Monthly Archives: February 2011

User generated cash to get across America for SXSW

This is a social media experiment with a difference.

Tuttle founder Lloyd Davis is hoping to prove the power of social capital by travelling from West to East America by the help of his online network ONLY.

So that’s accommodation, food and travel only to be donated by his digital connections. At the time this post was published, Lloyd had raised $1520 donated by 28 of his online community.

The idea behind the trip is to prove the importance and strength of online relationships and how they can translate into real-life commodities and cash. In short social media ROI.

He’ll be flying out on 1st March to San Francisco and hopes to end up somewhere on the East coast (possibly Boston) via music, film and tech conference SXSW.

All he’s taking with him will be a social media tool-kit; smartphone, netbook, flip camera and an SLR and he’ll be blogging his way through the journey here.

If you’d like to help him in any way – offer him a sofa, send him some cash or drive him around, you can do here.

A few days before the big trip, we asked why Lloyd is undertaking such a mean feat, the plans (or lack of!) he’s already put in place and what will happen if he runs into trouble.

We’ll be catching up with Lloyd when he’s over in the States to see if he makes it to SXSW so keep your eyes peeled for an update.

By Lucy Hewitt

UGC holds world leaders accountable – YouTube’s World View

’Tis the season to hold world leaders accountable through User Generated Content (UGC), and I’m not just talking about the current uprisings against dictators in the Middle East. Our very own David Cameron has been quizzed by Joe public on YouTube’s World View:

Al Jazeera’s Kamahl Santamaria was the host. He drew attention to the World View interviews breaking down the distinction between professional journalists and users, by describing the Q&A with Cameron as a a “special collaborative interview… between us and you.”

Over 7, 000 questions were put to the PM after YouTube invited people to send in questions on both foreign and domestic affairs via video and text. Seeing the videos of people asking questions throughout the interview emphasised the prominence of UGC.

In being broadcast on the internet, the world has access to this interview. If it had just been shown on a national broadcaster, it would have reached a smaller number of people.

The comment facilities and number of ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ accompanying the video are more examples of UGC, and give some indication of how people felt about the interview.

The World View series shows the use of UGC to reach the most powerful people – Barack Obama was interviewed before Cameron. You might even call it an Internet revolution.

By Anisa Kadri @anisakadri on Twitter

How Simon Rogers from the Guardian views UGC

I spoke to the Guardian’s Simon Rogers about User Generated Content, how to source a story from different social media platforms and what the Guardian will be offering in terms of UGC in the future.

Here is a little bit of information about Simon: Simon edits the Guardian Datablog and Datastore and is also an editor for the newspaper. Simon won the annual award for statistical excellence in journalism with his work with the Datablog. His journalism career began on trade magazines The Lawyer and Brand Strategy followed by four years at the Big Issue in the mid 1990s, when this paper was running interviews with leading opinion formers and politicians, including Tony Blair. Rogers joined The Guardian in 1999 and was launch editor of Guardian Unlimited News, and other roles at the paper have included editing the science section.

I asked him how he goes about collecting user generated information and which is the richest social media platform for the Guardian. I also asked what’s in store in the future for UGC at The Guardian.

According to Simon, half the traffic generated for the Guardian’s stories come from Twitter and therefore it is one of the best social media platforms to use. It is also extremely useful when it comes to generating data for interactive maps – a good example of this being when it the weather was unpredictable back in 2010.

By Linzi Kinghorn

Happy 5th birthday Twitter

For those of you who are just getting to grips with Twitter or those of you who have long been an avid tweeter, it might be time to feel concerned about the internet phenomenon. In an article by Viv Groskop in the Evening Standard this week, an important issue was raised about whether its 5th birthday is a make or break moment for the Twitterati…

Myspace came and went….as did Bebo….and who remembers Friendster?! Point made. So could Twitter follow in the same footsteps? When it began, it’s first users were “exhibitionists” according to Grodkop, everyone’s time-waste of choice. Author Hari Kunzru calls it his “work avoidance tool” and Jemima Khan remarked last week, “it revolutionises the way I procrastinate”. So is Twitter merely an avoidance tool?

Nowadays, it seems as though people have completely stopped using it for this method and are instead using it to communicate important information and implementing it into news just as much as television and radio. For example, Laura Kuennsberg and Georgie Thompson, both broadcasters, tweet constantly, updating me with news. There is much talk of revolution, politics, environment and anything else that is of interest.

Aside from that, people enjoy using it because you can post fun things that pop into your head and things that may sound silly when you say them out loud but are kind of acceptable on Twitter, like, “I’m just making a lovely cup of tea.” Ridiculous when said out loud. But on Twitter, they seem to work. It’s not just A-listers that use it any more – politicians and public figures tweet which adds to its authenticity but obviously you should take care because you are liable for anything you say on a Tweet.

Is Twitter destined to become part of our social existence that we cannot live without? Is it so ingrained into our lives now that it would be too hard not to tweet about your new handbag or the latest suicide bombs in the Middle East? Can we live without it? In order to maintain Twitter’s phenomenen, it may need to consider making some money. Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive, didn’t mention anything about revenue projections or growth targets at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week so experts are worried the company may flop.

David Cameron said, “too many tweets make a twat”. Do you agree? Will it suddenly disappear into the stratosphere or will we get to a point where we regard it as useful and as important as email and question how we ever lived without it? Will it peak soon to a point where everyone is using it? Some argue this is a make or break time for Twitter. Watch this (my)space….oh dear….
By Linzi Kinghorn

User generated Q & A site Quora is a journalist’s best friend

From the founder himself, Adam D’Angelo says Quora is “a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. The most important thing is to have each question page become the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question.”

You can search for a topic and relevant questions or post a question yourself. Users can reply to the question with specific expertise and once an answer is posted it can be voted up or down depending on it’s usefulness. The Quora community act as moderators where the most useful answers are rewarded and move to the top of the pile and less useful replies are penalised.

You can follow particular areas (examples of the topics I’m following include The New York Times and Derren Brown) and your home feed gets populated with questions and answers within these topics.

You can also sign-up with your Twitter and Facebook accounts, allowing for integration of liked pages, friends and people you follow to be directly imported into your Quora topics.

It’s a bit difficult to take in without signing up and checking it out yourself. Here’s a simple demo to get you started:



I typed in the question: ‘How can Quora benefit journalists?

I voted up the answer I found most useful:



So there you have it, Quora gives journalists some indispensable strings to their reporting bow:

  • real, useful answers to specific questions
  • sparking conversation and debate in specific topics with useful and informed opinion
  • feedback

By Lucy Hewitt

Algeria and the flow of words

On the 1st February, we wrote on here about revolutions and the use of Twitter, Facebook and other sites that allow User Generated Content. New information has come to light today identifying Algeria as the latest Middle Eastern country to have had its social networking sites closed down.

According to Mashable (an extremely useful website for journalists who are techy) as well as the Telegraph, the Algerian Government has actually been shutting down individual Facebook sites and closing internet servers and providers.

It’s laughable. I mean, you only have to look at Twitter to see that the message from Mashable has already been retweeted 774 times since the article was written 33 minutes ago and has been liked by 179 people on facebook. As I am sat following the Twitter feeds as I write this, 23 new retweets have emerged.

In Egypt, before President Mubarak was forced to stand down, the Government successfully managed to close down 88% of all Egyptian internet servers. But they’re not the only ones. China, Iran, Thailand and Tunisia have also done the same thing in times of unrest within their respective countries.

This raw footage shows the intensity of the Algerian protests and is first hand user-generated content. Not all broadcasters can afford journalists in every country at every time and therefore independently contributed content for the internet is extremely valuable. The world should be entitled to see what they want to see.

It seems to me as though try as you may to stop people getting on UGC sites and social networking sites, word and cause is strong and will spread. You cannot stop it. Algeria, amongst other nations attempting to stop the flow of independently generated content, is fighting a losing battle.
By Linzi Kinghorn

Your online reputation: Think before you Tweet

Today the PCC ruled that Twitter should be considered public and so material found on the micro-blogging site can be published freely and used elsewhere.

This happened after a complaint by Department of Transport official Sarah Baskerville. She was upset by newspapers using her tweets to suggest she wasn’t doing her job properly and was wasting tax-payers money. She said it was an invasion of privacy.

Ms Baskerville argued that this information was private and only meant for her 700 followers. Hmm. Private to 700 pairs of eyes reading her updates? Not to mention retweets out to wider networks. Doesn’t sound very private to me.

This is another case where those using Twitter forget the purpose of the social media tool and/or aren’t using it properly.

A social media account should be used as a brand management tool. Be that your own personal brand or of a larger organisation. For a professional account, tweets should always be relevant to the company or general industry you operate in. For personal feeds they should show you in your best light. Both types are a chance for the public to see some personality behind the smoke-screen of a website or CV.

Think about what impression you want to have on potential online followers/friends/connections. What other interests you wish to promote and the persona you wish to create and think about these in every tweet.

Cos potentially the whole world can see what you’re saying, which is kinda the point in social media Ms Baskerville. Duh.

For more information on how to use Twitter properly, check out The Twitter Guidebook from Mashable.

Section headings are:


  • Twitter 101 – The Basics
  • Building Your Twitter Community
  • Twitter for Business
  • Top Twitter Follows
  • Sharing on Twitter
  • Managing Your Twitter Stream


By Lucy Hewitt