinarity in the methodological realm: one that argues it should be about collaboration between academia & non-academia to address world-scale problems, and another that argues it is a conceptual approach that can be applied to anything, by an individual or group."

I prefer the idea that connections can be made between any kind of group rather than making an initial separation between "academic" and "non-academic." I'll be following the Nicolescu and Dena school of thought.

Have a look at Christy's post

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[twitter overload]

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[nlab social networks conference - steve clayton]

Today is the day for the Social Networking conference hosted by NLab.
First speaker of the day is Steve Clayton: "Social Networking for Small Businesses - Lessons from Microsoft?"

How to establish trust between big business and local consumers?

How do consumers find info? Show of hands - who uses the yellow pages? no one. People use google (and microsoft live search) and blogs. There's a really big difference between a blog and a website for businesses.

Microsoft put a video out for a game Gears of War and instantly it turned into a hugely viral marketing tool. The audience mashed it up and turned the video into a social device, a tool for communication (see here and video mashups here)

Hilarious microsoft ipod video: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4313772690011721857

The best bit about the web, finding something unique to say and start conversations with people on the long tail.

To get high on google: either pay to appear high on the right hand side or have lots of people linking to you to appear high on the left-hand side.

*70% of small businesses have a website
*2 out of 10 small businesse websites do not have company contact details or product/service info
*info isn't updated

Think of small businesses that blog and then do well - English Cut, Savile Row - 4 years ago there wasn't much demand for a £3000 suit but bumped into Hugh MaCloud who suggested he set up a blog. Rather than try to sell suits the plan was to talk about tailoring, how to buy cloth, how to cut cloth etc... now sells suits to royalty and has more business than he can manage...all because of a blog which engages conversation.

Microsoft now has 4500 bloggers.

Through constant engagement, linking to others, facilitating conversation Steve moved up in the google listing.

The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman
Small is the New Big by Seth Godin - means you have something unique, you can be agile. The web and blogs in particular give you the platform to do that in an incredibly powerful way.

Twitter - the new pub, a place where all your friends are.

Need to build up the trust quotient.

If the buzzword bingo is a bit tricky, a jungle of new-fangled terms and ideas, Steve suggests common craft for ideas explained in "plain English."

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[wikivision...now twittervision]

xposted at PART:

In January
I wrote about how strangely addictive WikipediaVision was (and still is) but now I've come across something that inspires even more obsessive behaviour...at least for me.


I realise TwitterVision (by David Troy) has been around for a while; Nat Torkington blogged about its hynosis-inducing effects back in last March. Although I checked it out then (albeit briefly), it seems much more interesting to me now...perhaps because I'm also hooked on Twitter itself. Its seems this mashup would make a geography lesson or social studies lesson quite fun too...



Follow David Troy on Twitter here.

Other interesting Twitter mashups:


For more, check out the extensive list (100 examples) at
MoMB Labs.

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[gordon brown is tweeting]

Fine, so Gordon Brown/PM's aides are following 2000 people on twitter... I'm now one of them:

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