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I’ve been talking about creating a Social Media Surgery in Southampton for over a year now.  I am so delighted that we are running our first session tomorrow at the Shooting Star pub.

We nearly made it last year, but sadly Aris (one of our students) graduated and left the area before we could get going.  But the internet is a marvellous thing. Gavin Barker found details about the surgeries on the Our Society ning created by John Popham.  John pointed him to Nick Booth at podnosh, and whilst putting two and two together suggested he talk to me too.  Why?  I’ve never been to a surgery. I have no direct experience of how they work. What I have done is been surrounded by the energy, enthusiasm and outputs since they began.  I lived in Brum when they started and have spent hours discussing them with Nick.  I think it is such a powerful idea.  That folk who believe in social activism can volunteer to help other volunteers – and others from community organisations.

So we meet tomorrow.  My huge thanks go to a few people, mostly to Gavin who has actually made this happen, to his contact Ben who has helped out with the venue, the venue, and then of course to the surgeons:

Standards nerves around rsvp’s means we have no idea if anyone will actually want any help.  I have absolutely no doubt that the surgeons will be well able to amuse themselves sharing ideas, wowing each other with their work and getting to know other great people.  Working on the strong assumption that people will turn up for help, Gavin has put together a useful crib sheets to give surgeons some ideas of the sort of solutions to offer surgeons.  I’ve popped it into a post on this site here.

So, besides packing my dongles – you can never be too careful with wifi, remembering the camera, and charging up my laptop, I’m good to go.  Wish us luck, and check back soon for a review of how it went.


These are a few notes for Social Media Surgeons which may be helpful. Feel free to add or amend these before or after our first session on Saturday. Given that this is our first session, it is probably best to keep our expectations low in terms of numbers attending. Nick Booth from Podnosh, who runs these sessions nationally, suggests we have no expectations at all! If one person turns up that’s fine. In his experience these things are slow to take off but gradually gather a head of steam as word spreads and people return for a second, then a third session. Some of those who return will eventually become ‘surgeons’ in turn and start to share what they have learned.

The people we want to help are people who are already volunteering in their community in some way. They could be a member of a resident association or community centre. They could also be from a local charity and are curious to know how these tools can benefit their work. The idea is to empower those who do ‘good work’ and strengthen community activism in all its forms. Over time we may come across people who don’t fit this category- corporate types looking for free advice. I suggest we don’t say No to anyone, but we can at least have a conversation with them about why we are doing this and stress that we are all volunteers – some of that may rub off and encourage them to do likewise. The subjects covered could be anything – and here I will shamelessly plug certain key messages that go with my job and ensure the backing of my team for this initiative. In the end however, go where the energy is: the sudden pick up of interest as you talk through different social media tools and their application. Maybe you can get the ‘patient’ to talk a little bit about what they do in order to get an idea of what might be most useful to them. The range of social media tools you should try and cover include:

Tool Notes/ examples
Facebook the Facebook page for City Council Communities Team (the people who are contacting different community groups about Social Media Surgeries)
Twitter The Communities team are on Twitter, follow us on @southamptonscom
Southampton Placebook Map of community groups
Southampton City Council Your Community pages The Communities team will be adding online resources to these web pages over the summer ie templates, how to guides, all info to help community groups get started or do more we also have a regularly updating news feed about local communities and stories of how people can get more involved in their community
Southampton City Council Grants for community groups pages The Communities team have a set of pages which help community group find and apply for funding
YouTube Neighbourhood  action videos
My A range of tools, some more or less coming under the heading of social media – see especially the FixMyStreet Start your own blog. Some interesting wordpress sites includeThe Elephant Amenity Network,
Flickr Photo sharing. example of a now global photography project

I very much enjoyed my first presentation to the Birmingham Social Media World today.  Held as part of the Fazeley Digital Festival, I was asked to present as a relative novice.  IMG_0295I have to say I can happily present on many topics to a large audience for as long as you like, but this was daunting.  No need, they are lovely people.

Here is some of what I went on about on my first slide share, including successfully embedding it – not quite what I expected, but there it is.:


Oh, no, how exciting, this is what I expected.  Well you live and learn…

On reflection a few things struck me:

drawnalism_headerThe idea of live animation/cartoon annotation of the conversations was fantastic.  It didn’t work as well as it could – but we were all relative novices on that point.  Drawnalism were great and a few pens in the hands of the audience would sort that for next time…

Children are way ahead of the game on this one and will take this somewhere mind-blowing in the next 10 years.  For that reason alone they are a really important part of these conversations.  (Oh and I was very proud of my dort, live blogging on club penguin – I wonder how many buddies she lost during the event!)

It would be great to see Birmingham use these kind of informal, free flowing sessions for something other than social media topics.  I am confident that all of the events I’ve been to have found great digital ways of sharing and recording ideas.  I am quite sure we are all passionate about  other topics we could put them to good use for?

Of course, I know the standard response – good idea, off you go then and we’ll be there.  That is certainly true and ordinarily I would.  But as I accepted a new job in Southampton the same day as I launched by “relative novice” speaking circuit, I’m afraid I won;t be here to do it ;-(

Andy Mabbett quite rightly pointed out that in my earlier blog post “7 things” I was supposed to name 7 more people to similarly do a blog post on 7 “thangs” about themselves.  Oops… I pass the gauntlet or indeed baton on to the following fab women:

Happy writing one and all…

lovely-stats2My reputation goes before me, my most admired stats to date were irresistible.  So I thought I’d save them here, so I can get on with Tweeting again!

Take one Update on Twitter and it’s just fascinating what can follow…

Following a chat with my 9 year old dort about the 10 Plagues of Egypt, I wondered how many “everyday folk” could remember them and which old testament book they came from.  So I asked.  It’s fair to say a couple of people took me at my word and attempted to list them all.  Well done to Abby Corfan for her 9/10 and to Digibrum_Si for correctly naming Exodus.  The correct list is of course easy to find on web, I got it from here.

So what of all the other contributions?   Well thanks to everyone here named who took a rather more entertaining slant on my query:

We’ve got a lovely list of 15 modern day plagues, in no particular order:

  1. A plague of telemarketers trying to flog thou discount kitchens
  2. A plague of consultations
  3. Credit running in the gutters
  4. A plague of consultants
  5. A plague of ill-conceived and largely unworkable laws which if fully implemented would erode our civil liberties
  6. A plague of barely caffeinated, freeze dried coffee tasting of decayed rodent droppings
  7. A plague of drunken yahoos rampaging through the city streets
  8. A swarm of Flips
  9. A plague of raging fuckwits
  10. And lo! He did smite them with toilet roll multipack wrappers that looked like they had rolls in them but were actually empty
  11. aplagueofpolypocketsscatteredonthefloorsoyouskidonthematnightandhurtyourself
  12. No WiFi
  13. A plague of chuggers
  14. A cake shortage
  15. A plague of spam

It’s fair to say that although I feel we are living with crises and disasters of a biblical nature, I was thinking more of tsunamis and terrotism, not cakes and polypockets.  Neverthelss I thought this was a great list, with some very amusing images created.  But, too many.  So, I might run a bit of a poll and see who fancied which plague as the one which best captures modern day plagues.

But first, maybe there are more out there.  What do you think, leave a comment and I’ll add to the list.

If you want to know what’s happening in the Birmingham Creative Industries, then you could do much worse than bookmark this site:

Created in Birmingham

If you are excited about helping a great Birmingham project win an international award – or just content to trust me and a load of other faithful Brummies and committed creative types, then please click here:



Created in Birmingham is currently in a neck and neck race with Melanie Phillips of the Spectator and Daily Mail.  She appears to have a good deal of US support, overnight she’s stolen a nearly 200 vote lead on our lead yesterday.  So we need to keep voting and here are the rules:

  • Polls close January 12, 2009.
  • You may vote once every 24 hours in each poll.
  • After voting in an individual poll you will be locked out from voting again in that poll (on the computer you voted from) for 24 hours.
  • Each poll has its own separate 24 hour lockout control. Voting in, for example, Best Blog will not lock you out of voting in other categories.
  • Vote totals are not final until certified.
  • Vote totals are subject to periodic correction for identified cheating.
  • Cheaters will be banned from accessing the site for the duration of the voting.
  • We reserve the right to close some or all polls earlier than the posted end date.
  • In the event of identified cheating, the decisions of the judges as to the manner of correction is final.

And the site helpfully advises you to not vote simulataneously from computers on the same home or corporate network – so, don’t forget to do vote on each of your machines in turn…

Oh and if you find out if you can vote on an iphone – please leave a comment telling me how!

I am quite sure we can reclaim the lead during the course of today and tomorrow. So let’s get clicking…

I’ve developed something of a reputation amongst some of my Twitter followers for an obsession with numbers.   Indeed it’s a reputation I’ve had amongst my friends for most of my adult life (“Stato Jak” they call me).  Some think it wierd, others come to me for advice on their Twitter Stats.  For me it’s all about patterns, but the more I look at them the more meaning I want to impart on them.  

For example a while ago it became clear to me that every time I posted about 10 updates, I gained a follower.  And indeed my total updates were about equal to 10 times my followers.  I had develpoed a golden ratio  of 10:1.  I have stuck with approximately this ratio for some weeks now, slipping behind, then catching up again.  I consider this to be what my followers deserve, a kind of value ratio.

Others have asked me to judge theirs.  One came in today at fewer than 3 updates per follower.  He felt this was lame and should be increased.  However I wondered whether in fact he offered considerably more value than I; it takes me 7 more updates to be attractive to a new follower than him.

A number of people have posted blogs on Twitter types  [ Alex Iskold, back in March 2008 and the Ed Techie, also in March ] to name but two.  They do have a tendancy to concentrate around the volume of followings and followers or the reasons people use Twitter.

Type Trait defined by:
Selective interaction you have MANY more followers than you follow No good reason
Twitter as added bonus follows noone, tweets little, his followers No good reason
Talker  you have more followers than you follow
Listener  you follow more than follow you
Hub you have equal followers and followed
Chatty High Golden Ratio me!

I have to say I am more interested in the update ratio than simply the following stats.  Although I do like my “follow” stats to look good.  By this I mean they are at their best when there is some kind of mathematical relationship between them: the divide equally one into the other, they are both multiples of 5 ( or even better: 10), they are identical etc.

So here I have chosen Twitterers who satisfy, nay exemplify the types above:

Type User Name Following Followers Updates Golden Ratio Twitter Grade
Selective interaction dwarlick  50 3107 1476 0.48 100
Twitter as added bonus Downes  1 605 503 0.83 99
Talker  dubber  140 1444 3158 2.19 99.9
Listener  shortyawards  16876 5849 17441 2.98 99.7
Hub stevebridger  1083 1097 3516 3.21 99.6
Chatty graphiquillan  155 164 3397 20.71 93
ME parboo  183 158 1657 10.49 93


You’ll see I’ve mainly chosen people with high Twitter grades. For me this is a validity check.  It seeks to ensure that they have a habit which is well enough established to confirm a pattern.

There is no doubt in my mind that the addition of the Golden ratio creates a different distinction between different users.

What is your Golden Ratio?  Are you happy with it? What does it say about you and your Twittering?

And a final thought, whether or not any of this makes any sense or indeed matters much, it keeps a very simple stato happy!

I’ve been tweeting and blogging for a few months now.  As Christmas holidays approach it seems like a good time to reflect on that.

So, some numbers, as of Thursday 18 December [anyone who reads my tweets or knows me at all, will know I’m comfy with numbers].

On Twitter:

  • 131 people have decided to follow me on Twitter
  • I’ve posted 1,244 updates since I joined in September 2008.
  • most, 272, of these have been on Wednesdays
  • I’ve sent over 300 of my replies directly to only 2 people!
  • My most active hour is after 11pm.
Thanks to for most of these stats…

On my Blog site:

I’ve also joined 1 Ning and set up two others.  Interestingly none of these particularly feature in my everyday life.  Conversely I have been suffering something of a Twitter addiction and do keep on top of my blogging. 

From Twitter I have learnt loads and met so many new people.  It was only because of a desire to meet new friends made online that I attended the December Birmingham Bloggers meet at our Frankfurt Christmas Market earlier this month.

One of the features I’ve noticed about this new world is that many things happen just because some folks are interested enough to make it happen and not expect everyone else to do it for them.   There is a high sense of achievement.  I’m not sure if that is just amongst the people I’ve decided to follow or twitter-land in general.

Another is that professionals and amateurs rub along together very well.  So, many of my followers(ings) make a living from the internet and social media one way or another, whilst the rest are keen amateurs or just like to commune.  I’m not sure how the pros put up with some of our amateurish nonsense on some evenings, but we have a great time…

I’m constantly pondering how exactly to use all of this at work.  How to really embrace social media to engage our 25,000 members beyond Facebook.  I’m looking forward to seeing what Ed Walker does at UCLAN SU as he embeds it more there.  I’m also contemplating how we go about using the web to “walk alongside” our members, where in the past we may well have demanded they come inside…  Looking forwad to where that will take us, I think it may be an interesting model going forward.  I feel it will give us a greater chance of building a positive reputation: one of a students’ union who cares enough about what it’s members choose to do, that we join in with them rather than necessarily the other way round.


So what does 2009 have in store:

  • It’s looking likely that I’ll host a Birmingham meeting of Twitterers in the not for profit sector. 
  • More bin blogging [including 1st bins on vacation post planned for Feb 2009]
  • More workmen [at least two sites up my sleeve, just need the camera at the right time
  • More ramblings
  • More Tweets
  • …oh, and more time with my family – not sure how they are compatible, but need to find out real soon.

Like now!


Happy New Year

I Twitter, I meet people. I meet people, I join networks. I join networks, I discover ning. I discover ning and before I know it I’m offering to create one, in a national meeting.

OMG says I, I know not what I’ve done.

Ah well, it can’t be too hard and besides, I know one of my new Twitter chums will help. So what do I do? Contact him, talk it through, work on it together? No, of course not, I dive right in… and 5 minutes later, I have a network.

Yes, 5 minutes.

It looks great. My colleagues can blog, chat, put up photos and images, create groups and all sorts.

I’ve sent a message out on Facebook to some of my friends who were then when I volunteered to do this hard thing. I’ve asked them to join (still waiting?!?!)

I’ve told my new Twitter friends, who have been delightfully supportive of this simple effort.
and all from the comfort of my own living room while my daughter sleeps and hubby works late. Who needs a night out, I haven’t felt this much flow in years.

What can I do next?


RSS bin fairy on twitter

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