• conspiracyofsentiment,  higher ed,  politics

    Living in interesting times

    As someone whose professional life sits at the intersection of the internet and higher education, the past week has been interesting to say the least, and not a little depressing. I'm not sure I have much to add to what's been said about the two big stories of wikileaks and student fees, but I have woken up on an almost daily basis thinking 'are we really witnessing this?'. So, lest I allow it to slide into normality, I thought I'd record some of my reactions to it all. Wikileaks As Clay Shirky has put it, I'm conflicted about Wikileaks – even as an advocate of openness, I know there are…

  • broadcast,  Current Affairs,  politics,  socialmediawatch,  twitter

    The network ate my newspaper

    (So what do you think of David Cameron then Gordon?) So the UK televised Leaders Debates have now finished. I have to say, it’s been a blast. Not because they were good television (after the first one and the surprise Clegg factor they quickly reverted to saying the same things), but because of the back-channel on twitter. In 2008 I suggested that the Eurovision song contest was the perfect TV twitter event because “It is, in fact, quite boring (none of the songs are any good), so there is plenty of time to Twitter. At the same time, it is quite enjoyable and provokes comment, so there is a desire…

  • broadcast,  Facebook,  politics,  socialmediawatch,  Television,  twitter

    Social media in society roundup

    I'd like to do this regularly, but probably won't, a review of stories and how social media has related to them. I think it would be interesting to chart the impact social media is having on actual society (not just the techie or ed techie one). Here are a few stories over the past month that caught my attention: Rentokil news release – in March several newspapers ran a story about there being '2,000 bugs in every train carriage'. It was based on "Research by pest controllers Rentokil". Science journalist Ben Goldacre smelt (ahem) a rat and followed it up. Ben chased them up through twitter, email and phone but…

  • politics

    G20, media and trust

    <Image – G20-London-Protest by Room1834 http://www.flickr.com/photos/0742/3405203655/> There are so many lessons, pointers, revelations, areas of concern and epiphanies from the G20 protests that blogging about them seems almost superfluous. But to add to the comment mountain, here are my thoughts. Social vs Traditional mediaI listened and watched the coverage on the BBC and Sky, while simultaneously tracking events on twitter and Flickr. At the time the traditional coverage seemed biased against the protestors. Traditional media needs to go after a 'story', a narrative it can use to conveniently bundle events together, and it had decided crowd trouble would be that story. Some of the commentators on the traditional media bordered…

  • digital implications,  Open content,  politics

    What the Digital Britain report should have said

    As most UK readers will be aware we have Lord Carter's Digital Britain report available which sets out the vision for the UK economy being one that embraces all things digital (after all, jam making aside, we've nothing else left). If you're not from the UK, don't worry, if you haven't got such a strategy already, you'll no doubt be getting one soon, as all countries see the potential of a digital economy to get us out of the hole we are currently in. The report sets out some commendable aims, such as creating a digital infrastructure, ubiquitous broadband and all that. But where it comes unstuck is in stressing…

  • ignorance,  politics

    Blair, crowds and Iraq

    (I'm finding some old posts I didn't get around to finishing, so hence not as current as it could be). In his book The Wisdom of Crowds, James Suriowecki argues that often the ‘dumb’ crowd makes smarter decisions than the informed experts. This has been taken to mean that the mob is always smart, which we know isn't true. But what is interesting to me is the reason why Suriowecki's examples work. I think it's because the crowd operates with less information, and there are times when this is actually beneficial (although usually one wants more information). Let us take an important example in recent history – the decision to…