May 302011

A very wee post today to share a video Lorcan Dempsey tweeted about earlier today.  In the video scientists from Imperial College London talk about the social media tools they use, why they use them and how they help them with their research, their networking and managing their work:

Although the video is about scientific academics and researchers it is also a lovely introduction to the value of engaging in blogging, tweeting, etc. even if you are sceptical about the benefits.

May 252011

As a keen social media user/evangelist I tend to have a very liberal view of my personal data. I register for sites all the time and there is therefore an awful lot of information out on the web about me. But at Internet World last week (fuller blog post on that to follow) I found myself feeling more cautious than usual about my data when I was issued a badge with a barcode on the front:

Image of the front of the Internet World 2011 conference badge

Image of the back of the Internet World 2011 conference badge

The badge, it transpired, could be used by any exhibitor to quickly grab personal data.  The terms (just visible on that reverse image) were printed on the badge and, on some level, I suppose this trade of data for information was an expected part of attending the event for free. It was still a slight surprise to find a scanner greeting me at every stand…

All of the exhibitors I encountered asked before swiping my badge (though they didn’t explain their data protection policy and I didn’t think to ask) and there were some definite advantages – I didn’t have to write down my details endlessly making for much quicker exchanges of information. But there were some less optional encounters – gaining access to any talk at the event required you to show your badge for scanning – and these details could then also be relayed to the speaker. Data Protection wise you are still “agreeing” to share your data but by the time you have queued for half an hour you are pretty unlikely to say no.

Image of Jelly Beans

Jelly beans by Mark Hillary (markhilary on Flickr)

“Schwag” – free stuff branded with logos and product info and handed out by exhibitors – is always a big part of these sorts of expos and are always used as an incentive to share data. I heard one attendee behind me in the queue excitedly showing off the free jelly belly beans being handed out by an exhibitor. Whenhis colleagues asked him where he’d gotten them he replied “oh they were free but I just had to get my badge scanned”. That seemed like a pretty good deal for the exhibitor to me – for a few pence they capture the full contact details and job title of your target market. That’s not to say that I didn’t let my own badge get scanned but I tried to only do so where I had genuine interest in being on the relevant company’s mailing list – jelly beans, free ice cream even, were not enticements enough on their own.

Reputation (personal and brand)

On an interesting and sort of related note… Nature recently published a poll and article on the importance of reputation and online image to researchers. Well worth a look (as are the survey results) for anyone thinking about doing a little spring cleaning of their online profiles.

By contrast… Facebook has enabled Brand Tagging (more info in this Mashable article). This allows any Facebook user to tag a brand in a photo. Why would anyone do this? Well there are two main reasons: people want to share pictures of themselves enjoying a branded product (maybe to show off, maybe to name check a song, maybe just because they really love the idea of being associated with a brand) particularly if that is fed into the Facebook page for that brand (witness, for instance, the already well populated “Photos and Videos of…” section of the Coca Cola Photos page) ; secondly this does enable new types of competitions to take place (further evolving the “in 20 words or less explain why x is your favourite brand of y” type contest).

There is, of course a third and more subversive reason for tagging an image with your favourite brand though: if Coca Cola has 27 million fans (as it currently does) and you want to sell or promote or share something with lots of people quickly you could do far worse than post your image with an incorrect brand tag. I suspect the time involved in brands removing tags over the first few months of trialling the tags will be significant…

May 102011

This weekend my colleague Gavin and I decided it would be useful (and fun!) to head along to Culture Hack Scotland, a 24 hour hackday organised by the Edinburgh Festivals Innovation Lab and themed around both the festivals and the wider Scottish cultural scene.

The Edinburgh Festivals Innovation Lab is a new(ish) initiative which has emerged from Edinburgh Festivals, the organisation that is jointly funded by all 12 of the official Edinburgh Festivals to enable them to work together throughout the year, promote initiatives and festival content etc. The idea for the Innovation Lab apparently emerged out of discussions with all of the festivals about their use or interest in digital technology: there were lots of ideas and potential for projects but they didn’t necessarily have the time or skills to take these forward. Last year the Lab hired their inaugal geek-in-residence Ben Werdmuller (he of Elgg fame) and the Culture Hack Day was a significant outcome of the work he has been doing over the last few months. Continue reading »

May 092011

On Friday 25th March I attended the Scraperwiki Hacks and Hackers Day at BBC Scotland in Glasgow. As it turned out I was too busy taking part in the hacking to get my notes up on the day so this is a very belated “live blog” largely covering the opening and closing sections of the day. It’s also well worth looking the BBC videos of the day and the Official ScraperWiki blogging on the day.


Aine McGuire introduced the day. Hacks & Hackers Day Glasgow has been arranged by ScraperWiki, supported by BBC Scotland, the BBC College of Journalism and with prizes donated by the Guardian Open Platform.

Francis Irving was next up giving an introduction to Scraper Wiki (see also the video below)

YouTube Preview Image

Julian Todd, CTO of SraperWiki had started the site when wanting to know how his MP had voted. Other people were interested, and thus started TheyWorkForYou. Along with voting records some new data was added about divisions etc.

Continue reading »

May 092011

Apologies are in order as it has been rather quiet on my blog for the last month or so but I do have various event write ups and a few other posts in various states of draft as it’s been a busy few weeks. So, over the next 48 hours, expect a little rush of posts as I catch up with myself!

Finally, since it won’t quite into my other posts, if you are at Internet World this Wednesday or are planning to attend the ALPSP Making Sense of Social Media seminar next month do wave hello.

 May 9, 2011  Posted by at 1:21 pm Blog Admin No Responses »