Tag Archives: ukpolitics

Drawing Conclusions at #INCAftth

Moving into the final plenary – here’s the liveblog

FTTH Council / INCA UK Workshop

As part of the first FTTH Council Europe Council conference in the UK, FTTH Council and INCA – the Independent Networks Cooperative Association are collaborating on this workshop on the UK scene.

Here’s a quick audioboo overview of the Opening Plenary session:

Some views from Malcom Corbett of INCA:

And here’s the liveblog made during the session:

TurningPoint Newcastle

#Occupy – What do they want?

A “First Wednesday” Event at the Frontline Club, London.

To watch in a pop-up window - Click Here

Review of the meeting made immediately it finished:

Jeremy Hunt MP – Media and Technology

I was invited to hear his first keynote on Media and Technology – and here is the liveblog of the event.

At the bottom of this post you can see the liveblog I made at the time; while Jeremy Hunt was speaking. Using Scribblelive, I also added in content from those making comments on Twitter. I streamed live from the event using Ustream Broadcaster on the iPhone but just some of the questions. There’s no point trying to stream the speech – Ministers rarely depart from their prepared texts and in any event the transcript is usually available immediately. Questions are different however.

I’m embedding the stream archive here. The person in shot on the immediate left is Mark Thompson DG of the BBC – check out the body language.

Transformational Digital Infrastructure (“TDI”)

Last week, Shaun Fensom and I went to Birmingham for CBN to talk to Digital Birmingham about NGA strategy and developments in the wider City Region. We realised during a sequence of discussions with regeneration specialists and others that there’s been ‘language capture’ going on. The telecoms industry, in it’s usual way, has used the ‘naming of things’ to confuse the picture. So ‘First Generation Broadband’ aka ADSL was never really ‘broad’, and Next Generation Access is undefined, largely. But we’ve got ‘Superfast Broadband’ now; well, some of us have.  So that’s all right then.

There’s an overfocus on speed. And a lack of visibility of connection quality, the need for symmetry, levels of contention, latency and jitter. In the past, in Regeneration and Planning ‘connectivity’ meant roads, airports and rail. The good news is that there is increasing realisation on a regional and City-regional basis that Digital Connectivity is increasingly important and needs to be planned in; and not left to the industry to not-deliver it.

So we need a new term. and Shaun and I agreed we would blog about it. So here it is. We need “Transformational Digital Infrastructure” – it’s not just about the technology. And it’s not some false polarisation of the “Pipes and/or Poetry” mafia.

It’s a much richer picture of the human and technical networks needed to bring about Digital Britain.

Tweeting the politics – party conferences 2009

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

totvolI’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).

lab09This 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’.

cpc09Looking 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.

3parties

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?

ldconf1Now 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:

Amplifying Nesta at the Labour Party Conference

Amplifying NESTA at the Conservative Party Conference – Getting Creative

Creative industries and recovery – the Red Banners look dull

Immediately after the Nesta event, I made an Audioboo. Here it is. It’s an account of a well-chaired, well paced meeting. But ‘more of the same’ really from the panel. A bit of a worry when the Government sees the creative industries as a way out of the current economic difficulties and as a source of new growth.

Listen!

Sometimes it needs stating . . .

There was a bit of noise on Twitter both during media140 and after it on the extent of ‘obvious stating’ going on at the event.  Much of this comment was of a critical nature – ‘they don’t get it'; referring to the somewhat Twitter-sceptical journalists in the room.  The bigger players there (Sky and the BBC) indulged in a bit of un-necessary and rather tedious sparring.  Both of them, I suppose, feeling secure in their knowledge that their respective ‘market’ power and ‘broadcast’ mode will leave them largely unchanged by the openess and pervasiveness of social media generally and Twitter in particular. Hmmm.

Following media140, I’ve been reading blogs and the press coverage – reportage mostly; who said what and with little commentary or analysis about what it all means.  Perhaps it’s too scary for the Potential Legacy Media (currently known as MSM) to think about?  And sometimes that means the obvious needs a bit of stating.

Wordle based on media140 liveblog

As part of the ‘post match’ coverage there was an interesting if largely self-referential segment on pods and blogs on R5Live with journalists and a thoughtful comment from Mark Jones of Reuters who also provided some excellent comment and analysis on his Reuters blog.

Realtime coverage

I used Audioboo and Scribblelive at the event.  I also generated the wordle above based on my liveblog.  You can find the liveblog here and ‘hat tips’ to contributors here.

Those of you who liveblog events will know the level of concentration it needs.  Using Scribblelive actually increases the level of complexity as you try to bring in other people’s tweets, try to avoid too much duplication (most sole tweeters at events do so in realtime and there’s often duplication in the aggregated stream).  Trying to join in, provide some realtime feedback and combine inputs is ‘not for the faint-hearted’ as the Scribblelive people say!

In the next sections, I provide some thoughts on media140 after reflecting on the issues, the coverage and my own liveblog and Audioboos made at the time; I name the presenters in the Audioboos and you can also refer to the Agenda.

The 140 Character story

This panel kept bouncing off the argument – they had a silly discussion about whether Twitter was journalism or not.  And we kind of forgot the ‘realtime news’ tagline of the entire event.  What was missing for me was:

  • What the aggregation of information carried across Twitter enables (the analogy from Bill Thompson of the Twitter  ‘seismograph’ is insightful);
  • The speed at which news can propagate through memes and hashtags and the level of self-organisation enabled by this form of cooperative production (Retweets, comments, links to blog posts, realtime and near realtime video streams and websites); and,
  • The need to filter true signals from the sheer noise and volume of the information available.

Sources, editorial control and workflow

The panel did discuss the risks of ‘opening up’ the news process and the potential impacts on the way news is made and perceived.  I wonder what happens to the ‘news cycle’ in a General Election when many of us have access to realtime video production on our mobile phones or can report events directly as they happen over Twitter?  We’ll find out soon!

The panel focused on the risks.   An example of the risks seems to have been happening while the event was on, but I’m not sure anyone realised it.

twitterspam Skynews.com used Coveritlive to add a Tweetstream to their site.  There seems to have been no filtering so there was lots of spam.  And seemingly little editorial control over the Tweets.  Just what risks Sky may have been running can be imagined; the links to ‘goldencasinoflash’ could have been links to anything.  Anything at all….

untibpc-spamtMy Tweets were being carried live by Skynews also – even though I was effectively doing competing realtime coverage using a rival platform to Sky.  I don’t know to what extent there was active editorial control of the Tweetstream – the amount of spam they let through might suggest very little?

Frontline Journalism

One of the few times in the event when the room went really quiet and people listened really hard was when Guy Degen, freelance journalist and a member of the Frontline Club, played some audio and video footage from Tblisi.  He was sent there on his own for Deutsche Welle; he had no gear and no time to get any, no crew and used a mobile phone to cover a riot. Frontline indeed.

Kevin Anderson was insightful on the impact of social media on reporting on a roadtrip style assignment in the USA.

Local and human

Local news = newspapers? #fail

Joanne Jacobs ably chaired the final panel session and brought the whole event back pretty much on time so kudos to her.  It was an interesting and stimulating panel – and you can pick up some of the flavour of the discussion from pp 6-8 of the liveblog.

Given what’s happening in local and regional news, the discussion after the short presentations seemed to spiral into being about newspapers.  But surely local news is going to be much more than papers – but I can see there’s a painful transition to go through for a lot of people.  Some of the more ‘gung ho’ social mediarati might like to think about that.

No-one mentioned the ‘backchannel’

The backchannel (what happens in the social media space during an event or presentation) didn’t get a mention.

Here’s an example from media140:

Use the backchannel!
Use the backchannel!

I first came across the backchannel in tech conferences in the USA about 5 years ago – using chat room software over local wireless networks and, in some instances allowing external participants ‘listening-in’ to audio streams to interact with the chat.  All these messages were projected on a screen behind the speaker so it was generally impossible both to present to the audience and watch the backchannel at the same time.  The backchannel often had more stimulating and interesting stuff on it than was happening on the panel.  And dangerous sometimes for both speaker and audience.  I remember taking my PowerBook onto the stage and using it in a panel session both to contribute to the backchannel and comment on what other panelists were saying.  Apparently, this was unusual at the time.  The audience reaction was interesting!

So it seems to me that the Potential Legacy Media faces the same risks as a pompous or tedious speaker in perpetual broadcast mode with an active backchannel.  Like a politician giving the answer to a question the interviewer didn’t ask, the risks of audience alienation are high.  And when the real backchannel turns against you, as it has for our MPs recently, life can get very unpleasant.

Being Human and Connecting

Jeff Pulver over a quite good Skype video link finished off on an optimistic note.  We can move from a position where the one-way broadcast mode can become much more interactive.  It has to be more than ‘promotion'; it must be much more about connection.  Above all, it’s about being human and taking that humanity with us into social media spaces and connecting.