Reading Borough Council on Twitter

It looks as if Reading Borough Council have expanded their Twitter presence with two new channels: @Street_care and @readingcouncil. These join @FundingAdvice, launched in July 2009 to help voluntary organisations.

@ReadingCouncil, with a suitably burgundy background, have made a tentative start, commencing tweeting on 26 October and posting their second (and last) tweet a couple of days later.

Perhaps understandably, Reading tweeps have demonstrated little interest thus far; the number of followers at the time of writing stood at 44. These followers include Councillor Daisy Benson, arguably the most prolific user of social media in local government, and @readinglabour. Both welcomed RBC’s arrival on Twitter.

A few more daily tweets, including efforts to respond to queries (as a council should), and I’d expect followers and lists to soar. The Twitter team ought also to think about snapping up @readingboroughcouncil (to stay on the safe side), and perhaps attending a local tweetup or two when the time is right.

@Street_care, the Twitter profile of RBC’s Streetcare Team, is faring slightly less well in popularity, with 26 followers. Three tweets over a week or so (including an RT) is not an ideal start.

Are they ready? I see local Twitter users TwitPiccing filthy pavements and overflowing bins – and nudging the Streetcare Team to take urgent action. I see YouTube videos of scurrying rats. I hope that they up the ante a little.

What are your thoughts on the Council’s use of Twitter?

5 events for geeks in Reading

There are some ridiculously smart people in Reading. They are everywhere: working for big companies such as Microsoft and Oracle Corporation, toying with robotics, doing marvellous things with social media in their free time.

Geeks even enjoy a drink now and again (in moderation). Here are 5 social events in Reading where brainiacs come together to discuss all things technical over a beverage or two (and on occasion build clever things using drinking straws):

What: #rdggeek
When and where: Copa Bar, second Tuesday of every month.
Format: Alcohol, speakers and conversation.
Recent topics: Humanoid robots and flashing lights.
Interesting fact: They’ve just celebrated their first birthday.
Geek Factor: 9/10 (it would have been 10 but for the booze)

What: #rdgtweetup
When and where: Glo, Wednesday evening (8pm onwards) every two weeks.
Format: Beer, cider, wine and conversation.
Recent topics: Twitter. Probably.
Geek Factor: 7/10 (the Wokingham Road area was reconstructed using straws in the last meeting)

What: Reading Girl Geek Dinners
When and where: Third Thursday of every month; different locations.
Format: Dinner, speakers and conversation.
Recent topics: Mobile phones and how millennials use technology.
Interesting fact: Girl Geeks Dinners is established in 23 countries (and founded just 5 years ago – one month after this blog was started).
Geek Factor: 5/10

What: Thames Valley Social Media Cafe
When and where: First and third Thursday of every month; different locations between Reading and Farnborough.
Format: Coffee and conversation.
Interesting fact: TVSMC was inspired by the London Social Media Cafe (or Tuttle Club). There are now Social Media Cafes all over the country and across the world.
Geek Factor: 4/10 (social media: we’re all at it, aren’t we?)

What: CowCoop
When and where: Different times, different locations.
Format: Coffee and conversation.
Recent topics: Social dashboards.
Interesting fact: This really has little to do with cows.
Geek Factor: 4/10 (this event appeals to mobile workers, and farmyard animals feature prominently on the CowCoop website)

What are Reading councillors tweeting about?

In a recent post, I revealed that roughly a quarter of Reading councillors maintain a blog and just under one-third are on Twitter.

Following this entry, I created a Twitter list of Reading councillors atReadingRoars/reading-councillors (it seemed like a natural next step).

Now I’ve gone a little further. For fun, I’ve created a “word cloud” of Reading councillor tweets, as shown in the image below (not interactive, unfortunately). This is generated from tweets posted over the past 24 hours (there haven’t been that many).

So what do you think?

Reading councillor word cloud

This is how I did it:

  1. Created a Twitter List of Reading councillor Twitter accounts;
  2. Submitted the list to Twitter Lists 2 RSS for converting into RSS;
  3. Added the RSS feed to Wordle. The font I selected was “Kenyan Coffee”, in homage to Workhouse Coffee’s Kenyan coffee tasting Sunday.

Local newspapers engage with Reading Twitter community

Like Reading’s blogosphere, the town’s Twitterverse is flourishing.

I believe we now have what can be described as a legitimate Reading identity (or strands of identity) on Twitter, shaped by 4 key developments:

  1. #rdg was created
  2. #rdgtweetup event and corresponding hashtag were created
  3. Journalists from getreading/Reading Post and Reading Chronicle joined Twitter
  4. Reading Chronicle and getreading/Reading Postbegan using#rdgnews to publish news, following advice from the Twitter community

The #rdg hashtag has really taken off; Twitterers are increasingly adopting it in their messages (though one or two Twitter users have been lambasted for using it inappropriately).

Similarly, #rdgtweetup (described byinfluential TwittererAmy Kate as an event “about fun, socializing and networking”) continues to grow.

I attended #rdgtweetupfor the first time last Wednesday evening at the Pitcher & Piano (the event takes place at the same location every two weeks). There were about 16 people in attendance, divided into what appeared to be two camps. Conversation wasn’t restricted to all things geeky and there were few gadgets in sight.

If leading influencers such as local press people and councillors join #rdgtweetup in future, exciting things might happen. I don’t think we’re far off.

The recent emergence of Reading Chronicle and getreading/Reading Post journalists on Twitter trumped in significance (in my mind, anyway) changes introduced lately such as 60 Second News. They are now engaging with their readers on the realtime web.

Last week, a discussion unfolded about theuse of the #rdg hashtag (conventionally used for Reading-themed conversations)for disseminating local news, resulting in the birth of#rdgnews. Read the following exchanges (in reverse chronological order, with the newest tweet top):

JimAnning: @getreading Ta – pleased that theres now a great one-stop-shop for local #rdg news at #rdgnews – looking forward to seeing how it develops

getreading: Happy to use #rdgnews from now on for general getreading feeds. We will only use #rdg for breaking news and big events listings. Happy?

JimAnning: @getreading had gd conv with @rdgchronicle – they’ve moved their feed to #rdgnews – keeping #rdg for other stuff + urgent breaking news

getreading: @JimAnning We feed stories which we think will interest people in #rdg We don’t put everything up – v. interested in feedback

getreading: #Rdg West MP Martin Salter ‘texting’ during debate http://bit.ly/IGmEZ (expand)

amykate: people of #rdg do you all use tweettabs to track #rdg #rdgnews and #rdgtweetup? http://tweettabs.com/ – try it, works great

JimAnning: Top marks to @rdgchronicle for engaging with the #rdg twitter community and moving their newsfeed to #rdgnews

craigyd: Am actually a lil annoyed with @rdgchronicle suddenly hijacking the #rdg tag…. If I want the news i’ll follow you. Thats what you do…

JimAnning: Glad to see @rdgchronicle engaging in debate on how to best use #rdg hashtag: @getreading – whats your view?

rdgchronicle: Hmmm. #rdg hashtag debate slightly academic at the mo actually as, erm, Twitterfeed appears to have fallen over. It wasn’t us. Probably.

akamike: @rdgchronicle As @TheSourceress suggested perhaps an #rdgnews tag would be better, #rdg for breaking news only (like @JimAnning’s example)

akamike: @davidjohnpowell I think in that case it is fine to use #rdg, as long as it isn’t a constant barrage of self-promotion.

getreading: #Rdg West MP Martin Salter deep in thought during the debate to choose the new Speaker of the Commons… http://tinyurl.com/mf2zv2 (expand)

rdgchronicle: #rdg hashtag debate then. Would ppl prefer us to keep it off our Twitterfeed stuff and keep it for pure breaking news risking duplication?

akamike: @TheSourceress @JimAnning I suppose. While #rdg doesn’t get a huge amount of use now, it could expand. #rdgnews sounds good to me!

TheSourceress: @JimAnning Careful Jim – don’t start a panic! #rdg

davidjohnpowell: @JimAnning @TheSourceress @akamike What if you want to publicise somthing in #rdg?

JimAnning: @TheSourceress @akamike agree – perhaps keep #rdg for more personal stuff – or for urgent breaking news – like ‘entire town on fire’

akamike: @TheSourceress Fair enough they are sharing a lot of links to their site but they are related to #rdg. No where near as bad as @HabitatUK 😉

akamike: @TheSourceress I may be missing something here but isn’t the #rdg tag for that use? Information/news for Reading? I don’t see how it is spam

TheSourceress: Loving the way that @rdgchronical ignores us all and continues to spam the #rdg hashtag via twitterfeed – very classy!

Oranjepan analyses Berkshire blogosphere

The prolific political blogger Oranjepan has published an interesting (and unique, I believe) analysis of the Berkshire blogosphere.

Oranjepan compiled a list of most influential Berkshire blogs in June 2009 (based on Wikio rankings), with John Redwood’s Diary in top position. The other titles in the top 5 were listed as Boulton & Co., Mark Reckons, Richard Willis’s Blog and Redlands Libdems. Oranjepan’s own blog (ReadingList)occupied 6th place.

Other influential blogs such as Scary Duck, MuckspReading (now discontinued)and Jane’s the one (now moved)were mentioned in the analysis, and Oranjepan concluded by summing up the local political blog landscapeas follows:

In total Reading List records 9 Conservative bloggers, 8 Liberal Democrat, 5 Green Party, 2 Libertarian, 1 Liberty & Solidarity Party, 1 Common Sense Party and 1 Independent blogger in addition to the 4 ‘celebrity’, 4 ‘comedy’ and other unaffiliated, non-partisan sites. Reading List also claims two national journalist sites which fit the description of a blog.

Tourism tips on Twitter

Stuck for pub ideas on a rainy Saturday afternoon in Oxford, I turned to Twitter and received two replies:

tempted to try a third Oxford pub. On my own, so a bit sad, no?
3:01 PM Jun 6th from mobile web

@mattbrady Suggest the Royal Blenheim on St Ebbes. Best real ale pub in Oxford, sloe gin, mean chilli con carne
3:08 PM Jun 6th from mobile web

@mattbrady Gloucester Arms!
Jun 6th from mobile web

Might this blend of Twitter and tourism be called… Twourism?

MuckspReading dries up

One of Reading’s most entertaining and popularblogs, the highly satirical MuckspReading, has moved on to the digital other side. It is disappointing to see its passing, though the decision to discontinue the project is understandable.

There is a need for satire (especially as local politics can feel a little dry) and I’m hoping that a new blog, independently managed, will emerge to fulfill this important role.

As MuckspReading’s Mick Spreader (which may or may not be the author’s real name) wrote:

Since muckspReading was set up, Reading now has a burgeoning local blog network so hopefully someone else will take up the mantle of poking fun at the pompous, the smug and the jobsworths of Reading and continue to expose lies and hypocrisy where they see it. Don’t leave it to the press!

Reading Tuttle tomorrow at ten

Twitterers, bloggers and other social media-ers will be meeting tomorrow morning at 10 (after they have voted, of course) at Workhouse Coffee for round 3 of the Thames Valley Social Media Cafe (TVSMC), now a permanent fixture thanks to Benjamin Ellis and Neville Hobson. A perfect opportunity to discuss the intersection of social media and politics/democracy?

Meanwhile, Reading “tweetups”, the smaller sessions organised around Social Media Cafe, are going from strength to strength, driven by people such as @craigyd (he does have a real name, honest).

For the latest on local meetings, look no further than hashtag #rdgtweetup.

Thames Valley Social Media Cafe is a Tuttle success

Sometime mid-morning on Friday 13 March, a number of social media enthusiasts talked Twitter tacticsover coffee as bemused Workhouse Coffee punters looked on. It was the inaugural Thames Valley Social Media Cafe, held in Reading.

I’m not a great counter, preferring words, but I estimated there to be a dozen or so of us, including heavyweights (not literally) Neville Hobson and Drew Benvie, who both co-founded the event, skateboarding Steven Lamb from Microsoft, copywriter and friend John McGarvey, podcaster Andy Piper from IBM, and local PR business owners Nicky Davis and Catherine Warrilow. It was quite a crowd.

Even Workhouse Coffee’s Greg Costello (who literally is a heavyweight) joined in the fun, showing interest in my BlackBerry and asking for my thoughts on the iPhone/iPod Touch. According to Drew, Greg also had a Twitter accountset upfor him onthe spot that morning. Marvellous and marvellously simple. You can follow Greg’s tweets here: www.twitter.com/itsridiculous

I chatted at length with Nicky Davis, who is at the helm of online news release distributor NeonDrum and consultancy EvokedSet. Topics covered included Reading, refuse collections and Readipop CDs, as well as online PR. As I finished my Brazilian (coffee) and downgraded to a cortado, I began another enjoyable conversation, with Catherine Warrilow, who runs Oxford-based company Warrilow PR.

I’d also spoken briefly with Steven Lamb (who led my kayaking lessons when I was at Microsoft), Andy Piper (who can teach me a thing or two about podcasting) and Adrian Moss (ditto).

For other (better) perspectives on the event, read the following posts:

Greg’s perspective, like his fantastic cortado, was short and sweet:

it was a wonderful morning in coffee house today. Thanks to the group of twitterers who held a gathering there. more news soon