The Moran Scale of Twitterstorms

I was asked to ‘create’ a Twitterstorm as part of an art project, and I sort of did. While this wonderful Buzzfeed post describes the stages that one goes through, in order to measure the size of a storm and hence the success of my operation we needed a way to describe the extent of a particular one. With Jon Hickman (Degree Leader, Web and New Media at Birmingham City University) I worked up this scale.

It’s an attempt to give a quantitative scale to something that cannot be measured directly in numbers—this is about extent and influence and simple measures are never going to cut it, although as the number of Morans increases so does the number of Tweets and their anger. It’s based roughly on the idea of the news cycle and how the subject of the storm operates within it. We chose the name ‘The Moran Scale’ after Caitlin Moran, whose ability to kick off the storms—and get them featured in the old school media—is unrivalled. As it’s about intensity of storm, a parallel to the Beaufort Scale is entirely intentional.

The Moran Scale of Twitterstorms by Jon Hickman and Jon Bounds

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The Eye of the Twitterstorm – xHuming Joseph Priestley



I’ll write up the xHumed talk asap, Joseph Priestley sending this Tweet:


Resulted in this reaction (in statistics) up till about 3 hours later:



My appearance on the Today programme

While revamping this site a touch I was struck by how many of the sites and projects I’d linked to had just disappeared, so I’m going to try to make more of an effort to keep the records myself.

So, here’s me on Radio 4’s Today programme on 9/1/12, talking about Birmingham’s regeneration and how it “‘beats space’ as tourist destination”:

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Engaging Visitors Through Social Media – Notes

If you’ve attended the Engaging Visitors Through Social Media session I was a part of at Hello Business, then here are some notes and links. If you didn’t, you may still find them interesting if a little random.
Engaging Visitors Through Social Media by jonbounds

An extended version of the Internet culture part of the talk:

Interweb memes and contribution to community from bounder on Vimeo.

Bounded groups, and Clay Shirky.

Flowtown’s visualisations:

Facebook Statistics

The US Airforce comment response policy

Consumers trust recommendations from known people most

Rats at KFC

Sentiment Analysis

Twitter can predict the stock market.

Birmingham, B13, Digbeth.

Professor David Bailey blog for the Birmingham Post

And from the “inspiration” section:

Intermezzo vs Royal Opera House

Blogger living in the museum

Skittles, innovative campaign

Roger Smith Hotel

Facebook Add ROI from New York Theatre Network

Sentiment Analysis and Twitter ‘wormals’

I’ve tried two experiments with the “is Birmingham happy” algorithm in the last few days, as they’re not based on place it makes more sense to use the popular term ‘sentiment analysis’ to refer to what it’s doing in this instance. As they were both reasonably short uses it was posible to update the reading often (and use a smaller number of tweets as the sample, giving more variation in the average scores) and give the sentiment graphs a live ‘wormal’ feeling, watching the ratings change over time.

First was on the Personal Democracy Forum EU conference in Barcelona, for the length of the two-day conference I monitored the hashtag #pdfeu every five minutes:

(click image for larger view)

The highest rating was 64.4% (at 12:45pm on Tuesday), the lowest 49.6% (Monday at 12:14pm during a short power failure). What was interesting to me was that the “arousal” rating seemed to work well as it stayed pretty steady during the power failure  (or even leaped up a little) even as the happiness of the hashtag users  dived. Post-lunch conference lulls and periods of excitement (the big spikes in day two, at least, corresponded with much applause) were mapped quite accurately.

The overall average was 57.29%. If you would like to explore or graph the data yourself, you can see in all in a Google Spreadsheet here.

Secondly I tried a much shorter and more mainstream application, David Cameron’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference:

cpchappyThe emotion tracking tool graphed here ran every 10 seconds during David Cameron’s speech to the CPC and analysed the last 100 tweets with the hashtag #cpc10 and the word “tories”. I chose two versions as I wasn’t sure that non-Conservative supporters would use the ‘official’ hashtag, I theorised that they would be likely to use the word ‘tories’. As it turned out I think that while there was a more even spread of pro and anti political types using the hashtag than I expected, but the ‘tories’ Tweeters were definitely more hostile. (See the data.) There was greater movement across the graph than on any other test I’ve run.

Conclusions? None so far, other than that I think this might be a very useful tool, and that more interesting data is created the more Tweets you have and the more you can afford (server-wise) to poll for results. I’m itching to try it on another big live event with conflicting opinions, that might mean training it on a reality TV event. Roll on the X-Factor.

Engaging Visitors Through Social Media

Here are the pertiant bits of the flyer for a short course myself and Chris Unitt have devised and will be delivering as part of Birmingham’s Hello Business event. It’s aimed at those running communications for visitor attractions (museums, theatres, even theme parks) and will be focused on strategies to attract and retain customers.

If that sounds like something that would be of use to you email

Personal Democracy Forum EU

I’m just about to head off to the Personal Democracy Forum in Barcelona, it’s a two-day conference on the future of democracy and technology and has got some great speakers lined up. I’m there as part of the Civico team who are live-streaming and doing a bit of reporting — you’ll be able to follow the streams here from 9am on Monday.

Globalisation? Hmm

This Thursday (27/5) at 7:45pm at the wondrously refurbished Midlands Arts Centre, I’m taking part in a debate on — breath — social media and globalisation.

It’s billed as:

“Expert Jon Hickman (Birmingham City University) chairs a lively debate with guests including Pete Ashton… assessing lifestyle changes implied by new technological tools in the new wave of social media.”

an interesting, if potentially unwieldy, topic. Chair (and ‘expert’, he’ll hate that) was worried that Pete, him and I would ‘agree violently’ on most aspects. I’ve not written by talk, or really fully considered my position, yet but I think I may be able to get away without agreeing with either of them.

Current thoughts is that I might deny globalisation exists at all.

Come along and see.

New York, New Politics

I’m off to the city that never sleeps next week for the PdF (Personal Democracy Forum) Conference — a conference on how social technology changes how politics operates. Very much looking forward to seeing Clay Shirky, Jimmy Wales et al speak and also to giving the Civico platform it’s first major test.

Civico is an offshoot of Rhubarb Radio, which I’ve been a member of for about 14 months. Rhubarb is an online community radio station, and Civico is an extension of that platform to cover democracy and events. Last year we covered the PdfEU conference in Barcelona, with what was little more than the streaming audio and a whole lot of hard work.

For this conference we hope to be able to use the newly developed Civico player. This has two great developments, one is that it integrates with the Twitter API to capture tweets alongside the audio or video. The second is much more exciting (and proud to say, developed from my original concept).

Once the audio, video, tweets (and more in development) are captured then users can share any fraction (or all) of the coverage — highlighting the best line, the biggest laugh or the most damming miss-speak. In other words it makes it easy to share the bits that you want to share. And share them by link or by embedding wherever they like.

Here’s an example from a recent conference in London, by link and by embed (this is still a beta, excuse any foibles or downtime as the player is worked on):

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Know your place

I’m speaking at this next Wednesday, although how much freelancers have to learn from the way I work I’m not sure (maybe it’ll be what not to do).

Know Your Place (which sounds a bit Frost Report to me)
“Find out first-hand how freelancers in the world of illustration, photography, writing, design, PR, Publishing and web make a living. We’ll share some practical hints and tips about how to market and promote yourself to gain attention, generate new leads and stand out from the crowd. “