‘My One and Only’

My One and Only artwork

It’s a funny how little things can snowball into bigger things.  As I have said before I’m a theatre geek. I am a huge fan of BBC Radio, especially radio plays, and thanks to the wonders of the internet I listen regularly to the free BBC podcast ‘Play of the Week’. 

In May 2012 I was walking home from work listening to My One and Only, it was an intense drama about obsessive love and stalking which really drew me in. The characters never meet face to face, the whole play was a series of phone calls.

The play made me think about how much of our lives, loves and relationships take place over the phone. I’m amazed by how quickly technology has become pocket sized and is now such an important part of our lives. Most of us rarely leave the house without our phones or get through a meal without making or receiving a call or text message or using our phones to settle an argument by checking a fact online.

I found Dawn King, the playwright, online, and sent her a message on Twitter, another new and very useful piece of technology.  After a few emails back and forth Dawn gave me permission to adapt the play for Adelaide Fringe 2013.  I asked a friend in England to help me adapt the play, we caught up on Skype to talk about the progress of the adaption.  I directed about Layla a young woman and her relationships.

My One and Only premiered at Adelaide Fringe this year and was recently nominated for Adelaide Theatre Guide Award for ‘Best Female Performance (Amateur)’. Sadly at tonight’s award ceremony the lovely Tamara Bennetts didn’t win. But I am incredibly proud that I was able to take a podcast and turn make it snowball into a great piece of theatre. 

Follow Friday

Follow Friday

If you venture on to Twitter on a Friday you will see many tweets using the hashtag #FF which stands for Follow Friday. What is Follow Friday?  It is a chance for Twitter users to show a little love to people they think you should be following. It can be a great way to find people to follow. Some people you #FF as a way to acknowledge someone who has been especially interesting, funny or helpful. So Dear Reader keep an eye out for #FF and see if you can find interesting people to follow on Twitter. And don’t forget to make some #FF suggestions for your followers. 

Image credit: http://technorati.com/social-media/article/do-you-followfriday-on-twitter-what/ 

Tweets for seats

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I’m a theatre fan, a big theatre fan. I don’t see as much theatre as I like but I go at least twice a month.  This love of theatre can be expensive so I’m always on the look out for cheap tickets. What has this got to do with technology I hear you ask, well my love of technology and more specifically twitter has given me free theatre tickets.

I have been given free theatre tickets in return for tweeting about the show. My first ‘tweets for seats’ experience was a couple of years ago at Adelaide Fringe. The publicist of a local production company offered local theatre loving twitter geeks free tickets to shows if they tweeted about the shows. Thankfully I enjoyed all the shows I saw so didn’t have any problems recommending other people get along. More recently, last month in fact, I was offered free tickets in return for tweeting about a show. I jumped at the chance.  It was a show I wanted to see but couldn’t justify the ticket price given I am about to go overseas. The only condition on the free tickets was that I needed to tweet about the show 5 times in a 24 hour period. Which I did.  I was again been offered free tickets to a show tonight and went. The show I saw was Brief Encounter at State Theatre of South Australia, at it was a wonderful show.

Tweeting for seats can pose an ethical dilemma, what if I don’t like the show? This can be a real problem. I have been given free tickets in return for me tweeting to help to sell tickets. I’m not expected to review the show but I am expected to promote the show.  It’s an interesting ethical dilemma, should I tell my twitter followers or not that I was given the tickets?  I believe that if I have been given free tickets for a show that I am tweeting about that I should let my twitter followers know.  If I’m going to promote something for a fee or free tickets then it is only right I let my followers know that the tweets are sponsored.  If I’m going to endorse a product, service or theatre performance I want to make sure I am 100 % clear about what is sponsored and what is my ‘real’ unsolicited opinion.  I am very lucky that so far I haven’t been stuck with the ethical dilemma of not liking the show I’m supposed to promote. I like to think that is something to do with the shows I agree to tweet in return for seats.

There is much discussion in the marketing world about sponsoring tweets and blog posts, it can be an useful marketing tool but it is generally considered bad form to not declare the the post as sponsored.  Given that celebrity tweeters can make a lot of money tweeting endorsements for products and services it is a problem that is only going to get bigger.

I don’t think I will ever be so famous people will give me cash to promote their product, but free theatre tickets are great.  So when people ask me ‘what’s the point of twitter?’ at least I have an answer now, free theatre tickets.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com – Tweet, Tweet! Tamer Koseli 

People actually read my tweets.

Last night something completely unexpected happened, someone sent me a tweet with a photo of something they had made following instructions and photos I had posted online.

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I hadn’t posted the photos and instructions with the idea that someone would follow them, I was really just bragging about what I was doing. I was making a quilt. I have made 4 quilts and this would be the fifth, as it is such a rare occurrence it seemed worth bragging about.

I was making the quilt for a friend’s 40th birthday. Over the past 2 weeks I posted 8 pictures of the quilt’s progress along with some very brief instructions. The pictures weren’t for anything other than to celebrate the fact I was actually making something.

Raggy Quilt
My Quilt

It’s hard to describe just how excited I was to receive Cathy’s tweet and picture.  I know that people read my tweets and Facebook posts but I was delighted that someone had followed the progress of my quilt and decided to make their own.

Along the way I had received nice comments when I posted photos about the making of the quilt. And when I posted a picture of the final quilt 24 of my Facebook friends liked the picture, which was lovely.

But when Cathy sent me a tweet with her photo, to know that someone had followed my instructions was very humbling.

Cathy's quilt
Cathy’s quilt

Even though I write this post pictures and comments online along with this blog in the hope that people will read what I have to say. I hadn’t given any thought to the fact that people would really read what I say. I’m amazed that people read and might act on the things I write online. Cathy’s tweet has made my online posts seem very real, people I don’t know will read what I write and they might act on what I say. I’m not niave enough to think I’m going to change the world but knowing that my pictures and instructions helped someone make something really beautiful is a wonderful feeling.

I only hope that what I write will continue to be useful and interesting. I would love Dear Reader, to hear your stories of online interactions, maybe you posted something online that inspired others or perhaps you were inspired by a Facebook or blog post.

Jargon Busting No. 24 – Trending

The word trend, more specifically trending, has become part of geek language.  And whilst trend and trending still have something to do with fashion. It refers to what is fashionable online right now.  

Trending is when a specific phrase or hashtag is popular, ideally in the top ten topics being tweeted about at a specific moment. When users of Twitter use a hashtag in their tweets, Twitter monitors the hashtags. These hashtags are ranked based on how often they are used and this ranking is called ‘trending’. 

I have been to many events when it’s has been announced with pride that the event’s hashtag is trending in Adelaide, or even better trending in Australia. It is often seen as a mark of success of an event if the hashtag ‘trends’. 

Tonight’s list of trending hashtags in Adelaide reflects what is and was on TV, including 3 types of sport including rugby game between Australia and New Zealand, AFL and NRL.  Given the impending election it is not surprising that #auspol, a popular hashtag for anything to do with Australian politics is also trending.

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It is possible to track the worldwide trending topics on Twitter or refine your search to any city in the world. Tonight’s worldwide trending topics can be seen below, and I have to say I have no idea what some of them are. However that is what makes twitter so interesting. With a little research I can find out what people all over the world are discussing, bitching about or ranting about online and if I am so inclined I can join them by just using the same hashtag in my tweet. 

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It is very important to remember that just because something it is trending on Twitter doesn’t mean it is actually important, people tweet about all kinds of ridiculous topics. However personally I’m not convinced that Ben Affleck will be a good Batman but I’m open to be convinced 🙂

 

 

 

Jargon Busting No. 18 – Verified accounts

Twitter and now Facebook verify some accounts. Famous people are often impersonated online with sometimes humorous but more likely offensive accounts. To make sure fans are getting posts, pictures, opinions and information from the source (or at least the staff of the source) accounts can be verified in an arrangement with the famous person and Facebook or Twitter.

A verified account on both Twitter and Facebook has a blue circle with a white tick inside.

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Both Facebook and Twitter do not accept requests to verify accounts, rather you are invited to have your account verified. A quick Internet search shows a couple of rumours about what is required to have your account verified. There are reports that simply being famous is not enough, others suggest that the amount spent on advertising can lead to a verified account. Whatever the process is, it is good (but sometimes embarrassing) to know that an account that has been verified is the official Facebook or Twitter of your favourite actor, politician, business or sports star.

Jargon Busting No. 11 – Trolling

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This morning as I eased into my Sunday morning, I lazily had logged in twitter to see what the world was up to. I noticed a lot of tweets from @MrBarrymore, Michael Barrymore an English entertainer. Barrymore was retweeting lots of tweets that had been sent to him, they were messages of support. There were so many tweets that I couldn’t count them. I investigated further and discovered Barrymore was being trolled. 

Trolling is when someone posts online a comment online or a tweet with the sole aim of starting an argument or causing distress or trouble. It seems that some people like to deliberately provoke others into an argument and get a kick out of knowing they have upset someone, ideally they will upset lots of people.

Someone, and I won’t given him any more publicity by naming him and according to the trolls profile it is a him, was sending abusive tweets to Barrymore and others. Some of Barrymore’s followers were questioning why he was engaging with the troll and were encouraging him to ignore the vile comments. Barrymore tweeted “The only reason I retweeted the likes of @(name of troll) is to prove that regardless of all the publicity @twitter have done nothing”.

The advice usually given when dealing with trolls is ‘don’t feed the trolls’, which means don’t respond, don’t let them know you are upset or that they are getting to you. 

But in this case Barrymore was trying to drown out the negative noise created by the troll with positive tweets from fans and supporters. And whilst I’m not expert I would assume it also felt good to be able to show the troll, and the world, that you are not intimidated and that you have support.

There has been much coverage in the last couple of weeks of trolls on Twitter both here in Australia and overseas and the way Twitter has dealt with them (or not). Many of the trolls made very explicit threats of violence against women. Twitter was attacked by users and the media for not dealing with the trolls, by not providing a speedy and effective way to report trolls. Facebook has a report abuse button and so do most forums and other social media platforms and if they don’t I’m sure they will do soon.

Twitter was criticised for not being easy to contact and there have been reports that they are slow to cooperate with law enforcement. The criticisms also included the fact that Twitter was incredibly slow in deleting accounts and blocking individuals from creating more accounts so they could continue trolling.

Twitter has finally added a ‘Report Tweet’ button on the iPhone app and have announced they will be adding a similar button on the website and Android app ‘soon’.

It will be interesting to see now that people can more easily report trolls if the response from Twitter will improve with faster removal of offensive material and better cooperation with law enforcement. 

Happy Birthday Mr Mandela

Today is Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday, and I along with millions of others wish him a very happy birthday. 

While Mr Mandela is in hospital the world waits for news of his health and though for many it is hard to consider, his death. Some will have news alerts delivered to their email letting them know when there is new news about Mr Mandela, others will be watching Twitter, Reddit and other news websites for updates. 

I remember the day Mr Mandela was sworn in a the President of South Africa. I know exactly where I was when he took the oath of office. I was on a bus on my way to Kettering in the English midlands, for my fortnightly visit to sign on for the dole. I was listening on a walkman to the BBC broadcasting the ceremony to the world. I also remember crying on the bus and people staring at me. I remember me explaining why I was crying. I also remember the explanation didn’t help ad the other passengers still stared at my like I was a crazy lady.

 

Since the colour broadcast of the Queen’s coronation, which let ordinary people into a previously closed and relatively private ceremony. The world now demands access to just about everything. Journalists are camped outside the hospital where the Kate, the Duschess of Cambridge will give birth to the next king or queen of England (and the Commonwealth) so they can broadcast live updates to their audiences. 

Worldwide audiences expect their news to be live, instant and in their pocket. We have moved from the wireless, to colour television, portable radios and now to the internet in our pockets. We have access to the good, the bad and the wonderful. 

This instant news can have it’s draw backs with many cases of journalists being caught out by fake news stories circulating on the internet, so remember just because it is online doesn’t mean it is true. 

Whether it is news of a disaster, a royal baby or the death of a much loved man, the future will not be televised it will be shared online. 

Performance Pressure

badge saying Don't PanicWhen setting myself the challenge to write a blog post every day, one thing I did not consider was the pressure I would feel to be interesting or entertaining.

When left to my own devices I think I’m very interesting and entertaining but when I have you dear reader to consider, I get a little tense.

I should have realised that I would feel this, as there are days when I don’t post anything online because I don’t think it will be interesting or funny enough. I read the tweets of the famous and the not so famous, envy posts from friends at fascinating conferences, laugh at witticisms and puns and watch others engage in political debate.  Then I read about the purchase of some new running gear or how someone is sad because their skinny soy decaf latte was not hot enough and I panic.

I don’t want to whinge online, I don’t want to post of picture of my lunch, I want other people to think I’m witty and delightful.

I envy those who post photos of the minutia of their lives, they have total confidence that someone out there will think they are interesting and want to hear how their day is going. For me if I’m going to commit something to writing it feels like it should be something worth saying or at least something worth reading.

Is there any value in posting the tiny details of your life online? Will we flick through our Facebook profiles like an old diary, being horrified at what we wrote, the clothes we wore and our trendy hair styles? Or will they just disappear off into the ether to float around the internet forever?

I’m still trying to work it out – what do you think?

 

Photo credit: flickr.com – Jim Linwood ‘Don’t Panic Badge’