Talking about digital media at Think Digital Cardiff @tdcardiff

Next week I’m doing a talk about digital media.

I thought I’d put the emphasis on what I think of as ‘all the other important applications’ of digital media like collaboration, online communities, forming groups, user-generated content and so on. If you want an accessible introduction to some of these things then you should consider coming along.

It seems to me that sometimes people automatically associate digital media and social media with publicity, PR and marketing. I think marketing is a legitimate use of digital media, depending on how you do it, but it would be limiting to think of it exclusively as that wouldn’t it? What about all the other useful stuff people are doing online?

So hopefully the talk which I’m working on now will complement the talks by the other speakers. And I think I have a way to tie it all together.

The event is primarily aimed at business owners in south Wales who want to know more about online. It’s called Think Digital Cardiff and is organised by Big Eye Deers who specialise in creating ecommerce sites and web stores for people. Now, there are probably loads of companies who claim to offer these services. Big Eye Deers, while well established, are new to me and would be the Highest New Entry on my chart of favourite companies – if there were such a thing. What I like about them is their eye for detail and their use of open source software.

At the time of writing there are still spaces at Think Digital Cardiff for small business owners and all proceeds from the event go to charity.

The Business of Social Media – a short course with Cyfle

Cyfle have invited us to run our 2-day course, The Business of Social Media again in Caernarfon and Cardiff.

Individuals working in marketing, promotion or development of small and large businesses and organisations.

Caernarfon (Welsh medium) 17/18 October
Cardiff (English medium) 20/21 October
Cardiff (Welsh medium) 14/15 November

Many businesses are now using social media to create engaging relationships with people and markets, communicate about products, offer special deals, develop customer loyalty and respond to enquiries and conversations about their brand.

  • How can you use digital media tools to achieve these business aims?
  • How can digital media be used to bring out creativity, tackle problems, enable collaboration, develop audiences and tell stories?
  • Which tools are appropriate for your work and what can they do?
  • How do you go from registering an account with an online tool to using it well on a real project?

Participants will have an opportunity to explore these questions and gain practical experience on the platforms which have people’s attention.

Book a place
To book a place or ask questions please contact or 01286 668003.

The Digital Scholar by Martin Weller

Martin Weller is an OU professor who we first met through our Trydan cafe events. I’m currently reading his new book The Digital Scholar for his insights on the use of digital media in education and research. As with Martin’s excellent blog there will doubtless be things applicable outside of education. What I expect I’ll do is carry on reading it online for free at the Bloomsbury Academic site until my eyes hurt and then invest in a paper version of the book. Join me.

Incidentally now and again people ask me what’s happening with Trydan. I’d say it was on indefinite hiatus at the moment, unless anyone wants to start them again. Although they only lasted for around a year, the open gatherings were an invaluable way to meet people and swap ideas across different fields. And of course many of those people are still in contact.

Google Street View launches in Cardiff, Swansea, London, Oxford, Birmingham and other cities

In the past few months, if you’ve seen a mysterious looking van gliding past your home, this could be the explanation.

The intriguing Google Street View has launched in 25 cities today, including Cardiff where I live and work.

I’d be interested to hear if you find anything noteworthy – just go to Google Maps and drag the yellow man on to the spot you want to view. It takes postcode, street names and location names.

It’s a funny aspect of people that they’re able to look anywhere – but usually people go straight to their own house and locality.

Here’s Juno Lounge (where we hold monthly Trydan cafe meet-ups to discuss the social web).

I was trying to date the pictures by looking for cues from Cardiff’s cultural scene. Gwdihw cafe bar appeared in this bit of Cardiff in late 2008 and Cafe Bar Europa took on new ownership and name in summer 2008. But I’m pretty sure the Visitor Centre vanished from Cardiff Bay a long time ago. Finally I happened on this poster site on Womanby Street, where most of the posters refer to events in June 2008.

Telegraph have an intro and photo gallery of big (mostly English) landmarks.

Roger Browning at The Guardian was captured on camera striding into his London home. Here’s a Times piece about the privacy issues from 2007, when the service launched in the USA.

Google’s press department have also slung out a brief list of ideas for uses of Street View for business. As with anything, it’s worth having a good play before even considering business applications. Besides, the big winner will be Google itself, with whole new data sets to draw eyeballs and clicks to their ads.

Trydan social media cafe this Friday

We are co-organising Trydan social media cafe this Friday in Juno Lounge, Wellfield Road, Cardiff from 11AM till 2PM.

If you’re interested in social media, there’s more info on the Trydan event wiki. If you’re planning to attend, please add your details to the list.

If you’re from elsewhere, we’re also maintaining a list of social media cafes around the UK.

Introducing Trydan – a Cardiff meet-up for people into social media – and our reasoning behind it

We’ve started a series of social media cafe events in Cardiff called Trydan but first, some background…

Tom and I thought it would be interesting and profitable to get together with other people in Cardiff who are interested in similar things.

“Social media” is the closest generic term for what excites us, it’s our area of expertise.

Some examples of social media tools are blogs, wikis, Twitter, social networking platforms like Facebook, search engines (to an extent), collaboration systems like Google Docs and many other examples – including things currently being developed.

Often the term “social media” is conflated with the term “web 2.0” which itself has a related meaning along the lines of “systems which get better when more people join”. (We have Dale Dougherty and Tim O’Reilly to thank for that particular term! Although, to be fair, it was more akin to a remark to be understood in the context of the dot-com collapse of the late 1990s. Web 2.0 covered all the platforms and services that were able to provide enough usefulness to survive.)

We also want to avoid the hot air and wishful thinking that goes along with any new technology. Real benefit is the key. Enthusiasm for shiny tools and gadgets isn’t intrinsically wrong necessarily. But it can easily become a needless distraction from whatever you’re trying to achieve, which is why it’s important to measure the outcomes.

This stuff is real. We get excited about using these new tools and platforms for measurable benefit to the individual, company or organisation.

Our emphasis would tend to be on outward-facing stuff, which includes your blog, your website and your web presence. This intersects with what’s traditionally known as marketing and public relations.

That said, social media can have a great effect on your collaboration and interaction with colleagues as well.

Anyway, social media have somewhat disrupted the strict boundary between the external and the internal – but only for those brave enough to seek the benefits.

In other words, the philosophy of having a strict wall around your company, or your company as “black box”, is often not the only way or even the best way.

We’re not journalists but crowdsourced video for news is one good example of this. However much the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman may dislike it, people are not content merely to be passive viewers anymore. They now expect some element of interactivity with media.

This movement towards interactivity started with so-called new media and is trickling into established media. Of course, people hardly ever use the term “new media” any more. Especially not the young.

The chef Gordon Ramsay is another example from TV, inviting viewers to contribute recipes via YouTube. He’s supposed to be the expert, right? But now he’s become even more expert by opening up and responding to his fans.

The other Gordon in authority, Mr Brown, who has a blog and has also chosen YouTube to communicate with voters in both directions. And of course Barack Obama used a combination of Twitter and his blog to reach out to voters, in tandem with his supporters on the ground to secure his place at the White House.

Those examples hint at some of the well known stories and there are many more. There are many more abject failures as well. But you can expect to fail when you try these things. Fortunately, social media is cheap and pretty comfortable with an iterative process. Just adjust things as you go or replace them with something better.

But still, we like to get good results as quickly as possible. We had a sense that other people were thinking along similar lines – and thought there could be demand in the Cardiff area for a place to swap ideas and practices. Social media is about sharing after all. So we’re starting a series of regular coffee events in Cardiff where we can discuss this stuff – what works and what doesn’t and why.

The event is called Trydan and we’re co-founding it with two of our friends: journalism tutor Glyn Mottershead and journalism researcher Andy Williams, both of whom are based at Cardiff University.

The four of us are also co-founding it with everyone who turns up for the first meeting.

For inspiration, we’re giving more than a passing nod to other social media meet-ups we know about or have attended – Tuttle in London, Social Media Cafe in Birmingham and Social Media Cafe Manchester (#smc_mcr)

So that’s some of the thinking. You are invited to join us if any of this interests you. The event is set up as a separate entity – just head to the Trydan wiki on which you can read more, add your name to RSVP and also edit.