Update to the case study on social media and justice

As I said in my first post about this: the title is a bit wrong, but I am still unsure what to call it.

However, I thought that I would just write an update on how the community has built around the website www.justicefortom.com.

As you may have read in the news, Tom Cholmondeley – my mate – has now been charged with manslaughter and sentenced to the three years he has already served plus eight months in prison. Regardless of your own opinion on the case, or Tom, you might be interested in how the simplest of WordPress sites has developed and been a focus point for an incredibly diverse, worldwide community. (Please read the first post to see how it started.)

The people who comment on the site are:

  • Tom’s mother: Lady Delamere
  • Tom’s relatives
  • Tom’s friends and family
  • Old school mates
  • Friends from years ago
  • People who may have met Tom once but have vivid memories of doing so
  • Other prisoners in Kamiti
  • Prisoners who were in Kamiti with Tom, but have left
  • Prison officers from Kamiti
  • Lawyers from around the world who have read/watched the case
  • Press
  • Kikuyu and Maasai tribesmen (one of whom sends messages from his mobile whilst tending his cattle and working)

Many messages come in from around the world after people read an article, or see something on TV and are compelled to reach out to Tom.

Of course there are the death threats, and thundering fury from those who feel strongly against Tom. About 1% of the comments we receive are like this – they are not published or responded to – but referred on to Tom’s lawyer. They are not published – not because there is any trickery, or want to hide the other side of things; but the site is very clear about what and who it is for, and to publish such comments would incite argument and inappropriate content that would/could get out of control.

We do not respond (generally) to comments posted, rather leaving them for other commentors to respond to if they like – for example, lawyers debate issues with each other on there: and provide advice to Fred (not sure how grateful he is but… !!!)

The reason we don’t respond is that the site is a conduit mainly to Tom, and most messages are written as messages directly to him – and are sometimes personal: family news, good memories, bad, pleas to stay sane and so on. If the website suddenly had its own voice, it would lose the feeling of being a direct line to Tom.

The stories and observations around the case and Kenya detailed in the comments have begin to weave a story about a conflicted country – told by those in it, outside it – based around a high profile case that has *possibly* exposed a stumbling justice system.

Tom

Very occasionally they can get online access in Kamiti, it is random! Hence the occasional emails from other prisoners. And sometimes Tom can actually get to see the site and the messages in context – as opposed to printed and given to him. It gives him great focus, and of course news from his friends and family touch him hugely. Stories from other people inspire him and he gets huge strength from the connection made.

Again, regardless of your thoughts on him as a man, his guilt or otherwise – life in Kamiti is grim; I have been there several times and won’t go into details – not actually sure whether I am allowed to – taking photos – even of the outside of Kamiti is an arrestable offence. But there is some stuff on YouTube that is already out there so, here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamiti_Maximum_Security_Prison;

http://kenya740.tripod.com/kamiti.html;

http://www.africanews.com/site/Kenya_Kamiti_Prison_water_issue_half_solved/list_messages/21396;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-kQ27JPZjU

Back to the website

I watch it create its own magic space – simply moderating comments and updating posts as news comes in. It fascinates me, and I am sure that if I were not quite so close to it, it would be a very good study in something.

Anyhow! Thought I would share that.

Oh, and Tom’s case is aired on More4 tonight 19th May 2009 at 10pm if your curiosity is piqued about the people involved.

WordPress for i-phone – part deaux

Thank you to all of you kind souls who are sending me all sorts of helpful links:

Q: I get an “XML-RPC Service for you blog cannot be found” error but I have XML-RPC enabled, what do I do ?
A: First ensure that you’ve typed in the URL correctly. If it’s correct, and you are on self-hosted WordPress, verify that xmlrpc.php is functioning properly. Locate your RSD meta tag by viewing-source on your blog. It will look similar to this:
<link rel=”EditURI” type=”application/rsd+xml” title=”RSD” href=”http://example.com/xmlrpc.php?rsd” />
Next follow the link, http://example.com/xmlrpc.php?rsd, and make sure it resolved to an XML file. Locate the WordPress api item:
http://example.com/xmlrpc.php
And lastly, load that apiLink value into your browser. If everything is setup correctly, you should see this message: “XML-RPC server accepts POST requests only.”

Q: I followed the XML-RPC verification steps above, but I get a different message, now what ?
A: Check with your hosting provider or sys admin to see if permissions or other issues are causing the error. If you receive a “Precondition Failed” that is most likely a mod_Security issue discussed here: http://wordpress.org/support/topic/130095

Q: I checked the RSD and XML-RPC and everything is fine but I still get error and/or can’t add my blog, now what ?
A: Another common issue that can cause errors with the App is invalid characters.  The easiest way to check is to go here: http://validator.w3.org and type in the URL of your WordPress site.  If you get a response such as “… one or more bytes that I cannot interpret as utf-8″ that is most likely what is causing the iPhone App to have trouble with your site

None of these are true but my goodness me, I did the validator thing – look at this scary thing.

http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Femmamulqueeny.wordpress.com%2F&charset=(detect+automatically)&doctype=Inline&group=0&user-agent=W3C_Validator%2F1.591

Anyone out there who understands all this, please do explain.

Oh and by the way: THIS IS NOT FUN!!!

I got all excited, and then…

… here look at this: http://iphone.wordpress.org/

Well, when I saw that I got terribly excited and downloaded the app – thinking this is the answer to my blogger’s block (aka having nothing at all worth saying) – I can just chunter away whilst on the move and it will all be marvellous.

The next post – this one – was going to be from my iphone.

Any road, as always happens to me ‘n technology/apps/cool stuff, I entered my blog url, username and password as requested and bang:

We could not find the XML-RPC service for your blog. Please check your network connection and try again. If the problem persists, please visit “iphone.wordpress.org” to report the problem.

*sigh* usual feeling of disappointment

Right, check the network – all cool.

Best just go and report the problem, could be teething issues. Hit the Support pages: Page fail. Try again. Page fail.

Patience and love for all things WordPress and iphone: Kaput

Moan moan moan moan

It is a good idea though

Social media toolkit: I have been complicating things far too much

Any of you following my blog posts recently will have seen my vague attempt to create a simple social media toolkit for people to use in order to join in the fun.

Whilst on holiday in Kenya, I spoke to lots of people about the stuff I do, particularly this: www.justicefortom.com.

Many of them considered themselves novices in all things web, and certainly thought that Web 2.0, or social media, was beyond them (except for Facebook, of course!). So, over many suppers with a variety of people I explained that it was not a thing, rather a more effective use of online communities – and your interaction with them. (I am a fascinating guest).

The theory behind your web presence is no different:

1. What are you wanting to do?

2. Who are you doing it for?

Now you need to find out where the communities are that exist online already. At this point I recommend you use a listening service such as Addictomatic. (In a previous post I have explained how to use this – although it is really simple so you don’t need to read the post unless you love my prose so much you can’t get enough – understandable of course :))

Once you have spent some time listening, finding the places where your target market are already conversing and collaborating, you can then begin to join in the discussion. This will enable you to really understand how you can effectively meet the needs of your audience and refine your own offering online accordingly.

At the same time as doing this, you are establishing a solid piece of online real estate – proving that you are not just shoving stuff out there. People will begin to recognise you if you join in the conversations online, (the simplest way of doing this is by commenting on blogs – yes it is that simple).

Finally, you need to start your own conversation.

An example

Let me run through the Soy Sambu conservancy online offering:

Kat Combes, the Director of the conservancy, had set up a website and was looking to start a blog to:

  • raise awareness of what the conservancy was doing
  • attract funds
  • share experience and learn from others

Kat is web savvy, however considered setting up and running a blog way beyond her abilities. In fact the more she googled, the more scared she became. I sat with her for about an hour and ran through Addictomatic and WordPress; showed her how I manage my own blogs and how simple it actually was – even for the technically impaired like myself. We then created the conservancy blog and I walked away. Kat has since then played extensively and here is the fruit of her labour: http://soysambuconservancy.wordpress.com/

Now, the blog will stay pretty much as it is, whilst Kat ‘listens’ using Addictomatic and a variety of key words. However, please do comment and send links to any other websites that you think would be good to look at, and keep an eye on how it grows from here (on the conservancy blog of course not here!).

Whilst talking about the conservancy site, Graham Vetch – the manager – spoke about how the conservation was not just about the land and animals, but also about the people living there. How part of the challenge was to take the indigenous people from poverty to self-sufficiency. He is frustrated as he has many plans and is not sure where to start. Now this is where I believe blogging really can come into its own. We discussed how Graham could just throw his hat on the ground, sit down and start blogging about his plans  taking us with him on his journey.

Now this will achieve two things:

  1. Share a journey that could help numerous communities and community managers
  2. Give Graham access to feedback on his plans – enabling him to find out where to start and learn from others’ experience

I am very excited about this and as soon as we have set it up – I will show you.

So, the tool-kit?

Addictomatic and WordPress are the tools I recommend for the moment. However, it is less about the tools and more about changing the way you think about your online presence – use the community, share your knowledge, take people on your journey with you rather than simply talking about it after it is done.

All sorts: Paul Carr, WordPress, Toolkits and holidays

Once more, apologies for the slightly erratic blogging of late. Cutting to the quick, and following my title… here goes:

Paul Carr

His book is now available on Amazon – buy it/review it. Here is my review, unlikely to be published as I owned up to swiping one of his books at the launch (when they were there for ‘reference’ only… so, sorry):

5.0 out of 5 stars Paul Carr embarrasses me on the delayed trains from Waterloo, 11 Aug 2008

Bringing Nothing to the Party: True Confessions of a New Media Whore

I stole Paul’s book from him last Thursday – thank God I did! (I have run dry of ‘holiday reading’ and need some respite from the PID documents generated by Directgov).

I don’t *know* Paul, but I know of him and have met him a few times (enough to bully him into inviting me to his launch party, sort of).

So, to the book… I started reading it on a super-delayed train from Waterloo last Friday. The carriage was so packed that people were reading it over my shoulder (so the embarrassment factor of laughing out loud was lessened by the stifled snorts of laughter behind me). The stifled snorts were enough for an opportunist like me to start a conversation, which started with Paul and who he was, leading quickly to me and who I was.

So buy this book, it helps you network on trains.

Other reasons to buy this book:

1. It helps you embrace your inner jealousy streak
2. You take comfort from knowing that however bad your unrequited love-life is, it is not as bad as Paul’s
3. For a brief moment you step into the drunken and hedonistic world of internet entrepreneurship – and realise it’s not all that (apart from Robert Loch’s legendary parties of course)
4. You can get the gen on many of the internet billion/squillion-aires, and dine out on the stories (adopt them as your own – why not)
5. Google party description – from the point of view of a normal person i.e. you – Chapter 9.0 (all of it)

Um.. I had better now buy the book – from Amazon 🙂 – for someone else

PS I read it twice

WordPress

The lovely, lovely, lovely (OK enough) people at WordPress put me as 78th on their ‘growing blogs’ list. Too cool, my standards are not high – 78th is enough for me. The tag-line for the link happens to be: Watch live streaming Beijing Olympic Games 2008, then you have to scroll like mad to get to me, but hey… it’s there!

Toolkits

I am STILL working on this – but in the real world, so it is taking time. I will be running an event in October that should give us the Toolkit part one… hopefully. If you want to come, email me.

Holidays

I am in Africa from the 21st with my girls, concentrating on my cause: www.justicefortom.com so will not be blogging, nor will I be working officially; however, I shall do sub-blog-management: sorting comments whenever I can get access.

I will post again in October, but will be managing the blog, so please do keep me entertained, horrify me, with your conversation.

E

Tool-kit for social media – or engaging people online

If you could put together your ideal tool-kit for engaging online, what would be in it?

By tool-kit I mean ways of finding and engaging with the people you want to do any of the following:

  • engage
  • influence
  • consult

To my rather amateur but enthusiastic mind I would say something like:

  • engage: find communities already in existence online – toolkit would contain ways of finding these communities
  • influence: toolkit would point to robust platforms already in existence, free and unlikely to fail (essentially those that depend on the robustness of their platform in order to succeed – WordPress for one), with a bit of advice on what business support would be required to use such a tool effectively (because this is key :))
  • consult: toolkit would include blogging and wiki software, alongside details of the experts in the business, their rates and how you might be able to procure them. Alongside details of how other organisations in your area, for example public sector (my bag, baby) have been using these things successfully

You can reply to this plea – as ever – personally to me mulquem@gmail.com – or, as I would prefer, here as a comment.