Tag Archives: twitter

The UK vs. USA – can StreetLife step up to EveryBlock?


EveryBlock.com is the answer to every American nosy neighbour/journalist’s prayers. It keeps them up-to-date with all the news and civic goings-on happening in their city, neighbourhood and block. It covers everything from building permits, restaurant inspections, local blogs, and photo-sharing to local business reviews. Launched in 2008 the site has grown rapidly – last month it brought in around 220,000 unique visitors.

Screen-grab of EveryBlock.com - what's the latest in Manhattan?

But what about all the nosy neighbours/journalists in Britain?

We have OpenlyLocal, JournalLocal and even FixMyStreet, which allow us to access valuable local governmental information or to moan about the rife potholes after the big freeze. But we’re losing out on the sociability of Everyblock.com, dubbed the social network for the neighbourhood. On this site users can update their status, “follow” specific locations and share posts on Facebook or Twitter.

But this might all be about to change now that StreetLife.com has hit our hoods… Like Everyblock, StreetLife is a social network based on local communities. Users can talk to individuals, groups and even local buinesses with the aim of sharing advice, skill sets and resources (Big Society eat your heart out). You have a news-feed, local chat function, private message facility, and incase it all gets to much, you have control of how much information you receive.

A screen-grab of the StreetLife Welcoming

But will it work?

I asked Paul Bradshaw if there was a UK answer to Everyblock, and he responded:

The same sentiment applies to StreetLife.com. The Freedom of Information Act in the UK is far more limited that the US, where there are no restrictions on who may access government information under the FOIA. The only requirement is that the requester must be a member of the public.

This is what social media journalist and hyperlocal blogger Joseph Stashko had to say:

Are we too saturated by social media as it is? Do we need another account to check and maintain? Or will the fact that, like EveryBlock, we can link up and share with Twitter and Facebook enhance our social networking experience?

In Joseph Tartakoff’s recent review of EveryBlock he said: ‘there’s lots of potential for abuse; a search for “conversations” in my neighbourhood brought up only two entries, which were both essentially advertisements’. StreetLife could rapidly become less about ‘community spirit’ and more about promotional plugging.

I looked up my local street on StreetLife and was pleasantly surprised to find lots of interesting posts. I know that Felix, just opposite, has had his bike stolen, where my local optician and pharmacist is, who’s having a loft conversion and who’s selling up. I’m excited by this, it’s nice to feel part of something local and as a journalist it’s  a great source for stories.  I’m not sure I’m ready to abandon StreetLife yet, it’s in it’s early days but it could grow into something interesting…

EMILY ARCHER

Tweeting in the Commons?


The journalist’s pot of UGC gold looks likely to be enlarged after the Commons Procedure Committee decreed that MPs should be allowed to tweet in the Commons chamber. After they were initially banned in January, the committee recommended that smartphones and tablets should be allowed (but not laptops as they take up too much space), provided that they are on silent and used in a way which does not ‘impair decorum’. The Commons will vote on the measure within the next two months.

Objection!

The move hasn’t been without controversy. James Gray, Tory MP for North Wiltshire, argued that excessive use of electronic devices would lead to a ‘worrying change of atmosphere’ in the chamber, in which members weren’t properly concentrating on the debates. But the potential effects for MPs and journalists (who can tweet from the public gallery) could run far deeper than that.

Where does it go from here?

According to the report, 225 MPs now use Twitter. One of the committee’s main supporting arguments is that it will bring parliament a whole new audience, in the form of hundreds of thousands of MPs’ Twitter followers. Moreover, it seems likely that many more MPs will feel compelled to begin tweeting; if so many are communicating with their followers/constituents directly, those passing up the opportunity will appear increasingly distant.

Rich Pickings

This means that a huge new source of UGC material becomes available – MPs may tweet their reaction to others’ comments, and conversely may respond to journalists’ tweets questioning their behaviour. Useful too will be the large amount of constituent-MP tweeted discussions during an actual debate which might have a significant influence on the MP’s vocal comments and eventual voting.

Potential Pitfalls

An example of Twitter hosting co-debates was seen in the Australian parliament, where MPs have always been unrestricted. Back in 2009, a row flared up between the Speaker and MP Peter Dutton, in which the latter tweeted criticisms about the Speaker’s apparent favouring of the opposite party. (The Speaker warned that tweets were not covered by parliamentary privilege).

Shifting the Debate

This shows that Twitter has the power to lift a debate from the chamber and into cyberspace, allowing anyone – MPs, lobbyists, journalists – to join in.  Again it is another example of the traditional top-down media role being undermined. Should the committee recommendations be adopted, parliamentary reporters will have to pay as much attention to the cyber debate as to the Commons floor itself. This raises tricky issues for a Speaker trying to adjudicate without looking at his/her own device. But as a whole new world of co-debate, involving anyone and everyone, is invited into the chamber, there are rich UGC pickings indeed. Truly democratic, and virtually uncontrollable, no journalist worth their salt will be able to ignore this new dynamic.

CARON BELL

your2pence – UGC News Platform – Red Nose Day


On Friday 21st of March Brits donned their Red Noses and raised a record-breaking £74 million for charity. your2pence asked the Twitterati how they were being “funny for money”.

Eventually we got this reply from Shaun Lee Smith

@shaunleesmith is dressed in a morphsuit whilst doing a live-tweet session! (10p a tweet, at the rate of 40 tweets an hour)

The response on Twitter improved once we began refining and localising our request. When we hashtagged #Berkshire we received this photo of two school girls from Maidenhead.

@vik1toria send us this photo of Josephine and Jocelyn. They fundraised for Comic Relief by wearing their pyjamas and making/selling their own red noses at First Platt Primary in Maidenhead

But the real response came from Facebook. Once I had updated my status with our request I received numerous messages about everything from cake sales to sponsored beard-growing competitions in aid of Comic Relief. I was even sent photos:

Ollie Lee, Will Moore-Kelly, Bobby Archer, Matt Mills and Luke McNickle Zulu style invasion on a lesson at Reading Grammar School raised £10 for Comic Relief

Molly Seymour's choice of black cab today...

Why is it that our request for User Generated Content was more successful on Facebook than Twitter? Is it because the request came from myself, rather than a little-know (but utterly fantastic) news blog, and went out to a small network of friends and associations? The Twitterati couldn’t be more obliging with their Twitpics and Vimeo Vids when it comes to a shout-out from Jon Snow, The Guardian or even their own locally established news generator. Despite the openness and easy accessibility of the net, it seems as though people want to know and trust media outlets before they are willing to contribute to them.

EMILY ARCHER

your2pence – UGC news platform – Japan


Last week your2pence set itself a challenge – to get people across the web to contribute to our website as a UGC news platform.

In the wake of the news that Japan had been shaken by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear explosion, we solicited people on Twitter to share their pictures/stories with us, using all the relevant trending hashtags:

Having received no response, we then tried tweeting – in what we hope was accurate/legible – Japanese…

Eventually we received a response from @7e313 in a series of tweets:

It is interesting to discover that there are areas of the devastation in Japan not covered by the media, and that the press is in some way restricted. However, we tried to ask this contributor further information and didn’t get a reply. With this information we’d opened up a can of worms in terms of unanswered questions.

Meanwhile we’d also got in touch with Vic.Bai who had posted photos of his experience of the earthquake on Flickr. He’s an exchange student studying in Fukushima Japan. After the earthquake he was stuck in Fukushima, unable to escape:

People with no home

People with no home sleep in the supermarket

The food for us

The food for us

DSC_0626

Finally, the Chinese Embassy in Niigata, Japan, sent us 6 big buses. On that bus I wrote “Help” in Japanese on the window.

Encouraging people to share their experiences with us in the midst of this crisis has proven difficult on several accounts – there is a language barrier (most of the Twitpics have been posted in Japanese), many parts of Japan are currently experiencing limited internet/phone coverage, and the fact that this is currently the leading international story means we are a needle-in-a-haystack in the vast amount of material being published by the established news platforms.

We decided to try our luck with a news story a little closer to home…

EMILY ARCHER

Happy 5th Birthday Twitter!


We came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.” – Founder Jack Dorsey

Conception

It’s five years ago this weekend that developers at the Odeo podcasting company in San Francisco began work on their new project: an SMS service allowing individuals to communicate with a small group. On 21 March 2006  Jack Dorsey published the first ever Twitter message:

“just setting up my twttr”

The Early Years

Originally a service for Odeo employees, Twitter went public on 15 July, 2006. But its lucky break would have to wait another year – for the South by Southwest (SXSW)  film, music and interactive festival in Austin, Texas, held in March 2007. During the event, delegates’ tweets were streamed live on prominent plasma screens by Twitter employees, and the service quickly became flavour of the conference, with overall daily tweets increasing from 20,000 to 60,000. By February 2010, that number was 50 million.

Twitter Today

Its breezy name belies a medium that’s shown huge social and political strength. Although the majority of messages posted are indeed banal chit-chat, some of the traffic has had a big impact. The most obvious example is the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, in which Twitter was deployed by protestors to rally and communicate with each other on a mass scale, and to subvert the authorities’ crackdowns  by enabling protestors to share information directly with journalists.

Twitter at five has certainly remained true to its roots: unlike Facebook it remains resolutely a fountain of ‘short bursts of information’. But many are far from inconsequential.

CARON BELL

Top of the UGC Pops


Everyone loves a good count down so here are the top 15 most popular 2.0 websites (that’s user generated to you and me). Compiled by eBizMBA (The eBusiness Knowledgebase) in March 2011 it comes complete with their estimated unique monthly visitors. And some of these are seriously good websites. You have been warned. Enjoy!

15 | Wikia – 21,1000,000

At number 15, Wikia, “written by community members that are passionate about subjects ranging from video games, TV shows and movies to food, fashion, and environmental sustainability.”

14 | deviantART – 21,500,000

Commonly abreviated to DA, Deviant Art is a sharing site where people can post and comment on art. As of August 2010 the site has over 14.5 million members, and over 100 million submissions, receiving around 140,000 submissions per day. In addition, deviantArt users submit over 1.4 million “favorites” and 1.5 million comments daily. In 2009 DevianART even went on a world tour.

13 | HubPages – 24,500,000

HubPages is a website designed around sharing advertising revenue for user-generated articles and other content on specific subjects. Users (known as Hubbers) submit magazine-style articles posted as individual webpages (referred to as Hubs). Users retain all intellectual property rights to their Hubs and can delete them at any time. In May 2010, HubPages was recognized as one of the “2010 Hottest Silicon Valley Companies” by Lead411.

12 | TypePad – 26,000,000

Typepad is a blogging service launched in 2003. TypePad is currently used by many large organizations and media companies to host their weblog, including ABC, MSNBC, CBC, BBC and Sky News.

11 | digg 27,500,000

Digg is a social news website set up in 2004. It lets people vote for stories, literally ranking them and allowing the stories to go up or down (hence term Digging) on a scale of popularity.

At the “Bigg Digg Shindigg” in 2010, which is part of the South by Southwest Interactive Conference – see the last blogpost – Jay Adleson, the CEO of the company, talked about the need to constantly change and update the way the website is run. Despite this, it’s said Digg has run in to difficulties after the latest version Digg v4 was launched in 2011. The site was uncontactable for weeks after the launch, so much so that disgruntled Digg users declared August 30, 2010 as the ‘quit Digg day’. Despite this it still makes the top fifteen at number 11.

10 | eHow 43,000,000

Ehow is like a dictionary of skills. Touch a button and instantly you know how to change a doorknob, teach good oral hygiene to your kids (it’s American of course), how to know if someone is lying, how to make a home first aid kit and the list goes on. The site has more than 1 million articles and 170,000 how-to videos. Ehow has a number of freelancers who write the articles, ehow members can network by building a profile, creating a network, comment on articles and interact on the online forums. It’s worth 1.8 billion.

9 | Blogger – 70,000,000

A blog publishing service that allows private or multi-user blogs withtime-stamped entries.

It was one of the earliest dedicated blogger publishing tools, launched in 2003, and dedicated with helping to expand blogging. Started by Pyra Labs, it was bought by google in 2003 which modernised the format. Fact: blogger has been banned in the following countries: Fiji, China, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Myanmar, Cuba, Turkey and Kazakstan.

8 | Photobucket 70,500,000

Photobucket is an image hosting, video hosting, slideshow creation and photoshowing website. It allows people to share and hold their own private photo albums, but also lets them share them publicly if they wish.

7 | flickr 75,000,000

Another image and video publishing site and online community now owned by yahoo! It is also used by bloggers who use the service is widely used by bloggers to host images that they embed in blogs and social media. In september 2010 it was said that 5 billion images were being hosted by flickr. Flickr offers two types of accounts: Free and Pro. Free account users are allowed to upload 300 MB of images a month and 2 videos. Pro accounts allow users to upload an unlimited number of images and videos every month and receive unlimited bandwidth and storage.

Flickr asks photo submitters to organize images using tags (a form of metadata), which enable searchers to find images related to particular topics, such as place names or subject matter. Flickr was also an early website to implement tag clouds, which provide access to images tagged with the most popular keywords.

Another little fact…In May 2009, White House official photographer Pete Souza began using Flickr as a conduit for releasing White House photos.

In October 2010 it was reported that Flickr, along with Facebook and other social networking sites, is being monitored by the US Department of Homeland Security.

6 | IMDB 80,000,000

Internet Movie Database does exactly what it says on the tin. It keeps information about shows, movies, actors, production crews. Started up in 1990 IMDb originated from a list started as a hobby by film enthusiast Col Needham in early 1989. One of the most used features of the Internet Movie Database is the message boards that coincide with every title (excepting, as of 2010, TV episodes) and name entry, along with over 140 main boards.

5 | WordPress – 88,000,000

Our blog is run by wordpress as are 13% of over 1,000,000 biggest websites. Another great fact right? The brilliant thing about wordpress is how easy it is to use, it’s quick to get up and running and simple to navigate. And this is important when more people are blogging then ever before. Between the 5 Your2pencers we have more than 9 blogs up and running.

As of February 2011, version 3.0 had been downloaded over 32.5 million times.

4 | twitter – 89,800,000

A microblogging site, the most you can say in one go or ‘tweet’ is 140 characters -the same as a text message. Set up in 2006, it’s estimated Twitter has 190 million users, generating 65 million tweets a day and handling over 800,000 search queries per day. Woah there, I know, a lot to handle.

In Feb 2011, it was worth around $3.7 billion.

People on twitter include news agencies, public figures and governments , celebrities…who could forget the Liz Hurley/ Shane Warne tweet flirts… and of course journalism students.

Follow the people behind Your2pence at @HarrietBird @thedesertfox @sjhbradley @caronbell @bellrebeccabell @ltowersoflondon

3 | craigslist – 90,000,000

Known by me mainly for flat hunting purposes Craigslist is a sort of centralised network of communities, it allows people to post adverts for jobs, flats, gigs, services and forums.

Craig Newmark began the service in 1995 after moving to San Francisco and feeling a little out of the loop. He observed people helping one another in friendly, social and trusting communal ways on the Internet via theWELL, MindVox and Usenet and so set up his own.

A little fact for you: On June 16, 2009, “Weird Al” Yankovic released a song entitled “Craigslist” which is a parody of the website, done in the style of The Doors.

2 | Wikipedia – 250,000,000

Calling itself a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project, Wikipedia is the largest and most popular reference work on the internet. Launched in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, Wikipedia has 18 million articles (over 3.5 million in english) and can be edited by anyone who has access to the site.

Good fact wikipedia comes from the Haiwan word for quick (wiki) added with pedia from encylopedia. Clever hey?

And at number one, the Top of the User Generated Pops goes to…

1 | YouTube – 400,000,000

The video sharing site has only been around since 2005 but now boasts 400 million hits a month. Users can upload, share, and view videos.

It’s made cult heroes out of the ordinary every day person – who can forget david after dentist, light sabre boy and charlie bit my fingure – the most viewed user generated video on you tube. And its worth a fair bit – bought by google in November 2006 for $1.6bn. Wow.

So there we go the big 15. I’d really urge you to take a look and discover how to use some of these sites. I’m going to go and ehow a lot of stuff now. Many thanks to Wikipedia for being my excellent reference library.

The Rise of UGC – a Timeline


Check out a timeline I’ve built on Dipity charting the growth of UCG and associated technologies since the mid 1990’s. It all happened so quickly! (And in the true spirit of UGC, if I’ve missed out any massive milestones, let me know!)

CARON BELL