Something for the weekend: ‘Information wants to be free’

‘Information wants to be free’, famously observed Stewart Brand, way back in 1984. Goading a debate that still rages. Seemingly putting those who make money from content up against the internet’s utopians.

We see the arguments play out most days in one form or another, be it over newspaper paywalls, music downloads, Apple’s app store, and every time we watch a film at the cinema having first to view the clip about piracy. But, as Cory Doctorow argues, it’s worth understanding the full quote from which the snappier phrase has been grasped:
Continue reading → Something for the weekend: ‘Information wants to be free’

Free Digital Media Clinic – 25 September

teaandbiscuitAnnouncing the second free Digital Media and Communications Clinic
Friday, 25 September 2009
Kings Cross, London

About: The Digital Media Clinic is for anyone who would like a short burst of free one-to-one consultancy.

The sessions are in 3/4 of an hour bursts and will be held at a venue in Kings Cross, London on a first come, first served basis. They are run by Kathryn Corrick. For those who live outside London, do contact me, and we can take things from there.


What? Digital Media and communications clinic. Que? One to one sessions of 3/4 of an hour, covering all areas of digital media and communications – social media, PR, advertising, marketing and business development. Think of it as a cosy, modern-day Miss Marple chat – problem solving over cup of tea (and may be a bit of cake).
What kinds of problems can you help with? I’ve worked professionally in the digital and communications space since about 2000. Take a look at the kinds of things I’m involved with and do here or have a look at my LinkedIn profile as a possible starting point.
In the first Digital Media Clinic issues discussed ranged from business development and campaign planning through to SEO and social media. The kinds of companies who came along included a telecoms start-up, interior design company, PR agency and a social enterprise.
Where? Kings Cross, London
When? 10.00-17.00, 25, September 2009

Time slots available
10.00 – 10.45
11.00 – 11.45
12.00 – 12.45
13.30 – 14.15
14.30 – 15.15
15.30 – 16.15
16.30 – 17.15

Price: Free, but gifts of tea and cake most welcome
Where do I sign up? Please contact me, if you would like to book a session.

This week’s recommended reads

It’s a bit late on a Friday, but these will still be fresh come Monday, here are a few things worth perusing if you have a moment:

Social Media

New media & the Air Force, page 6
New media & the Air Force, page 6
For those considering social media and Twitter policies for their staff and company, take a look at the vast collection of example guidelines collated by Laurel Papworth, an Australian online communities consultant. Of particular note, is that of the US Air Force (left).

How companies are benefiting from Web 2.0: McKinsey Global Survey Results
“The heaviest users of Web 2.0 applications are also enjoying benefits such as increased knowledge sharing and more effective marketing. These benefits often have a measurable effect on the business.”

Meta-ROI and social media engagement for brands – I want to believe, by Anthony Mayfield
A review and thoughts on Charlene Li’s post for the Altimeter Group regarding the group’s study of how engaged major brands were with social media and the link between how deeply an organisation engages with its customers in social media and its performance.

If advertising is a firework, social media is a bonfire by John V Wiltshire (via We Are Social)


Where five US magazines are finding revenue, Advertising Age.
This article includes some nice pie charts so that you can compare and contrast the role of different revenue streams. For some digital advertising is playing a large part, for others it’s events.

As readers flee, papers ask those left to pay more, Paid Content
Analysis of the relationship between print circulation figures and price since 2001.

A liberal defence of money, by William Davies, The Liberal
An analysis of some of the new economic models being currently discussed, in particular the notion of free. Also see William’s review of Chris Anderson’s book Free in Prospect.

Twitter’s quiet problem

UPDATE 16/07/2009: The problem of appearing in search and hashtags has now been fixed, although it would seem that People Search is still not finding users. Thanks to @crystal of the Twitter Support team for her correspondence. She says that all problems should be fixed by 12:04am PST today.

UPDATED 14/07/2009 (see below).


Twitter, the social media service reknowned over the last few weeks for the noise it has generated, has a quiet and growing problem. Many users are not appearing in search or the Find People tool.

I first came across the issue when @Paul0Evans1 told me he wasn’t appearing in search some months ago. At first I quite didn’t believe him, it seemed so unusual, and checked to see if this was indeed the case (which it was). He has since used another Twitter name to when talking about specific events such as Political Innovation Camp, but it’s a work around rather than a solution.

Just after Twitter Upgraded, about two weeks ago, I noticed a similar pattern occuring on my account. Appreciating that I get this service for free, and aware that what right did I have to complain, I added my query to this support post, which already had 80+ pages of comments, rather than writing out a new support ticket.

The number of comments to date on this post is over 2,300. It is currently Twitter’s largest open known issue. , and Twitter has now closed comments on the post. This known problem support post is still open for comments.

One of the many reasons that Twitter has been so successful in spreading messages rapidly through it’s system is through the use of hashtags (#) and Twitter’s own real-time search engine. As Twitter describe it themselves:

Twitter search is an incredible tool that allows you to find virtually anything and anyone by adding the ability to search for key words, locations, phrases, and more! Type in any word and you’re guaranteed to get real time results.

Twitter users can follow what topics are trending using a number of tools, including one integrated into each users homepage. It was this Twitter feature alone that enabled Digital Britain Unconferences to kick off, for example.

In the past when users have disliked a new feature or if something has broken Twitter users have used hashtags to quickly cause a storm to bring it to the attention of the site’s administrators.

But what happens when a multiple number of users are no longer appearing in search? Their accounts still exist, they are still tweeting, but they can no longer be found easily by other users, or their messages appear to the wider non-following audience. The irony is the problem is a quiet one.

Whilst this isn’t the end of the world it highlights three things:

1. Our reliance on VC funded free tools and how as users we have little leverage to complain, we are not customers after all.

2. Google has some how programmed us to believe that search is somehow simple and automatic.

3. The affects of the problem highlighted above are subtle and at first generally not that noticable, but they are ultimately quite pernicious and undermine many of the democratic qualities of the tool that have been admired so much in the last few weeks.

Below is the email sent by Twitter in response to a support ticket sent regarding this issue.


Thanks for your email. You can search for people on Twitter by keyword, user name, location and more. New: Twitter search in your sidebar!

More information about searching for people is here:

We’re currently experiencing a couple of issues with finding people; if you can’t find yourself in search, make sure you’ve posted updates (so we can index you and your updates.) Profiles that haven’t posted updates aren’t indexed in search.

Profiles added in the last 8 weeks aren’t being indexed by search. We’re tracking this problem here:

Due to high volume, support requests reporting this issue are being closed, as we’re aware of and working on the problem, and tracking it in the known issues page. Please check the thread above for updates or post comments there, and don’t re-open tickets. A solved ticket doesn’t mean the bug is fixed; bug fixes will be announced on the known issues page.

When you’re using ‘Find People’ to look for folks by name or user name, you can only perform 50 searches per hour before you’re limited– this is for abuse control and spam prevention. If you hit a search limit using Find People, try checking out Twitter Search’s advanced search:

If you’re not listed in search and your profile is public, we may be investigating your account for a violation listed here:

If you’re sure that doesn’t pertain to you and you still can’t find yourself or your friends, reply to this ticket and let us know.

Twitter Support

UPDATE 14/07/2009: Twitter Support has just emailed the following, which can also be viewed here

crystal said:

Update: Find People search index should be up to date. All public accounts with tweets posted for more than 24 hours should be indexed. Search is now updating regularly, on a daily basis. If you’re still not listed in search, your tweets may be filtered for search quality; find out more about this here. Search filtering is done automatically, and cannot be un-done by Twitter Support.

A rather defensive response, considering the comments on this issue (now closed) were nearing 2,500. From the tests I have done People Search is still not working and neither is Search. Twitter does seems to be experiencing capacity problems are however, so these issues may be resolved over the next few days.

Again the problem here really is that as users, rather than customers, of the service there is very little leverage in complaining. Twitter is a service that I would happily consider paying for as a Pro User (ie. with additional functionality/features), in the similar vein to Flickr or Gmail Corporate, each of which have a corresponding Terms of Service. 14/07/2009