Flickr in one side of A4

Flickr in one side of A4I've recently started creating a series of 'Social media in one side of A4' mini guides as part of an online course I'm leading to introduce social media into one of the organisations I work with.

I'm planning to tidy up the first few for a general audience soon, but, as I noticed mention of Flickr on the Fairtrade Towns Yahoo Group this afternoon (thanks to Stafford Area FT Group who have set-up a Flickr group here) I though I would get a copy of the guide to Flickr online now.

So, here is Flickr in one side of A4.

Flickr is an online photo sharing too – and a very powerful one at that. So, if you're interested in how you can make the most of your photos, do take a look.

The guide is Creative Commons licenced, so feel free to take it and adapt it if it could be useful to you (original word version attached below). I'd also be really interested to hear responses to the format of the guide – as I'm looking to produce, and soon share, quite a few more…

Attachment: 5 – Flickr in one side of A4.pdf
Attachment: 5 – Flickr.doc

31 days – the final 11

The end of August 2007I'm back from my annual pilgrimage to the Greenbelt Festival (official website) and I've got six hours left till the end of August and the 'deadline' for the 31 days to a better blog challenge.

So, it seems like a good time reflect on the month of blogging, what I've learned, and to see if I can tick off any of the remaining tasks on Daren's task list.

The learning journey so far

I started blogging in May this year, after many years considering starting and one or two aborted attempts. Over August this blog has evolved from a fairly assorted collection of posts, to have a stronger focus on youth participation. It provides a space for me to share content, engage in discussion, and invest time in critical thinking.

The 31 day challenge has encouraged me to look carefully at the blog from a visitors point of view (which made me realise early on that I needed to tweak blog settings to get comments working, and that I needed a lot more explanation about this blog) – and I've benefited a lot from the advice and shared learning of other 31 day challengers, not least with respect to improving this page giving a background to Tim's Blog. As that page says, this is still the early stage of my journey with blogging, and the exact focus of the blog is still evolving – but with these draft principles to guide me I'm on a far stronger blogging footing that I was at the start of August. As with any intense process of learning, the full results will take a while to be seen… so for now, lets look at the last 11 challenges and I'll pledge to post a wider reflection on my blogging in a couple of months time…

The tasks and some reflections:

Day 21 – Make a Reader Famous

Overlinking blog postsI try to link across to other blogs as much as possible in posts where the work of other bloggers adds to the topic or post in question. I realise, however, that I've often done that just by talking about, for example, Mike's blog, with an inline link, flooding the top of posts with lots of links, and not being selective enough or purposeful enough with my linking to other blogger. Perhaps less can be more in terms of links pointing blog readers to the blogging of other readers.

Daren also suggests increasing the profile of readers on a blog by using comments as the basis for posts. This seems a great idea, not only in that it highlights the comments of a particular reader, but it shows that comments contribute to a debate in the blogosphere.

Roger Schmidt (whose group blog with the Lutheran World Federation has made it into my reguarl reading list and is already providing a lot of food for thought) provided me this week with an opportunity to build a post around a readers comments. I was challenged to think about the concept of the 'voice of youth' by Roger's comments, and found I couldn't fit my reflections into a short reply, so this post emerged and can hopefully provide space for more discussion.

Day 22 – Catch New Readers Up on the Basics of your Blog

During the 31 day challenge I've made a lot of changes to my about this blog pages – but readers keeping up with Tim's Blog through the RSS feed or e-mail updates and regular readers won't see changes to that page. These 31-day pages have done a lot to keep readers up to date on the evolution of this blog, but as Daren suggests, periodic updates to put blog posts into context can be an important part of effective blogging, so do look out for these context-setting posts in the future.

Day 23 – Go on a Dead Link HunBlog link checkingt

I've already mentioned that I can be 'link happy' with my blogging. More links now, however, means more chance of broken links in the future.

A quick check using Xenu's Link Sleuth didn't show up any permenant problems right now (although it did show a few links to other blogs that timed out…) – however, I will need to keep an eye on links in the future.

Day 24 – Do a Search Engine Optimization Audit

There is an interesting challenge for those blogging in the youth participation and youth work niche. I primarily work on, and reflect on, work with young people in secular contexts. However, if you search for youth work online, you'll find predominantly faith based youth work blog posts, which can be a very different niche. I'm not quite sure how to resolve that yet, but I'm hoping that an upcoming seminar at Leicester De Montfort University by Thomas Vander Wal (intentor of the term folksonomy and recently blogging on the state of tagging) might provide some space for an exploration of keywords online.

Day 25 – Go Shopping and Improve Your blog


For day 25, Daren suggests visiting a local shopping centre and watching people's behaviours to find lessons transferable to blogging.

I wish I had picked up this challenge on the 25th of August, rather than when I returned from Greenbelt festival. As a phenomenal example of a temporary community – packed full of creativity and celebration, chance interactions and deep conversations, serious commentary and off-topic commedy it seems a far better mirror of the blogosphere that I want to engage with than does the commercial world.

Greenbelt 2007

(Greenbelt is an annual christian arts festival held on Cheltenham Race Course in the UK, attracting a diverse group of around 20,000 people, often from the 'liberal fringes' of the church or from beyond the conventional boundaries of christian / non-christian. It has developed a strong committment as a festival to social justice, and has a vibrant community atmosphere – with a quite undescribeable diversity of festival events, from headline music acts to seminars on nationalism and scottish independence. I can't do it justice in a quick paragraph – but you can see a bit of the festival here, or read more on the official site here)

The youth work seminar series at Greenbelt has certainly given me a lot to think and hopefully blog about.

And from observing shoppers in the Greenbelt marketplace I've learnt that it might seem like a good idea to buy a multi-coloured stripy cardigan with tassles when everyone around you is buying them… but you're not going to want to walk off site into Cheltenham wearing that now are you…

Day 26 – Link Up to a Competitor

I've already confessed to my propensity for linking to other sources (although this post seems notably link free). Often those links will be to other bloggers in the niche I write for – although as mentioned before, I'm not working in a collaborative, rather than a competitive mindset. I'm really keen to see the development of a stronger youth participation and youth work blogosphere in England and the wider UK, so linking to newcomers and conversations taking place on other blogs in the sector is key to building that. (If you're a new youth participation / youth work blogger – drop me a line and I'll point people in your direction…)

Day 27 – Find a Sponsor for Your Blog

Much of the content for this blog emerges as a result of my full time work, and so that does, in a sense, act as sponsorship for my blogging. Although I've not, as yet, looked carefully enough at building time to reflectively blog into my costings and work plans. As blogging does act as a powerful reflective learning tool, that is something I'll be exploring.

Day 28 – What is Your Blog’s Mission Statement

I'm still evolving a mission statment for this blog. My principles are a first part of that evolutionary journey, but this task will have to wait till I've got a long train journey to spend some time reflecting.

Day 29 – Email a Blogger that Linked to You to Say Thanks

The 31 day challenge has encouraged me to become a lot more interactive in blogging – and that pays real dividends. It also take a lot of time. The challenge is in finding equilibrium – knowing when interaction is valuable, and when the fact that someone links to something I've written (either here or elsewhere on the web) can lead to more than platitude. A bit more reflection on how I move forward with a sustainable level of online interaction is also scheduled in for the upcoming train journey (hmm, and I find myself hoping for delays again!).

Day 30 – Explore a Social Media Site & Day 31 – Run a SWOT Analysis on Your Blog

Flog Blog in FacebookOnly four hours left now (there were six when I started writing this post!) till the end of August, and I think, for the sake of being able to get some rest this evening, and for your sake (my attempt at a SWOT is likely to run on a bit…) I think my write up on these two task shall have to slip.

I'm already to be found in many social media spaces. And I've been exploring integrating my blog better with facebook using FlogBlog this month, as well as enjoying the interaction offered by MyBlogLog – but I'll leave more commentary on my experience with social networks and blogging for a later date.

The end?

The 31 day challenge has been a valuable learning experiment for me in blogging, and I'm not yet done with all my learning from it. I hope that these posts have provided some insight into the process (although I admit they've not always distilled learnings as much as I'd like… something I'm still learning to do) and that they've not disrupted the flow of other posts.

This isn't the end of improvements to Tim's Blog, and I hope it won't be the end of the very helpful suggestions, constructive criticism and input I've recieved from many readers. Thankyou to all who've helped – and to all the other 31 day challengers, I look forward to continuing to read your writings, and to opportunities for more peer learning in the near future…

Youth led media: getting the distribution right

Film is powerful. But to have the strongest impact it needs to be used in the right way and seen by the right people. That's why thinking about distribution needs to be a key part of youth video projects.

Birmingham Youth Strategy FilmA great video about the challenges young people face in a local area, that is never seen by those who are responsible for the decisions that could improve things, is an opportunity missed. Identifying who should see your video, and inviting them to watch and respond to it, is an important part of any change-making video project*.

A lot of videos miss getting the audience they deserve. Social media and online distribution have a big role to play here. Beth Kanter has remixed a version of the Social Media Game for Documentary Film Makers. The social media game can provide a great starting point for exploring the opportunities presented by new technologies for reaching wider audiences.

Distribution in action:

Youth Media Reporter ArticleAs I was preparing this post I came across this story from Youth Media Reporter which shares an account of how young film makers in Baltimore made sure their work was well distributed and created conversation. The group realised their their videos, shown on local Public Access TV were not getting enough viewers, so they turned to the Internet and social networking sites to build a bigger audience.

But, as well as sharing video online, the group looked to showings in the local community, and have created their own do-it-yourself distribution guide including a focus on community screenings. A short quote:

Montebon explains the importance of community screenings in this new approach: “The reason for a screening is, you can [sit at home and] watch something on TV… but it takes another step to have a type of forum. I think what the community screenings are supposed to serve, is a platform where people can start a sort of discourse.” Airing a youth-made TV episode in a community context, such as a public park, museum, or neighborhood event, creates a potential for dialogue. It is easier for people to talk to one another about youth-led issues in a group setting, as well as engage with youth media makers on the issues they raise.

How do you make sure your video projects start conversations and create change?

Not just video:
If a video has been created to lobby for change (for example, to get a local authority to provide cycle lanes on a route to school, or to call on a local leisure company to make their activities affortable to all young people) then it is also worth thinking carefully about other tools that will be needed to create change. A video is one of the most effective tools for getting decision makers to understand a problem – but will everyone who is in the meeting that makes the decision you want to influence have seen the video? And have you provided a clear proposal along with your video stating in words what you want changed?


*I don't want to suggest that all video projects have to be externally focussed. All art-froms can be effective tools for individual and group learning as an end in itself. However, where a change making impact is within reach, then I would always encourage its pursuit…

A third side to the media-box

With more funding that ever around for video and multi-media projects with young people, is the focus of the funding spot on, or missing a trick?Media Box Logo

Media box has £6m of government funding to give to "creative media projects involving film, television radio, online, print and multi-media". Government is talking about these projects as ways of addressing the negative media portrayal of young people, and often we hear about how they equip young people with skills for jobs in the media. However, if we really want to support young people to challenge negative stereotypes in mainstream media, and to participate as citizens in an ever more networked world, we need to do more than to create one-off videos or to train a small group to work in media jobs. We need to focus the core of our funding on building media literacy*.

Media literacy is "the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create messages in a variety of forms" (Aufderheide, 1993; Christ & Potter, 1998 in Livingstone, 2004). Sonia Livingstone (in the 2004 journal article Media Literacy and the Challenge of New Information and Communication Technologies) explains "Learning to create content helps one to analyze that produced professionally by others; skills in analysis and evaluation open the doors to new uses of the Internet, expanding access, and so forth". She goes on to say:

"In advancing policy, it would clarify matters to disentangle three arguments: [(a)] the pedagogic argument that people learn best about media through making it; [(b)] the employment argument that those with new media skills are increasingly needed as the information sector expands; and [(c)] the cultural politics argument that citizens have the right to self-representation and cultural participation." (Pg 7. Letters added and not in the original)

It seems that Media Box and other recent projects are strong on (c), and have a focus on (b) but are missing enough of a focus on (a), on how supporting young people to make media can help build their literacy for future access, analysis, evaluation and creation of media. (a) doesn't just happen. Really good learning about the media through making media needs space to be created for reflection as well as action creating media, and it needs to be focussed on process as well as product. I don't doubt that many projects with Media Box funding do have an implicit element of learning about media through making – but making sure all projects have this 'third side of the box' could, I believe, really enhance their long term impact in young peoples representation in the media*.


*I realise there is a piece of this story missing. How does increased media literacy lead to more positive portrayal of young people in the media? Another post to come soon on that question – particularly looking at how social media literacy in a world of user-generated-content is a key element.

Why we need open geodata

A work colleague was telling me last Thursday about his family's struggle to get hold of the details of a planning application for a new-build school on a field at the bottom of their garden. When they finally managed to get hold of the plans – any scale or measurements that would tell them how close to their garden, or how high, the new building was to be were absent.Leicester in Google Earth That can make it rather tricky to make an informed decision on responding to a planning application.

So we started talking about the potential presented by tools like Google Earth for genuine 3D planning applications that could let you see exactly how a building might affect you. Or that would let citizens engage in informed dialogue with architects and planners on the creation of democratised, accessible and creative public spaces and building projects.

The possibilities are exciting. The reality, in the UK at least, may lag behind.

The licence fees demanded by Ordinance Survey for UK mapping data continue to stiffle geo-related innovation, and even finding out about the planning applications near you can be a challenge, let alone being able to effectively visualise what the applications amount to.

Open Street MapSo whilst we've got access to a growing number of free-to-use tools for online mapping (not least google maps and earth), and while efforts to create wholly free mapping data like the amazing OpenStreetMap are groundbreaking, we're still short on the depth of data and the open access that we need to really innovate and make a difference with our geodata.