Ada Lovelace Day

About The Authors

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson is a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. With a background in journalism, publishing and web design, Suw is now one of the UK’s best known bloggers, frequently speaking at conferences and seminars.

Her personal blog is Chocolate and Vodka, and yes, she’s married to Kevin.

Email Suw

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson is a freelance journalist and digital strategist with more than a decade of experience with the BBC and the Guardian. He has been a digital journalist since 1996 with experience in radio, television, print and the web. As a journalist, he uses blogs, social networks, Web 2.0 tools and mobile technology to break news, to engage with audiences and tell the story behind the headlines in multiple media and on multiple platforms.

From 2009-2010, he was the digital research editor at The Guardian where he focused on evaluating and adapting digital innovations to support The Guardian’s world-class journalism. He joined The Guardian in September 2006 as their first blogs editor after 8 years with the BBC working across the web, television and radio. He joined the BBC in 1998 to become their first online journalist outside of the UK, working as the Washington correspondent for

And, yes, he’s married to Suw.

E-mail Kevin.

Member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup
Dark Blogs Case Study

Case Study 01 - A European Pharmaceutical Group

Find out how a large pharma company uses dark blogs (behind the firewall) to gather and disseminate competitive intelligence material.

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All content © Kevin Anderson and/or Suw Charman

Interview series:
at the FASTforward blog. Amongst them: John Hagel, David Weinberger, JP Rangaswami, Don Tapscott, and many more!

Corante Blog

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

links for 2008-10-30

Posted by Suw and Kevin

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

links for 2008-10-29

Posted by Suw and Kevin

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Social Media Cafe Columbus: The elections and foreclosures in St Louis

Posted by Kevin Anderson

Sorry for the blogging silence here on Strange Attractor, but as I’ve mentioned, I’m currently driving across the US covering the elections. One of the things that Emily Bell at the Guardian wanted me to do was to meet up with bloggers and other social media folks on the trip, and I’ve managed to meet up with bloggers in LA, Denver and tonight a great meet-up with the Social Media Cafe crowd in Columbus Ohio. Thanks to Tim Eby of WOSU for the invitation. I met Tim and Robert Patterson in London a couple of years.

I came in a little late, but there was already a discussion about local community blogging project Ganther’s Place. People who live in the neighbourhood were using the blog to name and shame absentee landlords. They also mentioned how the blog was helping to gain the attention of traditional media to cover their concerns.

After that, Robert, Andy Carvin, who heads up the social media desk at NPR, and Anna Shoup also of NPR joined the meet-up through the magic of Skype. Andy talked about a project to monitor voting during the elections. They will use Twitter and SMS with the hashtag votereport to collect reports on voting, now during early voting and all the way through election day next week. You can already follow some early Twitter reports via Summize of Dwigger.

Robert has an absolutely fascinating project with the public broadcaster in St Louis. They are using social media to help people either facing foreclosure or falling behind in their housing payments to keep their homes. The entire focus of the project is to help people help themselves but giving them information about resources in the city. It’s about fostering community even as the fabric of the community is under strain from the housing crisis, and it’s about people finding ways to help themselves. Robert’s overall message was the potential of social media to renew community bonds and give people the tools for self-reliance.

I gave a quick overview of my social media efforts during the road trip. Twitter helped me arrange the blogger meet-up in LA. Twitter also helped me to cover the rise of homelessness during this housing crisis. I talked about how Ralph Torres in California contacted me because of the blog and gave me a foreclosure tour of Riverside California.

I also gave a quick overview of some of the technology that I’m using on this trip. I showed off Twibble, the Twitter client that I’m using on my Nokia N82. I also showed the Twitpic and geo-tagging features of Twibble. I’ll be writing more about all of this once the trip is over.

Thanks again to the folks at Social Media Cafe Columbus for the warm welcome. I’ll see you on Twitter.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

links for 2008-10-23

Posted by Suw and Kevin

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008 Trick or Vote this Halloween!

Posted by Kevin Anderson

If you are passionate about voting and Halloween, then this is the event for you: Trick or Vote. It’s in 25 cities across the United States. Dress up as your favourite ghost or ghoul for a good cause and Trick or Vote.

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo - Gender Issues in Web 2.0 Careers: A Discussion

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

I’m happy to say that my Web 2.0 Expo Europe session on gender issues is going to be held on Thursday 23rd October, from 2:35 pm to 3:25 pm, in room B8-9. The blurb is:

Are you frustrated that there aren’t enough women in tech, that women are not well represented at conferences, or that the culture appears to favor male accomplishment? The issue of gender is not a simple one: there are complex societal and psychological pressures that influence how we all behave, men and women, and we’re not always clear on what drives us to do what we do. This participatory session will attempt to tease out some of the threads around gender and produce ideas for how we can collectively act to level the playing field.

I’m really excited to say that my fellow panelists will be:

I’m really looking forward to a wide-ranging and constructive discussion!

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

links for 2008-10-14

Posted by Suw and Kevin

Monday, October 13th, 2008

A recession: Perfect time to implement social software

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

We’re in recession. The global economy has bronchitis and is coughing up dead and dying banks all over the place. Governments are scrambling to put together bailout plans. The housing market has zombified, with house values plummeting and foreclosures sky-rocketing. Consumers have no disposable income and are struggling with food and fuel prices. Businesses everywhere are pulling their horns in, wondering how - and if - they are going to survive.

Now, more than ever, it is essential that businesses reconsider how they communicate, collaborate and converse, which means that the most important thing they can do is invest in social tools. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Wow, Suw, what are you smoking?” But bear with me here.

Recessions mean you have to do more with less. You can’t afford to have your people wasting time, even unintentionally, using inefficient tools or sticking with bad habits. For many, that means that email is a liability. As I found when I was researching my article for the Guardian on email, some people in business are checking their email every five minutes. Given that it takes some 64 seconds to recover your train of thought after being interrupted by a ‘new mail’ alert, that’s over 8 hours wasted each week.

Of course, that’s not the only way that time is frittered away in the course of day to day activities. Using email to collaborate on documents is astonishingly wasteful, compared to working on a wiki. We lack studies that specifically look at how email is used in this way and how long it takes to collaborate via email attachment compared to on a wiki page, but my experience is that using a wiki really cuts down on the time and effort required to co-author a document.

Then there’s duplication of effort. I did some work with a company recently who had started to use social tools to improve collaboration. One unexpected side effect was the discovering that there were two teams, in different locations, both trying to solve the same problem. Once they knew that they were both working on the same thing, they could share resources, information and expertise.

Institutional knowledge also often gets lost: people end up re-learning what others already know, because there’s just no communication between them. That’s especially true of day-to-day knowledge which is important, but not the sort of thing that gets encoded into documentation (which is out of date as soon as it’s published anyway). Opening up the conversation by encouraging people to do their work on a wiki is a great way to capture information as it happens. It’s not about cataloguing it after the fact, but keeping info alive as a side-effect of just getting on with things. In a recession, you can’t afford to be reinventing the wheel all the time.

A recession is also not a great time to just throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. But businesses don’t need to experiment, they just need to work with people who truly understand social tools. More than anything, businesses need to invest in their people, in understanding how they work right now and how they could be working.

Personally, I fail to see how any business right now can afford not to address the inefficiencies inherent in their organisation’s existing comms tools. Now, more than ever, businesses need to raise their game, improve communication, improve collaboration, improve conversation. But in this climate, they can’t afford to get it wrong - there’s no slack in the system anymore. Luckily, there’s no need to get it wrong. There are some great people out there who can help you do it right.

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Are you seeking?

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

Seekers… Google is your friend. But be sure not to trust the first thing it tells you.

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Future of Web Apps: The psychology of compelling web apps (and email)

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

I had a last-minute opportunity to speak at FOWA yesterday, as unfortunately Matt Webb had had to drop out. Luckily I had a few days to prepare, so I put together a version of my talk on the psychology of email - with added Dilbert and ICanHasCheezburger - and it seemed to go down fairly well.

Thanks to Marc Berry

Simon Perry took some notes, and Jemima Kiss covered it for The Guardian’s PDA blog.

FOWA have also put the video up online too: