Beki Grinter

Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

Twitter Question

In social media on November 15, 2010 at 7:22 pm

I developed an important portion of my “friending” policy for social media after I made a mistake on flickr. I made a connection to a student in the spirit of having enjoyed my interactions with that student. I didn’t think. A faculty member reaching out meant that the student rapidly reorganized their photographic collection. Thankfully they told me that they had taken these steps. I realised what I had done.

In light of that, my policy w.r.t. to students is that I will friend anyone who seeks me out on social media, as long as I know the person through our shared invisible college, visible college or some other connection. But, I do not reach out. That’s my way of respecting a student’s privacy and not putting them in a situation where they potentially feel they have to edit their content. I guess the counter-argument might be that it means they have to work harder to network with me.

I have a question. Twitter. I am followed by a student whose tweets (which while I do not see in my feed since I do not follow them) I enjoy. Is it appropriate to follow them. If I am followed, may I follow in return? How does that work? What do people feel comfortable with?


Why I Follow Heathrow Airport

In social media on October 11, 2010 at 8:15 am

I follow Heathrow Airport on twitter. I live in Atlanta, and while I am English and do fly home to the UK, I don’t make that much use of Heathrow Airport. For a long time, Delta (the biggest carrier at Atlanta) did not fly to Heathrow, only Gatwick, but I don’t follow Gatwick Airport on Twitter, just Heathrow.

I started following Heathrow Airport because of that unpronounceable volcano in Iceland. We’d hosted a conference here in Atlanta and people were stuck afterwards trying to get home. Heathrow Airport’s twitter stream was useful information about decisions being made about when various air routes would be open. I decided not to unfollow Heathrow afterwards.

So, why do I still follow their stream. Because I like it. Why do I like it. I just find it fascinating to get smaller glimmers into the world of an airport. Sometimes HA tells me that someone famous has passed through the airport. I’m only human so of course I’m interested in a 140 character soundbite about David Beckham. It’s way cheaper than spending $4 on a magazine that would tell me the same thing in a week’s time with a fuzzy picture. In this same vain, I enjoyed their links to stories about Anita the Greeter who greets people at Heathrow who arrive there on a State Visit to the United Kingdom. I enjoyed their series on measures that they are taking to make the airport more green.

Heathrow Airport is also funny. Heathrow Airport likes to wish it’s travellers a good day where ever they are headed. And it also likes to find and retweet pictures of people wearing chicken suits while waiting for their baggage. Heathrow Airport knows how to have a bit of fun. And I appreciate that especially as I know that Heathrow Airport is the voice of the corporation that is the airport and that part of the work it is doing is to appropriately promote and gain business for the airport. At least Heathrow Airport knows how to have fun while doing that.

What I wish they would do more of is introduce us to people at the airport who make the airport run. What’s it like behind the scenes for the myriad of staff who I am sure work incredibly hard to make Heathrow what it is. There was a series Airport that featured people at the airport and difficult customer encounters, I guess I mean something in the same vain but perhaps featuring the people who say for example, keep terminal 3 clean.

I know that Heathrow is not the world’s most well laid out airport. Believe me, each time I am am there I wonder precisely what the most direct route among any of the terminals is, and I am reminded of the much more organized Atlanta Hartsfield airport. But, there’s a new disfunction in Atlanta, which is that if you arrive from a foreign destination you have to clear security screening inside the airport, even if your final destination is Atlanta. Why? Because you have access to the entire airport, and that’s something that compromises security, so they’ve added a new screening process. And it’s this, like the beautiful area in Denver’s airport that had to be repurposed for the dramatic post-9/11 changes to security, that helps to explain Heathrow. Heathrow’s an old airport. There’s a reason you fly down through central London when landing at Heathrow, it’s a reminder of how much London has grown since the airport was initially built, and now what a challenge it presents to evolve an airport with an industry that has dramatically grown and transformed in the history of it’s lifetime. (Although that does not explain the carpet which I think Heathrow Airport could also do a series on, who picked it and why being my two pressing questions).

I also chose to support Heathrow Airport when just prior to a State Visit to Britain, one of the Pope’s advisors said

“When you land at Heathrow you think at times you have landed in a Third World country,” — Cardinal Walter Kasper.

And apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought it was a racist remark. But, some also interpreted it as a remark about Heathrow Airport, and in that interpretation I thought it was a bit of a bloody cheek to say the least. I said that in my tweet stream, and that’s when I heard back from Heathrow Airport who thanked me for the tweet. I’ve never had an interaction with an airport via twitter… and never had an interaction to lend support (as opposed to, say, calling customer service to try and get some support). And I see that Heathrow Airport responds to and retweets other people’s comments. And that’s why I will continue to follow Heathrow Airport, to understand this type of dialog between people and institutions, and because Heathrow Airport is fun and listening.

Furloughs: First Person Experience of Social Media in Crisis

In empirical, research, social media on April 23, 2010 at 9:12 am

On Monday April 19th I was on furlough. I had already written about the volcano and the online experiences I had seen. But that was just 24 hours after the eruption had started (and as the disruption was only beginning to become clear). I was also still at the CHI2010 conference, and so it was before the #CHI2010 became #CHIstuck2010 as people ended up stuck here in Atlanta. It was because there were people who ended up stuck in Atlanta that I had written a blog post, a way to disseminate information about Atlanta. So, I was already beginning to explore the social media in crisis space. But largely as a matter of trying to be helpful.

One of the interesting challenges about furlough is that the Institute requires that I do no Institute business during furlough. So, I was at home. It’s not clear to me what the boundaries of “Institute business” are when you are an academic, but I do enjoy not having to respond to email at the same speed. But, what to do on furlough? Suddenly I had this crazy novel idea, what if I tried to spend the day exploring social media in crisis? No, it’s not scientific but I am sure I am not alone when I say that experience is a good place for starting to think about scholarly endeavours. I am in Interactive Computing, and what is Interactive Computing if it is not the myriad of information generated by social media in crisis. Highly interactive, highly responsive, oh yeah, it’s got it all going on.

So, while GVU/CHI was working on accommodating our new guests, I decided to channel my advisor’s advice, to experience first hand. I would be a citizen journalist, or a computational journalist. What follows is what I learnt.

Experiences from the volcanic frontier.

I would like to thank the Reykjavik Grapevine for great reporting. It’s very sobering to see the pictures of the volcanic darkness that parts of Iceland are experiencing. But I would also learn that it was very valuable to have a range of sources, in English and not Icelandic, that were local to the scene of the volcano.

April 19 was a “good” choice for a furlough day. It was on April 19 that a new question emerged: Has Hekla erupted or not? Hekla is a volcano somewhat North of Eyjafjallajokull it consumed the twitter stream. My notes as follows:

The Twitter stream #ashtag has been very active and full of conflicting reports about whether a second volcano (for smaller but equally confused discussion follow #hekla). Some are saying that RUV are reporting it has, others are suggesting that the camera RUV had pointed at Hekla had been turned towards Eyjafjallajokull to capture images. You can see how complicated viral media like Twitter are when you look at the #ashtag stream. Google News has yet, when I last checked, to pick up any of this (either way, or the apparent confusion now generated). I have absolutely no idea how to confirm this. I thought about turning to the Icelandic state media but I can’t find them because I don’t know a) whether they exist and b) how to google for that in Icelandic, and then also (because I grew up in the UK) the BBC. I’ve now decided that perhaps waiting on Google News might work, seeing how much of the yes/no they pick up. So far, BBC and Google News remain silent, while #ashtag is off the charts in terms of numbers of tweets around this confusion, and MSNBC seemed to pick it up and now seem to have dropped the story (at least the difference between the two times I visited their home page).

Now, just a couple of hours later that meme seems to have passed, Google News and the BBC still remain silent, and a couple of people I see on Facebook have removed their Hekla posts, and it still seems to have disappeared from MSNBC). AShtag is still going strong, but I think it’s calmed substantially from earlier.

Now the Reykjavik Grapevine is advising that Hekla has not blown, but rather the camera pointed at Hekla has been rotated to focus on Eyjafjallajokull.

And now the Huffington Post reports on the initially false twitter reports. Some people on twitter are also discussing how Twitter self-corrected pretty quickly. How good is good enough seems like an interesting question here.

One reason I camped out on the twitter stream, on several tags, was to take information and retweet it to the #chistuck2010 tag which people stuck after attending CHI were following. Initially I was putting it into my blog, but that became increasingly time consuming. It was also a challenge to switch among the various streams, there was so much information coming in so quickly. I felt constantly behind. I started following various twitterers including the airlines, NATS. In fact I was surprised by how many institutions have twitter accounts. Time passed as I worked on trying to sift and filter information and get it to the right place. A substantial proportion was also devoted to deciding that yes that information was correct. So, I now understand the nature of the work, the nature of critical thinking that is required… and perhaps not everyone does critically think, but I was struck by the discussions of information quality and accuracy that I saw.

Other responses to the situation that’s now into it’s 5th day have focused on humour. It’s not just in Iceland that people have been laughing at how hard it is for non-Icelandic people to pronounce Eyjafjallajokull. It’s also in New York: we got it too. Fortunately, one Icelandic person has set the name to song, that helps. Other forms of humour (which I can only assume were partially a stress relief) included some tag lines that were quite popular on the tweet stream.

  • Put bag w/30B euros in unmarked bills by gate of Icelandic embassy in London & we’ll turn off volcano
  • We said send cash not ash
  • The dying wish of Iceland’s economy was to have its ashes scattered over Europe.
  • I’m no volcanologist but has anyone tried throwing in a few virgins?
  • Save the planet? Planet must be saying, “Save yourself idiots, I will be fine”
  • Red moon at night, Vulcanologist’s delight.
  • Just been to Iceland. They have a special offer on Ash Browns.
  • I trust everyone is learning to spell Eyjafjallajokull for this week’s pub quizzes

And then of course people had to generate accounts for the volcanos and the ash cloud.

  • @theashcloud: an account that tweeted :The Ash Cloud is a little worried that because I am not from the EU my dust will not be allowed to settle in the UK”, and later “You think I’m bad. Have you seen Björk when she’s pissed?” and then of course “The Ash Cloud is wondering…is grey the new black?It’s always been my color anyway!”
  • but there was also a competing icelandashcloud
  • (who is apparently a lava not a fighter)
  • (a volcano which has a history of erupting alongside Eyjafjallajokull but is, thankfully, quiet for now)

Another set of responses invoked the Second World War.

Of course this reflects my orientation to the English language tweet stream (although oddly I find 140 characters helps me read French and German tweets also). Dan Snow, a BBC reporter lead a small D-Day like effort to retrieve Britons stuck in France. The Daily Mail picked it up as: “Operation volcano! Navy armada ready to pick up thousands of stranded Britons after France scuppers DIY rescue mission”. But others reported far more personal accounts, including the following reflection on WWII and two CHI 2010 attendees talked about how they met a WWII veteran who had been captured in the Normandy Landings, and was delayed in returning home by 6 months. As they said not only did it add perspective, but they also commented on how they’d shared this with the BBC via their WiFi connection. They shared it with me via Facebook. Our communications networks do make something of a difference.

Another thing I found interesting about the references to WWII was that the lived experience of WWII is increasingly limited. I can’t quite put my finger on why that matters, but I find it curious.

Some of the pictures that have been shared, and commented on, talk about the remarkable beauty in all the danger (and frustration). I include some here: Group 1Northern Lights, Group 2, Group 3.

So, I also asked myself what are people doing? Rideshare is huge. As I tidy this up on April 22, rideshare is still dominating #ashtag and it is an astonishing testament of how many people are displaced at this time. And of course, there’s also the life styles of the rich and famous approach to solving the problem. John Cleese became visible for hiring a taxi home from Norway. And then I saw this on the tweet stream:

There’s a Barcelona taxi outside Gare du Nord in Paris. Someone paid a lot to get here

I said before that this really highlighted how interconnected we are. I followed reports about taking an Atlantic ship home, the Queen Mary 2nd. But the next transatlantic voyage 4.22 is already sold out and the waiting list has more than 1000 people on it. For some reason I’m under the impression that cargo liners can some times take passengers. And then there are the reports of how hard hit industries who rely on air freight are. Kenya’s farmers have been severely impacted by the European flight ban. And because major hubs for international air delivery are located in Germany and France, so the notion that you can get world-wide delivery of items quickly has also been turned on its head. I apologise if this seems like a statement of the obvious, but I can’t help being reminded again of how disruption reveals so much about the silent and invisible work that infrastructure does for us. The airlines play a central role in this. I used to know someone who studied air cargo movements and the ICTs that make this possible, I think of him and Susan Leigh Star again as I write this post. Another person who sums this up well is Peter Greenberg. As did Al Jazeera in a thoughtful report about how we expect what is not local.

And while many are not benefiting, demand for teleconferencing systems has gone way up. Also, environmentalists note that the amount of CO2 that the volcano produced is less than the amount saved by the cessation of flights.

For others it’s an educational opportunity, to discuss Iceland’s volcanoes. Ars Technica has a nice piece. Important to know is that Iceland is not a subduction zone, i.e. one plate not moving beneath another, which is the situation on the West Coast of the U.S. Rather, and I think this is correct, it’s where two plates are moving apart. Look at terrain view of the Atlantic Ocean and you see a long spine of mountains that are roughly in the middle of the Atlantic. Most of them are under the water, but HELLO ICELAND.

And so that’s what I saw and experienced.

Social Media: Iceland, Eyjafjallajokull, Katla, Ash Clouds and Flying

In empirical, European Union, research, social media on April 15, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Yesterday, a volcano in the Eyjafjallajokull region started erupting. And as reports continue to suggest things might be getting worse, and could have significant long term global implications, my thoughts are with those who are directly impacted by the floods. The volcano started sending up a large ash cloud, up to 55,000 ft into the air. Upper atmosphere winds are now blowing the ash towards Europe. As the ash is sinking (now at 18,000 to 33,000 ft), it’s entering the airspace of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, and progressively others in Northern Europe. Ash and aeroplanes do not mix, instead they get into the engines and can cause them to stop.

Needless to say, social media including Twitter have kicked into high gear as people’s travel plans get altered. I’m attending CHI2010 in Atlanta, and I have heard many discussions about flight delays today among the Europeans who are now stuck in the United States waiting to return home. Flickr has a group that you can contribute: share your images.

I have a few observations.

I think it’s not just that Eyjafjallajokull is difficult to spell, (I would like to hear from native Icelandic speakers whether its easier to spell if you’re familiar with the language), it’s also long, by the time you put that into the tweet stream you’ve got considerably less characters than you do with other hashtags. Interestingly, following it on twitter you see substantive discussion by people I suspect are largely outside of Iceland wondering (like I did) how you say this word. Not all of those discussions are in English, but i am pretty certain that they are all not in Icelandic. Two other hashtags I’ve seen are #ashtag and #icelandic. Both of course suggest a dominant language in social media. This is already well known, but it’s another reminder of how different Internet experiences can be if you’re English-native or not. And what a privilege it is to have a working knowledge of English.

In Iceland it’s the case that the volcano that erupted did more than send up a large ash cloud, it also caused a glacier to melt. People were evacuated. Roads were destroyed. People’s farm lands were destroyed. Blogs are now collating the data, which is a good thing IMO since the twitter stream might be good for propagating news but it’s hard to get a sense of the total picture from bite-size messages. I like this interplay between blogs and twitter. Something similar is going on with the BBC who have a live feed of the impacts of the eruption, including those involving flights.

So what else is consuming the twitterverse is the impact on flights. It’s not just in Northern Europe. As I mentioned it’s also people trying to get from Europe to the United States and vice versa. And then there’s people for whom Europe is the first stop, such as those moving from the U.S. to India or vice versa. And one thing you immediately notice is how dependent we are on air travel for professional and personal reasons. Seeing people tweet their own tales of what they are going through gives the news a sense of “really happening” “real people”, well at least for me.

It’s another reminder of the global migration patterns that exist, in addition to the more short-term reasons people fly. And we’ll soon begin to see the global consequences of this disruption. It’s not just that the Northern European airspace is shut down, it’s now also that planes that were meant to be in one place, and their associated crews, are not where they should be. Soon, other forms of computational technologies will be brought to bear on solving what is I can only imagine a hideous n-way scheduling problem that each airline and airport has to go through to make sense of where the system currently is and how to return it to “normal” as soon as possible. Another consequence of this is that people are stuck in places and needing hotel rooms. And here it’s not that the ratio of people stuck in the wrong place some how works out. Here in Atlanta, we have a large domestic competition (Robotics and school children) coming to town and at the same time extra people who are affected by the ash cloud. You can also see that in the tweet stream.

Perhaps it’s obvious to all, but I find the way that it plays out via social media fascinating. A serious disruption to the infrastructure of global migration has obvious consequences, but they appear as I said to be “really happening” “real people”, well at least for me.

Other images, here, here, and a image of the gradual clearing out of British airspace, which reminds me of the one that occurred in the U.S. in the wake of 9/11.

oh, and this seems meta. While I was putting together this post, Ed Chi was writing about my own updates on the volcano that I made via twitter.

Twitter and Earthquakes: Haiti, Chile, and now Baja California Mexico

In C@tM, computer science, empirical, HCI, research, social media on April 4, 2010 at 9:52 pm

As many of you know there’s been another large Earthquake, this time in Baja California Mexico. Original estimates were that it was a 6.9 magnitude earthquake (it has been revised to 7.2 by the USGS and I read reports of 7.4 from Twitter now). I was in Irvine when Northridge occurred, so first and foremost and as always my thoughts go out to those who went through it.

It’s inevitable that comparisons will be drawn. They were between Chile and Haiti’s earthquakes, the difference in responses and so forth. Hopefully, if one thing good can come out of a large earthquake is that it teaches us what we need to respond better and more effectively to the next one.

I have a smaller question, which focuses on the role of social media, I’ve blogged about my perceptions of the social media use in response to the Chile earthquake here. I’m finding it harder, personally, to find the streams on twitter associated with this latest Earthquake. Interesting to me since it happened to be felt in a place that’s very technologically enabled, Southern California (reports of tall buildings swaying in San Diego for example).

So my questions are as follows:

  1. How do the uses of various media streams, facebook, twitter, etc… vary according to the different earthquakes? I know that my colleagues at Colorado are working to try and unify the syntax of the responses to aid in search and rescue, but I’m also curious about the volume of responses and the mediums used. Why? Because I think we can understand the cultural differences in social media uptake through these sorts of events, and I think that’s not just an important and interesting research question, but also a crucial piece of the puzzle for understanding how to respond.
  2. Are there differences in how people use them? Again, turns on cultural concerns. I know we have a strong focus on the basics. Where are my friends and family? Where can I get food and water? What is the whole situation? But, what if any completely local responses are important? I recently watched a program that focused on recovery efforts in Haiti and included discussion of the role of voodoo leaders in shaping some people’s understanding of what had happened. I know what you’re thinking, yes, it pertains to some of the research that Susan Wyche does. Yes, that’s true, but it’s also important to understanding how to frame response, who might be involved, what the parameters of culturally appropriate action and interaction are… and surely that’s got to matter.

I am sure that there are better and more questions to ask. These are mine as I watch a few twitter streams counters go up, but so slowly in comparison with Chile. Of course it was said then that Chile had really taken to twitter, and now just from my sample (I sampled hashtags I could find, but of course that includes at this point several hundred different individuals and institutions…).

And so my thoughts are mostly with the people of Mexico and California. But my thoughts are also with the people of crisis informatics and my colleagues in Colorado. They have so much to do, so many possibilities, and why do I think also a sleepless night tonight while they gather data and begin their process of tweaking the tweet once again.

Chile Earthquake

In research, social media on February 27, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Before I say anything else, let me begin by saying that my thoughts and hopes are with the people of Chile who now struggle to recover from their Mag 8.8 earthquake and the significant aftershocks that continue to exacerbate the situation.

UPDATE 2: Google gets involved… search to coordinate seeking.

UPDATE: Friends are safe and well — and how did I find out, via Facebook. Also, now seeing another wave of social media, pictures being collected and recomposed. It’s an ever changing complex landscape.

I have colleagues at the University of Colorado who study citizen-generated social media responses to earthquakes. They call this work crisis informatics, and in the wake of the Haiti Earthquake encouraged people to “tweak the tweet” to help provide as much information as possible in a coordinated way. One of the challenges is that citizen responses are individual in nature (focused on what they’ve learnt, who they’re searching for, where they’re located etc… but there’s a significant utility to having that information aggregated so that it’s more shareable across social networks — potentially you could connect people who don’t know each other but know something about the same person, and of course the population trends matter, where are things immediately worse… etc…). And given the time pressure to respond, well you get the point.

I’ve written before about how social media are not limited to “trite” uses. How they can in fact be a part of a story about Computing for Social Relevance. But the emergence use of Twitter around Chile also shows how complex their use is to understand, and how much more there is left to do to be able to a) tell the whole story, what is the full use of these technologies for disaster response, what works what does not work. These are not just important research questions that are currently difficult to answer, but imperative for agencies who seek to use these media in emergency and disaster response (and there are a lot of agencies that do want to use these media).

Some of the challenges. Volume. Since writing this post I set twitter on a search for Chile or #Chile. That’s generated 15000 posts in about 30 minutes. This of course does not include the CCChile thread which is also producing a traffic (although my unscientific test of leaving both searches going suggests that the Chile thread is more active). Twitter apparently is widely used in Chile (something I’ve learnt on twitter this morning since I started writing this post) so perhaps this is particularly high volume traffic, but since the people of Chile are also without communications this is likely the response, at least initially of people outside Chile, focused on people who are there.

And that makes it just a little more personal for me, as I think about two friends of mine from graduate school who told me via facebook about 14 hours ago that they were leaving Western Argentina, quite close to the quake zone, but from the maps not in a substantial shake zone as best I can tell, to head to Easter Island where a tsunami is warned.

One of the Hawaii subthreads, associated with Action News is reporting that there have been runs on petrol in Hawaii, and that the mayor of the big Island is asking people not to use the telephone for anything other than emergencies. This is the @ActionNEws510 thread to which the HawaiiRedCross twitter account is also now reporting. By contrast the main Hawaii thread, which I also started informally tracking has received about 1400 tweets in the time it took me to write this paragraph. I note this because right now they are in a preparation for potential tsunami mode, so their communications infrastructure is still up and running. Another aspect of all of this then is if you have a type of advanced warning what can you do with it? Also, what type of mis-information gets spread.

Another aspect of all of this is where do you find the information? I found a piece of useful information about Hawaii. They expect the time that the tsunami will hit to be 4:05pm Eastern Standard Time, which is 11:05 am Hawaii time (I am curious how they can be so precise) information that comes from the Pacific Tsunami Warning center so that sounds pretty reliable. But it’s not on the Hawaii thread. It’s on the broader Pacific Tsunami or Tsunami thread which in the time it took me to write this paragraph generated about 600 new tweets.

I’ll stop here. I now actually want to focus my attentions on Easter Island since I am concerned about the people who I happen to know who have gone there. I am sure they’ll be fine, but they are not online, and I just want some reassurance. But, this is an unfortunate example of not only the power of social networks, but the complexity of those networks. Here are a lot of people who are trying to be helpful, who have taken a media that might at other times be playful (and where the lack of structure might contribute significantly to the delight of the experience) and turned it into one that’s trying to disseminate information, provide assistance. And it’s very very very hard to understand what’s going on, let alone how to shape the experience so that these people can be the best that they want to be, to really get and give what they are clearly trying to do. To do this requires basic research, the type of Computing research that my colleagues at Colorado (and UC Irvine) are engaged in. Computing for practice, it really matters.

Haiti, Social Networks, and the Power of Critical Thinking

In empirical, research, social media on January 13, 2010 at 11:51 pm

The earthquake in Haiti is a terrible, timely reminder of the power of social networks.

The BBC is not only reporting about Haiti, but also about the work that social networking technologies are doing. Tonight they highlighted troylivesay who is tweeting from Haiti. And I’ve seen messages go past on facebook all day with information on how to donate by SMS and the WWW to relief efforts. I also heard from a colleague today who is on a mailing list that’s discussing how to most effectively get technological aid (most immediately repairing the mobile network). It is easy to see the power of social networks in emergency/disaster response (Leysia Palen’s work on this is a good read in the area).

But the BBC also reminded us to be critical. I don’t mean negative, just thoughtful. They showed a picture being circulated as earthquake damage in Haiti, but it was in fact damage from an earthquake in Japan. Perhaps that’s not terribly important in the end, but I think the point is well taken in understanding the power of social media.

It’s very rare that technologies are good or bad, usually they have mixed and far more interesting outcomes. Today, as we process information about Haiti, we can make donations, but are also asked to take reports and synthesize the information, and create a version that balances the best of what social media provides (real time, multi-faceted reports, perhaps in the face of an absence or a block on official reports) with the power of traditional media which is a guarantee of a certain set of reporting standards on which they rely for their own continued integrity and success (alongside their own political/social leanings of course).

If you want to donate (taken from social media) but checked by traditional media Fox News reports that these are valid sites.

Text “YELE” to 501501 to donate $5 to
Text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross. are working with Mercy Corps

My thoughts go out to those who are involved and also to those who have family and friends in Haiti.

Update: another cautionary tale

Social Media: Reinventing IM with Twitter

In research, social media on June 16, 2009 at 9:47 pm

Let me say from the outset that I do not feel entirely comfortable wtih twitter. Well more accurately I feel that I don’t understand twitter (especially in comparison with facebook where I feel entirely at home).

No, that’s not completely true. I think it’s an awesome backchannel for meetings. I get that use. It’s also fun to read the capture of other meetings that you’re not at.  I think this would increase if I had more friends on Twitter.

OK, a quick aside. On Facebook, if a student friends me I will reciprocate. That seems appropriate. I won’t friend a student on Facebook or sign up for their flickr stream, but if they ask to see mine for some reason I think that’s appropriate on facebook and flickr.  Funnily enough I don’t think it’s appropriate to follow a student even if they follow me on twitter.  I suppose I don’t see it as bi-directional.  Someone’s asking to follow the tweets I generate, but I am not sure that I should follow theirs.

Perhaps it’s the word.  Friends versus following. Friend seems like a gesture I get and reciprocate. Following seems a bit more like following, it has less to do with friendship, more to do with watching.



The other day I was using twitter with a colleague at a different institution. He’s actually an important part of my invisible college.

OK, another aside. The Invisible College is a brilliant concept. As a researcher I have two networks. There is my local, visible college. In my case it’s the School of Interactive Computing, where I work with my colleagues. But then there’s the invisible college of research colleagues who span many institutions (although I will note that IC has a significant number of HCI researchers which is awesome). It is in collaboration with them that we produce the knowledge that is HCI, CSCW, etc. They are the people whose paper’s I cite and write findings to build on or contrast, they are also the people who provide peer review, not just of my scholarship, but also of my career.

OK, so I was using twitter with a colleague at a different institution and we remarked that it was a bit like an IM exchange.

This reminded me of Amy Voida’s thesis work. I should caveat this here by saying that this is one key point I took away from the thesis, something that resonated with me, deeply.  An argument she made was that given the plethora of appropriation experiences that people have with technologies, each encounter with a new technology can be “read” in multiple ways. She made her arguments over cameraphones and IM.  Technologies that mix hardware and communications ideas (is it a camera, is it a phone, is it a written or spoken medium?).  Seems to me that might be how I am making sense of twitter.  Perhaps I am reading it as a different genre.

You may have noticed that my blog has become more active lately. This is a consequence of two new orientations.  One is to stop watching television as much.  The other is that I’ve decided its more like a media that I am more comfortable with, or that I understand (at least until I get a lesson in how my interpretations might not hold robustly).

And so twitter, perhaps I am reading it as IM. Perhaps that works for me.

And in that light I will say that it does not have the difficulty that IM has, which is that saying goodbye, the turn taking protocol on IM doesn’t seem as good as face to face. It’s awkward. Twitter seems easier to move in and out of conversation.

Of course, today, and for the last few days something completely else has been happening with Twitter.  The Iranian elections have been a source of significant conversations via twitter. So, this is a far more local musing, and an important reminder that many communications technologies don’t just have a single story of adoption and use, but a plurality that speak to the many, varied appropriations.