Category Archives: Social Media

Useful links and resources – 13th September

Since finishing my MSc exams in May I’ve been busy researching all things social media and gov 2.0. I’ve built up quite a collection of RSS feeds in Google reader and have been collecting bookmarks and resources via other sources like Twitter, so I thought I would start to share some of the links I have found useful.

Social by Social book – I highly recommend this free, downloadable book for any local gov officers involved in social media and online engagement projects. Really useful, pragmatic advice and loads of great links. The release of the free download couldn’t be more timely given that I am about to start on a project which will focus onusing social media to improve community cohesion.

How to research social media – having chosen a research question focused on social media for my MSc in Human Computer Interaction I suddenly realised I needed to get good at researching social media! I’ve found various tips around on how to conduct research and this was one of the useful links I came across earlier on. I think it’ll be a while before I master Yahoo Pipes though…

Handbook of research on Socio-technical Design and Social Networking systems – for my research project I am interested in how the use of social media by local Councils for citizen engagement relates to theories of the use of technology by organisations (socio-technical systems theory). Although this resource is quite theoretical, I have found it really useful and thought provoking for my research.

Elected Officials Should Get on Twitter If Only to Listen – useful blog post by Walter Neary which I have added to my bookmarks on the use of social media for citizen engagement. I think it’s useful to gather the views of elected officials rather than just webbies or comms officers who are already social media evangelists.

Local DirectGov Usability Site – I came across this link when searching for information about task walkthroughs. I can’t find it easily when navigating through DirectGov’s site but it has some really useful information and practical examples of task walkthroughs (aka cognitive walkthroughs) for local Councils. As the walkthroughs date back to about 2005 I’m surprised I’ve never seen this resource promoted more widely to local government.


A new era for IT skills training?

A few weeks back I posted about the Google localgov event. My thoughts on whether Councils would adopt cloud computing went something like this:

I have no doubt that the migration to the cloud won’t be driven so much by business strategy so much as by social needs and expectations. As time goes by our experiences of computing in our personal lives will be drastically mis-matched with our computing experiences at work.

Well that’s all very well if you have a degree of competency with IT. Anway, where’s this all heading? Following Portsmouth City Council’s move to block staff access to Facebook which has been in the news and causing a stir on Twitter (thanks to Sharon and  Dave for excellent posts on the subject), I had an interesting chat with some colleagues on the subject of IT skills in the organisation.

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Evaluating online engagement – effect of the long tail?

I’ve found some really useful information recently on evaluating online engagement including Dave Brigg’s suggestion for a common framework, Alice Casey’s excellent presentation on evaluating online participation and the Digital Dialogues report. As I’ve been setting up various e-engagement projects at work I have been thinking about methods for both quantitative and qualitative evaluation, in particular the type of metrics and measures we might use for quantitative evaluation.

I’ve also recently been reading what Clay Shirky has to say on the “power law” distribution in social media, based on an article from 2oo3 and his fascinating book Here Comes Everybody. Shirky outlines that the majority of user activity such as blog posts, photo uploads or wiki edits on social media sites  is done by a relatively small percentage of the total number of contributors. So if you measure the amount of activity per person (e.g. blog posts or photo uploads) and represent the results on a graph, you will find a particular distribution known as a power law distribution, or long tail. This phenomena is also sometimes referred to as the 80/20 rule (Pareto principle) where 80% of the activity is done by 20% of the people.

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