A liveblog from Thinking Digital 2010
This week, Silicon Valley came to Oxford and very odd and interesting it was too.
A highlight for me was a ‘masterclass’ by Biz Stone, one of the Founders of Twitter.
In a panel session in the evening Biz also said that “Twitter is an information network, not a social network” which I tweeted with a ‘do you agree’ question that resulted in a big discussion on Twitter. A number of other people also noticed that remark (which from a quick scan of Google has been made before by Evan Williams (@ev) who is also a founder of Twitter). I’ve tried to track the conversation (not easy) and reproduce it below. Have a quick scan and see what you think and whether you agree with Biz.
A very interesting remark was that of Lloyd Davis – founder of the Tuttle Club; “I don’t think @biz is any authority on what twitter is.”
I liveblogged his masterclass here:
This year Twitter made its impact felt on the Party Conference circuit. I went to NESTA Fringe meetings in Brighton last week and in Manchester this week. I came up with the idea of seeing whether the Tweetstreams might tell us something about the relative states of those two parties. The results are, I think, intriguing.
#cpc09 beats #lab09 hands down
I’ve looked at the main hashtags being used at both the Labour and Conservative Party conferences over a comparable period in each case (beginning on Sunday and ending on Thursday). The total volume of Tweets with the #lab09 tag was 10,379 compared with 12,733 with the cpc09 tag. The numbers are derived from time series data kindly provided by What The Hashtag?! and I acknowledge the help of Mark Bockenstedt for his advice in understanding how to use the API.
Naturally, all I’m doing is looking at Tweets tagged with those particular hastags – I don’t know at this stage what the contents or stance of the Tweets might be; whether positive or negative.
Time series data . . . hmmmm
We can also examine the flow of Tweets over time (and looking at the structure of flow is always instructive).
This picture shows the daily volume of Tweets with the #lab09 tag, beginning on the Sunday (Day 1) and running until Thursday (Day 5). When I saw this picture, I wasn’t particularly surprised – it shows a build-up of activity each day with a ‘peak’ on Tuesday; the day when Gordon Brown did his ‘big speech’ to conference. Looks like activity diminished somewhat on Wednesday and Thursday – and indeed, recalling the news coverage at the time there was talk of the conference ‘going a bit flat’.
Looking at the daily volume of Tweets tagged #cpc09 is a bit more surprising. Day 2 (Monday) was the day Boris Johnson ‘did his thing’ and William Hague gave a keynote. Day 3 was George Osbourne’s Gloomy Day. Day 5 (yesterday) was David Cameron’s ‘big speech’.
Now examine the two charts together
Look at the volumes; only once did the #lab09 tag reach over 3,000 per day; and that was when Gordon Brown spoke. And the daily volumes were consistently larger for #cpc09. Activity levels higher across the piece. And it seems to me, by observation, there seems to be more ‘momentum’ in the #cpc09 hashtag. Certainly, I noted (and Audioboo’d about) the generally less cheerful and relatively more cheerful feels of the Labour conference people I observed versus the Conservative conference people. Note I was just in each city (actually on the Tuesday) and at Fringe events outside the ‘security zone’.
It’s just an observation – and you may have some thoughts
What does it mean? I should add that I’ve looked at hashtag activity extending both sides of the Labour conference and for the run up to the Conservative one. There are no glaringly obvious patterns and, in any event I have produced comparable stats on the same chart scales for each conference.
I’m still thinking about what, if anything, this analysis tells us. It could be that the volume of #cpc09 tweets reflects relatively more negative traffic (ie Labour supporters using the hashtag to criticise the Tory conference) than is in the #lab09 Tweetstream. It could just be that the disquiet of the Labour supporters is reflected in their lower use of the #lab09 hashtag – staying quiet rather than Tweeting negative thoughts. Please feel free to comment if you have further thoughts.
Why no #ldc09?
Well, I can’t get back in time as far as the Liberal Democrat conference – Twittersearch says “No older Tweets available” and they’re not there on WTHashtag?! either. Which brings me to a further thought – Tweets are ephemera. they vanish into the ether after about 10 days or so as I understand it. However their nature Which, will, I think, become an issue if Twitter starts to have an impact on the political process . . .
Because it should have been #ldconf
Thanks to Tory Bear for pointing out my error, and also, see his comment below. My reading (such as it is) of the Tweetstream from #cpc09 does tally with his view.
So here we have the Tweets from the Liberal Democrat conference alongside the Labour and Tory ones (it’s not quite midnight oil burning yet . . ).
The choice of hashtag is a bit odd, I think – not including the year does not follow ‘best emerging practice’ such as it is. I wonder, to what extent, the choice of this hashtag was really planned?
Now for the timeseries data, shown on the same scale as #lab09 and cpc09 above. At this scale, the detail is not apparent – and when I look at the numbers, the daily volumes vary from about 700 Tweets per day (Shall I define a new unit – Tpd?) to 900 Tpd. So the idea tha the Lib Dems are somehow more sociable and chatty does not seem to be borne out by the evidence.
Endnote: You can find my other material on the conference fringe events on the Amplified09 website:
I made a few notes in realtime of the #media140 gathering on 8 October. Ande says he brought together the UK press and media in May to talk about the impact of Twitter on the media and to raise money for Mencap. He seems to have hit on a big theme and is surprised by how it’s taken off.
“It’s grown organically and it’s bigger than I ever thought it would be”
“We’ve got a globe that rotates and this thing drops in![cheers]”
Looking at about 10,000 uniques in 37 days. Ande is going through the Media140 team and talking about the way he’s working with the team and how the blog is working.
Ande says we want to bring together people from across different industries to look at the impact of the social web especially realtime media – and Twitter is very important.
Ande is talking about how rapidly the idea has developed and it’s spread internationally – to Bangalore and Sidney; not what he expected he started it up in May.
Mark Rock from Audioboo gets a mention. Stuart from Sun – a generally good egg (www.sun.com/startups).
Audioboo – Mark Rock
Sees Audioboo as a re-invention of radio news designed for a world enabled by Twitter. It’s about trust. Audioboo is a tool to promote trust and authenticity.
“We’re not going to allow editing – it’s not about that”
Creative Licence – how the creative industries are reshaping the economy
I’m Liveblogging this fringe event, one of a series of meetings being hosted in the Fringe of all the party conferences. Please refresh the page to see the updates.
12:34 The Creative Industries are a ‘key’ sector at the heart of the recovery.
12:36 Peter Bazalgette
Opens with remarks about RAI and Berlusconi. Involving the BBC in too much politics is a mistake. Parties all have a policy on the BBC. PB Supports Bradshaw on top-slicing of the BBC. But top-slicing needs to go into quality, not tired regional news.
“There is no digital dividend” – most media companies don’t see what theor business model is anymore. This is a big problem.
“We need as much ‘nudge’ as ‘fudge'” on the management of digital rights.
12:40 Needs better balance between ‘pay’ and ‘free’. ITV is commercially challenged. Product placement is marginal but does improve the position for advertisers. Medium term prospects for TV uncertain. Bur longer term it will work.
Professional content will always be attractive to advertisers – this won’t change. Training is a major issue, he says and it’s getting worse.
12:43 Richard Wilson – TIGA
Games sector makes an important contribution to the economy and is very export focused. Important role to play.
In the games sector qualifications are higher (80% at degree level) and average salaries are higher than other sectors at £30k.
Sector is growing globally but contracting in the UK. Poor supply of staff is the issue. Need incentives.
12:50 Miranda Sawyer
Public Money is often a hindrance to progress. But there is a role for public investment in the arts. We tend to under value our capabilities in this. Example of Liverpool as the Capital of Culture – drove investment in the city. Public money is needed in education and in big projects. Public money can be used to attract private investment and stimulate the economy. But it’s also about stimulating well-being.
12:53 Ben Bradshaw
The assumption is that the creative industries are re-shaping the economy. He thinks this is true. Every fringe event at this conference on creative industries has been ‘packed out’. Hears the pleas for support from people like Richard Wilson.
12:56 Creative industries are ‘not a luxury’, they are central to the economy and to our heritage. Museums very important also.
But how do we defend our creative value in a global economy? How can we make sure artists get compensated for – £180m a year ‘lost’ through illegal file-sharing. Digital Britain bill will reflect the unity of the musicians who made announcements last week. It’s an important issue. Bill will be brought forward in this Parliament.
Universal broadband access is an important aspect of the bill – this is something that the market will not provide – he says 40% of the country can’t get it. Needs to go further than 2 MBbps – need universal NGA through fixed-line levy. We need to understand what support there may be for local news – re-use of digital switchover money – BBC won’t get it anyway.
13:02 Training opportunities are key to the Government’s approach to Digital Britain – society wins and so do individuals who will be trained.
Culture is not a ‘luxury add-on’ – they contribute to the economy £1 spent of culture comes back as £5 in economic contribution
Now moving over to Q&A
Colin Tweedie – Governor of University of the Creative Arts. Vitality of the creative universities – they are worried by the potential cuts.
Q re product development and merging the Film Council and Games Council.
Q from Gary Townsend from Skillset. Future jobs in creative industries; need to think of supply of new talent but what about CPD for the existing workforce?
Sawyer says that the more ‘modern’ universities will demonstrate their value over time. A law degree from Oxford is one thing but it’s a bit of a stereotype – so dpn’t worry. Quality will out.
Bradshaw says that Universities will continue to be funded and they are capable of identifying the courses needed. New skills will come through – media studies not as ‘airy fairy’ as they used to be.
13:12 PB says training of ‘high-level’ graduates (not apprentices). HEFCE’s in meltdown and meanwhile Skillset is being cut.
Q re ‘cutting off’ illegal file-sharing from a woman from Ofcom – hierarchy of sanctions
Q from a writer and producer (Carol Haymann?) re rights deals on digital broadcasts
13:15 Bradshaw – hierarchy of sanctions will come into force needs to be funded by rights holders. PB says “it will never work unless we do a ‘nudge’ at the same time”.
Bradshaw says it’s an education job as well. Wilson says pirated games are running at 3 pirate copies per 1 gane sold in some cases.
Broadcasters need to be held accountable says Carol Haymann (radio producer and writer). We generate little money from repeats on BBC7 for example.
13:20 Sophie Jones from Channel 4. About C4’s role – Digital Britain is ‘bang-on’ about the importance of C4 public ownership to preserve support of new digital companies.
Nick Hull from 118118 – we’ve spent years trying to offer services at a reasonable price over mobile and have failed. How can creative producers do that?
Wilson asked to comment on 118118 question. A lot of games businesses would like to ‘self-publish’; broadly optimistic about business models for content suppliers.
PB mentions Moor’s Law. But there’s “Less’ Law” – which is that as content proliferates lower revenues result.
Sawyer says ‘free model’ will kill newspapers.
Bradshaw sums up – the market cannot guarantee all – BBC is a good thing but it needs to be more sensitive and recognise its effect on the whole media landscape. BBC governance structure doesn’t work. Much private sector activity benefits from the economies of scale of the BBC. But we need to re-assert the legitimacy of the BBC ‘with every generation’.
An exploration of how tracking technologies are enabling new ways of organising, accessing and displaying information on the web.
Presentations here: CLICK
Graham Kidde of Kodak (right) demonstrates a location- and time-aware spiral browser. Newer images are presented at the front of the screen; older ones further back. Spirals can be ‘rotated’ and examined from different angles. Photos can be ‘tagged’ or grouped or organised according to the people or places they depict. Cool! Very cool!