Talking Social Technology at the Digital Minds Conference

I’m very happy to say that I will be facilitating a roundtable discussion on social technology at the Digital Minds Conference on 7 April at the QEII Conference Centre. Indeed, I will be available throughout the London Book Fair to talk to publishers, small and large, about how we might work together on social technology projects, whether outreach, community building and marketing, or internal communication and collaboration. 

The Conversations session at Digital Minds will start at 14.30 in the Whittle Room (PDF), and will continue, with a break, through until about 16:20, so there’ll be plenty of time to discuss lots of topics. There’s no set agenda, so you can come with whatever questions are relevant to you, although if you need a deep dive into a particular area or want a confidential discussion, email me now and book a time to talk during the fair.

Some ideas for conversations might include:

  • Getting started with social media marketing: If you’re new to social media, how do you know where to start? How do you pick your tools? Where should you focus your effort?
  • Social media reboot: You’ve already got various social media accounts, but you’re not getting the results you want, or you feel lost in the social media forest. How do you get yourself unstuck? How do you assess what to continue, and what to drop?
  • What to say on social media: Creating accounts is the easy bit, the hard bit is keeping them going with compelling content that will drive loyalty, sales and traffic to your website. So what sort of things should you be Tweeting and Facebooking? And when?
  • Integration with traditional marketing: Social media marketing should not stand apart from the rest of your marketing work, so how do you integrate it? How do you get the best of both worlds?
  • Building communities: One of the hardest things on the web is building a genuine, long-lasting and constructive community of interest. Publishers can benefit hugely from such communities, but there’s so much to think about when building the technology, nurturing early adopters and scaling your user base. What tools does a community need? How do those tools affect behaviour? What usage and moderation policies should you have? How much outreach will you need to do? How do you keep people coming back?
  • Designing social apps: The tablet is revolutionising the way that we consume and create media, but many book-related apps don’t fully exploit the things that make tablets, and smartphones, different from paper or laptops. How do you start to think about creating a social app? How do you even start thinking about apps, social or not? Is the effort worth the expense?

There are, of course, many more topics we can talk about, so you can bring your ideas to the table and we’ll get stuck in to what I know is going to be a fascinating conversation!

If you want to talk about any of these or other topics privately, or are interested in my workshops, consulting or research, then just email me and we’ll book in a meeting. I’m particularly interested in meeting publishing companies in America, as I’ll be spending a fair amount of time there from mid-summer onwards. And, finally, if you’re not going to be at the LBF, or you’re not in publishing but are interested in these issues, get in touch anyway and we can discuss your needs.

Join me on Ada Lovelace Day

I’ve mainly stayed away from the discussion of gender issues in technology. I didn’t think that I had any real expertise to share. But over the last six months, after many conversations, it has become clear that many of my female friends in tech really do feel disempowered. They feel invisible, lacking in confidence, and unsure how to compete for attention with the men around them.

Then I see the stupid puerile misogynistic manner with which some of the more powerful voices in the tech community – some of them repeat offenders – treat women, and it makes me very cross indeed. The objectification of women is bad enough when it’s done by the media, but when it’s done by a conference organiser or tech commentator or famous tech publication, what message does it send? Nothing but “You will never be taken seriously, but we might take notice of you if you’re hot.”

But what to do? Well, let’s pull back from the anger a little, and start to look instead at why it might be that women feel less secure in their abilities than most men, and what might help change that. Undoubtedly it’s a complex issue, but recent research may shed some light: Psychologist Penelope Lockwood discovered that women need to see female role models more than men need to see male ones.

Well, that’s a relatively simple problem to begin to address. If women need female role models, let’s come together to highlight the women in technology that we look up to. Let’s create new role models and make sure that whenever the question “Who are the leading women in tech?” is asked, that we all have a list of candidates on the tips of our tongues.

Thus was born Ada Lovelace Day, and this pledge:

“I will publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire but only if 1,000 other people will do the same.”

— Suw Charman-Anderson (contact)

Deadline to sign up by: 24th March 2009

Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Whatever she does, whether she is a sysadmin or a tech entrepreneur, a programmer or a designer, developing software or hardware, a tech journalist or a tech consultant, we want to celebrate her achievements.

It doesn’t matter how new or old your blog is, what gender you are, what language you blog in, or what you normally blog about – everyone is invited to take part. All you need to do is sign up to this pledge and then publish your blog post any time on Tuesday 24th March 2009. If you’re going to be away that day, feel free to write your post in advance and set your blogging system to publish it that day.

You’ll notice that I’ve asked for 1,000 people to sign the pledge, which is an ambitious number. Indeed, PledgeBank makes a pretty strong point during the pledge creation process of asking people to limit their requests to 20 people, but I am sure that over the next 77 days we’ll be able to find another 989 people to join us!

What can you do?
Obviously, and most importantly, please sign the pledge. If you already have a blog, then it will be easy for you to take part. If you don’t have a blog, this might be a great reason to start one! It’ll take you about five minutes to get yourself set up on WordPress and then you’ll be up and running!

Please also consider putting a pledge badge on your blog now or writing a short post about the project to help spread the word. You can also use the “Share This” link on the pledge itself to send the pledge to your favourite social bookmarking or news site, or to email it to a friend. The more people who send this link to Delicious or Digg and the like, the more likely we are to hit our target!

Also, if you’re on Twitter, Facebook, Jaiku, or any other microconversation tool, please ping a message to all your friends about Ada Lovelace Day, and don’t forget the link! If you’re on LinkedIn, you could also add it as your temporary status for a while.

It is going to be a challenge to hit 1,000 people – we’ll need an average of 13 people signing each day – but if we all tell our friends about it, I think we can do it!

Keep up with Ada Lovelace Day news
I’ve got a Twitter account, mailing list and blog set up, so feel free to follow, subscribe and add to your RSS reader, as you wish!

What will happen next?
If Ada Lovelace Day is a success I’d like to make it an annual event. And, once the economy is in a better position, I’d like to put together a one day conference called Finding Ada. We would cover presentation skills and would introduce women to tech conference organisers, with the aim of getting more women up on stage at tech conferences. At the moment, I’m short of money to get Finding Ada moving, so if you’d like to be a sponsor please get in touch and I’ll tell you more about it.

Finally, who was Ada?
Ada Lovelace was one of the world’s first computer programmers, and one of the first people to see computers as more than just a machine for doing sums. She wrote programmes for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, a general-purpose computing machine, despite the fact that it was never built.

Autumn events

My diary for the autumn is chock full of conferences, many of which I would highly recommend to anyone interested. Here’s where I’m going to be:

Fruitful Seminars – The Email Problem and How to Solve it
Wed 3 Sept, London
Email is becoming a problem, with people sending and receiving hundreds each day. ‘No Email Days’ don’t help, nor do inbox size limits. So just how do you reduce email and improve people’s relationship with their inbox?

There are still places available for this seminar, so if you’re interested please sign up now!

Fri 5 Sept, Brighton
Going as a punter and very excited to be seeing Steven Johnson.

Fruitful Seminars – Making Social Tools Ubiquitous
Wed 10 Sept, London
Social tools help improve business communications, increase collaboration and nurture innovation, but what do you do if people won’t use them? And how do you grow from a pilot to company-wide use?

There are still places available for this seminar, so if you’re interested please sign up now!

Going Solo Leeds
Fri 12 Sept, Leeds
I shall be reprising the talk I gave at Going Solo Lausanne, When Passion Becomes Profession (Balancing Work and Life).

Enterprise 2.0 Forum
Thurs 18 Sept, Cologne
A conference mainly in German, but I shall be keynoting in English:

Keynote: Potentiale und Herausforderung bei der Einführung von Social Software für die interne Kommunikation und Kollaboration, or Potentials and challenges of the introduction of social software in corporations for internal communications and collaboration enhancements.

Unicom, Web 2.0: Practical Applications for Business Benefit
Wed 1 – Thurs 2 Oct, London
Conference hosted by Dave Gurteen about the business benefits of blogs, podcasts, wikis, online video and other collaborative technologies. I’ll be presenting:

The Email Problem and How To Solve it

* Occupational spam, cc/CYA email and fractured conversations are causing email overload
* Constant interruption reduces people’s ability to focus and attain a state of flow
* Attempts to reduce email usage via “No Email Days” are ineffective
* The email problem is psychological, not technical
* Social media can help reduce email by providing alternative ways to work, collaborate and communicate

Fri 10 Oct, London
An unconference bringing Web 2.0 tools and ideas to the built environment community. I will probably present on the psychology of email.

Web 2.0 Expo
Tues 21 – Thurs 23 Oct, Berlin
TBC – keep your eyes peeled.

Electronic Laboratory Notebooks
Wed 28 – Thurs 29 Jan, London
Examining electronic data gathering, storage and sharing using electronic lab notebooks. I’ll be giving a presentation:
Collaboration and communication using social tools

* How to use social software to both organise your own information and to share it with others,
* Collaborate with team members and across teams/departments
* How to improve communication and reduce reliance on email

RSA Economist Debate – The internet's golden age is over

February 23, 2006 – 18:30 21:00 RSA Economist Debate – The internet’s golden age is over – at RSA, 8 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6EZ

Debate on the future of the internet. With Suw Charman, Open Rights Group; Danny Meadows-Klue, Chief Executive, Digital Strategy Consulting; John Naughton, The Open University, The Observer; Karen Thomson, Chairman and Chief Executive, AOL UK. Chaired by Tom Standage, Technology Editor, The Economist.

Future of Web Apps

February 8, 2006 – 10:00 18:30 Future of Web Apps – at Kensington Conference Centre

This one-day conference brings together those pioneers in the web development industry who are setting the agenda for tomorrow’s apps. They will be discussing how Web 2.0 technologies are changing the way we interact and how you can use these to build powerful, next generation tools. So whether you’re a business owner, developer or entrepreneur this day will help you choose the right technology for your next web-based application.

Les Blogs 2.0

December 5 06, 2005 Les Blogs 2.0 – at Negocia, 8 avenue de la Porte de Champerret, Paris, France

Don’t you feel the rules and our world are changing ? Don’t you feel changed by what many people call the Web 2.0 ? We believe as most of you that the way we work, the way we learn and teach, the way we interact with one another and more generally our expectations and relationships to other people, the institutions, the business world and politics are changing dramatically. It is not only about blogging, it’s about changing the way we think.