A completely amateur approach

On October 24th, I helped out at Walsall Social Media Surgery. It was great to work with active and inquisitive folks trying to use and understand the reach of social media. In particular, I enjoyed talking with Bill Ellens from (among others) CUSP in Walsall.

I promised Bill I’d run over some of the tools I was using and talking about. So, here goes:

NB. I am an amateur. I don’t use Social Media professionally, nor do I do anything photographic. There are very many strong visual artists and visually oriented people who can give much more qualified opinions on that kind of thing. I do, however, have an opinion, and this is my blog. Here we go…


I use Twitter in both a personal and professional capacity. It’s a mass communication medium by which I can reach a wide audience. Most people reading this post will have come to it because I tweeted a link to it. It’s great for quick and helpful communication and rubbish for arguments.

Yes, you may make your point succinctly and wittily put the other person in their place, but you face two great perils. The victim of your wit may well simply retweet you and use passive aggression to make you sound foolish. Worse, onlookers who see the argument but have little personal investment in the subject matter will simply see two people yelling at each other.

On a side note, use hashtags to pull things together, but always make sure they have purpose or are deliberately trivial. Hashtagging #big and #wet when you’re profiling oil tankers is a bit pointless but might win you points on the comedy front.


No, I don’t have a Facebook account, but you can have one if you like, I won’t mind. I don’t need it, but I can see the wide range of benefits it can bring if you’re trying to organise a disparate group of people around a cause. Retain a sense of focus and avoid making things too personal and you can’t really go wrong much.

Visible Tweets

Visible Tweets is a lovely visualisation tool for showing information based on a search string which could for example use a hashtag to gather tweets and display them. It’s pretty, and addictive.


I have a Bandcamp site to make my music available online. It’s a great place with few limits on what can be achieved. You can sell merchandise, present material as physical and downloadable goods, and there’s no reason you have to post music. It would be very effective as a portal to distribute recordings of talks or sounds.


Or if you prefer, upload straight to Soundcloud which comes with apps so you can record from smart phone to web easily and rapidly. It’s easily integrated, allows comments and can be made private if you wish to keep a track from public view.

All of the above are integral to how I use…

WordPress.com and WordPress.org

Both friendly website based and self hosted blogs are available to the masses through this essentially free service. Yes, the mobile version comes with adverts in places, and there are costs for anything more than the most basic functions, but I can embed an album from bandcamp, post links to new articles via my Twitter and Facebook accounts, add like/follow/share buttons and even track the popularity of pages and categories of post to see how the site content is being received.

If you want to see a great example of integration in action, particularly the uploading of photographs and images and clear concise presentation, go and have a look at Brownhills Bob’s blog. This combination of local interest and historical narrative with the occasional dose of righteous invective is rightly respected and popular among the locals.


There it is. Oh, and a tool I use occasionally when discussing local issues and poverty with other folks. The Church Urban Fund Poverty Indicator is an assessment of England parish by parish where you can search by postcode to see how well off your area is. It certainly raised some interesting questions, with its use of different measures to give an overall perspective.

Bill, if you’re reading this, this post’s for you. Everybody else, you’re welcome.


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