Directors' blog

Links, thoughts and updates from the directors of Dim Sum Digital.

Archive for the ‘web2.0’ tag

links for 2009-03-22

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Written by sarahhartley

March 22nd, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Twitter back under military microscope


Wired magazine reports that US army inteligence has been studying how the micro-blogging tool Twitter could be used for possible militant purposes.

Quoting a recent presentation (put together on the Army’s 304th Military Intelligence Battalion and found on the Federation of the American Scientists website) it says a recent report focuses on some of the newer applications for mobile phones: digital maps, GPS locators, photo swappers, and Twitter mash-ups of it all.

Noah Shachtman’s article says the presentation lays out three possible scenarios in which Twitter could become a militant’s friend:

Scenario 1: Terrorist operative “A” uses Twitter with… a cell phone camera/video function to send back messages, and to receive messages, from the rest of his [group]… Other members of his [group] receive near real time updates (similar to the movement updates that were sent by activists at the RNC) on how, where, and the number of troops that are moving in order to conduct an ambush.

Scenario 2: Terrorist operative “A” has a mobile phone for Tweet messaging and for taking images. Operative “A” also has a separate mobile phone that is actually an explosive device and/or a suicide vest for remote detonation. Terrorist operative “B” has the detonator and a mobile to view “A’s” Tweets and images. This may allow ”B” to select the precise moment of remote detonation based on near real time movement and imagery that is being sent by “A.”

Scenario 3: Cyber Terrorist operative “A” finds U.S. [soldier] Smith’s Twitter account. Operative “A” joins Smith’s Tweets and begins to elicit information from Smith. This information is then used for… identity theft, hacking, and/or physical [attacks]. This scenario… has already been discussed for other social networking sites, such as My Space and/or Facebook.

Interesting to see that the expert analyst quoted goes on to dismiss these “Twitter threats” as something to keep a sense of propertion about.

But this report (even with the ”what are you doing? death to America” graphic) adds further weight to the growing reports on how the military is harnessing social media tools – a topic which I shall endeavour to keep track of through this blog.

Written by sarahhartley

October 26th, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Online communities: Background resources

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Below is a series of links to further information about online communities.

These sources formed part of the research carried out in the preperation for my presentation ‘Online Communities: A social world’ at the Shape conference in Lisbon this week.

They are intended to provide further reading to those who attended the event, but could also be of interest to anyone looking at online communities.

Any thoughts, comments, questions or further links, as ever gratefully received – I see a conference such as this as the start of the conversation, not the final word and I look forward to hearing from you.

Either submit at the end of this page, contact via email at or choose your platform from the contacts page.

Anthropology of youtube
This is the full lecture from Dr Michael Wesch of Kansas State university. It does break the general rule of how long a clip online can be, but I think you´ll stick with it because it is so informative.

BASIC Principles of Online Journalism: C is for Community & Conversation (pt2: Conversation) | Online Journalism Blog
This blog post from Paul Bradshaw goes into greater detail and explanation of the ‘conversational loop’ diagram.

Reasons not to ignore coments: Julie Moult
Further information about what happens when things goes wrong from the case study of the the Daily Mail in the UK. Also goes into further detail and has links about “google bombing”.

Online communities best practice
This presentation is from the marketing company Forrester and gives more details about the concept of POST and that all-important taxonomy of detractors. Take notice of the trolls and bozos!

The “me sphere”
A further explanation of the diagram demonstrating the influencing factors for online audiences. This blog post from Jeff Jarvis looks at how this has come about in traditional publishing, but is relevant to any content providers.

Community a review of the theory
This is a vital piece of reading – it is not restricted to online communities but is concerned with community in general and how society operates. Goes into greater detail about the motivating factors of tolerance, recopricity and trust.

Recommended reading
This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to get on top of Web 2.0. It’s also an easy read and enjoyable. Goes into further details about the Egyptian experieince mentioned at the conference. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations

There´s also a whole lot more to discover in my ongoing collection of links on the subject of community here. Please feel free to add me to your delicious network and share you own links. In that way we can build a repository of knowledge about online communities.

Written by sarahhartley

October 3rd, 2008 at 12:46 pm

(Not) Building online communities


At the risk of this sounding like the start of one of those jokes that includes mother-in-laws or bottoms – it’s been a funny old week and that’s the only way to sum it up.

Having just signed a contract to act as a consultant for something called SHAPE, my every evening and weekend hour is being spent carrying out research in readiness for a couple of days activity at the NATO Public Affairs Conference in October.

I shall be joining Charlie Beckett,  author of the amazing sounding  SuperMedia – Saving Journalism So It Can Save The World, who is giving a presentation on “Adapting Communications to Changes in Journalism brought about by the rise of New Media” as well as Randy Covington, Director of IFRA Newsplex Training Centre USA, who is speaking on “World Wide Trends in News and Strategic Communications”.

As well as leading a discussion on “Official Blogging in a Conservative Organization” (their z!) I’ve also started work on a presentation which was initially called “Creating and sustaining online communities” but will now probably be ”Online communities: A social world”.

The reason for the change has come about as I prepare materials – having been involved in online communities for many years now I’m just not convinced they can be “created”.

It makes it sound as if they’re built or constructed by some official providor of such things – perhaps in the manner of a town planning exercise, a sort of “build it and they will come approach!”.

Idea seems to be that you can build the online equivalent of shiny new structures and people will pick up their belongings and move in wholesale.

(Perhaps the legacy of empty apartment blocks across our northern cities reavels the flaws in this type of thinking without any further explanation.)

But I do know what people are getting at when they use these terms, after all news organisations, companies, institutions all want to engage better with their potential audiences, customers, clients or citizens.

But how will creating a special structure to which they are expected to invest their time, money or interest achieve that?

 So my curent thinking in terms of this preperation is to look at the successful online communities and consider how they achieved their success in order to learn more.

Using case studies with the youtubes and Facebooks of the world and then drilling down further to understand how people communicate and interact as well as the sort of tools they employ to do this activity.

I’m sure they will have many common elements – ease of use has to be the number one but what other elements make for an engaging online community? If you consider that you belong to such a thing I would love to hear why you “joined”, or is it more the case that the platform you engage with actually provides you with a service, something which enables you?

According to this long posting on the Encyclopedia of Informal Education, three linked qualities appear with some regularity in discussions of communal life:

Tolerance – an openness to others; curiosity; perhaps even respect, a willingness to listen and learn (Walzer 1997: 11). 

Reciprocity – Putnam (2000) describes generalized reciprocity thus: ‘I’ll do this for you now, without expecting anything immediately in return, and perhaps without even knowing you, confident that down the road you or someone else will return the favour’. In the short run there is altruism, in the long run self-interest.

Trust – the confident expectation that people, institutions and things will act in a consistent, honest and appropriate way (or more accurately, ‘trustworthiness’ – reliability) is essential if communities are to flourish. Closely linked to norms of reciprocity and networks of civic engagement (Putnam 1993; Coleman 1990), social trust – trust in other people – allows people to cooperate and to develop. Trusting others does not entail us suspending our critical judgment – some people will be worthy of trust, some will not. 

Realise this post has turned into a bit of a braindump! I find it a truly is a fascinating topic, and as it all becomes more concrete, I will update.

Written by sarahhartley

September 20th, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Crowdsourcing help begged for museum project

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I’m using my blog to run a bit of a crowdsourcing project about museums because I think this has some relevance to online journalism thinking too.

The statement below is intended to form part of a funding bid. (Disclosure: yes, of course it’s someone rather close to me, husband the artist/curator Julian Hartley).

But this blogging by proxy does have journalistic relevance. In just the same way news organisations are struggling with engaging audiences, so are museums.

 Feel free to replace the terms “curator” with “editor”, the institution “musem” with another great institution “newspaper” and then let me know whether you think this activity worthwhile, too risky, great, rubbish or whatever.

Btw, @JulianHartley will be tweeting the progress of this project from now on and expect yet another Manchester blogger very soon!

Here’s the description;

Taking its direction from Manchester’s diverse online communities’ search and sharing activity, the Community as Curator project uses these habits as the curatorial frame with which to produce and share digital content specifically created from Museum collections in Manchester. 

Online searches and their translation into conversations across social media provides the curatorial context for interpreting the gallery’s collections.
As an alternative to the contemporary museological practice of authorial representation, this project situates power in the online constituency.
This project recognises that, if a connection can be made between an online users’ interests and Manchester’s cultural heritage, this in turn will facilitate the means for further accessing and engaging in the city’s cultural resources, particularly in those social groups more accustomed to a Flickrstream than a exhibition.   
Community as Curator reflects museums’ concern that the values of their collections are relevant to the diversity of Manchester’s communities – both on and offline. 

Written by sarahhartley

August 29th, 2008 at 7:00 pm

Posted in Life

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Multi-media training sessions


With my training hat on, I’ve recently been planning some sessions. Looking back over them I thought these notes might prove useful to a  wider audience – perhaps for those attempting to arrange such things themselves.
If you’d be interested in hosting sessions similar to this for your organisation, please feel free to contact me.
1. Digital Away Day
Duration: Six hours.
Who’s it for?
Heads of departments and senior managers.
What’s the objective?
Bring management to a level of understanding of digital development in the newspaper sector.
What will be covered?
How the industry is moving with case studies from other newspaper groups.
An introduction to the new tools of journalism.
Challenges facing the organisation digitally. 
2. Video for reporters
Duration: One week.
Who’s it for?
Print reporters starting out in video.
What’s the objective?
To equip print reporters with the skills to shoot and edit “made-for-web” video packages.
What will be covered?
Camera skills; composition, audio, lighting, exposure, focus, tripod.
Content skills: differences with TV , what makes good web.
Editing skills: creating packages, using PremierPro.
3. Tools for newsgathering
Duration: 2-3 hours.
Who’s it for?
Newsdesk and reporters.
What’s the objective?
To educate newsgatherers in the host of digital tools at their disposal to track breaking news and generate story leads.
What will be covered?
Setting up personal RSS feeds to bring the news to you.
Tracking breaking news across social media.
Building your online contacts.
4. Better blogging
Duration: 2-3 hours.
Who’s it for?
Existing and wannabe bloggers.
What’s the objective?
Introduce some new skills to improve quality and quantity of output and grow audiences.
What will be covered?
The currency of linking.
Micro-blogging to extend reach.
Using social media.
Creating and distributing feeds of blog content.
Mo-blogging and live coverage.

Written by sarahhartley

August 26th, 2008 at 7:50 pm

Posted in Training notes

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Twitter’s SMS decision and a matter of trust


Twitter has prompted campaigns on its own platform and across various media websites this week with its decision to stop supporting SMS.
The cost of sending out those tweets is just too much for the company behind the service to bear. According to its statement on Wednesday; “It pains us to take this measure. However, we need to avoid placing undue burden on our company and our service.”

Up until this week, users of Twitter could choose to receive all, or just some, of their tweets on mobile phones. It meant many journalists (myself included) were able to move seamlessly between a useful channel of communication in the office, to one on the move.

It also provided an easy way for many newspaper companies to offer “updates to your phone” services for everything from Manchester City updates (MEN) to breaking business news in the West Midlands (Birmingham Post) to sport on the move (Evening Leader).

Some of those pro-twitterers expressed their annoyance to and the sudden decision prompted howls of anguish all round.

Leading online journalism commentator Paul Bradshaw kicked off a campaign with a Facebook group  and some tools to change your avatar on Twitter and keep the campaign updated .

One of the avatars

One of the avatars

 The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss blogged on the issue  and then set up a poll to ask users whether they would pay for tweets.

The results at the time of this posting were predictable enough - the majority (including me) want it all and want it free.

And therein lies the problem, we’re used to getting lots for nowt.

Had Twitter introduced a charge at this point for a NEW SMS service, they may well have found enough people who’d welcome it as an enhancement, but simply taking something away that was provided for nothing does nothing for their case.

But regardless of what happns next, the unexpected change in policy has given me another headache completely unrelated to tweeting on the move – it’s a matter of trust.

It’s hard enough to persuade editorial managers, readers and website users to try something new, to reach outside of “our”structures and trust in tools provided by others without having them snatched away unexpectedly on a wet Wednesday morning.

Thanks to this decision, those services which set up offering, what seem to be easy solutions to tricky techie problems,  could well find it harder to build up so many trusting users in future.


Written by sarahhartley

August 16th, 2008 at 10:37 am

Posted in Journalism

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Goodbye Web 2.0 world

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I’m preparing to go cold turkey and do 14 days straight without internet use of any type. Frankly the prospect is fairly terrifying.

My family has already started to set odds on how many days it will take me to find an internet cafe in the remote area of the world I’m sending myself to.

I can’t actually remember the last time I spent a whole day offline – it definatley wasn’t this year.

So while many people would find the prospect of a fortnight away from the laptop/mobile/PC etc. a normal break, for me it’s exceptional.

I live my life online – that’s what I do!

I’ll also miss some important occasions. Firstly the DEN trip to Liverpool then the two awards we’re up for – the north west daily newspaper website and the Press Gazette Multimedia Publisher.

If I had internet access I’d know about all the above within hours of each event but now I’m reliant on someone texting me or catching up with a manic trawl round when I get home.

The break has also made it a necessity to depart from the usual services I use. In doing so I’ve come up with a sort of league table.

So here is the top ten online services according to current usefulness (to me);

10. First to go was the work email. No issues here, just set that out of office reply and breathe a sigh of relief!

9. Seeing as I’m not going to be online, this serves no purpose for the next two weeks and there isn’t any community as such to belong to.

8. Flickr. I love Flickr as a way to organise my pictures and I find it an invaluable tool for use with my blogging activity but I haven’t invested much time into making contacts so the community element isn’t so strong.

7. Seesmic. I haven’t used it enough to be truly part of the community and deep down still struggle with the front of camera bit. So the goodbye there wasn’t too much of a tug.

6. Utterz.  Although I find it a useful tool for occasionalreports on the go, the community aspect of it hasn’t yet grabbed me. The integration with Twitter and blogs pushes it up a bit.

5. Next were the two “work” blogs. Trickier. The one blog I can easily hand over to my excellent co-blogger but the food blog? Well it will just have to wait – I hope the 50,000 plus users will bear with me.

4. Home email accounts. This is how people I actually want to communicate with me get hold of me.

3. Plurk. Strange that this should be so high on the list as I’ve only just started using it. However it’s intriguing enough in its posibilities to make it almost to the last turn-off.

2. My personal blog. That’s why you’re reading this. It has also not been around for very long but has already put me in touch with so many truly well-informed and entertaining people that it’s invaluable to me.

1. Twitter. Yes it has to be the last to go not least because the final tweet will also update Facebook and Friendfeed. So there you have it – the easy integration with other applications is the clinching factor.

It’s also interesting to note that if I’d done this same exercise a year ago, many of these services wouldn’t have figured.

So as I wonder what next year’s list might consist of, it’s good bye from me – for now.

Written by sarahhartley

June 8th, 2008 at 4:23 pm

A brief history of (community) time

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Get past the student geek intro and this is a brief history into the evolution of online community. Just wish they’d also got the panel discussion. Found on Adam Tinworth’s blog.


Written by sarahhartley

May 19th, 2008 at 10:07 am

An eighth psychological complaint of bloggers and social media addicts


Spent too much brain power thinking of something witty to add to the Seven Psychological Complaints of Bloggers and Social Media Addicts (which I thoroughly enjoyed).

Then had the ironic realisation that I was suffering from the eighth : Wit Anxiety Gloom Syndrome (WAGS). The sufferer feels what they have to add to the world is so humourous it must be shared – but only after every one of the 140 characters has been considered in depth. Stems from a deep-rooted phobia of “comment shame”.

Usually cured by remembering there are other things that need doing – like life.

Patient may require regular doses of reminding – otherwise known as nagging.

Written by sarahhartley

May 5th, 2008 at 11:17 am

Posted in Journalism

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