Average age of those who follow me on twitter…

Hello, yes I do have much better things to do with my time but I just wanted to bang up a quick post, to help Directgov and anyone else who might mistakenly think that twitter is the social medium of choice for ‘the young’.

I did a quick survery – asked a couple of times – how old people were (who were reading my tweets <- following me). I got 120 replies that were in a format that I could use (thanks @grahamashton for this little hack https://gist.github.com/1043057 we have upped the number of calls it can make to try to capture everything, but it obv won’t read the dms – and you will need to install feedparser). I ended up having to work out the average age this way:

Anyhow, ages are still being sent to me as I write, but the average age at 11am today was 40.51.

Interesting things to note, although it is a bit “no shit sherlock”, those who choose to read my tweets will generally be interested in the stuff I am, which is a bit dull: open data, government, geeks, hack days, cooking and moaning – and so the age group is defined more by the subject and person; if I were Justin Bieber doing this my followers may well be younger.

My daughter, her friends and other teens I know are on BBM (the Blackberry messaging service) and Facebook, right now – they are not interested really in twitter, but do sometimes ask me to tweet stuff or find out what someone said.

Twitter is a platform, and from this little survey – most commonly used by grown-ups/the middle aged

Feel free to comment on how to run a proper survey and that this doesn’t really say anything – it was just an interesting thing to do and hopefully helpful somewhere to someone… and it did not cost 10s of thousands to research 😉

Right – to work

twitter again

*sigh* with profound relief I have disabled twitterfox in my Firefox browser.

As you know I have suffered with twitter for many months now, I try and try to allow it to settle into my online life, but it never sits happily.

Recently, probably for the last three months, I have persevered and have watched, joined in and taken over the conversations happening between my followers and those I follow. I twitter-slutted my blog posts in a vague attempt to get the people I desperately want to read it, to do so!

This week I have given a blow by blow (apologies twitter followers) account of my daughter’s birthday, shared stuff that I have discovered about the reshuffle and learned from others about what is happening. But it is exactly this blurring of lines between the professional and personal that I find so uncomfortable.

My blog does not exactly sit entirely in one camp or the other, but I do tend to consider carefully what I do share. On twitter, I don’t. Once I start I don’t stop and I feel as if I violate some of my own personal space, and certainly intrude on others. I begin to validate what I do by the response I get on twitter – and that is cr*p.

So in this Sunday musing post, I will take you on this latest step in my twitter journey. By disabling twitterfox I simply do not get an alert every time someone ‘tweets’, and I am not forever distracted nor tempted to ‘tweet’.

I do still have a twitter account, but I have once again locked it so that only my followers can read what I write. Perhaps I will now be more considered.

Twitter has been useful during the reshuffle, and has been valuable for discovering exciting developments in the social media space. But now I can choose to explore it when I need, or have the time. If I can get it to work with my online life, I will keep my account, if not, I will simply delete it.

It will end in tears

I hate the way people communicate at the moment. It is an orgy of self-indulgence, navel-gazing, gossip and muttering…

Cue everyone gulping and staring at Emma as if she has lost the plot

OK, my first sentences may have been strong but I feel lost in this Alice in Wonderland (after the pill – when she was small) world, and I am an expert in communication; I should be able to cut through the noise and find a direction for people, and create protocols that enable conversation without:

  1. wasting anyone’s valuable time, and
  2. pissing anyone off

But I can’t… I am struggling to find the way through. (I am obviously talking about digital media here, Twitter, Facebook, email, Bebo, Pownce, texting ad nauseum – so ignoring completely telephone, snail mail and F2F.)

What we seem to have enthusiastically entered into is an orgy of communication, braying with our own success, or craving the news of others every minute – sometimes second – of the day.

How many of you are eternally thinking up the next natty update? Or fail to relish any precious moment in our eagerness to share it across our personalised digital gob?

As ever, such delicious self-indulgence has a cost, and this cost is what I am currently pondering and trying to find the tools to mitigate… just for fun, of course 🙂

Take for example a story that was related to me by a close friend: A young lady was stepping out, often horizontally, with a fella. After a few dates he promised to call… and never did, prompting the bewildered maiden to call up her mate and declare his death – assuming that there could be no other reason for his sudden and complete silence. (He wasn’t he had just naffed off.)


But, it makes me think. All of our relationships are developed through communication – in person, on the telephone, through stories from friends and family, in texts, IM, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, &c &c &c

It is a primal instinct to communicate our needs to the person or people we deem most likely to be able to fulfil them, and the Darwinian theory of survival of the fittest dictates that we are programmed to be pretty good at this stuff… so what happens when we are able to SOS our needs to one person or many immediately, through – say – five hyper-efficient mediums (at least). Our expectation is that within seconds we will be satisfied – of course, it is Darwinian, it is the way the world works, right?

Nope, not the digital world, the theory of evolution is completely flummoxed by digital comms – communicating our needs is something that the highly evolved have nutted, very well – and that is good. Responding to the relentless demand for attention that these tools enable requires biological, human input. And that will never, ever compete with the eternal quest for survival that commands us to eternally communicate our needs and only when they are fulfilled, can we properly help others.

See the problem? We are forever SOS-ing, and in an eternal quest for resolution, yet rarely satisfied. Without satisfaction/peace we are not programmed to help anyone else (except superficially).

You see the problem I am picking at here?

I have no solution yet, but it is niggling me enough for me to share it with you and see what you guys have to say 🙂

Ever-decreasing circles of time

I have been head-scratching here for the last few weeks about how on earth I can keep up with everything online, and have a life.

This weekend, I gave myself the gift of time: I left Twitter and Facebook. Well, not completely, I still have the accounts but both of them have a message to say to contact me through gmail if needed.

I am left with Flickr, WordPress and gmail… I think I can cope with that. The journey has been typical of all forays into any kind of new experience/hobby:

  1. Manic enjoyment of the thing
  2. Discovery and exploration
  3. Adoption into routine
  4. Frustration at limitations
  5. Divorce

It feels a bit weird – I mean being the complete insomniac I am, I am awake here at 4.30am, perfect time for me to be Tweeting with those in different time zones. Instead, I am going to have a peppermint tea, catch up with my GoogleReader stuff (which probably needs a cull as well), then read a book.


Oh Emma, not another Twitter rant

No… but a Twitter-induced rant.

I have been gearing up to taking on a serious amount of work this week – OK, seeing my mates, taking the odd telephone call and playing; all in the knowledge that my life was about to be taken over by work once again, come May.

Inevitably the conversations I have been having have been supremely brilliant at completely confusing me about what I really think or feel. I have my young, free, whipper-snapper friends snapping at the heels of VCs in San Francisco, chiding me with their success; jaded worker bees who, like me, have no such luxury as far as fabulous travel is concerned – but still have brains that jolt and purr with new ideas; newbies who are so brilliantly clever and so enthused with ideas and healthy livers…

I want to go back to work for a break!

Inevitably, Twitter has played a part in this mayhem of being work-free, and I have either indulged fully, gorging myself on talking about ME every few seconds (yes I do manage to bore myself as well!) to just popping in and out checking up on my colleagues there.

My last moan on Twitter was about community vs. commune.

What a commune brings to mind is a peaceful, hippy place, where everyone is there to do good and help each other – of course there is more, but frontal lobes people, frontal lobes – this is where Twitter and social meja come in.

Community is starting to feel a bit bingo-y, if you know what I mean. What is an online community? Who creates them? Organisations, based on the knowledge they have gleaned from your/our behaviour online.

I don’t want to be in a community, I want to be in a commune… but not on Twitter!


Wow man, that is really clever

All sectors are doing really clever and exciting things using social media tools at the moment. I wonder if we should re-name these tools? If they are purely for social communication purposes, then why are businesses and the public sector getting involved.

It seems rather like being in the pub with your mates having a chat, and perhaps even including people around the pub whom you don’t know – when suddenly a disjointed voice joins in the discussion, with well-crafted verse – clearly delivering ‘a message’.

Ed aside: a message is how a person asks for a bribe in Kenya btw 🙂

Or my old bug-bear, having an email discussion with someone and suddenly an extended copy list has been added to the conversation, and you end up having – what is more often than not a disagreement – in front of a sea of faceless people. Weird.

So… my point is that these social media tools are supremely brilliant and simple at enabling conversation and connections in the SOCIAL world. However, they are, or could be, an expensive distraction from problems that are less simple to solve. I hear you cry at the word expensive, these tools are dirt cheap/free (I know) but what I mean is that if organisations start spending time, money and attention on developing clever ways to interact with their customers using Twitter – there is a risk that the knotty, difficult problems will continue to go into the too-hard box. All in the name of quick-wins and fanfare.

For example, I would love to be able to register a change of address or circumstance in one place online, and have all government departments notified.

Wouldn’t it be fabulous if we could do this?

Bills to pay – Bills paid

I have spent the day rather luxuriously sorting out my study, which had become a dumping ground for ironing, stuff we had not unpacked from November 2006 when we moved in… and shoes.

I threw out three bags of rubbish, filed the business stuff that I am legally required to keep (in the shed), and ruthlessly sorted until I found the nirvana that is the study now: a bachelor-esque space, free of clutter… it is heaven (I am so sad).

During this process I recycled another two bags of paper, something my dear Oli has written about today here.

I have to admit to two rather large piles of paper now reclining on the dining table waiting for attention. I need to get them into three piles:

  1. Bills to pay
  2. Bills paid (therefore filing – at some point at the weekend)
  3. HMRC/business stuff that is too important to sit in the shed

It is so simple and I know that I will have done it by midday tomorrow.

This got me thinking… yikes not again

My online working life is so flipping complicated. I run three businesses, am a partner in another two, play in about three business sandpits, mentor two children, willingly throw myself into social media play-pens and fulfil the contracts I am paid to complete. (Bill – both Edwards and Reay – this does not necessarily reflect the order of importance/attention…).

I also over-promise on all sorts of other stuff I want to do voluntarily but really struggle to find the time (Internationale – apologies, I will get there).

The only complication is the online management – I can run it all off-line no problem, but I have no online time left! Notwithstanding the two daughters and husband (parents, friends, Tom) – I warned you this had no particular order.

My online life is a complete mess.

I update:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Flickr

I check:

  • WordPress – for comments and stats (yeah vanity)
  • Gmail
  • Webmail

I write:

  • Justice for Tom
  • Emma Mulqueeny
  • Linkedin

To do all of the above requires more hours in the day than are provided, if you are to also have a family life, fun, and rest. The obvious conclusion is that I need to sort the rest of my working life into a ‘to do’ and ‘done’ category, with an ongoing online/mental tray for ‘stuff’.

So… I need to be as ruthless as I have been in my study.

Bear with me whilst I work through this. Essential stuff:

  1. email (gmail and webmail) – comms
  2. justicefortom – soul/friendship
  3. emma mulqueeny – work

I guess the rest is optional. So in order of importance, if I have time, I will attend to the following:

  1. Twitter – people I do not know but respect are here and I have a line to them that I cannot ignore
  2. WordPress – if people are commenting on the posts I write then I will respond and learn)
  3. Facebook and Flickr – worth checking as some good friends and colleagues here who use this as primary comms route
  4. Linkedin – my CV – needs to be up to date

This all looks doable. And sitting in my heavenly study, I am committing to this order of priority.

Of course my family comes first, but right now I am dedicating my days to family, and evenings to ‘work’. You will find no value in me expressing how I juggle my family life, but perhaps this order of service will help some of you in the same position as me.

Good luck everyone! Bet you cannot wait for me to go back to work in May…

The absolution of 140 characters

I changed my mind. Twitter rocks – but only if you use the Internet to communicate: email, Facebook, blogs etc. If you don’t it is as pointless as setting up an email account and not telling anyone about it… nothing will happen. My personal use of Twitter has been to share experiences and validate thoughts. The fact that Twitter does nothing more than allow you to answer one question helps vindicate the uncomfortable thought that you are simply powering the ego…

Humility – I don’t really know… and yet more Twitter

The more observant of you will have noticed that I have taken off the strap-line – Queen of social media, and the page: What is Web 2.0? The reason for the former is that the strapline was given to me by my husband – who built this site for me – because I know more than he does on what is happening in this space, and – to him – I am the fount of all knowledge. (Easy to see why ;)). However, I am far from being the ‘queen of social media’… ’nuff said

I removed the What is Web 2.0? page because I actually don’t know. And so many other people are explaining it better than I can, but I won’t link to any of them, because, quite frankly, it is incubating and therefore there is no definitive answer. Best bet? Google the question and see what you get.

So… what do I have to say? Well, I can share learnings with you.

twitter: my bug-bear

Having created, deleted and re-created my twitter account; slated it here and talked incessantly about it with all who will listen… I have started to understand how it could be used/useful. If you bear with me, I will share with you some of the links that help me understand this media.

social media in government

I am involved in what is happening in the Foreign Office (yes, that includes twitter!) but also watching what is happening elsewhere. I will capture what I can for you – however, you might like to use Simon Dickson’s natty tool for what is happening in the blogosphere:



I will take you on this little journey with me, and try to gather together the stuff that makes sense – to me at least – for you to read. I do rely heavily on the bloggers and ‘real people’ who get this stuff, but I will resist listing them here as (again) the experts vary from week to week. (legal bit: I will not nick stuff, I will ensure that I give credit where it is due!)

Two-way conversation anyone?

Just had a rather crazy day… but much time to think about the conversations that are happening online. As you know, I am struggling to find the value in Twitter – not that I hate it on principle, I am just waiting for the problem that Twitter will solve.

You know what I would really like? The opportunity to have a two-way conversation with a person of my choice – who exists in the world-wide social media space – where I am not a part of the white noise… I could list a hundred people off the top of my head right now with whom I would like a dedicated ten minute conversation with – some of whom I know (but never get their full attention – Briggsy?!!)

All of you super-clever people out there building social media platforms for mass discussion… can someone create the perfect dinner party – where my dream social media guests will actually be there? Even if it is only for ten minutes of one-to-one conversation.

I would pay for that…