Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

The Filthy, flirty, fooling around Irish

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Fun survey from in the PR box today. They surveyed us Paddys on their website. Bloody hell, I’m shocked at some results.

  • 9% of those asked “Did you ever hook up with someone on a social media website such as Facebook?” answered yes.
  • One in 3 have cheated on a trip abroad
  • One in 5 have had a secret hotel rendezvous
  • Six in 10 have had a holiday romance
  • 85% believe in monogamy in marriage
  • 38% have engaged in sexting
  • 70% of 18-25 year olds are sexting on the sly with someone they’re not married/partnered with

That 9% one has to be much higher than that or maybe we use Twitter now?

How you like me now?

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Oh hello

Friday, March 5th, 2010

I’m about, just more than a tad busy with upcoming events and that dayjob I signed myself up to. The useless drivel will return soon.

Eddie Lenihan documentary on TG4

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Eddie should be declared a national treasure. Jealous of Allan and his pics.

The €4 Million Govt website that you never heard of

Friday, February 12th, 2010

In a single sentence: 4M quid spent, no stats on usage.

The Irish Times today has a story on Mobhaile, which was a website created so county councils and community groups could have an online presence. My first interaction with the site was via blogs that it hosted for a time. I was reminded of it a few years ago by a fellow blogger and then saw mention of it last year too, so in December 2009 I did an FOI about it after reading Dáil transcripts pointing out at least 2M was spent on it. In turned out to be 4 Million.


The expenses for this system are below. Was it a success? Well they spent 4 million quid and then shut it down and how did they measure success? Well they didn’t know the number of visitors or logged in users as they never enabled logging of this information. That’s right, the most basic form of measurement of a website was shut off.

And the excuse:

“To put in Webtrends licences on each of those sites was an expense that we couldn’t have borne,” he said.

Which kind of conflicts with:

He added that the project saved a significant amount of money by moving to open-source software during its development.

Where are the log files? These are records under FOI. No records I was told. It’s perverse that with 4M quid of taxpayer money being spent, money on stats is deemed too expensive.

A huge issue here for me is where was the oversight? 4 Million quid, boom times or not (great excuse that), this is a serious amount of money. That would fund a huge amount of startups that could build something that lasts more than 3 years. Also, despite the site being shut down, hosting is still happening and being billed for?

All this information was required via FOI. Here are the released docs as PDF Attachments 1, 2, 3. OCRd Word docs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Please do go through them and share your thoughts.

Expenditure: Mobhaile
LA Claims paid out-eChampions/elnclusion 629,129
Travel & Subsistence 25,318
Training & Conferences 19,908
Advertising 17,079
Development Costs 1,482,092
Computing Costs 1,275,878

Accommodation Costs 48,426
Administration Costs 11,298
Salaries 431,418
Hosting 2006 58,661
Hosting 2007 ¦ 75,119
Hosting 2008 86,940
Hosting 2009 70,583
Hosting for 4 years: 291,302
Grand Total: 4,231,848

I asked for stats:

Details of the usage of the system from launch including number of logged in users, number of accounts/websites/subsites created and website statistics (unique visitors, pageloads) yearly from inception to the present.

And got back:
Unfortunately, I cannot provide you with that information as the web-trending software wasn’t configured to provide statistics on Mobhaile sites

“Web-trending software not configured” is a bit different to: “To put in Webtrends licences on each of those sites was an expense that we couldn’t have borne”

I asked a technology bloke about the hosting and he said:

It’s all hosted by the LGCSB, who for some reason have their own AS number (which they do not need, but gives them 7000 IP addresses that I doubt are being used :P). This is pretty darn expensive, since they end up having to peer with higher ISPs (they seem to be peering with C&W as a level 2 provider, which would not be cheap at all)

Here’s a Silicon Republic interview with Ray Rochford about it. Dial down the sensitivity of your bullshit meter.

Here’s where some of the money went.

Read through all the docs and see how this project changed numerous times. More costs. What I find amazingly interesting is the final document that was sent on, to me, reads like it’s explaining how 4 Million can be spent on something that’s now shut down and somehow was ahead of its time and opened the gate for iPhone and other buzzwords:

Finally, would the Mobhaile project be initiated again, if funds permitted? Yes, but in a different fashion. The toolsets available now for Communities are far easier to source, understand and maintain that they were even 3 years ago. The evolution of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and OpenID are three main areas of work that the Mobhaile team developed solutions for transitive Identity across all community sites and the idea of single sign on. In the current web2.0 environment where many of the toolsets provided by Mobhaile are now available for free (albeit with Advertising attached in some instances), I believe that there still is a role of co-ordination, training, understanding the different toolsets and harnessing the power of the internet for those who are less well off in the internet economy .The role (for someone) to help those less well off (in different terms) to learn, understand and harness the power of the internet-there still is a role to bring the disenfranchised in – or maybe to carry the franchise to them.

This is the copy of Mobhaile.

Mobhaile, mo problems.

Update: Six years ago people were questioning this whole project.

Update on the Dublin Twitter Treasure Hunt tomorrow

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Have a look at the twitter account DublinTweasure.

It starts at 2pm in Dublin City Centre.
What you need is a phone with web access, a team and knowledge or access to knowledge.
Cash prize for the winners too. Full details of what will be asked of you will be on the Twitter account.

Update, these were the clues:

Where is Suzanne walking? Frankly I haven’t a rashers. She’s awfully
good looking though.

Near broken spears and swans in flight we saw a vision. We were tied
up all winter.

Where Moore met Parnell sounds like under a little sign you go
downstairs to have a bite with a Polski wuj.

Harry jigs on, mixed up. He brought water into town but died in bath.

Where saol’s for sale two dogs show the way.

What will Damien give me, what does he have in store?

It’s a stitch up! There’s a singer on top of my brother, on Charles
Chetwynd. I’m beside myself with worry.

Shake up a regal she moth then have a hot one, you’re nearly there.

This was written after I was shot, Nancy.

Privacy in this newest digital age

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

The Press Ombudsman and Press Council had an event in Cork last Friday and I was asked to talk for 15 minutes on privacy and blogging though I instead talked about what is happening online and thoughts on privacy.

I talked about Twitter and Facebook pumping out tens of millions bits of data every day and after the recent privacy changes on Facebook, these bits are public. Twitter mostly throws out 25 million 140 character chunks of text each day as well as links to websites and 100s of 1000s if not millions of cameraphone photos. Facebook 10s of millions more. So perhaps 100 Million chunks of data be they links, text or photos are now shared with the web. Once shared, they’ll be found. Google and Facebook already tie directly into Twitter now. Facebook and Bing are tied together and Google has some access to Facebook. Oh and by the way, Facebook and their privacy changes have lots of people up in arms. Facebook were going to be wiped out if they did not react to Twitter and sites like Tumblr who already default to public. A generation has already been won over by this. A generation that will fuel our wages.

Fox masks
Photo owned by panina.anna (cc)

Privacy was about control of you
Victorian era dictating your looks, what you say, how you sound, how you dress and so on. The idea of privacy back then seemed to force people into doing certain things. One was expected to shroud oneself in shroudiness (not a real word). Now we can opt in or opt out on sharing of data. We don’t have to Twitter, upload photos that are public by default. We have granular control in Facebook. We now have amazing control of how we share and to who we share. One definition of privacy is that it is a personal choice/control we ahvea right to.

I previously talked though about not having any privacy in public when I was off Twitter. Despite not being on it, people reported where I was seen, what I was wearing, they talked about when I was doing media interviews or where I checked in for food on Foursquare. Do I have any rights to demand privacy in a public place or a private place that the public can see in to? Not everyone has a legal team like Princess Caroline. If I upload photos of myself on Twitter then do I have the right to complain when someone takes one of me and uploads it?

At the talk was a very good example of what the kids saw as a privacy violation. A friend of theirs died and they left messages to their friend on his/her Bebo page. The messages were quoted in newspapers. The kids felt this was a breach of their privacy. Perhaps the equivalent of talking to your friend and their grave and having the comments printed. So findable text could be seen as private even in a public space? I notice this was done on the Brian Lenihan support Page on Facebook where his under 18 year old son left a thank you message and it was quoted in the media.

How can libel laws exist with a networked world?
So here’s another thing. Libel laws and defamation laws were great in an unconnected world. Word couldn’t spread that far and you could find the source and legally smother it. In a world where everyone is connected, news and lies can spread in the backchannels and there isn’t much you can do. That might have traveled in an unconnected world but it would be slow. Just via email. Facebook mail or private messages on Twitter, we all get to know all the gorey details of the Irish Robinson hoopla, much more than the press were able to print. So while the press here and perhaps even bloggers can be strongly influenced by the libel laws, what about those just copy and pasting 140 characters from one private message to another? We already saw the web getting around an injunction against the Guardian.

Even in public, when you retweet (resend a message from someone to your network) who gets sued for libel? The final person in the pass-me-along, the originator (if you can find them), every person that re-sent it or the people who have the most contacts?

Also, with the whole worry about kids making themselves look stupid and in the future they’ll need jobs and this will damage their chance. Do we forget that these kids are going to be OUR employers?

The Dublin Tweasure Hunt

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Weather permitting of course. January 30th. 2ish. Ends 5ish. Note emphasis on ish.

Goblin 612
Photo owned by Everfalling – FREE GIRAFA! (cc)

Want to take part in a treasure hunt around Dublin City Centre? Powered by Twitter. Follow this Twitter account. Cash prize but the glory is the big thing, right? Clues sent out via Twitter so phone with a Twitter client will be handy. You may be asked to take photos while running about and send them back to HQ via Twitter too. Full details in the next few days. Prepping you for it now. Teams of up to 6 permitted. You can tag along without a team if you want though.

Massive thanks to Willie White , Project Arts Centre and Alexia Golez from Golez Heavy Metal Extractions for building this game.

Freelance Whales

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Jim’s show on Phantom last night played this band Freelance Whales, liked the song right away, caught a few more of their songs on their mySpace. Got the album. I hope they come to Ireland soon.

This is them live in a train station. Love the reaction of the girl to their sound:

And another fuller version:

Why did you leave Twitter?

Monday, January 4th, 2010

The most frequently asked question of me in the past 3 months is the title of this post. I’ve gotten about a dozen phonecalls, a heck of a lot of private messages, instant messages, facebook mails, emails (remember them?) and even LinkedIn messages asking me why I wasn’t using Twitter. Some even seemed hurt, the same reaction some gave me when I went off drink for a year.

There were all sorts of bets happening when I headed to Cuba towards the end of October about whether I could stay offline for the 12 days I’d be away for. No hassle at all, though my text bill was massive.

When I returned from the holiday, I logged into Twitter and saw countless amounts of bullshit. There were hapless spammers getting everyone to hashtag Twitter messages about where they were from, wannabe experts on business and social media talking themselves up and retweeting praise about themselves and then the usual keyboard cowboys passive aggressively doing the whole “certain people” stuff. So I logged off for another few days. Nothing you can contribute to those conversations except “Shut up”.

Photo owned by sean_oliver (cc)

The slugtards blogged how I was too busy with work to use Twitter but that, like everything else they do and say was wrong. I deleted and removed some folks on Twitter and added more over the time and a much larger cull is needed before I start using it properly again. I still used it to have private conversations with people over the past few weeks. A few thousand messages since October, Twitter tells me. I’ve been using it as an information source too. Hands down, Twitter is more useful for gathering quality information than the 350+ news feeds I sub to with Bloglines. Human filters work. I was still reading Twitter on a daily basis and favouriting anything I found useful. You can see them here. Some people even subbed to the RSS feed of it. Bless.

Privacy is dead when Twitter is about
Oddly, even when not using Twitter in public, you will still feature in public. Anything you do elsewhere gets mentioned on Twitter by people and this includes media stuff, public talks, blog posts, Facebook status updates and even where you check into on Foursquare. It’s interesting for me that it shows you just cannot be private anymore. Unless the only people you know are not connected to anything or anyone online. Foursquare is a very small and closed network to me yet my activities are shared on Twitter by others and so to the public. When I met people on the street, there were Twitter messages about it. On a daily basis I was part of the Twitter space without being there. Very odd and something to consider.

And more. Most of the social media jesters put up numbers on their blog entries (while declaring it ain’t a numbers game) about how influential they are based on the number of times their posts were Tweeted about. The thing with Twitter is that it’s spambot heaven. Mention social media in a blog post and it gets tweeted and retweeted without you doing a thing. The 25 years blog post got 30 tweets from bots alone. Twitter is the web copied but with viraled content, morphing and evolving into a mess.

Flaming Marshmallows
Photo owned by jronaldlee (cc)

Did I miss Twitter?
And did I miss being on Twitter and conversing? Not really no. Every now and then I wanted to contribute something useful and ended up doing it via private message or emailing the person with the message instead. Or I wanted to tell some muppet to shut up. There was more of that alright. It was interesting to be there though and to be just an observer as all this data flew past. Once you take part, the data changes and corrupts the conversation you observe. It also showed that your opinion doesn’t actually matter in the greater scheme of things. Questions I could have answered would get answered anyway, when some eejit needed to be told he was clueless there was someone else to do that too. This is good and this is bad. It means that if someone in your group leaves or can’t contribute anymore then the group can still function. Distributed power etc. It’s bad for those that feel that they have to be a needed part of a community and need to define who they are in life. You’re not even a number on Twitter…

A friend (who also uses Twitter) believes that there’s a massive groupthink going on in Twitter. This is possibly true. It’s like being at an Ard Fheis at times. Reality gets parked as everyone claps each other. Maybe because sending out an opinion is easy, it’s sent to people who are interested in your opinion and it’s generally without consequence and so these factors combined makes you think somehow that your opinon is divine. There’s plenty of people too on Twitter who say absolutely nasty stuff on it that they wouldn’t have the balls to say in another setting. And they’ll get clapped for it. I’m an optimist about tech and social tech so I think that kind of stuff will all sort itself out in time. It’s still new and developing.

I’ve been back on Twitter since Jan 1st and using it as a plaything but it’s amazing that saying nothing for a while gets so much attention in a system that’s always about lots of conversing.