Saturday, 17 December 2011

Charlie gets a message from Santa

Play it full screen if you can

Untitled from wobbly bugger on Vimeo.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

The web is a machine. The machine is us.

I just watched a fab film about the web via Euan Semple, a blogger I've met once and followed since and who is an example of the sort of person I didn't know existed before the dawn of the web and couldn't have remained connected to until web 2.0 and social media came along.
In terms of credentials one of Euan's testimonials is from a authors of Cluetrain Manifesto, which is a seminal book about the way the web is changing the rules for business, marketing and just about everything else. You may find the film a bit techie but I hope you watch it to the end because it's message is that the real power of the web is down to us, the human beings, not the machines.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Do I need a social media policy?

You may be wondering how to strike the balance between giving your team the freedom to make the most of new social media whilst still retaining an appropriate degree of control. The potential benefits may be obvious but there are plenty of horror stories about dodgy posts on Facebook to give pause for thought. The newly published Online Database of Social Media Policies is a great way to learn from other organisations that are grappling with this dilemma.

Some larger organisations are still in lock-down mode, denying even the most senior staff access to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. At the other extreme are small consultancies where the people blogging ARE the business. it's natural for them to be presenting a public face and it's 100% authentic so it doesn't need any rules.

Somewhere in between is the sort of organisation that needs a set of guidelines, both to encourage staff to get the most from social media and to clearly identify the expectations when they're using it.

The social media governance database lets you see how other organisations manage this balance. As well as practical examples to help your own thinking it also provides a glimpse of different cultures at work. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, for example, reminds staff that their sources are not their friends...

The BBC has an online document running to several pages, including guidance for bloggers which explains that if they are is contacted by the press about posts on their blog that relate to the BBC they should "talk to their line manager before responding. The relevant BBC press office must be consulted."

I guess it would be odd for a media organisation to be anti-blogging, so this seems to be pragmatic, but also demonstrates that the organisation controls the message, not the individual.

Contrast this with the one pager from the Headset Brothers, online retailers of electronic goods whose guidelines apply to a small number of people and are brief and to the point.

It opens with: "Sign up for any and every social media service to reserve our name (headsetbros). Identity theft is easy. Don't let it happen to us." And a few lines later it closes with "Word of mouth is extremely important to us. If you can make the experience better than expected, do it." It would be hard for an employee to claim they didn't understand what they were expected to do.

Somewhere in the mix may be something to suit your organisation. There is little to distinguish commerical and not for profit organisations but maybe they're the same size as you, or have a similar culture.

I haven't looked at them all but as a starting point I'd check out Sun Microsystems Guidelines on Public Discourse I like the fact that it is less about the specific sites and more about the potential value of maintaining conversations with people outside the organisation - although maybe change the name?.

There is a lot to be won and lost as social media networks become key channels of communications for you and your customers. These policies show the different ways that organistaions are trying to harness the good stuff and avoid the bad stuff.

Online Database of Social Media Policies.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Age Concern using Wii for their digital inclusion project

Just found a great video produced by Sussex students about how Age Concern Brighton, Hove and Portslade is using bowls games on a Nintendo Wii to bring together older people. We awarded the SCIP Technology for Good 2008 prize for this work - it's fab and so's the video.

Monday, 21 September 2009

That's Not Cool. Except it is.

Just came across - a great new personal online safety campaign site - or at least I think that's what it is. Lots of helpful advice about cyberstalking apparently aimed at young people and including callout cards to flash at people who get too personal.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Grant funding for media projects with young people


Mediabox, the fund that offers 13-19 year olds the chance to create their own media projects and get their voices heard, opened its Mix Mediabox on August 10th. More details at

">Mix Mediabox enables organisations working within the community to apply for grants of between £5,000 - £20,000 for youth-led media projects that explore the theme of community cohesion.

The strand is particularly looking for organisations that bring young people from diverse ethnic, economic backgrounds, faiths or areas together to work on a media project, providing young people with the opportunity to explore issues around identity, diversity, sense of belonging in their community and in doing so tell their own stories and experiences in a creative way.

Mix Mediabox is run in partnership by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) to help achieve the Government’s vision for cohesive and integrated communities

The strand opens for applications on Monday 10th August 2009. The grant team at Mediabox will be on hand to offer application support and advice on how to find media professionals to facilitate projects.

More details at

Friday, 10 July 2009

Don't recycle your computer

A charity that recycles computers is using Twitter to remind people that it is better to re-use their computers before recycling them, as part of its support for Green Britain Day. Computer Aid International is urging companies to consider the re-use of their old PCs and laptops as part of their green initiatives.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Is the internet good for you?

Just came across a short but sweet video by Howard Rheingold, an American academic and author who has had his finger on the internet's pulse for a long time and has some interesting answers about whether or not we should be teaching about, or learning about social media. By which he means the new web stuff like Facebook and Myspace.

The two word answer is 'it depends' - on who learns how to use them and what they choose to do with what they learn. The slightly longer answer in his video suggests to me that whilst the technology can be used as a positive tool for change we can't rely on the people who adopt technologies quickest to know how best to put it to that use. For Rheingold that points to 'teachers' or educators. For me it is about supporting community organisations who have built trust in the communities they are part of and who therefore understand their needs.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Free SCIP Manuals for Web Design

We have three sets of web design workshops running at the moment, teaching people how to set up and run a website using The notes for this course are available for free download from a site we've created to support this training. is fairly easy to use and it has some great support pages, but we recommend the Dummies Guide for those who want to buy a book - mainly because this includes info on as well as running your own version of wordpress.

We have also published some of our own notes to help our learners, including:

  1. Wordpress tips and how-to's - mainly for those things where we found the Dummies Guide less helpful;
  2. A Guide to Running Your Own Community Website - tips about setting up your page, whether or not you use, plus roles and responsibilites, launching your site and so on.
Both are available for download at

Friday, 5 June 2009

What does the future look like?

NCVO has published a series of short guides on a number of topics about what the future will look like for the third sector, including one about how we will use new technologies in five years’ time. It considers a number of drivers for change and how they will affect us, such as access to low cost high quality printing, new ways to engage with people and the ability to work flexibly. I thought it was very useful - it's not a technical review but looks at the implications of how technology will change the work of the third sector.

Here’s the contents:
  • Driver 1: A wealth of information and choice
  • Driver 2: Increasing ease of making new connections
  • Driver 3: New ways to engage people
  • Driver 4: Lower barriers to publishing and broadcasting
  • Driver 5: Ability to work flexibly
  • Taking action: A case study
  • How considering these issues can result in practical actions
  • Further information and support
  • Helpful links for finding out more
There is also a similar Guide covering:
    * Future Focus 1: What will our funding be like in five years’ time?
    * Future Focus 2: What will our volunteers be like in five years’ time?
    * Future Focus 4: How is local democracy changing?
    * Future Focus 5: How are social attitudes changing?
    * Future Focus 6: What will the UK population be like in 5 years’ time?

They cost £2.50 each or free to download here:

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Free Event: Microsoft Training Resources

There are lots of free training resources available through the
Microsoft site, as there are across the internet. Many can help staff
and volunteers support themselves when using common tools, but which
ones work best? Techsoup, based in the US, is running a free online
training event/webinar (what an ugly word) at which Microsoft staff
will guide you through what is available. It will take place at 7pm GMT
on Wednesday 10 June – register at the Techsoup site

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Taking things for granted

Do you find yourself forgetting how incredible this internet thing is? Caught up in the humdrum, always looking things up for work, ordering groceries or failing to keep your email in order? And then sometimes you find yourself transported into a different world, that would have been closed to you before, learning new things and seeing the world in a different way.

I've just spent 20 minutes on, enjoying the work of a photographer from the west coast of USA called Patrick Smith. His photos are beautiful to look at - west coast sunrises, beaches of Hawaii, fog over the Golden Gate. I was engrossed by the descriptions of how he takes his shots and realised how long it's been since I took any serious photographs myself, since I used a camera with manual controls and sat patiently for the right combination of light. clouds and scenery.

Seeing his photos is a treat, but having an insight into his techniques a real privilege. Both are probably available in a coffee-table-book of his work, but those 20 minutes are much more accessible and the ability to stumble across such treasures underlines what makes the internet such a wonder.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Movements, tribes and leadership

Seth Godin is very insightful and shines a light into the murky complications of life in the digital age Download his audiobook here [free] and look for other triiibe-related things to try as well - I recommend signing up for his regular emails [shame about the iffy name btw].

Oh if marketing is your thing, then this is cool too

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Teaching people's heads

Just viewed a fab video about education, what it's for and how schools kill creativity on the wonderful TED site.

Found via Steve Bridger's excellent blog.

How is social media like ice cream

‘Social Media’ is something of a buzzword at the moment. Everyone – from huge corporations to governments to community groups – are switching onto the idea that ’social media’ is happening, and that they need to get in on the act. But what is it? And what does it have to do with ice cream?

The editor of MyManchester, a community-based publishing network that’s been around since we started SCIP back in 1997, has provided an answer in plain English that offers a valuable guided tour to the world of blogs, new media, and why people are getting so excited about it. It includes this video that uses ice cream to explain why new technology may be changing the world.

Read the whole article here

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

How to run a newspaper

Doing some research about how to set up and run a community newspaper - linked to the training I'm running about how to set up and run a community web site, developing the training I do about using

This is like most of the community newspaper meetings I've been to - except they usually have enough money to last two and a half minutes...

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Remixing YouTube

I love these remix videos - taking all sorts of stuff from YouTube and making great cutup/hip hoppy stuff. The music reminds me of Money Mark or UNKLE.

Friday, 27 March 2009

EVENT: Outcomes monitoring and IT: finding the best solution for your organisation

M & E Consulting, and Charities Evaluation Services are pleased to announce the first-ever conference on ‘Outcomes monitoring and IT’ which will take place in London on 21st May 2009. The conference will help voluntary and community organisations to:

  • understand more about the processes involved in implementing an outcomes-based IT system spacer
  • gain an overview of the range of solutions available spacer
  • identify specific IT systems that will help you measure the outcomes of your work.
After a morning session of presentations and discussion, the afternoon session will provide an opportunity for delegates to meet one-to-one with IT-system providers and find out more about how different systems work and how they might help them to manage their outcomes data.

Costs vary form £85 to £175 depending on the size of the organisation.

For more information and a booking form visit the event's website:
Outcomes monitoring and IT: finding the best solution for your organisation

FREE ICT Conference from Microsoft and NCVO, 6 May 2009

Tickets are available now for a free ICT event in London in May. Workshops will cover:
• E-learning tools
• Ensuring effective websites
• Delivering an e-campaign
• Technology supporting collaboration
• Managing your supporter base
• Accessible computing
• Innovation in service delivery
Book now on the NCVO website using the link below:
NCVO - Maximising potential through Information and Communications Technology

Monday, 16 March 2009

How long will Gmail be free?

I've just totted up 30 pieces of software that I use at least weekly which have cost me absolutely nothing. In particular I have my Gmail account open just about every moment of the day, so the recent service problems hit me hard. It made me think about how much we can rely on free stuff, and how much I take for granted what I routinely get for nothing.

Although many of these tools may offer upgrades, add-ons or be linked to things I have paid for, I am using all of the following absolutely free of charge:

  • Blogger
  • Drupal
  • Evernote
  • Facebook
  • Feed My Inbox
  • Feedburner
  • Firefox
  • Flickr
  • Flash player
  • Flock
  • Gmail
  • Google custom search engine
  • Google groups
  • Google maps
  • Google search engine
  • icanhaz
  • Linkedin
  • Mediawiki
  • Quicktime player
  • Skype
  • TinyURL
  • Twitter
  • WikiPedia
  • Wordpress
  • Yahoo! Search Engine
  • Yahoogroups
  • Youtube
Most have a single function, but they get used at least monthly, whilst some are built into to other tools, such as Flash Player, so I hardly know I'm using it. And then there's Gmail and Flock (a Firefox-based browser) which is open just about every minute I'm online, which is close to 10 hours on a working day. And I'm sure many other people use a lot more.

Bear in mind that I didn't include my free Flickr because I also have a $25 Flickr Pro account, or 'other people's blogs', which save me money on magazines. Think of the time and effort invested in publishing useful information without any thought of charging for it. Or RSS, which is a vital part of my networked world - if it had been invented by Microsoft it could easily have needed a licence to be built into someone's website.

And I didn't count any BBC stuff, especially iPlayer and news, because I pay for a TV licence. There is also a lot of technical stuff that I can't see but that I know is important to SCIP's work, such as open source server tools which we use for hosting sites. Or my free iPhone apps, some of which I use regularly.

But how long will they be free?
I'd been thinking about free stuff not just because I wanted to point you at useful stuff [although I have only listed things I use regularly and would endorse] but because I was wondering whether the credit crunch presented a threat to my new way of working.

Do they rely on income from advertising to remain free? If so I can only see a downturn in advertising spend in 2009, and perhaps a corresponding decline in free services. Even the mighty Google's income remains firmly linked to turnover in online advertising, and is currently tightening its belt as the squeeze continues. Imagine paying for searches. And GMail is suffering some servcie problems which have underlined the problems in relying on a single provider for a vital service such as email.

Some of these tools are free because I can choose to pay for an upgrade. I'm typing this in the excellent Evernote, for example, which offers a generous free monthly limit - I can upload 20,000 text notes - but has cheap paid-for features which I may find useful in future. It's business plan probably relies on a small percentage of people paying for a service which it can offer for free to millions. Whilst this is based on the very low margins for each free customer there will be some fairly hefty bills coming in each month and it will need to begin seeing some income at the end of the tunnel if it doesn't want it's banks or backers breathing down its neck in the next few months.

And Evernote is a tool that's been round for a while and may well be backed by bigger fish or have a more substantial base of paying clients than, for example, Twitter, which, as far as I can tell, has no paid for features. This free service allows people all over the planet to post short messages that can be shared with thousands of other people. Like text messaging crossed with email groups crossed with blogging. I can't believe any users would say that it has reached mission-critical status, but even minor drops in service cause howls amongst millions of current users.

Will we see a shift in the charges for services as the crunch bites? Or more and more open source as the market for software dries up?

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

We-Think: Free tickets to see Charles Leadbetter

Charles Leadbetter is author of We-Think - a fascinating new book that explores how we can use collaboration and community networks to create innovation. He's appearing at a free event in Brighton on 26 March - tickets are available now by booking online using the link below.

Connecting Innovation | 26 march 09 | the old market | hove

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Virtual wrappers for old-style conferences

Community gatherings and conferences offer an opportunity for collaboration and interaction, As well as the learning that takes place on the day they can also signal the start of new relationships and activities. A recent post from David Wilcox shows how Social Reporting can help event organisers use video, blogs and other technologies to create a high value virtual wrapper to augment real world activities. As well as the practical benefits this approach also underlines the need for not for profit organisations to think about how the widespread use of new social media tools amongst its supporters may change their role.

David [a co-founder of SCIP back in the mid-90s] has experimented with a variety of highly accessible techniques and a wide range of events - from video interview booths to handing out video cameras and building event-specific blogs.

Not surprisingly the secret to success lies in careful preparation, thinking about the community of people attending the event and what they could gain from the use of such tools. It could be a way of simply recording proceedings for people who cannot attend or a way of building a new online community that continue to function well beyond the event itself.

David links this to the proposal by Prof Clay Shirky that not for profit organisations need to think about their role as a focus for or convener of supporters. An interview with Professor Shirky can be found here

Read more about social reporting here: How social reporters can help turn old-style conferences into the new convening spaces

Monday, 16 February 2009

Making Facebook more accessible

A tool to make Facebook more accessible to visually impaired users has been created by Project:Possibility, a group of not-for-profit software developers in the US. The application, which can be found at allows visually impaired users to log in, navigate and use the site by combining screen reader technology with other coding techniques.

Brian D’Souza, a team member who worked on the project, explained:“We leveraged an existing technology developed by Google which combines use of screen readers and java script and navigation methods to make navigation and modification of content of webpages easier. It provides a lot of value for a blind person.”

Facebook’s popularity has risen dramatically in recent years, with more than 150 million users worldwide. However some users claim it does not fully support assistive tools, with several groups active on the site itself pressing for a more accessible service, such as The Official Petition for a More Accessible Facebook which contains almost 1,500 members. Some measures have already been taken by Facebook to accommodate the needs of disabled users, such as releasing screen reader-friendly versions of some of its applications.

The Facebook tool was one of a series of projects created at the recent UCLA SS12, an annual ‘code-a-thon’ held at the University of California, Los Angeles. Software developers spend a weekend working on projects for disabled people.

Story taken from e-access bulletin, a free monthly email newsletter’ available for subscription at