Archive for the 'social networking' Category

Social media, digital strategy & Scottish Gov’t direction of travel

At the Scottish Public Sector Barcamp last Friday evening, it was encouraging to hear Sarah Davidson (SG Director of Communications) say a few words of welcome which included good – and intriguing – news of high-level SG interest in a recently-submitted Digital Strategy (did this include digital engagement? – from the tenor of the discussion later it would seem so, but we’ll need to wait & see the Strategy when – hopefully – it emerges blinking into the sunlight of the public domain). If the evident general support for the strategy points the SG in the desired direction, then there’s useful scope for other parts of the Scottish public sector webeconomy and IT folk to be moved along too – even in today’s devolved state of affairs.

This news co-incided with a tweet shortly before, from one of the participants, that he’d momentarily accessed Twitter from his SG account – surely an accident he thought!

One of the break-out groups on Friday evening discussed social media and the prospects for Gov’t engagement with citizens – see an able summary by James Coltham – and one of the themes within the talk was just how sustainable full engagement really is in practice. People were anxious about the resources needed – examples quoted (I haven’t fact-checked these btw) were the BBC employing fifty (5 0h!) staff to sift through user-generated photos (e.g. 15? 25?k snaps of the February snowfall), and reflective Guardian writers wondering quietly about green-ink users of Comment is Free.

But before we all give up before we start in on this, can I just check what we’re really talking about? Reflecting later, I wondered whether or not the analogy of hosting a party might not have some leverage. Being a host can be frustrating – there never seems to be an opportunity to have a decent conversation with any of your guests; but then this is surely in part because you’re doing what hosts should do: introduce guests to each other, ensure that people make good contacts, have enjoyable conversations, etc etc. The party’s deemed good if the guests have all had a good time with each other, rather more often than with you the host. So, similarly, the gov’t job here might be to frame the conversation (snacks, soft lighting, wine served at the right temperature, etc.) and to guide it, drawing people in…rather more than engaging with each and every intervention in the way that one might in a traditional consultation?

Mind you, I’m not sure how this plays out in detailed practice. Its certainly likely to be harder work than the traditional act of punting out a consultation document (when, as was wrily suggested on the day, the answers are in any case known before the questions are put…) and getting on with the day job until the deadline for responses arrives. But it might not be quite as heavy a burden as people were thinking – because the task might not be quite what they feared?

Meantime, thanks to one ‘Calgacus Wasabi’ (shurely shome mishtake, Stewart?) for a segment from his Flickrstream, on the day.

Managing multiple profiles

Kate Ho presented one of the sessions at Barcamp Scotland on Saturday about this. I think that she’d perhaps intended it to be a ‘how’ session, about the tools and the mechanics we are going to need if we are goingto survive the overhead of maintaining and feeding (Kate raised an interesting point about differing communication patterns associated with different SNS – so simply funneling your twitterfeed into your FB status updates may not create an FB-appropriate voice for you) all our various SNS profiles.

However, she didn’t quite get the opportunity, as the discussion seem to spiral away somewhat into ‘why bother?’-land, where some of the participants seemed pretty much happy to ‘just be who they are’ everywhere online – though to be sure other participants were kind of anxious about it all.

Personally, I wonder whether being quite that blithe about how you come across to the different groups in your social and work life is a wee bit naive. What about social situations where things like tact and discretion are needed, for example? I found myself wondering whether it’s something about the stage in life where you enter into the sort of commitments that you are most unwilling to walk away from, that make the difference – in the sense that these ‘fixed’ commitments then just have to be lived with, and manouevred in relation to one another?

As a bit of a greybeard vis-a-vis most of the barcamp participants, I found myself wondering whether it was an age-related thing, so I was amused to come across Identity Woman (I hope she won’t mind me giving her real name (I think!) ;-)) as Kaliya Hamlin – I do so as a sign of respect for what she writes) musing about the same sort of thing, after a session on Privacy at SXSW, and during one on Openness and FB, which had involved lots of (young male) FB developers.

I read ‘somewhere’ (google search skills where are you now?) that SNS were ‘autistic’ about this aspect of human relationships. When naivety about these seems to exist in the FB developer community, then the rest of us should be alert to risk, perhaps?

RSS: we can all be aggregators now

I’ve been using Google Reader for a while over a year now. From my stats, I see that I’ve read about 800 items over the last month. But that number’s not the point: I’m running about 80 tags, to classify all this stuff. For some while, I’ve been looking for opportunities to promote these piles of items as a resource. Not so much because I think my eye for material is eagle-like, more that it’s just a worked example of potential.

Untill recently though, the facilities haven’t really been available. In the reader, you can star or ‘share‘ items, and this makes all these publicly available (if you tell people where to get them – as I have just done above) in a guddle together. And it was good for not much more than a one-off opportunistic visit. But what I wanted was to be able to offer a more focused feed of items on a  particular topic, as that’s what I felt would be more useful to people.

And someone up there (at Google) has quietly fixed things (or at least that’s what it seems like). I now have the capability to provide others with a feed from my tagging activity, direct, with no overheads to either party other than the sharing of the relevant URL – in this example a stream of items I tag as ‘Identity‘ (a topic I’m interested in) – by the ‘author’ (me) – and the act of subscription to that by the recipient (you, assuming you indulge in this sort of thing). The feed URL already quoted just above can be picked up manually from the ‘public page’ containing the items I’ve tagged with the ‘Identity’ label. If you just wanted a one-off look, you could pick up the public page URL.

So if person A decides that person B is making a pretty good job of spotting and tagging on topic N, they can now think “why keep a dog & bark yourself?”, and can simply subscribe to person B’s feed of N-tagged items, to keep up to date. Across a team or network, there might be some potential for reciprocity, with person B taking a feed of A’s horizon-scanning of topic T. Or both parties might take a feed from C on topic Z. All this instead of A, B, And C, trying individually to keep tags on topics N, T and Z. Though it wouldn’t stop them from a certain amount of joint effort?

In this particular case, here am I listening in on the thought-leading community associated with digital identity and its management, as they think aloud as they go along, and anyone else who is prepared to trust my judgement on what I tag, sources I uncover, etc etc. can slipstream behind me, using my ‘attention data‘ (as I believe the saying goes) to save time in their own horizon-scanning. One can imagine sharing this sort of activity across networks of interest, to create quite powerful collective knowledge of ‘what’s going on’.

And a further interesting (to me anyway) aspect is that this works at the level of personal practice. All you need is a good Reader.

Hurray hurrah. Well done Google!

What are other Readers like in this regard?

Lessons from decaying production models elsewhere, for research utilisation & knowledge transfer

Some interesting conversations and related reading last week triggered a couple of thoughts, which I hoped might be worth sharing. Anyway here goes:

  • The train of thought started in a conversation which included a touch upon Social Services Research Registers, which seem hard to enthuse people about and keep up to date, and the reflection ‘why couldn’t the process be more social?’
  • Next I was luckily able to obtain a preview of the upcoming ‘My Community Space’ functionality to be launched within the NHS eLibrary this April.  
  • Then on the way home I read an interesting piece about the collapse of the traditional production and distribution models for music and film – but there is hope in a much more community-oriented one.

If you pop over to the ‘Hyperpeople’ blog (strapline: ‘what happens after we’re all connected?’) you’ll find a lengthy post, which is, it transpires, the script of a presentation to Irish filmmakers…Anyway, scroll down to part III ‘And the Penny Drops’, and skim-read from there to the end, particularly the last four paragraphs.

The trick is, while doing so, mentally to transpose the discussion of ‘media’ (film, music) into ‘research’. For example there’s a nice bit in the penultimate paragraph about roles – and the need for a new one (a sort of ‘community developer’). Might researchers “be practically autistic when it comes to working with communities”? (Not literally, one would prefer to think, but perhaps, because of the other pressures they are under, maybe there’s a tint of accuracy?).

The message is a clear one I think:

“…the key is to find the communities which will be most interested in the production; this is not always entirely obvious, but the filmmaker should have some idea of the target audience for their film. While in preproduction, these communities need to be wooed and seduced into believing that this film is meant just for them, that it is salient…

…Starting at the earliest stages of pre-production, someone has to sit down with the creatives and the producer and ask the hard questions: “Who is this film intended for?” “What audiences will want to see this film – or see it more than once?” “How do we reach these audiences?” From these first questions, it should be possible to construct a marketing campaign which leverages microaudiences and social networks into ticket receipts and DVD sales and online purchases….”

…Meanwhile, across at the eLibrary, My Community Space is coming*. This involves the opportunity for any Athens user registered with the eLibrary to create a personal profile, along the lines of the ones we are becoming familiar with in all the main Social Networking Systems like Facebook, Ning, Bebo etc. You can register your interest in topics (interest in, or experience of, or both? – anyway, you can register that you have a stake of some sort). You can also tag resources with your own labels (and pick up those used by others?) – resources that you find both within the eLibrary (and associated repositories) and beyond, anywhere on the web. This act also records your ‘stake’ in topic – the resource gained your attention sufficiently for you to tag it with a label. If you agree, these notes of interest are visible above the level of the existing communities (little silos – but in a good way) that the eLibrary supports.So, a researcher, could, within the new production model hinted at above, search for eLibrary users – right across the user population so long as they had created a visible profile – by labels relevant to her project, to seek and thereafter develop collaborative involvement right from the point of hypothesis formation, through project planning, funding proposals, survey construction, editing the products, and considering the findings.

With some imagination, perhaps the collaborative involvement of others could be framed as a learning activity too (here the Associate Schools Groups (ASGs) model might repay scrutiny) and as such, attract CPD points or whatever.

Could this be made to happen? Not overnight, to be sure, but might it not be worth tinkering with and planning for. What else might need to be developed?

  • The model is sort-of available;
  • The technology infrastructure is available though not seamlessly joined-up (does it need to be? – not sure that it does)
  • Organisational model (have a look at the ASG structure for a start?)
  • Learning infrastructure – CPD points etc.

What d’you think?

Can parallel universes link? – talking with children and young people about the use of their personal information

Over this last year or so, what I would guess I would call my Occupational Hobby has focused on questions around privacy and the way children’s personal information is handled.

But the take I have on it relates to what I see as a disconnection between how those whom I perceive as ‘the usual suspects’ (well-meaning – of course! – officials in Children’s Services) think how this should be handled, and how, increasingly, children and young people themselves handle their own personal information and learn about – an hopefully come to terms with – the implications of this for their privacy.

To put it another way, what is now ContactPoint was thought about and designed well before anyone had ever thought of MySpace, but the disjunction between the frames of reference that the two operate under re privacy is too noticeable not to remark upon it. Hence ‘parallel universes’. Among other triggers for action (well, writing, anyway) was the widely observed capability for nuanced handling of privacy issues by children and young people, which the officials have thus far resolutely seemed blind to.

 So I thought I’d write a bit about this, and did so earlier this year, with the result that’s attached below at the foot of the post. When I finished this draft, I had a strong sense of returning the ideas to the wild from whence they came originally, as I had throughout been able to surf on the ideas that were already publicly available. So, many thanks to all those who went before. It felt like launching it down a slipway – the material would need to fend for itself on the open sea hereafter. Publishing it here follows through on that, a little.

Though pragmatically, I should say that a substantially edited, much shortened, probably tighter and ‘final’ version of this material is intended for traditional publication as a chapter in a Policy Press book, at some point. Accordingly, this version is but a rough draft…

talking-with-children-and-citizens-about-handling-their-personal-information-v8.doc

Memo to Self: the ‘Social Graph’ and tagging relationships?

Everyone’s writing about the ‘Social Graph’ just now – via tracking posts about SNS, identity management, and the read/write web, my feeder is full of the stuff.

But a few things fell into place alongside one another earlier today:

  • first, the concern about translating relationships from one setting (or ‘networked public’?)  into another – a variant on not wanting to have to re-input all ones contacts, but equally not wanting them copied across regardless;
  • second, the flash of a diagram remembered from a recent look at the Tao of Topic Maps (where everything is connected with everything else) and where the lines representing the relationships between things were themselves objects and could be labelled..
  • ..which fed into the memory of a recent post by Stowe Boyd where he said he’d much rather just be able to tag everything, rather than have to remember which silo to file something in (he was being critical of some of the rather 1.0/2.0 transitional apps at the time).

So, what if I could tag the relationship that I have with someone? Like ‘old school chum’ or ‘boss’ or ‘nephew’. Of course they’d need to be able to tag the relationship from their point of view, which might be the same (old school chum) or the other end of some binary link (subordinate/uncle) or none of these but something coming from their perception (old school chum but someone I’d prefer to avoid in RL)-(could you be able to see how the other party saw the relationship? That would be interesting).

Of course, I would want to be able to apply multiple tags.

And I would want to be able to use the grouping capability to portage various elements of my overall social network from one domain to another…

At which point I got off the bus and broke my train of thought. However, surely lots of people muct be thinking of this aspect of the social graph already? Hence the MtS – “must find out more”.


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