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 BBCNews.com.

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

Corante Blog

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Playful 09

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

I’m at Playful ‘09 today. I’m not going to be taking verbatim notes, as is my usual habit, but instead just jotting down a few random notes.

Roo Reynolds
Films based on games, often not very good. Minesweeper film trailer (from College Trailer). The only good film from a game is Tron.

Leila Johnston
Wrote Enemy of Chaos, adventure book written for the aging nerd market, not many books for that demographic. Character believes “Obsessive regulation might stave off decay” [sounds like our government].

Kareem Ettouney
How do large teams collaborate? Given bands, with four people in, struggle to get along. It’s actually quite hard to encourage collaboration. His company started with five people, everyone “had the moans”, critical of past employers. As soon as you start hiring talented people, how do you minimise the moans? People are using 2% of their talent and feel unfulfilled, want to do more. How do you increase their input, get a level of ownership that doesn’t create a mishmash. Traditional pyramid structure with specialists to produce work does function ok, old school model. But when you start working with exceptional people, you remember how you used to feel when no one was listening to your ideas.

So started to talk about ownership. Get people to own - means that there’s a responsibility and accountability, that’s the price. Share the problem, let people have ideas, but the hard part is to give your idea time, investigate it, present it. Email thread is not enough, if you want to own your area, earn it. People love the responsibility. Preconception was that the important bit was the ideas, but that leads to incoherence.

But when you share pragmatic aspects, e.g. deadlines, selling to clients, that allows people to rise to the job. No more old-school artistic direction any more, doesn’t work. Shift artistic director role from mastermind to matchmaker, trying to match skills. Share the journey. Harder than the pyramid style. Important too to have personal projects - makes you less precious. Downside of creativity is becoming precious and losing objectivity, because it hurts. Healthy to have your own avenue. If something doesn’t come out at work, it has to come out somewhere else and better it comes out in your own project, if it doesn’t it clouds your thinking. Companies who say, “Everything you do we own” are shooting themselves in their foot, because their staff are jaded.

Daniel Soltis
Tinker-it. Important to get people to feel that they can take something, like a radio, apart and do stuff with it, and change the way that they relate to it. Made a weekend-long immersive street-game. There are tech problems with games - keeping track of players, game state etc. Then iPhone came out, which changes everything. But walking around starting at an iPhone screen is not really all that great. No tactile pleasures as with game pieces. Cross-over between traditional tactile items and tech, e.g. GPS puzzle box that only opened when in the right place, was made as a wedding present.

Lucy Wurstlin
“Play is nature’s training for life. No community can infringe that right without doing deep and enduring harm to the minds and bodies of its citizens” - David Lloyd George.

Play or Die. 4iP. Education via games and technology.

Robin Burkinshaw with Matt Locke
Robin create two Simms characters, Alice and Kev. These are homeless characters: Kev is a drunken looser, Alice is his daughter. Set personality traits in Simms to negative traits, like quick to anger, says inappropriate things. Gave Kev the goal to try and date 10 other characters - impossible given character traits. Game turned into a moving storyline around homelessness.

James Bridle
Awesomeness more important than innovation. Awesome should be proper, God-fearing awe, in a “Space is big” way. Chap who did an illustration for every page of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. Another chap, Tom Phillips, who found a Victorian novel and is drawing on every page, pulling out a hidden possible narrative. Heath Robinson, “I really have a secret satisfaction in being considered rather mad”. Heath Robinson was also name of the precursor to the Colossus computer that helped break the Enigma code.

Babbage, first great weird machine builder. Although he never build his Difference Engine. Wasn’t capable to build it, wasn’t sure it would work, never got funding, but did build bits to demonstrate his theory of miracles: He believed that miracles were just very very unlikely events. Would get his guests to crank the handle of his device at dinner parties to try and demonstrate unlikely events. Calculated odds of the Resurrection - said it wasn’t a miracle just very unlikely. Wrote to Tennyson about The Vision of Sin to correct his poem about birth and death rates. Started designing a Naughts and Crosses engine, analysed the game, and thought he could do it - maybe he could finance the Different Engine if he built a Naughts and Crosses machine.

People have build a Naughts and Crosses engine - MENACE. Was done by one of the Bletchley Park code breakers. Built a computer out of match boxes. Machine could learn - it had beads inside that correspond to each possible move, and you take beads out of failed moves and put them into successful boxes. James built it… lots of matchboxes and beads (well, beans, as ran out of beads).

Go. Simple rules, but very complex to play. Very hard to model on a computer. Tried to calculate how many matchboxes needed to model Go. 304 needed for OX, with 10 beads. Go would need 3.4 x 10^15 matchboxes, each with 3610 beads in each matchbox, each being 18m^2. If you built it, it would be slightly larger than the Crab Nebula.

Katy Lindemann
Would love to talk about robots, but is going to talk about behaviour change. (And robots.)

There was a game where little robots, which needed to cross New York but could not get there without help from humans. For months, none of them got lost because New Yorkers took care of the robots.

Japanese have a tradition of play and robots, very hopeful, love tech and excited about the future of technology.

But these weren’t designed to change behaviour. Play is fundamental to culture and society. Playing is how we learn and grow up. How can we use playful design and experience to actively encourage behaviour change. Games are a gateway drug to learning. But not necessarily best way to change behaviour. How can we game real life and make the every day, mundane things through play. High Scores. Integration about high scores, interesting way to get people to change behaviour.

E.g. housework. Japanese are building a house robot to do the cleaning, but meantime we’ll have to find something else to motivate. ChoreWars - get experience points the more housework you do.

Encourage more efficient driving. Turn it into a game. Fiat EcoDrive: USB stick in car monitors driving behaviour and then analyse on computer. Gives tips. Can set targets, can better own scores, can share scores with others. Collectively shows CO2 emissions.

Getting diabetics to regularly check blood sugar is tough. Digit, glucose monitor that attaches to Nintendo DS. Rewards good behaviour.

But it’s not all about scores. Sometimes it’s just making it fun. Fun makes it easier to rewire the brain. A lot of democracy stuff is not fun - petitions, writing to MP. How do you give kids a voice? Making it ‘cool’ doesn’t give you the sense that you’re being listened to. No pay off.

Writing robot, in Houses of Parliament, could let people write stuff, and Twitter it, and it’d be written out at HoP.

How to get people to exercise more? We know what we should be doing, but don’t do it. Make it fun. Dance Dance Revolution. Schools in US include DDR in their PE lessons. Wii Fit approved by Dept of Health.

But also make everyday stuff fun. About taking the stairs. [Reminds me of the "racing up the stairs to the 11th floor" wiki page we had at DrKW, as was]. This project turns a staircase into a piano. 66% more people chose to use the stairs than normal.

Recycling. Firstly, make it easier, change the infrastructure. But not enough. Pay for recycling? If you stop paying, will people stop recycling. Bottle Bank Arcade - was used 100 times, where nearby conventional bottle bank was used twice.

Tassos Stevens
The Ashes. It’s all about the question, “What happens next?” If you see someone throw a ball to someone else, can you turn away before you see if they’ve caught it?

Sport generally have simple dynamics. Cricket a bit more complex. Ashes decided over two months, no one can watch it all, gives you permission to miss stuff. Punctuated play, and gaps lets you talk about things. Cricket is unclear even who is winning until the end. Lets people tell each other stories, as the potential imagined outcome shifts. Result can be determined by Acts of God - the weather. Strong tribalism too.

Russell Davies
Two types of model railways: ones that try to replicate the world, and ones that put the railway in their garden where you can’t try to replicate anything, building a bubble of suspense. Bubble building vs. world building.

Barely games: collecting, negotiation, pretending, inattention. Most important is pretending. Never hear enough about pretending.

Mornington Crescent, is pretending to be a game, but because it seems like a game it’s almost better than a game.

Collecting: Pokemon. Game you’re supposed to be playing is way too complex, so make up your own, like Top Trumps. Noticing game. About negotiation.

Collecting things is great for pretending. Works when you’re a kid, but good for adults too. We do pretend, all the time.

Luxury items are pretending items, can’t get the case with the machine gun in parts… but you can get a barbeque set.

Pretending metaphor breaks down if it’s too obvious. Computer desk top is… like a desk. 3D Mailbox trying to make email fun, “Every message is a jumbo jet”. Why aren’t we using it? Because it’s tone deaf. Not subtle.

Need to bury the pretending detail, so it’s not in your face.

Lots of games are quite demanding, want us to pay attention and touch the screen. Want to pay attention to the world.

What would a barely game app involved:

- Walking around, i.e. not looking at the screen
- Uncertain or socially decided rules
- Things that either can be useful or stupid
- High pretending value

SAP - Situated audio platform, audio stuff that’s related to geolocation.

Molly Range
Two ways of telling a story: One tells and others listen and react; or everyone co-creates. Scandinavian story telling tends towards co-creation. Opens up to experimental productions. Scandinavians go “beyond fun” to use play for political protest or learning. Engage people, bring new perspectives, create change. But lack standardised way to prove the value of play to people outside of gaming.

Duncan Gough
Kes - film about a boy called Billy Casper, filmed in ‘69 by Ken Loach. Bit of a feral kid who finds a kestrel, finds the nest and steals a baby kestrel. Firm roots in theatre and radio plays.

Storytelling has developed, e.g. The Wire. Episode, seasons, story arcs and box sets with developments on all scales.

Language of games.

Stand-alone vs ongoing story
Serial and serial quests in MMOs
What would it be like to play Friends, or The Wire?

Fictive worlds - like virtual worlds or MMOs, but more story based. Sense of player vs environment, bringing a story like Kes to life. Adventure games, if you stand still nothing happens in the world, but you want the world to carry on without you. Want the world to be active, living.

Branching narratives aren’t scalable. But decisions must have consequences.

Prior art? 80s was a classic era for children’s TV drama. BBC was concerned that kids would leave TV for games and the web. Kids TV, e.g. Press Gang about a school newspaper, and Running Scared, about a girl on the run from gangsters. No archives of them though - no way to go and watch them again.

Sad, but a good opportunity for a golden age of gaming to happen. Looking for

- web-based fictive world
- simple, directed story
- interactive, allegorical

Alfie Dennen & Paula le Dieu
Bus Top - city-wide network of programmable LED panels on the top of bus stops, one at least in every London Borough, open API.

Want to let the public actually take part in public art as usually they don’t get the chance.

Routes and pebbles — routes might have 5 or 6 installations, and the pebbles are individual panels. Creates a giant canvas. What stories can be told? What sort of visual narrative?

Will be able to use things like Flickr, Twitter, their API and an online tool to interact with the panels. Very lo-fi, pixelate experience. Canvas will be live for 12 months leading up to and through Olympics.

Rex Crowle
Likes wonky drawing, doodling. People get hung up on drawing and expressing themselves and worry that what they are creating is somehow wrong.
Now works for Little Big Planet - game that’s not finished until people are playing it and making stuff. Customise the character, the world, the soundtrack. Internet makes it much more flexible, and you can fix flaws after launch.

Simon Oliver
Makes games for the iPhone.

How do you design fun? Top-down game design is hard. Prototyping works - find the fun.

Simplicity. Games controllers got more and more complex, and that scares people off if they aren’t familiar. iPhone interface is much simpler and instinctive. If it’s too complex or not fun, chuck it.

Tim Wright
Life’s ambition: To play golf on the Moon with David Bowie.

Read Kidnapped by Robert Louise Stephenson, which features a shipwreck and a walk from Mull to Edinburgh. Book says shipwreck happened on June 29th, and arrived in Edinburgh on August 24th.

Is it possible to walk the same walk as the book in that time?

Kidmapped - recreating the walk, podcasting and mapping the way. Put the whole book up on a wiki, chunked by day and could then comment on it. Read the book out in the locations it was setting. Other people came out to read too. Became not just about the book, but also about the landscape.

Also ended up being sent poetry, art, and ended up playing golf up the mountain.

Writers create maps and date travels through them all the time, so why not, as readers, recreate those journeys?

Chris O’Shea
Interaction design.

We work too much and lose our sense of play.

What if you could see through walls? Installation that uses infrared torch and a projector to mimic seeing through walls.

“Flap to Freedom” remote controlled chickens that people thought they were controlling by flapping their arms. Forget about looking silly and have fun.

Mirror installation where the mirrors will self-arrange to reflect your face back to you, and move as you move. Similar one with police car beacons that turn to face you as you walk amongst them.

Social experiences. Let people play together.

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

@DW Global Media Forum: Blogging, citizen journalism and politics

Posted by Kevin Anderson

Deutsche Welle BOBs 2008 winners

Deutsche Welle Best of the Blogs 2008 winners

Bloggers were well represented at Deutsche Welle’s Global Media Forum, in part because it was the first time that they awarded their BOBs - Best of the Blogs - to the winning bloggers in person. The forum was a stark reminder of internet theorist Clay Shirky’s observation that technology that is often used to pass time in the West can be an essential tool for expression and democracy in repressive countries. Blogging has become a powerful means of expression, reporting and organisation in countries around the world.

Blogging and citizen journalism

During a panel on blogging and citizen journalism, Israel Yoroba Guebo from the Ivory Coast said that in his country, “We hope that our journalists don’t end up in prison.” There is only one television channel and opposition political parties have no way to communicate their positions. He used to work for a newspaper, but he wanted an outlet to tell about the everyday life of people in his country.

Ivory Coast was divided by conflict in 2002 as rebels held part of the country. The political conflict didn’t just divide the country but also its people. He wrote on his blog Le Blog de Yoro about life in all parts of the country and tried to show that people shared the same way of life in an effort to bring about reconciliation.

He was asked whether blogging could have prevented the conflict. He said:

“In Ivory Coast, we didn’t see a way to prevent crisis, but if we had the blog, maybe we could have prevented some of the massacres.”

Another person asked him who was the target audience of the blog. Was it Africans, many of whom don’t have access to the internet, or was it audiences in Europe and the US?

He said that it was important to let people in other countries know what was happening in the Ivory Coast, but maybe his blog would also encourage others to take up bloggin. “The more bloggers that we have, the greater opportunity we have to talk freely,” he said.

The problem is that blogging there is difficult and expensive. They don’t have broadband and have to go to internet cafes to post. However, he said:

“You can at least give the world the possibility to express themselves. Something that would never be accepted on the television.”

Iranians do not have to be encouraged to blog. It is often said that Persian is the fourth most common language for blogs. Four years ago, women in Iran gathered outside of parliament to protest a law that prevented women from becoming president, but it was one of many laws unfair to women. The women decided to protest every day of the year against one of these laws, said Nazli Farokhi.

“We realised that 365 days was not enough,” she said, so they started the blog 4equality. It gives a chance for women who support the campaign to write about their experiences. She was asked about the security of the bloggers. Police have arrested 50 of their members, and four remain in prison.

During the BOBs award ceremony, she played the group’s anthem which describes the discrimination that women in Iran face and the hope that one day women and men can be equal there.

Threats to bloggers

A climate of fear due to threats of violence, intimidation or arrest face bloggers in repressive countries. Bloggers from China and Cuba were not allowed to travel to accept their awards, but instead had to record video messages for the BOBs ceremony.

Cuban Yoani Sanchez’s Generación Y won the award for best blog 2008. Appearing via video message, she said that having a blog in Cuba “can drive one to madness”: There are no internet connections in people’s homes, and bloggers are forced to go internet cafes or hotels that cater to tourists. The cost of using the internet for one hour is equal to a third of the average Cuban’s salary.

Zeng Jinyan won the Reporters without Borders best blog award. She’s the wife of imprisoned Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia, and she began blogging after being put under house arrest. She writes about life under constant surveillance by the Chinese authorities. She couldn’t travel to accept the reward, but was able to get a video to the BOB organisers. In the video message, she said:

“Blogging has brought new hope to my life.”

Ahmad Abdalla won the award for best blog in Arabic. When he started writing the blog, he said that he was only writing “about small things” and didn’t think that anyone would care about it. But, he added:

“But these small things are affecting my generation, these small things that we’re missing.”

Blogging in Russia

Eugene Gorny said that two or three years ago, he wouldn’t have predicted that he would be interested in the link between politics and blogs in Russia, but now people who were not previously interested are getting involved in the political discussion.

Most popular media channels or national newspapers in Russia are controlled by the government. They have no chance to report about opposition political leaders, protests or anything that the government doesn’t want known or discussed.

Andrei Illarionov, the former chief economic advisor to Vladimir Putin, says of Russia, “People enjoy a tangible level of personal freedoms, but political rights are almost absent, civil liberties are severely restricted and there are significant limits on personal security.”

The regime is afraid of any political activity of the citizens, and brutally oppresses them, Gorny said.

Russians first started blogging seven or eight years ago, but it was mostly for fun and for the self-expression of the internet elite. As the Russian government has seized control of the media, blogs have become an important alternative to the state media for people to discuss issues that are important to them.

A 2009 report by Russian search engine Yandex found 7.4m blogs in Russian, of which about 1m are active. There are 1m posts in the Russian language every day. Russian bloggers are journalists, opposition politicians or “anyone who has a story or an opinion to share”, he said. Journalists blogging are able to write about issues more freely than in the traditional media. But it doesn’t matter whether a blogger is a journalist or not, Gorny said. Rather, bloggers were judged by their peers about their ability to write about significant topics.

Many blogs have a huge readership and reach in Russia. Free magazine F5 reviews the hottest topics in the Russian blogosphere, coming mostly from popular blogging service LiveJournal. The magazine boasts a circulation of 100,000.

Bloggers write reports on what they see, publish documents such as Amnesty International reports, commentary on current events, coverage of protests and quotes and links to other posts.

Their favourite topics are writing about:

  1. The “iIllegitimate, corrupted, aggressive and unjust regime”.
  2. The constant search for internal and external enemies.
  3. Human rights violation in Russia, Chechyna, Ingushetia,
  4. Police mayhem, extreme violence and the “outrageous breach of all limits”.
  5. Strategies of resistance.

The last has become important as the authorities criminalise new forms of resistance. Russian authorities have clamped down on flash mobs and, earlier this year, they even arrested members of a silent protest for using foul language. The protestors had tape over their mouths. As more protesters are jailed, blogs from prison are part of a growing trend in Russia.

Blogs are a significant and growing part of the media in Russian, and Gorny predicted that if the political situation gets worse, then that the role of blogs will only increase.

Blogs and democracy in the West

Of course, even in the West, blogs can still be used for democratic purposes. US transparency through technology group, the Sunlight Foundation, won the 2008 Best Blog in English for their Party Time blog. The blog aims to collect information on the lobbyists, corporations and other donors who pay for parties for US politicians.

Nancy Watzman said that anonymous sources, some even in the lobbying groups themselves, offer the group tickets to the parties. The tickets come from sources they trust. They post the information on the Party Time blog, helping to shed light on one of the poorly reported aspects of the game of money, access and influence in US politics. During the political conventions in 2008 ahead of the presidential elections, they went to many of the parties, taking videos and posting them to the blog.

They would like to take the project further and are looking for partners, including the Huffington Post.

Markus Beckedahl started blogging at Netzpolitik to discuss issues of digital rights, copyright and censorship on the internet, pulling together stories in German and from around the world on the subject. He does a lot of thinking about how to change politics. He said:

“Politicians do bills about internet and they don’t really know what they are talking about.”

About 70,000 people in Germany use Twitter, and Markus has found that it’s a good way to quickly oganise and mobilise people. Netzpolitik has its own YouTube channel and video podcasting channel, and this has led to reports in traditional media about their efforts and issues.

He discussed some of their political campaigns. In 2005, the German government began discussing whether to switch from Microsoft’s Windows XP to Linux. The software giant threw a party to lobby the government to stick with Windows, Beckedahl said. Netzpolitik crashed the party in penguin costumes, the penguin being the mascot of Linux. Some of the penguins even managed to send pictures from the party via MMS.

In recent months, Deutsche Bahn, the German rail giant, has been in a “spy scandal with their workers”, Beckedahl said. Someone sent him internal DB documents, which he posted on the internet. Their lawyers sent him a cease-and-desist letter. He posted the letter on the site, asking for advice. Soon, the letter and documents were spread across the internet, making it difficult for DB to get them removed.

Their most recent campaign is against a proposed law aimed at child pornography. Instead of seeking to shut down the sites, the German government is looking to use filtering software, but internet activists fear that government filtering efforts could be used by other industries such as the music industry against file-sharing sites or by the Hessen government to filter gambling sites. Activists would rather the government seek limited action to shut down sites operating outside of the law.

The German government has an online petition system. A successful petition has to get 50,000 signatures. Using Twitter and hundreds of blogs, Netzpolitik managed to get the necessary signatures in record time, getting 110,000 in all.

Final Thoughts on the Global Media Forum

I thought one of the best quotes of the forum came from Laura Pintos, who writes at the blog 233grados.com. (233 degrees being the temperature at which paper ignites.) She was asked during the BOBs awards ceremony what she saw as the future of journalism. She answered:

“It is the wrong question. it is the present. We are living in a digital moment. It is our present.”

It was nice to see that point of view represented at the conference, even if it probably represented a minority view amongst the speakers and attendees. While a lot of people are wringing their hands over what the future of journalism is, there are people Pintos and many of the bloggers and podcasters at the conference who aren’t worrying about the future of journalism and rather simply creating it.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Community Conference 2009: Jake McKee, How to build a community that’s crazy about your product

Posted by Kevin Anderson

Jake McKee begins by talking about ’success by a thousand paper cuts’, which is thinking about the smallest thing possible you can do without approval to get you closer to your goals. He also said that we’ve talked a lot about community, but what we’re really talking about is ’social engagement’. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s difficult.

Rather than talking about building a community that’s crazy about you or your product, he talks about how to throw a great party. We already build relationships with people in our lives. Parties connect, excite and engage. He lists ingredients to create a great party:

  1. Your party needs a reason to be. What is this thing? Is your party a 12-year-old’s birthday party or a cocktail party with friends.
  2. What’s the higher calling? What are we here to connect about? What is the need we are addressing? What problem are we trying to solve?
  3. Your party needs good planning. Every good social effort starts with good strategy. Prep for scale. Make it simple and flexible so you can constantly evolve. Keep in mind the 1-9-90 principle.
  4. Your party needs a host. We need leaders in social groups. It gives direction to where we’re going in this social group. It gives accountability and direction, and it builds the culture.
  5. Your party needs a few introductions. It doesn’t happen often enough. In the early days of Flickr, every new user was introduced by one of the staff. Every single person who signed up and posted a picture was introduced to others with similar interests. That might not be possible when you’ve got 200 sign-ups an hour, but Flickr had established the culture.
    Not enough communities have mentors, volunteers who welcome people and help them find their way around.
  6. Your party needs an invitation. The site needs functionality and tools that make it easy for members to invite other people. Make it portable such as the share this buttons for Facebook or Twitter. Be explicit with the invitation.
  7. You need social norms. Guidelines and rule are important. Guidelines are guiding principles. How do we translate guidelines into something that people will pay attention to? He points to Flickr’s community guidelines: “Don’t be creepy. You know the guy. Don’t be that guy.”
    It is about building culture, not blocking content.
    It creates collaborative ownership. It’s clear and fun. In online environments
  8. Your party needs a bouncer. “Be nice until it’s time to not be nice.”
  9. Power in n00bs and nerds. It’s so easy in a social group to get caught up in the history and the legacy.
  10. You need your attendees to pitch in. People want to be heard, but they also need a something to do.
  11. Your party needs you. These things don’t get outsourced.
  12. Everybody goes home happy. This is what it all boils down to.

He was asked what it takes to be a good community manager. He says it’s all down communication skills.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Community Conference 2009: Tommy Sollen, social media manager Visit Sweden

Posted by Kevin Anderson

As I said, the Community Conference 2009 in Copenhagen is a mix of business, media,

Tommy Sollen talked about how he set up a community for Visit Sweden. While he did this, he set up a WordPress blog to talk about the development of the community and the site. He was working in the open. Tourism organisations across Europe and in Canada, which helped in the development. They developed Community of Sweden.com. It focuses photos and stories. The main goal is to help the members of community to inspire each other. It’s built on the EPiServer content management system.

They have tags on all the content including geo-tags and activities. One of the things I liked is that they also have a tag for the seasons. He talked about how they encourage people to tag photos because the titles provided too little information to properly index. Photo sharing has surpassed their expectations, and they now have more than 12,000 photos (the site was launched in late 2007). He highlighted some of the photos and said that they could easily create an online magazine just with user-generated photos. If they use a photo in their print magazine, they give full photo credits to who uploaded the photos and offer to buy the photo.

One of the users, from Italy, had taken a photo that their print magazine editor thought was perfect for an article. They contacted him and offered to pay him for the photo, but he refused to accept payment.

They do no marketing for the site, but they now have 6,300 registered members, 12,000 photos and more than a thousand travel stories. They have a community and the development blog, but they wanted to know what came next so they integrated Community of Sweden.com more tightly with the Visit Sweden website.

They have also created Sweden pages on Facebook and a Sweden channel on YouTube. “It’s about placing ourselves in the social media sphere,” he said. They also have created widgets that allow people to add these to their blogs, sites or social networks.

He was asked about the issue of people on Facebook saying that they would come to an event but didn’t. The person asking the question asked if they had tried to offer a coupon to encourage them to turn out. Tommy said that he wanted events but hadn’t got the budget yet for it, but he believes that events would help support the community.

He was asked about how 6000 users was seen as a success. He said that people have spent not just minutes, not just hours but days on the site and had ‘created ambassadors for Sweden’.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Community Conference 2009: Lois Kelly, Communities and business

Posted by Kevin Anderson

I’m at the Community Conference 2009 in Copenhagen. The audience is a mix of media, government, NGOs and business folks.

Lois Kelly of Beeline Labs talks about how she got into the field. In 1992, she became involved in the AOL miscarriage community. “This is what the internet is about. It is about creating ways to connect people.”

In 1998, she launched her own consultancy. She found Alan’s Forums, a community for consultants to help each other with tip on how to market each other and build your business. People were all over the world. People helping people.

In 2001, she and her neighbours joined together to save a local landmark, an old bridge. People wouldn’t show up for meetings or sign petitions. People would go online at night and voice what they wanted.

In 2005, Ning makes communities free. It’s so inexpensive and easy to use that almost anyone could start playing comunities, 900,000 communities in February 2009. There are 4000 new communities a day with almost 40% outside of the US.

Tribal behaviour has been here forever. We want to connect with each other. The biggest challenges are how to attract people and get them engaged. Only 40% of the communities set up on Ning are active.

What makes communities successful:

  • Communities need a purpose. They need a clear purpose
  • The community needs deeply felt or widely felt issue
  • Help and get help. Trust.

People do not trust businesses or governments. They do not want to be marketed to. A Nielsen study found Denmark had low levels of trust in advertising, only 28%.

What drives people’s use of communities

  • Ability to help people
  • Ability to connect with like-minded issue
  • Community focused on hot topic issue

The value of communities to businesses and non-profits is for market insights or research. She gave the example of an ‘employee community’ that saved $5m a year through insights gained in the community. They were little ideas not huge complicated ones.

The unexpected value of communities from a case study:

  • Insights and Ideas. The case study company said the community had become ‘an unlimited source of R&D’.
  • Sales. They had higher average sales per community member ($1200) compared to a typical customer ($500)
  • Customers are creating their own marketing in the community.
  • They could cut down their PR or even get rid of their PR.

She suggested the people ask 5 simple questions that businesses need to ask before creating a community:

  1. Why are we doing this?
  2. How will people (not the company) benefit?
  3. Do people care enough?
  4. What do we expect to get? (There needs to be business value, which is tied to the first question.)
  5. How do we measure?

She suggested the businesses creating communities need to be customer-centric versus product-centric. Focus on ‘behavioural tribes versus demographic segments’. She pointed to how a scissors company had created a community not based on scissors but rather based on how people used scissors, in this case scrapbooking. She also said that companies need to foucs on ‘networks versus channels’. IBM created an internal community called beehive. Employees were able to connect with each other. Employees with really good ideas started promoting their projects. Instead of going through usual channels, employees were going through this network to promote their ideas. People also thought they could get ahead faster - ‘climbing’. She had interviewed a 27-year-old employee who said she was able to advance more quickly because she used the intranet to show off her skills. “Before this, she would have been anonymous,” Lois said.

It allows great talent to network and share.

She found that many companies do not have internal networks but will create their own through Facebook (or LinkedIn, I would say).

She said that businesses with communities need to measure against business goals. New product ideas? Earn customer confidence? Reduce customer service costs? Awareness in category? Reduce training, education costs? Change perceptions? Get votes, get sales? That will help drive design.

Communities are a lot of work. If you want a successful community, you have to put the resources in.

She also said that some companies need to be more ’social’ but don’t necessarily need a community. She showed how Panasonic.com had created customer reviews and recommendations. She compared a number of social strategies - badges, tagging, Twitter and communities. Communities take investment and resources to be successful, but there might be simpler social strategies to achieve your goals rather than creating a community.

There was an interesting question about Facebook. They need to pay for the service but communities are resistant to advertising or marketing messages.

Lois: In the US, a lot of us think that Facebook is over and we’ve all moved to Twitter. We’re nomadic tribes. Last year, it was Facebook. This year is Twitter. I don’t know what it will be next year. Value needs to be there for a payment value. (She talked about some of the features that Twitter is considering as a business model including adding a service for business ala Yammer.) Advertising model still has value.

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

BeebCamp: Co-creating content with BBC stuff

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

Session in reaction to the collaboration session earlier which was focused on UGC as something people give to the BBC, and to look at how the BBC can give more content, not just data, back to the audience.

BBC Backstage are trying to do this, creating a new blog that’s creating original content and releasing it all, everything in raw form, out on Archive.org, wherever. Probably be under an CC-attribution licence. Video, put as much metadata as much as possible, so will release scripts. Will be available in a big bundle that people can download if they want, and be released in different cut versions that people can remix as well.

Radio 1 put together a cinema advert, and plan is to get the assets online and let people mash it up, even take the piss out of it then.

What happened to the Creative Archive? [Much laughter.]

Rather than it just being a big central archive, things are being released in different places.

But the rights issue was never solved. For a 3 minute news package, content came from lots of different rights owners, so assessing the rights for an archive is functionality almost impossible. One problem with the Beethoven release as that they discovered at the last moment that there was a freelance conductor and they weren’t sure about the rights.

Creative Archive is looking backwards. The Radio 1 ad is taking marketing assets and releasing it. Backstage is releasing data. But is anyone commissioning an entertainment programme and then releasing it?

It has been tried. one project tried to create a library of material from a variety of sources, but the uptake was small because there was no focus, there was no clear call to action. Made it so open that people didn’t know what to do with it, didn’t think that there was mush point.

Why try to anticipate what people want? Why not see what communities exist and give them the chance to do something. Why are we chasing down Dr Who knitters? That’s disturbing.

JK Rowling doesn’t mind people doing fanfic, so long as it’s not commercial. And so could do that with a lot of things with the BBC, how do you enable that?

Is anyone setting out to do that?

Why are we doing this? Is that the best public value? Talent management - they are unhappy about people saying nasty things about them on BBC sites. Content producers don’t like fans to do stuff with their content. If only one small part of the audience gets something out of it, and the producers dont’ like it, why are we doing it?

Most people here would give most things away, why not? But that’s not the broader mindset, because they don’t see the value of it.

Have to start somewhere, and people aren’t willing to try to start anywhere. Don’t know why no one has tried it, doing a story and letting people just run with it. People’s natural inclination is to subvert it.

It’s a leap of faith. One project was a story for kids, wanted to leave it open to see how they would engage with it, and it’s been great to see what they come up with. The second thing is that, for kids, you have to provide the tools as well. It’s fine to leave assets around, but not everyone has the tech available to them.

Why do we think that more is better? Wouldn’t it be great if it was democratic and let it go, but it does make sense to editorialise in a certain way.

One place that is doing that is Teachers’ TV, and the teacher’s are pushed to take it and use it.

Is the idea that content will naturally be subverted true? Will people really do that as a de facto response? And even if they do, is that a bad thing? In the right context that’s fine.

Dynamic of the culture is challenging. On the one hand you’ve people who want to give things away, and on the other hand you have people who want to control.

Do the lawyers ever talk to marketing before they get on the case of someone who’s doing something, because a lot of this UGC is great publicity.

Big Weekend, mixing up people’s own photos and the professional photos, in a programme, create something completely unique ad that’s small but popular.

Fear that people are going to be horrible if we let something out. So long as the product is good, and it does need to be good, brands are surprised by how positive it can be. Brand managers don’t realise that often people talk positively and will defend the brand, if the brand is good.

Great fear of being criticised in public. Ignoring it doesn’t stop it happening, if there is negative stuff, you have to engage with it.

Letting the audience take the piss a bit endears the brand to the audience.

None of this does not apply to the Middle East, where the state broadcaster is the voice of the state. If they took the BBC’s content then it might seem like endorsement from the BBC. Perception that by putting things online, it’s encouraging people to use it, and that would be seen as the official voice of the UK. [I'm having problems following the logic of this argument.]

What if the BNP uses the footage? Backstage has a “no political usage” clause in its licence.

But need to treat different types of content differently, so children’s content is treated differently to news footage. But we shouldn’t let concerns about certain types of content stop the development of uses of other types.

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Thursday, February 19th, 2009

BeebCamp: Online Books

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

Heard a lot about news, but there’s stuff around making TV programmes richer, more interesting. Quite often they want a list of books that are interesting or relevant. Sometimes they have a list, or they want people to contribute to a list. So where should people link to? Amazon is the de facto place to link to? Should the BBC link to Amazon? Probably not. Wikipedia would be nice, but if a book’s not there you could add it, if it was “notable”. There’s also OpenLibrary, which wants one page per book for every book ever made, but it seems early days. WorldCat is interesting, it tells you which library has the book near you, but mainly focused on US. There’s the Library of Congress, which has a lot of data. Then there’s LibraryThing and BookKeeper, which is about “my” collection of books, so people logged in could see which of their friends have also read that book.

On the music site, it’s quite clear, they link to official website or MySpace page. But for books there’s no clear source.

This is not about the text, unless it’s public domain and available, but about the metadata.

Link to the publisher. Author’s websites. Penguin tried to build book groups around their books, so there’s a page for each book and can do a book group about these things. Harper Collins have a network of interest that they’re building around, Authonomy, BookArmy.

Amazon are canonical, whether we like it or not. They have the metadata, synopsis, reviews etc.

Libraries have huge collection, but they don’t necessarily have the synopsis. They just have classification data.

Amazon have an API so could someone not just use that data?

Would it make sense for the BBC to make a page for every book it talks about?

How to you let users share their preferred link. Not sure if the BBC should be making their own library, given how many others are in that space. Should be partnering with another service.

Open Library website talks about how they might work with World Cat, so landscape may change in front of us. Shelfari, owned by Amazon.

Link to a variety of sites?

Every book as an ISBN, so perhaps use that as a gateway to other places that list books by ISBN.

Wikipedia has a page for every ISBN which links to pages that have ISBN built URLs.

Two ISBNs, the US and the Worldwide ones. Two standards. Library of Congress has its own identifiers which are broader than just books.

Do we need a way of marking up book titles, semantic web. Could you RDF8 tag to ISBN number in with the book, then later on you can scrape all those pages.

To make it more complex, ISBN refers to one edition to one book, but sometimes you want the whole work, rather than the edition. Need a way to pull that together.

This is why Amazon number, the ASPN, which shows you an individual book or collection of editions.

BBC policy about linking - what does the audience expect? Is it inline or in the sidebar? what are you saying? Here’s a place to buy it? Here’s a history of the book? Depends on what the audience expects. Technically, it’s easy but editorial problematic. Can’t be seen to be promoting Amazon. Would feel like that was unfairly promoting Amazon, but Amazon is the de facto place to link to for books.

Could link to something like Froogle, a list of places you can buy the book, but you’re pushing people to buy the book and promoting a site.

Amazon and Wikipedia are the main ones from an information point of view. BBC should work with open sources of data.

Think of the archive as a live thing where we add new things, like the list of books, that would be valuable. If the annotated book used by the researcher who put the programme together was made available that would be fascinating.

In Our Time, Melvyn Bragg, lots of notes from researcher but would need sanitising before it could be published because the notes are very detailed. After Our Time, wiki, set up but is a bit dead. If you had the research notes to go with the transcript, that would be great. Very thorough research.

What about other BBC sites, aren’t they doing already? Once you have an identifier per book in the system, you can aggregate content within the BBC site about “these are all the programmes or sites that are talking about this book” .

Something like Dewey Decimal system. BBC already has topics which functions a bit like that, if you have a page about the Cold War it aggregates all the BBC’s info about the Cold War, but should also link to thinks offline and books etc.

Namespace - Emma, the book, film, TV series, which one? Wikipedia deals with that ok.

Tom Coates did a lot of work around radio programme pages, analogous problem. When looking at a page on /programmes, the object is “episode” and it knows the broadcast of that episode. And with books sometimes you’re interested in a particular edition because of, say, the cover, and sometimes you want to talk about the text.

But that seems like an edge case, generally talk about a book, not an edition.

Some of the sites listed earlier are doing good work in aggregating them into works, not editions.

Books in translation with popular titles, e.g. Latin classics in translation, if you’re grouping the book in that how would you deal with versions? Publishing industry is struggling with that anyway - how do you deal with Ladybird version of the Three Musketeers, and the original version?

Should semantically mark things anyway, whatever is done.

What does the user expect? Do they want to go and buy it? Do they want to find out more? Do they already know the book and want supporting information?

Further reading is different to a bibliography. A bibliography would be relatively easy to do, but further reading would be something to let others do. Wiki, audience participation, which then leads on to gaming.

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Thursday, February 19th, 2009

BeebCamp: Collaboration and prototyping

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

Another session on collaboration. It’s interesting that there’s so much curiosity about collaboration here. Talking to Charlie Beckett, we wondered if it’s that collaboration is now almost a given, “We ought to collaborate”, but that it’s not entirely clear what it is or how to do it.

One BBC project is to build applications in collaboration with the University of Aberdeen. Project has been running for a year, started off quite vague, has been interesting and educational. A lot of things they’ve learned is that academia has a very different approach to the way that the BBC works. A bit of a clash of culture.

How do we go about prototyping ideas effectively and efficiently. Finding a real variation in the way people react to the project, some are very enthusiastic, others suspicious of the BBC’s motivations for being in that area.

Nottingham games festival, universities doing prototypes for games.

Why are we not doing more stuff like this?

Prototypes, games-based, interactive narrative. How do you take a story to tell and build a game around it?

Knowledge Connect, act as middle man between universities (professors) and companies, help companies get research done. Grants available for SMEs so that the academics get paid to work on it from the grant.

Frustration with indie developers in games market, they don’t know how to get to work with the BBC. May have a great idea, but don’t know where to go to move it forward. Need to make it easier to understand the commissioning process, give developers an idea of future shows they could get involved in.

Commissioning periods of up to 18 months in some part of the BBC, so there’s plenty of development time. IF your period is 2 months, then that’s too short of a schedule to develop.

Should be in the commissioning process. Advertising has the same problem, web site & app development left til last minute. Need to gather assets. Needs to all be thought about at the commissioning process.

Not had space and time to put as much thought into it as would like.

What is the endgame for Prototype - want to learn what is possible for prototyping, is it valuable for students to work with BBC teams? Also to see if any of the ideas are worth putting more time into it.

Collaboration between HP and Bristol University. Someone at Lancashire (?) also doing interesting mobile games. NESTA do a lot of stuff in Bristol, big new media community there.

Running games and competition to find people to collaborate people. Cancer Research did one “Develop an ARG for Cancer Research”.

Try to break “who do we know” and be more “how to we reach out to more people to get as many as possible involved”.

Still pockets of people at the BBC doing interesting things.

First collaboration is to figure out what you’re doing, what your message is.

Is there a need for “Public Service Gaming”? Difficult climate, and BBC is in a unique position.

How does collaboration work within other areas? Is it just gaming? Have done some things with MTV, Radio London, didn’t work brilliantly, was ok.

How do you work innovation into the rest of the BBC. Project Red Stripe existed in a bubble and ended up going somewhere slightly strange.

It’s easy to forget to tell people what you’re doing, and lose the value of what you’ve learned, even just about what it’s like to work with a university.

Useful to write up what you did, what they said, what it might was like working with students, where did you work physically.

Values. Different values, different setting, so would be interesting to know if the students looked at the BBC as a different thing because of their involvement in the project.

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Thursday, February 19th, 2009

BeebCamp: Collaborative storytelling

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

Russell Davis, got a model house and offered to send one to people so they could decorate it as their house of the future. Had more demand for houses than he could fulfil. People blogged about what they would do with their houses, what things might be like in the future. m2050 tag. Whilst doing this, Hugh Garrick put together a collaborative Spotify playlist about what the tunes of the future might be. Collaborative story.

Five Live do it every day, say “this is our story” and people give them additional information to flesh out the story. Crowdsourcing.

During snow storms, network radio’s traffic and travel news was out of date, audience had better information than the official version.

So many tools out there to use. Spotify is a great example of collaboration.

ARG’s are about building communities, story being told, the people themselves make as much of the story as the people running the ARG. We Tell Stories, work with Penguin, instead of putting a book PDF online, which is not that much fun, ways of telling stories that are native to how you behave on the net. One told through Google Maps, one through Twitter where the characters were telling you their daily lives.

Twitter & GPS, BBC Sport tried that during the Beijing Olympics parade.

How do you highlight the voices? How do you bring those voices forward that don’t loose their editorial line in the process.

Messageboards, where people throw up ideas, and then the writers write the next episode for actors to learn.

TwitPanto, got a bit too much to follow, tools not quote there.

People want to converse and if they have the opportunity then they will. Conversation not the same as storytelling.

Are conversations not stories within themselves? Conversations can create interesting stories, but not always.

In BBC, we love being collaborative so long as it’s us talking. Collaborative storytelling that works more richly, someone at the BBC has to take control of the narrative, terrified of the audience might tell a story we don’t want to here.

Not sure that’s really true. Telling a good story takes into account timing, sequence of events, when you try to hand over too much control to too many people, you have more than one story very quickly. If you structure your story to handle that, that’s great, you have lots going on at once and it can be compelling. But if you want to tell a story.

Someone has to facilitate, else it’s just noise.

But allowing a person to own that editing, terrified we’re not going to get the narrative that’s wanted.

Fanfiction, most successful form of story telling, responses to other people’s storytelling. FanFic has very organised system of proofreaders, (betareaders), challenges, etc. Generally managed well as a community to allow people to find and contribute to stories that they want.

Isn’t there a natural built-in story telling process, so stories edit themselves because the best stories rise to the top.

More about giving people the tools to rate the stories?

Maybe a guest editor system? All these contributors, all these comments, some are better than others, and were thinking “we know what we think are the best”, but for the others that’s not a satisfactory experience for someone who’s taken the time. Room to have a guest editor, or filter. People have the chance to join in, it’s not taking control from the top.

radio Five, comments inform your work, but how do you get to the point where you get that sort of material in, because you look for content that conform to your expectations.

Fuel protest, didn’t see it as a valid protest, took a long while for it to be “allowed” the platform. Digital divide, but an editorial divide.

Media decided what the narrative would be after Diana’s death. Media was behind the curve on the hysteria. None of the media wanted to do it, wanted to run with it.

Important to think about story building, not story telling. Pull out themes, timelines etc.

Google epidemiology, can track colds and flu, tap into the zeitgeist before they know, before the press have told them to think it

Teenagers want to be involved but they lose interest quickly, don’t often have the internet. Stories via text messages, can text back, putting all their replies into a “box”, then reflect the opinion of the teens in the ending of a sub-plot for the TV show. Its a type of multiple choice. Teens use mobile more than watch TV. Was set up as a trial but was very popular, some people reply to every text messages. Sometimes get some very surprising responses, very philosophical. People are getting very involved in it, they’re not being forced to do it.

Story is a closed item, but most successful collaborative storytelling is MMORPGs, where everyone has their own story, but they work together on a larger arc. Not traditional storytelling with a beginning, middle and end, but it’s very successful.

But you don’t play these, necessarily, for the big story. It’s more for the community, the doing stuff with their friends, the collaboration, the sense of belonging.

Story building - Coproducer, a YouGov survey platform project, to make a film and there’s 40k to 50k people co-producing the film. Various different levels of interaction from free-for-all, to voting for one of two things. Decided, at a certain point, they are going to have to employ a professional script writer to tidy it up. Sounds like Swarm of Angels.

Joys of aggregated social interaction. But we are also each individual storytellers. But what about discovering other storytellers? Where the storytellers out there get a chance to be powerful in the way that we are. Kind of thinking of them all in a collective, socialised way.

People putting together their individual story to share with others, and collaborate around a theme, but which is, within that, personal.

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Thursday, February 19th, 2009

BeebCamp: Does UGC add anything?

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

Kevin and I are at BeebCamp today (written yesterday!), a BarCamp gathering at the BBC, out in White City. There are a lot of BBC people here and a few “interesting outsiders”, and a bunch of interesting sessions already on the white boards for the day. The first session that I’m at is being run by Charlie Beckett and is about whether the copious amounts of user generated content (UGC) actually adds anything to existing journalistic content.

First problem wih UGC, is how do you filter it when there’s so much of it? Marvellous for the public to be involved, but that also can be seen as threatening journalism, but having said that it’s marvellous, does it add anything editorially? During the snow, 60k people sent in their pictures, which is nice but why not just stick it on Flickr or YouTube? What made it different to be on the BBC? The nation decided that the BBC was going to be their snow story platform. But what was done with it? Snow isn’t terribly controversial, but what would you do with UGC from Gaza? What systems are in place? Editorially, why does this matter? How does it change things? What are the transaction costs? How does the tech and design enable this to happen, and characterise what you end up getting? Does it add anything?

BBC thinks it ads something, as an organisation has the view since July atacs on London, UGC adds something, almost an industry in its own rights. Moved away from thinking of it as editorial in its own right, but instead see it as supporting. Maybe it’s time took a step back, there’s enough of it, we can just say “comment/content from the audience”, all different applications are useful, but not sure systems in BBC think that way.

Who gets the value? The fact that someone can have their say is valuable to them, regardless of the value to the BBC.

Third party, the larger group of people who don’t contribute, and aren’t the BBC, does it add value?

Demographics, 30 - 45, sneior managers, so quoting UGC is representative, it’s an error, it can alienate peope, beucase they feel that everyone who has their say isn’t “my kind of people’”. Study from Uni of Cardiff, focused on news.

This area moves quickly so is that study now out of date? Input that you get depends on platform, subject.

Which part of the public engages? Anyone actual act upon the issue of which demographic contributes? People engage in trying to get different people to contribute, language services, different parts of the world. Maybe not as joined up as it could be at the BBC.

But everyone in the BBC who runs a social media service thinks about this.

But is universality good?

What are you trying to achieve? Mass participation? Or trying to uncover information about a story? Much focuses on mass participation. Lots of focus on how to we structure, evaluate it? There’s a lot of opportunities missed, there’s a lot of content out there, call the Internet. If you’re covering a specific story, going on blogs you can find amazing content. During Hurrican Katrina, found someone podcasting as they were evacuating, and got them on air. That’s not mass participation, but it’s valuable. Is it mass partipication or are you looking for new news sources? Crowdsourcing.

That’s an important point. I don’t think we understand how to deal with smaller communities that re very high value, relationship between journalist and sources, 20k is unweildy, 30-40 si manageable. What are we using these communities for. UGC used to be called the ‘phone in’. Fallacy on radio, the more calls you gett the better the programme, important not to fall into that trap. How does UGC help you produce something that matters.

turn that question on its head. What does the BBC add to UGC. Lot more freedom for people on the internet than on BBC.co.uk, can only provide a type of UGC experience for uses, which is often limited and frustrated. What are we achieving by inviting people to post?

BBC often loved, treasured, invested in, because people thought that the BBC would “do something”. What can the BBC do to serve other people.

Katrina example, shining a light on someone’s content that they’re making themselves. If you provide a forum where the value is totally equal, how do you give that person something? How do you find that content?

What about the fiction that the BBC produces? How can the characters and stories be given back to the audience to do things with?

How is the BBC supporting other people’s communities? How can the BBC give their own content back to the audience, who arguably paid for it in the first place.

Not just about how many pictures of snow were sent in, but how many were used?

But should the BBC do anything with all these things? BBC pursues this UGC because it wants exclusivity.

Is it not our job to take that vast amount of UGC to filter out the good stuff and give it back? Look at what we would determine to be a good picture, becaues there’s a lot of stuff that should be filtered out.

Problem with UCG is the vloume, varies in quality, so some sort of tech solution to surface the best stuff. LA Times tried to do tag clouds of comment words, never had a way to sufficiently automatic it. Would get 20k comments on a given topic, make keyword cloud that gave people a sense of what was going on.

Two tensions in BBC, one is BBC as publisher, one is BBC as enabler. Publisher says “‘why publish 60k photos of snow”, and the enabler side says “because it’s a learning experience”.

Challenge is, when we take in 60k photos, and only publish 100, lots of people go away feeling disappointed.

Weather is a good example - why couldn’t they use it in the way that BBC Berkshire did with the floods, create a story about it.

Still struck by opportunity to marry pubisher/enabler. If we show what we know, we may change what people send to us. If we’re sick of sorting through 60k photos, opening up that mechanism may affect what people wanted to share. Might get better, by opening up what we know, it will affect what people think is new and interesting for us to see, more eyeballs on the problem, and more interesting solutions.

Burden of verification not there with snow. Other stories where that’s a real issue, can’t forget about.

Publishing it, we make an editorial statement about it. Different to hosting photos.

Need dialogue. If this is a process around which you might create something, has to have dialogue and that material is discussed, it raises the bar because people understand why a picture isn’t used.

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