The heady world of web metrics

There’s a useful article in this week’s Economist for anyone trying to get their heads around web metrics.

It’s a nice brief overview of the different web metrics available. It discusses the impact of ‘web 2’ technology on metrics, and it provides a chart of which sites enjoy the most unique visitors, time spent and page views.

World top 10 websites chart, from the Economist

One Laptop Per Child in Nigeria

Really enjoyed an article by Jonathan Fildes on the BBC website about a Nigerian primary school’s experiences of the $100 laptop.

According to his report, there have been some highs and lows. On the negatives… it seems that ‘games, girls and gambling’ are still high on the agenda for first time internet users :) But let’s concentrate on the highs… the students are really enjoying the laptops and have even started to disassemble and reassemble the hardware to see how it really works.

This last bit reminds me of a school I visited in Recife (Brazil) that was working with the Porto Digital initiative. The students’ first task is to build their own machine. Then, instead of Portuguese, it’s code and copyrighting class; instead of maths, it’s budgets. In art class, they learn photo-editing and Flash. I want to go back to school!

UK Government & Social Media… Ones to Watch

I was lucky enough to start work with the UK Government just as it began to take an interest in what we are now/currently calling social media. That was 2005 and there was hardly anything happening. Today, it’s a different story.

With a host of initiatives on the go, I thought I’d pick out 10 that I think are particularly interesting:

  1. Ministry of JusticeBarCampUKGovweb was an idea floating about waiting to happen, and Jeremy Gould got it off the ground. It’s the first event of its kind for the UK government.
  2. National Health Service – The Our NHS, Our Future activity is putting a lot of weight on its online engagement components. The issue is meaty and its an intriguing opportunity for NHS stakeholders to direct its development. But will the people come? And how will the government tie up their online with the offline activity?
  3. Foreign and Commonwealth Office – when David Miliband arrived, engagement shot up the agenda, particularly online. Not content with just the Secretary of State blogging, staff from across the FCO were invited to get in on the action and duly did.
  4. Government Communications Network – the Social Media Review and associated activities, being led out of the GCN, is taking on the challenge of helping an area of government so used to controlling the message to adapt to a new communications environment.
  5. Downing Street – it’s use of ePetitions was the biggest UK eDemocracy story yet. But will it see out the winter? Well, yes, but with parliament planning its own online petitions system, will time be called on the government’s biggest and most infamous social media experiment yet?
  6. Communities and Local Government – the CLG rebuilt its corporate website using community software. The CLG was one of the first departments to make a conscious effort to utilise social media. The use of deliberative forums by a range of policy teams is worth watching alone, then you factor in the blogs and wikis and you start to realise the importance of this department’s activity.
  7. Defra – the software that runs the CO2 calculator, complete with the government data, has been made freely available under general public licence. Google has used it in its carbon footprint widget.
  8. DirectGov – according to the ONS, 6 in 10 of the UK’s web users have accessed government services via DirectGov. So, where to now? Is there room for a social media angle in the next phase of development?
  9. Ministry of Justice – OK, I’m a bit bias but Digital Dialogues, which is in its final phase, has been putting data about government blogs, forums, webchats etc in the public domain since all this social media interest kicked off.
  10. SS/SIS – a bit of a flippant inclusion. I’ve no idea what they’re doing with social media but whatever it is, it’s bound to be worth keeping an eye on.

Please flag up any others you know about. Maybe there’s some similar stuff going on elsewhere in this big globe of ours.

Do nothing, get hit

Spoke to a bloke who chose not use video-sharing sites to promote some (decent) animations he’d made. Because, apparently, it takes too much effort to generate the links and views.

Interesting question this. How much time does it take to tend to your videos?

The answer is none. None time and none money. Or so it would seem.

One year ago I upload two videos to YouTube. One I looked after almost daily for three months; the other got slapped up like canteen grub. The only thing that links them is that no money was spent on either and that they are both on a hideously ‘ip-an-‘appening video-sharing website. This is the tale of their contrasting fortunes. Continue reading “Do nothing, get hit”

Speak you’re branes

Before I go into this… there are more good contributions posted to forums than there are bad. Hands down.

But… one of my favourite blogs is based on cutting through that good stuff, and going right to the crap.

Speak you’re branes is based around bona fide comments posted on the ‘have your say’ discussion boards run by our broadcasters and newspapers. The stuff is so fantastic and so inane that you’d think that Speak you’re branes must have faked them. But no.

The author is an excellent editor, a cutting critic and clearly a great social media rapporteur. And I love the domain –

These days people have started sending stuff in they find on their midday surfs. So, if find a gem, send it their way. Hell, send it my way too.

A good year for… parliaments in the digital age?

Reviewing some notes last night and I found a list of ‘must-haves’ for parliament websites. I compiled it as a stream-of-consciousness in one of the sessions at the ‘Parliaments in the Digital Age‘ workshop, which was organised by the Centre for Legislative Studies (Hull University) and the Oxford Internet Institute. I promised I’d pass it on to the organisers, Cristina Leston-Bandeira and Steve Ward, but never got round to it. Before I do send it over I thought I’d put it up here and see if anyone wants to add to it or refine it (it follows at the end of this post).

The list will strike some people as like-soooo-obvious but they’d be surprised to find out that a lot of parliaments haven’t even got round to the basics. One parliament that has been working hard to go beyond the basics is the UK Parliament. It’s been under a lot of pressure to do so and progress has been slow. But like a model waiting to happen, Westminster has all the pieces in place – the technology, the budget, the staff. Mind you, having the bits is one thing, what will glue them all together is the political will. What till now has been a project led by officials, now depends on the involvement of MPs and Peers. It’s time to follow up on all the rhetoric.

I’m confident that after all the nervous caution, the 2007/8 parliamentary year will be a good one for the Westminster in the area of online engagement. I’m confident that they’ll ramp up their online consultations and get ePetitions in place. More significantly, I think we’ll also see Parliament finally figure out how to make blogging work for them. Continue reading “A good year for… parliaments in the digital age?”

Are we all art collectors and dealers now because of the web?

I occasionally enjoy ‘Imagine‘ – the BBC 1 arts programme presented by culture-jockey, Alan Yentob. This week was a sort of lite-touch expose of the world of art collecting. We found out that art collecting is a boom-to-bust affair, and that some people are worried about the bottom falling out of it, while others fear the saturation of the art world. Of course, the internet was fingered (particularly on the latter point).

And the end of the show, Alan invited viewers to get onto the website to download an exclusive limited-edition set of banknotes defaced by twisted art-bruvs, Jake and Dinos Chapman. They offer up two different designs, each available with 600kb and a 16mb versions. The downloads stop on November 22nd; I’ve attached one if you need it afterwards.

By offering a copy as an attachment does it mean that I am an art dealer now? Continue reading “Are we all art collectors and dealers now because of the web?”

Carrot or Stick? On Parliaments, ICT and Innovation

One of my last gigs for the Hansard Society was a presentation to the Global Centre of ICT in Parliament in Geneva. It was for a workshop leading up to the Centre’s full-blown conference the next day.

The subject of the workshop and my presentation was parliaments and innovative applications of ICT. Apparently I got a few people’s backs up. Good.

I won’t say black when you say tomato when you say tomato; my outlook is sunny; I’m not in-your-face. But, yes, while a lot of the presentations at the workshop were rosy, I delivered a downbeat critique of how parliaments have approached innovation.

Have a read at the transcript and let me know your thoughts.

Continue reading “Carrot or Stick? On Parliaments, ICT and Innovation”