Tag Archives: twitter

Help me name my new book about blogging!

Can you help me please? I need help naming my new book!

I’ve been working on a new book about blogging for a while now and I expect to finish it off next week – the main draft at least. The focus is on content marketing and how more CEOs than ever are blogging and appreciating that blogs and social media are a very important way of reaching out to their customers *and* the people who influence their customers.

I need to think of a title for the book so does anyone have any ideas? I was thinking of ideas like ‘Your boss – the blogger’ but I need something catchy and creative… all comments appreciated and if I do actually borrow an idea then I’ll make sure you get a credit in the book!

You can comment here on the blog or if you follow this link to my Facebook then feel free to comment there – thanks in advance!

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Farewell Tom: The End of an Era in Ealing

In May 2009 I had noticed that quite a few of my virtual Twitter friends seemed to be living or working quite close to me in Ealing, west London. This was not as strange as it might seem, there were a lot of media people in the area with the BBC and Sky close by plus quite a few advertising and PR firms in the area.

But I still found it intriguing so I tweeted a message suggesting that any other Twitter users from the area come and join me in the Rose and Crown pub on a Friday evening. And so on Friday May 29th 2009, the Ealing Tweeting – better known as #ealingtu – was born.

If you Google “Ealing Tweetup” now, it gets mentioned around 8,000 times. That’s because it grew into a regular gathering of people in west London with an interest in social media up to the point that when I left the UK, the last tweetup I managed to attend had about 250 people attending, a couple of live bands playing and free drinks from the bar!

Ealing Tweetup - July 8 2010

On that first occasion in May 2009, there was no sponsorship or free drinks or live music. However, there was around a dozen people who randomly came together to have a chat with some strangers just because of a tweet. And the nice thing was that they were not all from the media or PR or advertising businesses.

There were local politicians, teachers, journalists, photographers, actors, charity workers, and business consultants. It was a real mix of professions and everyone was drawn together because of where they lived and the use of Twitter.

The event was never formal or organised. Sometimes people complained that they wanted it to be more structured, with name badges and a list of attendees, but I never really saw it that way. Even when I convinced some companies to shell out so we could have free drinks, what they got for their money was very much up to them.

If you had a pub full of bloggers then what would you do? I think the very last thing would be a hard sell on your products or asking people to tweet in return for a pint. The companies who supported the event could see the value in it and the event has persisted.

I left and moved to Brazil, but Hayden Sutherland took over as organiser, and when Hayden moved to Glasgow, Michael Greer took over and he continues to organise regular tweetups.

I have managed to attend a couple of tweetups since I left London, but it’s clearly not easy being a very long flight away – they need to coincide with one of my business trips back to London. And so unfortunately I am going to miss the next one on February 26th.

This one will be special because Tom Tucker – the boss at the Rose and Crown – supported the idea from the start and he helped it to grow and now he is leaving the Rose. He promoted the events when many customers would ask what on earth a tweetup is all about and he had the good fortune to see it grow and become one of the biggest social media gatherings in London – right there in his pub.

Tom is off to a new challenge in Brighton, but the next tweetup is going to be themed as his leaving party so if you are in London I urge you, go along and see what it’s all about. It is possible to have a social media gathering that is not dominated by people talking about sentiment analysis and how their client reacted to a negative tweet. This is normal people who use social media getting together to have a chat about how it works in their life.

You can sign up for the next Ealing Tweetup here. As always, it is free – just bring some good conversation.

Tweetup

Help! My boss just asked me to start using Twitter at work!

What do you say to the boss?

This is becoming more and more common. In the early days of social networks, most companies banned them at work. They were seen as a frivolous waste of time, but now many companies are actively asking their employees to use personal social networks to promote the company.

But what if you are not already using Twitter and this is all new… check out this short primer I wrote earlier today as a very basic guide to what you should do next.

Reclaim Ealing

When the Arab spring took place, earlier this year, it was because millions of ordinary people had finally grown tired of dictators plundering their national resource and ruling over their lives. It was an ideological uprising to create fairer societies across the Middle East and North Africa.

When the Greek people took to the streets this year, it was over a sense of outrage at the mismanagement of their national economy – the government forcing austerity measures on working people that resulted in enormous job losses and pay cuts for public workers.

When the Metropolitan police shot Mark Duggan dead last week without him being in a position to attack them with a firearm (all the facts are still to come out in the inquiry, but it appears he posed no threat), they made a grave error. It led to protests from the family and then the local community – ending up in the localised rioting in Tottenham.

There has not been any rioting in London for a long time. Sure, there were a lot of student protests recently – one resulting in a jail term for the son of a rock star – and some anti-war protests like the big march in 2003, but nothing like this. The nearest I can remember to this was the 1990 poll tax rioting and even that was concentrated around a single area rather than spreading across the whole of London, like we have seen this week.

It seems just something burst in the collective consciousness of the criminal underclass this week. Seeing the riots in Tottenham galvanised a sense of injustice – especially against the police – and soon riots were taking place all over the capital, though they were particularly nasty in Hackney, Croydon, and Ealing.

Being a resident of Ealing until recently, all I could do was sit here in São Paulo watching the BBC news live updates and following the discussion on Twitter. Watching Ealing go up in flames without being there to actively do something was a very strange – and emotional – experience.

Of course, there is not much I could personally have done if I was there – what does anyone do if thugs are rampaging down the street setting cars on fire? But, I could see people I know from the local community – including many councillors and the council leader – getting messages online, warning of trouble, calling the fire brigade… actively helping their neighbours.

The tragic thing about this violence is that it has no objective, it’s just the violent outrage of frustration. If these kids really wanted to change the way companies like McDonald’s operate then getting the staff into a union or campaigning for fair wages and conditions would lead to a better outcome for everyone – rather than just bashing in the window of every branch they see.

And by looting, any sense of outrage or protest has been destroyed. London has been taken over by thugs who don’t even have a political message. Some are claiming it’s because of youth club cuts and youth unemployment. Nonsense – it’s just the criminal destruction of property by those who don’t even understand what they want or why.

At least the class warriors of the left, who used to cause trouble for business owners, had some form of objective – even if it was as simply stated as ‘smashing capitalism’ (even though the smashers were often educated property-owners).

The threat of Irish nationalist terrorism that only ceased recently, and also caused chaos in Ealing in the past decade, was also more understandable. There was a political debate to be had, even if it was always impossible to debate issues when one side used bombs.

But these riots are meaningless. They have no objective or planned outcome. And perhaps this is the most dangerous thing of all for a government that is now implementing possibly the largest ever cut-back in public sector jobs. If the disaffected youth think they have it bad right now, then just wait for another year… our trading partners in Europe are struggling and hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs are about to vanish.

I am visiting Ealing soon – later this month. And I had arranged a large local community event that will be on September 1st. I hope many more local residents come along to it now than were going to before these terrible riots – there will be many of those local councillors who were doing such a great job at the event, and at least one of the local MPs.

The tweetup may in some ways just be about having a pint and listening to some great live music, but since I started arranging these nights in early 2009, I met many local people and found new friends in my local community.

Ealing needs the local community right now and if social media is going to take some of the blame for helping rioters to focus on new targets then it should also be used to bring the community closer together.

Click here to register for the Ealing Tweetup…

Red Lion Ealing

Music – time to start thinking again

I saw a gorgeous concert on Friday night at the Teatro Municipal theatre in São Paulo. The theatre itself was something quite special and has been closed for years for renovation – only to open again about a month ago.
Teatro Municipal

As you can see from the location of my foot, we had front row seats and the orchestra was located immediately on stage with no pit or other barrier – the violins were right in front of my seat.Front row at the theatre

The music was great, a mixture of Tchaikovsky (No. 1 piano concerto) and a couple of Dvorak pieces, including his 8th symphony. It’s nice to hear music that I do regularly play on my iPod, but the difference with a large orchestra compared to a stereo recording is the call-response nature of the orchestra sections. When you are sitting there in person, it’s just nice to hear the strings play a phrase, to be echoed through various parts of the orchestra.

As I was sitting there listening to the music though, it did start me thinking about how hard it is to just switch off and listen to music these days. When I was a kid I would lie on the floor, or in bed, listening to every note of an album. Now music tends to be something consumed while running, or working… just in the background and not worthy of switching off the phone or Internet.

Have we all lost our attention span to the extent that stopping to focus on something for over one hour feels unusual? Dvorak's 8th

I’m an official London 2012 blogger!

A few months ago, I entered my details into the BT search for storytellers who could write, film, and blog the London 2012 Olympic games. About a month back I heard that I was on the shortlist and I needed to write more information about why I should be chosen.

A couple of days ago, I was told that I have the job. I will be blogging and tweeting live from the Olympics.

The preferred sports I asked to be closest too are cycling, boxing, and diving, but I have not had a full briefing yet so I don’t know exactly when I should get started and what my boundaries are.

What I do know is that this should be a great opportunity to see the Olympic games from the inside, as someone who is a part of the machine telling the world about what happens in London in 2012.

I’m really looking forward to being an Olympic writer and I already have a lot of ideas about how to start blending London 2012 with Rio 2016…

London Olympic Torch Relay Finale

Lunatics and bigots

A long time ago, when I wrote my first book, someone came up to me at a party and suggested that they could have written a better book. It may have been just a light-hearted joke, but I could see that he was serious and quite affronted that I had written a book that he felt he was better qualified to write.

I just said to him that he should do it – plenty of people believe they could have written a better book, or made a better film, or written a better piece of music, but how many of them actually go out and do it? If all the great books, symphonies, and films have already been created then why do people keep on creating new ones anyway? Nobody has a monopoly on the truth.

Because of these experiences I learned long ago to ignore those who are critical without offering alternatives or improvements, rather like an old boss of mine who always wanted his team to come to him with suggestions on how to fix a problem, rather than bleating about the problem itself.

But recently, I’ve been receiving critical comments from an individual on LinkedIn and Twitter. He has now called my magazine IT Decisions ‘bigoted’. Fortunately for him, he did not address his abuse to me personally because as most people know, making menacing threats or libel via electronic means is quite a serious offence in most jurisdictions.

I’m not personally all that bothered. Anyone who publishes an opinion of any form has to expect some ridiculous responses now and then. However, back in Jane Eyre, Mr Rochester could lock his wife away in the attic. Now the lunatics have Twitter and other social networks to publish their world view.

So what did IT Decisions publish that’s so terrible?

Here is a report, commenting on research from Nasscom lamenting how few Indian graduates are ready for employment. It’s not me making these claims directly, it’s the Indian trade association Nasscom. Got that? It’s an Indian trade association bemoaning their own education system – not me.

In my view, the Indian hi-tech industry has enough good graduates due to the sheer numbers coming through college, but if the universities were more attuned to what industry needs then things could be a lot better. And the point of the article was anyway to contrast the value of full-time and part-time education, with the view that a part-time education may be more valuable than most have given it credit for.

Then, this report on the views of the Brasscom president, Antonio Gil. That’s the Brazilian hi-tech trade asssociation – similar to Nasscom in India. Gil made some flippant remarks about Brazilian IT teams being more inquisitive than Chinese or Indians. I reported his remarks, within the context of them not being politically correct, though having more than a grain of truth because of the way IT companies work in these different locations.

IT Decisions reports on what is important to technology decision makers in Brazil, but my magazine doesn’t have a hidden agenda. It’s not there to bash India and China, or only ever blow a trumpet for Brazil. When the magazine extensively covered the recent IT worker strikes in São Paulo we were accused by some in Brazil of being too negative and not promoting the industry enough.

My response to those people in Brazil was that we are not here as flag-wavers for the local industry, we are reporting facts that are relevant for those buying IT systems.

And that’s the reality. You can’t please all the people all the time if you want to try reporting the truth. Reporting always has some favour, or slant, or agenda, but in general we are trying to provide good information and analysis, without adverts, without press releases, without vendor-sponsored content, and without spin.

For those reasons alone, IT Decisions is already a lot more honest than most newspapers who need to keep a proprietor happy, or advertisers on board, or to appeal to the prejudice of regular readers.

I have plenty of good friends in India who know exactly how much I have written positively about that country and how far their IT industry has come in the past couple of decades. I don’t need to defend myself here when I have personal notes of thanks from people in India, all the way up to Manmohan Singh himself. I wonder if Dr Singh would have taken the time to write a note of thanks to me if he considered me and my magazine to be bigoted India-bashers?

Jane Eyre