July 25, 2010
Many, many thanks to Mat Walker for organising Certified Scrum Master training in Brighton that I just did.
It was two full days of interesting material, ideas and practical activities, skillfully presented by Nigel Baker of Agile Bear, who kept it alive and fun. Scrum is intriguing, I was expecting something a lot more technical and exact, but Scrum comes across as human scale, pragmatic and full of common sense. These must be the right things for managing projects full of change.
Left me with a lot to think about and a desire to find a team and a project and try it all out.
And, good news, Mat is thinking about organising another course in Brighton. Sign up here for more information.
It was run at the new Skiff location in Gloucester Street, off the north lanes. Fantastic place.
Oh, yes, and I’m now a Certified Scrum Master.
September 5, 2009
To make good on that 10:10 committment of reducing your CO2 by 10% by 2010, how are you going to do it?
Here are three things you can do to get started:
1. Sign up to 10:10
If you haven’t made a committment to the 10% reduction, go to the 10:10 website and sign up. That’s important. It adds to the volume of people and business that have signed up, and makes it harder for the government to ignore, so there’s something useful for them to take to Copenhagen. You can sign up as a person or as a business or as a school or an organisation.
2. Look at the Guardian G2 guide to get ideas where to make changes
The Guardian published a really clear guide to personal carbon reductions, with simple actions and real numbers. They start with averages of CO2 per year then lists lots of actions you can take to make CO2 savings. It begins:
Every year, each person in the UK is, on average, responsible for about 14 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. (The government’s published figures suggest a lower amount, but they omit things such as international aviation.) So, if we want to make a genuine cut of 10% across the board, we need to reduce our emissions by about 1.4 tonnes each. Let’s call it 1.5 tonnes, just to be sure.
And goes on with useful savings you can make by tonnes per year. This is the best short reference I have seen so far.
3. Start an EcoTeam, measure and reduce
Gather your neighbours or online friends and start measuring, learning and reducing your Rubbish, Energy, Water and Travel. Sign up and create an EcoTeams online — invite friends, and start measuring and learning and reducing your usage.
You can sign up online now and get started gathering your team together.
EcoTeams is one of my favourites, perhaps because I’ve been working on several releases of the EcoTeams website over the last couple of years. This latest version makes fully online EcoTeams easy, and support you a lot in taking measurements and inviting others to get involved.
Here are three ways to get started. I’ll do an update article in a few days with a few more online resources to have a look at, incluing using power saving plug adapter things, energy monitors and turning things off.
July 21, 2009
Interview with Mums in Control magazine – out this summer. MIC is a fast growing network of mums in business or mumpreneurs. A fast-growing phenomenon I am part of, and keen to support. Not sure about the “in control” bit, but hopefully in balance more often than not.
Mothers are increasingly fed up with jobs that do not allow them to spend enough time with their children. So instead, they are starting their own businesses. The number of women working for themselves has leapt by nearly 20% since 2000, according to official figures, and now tops a million.
And an opinion poll commissioned by the government shows that the most significant factor in the increase is a desire among women for a better balance between work and family life.”
From BBC News
Clarification: my services extend beyond online social networking. See here for more.
Making Social Networks Your Business…
The social web changes the marketing game by making it participative. LIBBY DAVY, inspirational social web expert, artist and mother, offers insight into becoming SMART (specific, measurable, achieveable, realistic and timely) when marketing your business.
Read this article carefully, it’s the new holy grail for all aspiring mumpreneurs…
An Australian communications and PR specialist with an engaging smile, Libby Davy now lives with her technology-savvy husband, young daughter and dog, in Brighton, West Sussex. She’s a web champion with a social conscience, who is hugely enthusiastic about the way women use the internet today. “We are natural social animals,” she explains, “Women love to communicate, to collaborate, to create connections. The internet’s our natural home.”
A few years ago, terms like ‘googling’ and ‘surfing’ may have felt alien, but today we all do these things with the same ease as hanging out the washing. The web’s become invaluable and not just for doing the supermarket shopping. We’re also communicating with old friends and ex-colleagues and keeping an eye on our kids through the social websites they use, like Bebo and Facebook, too. Oh! and of course some of us are using it for dating, as well. Even so, are we really taking full advantage of the internet’s social dimension to support our business needs? Libby shakes her head; clearly thinks not.
She and her husband run a technology company called, Nodestone, which combines middleware development (her husband’s bit and a techy term you don’t need to understand) with a social networking consultancy (the bit we are interested in). Through it, Libby runs workshops to explain how the web is a social network that enables you to do far more than keep in touch with your mates. Whilst traditional media can still be useful for promoting your business, the web is SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely). Libby encourages us to, “Try not to fear the jargon. There are a few new terms worth understanding, as they will give you confidence to harness all the values the web has to offer.”
She points me to her website for some clear advice. It tells me that “vast numbers of people are using blogs, social networks, photo and video sharing sites as important marketing and engagement tools.” Libby explains further, “Building your buzz in these spaces is a good way to find your market. Getting the right bloggers to write about your activities (blog outreach) is also a good way to reach interested people.”
These activities will help build traffic to your business’s website. This is critical if you want to raise your search rankings. (e.g when someone keys your business type into google or Yahoo search your company to come up towards the top of the results). Libby explains that to achieve this, “exchange links with relevant blogs and other sites, and remember that a personal request works best. A good way to start is by commenting on other blogs that are writing about your topics. It’s also a good idea to have a blog as part of your site; it’s an easy way to keep the content fresh and the site alive.”
You can use social networks to build a list of ‘friends’ who you can message in a similar way to email and so promote your website. Social networks also have a viral aspect where people sign-up to your cause because they’ve seen it appear in a friend’s newsfeed or on their profile. You can make it easy to sign up by adding links to your Facebook, Myspace, Bebo or other social networking profiles on to your website homepage.
“Social networks work best when you put a lot of time into them, sending messages, responding to friend requests, commenting on other people’s profiles,” Libby warns. “But the results can be really worthwhile. They are informal social spaces, so the more personal and friendly you can be, the better. People in social networks will tend to ignore corporate communications.”
She advises that you think carefully about who you are trying to attract using social networking sites, in some societies they are mostly used by a younger audience, however they are increasingly gaining popularity with different communities.
Twitter is the most recent term on everyone’s lips, since Barack Obama used it so successfully for his presidential campaign.
“It’s hard to describe Twitter well,” laughs Libby, “Except as a mixture of micro-blogging (160 characters per entry as in mobile phone text messages) and social networking. It works across the web and with mobile phones and feels ‘live’.”
People are using Twitter to share interesting content, especially to respond to things that are happening at that moment or to share snippets of and links to interesting articles and blog posts.
I ask her how you can you see if all your social marketing is working?
“A simple tool you can use for free is Google Alerts,” she says. “You can set this up through going to the main google website and specifying which key words you want it to alert you about when they are used on a website. Google Alerts then emails you when these keywords are mentioned in online media and blogs.”
“The mantra of online marketing is ‘measure everything’. For your site, the main tool will probably be Google Analytics, it’s free and provides a lot of detail on your website statistics; who’s using your site, where they are coming from to reach your site and what they are looking at. For your social networks you’ll largely be relying on the stats you can get from them, such as number of friends, number of comments, and number of video views. The web promises what traditional PR & marketing never could – the possibility of measuring engagement.”
The social web changes the whole marketing game by making it participative. You don’t just want to get people interested, you want to get them involved. Encourage people to bookmark your site in social bookmarking services like Delicious and always encourage friends and supporters of your initiative to and encourage your friends to promote your cause.”
With this Libby takes a breath. “There’s so much more to say,” she laughs, “but perhaps this is enough for one day. “
10 new web terms your business should know….
A blog is a website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in a reverse time order. Blogs often provide commentary or news on a particular subject; some function as more personal online diaries. Blog software (eg. Wordpress) is often used to build websites for organisations now, as it is easy and free to use.
Syndication means that anyone can subscribe to your blog and receive automatic notification that it has been updated. It uses RSS feeds.
Really Simple Syndication is a technology that allows Internet users to receive ongoing, constantly updated information from many sources through a simple reader or aggregator (eg. Google Reader). This is supplied through an “RSS feed” that users can subscribe to.
A feed aggregator, also known as a feed reader, news reader or simply as an aggregator, is client software or a Web application which aggregates syndicated web content such as news headlines, blogs, podcasts, and vlogs in a single location for easy viewing.
The ability to save and categorise a personal collection of bookmarks through services such as Delicious and share them with others. Users may also take bookmarks saved by others and add them to their own collection, as well as to subscribe to the lists of others.
A group of websites with a common theme, built in a loop, allowing a surfer easy access to subsequent sites in the ring by clicking on links. There are thousands of web rings around in all sorts of categories and issues.
A broad class of websites and services that allow you to connect with friends, family, and colleagues online, as well as meet people with similar interests or hobbies. Popular examples include MySpace, Facebook, Linked In. Even photo sharing websites like Flickr have become places for social networking through shared interests.
Online Media Storage
Websites that allow you to store, share and view a range of media such as digital photographs (see Flickr), audio files like podcasts, video (see YouTube).
Weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly roundups of blogs on a particular issue or topic.
Note: things have already moved on, and this would not still be my essential list of terms.
February 17, 2009
Lots in this fine presentation, but well worth flicking through and pondering.
Communities of Practice came up when I began an MA in Person Centred Education. I believe they have profound implications for lifelong learning.
January 11, 2009
If you haven’t checked it out yet, have a good look at Message in-a-Box “A toolkit for communicating your cause”.
It’s relevant to anyone that needs to communicate in life and work.
When Nodestone was commissioned by the Tactical Tech Collective earlier in the year to help bring it together, I faced a somewhat overwhelming task as you might imagine when you see it.
What is it? A rather large online resource for learning how to communicate better, to put it simply.
More specifically, it’s an international educational platform for people in NGOs and campaigning organisations that demonstrates how to use low-tech and high-tech tools and tactics to work on some of the hardest issues of our times.
We show you how to think strategically (about goals, resources and time) and then know which tools and tactics (eg. images / print / audio / video / internet / mobiles and media) to choose to get your message across.
Here’s how Tactical Tech describe it:
“…a set of strategic guides to using communications tools for social change, together with a suite of open source tools to get you making your own media. The toolkit is designed for small and medium-sized NGOs, advocates, and citizen journalists to help them create and distribute content for their advocacy efforts while exploring the constantly evolving world of campaigning and communications.”
The feedback has been excellent around the world. A much needed resource.
Here’s an example of how it works:
This section helps you find out how others have used images effectively and creatively. It helps you learn how to find, create, edit, share great images, with an emphasis on photographs, comics, maps and simple animated images.
Images add impact to stories, blog posts, websites, posters,brochures, email campaigns – whatever campaigning channels and tools you are using.
What do you need?
Essential: ideas, creativity, imagination, a strategy.
Extra: people to help, internet access, mobile phone and/or a camera (digital or other), source books/comics/cartoons collected from anywhere or commissioned.
Having worked in communications as a consultant, writer, activism and educator for (gosh!) over 20 years, it was a dream to be able to put these threads of life to good use. To make something practical and tangible.
Message-in-a-Box is about the power of PR being brought to the people who have historically had least access to it. Things were all explained in the simplest possible terms with examples and free software downloads. From human rights abuses to clean water – NGOs on little or no budget obviously need education and support. It’s an egalitarian Aussie’s delight.
In London, Botswana or Mumbai, Message-in-a-Box is now available for free, 24/7. A print version with DVD software is also being distributed. It’s actually a good resource for anyone a clear (hopefully) perspective on getting your message across.
Along the way we got to massage the words and ideas of some great folk like Becky Faith, Dr Dan McQuillan and Heleana Quartey. Hopefully to first incarnation is already being put to some good use.
Once thing I’m hoping Tactical Tech do soon is to improve collaboration and “stickiness” on the site. Feedback, registration etc… Also the use of images and stills, sound and video clips to make the resource more visual and interactive – to practice what we preach!
Over the years we have increasingly worked on projects that pass positive screens for social / eco accountability. Put another way… that feel good. Like:
- widgets for TrickleStar and the BBC
- social carbon measurement for Global Action Plan
- edu-marketing for the Guerrand Hermes Foundation for Peace
- teaching blogging to communities and companies
- setting up The Big Love Gift Guide
- running a massive campaign for TV Turn Off Week.
But as long as you aren’t arms dealers, we can usually find or create some positive values in just about any project. Get in touch if you want to know how Nodestone can help you feel good about your work.
October 9, 2008
I’m at the Future of Web Apps conference today and tomorrow in London. Here are a few summary notes from this morning.
Note: this gets pretty technical in places.
The mornings’s theme seems to have been about operations and development isuses.
Kevin Rose, from Digg, talked about Digg and the new Digg recommendations. I’ve done lots of work in this area with our Recommendation Ventures web services, so it was really interesting to hear Digg’s experiences. A few points:
- When Digg added recommendations, they saw a 4 times increase in the number of people ‘friending’ other people, and a 40% increase in diggs (votes on news stories). This goes along with the conventional wisdom regarding recommendations — they help keep visitors on your site longer and encourage interaction.
- Digg generates recommendations by clustering around keywords in their existing taxonomy. This generates better recommendations, by allowing a person to have differing interests, and generating and blending speciific recommendations for for those topic areas. I suspect the do the clustering/bucketting to make the calculations less expensive, too.
- Digg have built custome graph stuff in Python to generate recommendations. Nice to hear the Python namecheck there.
Edwin Aoki from AOL talked fairly generally about the Web Application Ecosystem.. A few points:
- Web apps have probably suffered from the release of a lot of device development kits this year: iPhone, Android, more Flash development. So, a step back into putting programs on devices rather than developing apps to run on all devices.
- Basically, end user consumers don’t care about open web standard and that. They just want ot do stuff in usable apps.
- Web Services are important for building the fundamental services for creating enduring value, rather than another website. (I think I got the point of that comment…)
Languages and Scaling and Operations
I guess every tech conference has to have a session to poke fun at programming languages. Jokes cast at Ruby, PHP, Python and Perl by Joe Stump (Digg) and Blaine Cook (ex-Twitter). But some important points as well:
- languages don’t scale. Scaling is something else, comes from actual systems architecture. (Therefore, who cares what language is used, keep developers happy)
- Web Apps need to be able to scale horizontally onto lots of small cheap boxes. Architect this in from the beginning to avoid pain later, but don’t sweat it too much.
- Capacity management matters.
- Use message queues. Defer tasks into the background if you can. This is essential when systems grow, and add lots of flexibility.
- Use caches such as memcache, but do it intelligently: cache invalidation is often a hard problem to solve. Easy to add to the cache, harder to keep it consistent.
- Look out for herd-effects on cache invalidation: All servers then go and re-fetch data at once. Stagger invalidation times across servers.
Matt Biddulph from Dopplr talked about using message queues. Interesting stuff. Basically, this is all about moving server processes into queues, so you can have one or more worker save servers to handle less-time-critical parts of the application in the background.
A few notes:
- Queues make life easy because:
- Easy to add and remove slaves, which means easy scaling
- Improve application performance by delaying things that don’t matter now to lower priority background processing
- Easy performance monitoring .. look at the queues
- “Enterprise Integration Patterns by Hohpe, Woolf et al.” is worth reading.
July 21, 2008
These slides from the training session for the Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce last week. Let me know if you want us to come to your event or run a bespoke event or Masterclass.
More details on our Social Media for Good course soon (looks like next date will be Oct 3 in Brighton).
Covers a bit of an introduction to social media and blogging, plus some questions to get you thinking about your own context, opportunities and challenges.
Some good thinking in the room and animated conversations. Quite a few organisations ready to get blogging and exploring integrated social media in more depth.
A few of you made pledges are you walked out the door about your goals and intentions, so let me know how you get on!
Thanks to all for your warm feedback and to those who helped make it a positive event, especially Lorraine Bell (BCP), Tania “Radiance” Fullerton (Brighton Steiner School) and Fay McDonald.
June 20, 2008
Mark Walker from SCIP has long been supporting local charities and communities with IT services. Not just through all the work SCIP does in information and computer technologies, but also via the very happening SCIP group email list, which brings people together all around the South Coast.
If that’s not enough, Mark is now researching how to help local charities raise funds via the internet, including a bunch of region specific resources. That’s all part of his role as ICT Champion for the south east of England.
Read his post on this and the rest of his blog here.
We like lots of the same stuff (To Kill a Mockingbird and Atonement for a start), so it’s great to have found you Mark. Don’t you just love social media for short cutting all that “getting to know you” stuff. I think you can tell a lot about a person by the music/books/films that inspire them.
May 11, 2008
We’re just back from the Shine Unconference. Lib was there for the lot, but I was only there for Sunday. I’m a bit tired to say much about it this evening.
But.. it was great and inspiring hanging around and chatting with a lot of people who are really going with their passions and doing great and good things. It was a very warm and friendly space, and I really enjoyed the sessions we did today.
Lib ran a short discussion on Authenticity Online which sparked a robust discussion of a bunch of issues around social media, free content, risk management, online reputation and online tools. There are a lot of questions out there around social media and the third sector. We collected some meaty questions which we’ll post over on the authentic blogging community in the next couple of days along with the beginnings of some answers. Thanks to all who participated in that discussion and hope you join us over on the community to work through the issues.
Busy afternoon — we then whizzed over to the “What’s in a Name” session being run by Neru. Lib and I are working on rebranding, so wanted to get some tips on choosing a new name for us. Interesting ideas from there. Thanks to the Neru team and all who threw in their thoughts. We’ll keep working on that new name and see what happens.
It always seems a long train ride home to Brighton on a Sunday, but when we got home it was still sunny and the air was fresh. It was quiet. You got the sense a lot of people had satisfying weekends and were now relaxing at home. I sure did.
May 2, 2008
Really enjoyed (as you can see) experiencing Free School this week. Congratulations to Seb Mary and all from School of Everything for making it happen. Some fine folk took a short course in Advanced Raving & Merriment to be sure. We also learnt and taught some very tangible things about…
- Public relations and marketing (thanks Heleana)
- Social media, authenticity and learning
- Taking egalitarian education to the streets.. cafes.. anywhere, anytime.
Better still, try getting along to the next one.