13 Aug 2012

London 2012 ain't over yet

Author: will | Filed under: London, social change, stereotype, video, YouTube

Makes you wonder why the games are not combined, or at least interleaved…
For example, have the Mens Olympic 100 meter final followed by the Men's Paralympic 100 meter (part and whole) events.
Why not?

And goalball whizz kids David and Adam Knott is not just why I'm following it.

13 Jun 2012

OpheliaMc

Author: will | Filed under: Cork, creativity, Dublin, music, record labels, social change, social network, video

Fund:it is an unusual site. Essentially its an Irish only Kickstarter.com Kickstarter clone. What makes it unusual is that large amount of funded projects for such a small population.

I suspect that its the Irish version of the 6 degrees of separation. The theory is that all people are separated by only 6 degrees. In Ireland, with its small population and, well, habit for talking to complete strangers when bored, its about 2 degrees of separation.

That means that if you check in on the projects, you'll likely see someone you know.
Like +Ophelia McCabe .

OpheliaMc is her stage name, and its an actual stage name because she stands on stages and podiums at hip-hop gigs performing. She also works with youth projects, essentially creating a +CoderDojo for rappers, MCs, singers and hip-hop producers. She teaches the mostly female group (I expected a lot of guys) about lyricism and vocalism since 2008.

Which is how I met her.
She is one of the good guys. I would say she rocks, but I don't know if that's right for the genre.
She is an excellent artist.

And she is using Fundit to source-fund her debut solo album and own label, SPLOSION records. The FundIt link is http://www.fundit.ie/project/opheliamc–solo-debut-album

There are a lot of YouTube clips of her, so you can see if you like her sound before you pay your pounds. Or Euro, or Dollars…

And for the record, I put my money down already. I've seen and heard her live. I'd love to hear what a produced version sounds like.

4 Jul 2010

Podcaster me?

Author: will | Filed under: blogging, podcast, social change, social media, technology

Am I a podcaster? It should be a simple question to answer, but for me, things have gotten complicated.

You see I filled out the podcast listener and producer survey being conducted by Adele McAlear and Donna Papacosta. Actually if you listen to podcasts, go and do the survey yourself. But in the process of filling out the survey, I realised that I might be making podcasts myself.

I should know what a podcast is, goodness knows I love them. Technically, a podcast is a series of digital media files, audio or video, that are downloaded and made available through a syndicated feed, such as RSS.

For the stuffy amongst you, to have your podcast available for iTunes you need to supply iTunes with your RSS feed. The “pod” bit came about thanks to the iPod/ iTunes/ iPhone/iPad phenomena. If you can listen to it online, but can’t download it, then its a stream.

The unsure part of me is thanks to Audioboo. Audioboo is a website, and its an application for my phone. I start the app, record my thought in to the phone, hit a button and it sends the file off to the Audioboo servers. There the audio file is available for download (check one), or streaming and its part of an RSS feed (check two).

The thing is, it does not feel like podcasting. There is no microphone, there is no production (let alone production values). There is a minimum of action, but there is interaction. I follow people on Audioboo.

Its a audio twitter, where business and passion interact. And replies pass through members.

There is also an ambient category. Take out the phone and record where you are. Thanks to GPS info, it could be an audio Foursquare. What am I hearing now?

Its also useful for correspondents. Only temporary files are on the phone. In an “interesting” area you can record your piece and (with iOS4 and Android) upload the audio in the background. If you are stopped and searched, the evidence has already been uploaded to a server outside the jurisdiction. Expect to see it feature in a remake of “The Conversation“.

It is podcasting made easy. So yes, I am a podcaster! My studio lives in my pocket. And right now, I have no idea what to say.

Any ideas?

Today is Yesterday was (this post got stuck in draft) the day that the Leaving Certificate English paper 2 didn’t happen. The cause, this is really for my non-Irish reader (waves at Aunt Mary); a steward running the exam on Wednesday opened and put out paper 2 instead of paper 1 by accident in a school in County Louth.

This error has effected 51,800 students, and cost the steward his job. Admittedly, no one died. Only study plans are disrupted.

The funny thing is that this isn’t the first time such an error has happened. But this year the consequences are that the second paper is being sat on Saturday with a back-up English exam.

What occurred is a perfect storm of events…

Firstly, the timetable of exams changed. Until recently English papers 1 and 2 were sat on the same day (morning and afternoon). Since both exams are, well, tough and require a lot of writing it was felt that spreading the exam over two days would be easier on the students hands, if not on the students themselves.

If the error had occurred in the past, only the 15 students who received the wrong paper would have been effected.  True they could have informed fellow students that the paper featured “macbeth, deception, bishop, keats, walcot, larkin …” to quote the tweet, but most (lets face it, there is going to be a little comfort cramming between exams at least) of the study would have been completed long before the exam. Having a full day between exams meant that the important information could get out there and get spread widely.

Secondly there is the nature of the exam itself. Paper two of the Leaving Certificate is regarded as one of the toughest tests in the pre-university examination system. In out system exam marks mean points, and points mean University places. The English syllabus means that the students have to study eight poets and guess as to which two or three would be on the paper.

Had this been the Mathematics exam, then the information would be harder to spread. After all knowing the type of maths question does not limit the study as much as dropping 6 out of 8 poets. Equally has this not been one of the “big three” exams of English, Irish and Maths, the reason to spread the information would have decreased.

So you have a high pressure exam, which most if not all the leaving certificate students will be sitting, where the important details of which can be summed up in three or four words; the names of the poets. Words which quiet easily fit in the space of a single SMS message. Or a tweet. So a small amount of information can cause a huge amount of damage.

The third part of this is the fact that social media played a part. And yes I’m counting the leaving certificate discussion section of Boards.ie as social media. In fact it appears that the public dissemination began on Boards.

The timing is interesting here. Boards only started seeing this information close to 4pm. This implies that the information only started leaking around then. What is likely is that those 15 students started passing the information as soon as the afternoon exam (home economics as it happens) was over. Given that the steward reported the loss of confidentially around 4pm, when parents of the children informed him, this sound about right. Even if the steward had reported the breach immediately (and maybe kept his job over it) the spreading of the information would have followed the exact same time line.

Or to put it another way, the Department of Education found out the same time that everyone else did. Posibbly a short while earlier.

At least one, mostly likely two or three of the children waited until they got home, and got internet access to talk to each other. This spread the word. Needless to say, it spread very quickly amongst a number of interested students. Then wider.

Now a lot of students cut back on social computer use (e.g games) during the exams. After all its only two to three very important weeks for which they have worked two years for. Discussion was rife.

And the department of education picked it up very quickly.

There is a backup exam in case of leaks. Normally what would happen is that effected schools would get the backup paper. For a single school a delay is tolerable as the second exam of the day could be delayed by the same amount. In this case, because of social media and the internet, every school in the country (and beyond, the leaving certificate is not only limited to Irish schools, but I can’t think of any places that use it) was effected. The issue changed from containing the problem to distributing the exams to all the test centres.

So the exam was rescheduled. Not everyone was in the loop. I’ve heard stories of students studying for the English paper after it had been rescheduled. Which probably means that they had shut down all connections for study reasons.

What does this mean for the Department of Education.

1) All leaks are now national leaks. Unless the leak is a mistiming (exam starts and ends early) then assume all the information is out there. Students can only be quarantined in special circumstances, for example the Jewish students who cannot sit the exam on the Saturday for religious reasons.

2) Different colour coding for papers. All the morning exams have a different colour cover from all the evening exams. When both papers were on the same day, there wasn’t an issue, the colours were different. When the exam because consecutive mornings, then it became an issue again. Using more colours, maybe 4 colours with alternating colours for different mornings and evenings. A quicker, cheaper fix might be have the second paper being on the following afternoon. Or the following week. One would make mistakes unlikely, the other would give more recovery time.

3) Sign-off. The steward needed to get two students to sign-off the opening of the paper. Firstly these students are not disinterested parties, assuming malice, they would want this information. Secondly, these student have no training on the proper procedure. If the head of your exam asks you to sign something so the paper can be passed out, you’ll sign it. I know I signed off an exam (only 2 of us sat the paper) so I didn’t realise that I was signing a procedural document at the time.

In short, the current “the procedures have been followed” process have absolutely no purpose. Insisting that a teacher or someone equally fire-able by the Department sign off would at least make the checks viable.

So is this going to happen again?

Yes. You see, human error is likely. The consequences differ widely every time, in this case a lot of inconvenience for all the students this year. Next year, it could be something small.

Annoying, yes, but stuff happens all the time. Next ear we will all year about the steps taken to avoid this from happening again. Or at least, the steps to make if less likely.

And the odd on winning the lotto are?

take care,
Will Knott

Michael O’Brien, former councillor and Mayor of Wexford(correction May 27) Clonmel attended the RTÉ programme Questions and Answers on 25 May 2009 and, after Minister Noel Dempsey, the sponsoring minister of the Ryan Commission report in to Child Abuse allegations spoke, Mr O’Brien spoke to the minister and to the panel.

I’ve done the transcript of the video clip below mainly because audio indexing does not work that well for video clips. And video clips have a habit of disappearing off the web.
The other reason is that this clip seems to be the turning point for a lot of discussions. And possibly some action.



—Start of transcript

Mr. Chairman, I’m surprised at the minister there now.

First of all Mr Minister (directed at  Minister Noel Dempsey) you made a bags of it in the beginning by changing the judges. You made a complete bags of it at that time, because I went to the La Foy commission and ye had seven barristers there, questioning me and telling that I was telling lies, when I told them that I got raped of a Saturday, got a merciful beating after it, and then stuffed…

… he came along the following morning and put holy communion in my mouth.

You don’t know what happened there. You haven’t the foggiest, you’re talking through your hat there. And you’re talking to a Fianna Fáil man, a former councilor and former mayor you’re talking to, that worked tooth and nail or you, for the party that you’re talking about now. Ye didn’t do it right, ye got it wrong.

Admit it.

And apologize for doing that. Because you don’t know what I feel inside me. You don’t know the hurt I am.

You said it was non-adversarial.

My God.

Seven barristers.

Throwing questions at us.

Non-stop.

I tri.. attempted to commit suicide, there’s the woman who saved me from committing suicide,  on me way down from Dublin, after spending five days at the commission. Five days I spent at the commission. They brought a man over from Rome, ninety odd years of age, to tell me I was telling lies.

That I wasn’t beaten for an hour, non-stop by two of them.

By two of them.

Non-stop from head to toe without a shred of cloth on my body.

My God minister.

And could I speak to you (comment directed to Leo Varadkar, Fianna Gael), and ask your leader, would you stop making a political football of this.

You hurt this when you do that.

You tear the shreds from inside our body.

For God’s sake, try and give us some peace.

Try to give us some peace and not to continue hurting us.

That woman will tell you how many times I jump out of the bed at night with the sweat pumping out of me. Because I see these fellas at the end of the bed with their fingers doing that (gestures) to me. And pulling me in to the room, to rape me, to bugger me and bate the shite out of me. That’s the way it is.

And you know what?

You know what, sometimes I listen to the leader of Fianna Fáil. I even listened to the apology. T’was mealy mouthed, but at least t’was an apology.

At least t’was an apology.

The Rosminians said in the report, they said they were easy on us. The first day I went to them. The first day to Rosminians in my home which is Ferryhouse in Clonmel, ’cause its the only home I know. He said “you’re in it for the money”.

We didn’t want money.

We didn’t want money. We wanted the pr…  someone to stand up and say “yes, these fellas were buggered, these people were ra…”

Little girls. My daughter, oh sorry, my sister. A month old when she was put in to an institution. Eight of us from the one family, dragged by the ISPCC cruelty man. Put in to two cars, brought to the court in Clonmel. Left standing there without food or anything, and the fella in the long black frock and the white collar came along and he put us in to a van.

Not a van, a scut truck, I don’t know what you call it now. And landed us below with two hundred other boys. Two night later I was raped.

How can anyone…

You’re talking about constitution. These people would gladly say “yes” to a constitution to freeze the funds of the religous orders.

This state, this country of ours, would say “yes” to that constitition if you have to change it.

Don’t say you can’t change it.

You’re the governement of this state. You run this state. So for God’s sake stop mealy mouthing. ‘Cause I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of it.

You’re turning me away from voting Fianna Fáil which I have done from the first day that I could vote. Because. And you know me. You know me Mister Minister. You’ve met me on a number of ocassions. So you know what I’m like.

— End of transcript

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Today is Ada Lovelace Day. Miss Lovelace,was the world’s first computer programmer, and the day is to promote women in technology.

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace.
Image via Wikipedia

Oddly for me, women have had a lot to do with my personal computing history.

I grew up with the low level grown and high pitched squeal of arcade machines. Computer games. So when the chance came to learn how to program a game on the old Commodore 64 I leapt at the chance.

The teacher in the classroom teaching Commodore basic, was a woman (whose name I simply cannot remember. Kineally or Keneally. Back then every teacher was either “Miss” or “Sir”). At this point I’m not going to name names unless she blogs, or at least tweets.

Later on, I watched the “video” games review TV show (or rather several, but all) hosted by Aleks Krotoski who still has a hand in the games world and quite possibly will never leave technology in particular how it impacts on people.

Later on came college (if the class wasn’t an odd number 50% of the class would have been women) and work in general.

Indirectly I worked under Padmasree Warrior, and female programmers were no different to the male programmers in the eyes of the code in Motorola.

Later the world of social media introduced me to Ellybabes, the first person I met at the first Irish Barcamp in Cork. To the coding evangelist (which might actually be part of her job title) that is Martha Rotter. To first Irish podcaster of either sex I met, and business guru Krishna De. To the promotional expert that is Maryrose Lyons. And to the best, and probably most fun, web designer; Sabrina Dent. To women who actually get thing done, like Laura Czajkowski and Alexia Golez.

So why isn’t there equality among the sexes for a job that normally requires communication, concentration and heavy thinking? It could be fictional role models and expectations as Naomi Alderton suggests.

Maybe.

But if you have a daughter, let her know that computers aren’t just for the boys. And if you are involved in technology yourself, take a look at the Geek Girl Dinners.

take care,

Will Knott

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Timing is interesting. Markham Nolan blogged about, well, bloggers being used and abused by marketing types and quoted the example of The Big Switch outreach done by Bord Gáis electricity. Go read it and come back. This post is my comment as he “plucked out” a comment I left and given that I’ve been named, I’m not intending to be shamed.

(I have shame, don’t use it much)

The rest of this post is the comment I left…

I think I need to defend myself after you “plucked me out”.

I’ll go with this one example of the Bord Gáis meetup. This wasn’t a scheme dreamt up by a PR firm, this was Bord Gáis doing it themselves. All the bloggers that attended did so out of curiosity. None of us knew what it was going in.

If we did, I suspect a different group of bloggers would have shown up.

If you want bloggers, ask bloggers who blog about your area. For the event the ideal group would be business bloggers, consumer affairs bloggers, green affairs bloggers. Oddly enough marketing and advertising bloggers would have been interested too.

Or to put it another way, would you invite a music journalist to the launch of a new cheese? (No jokes please)

I know that not everyone who attended blogged about it (yet at any rate). I know that it ended up being one of my longer posts.
From what I can tell, it was the first attempt at blogger outreach (not just their first attempt, but THE first attempt following the Collision Course).

Lots of information was freely given. It was interesting to see a “grown up” product that few would describe as “sexy” being used for outreach. Things are changing in the marketplace, bloggers may be invited to more, but that is no guarantee of a write up, let along a favourable one.

The early inviter will get the “well they invited us” posts, but if it becomes more commonplace, the “I was there” won’t be blogged. The “I’m interested in this topic, give me the info” will take over. After all, most (if not all) Irish bloggers are amateurs.  They have work, school or other duties in the mornings. They can’t attend a day-time press conference (or film screening). They don’t all live in Dublin (interesting to see how many of these things will take place in Cork, Galway, Kilkenny or Limerick). And bloggers are under no real obligation. A day without posting isn’t going to cause much harm. Not the same can be said about mainstream media.

Or to use your analogy, the swarm of locusts may find the field is empty when they get there.

Of course, locust only swarm then their serotonin levels increase. That’s the happy chemical of the brain.

Who says that bloggers make a happy meal?

take care,

Will Knott

Twestival Houston
Image by .imelda via Flickr

On Thursday February 12, there is going to be a party, a tweet-up, a Twestival.

The difference between a normal tweet-up and a twestival is that the date is global (there are currently over 100 happening in cites worldwide). And its going to cost you money. All the “entry fees” collected are going to go towards a charity, charity:water.

It hasn’t been in the pipeline for long; in just one month, from volunteer effort alone Twestival has created events in 175+ cities, predicted to raise $1 million for the 1.1billion people in the world who can’t access clean drinking water. Growing beyond all expectations since launching in January 2009, Twestival takes place for 24 hours on February 12th, everywhere including London, Paris, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Austin, San Francisco, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Dublin, Munich, Amsterdam, Bangalore, Melbourne, Lima, as up to 20,000 come together inspired by community and charity.  Read the full press release for the global effort, but nearer to home…

(Search Twitter in Ireland only for Twestival)

The Dublin Twestival is in The Sycamore Club, No 9 Sycamore Street, Temple Bar , Dublin 2 and Is being put together by Aido McMahon, Anton Mannering, Debbiemet, Qamir Hussain and others. Given the musical talent on offer; there will be dancing (help).

The Belfast Twestival is in Laverys Bunker from 8pm – 10.30pm (currently before Radiation / Laverys DJs, changed from the earler venue) and is organised by Andy (Good On Paper) McMillan and Phil (Iced Coffee) O’Kane.

There are a lot more. If you’d like to help in a volunteerism role with any kind of Twestival organization, wherever you are, get in touch with Amanda Rose or Jaz Cummins. For updates, follow @twestival on Twitter.

I’m going to be at the Dublin one, are you going?

take care,

Will


Jennifer Connelly in charity: water Public Service Announcement from charity: water on Vimeo.


Twestival from charity: water on Vimeo.
Thanks to Neville Hobson for being the first to tell be about it.

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So the PR / Bloggers conference took place in Edelman PR. And I’ve seen Alastair McDermott blog post on how a PR pitch should be a social exchange, Rick O’Shea blog on the difference between his media head and his blogger head when approached, Peter Donegan on how blogging is about passion and why you need to be careful with passion. Eoin Kennedy gives a nice concise summary of the event, Christian Hughes’ is even shorter and different, while future PR star Thomas Brunkard gives a different account of the night.

Much thanks need to be given to Damien Mulley and Edelman PR Dublin for orginasing the night, and to Donnchadh O’Leary, Piaras Kelly and Alexia Golez who blogged on how its better to learn about bloggers by trying it out for yourself. In fact most of this post began life as a comment on her blog (so sorry if you’ve read it before).

The unasked advice I would give to PR people is:

Think of bloggers in the same way a journalist thinks of contacts. This contact is the go-to girl for tech related matters. This contact is the go-to guy for music.
That type of thing.

While forming a media list may be “monkey work”, a targeted media / house list is worth its PR weight in gold.

Remember : For us its a hobby, not a job. Few bloggers want to become journalists, those that do already are journalists in their day job.

The professional media expect to be contacted with something thy are not interested in. Some spent their careers writing about stuff they aren’t interested in.

Bloggers have the freedom to write about what interests us. Its “our view”.

Things that may help both sides.
1) Introduce yourself and ASK.

If we bloggers were looking for a contact in X then chances are we would tweet it first and see what happens.

Of course we are following a lot of conversations.
Join in.
Babble.
I’d suggest you mention Collision Course in your first tweet before you “follow” anyone. Most (all) of us look to see “who is this person following me”. Of the 15 there on the night, I think most of us will follow back.
Just let us know who you are first.

Then ask…

E.g.
Would anyone like to go to the launch of the new Orange Tea Box on Tuesday at 8pm.
Or
Could you suggest any bloggers interested in Orange Tea
(I hope that there isn’t an Orange Tea at this point)

You’ll get a few time wasters, but not too many. And you might get a good contact for that one.

But joining Twitter and just tweeting without following anyone will not get noticed. Look up “Network Effect” to see why twitter seems to work.

Get to know twitter clients (software applications) and search.twitter.com.

By the way, Bloggers aren’t looking for freebies. Most are looking for information. If blogger X writes about Tea, they will want to know all about Orange Tea. No freebies needed (unless you count images they can used and information as a freebie).

On that note, if you find that a blogger has blogged about Red tea, see if (s)he has contact details on their blog ans ask, if the blogger would be interested in the forthcoming Orange Tea. No press release, no clips.
Just your details, and why you’re mailing them.

It doesn’t smell like spam, because it isn’t. They may e-mail back abuse, they might accept.

Time consuming. Yes. Cost high.
Potential rewards, higher.

2) Don’t spam…
If you got someone for Orange Tea, they may be interested in Yellow Coffee.
ASK.
But that does not mean they want to be contacted for Blue Cars.
The Blue Cars mail would look like spam. A mail with “I see you were interested in Tea, could I interest you in coffee” wouldn’t. (It does sound automated, but you get my point).
Besides, you’re asking.
You’ve formed a relationship with the blogger, don’t destroy it really quickly.

However…
If you have formed a relationship, asking if they know someone interested in Blue Cars isn’t that spammy. Bloggers tend not to hoard information, if we did, we wouldn’t blog.
I’ve passed on info to people I know who blog about stuff (or are just friends interested in things).

But ask.

3) Read Blogs.
If you invite bloggers to do something, you should have read their blogs first.

Read other blogs. I know, long and boring work but look at what you are interested in only (at first). There are blogs about everything under the sun (and a few things that aren’t). Blogs on Make up. Blogs on Man U. Blogs on cars. Blogs on caravans. Blogs on rashers.

Blogs on PR.

Look at things. Get to know a feed reader.
This is a slow step. If you need a hand to hold, see step 1 to find one.

4) Audio blogs / podcasts
Listen to how others have done it.
F.I.R (For immediate Release, the Hobson and Holtz Report) is the big daddy in this arena. It’s also 90 mins long and twice a week.

For lighter listening, I’d suggest
Media driving” or “Marketing Over Coffee
Yes their focus is different, but they are short. Media Driving is 10 mins, Marketing over Coffee is rarely 30 mins. And only once a week. Think commute times.

They suggest others to listen to as well.

5) Join in.

You might be happy with twitter/facebook/linkedin/justsomerandomsite but by blogging (maybe blogging on PR/Shoes/Cars/Tea) you’ll see why.
For us its a hobby, not a job.
It’s called passion.

Do it yourself. If you can, say what you are working on. If not, blog on what you care about.

And finally…

The Irish blogging community is, surprisingly, a community.
I don’t know anyone who would visit me in hospital via blogs; but its happened (remembering tweets and people dropping food parcels off to people stuck on Casualty trolleys). Wandering up to a random person in a community centre and pitching to them is, well, silly.
Remember that when you want to talk to us.

Its better to ask for permission as a backlash is too late to ask for forgiveness (examples were given in the meeting).

Once we get to know you, we’ll let you screw up.

take care,

Will Knott

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As this is Breast Cancer Awareness month, a lot of products are jumping on the Pink for October bandwagon.

pink for the cure

Image by on2wheelz via Flickr

So a pink coloured (and packaged) energy drink seems to be a “cheap” tie in. That’s what I first thought when I started looking at the Fuze energy drink brought out a flavour for October.  However looking at their “Heroes for Hope” sub-site it becomes apparent that this isn’t a tie in.

It s a commitment.

The site in in support for the “Susan G. Komen For The Cure” foundation (similar to our own Marie Keating Foundation), and it features video interviews and profiles of breast cancer survivors who are taking part in the “Heroes for Hope” tour.

A large pink tour bus travels around the country. Local heroes and committed activists are invited to participate in a formal photo session at the on-site photo studio (in and around the bus). A FUZE reporter documents participant’s story and selects ‘Heroes’ from each community that the Heroes for Hope Tour visits.

We’ve got to do something like that here. There are enough stories in the press, and enough bloggers in the country so that each site have have its own local hero.

What do you think?
Will Knott

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