14 Feb 2007

links for 2007-02-14

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Onlinematchmaking A book I contributed a chapter to, Online Matchmaking is now available for pre-order on Amazon. The book was edited by by Monica T. Whitty, Andrea J. Baker, James A. Inman.

My chapter looks at how things have changed in the world of online dating and the body of social scientific research since I wrote my MA Thesis Cyborgasms (which was more about online identity, gender construction in text only environments, and online community than it was about the nuts and bolts of “doing it” online) back in 1996.

In the UK, the initial hardcover release (09 March) will be £42.75 from Amazon.co.uk. I can’t find it on the US version of the store and don’t know if a paperback version is planned.

I didn’t get paid for the article, don’t get a cut of the book’s takings, probably won’t get any feedback (eg. comments) from readers or website traffic out of it. It makes you wonder why academics still bother to do the dead trees thing when simply blogging it would not only improve the research itself (new insights, corrections, etc) but would also disseminate the final product more quickly, easily and to a wider audience. My guess is more people read this post the day I post it than will ever see the book which, in retrospect, goes almost entirely against the idea of academic publishing.

I’m not, of course, saying don’t buy it – it will be a good book. But I am somewhat shocked at the list price, which I think will severely restrict distribution, and promise that next time an offer to contribute to a book comes along I spend more time thinking about whether that is the best way to serve academia, myself and the public knowledge at large.

13 Feb 2007

bbc london appearance – tonight

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I’ve just been bamboozled into being interviewed by BBC London TV News at BBC London, to be shown on BBC Kent. They’re doing a report tonight about the fall-out after some teachers became upset by reviews their students posted on RateMyTeacher.co.uk.

Why do they always phone when I’ve got the flu and am dressed in the softest, most comfortable, shirt I can find which – sadly – is going to look horrible on screen?! I’m guessing they’ll There is a small possibility they’ll post the interview here here after it’s gone out on air…

13 Feb 2007

links for 2007-02-13

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Mybarackobama The campaign website for American Democratic Presidential hopeful, Senator Barack Obama, has pulled out all the stops to embrace social software. From the main index, visitors can join the site and create a profile which they can then use to network, find or plan events, or write a blog. Obama’s site calls their suite of social networking features “My Barack Obama”.

Anyone who followed the Howard Dean campaign last time around will undestand how powerful a tool the internet can be in helping candidates, or in this case nomination hopefuls, organise their supporters and get their message across whilst, at the same time, bypassing the traditional media gatekeepers (and, one could argue, dodging the questions of professional journalists)

BarackobamaflickrThe Barack Obama website takes social networking a step further by not just providing features on it’s own website, but by reaching out and embracing the communities already using flickr, youtube and facebook.

BarackobamayoutubeUsing social media sites is likely to help Obama’s campaign find new audiences to engage with but will lack the ability to fully control those interactions – something you and I probably think is a good thing but which must scare the hell out Obama’s campaign staffers. Or maybe not.

When TechCrunch “exposed” a “very ugly bug at BarackObama.com”, Obama’s New Media Director, Joe Rospars, was quick to visit and post a comment to explain. He stepped out, acknowledged the problem and engaged with it positively and transparently. The bug, it would seem, wasn’t really a bug, just a feature that showed the title of the most recent group created on the site as an example to the next visitor(s). Rospars wrote:

“It’s up to folks who support this kind of open approach to politics online to push back on the kind of knee-jerk “look! look! look!” that more traditional or tech-phobic writers are inclined to engage in.”

“The past few years have taught most people that it’s a non-story when people post crazy/critical/racist/whatever things in the comments on a politician or organization’s site, and that’s what makes it possible for people in jobs like mine to keep these tools open for all. It’s going to take all of us, no matter what candidate you support, to avoid pretending these kind of things are stories to continue to make progress.”

Michael Arrington’s response? Try to draw some links from bloggers, of course, by going completely off the rails and aiming for the jugular:

“Joe – way to reach out to the community. When you fuck up, the best thing to do is not attack the people who alerted you to it. Why in the world you allowed something like this to happen is beyond me. Why didn’t you just hard code the example into the page? It would have been easier and this wouldn’t have happened.”

“This isn’t Washington DC politics, and you shouldn’t assume I have some racist or other bias against your campaign. We’re a tech blog and I pointed out what looks like a rookie mistake on your site that caused some embarrassment. Most of our readers (me included) are going to be inclined to be on your side. But Obama just lost my vote, because of you.”

Over the top? Yes, extremely.

You can’t preach about engagement then, when someone does it, misinterpret much of what they’ve said and get-all-hot-under-the-collar-unstoppable-rage-could-smash-the-headlights-on-a-car-with-a-baseball-bat-defensive about it.

The barackobama.com website guy was right to point out that it’s a non-story that people will try to do stuff like TechCrunch spotted. That’s what happens when you trust people to be adults and set up systems that enable people to pariticipate without controlling every move they make. Once aware, it appears that the Obama website quickly removed the content and changed the procedure for starting new groups so that now a member of staff has to approve each.

Rather than blogging – including what was, in my opinion, wildly speculative and irresponsible comments about the “bug” either being introduced “maliciously by one of the developers of the site” or caused by a “security hole” without actually trying to find out the real story first – what he no doubt thought was a great, highly diggable exclusive about “malicious coders, Arrington could have simply been adult about it and hit the alert button like everyone else. Yet again, the blogger lynchmob casts a shadow over the more reasonable amongst us…

[Update: Bivings has a useful round-up of reviews of the Obama website]

12 Feb 2007

links for 2007-02-12

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10 Feb 2007

links for 2007-02-10

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09 Feb 2007

links for 2007-02-09

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The Journalist’s Blogroll
Originally uploaded by martinstabe.

My technorati rank might be in freefall as my work life increasingly gets in the way of my blogging, but Graham Holliday still saw fit to include me in his feature about UK based media and journalism bloggers in this week’s print edition of the Press Gazette.

The list includes my friends Richard Sambrook, Kevin Anderson and Suw Charman, and the Telegraph’s Shane Richmond.

Also in there are some blogs I’m quite familiar with and whose authors I bounce a bit of comment banter back and forth with, including The Guardian’s Neil McIntosh and Andrew Grant-Adamson, the University of Westminster Journalism lecturer behind Wordblog.

Here are, by the way, some weird facts about the above:

Kevin Anderson and I met when he was working at the BBC. He got his first proper journalism job as staff at the Peoria Journal Star, my hometown paper. He quit the BBC to go work for Neil McIntosh at the Guardian. I met Neil’s blogging brother, Ewan, at Le Web 3 in Paris back in December and went to dinner with him and Graham, who wrote the article. Andrew lists the Press Gazette’s Martin Stabe in his blog roll as a past student at Westminster, a university I also spent some time at myself although not in journalism. And although I managed to blag a guest post out of Richard Sambrook sometime previously and we’d emailed, I think I first met him face to face at the We Media conference in May 2006, where I sat across the table from Graham on the first day and met him after we realised we were both blogging photos of each other blogging… See what I mean – it’s a pretty small world we blog in.

Whilst I’m less familiar with the other blogs and bloggers on the list, they’re certainly worth a visit but if I listed them all and provided a link from here you might not take the time visit the excellent blog of Martin Stabe, who would himself have been on the list if he didn’t happen to work for the Press Gazette (in which the feature appears). Martin’s got the full list and a bit more info on the feature…

08 Feb 2007

links for 2007-02-08

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About Robin Hamman

I've been helping some of the World's most widely recognised brands and organisations devise and implement strategic digital and social media programmes since 1999.

I'm currently the EMEA Digital Network Lead at Fleishman Hillard. I've previously held a variety of roles including Managing Director of Dachis Group Europe, Director of Digital at Edelman, Head of Social Media at Headshift, Acting Editor of the BBC Blogs and Executive Producer at ITV.

In addition to my day job, I help my wife run an online retail business selling wool blankets - if you're feeling chilly, check out JustSheep.co.uk

I hold a BA in Education, MA in Sociology, MPhil in Communication Studies and a PgDip in Law. I've also been a Non-Residential Fellow at Stanford University Law School and a Visiting Fellow of Journalism at City University, London.

Why cybersoc.com? In 1995, I tried to register, for the purposes of researching "ordinary users", the username Cybersociologist on AOL. They truncated my name and I stuck with it....

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