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12 Things I Think I Learned at SXSE London

SXSE London logoOn Tuesday 3rd July 2012, as grey sheets of summer drizzle swept gently over the Thames, a group of web enthusiasts assembled nearby at London’s first robot pub to examine how the ‘information revolution’ is already shaping our future.

The event was called South By South East London, rumored to have been organised in just a month, with all proceeds going to the charity Crisis.

The enthusiasm of the speakers was infectious, and it was great. Even if I did get a numb bum.

And now, without further ado, here’s what I think I learned (my handwriting is appalling so it’s hard to be sure).

  1. BANKING: Manual data-mining (e.g. cyber-snooping) goes on at a high level in the banking industry: one technique is to browse the LinkedIn accounts of employees at a company which is pitching for investment. If a lot of people (or key people) look like they’re about to leave, things might not be going quite as well as the pitch is making out… [Andrew Walker]
  2. POLITICS: For politicians, knowing whether to react to an undesirable trending topic on Twitter is difficult to judge. Will it be over in 30 minutes? Would responding to it only stoke publicity – or would a quick response nip it in the bud? [Alberto Nardelli]
  3. ACTIVISM: ‘Arm-chair’ activists are all very well, but the real power in social media is converting those Facebook Likes into real-world activity, which is what happened when a Lib Dem activist flash-mob happened in Trafalgar Square thanks to an independent Facebook Group. [Cat Turner and Ben Stockman]
  4. DEMOCRACY: There’s a fantastic initiative called Bite the Ballot which aims to get young people engaged in the UK political system – simply getting them registered to vote is an incredibly powerful first step. You could say it’s ‘disruptive’ but the main political parties are supporting it. [Michael Sani]
  5. PR: Alastair Campbell’s ‘command and control’ media strategy would not be possible in today’s social media driven landscape. [Stephen Waddington]
  6. FITTING IN: Social media is generally about interaction within (and between) two groups. Group A is a circle of friends (a social network). Group B is formed around shared passions or interests (online communities). If a brand is lucky, it can find a niche in Group B but use Group A to recruit members. For example, the dog-owner’s community Park Bench that began on Facebook but is now a community in its own right. [Oli Watts]
  7. GETTING RATM TO CHRISTMAS #1: Pull every trick you can find and learn from the ones that don’t pay off. Use your knack for sensing what makes the media tick to gain maximum exposure at any given opportunity. Create an army who will work for your cause. Make sure you fully understand what needs to be done to achieve your goal. Namecheck anachronistic celebrities on Sky News to generate buzz. [Jon Morter]
  8. FREELANCING: For a freelance journalist, followers on Twitter can be an important asset when pitching for work – those followers are a potential readers for your potential employer. However this can result in freelancers being needy tweeters. [Stu Hertiage]
  9. FUTURE CINEMA: Future Cinema looks incredible and I need to attend an event. [Sophie Kendrick]
  10. SOCIAL MEDIA FOR NEWS ORGS: No employee of a news organisation should be bigger in social media than the brand they work for. Social media rules for staff shouldn’t be stringently enforced doctrine but instead should be naturally reflect the values of the parent organisation. [Ruth Barnett]
  11. THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION: Thanks to the joint initiative edX, it will soon be possible to participate in MIT and Harvard courses online! [Ed Weatherall]
  12. THE VISUAL WEB IS NIGH: Cameras are becoming ubiquitous and images are becoming ever more prevalent in web design (though not, ahem, on this blog post) and as social currency. Some are calling this revolution the ‘imagesphere’. [Dirk Singer]

I believe the next #SXSELondon is in November, and I hope to be there.

Further reading

Inaugural SXSE London helps Tech City find its voice on The Wall
SXSE Storify with stats and pretty pictures on Social Placement

Bonus feature

You want more knows? I got more knows!

JP Morgan are using internal crowdsourcing technology (which sounds a bit like Yammer or Quora) to develop ideas from employees across the organisation, as knowledge management begins to adopt a ‘cloud-like’ model in banking. [Andrew Walker]

Beware ‘vanity metrics’ – big numbers without context. E.g. ‘pageviews’ in old-school web terms. Access to large amounts of data has made it possible to monitor trends in the news agenda. And thanks to the combination of internet archives and social media, the web has a long memory that’s quick to access. This makes it easy to demonstrate when a public figure goes back on their word. [Alberto Nardelli]

‘Tumblr’ is set to overtake ‘blog’ as a search term in October 2012! [Dirk Singer]

“Don’t break out the ban-hammer”

Ben Martin, Community Manager

“Social media followers aren’t like sheep. They’re more like cats: loyal, can’t be steered, and spend most of their time aleep or ignoring you.”

– Ruth Barnett

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