Tag: Citizen Journalism

What happened at the May Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery

May Social Media Surgery

After some very busy surgeries recently, May’s was small, but perfectly formed. Emma Neil and Hannah Severn from The Birmingham Conservation Trust got help from Gavin Wray and Nick Booth with their blogging work for the trust. Both Emma and Hannah are volunteering for the Trust and have been doing some really interesting stuff since coming to the Central Birmingham surgery a couple of months ago.

They’ve both been blogging assiduously for a while now, on a variety of different subjects for the Trust, as you can see here and here. They also write reviews of local history books, which allows the trust to raise small aounts of money through the Amazon affiliate system.

This time they learned, in particular, about Google Analytics because they’d been worried that too few people were commenting on their posts on the site, as this video interview with Hannah (left) and Emma (right) explains.


Emma and Hannha weren’t the only people to come down – even if we happened to pick the moment the UK got its first coalition government in 70 years. Anna Watson, from Localise West Midlands, was down for her first surgery – and seemed to really enjoy it. Heidi Blanton, who was down to help as a surgeon for the second time,  helped Anna to learn about Twitter, WordPress and other forms of social media.

We also had a visit from Dr Monika Metykova – who is a media and communications research associate at Goldsmith’s. Monika is conducting some really interesting research into changes in media consumption and production – and was down to learn about what we’re doing at the Social Media Surgery. She also got a little bit of help from Simon Gray on setting up a Twitter account. Monika said she was particularly surprised how quickly it is possible to make some really significant, useful steps towards understanding social media at a surgery.

In the video she explains a little bit about the context of her research and how her visit to the Social Media Surgery fits into that.


London’s Digital Neighbourhoods study published

The talented combo of Hugh Flouch and Kevin Harris from Networked Neighbourhoods have published the beginings of their  research for London Council’s on very local online media.  At this stage (there’s more to come) it comes in two parts:  A list of the types of sites found in London, how they work, who they reach and what they are for .  They offer 8:

  1. Civil Social Networks, such as Haringay Online or Alum Rock Neighbourhood (a bit quiet)
  2. Local Discussion sites, such as forum’s for a neighbourhood, like Balsall Heath Online.
  3. Placeblogs – like Kings Cross Environment or Pit n Pots (these sites are very focused on holding power to account for a place)
  4. Blogazines – are like placeblogs but less focussed on holding power to account – example might include
  5. Public Social Spaces – these are areas created on facebook etc to bring together local material
  6. Local action groups online – specific local pressure orgs using the web, one like Greener Leith are both focussed on an issue and a neighbourhood.
  7. Local Digital News (commercial)
  8. Multiples and listings sites (these are big sites that present information locally too)

Interesting way to divide things up.   As I’m certain Hugh and Kevin know many sites are many things.  Ventnor Blog is a  placeblog, a blogazine and a forum at the very least – probably also Local Digital News.

There are also other forms of local media – most of which come in the shape of tools.  Postcode search on google maps,  fix my street is clearly a local site and often Help Me Investigate is a contributor to the local digital environment in a number of places.

Likewise the combination of a placeblog or two, blogazines, a local listing and the input from local online campaigns forms a more realistic understand of what loal digital media is in any one place.

Of course Hugh and Kevin get this:

As our research review indicates, there have been very few studies of specific local sites and the movement barely registers in the local government world. Many sites are growing and changing rapidly. It follows that any classification has to be subject to ongoing revision.

It is good to see the structure helping people understand that his is not neccesarily a substitute for mainstream media, more a movement with it’s own cahracteristics.  So, as the start of a means for prevailing structures to picture and understand local online activity, this break down is a great help.

Their other report on the research context is a really useful overview of what has already been written avout the net, localness and civic action – reminding us that the web as been at this for as long as we’ve been using the web.  I applus thei conclusion

In our view, the area where we should look for impact is in conversational democracy and the mundane politics of the everyday, and how this is converted into civic action. It would be a mistake to expect impact in terms of conventional political processes.

I find myself repeatedly urging local authorities not to think of the web as a way to get more people to engage with their structures and meetings, but as a new opportunity to find other ways to get involved with the people who care about the places where they live.

May’s Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery

February Social Media Surgery

We’re heading towards our next Central Birmingham Social Media Surgery, which will be on Tuesday May 11, 2010 at the studio, 7 Cannon Street, which is just off New Street in central Birmingham.

If you belong to a Birmingham-based community or neighbourhood group or charity please come and join us. You can drop in any time between 5.30pm and 7pm. All local charities and voluntary organisations are invited.

At the last SMS in April we launched the beta version of the new Social Media Surgery website, which is where you can sign up for this event and learn more about other social media surgeries that we’re organising, here.

The surgeries are organised by volunteer members of the Birmingham Bloggers group. Surgeons work as friendly advisors giving informal one-to-one help to show you how to make the best of social media. If you’ve never been to a surgery before then it might be a good idea to look here. And, if you’re interested in finding out a little bit more about what the surgeries are and their history have a look here.

Old Media style meets Stoke On Trent Social media surgery

I really enjoyed this report from Chris Heath for Staffslive about the first social media surgery in Stoke on Trent.   Chris, a journalism student at Staffs Uni, includes some cracking formal and traditional media techniques  – like the walking piece to camera plus suit and tie – to explain a remorsely informal newish media process.   His report though does show just the sort of people who benefit from the surgeries and why they find them valuable.

It includes contributions from surgeons Carl Plant and the great Mike Rawlins.

Stoke on Trent have also begun using www.socialmediasurgery.com our beta site for organising surgeries – which made me smile a great deal. The site is designed to make it very easy to organise surgeries – including automatically generate flyers, record outcome, keep track of who came and what they did.

Meanwhile Luke Beamont made this wonderful audio slideshow of what one person got out of attending the social media surgery in Leeds.

Given the choice I think I prefer the second treatment – although I’m also a big fan of using an audio interview with a simple still photo to cover events.

Luke is also a student – find all his stuff here:  www.lukebeaumont.co.uk.