My first social media policy


Despite seriously considering deleting my Facebook profile in the past, I haven’t managed it, yet. The downsides are still just about outweighed by the way I use Facebook, i.e. very little. That’s my choice though and after a conversation in the canteen recently, I started wondering whether it was right to effectively start building up a social media profile for someone before they’ve even been born!

Despite Google’s unhelpful profile name policy, Eric Schmidt apparently commented that young people may need to disassociate themselves from a trail of embarrassment online by changing their names. I can see his point, but wouldn’t it be worse if your dad had created a Facebook profile for you?! You’d need to change your name at least twice!

So, given it’s not possible to control information on Facebook, we’ve decided to try and avoid putting anything there on behalf of the bump. Not that we’re picking on Facebook- we’ll be avoiding posting anything on the other social networking sites too. This is a bit of an experiment at the moment, along with the whole (very wide) parental minefield, so the bump’s social media policy may evolve over time. For a start it needs a better codename!

We do still want to annoy at least a few people with news and photos when bump’s big day finally arrives though, so we’ll be sending out announcements via ‘old fashioned’ electronic mail and Short Message Service. (And there will definitely not be any live blogging!)

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Sketching UML


Just discovered a very neat tool for playing around with small UML diagrams online. I was pondering extending the social bookmarking model earlier in the week, to make it possible to identify duplicate tags without confusing unrelated links. For example, a page tagged with ‘plant’ could be about machinery, or trees. yUML looks ideal for this kind of thing, drawing this diagram:

…from this simple markup:

# Social Bookmarking Diagram
[<<Entity>>;Tag]*-related to*[<<Entity>>;Tag]
[<<Entity>>;Tag]-[note: Tags could be ambiguous without knowing what other tags they are related to{bg:cornsilk}]
[<<Entity>>;Tag]*uses-used by*[<<Entity>>;Tagger]
[<<Entity>>;Tagger]*tagged by-bookmarked*[<<Entity>>;Link]
[<<Entity>>;Link]*applied to-tagged with*[<<Entity>>;Tag]

I can see this tool being really handy. If you want to give it a try, there are plenty of samples to get you started.

Happy New Year!


Following Dan Power and Crysta Anderson’s lead, I’m going to kick off the new year with a look back at the most popular posts from 2010. So with barely a pause and not even a drum roll, the winners are…

1. My second CurrentCost development board circuit

Way out ahead at number one is the only circuit board I’ve completed and put to regular use. Still working fine, apart from a brief pause when the batteries ran out. Kind of regretting replacing the batteries just in time for the recent spell of cold weather!

2. Master Information Hub: Getting Started

Not a close second, but still respectably ahead of the pack, this post is one I regularly point people to the first time they use the MDM Workbench. Hopefully it’s helped a few people out this year.

3. New clock radio

Leading the pack is this surprise entry to the top ten. Unlike some Joggler owners, I still use it fairly regularly and, apart from the occasional experiment, I’m still using the O2 software it came with. I did give Jolicloud another go yesterday, to see whether a little bluetooth keyboard helps; nice, but just not quite fast enough to switch permanently. Might give MeeGo a try next.

4. Get off my hashtag

Had a really interesting chat at the last homecamp about tagging, so this is a subject I’m likely to return to this year.

5. Weather Underground + Mashup Hub + Pachube = orb food

Maybe it’s just me but I get quite excited about the potential that this kind of data mashup has. Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen what you can do with enterprise data and software like Message Broker; now imagine the possibilities with open data and simple ways for anyone to manipulate it. (That’s not manipulation in the political sense of course!)

6. Master Information Hub: Social Bookmark Services

This follows on from the number 2 post, while the third in the series has some catching up to do and didn’t make the top 10. I also have some has some catching up to do; I hope to get to the next instalment early this year.

7. Liberal Democrats can’t win here

Politicians, gotta love ’em. I wonder how these graphs will look if we get proportional representation for the next election.

8. Home Easy ambient orb

All soldered together but not yet receiving that lovely data from the number 5 post. I’m currently pondering whether to just hard code things ‘for now’ or hack some more so that the three orbs could be programmed using the BlinkM sequencer.

9. Digital House Arrest

Politicians again. Really. Very. Annoying. I never did get a reply to my last letter to my MP, Chris Huhne.

10. Manifesto

Given that all politicians seem to be as bad as each other I was half tempted to stand as a RON (reopen nominations) candidate Anyone else up for a For The Win party next time?!

Highly commended: It takes two

Not actually in the top ten but this post about Hedge End twinning deserves an honourable mention for the great comments about Frome’s twins.

Happy new year!

Social data modelling


I’ve been meaning to get round to extending a little social bookmarking example I started ages ago, and after a demo yesterday now seems like the perfect time. The rumours/news about Delicious are purely a coincidence; I’m definitely not planning to compete!!!

So I started out with a very basic model that only included bookmarks, which I’d now like to add tagging to, along with people. Here’s how I think that fits together:

The first question is, does that make sense as a basic tagging example? The next step is to create a physical data model, which I’m less sure about. My first attempt looks like this:

I hope I got the crows feat right, but is that a reasonable data model to achieve the kind of thing the first diagram shows? Are there any data modelling 101 guidelines that would help improve it? Any comments, tips and suggestions very welcome!

Get off my hashtag


I’m still not completely convinced by hashtags on twitter. On the plus side, they can make following what people are saying about a show (#bbcrevolution) or an event (#iod2010) easier. On the other hand, these are a few random thoughts about the downside to hashtags…

Hashtags are common property, which is not a problem when people are cooperating to join threads of conversation, but it’s easy to see how that could #fail:

  • I might think #iod is a great tag for Information on Demand, but there are plenty of others who think it means something else.
  • An ‘official’ hashtag can avoid some of the confusion but, even if you manage to stake your claim to something unique enough, you can’t control it. While #bbcrevolution was talking about denial of service attacks, I was thinking about how easy it would be for anyone to launch a denial of hashtag attack. Not to mention when marketing tags get hijacked.
  • If there isn’t an official or obvious hashtag for something, it’s easy to end up with multiple hashtags. A bit of discussion can usually get things on track, but it always seems a little odd talking about the tag, rather than the subject of the tag.

And finally, the situation that got me thinking about hashtags in the first place. When different people use the same tag for almost the same thing, especially if one of those uses is much noisier than the other(s). In this case, tweets related to the Current Cost meter, and automated Current Cost meter readings have both used the #currentcost tag. Not a huge problem, except it would be easy to miss interesting information if the tag was swamped by even a few tweetjects posing meter readings:

“seems a shame that @mmnHouse is inserting the #currentcost hashtag to their house temp and elec reading. creates major noise” @yellowpark

“thinking we need a new hashtag for #CurrentCost stuff: one for bots and noisy automated stuff, another for discussion. what do people think?” @dalelane

“@dalelane How about #CurrentCostData ? I agree my searches are becoming muddled with people’s bots, and not information on #currentcost” @cumbers

“@dalelane Agreed – It frustrates me no end having countless #currentcost tweets popping up all day!” @markphelan

“thinking we should use a specific hashtag for tweeting #currentcost data to avoid creating noise. any suggestions? #ccdata ?” @yellowpark

“Moving from #currentcost hashtag to #mymeter with a data format for auto graphing.Join in discussion at http://is.gd/7b0si (via @ScaredyCat)” @stuartpoulton

So one solution is to agree on uses for #currentcost, #currentcostbot, #ccdata, #mymeter, etc. which is likely to work reasonably well for the Current Cost audience, but it may not be as practical for every situation.

Alternatively, as well as being able to mute retweets, it would be handy to be able to mute selected people using a hashtag in a way you’re not interested in. Even better if lists could be muted: if I could mute any tweets containing the #currentcost hashtag from anyone in my @jtonline/tweetject list, this problem goes away.

So, a fairly random collection of #thoughts on #hashtags. What are yours?