I’ve created my own system to tweet a row from this spreadsheet every day.
The name of the Twitter account is @fideobobdydd, a way of sharing high quality videos in Welsh from various genres. Social media like Twitter have the potential to find audiences for videos and vice-versa, when algorithmic search and recommendation sometimes (feel like they) put content in Welsh at a disadvantage. This is what I’d like to investigate, anyway.
At the moment it tweets once per day at a set time. It’s a proof of concept which could easily be extended or adapted.
Why create a system? I’ve tried Hootsuite, Buffer and similar systems but on the whole these are too cumbersome for me. On the spreadhset I can see half a month and move things around quickly. Working with others is easy because the spreadsheet is on Google Drive.
I doubt that Hootsuite as a company is losing sleep over it. It’s just my homebaked solution to a particular problem. 🙂
It would be possible to add other sources rather than relying on manual input of videos. At the moment if there is a gap on any given day, there is no tweet. I could create a long list of videos to post randomly as well as the spreadsheet list, or syndicate videos from a list of favourites or YouTube playlist, and so on. Of course other platforms like Facebook Video are also possible.
Here’s some technical info. This is a PHP script which talks to the Twitter API. Rather than use the Google Drive API I have done a speedier implementation of retrieving the content as CSV.
Diolch i Nwdls am y (cy)syniad gwreiddiol o Fideo Bob Dydd.
My emphasis on this blog has changed over the years. It’s interesting to read back over old posts where I documented my progress with Welsh. Later on I was pretty uninhibited about blogging through the medium of Welsh on here, as a means of practising and as a method of seeing more stuff in Welsh online. Although very beneficial for me I guess it’s uncommon to practise like that in public. There were/are quite a few non-standard grammatical formations in my posts as well. Or, in other words, mistakes.
A few people have asked me recently about my experiences using social media in Welsh as a second language – especially blogging. Someone was asking me today about the experience and challenges as part of her research project.
So here’s a copy of some notes I sent as I figured they might be of interest to people who read this blog.
In hindsight it took me a while to get to a standard where I thought I had anything to say. There are blogs out there where people practise the very basics – which is obviously fine – but I think I wanted to do something more expressive. I think writing to be understood (which was an aim) is a challenge. There were a whole load of things to accomplish before even considering that as an option. I think I considered it for a fair while before actually doing it.
That said, as opposed to blogging, tweeting in Welsh was something I started quite early on I think. You could liken it to a child gaining confidence in learning to speak (or walk, etc.).
The first thing I tried on a computer was emailing in Welsh – even just greetings and valediction around an email in English. I made loads of mistakes with that but it was a key learning experience.
One thing to mention is that Facebook is not always the friendliest place for practising Welsh. It’s common to receive comments from ‘friends’ who are not comfortable with seeing Welsh being used. For example people have said things like ‘did a cat walk on your keyboard?’, ‘that’s easy for you to say’ and also some quite blatant expressions of disdain/displeasure at seeing Welsh being used. It’s funny how very few people say ‘I don’t understand your message, would you be able to give me a translation or a summary in English please?’, which is surely a more courteous way of answering. I’ve heard that that these attitudes cause problems for people who are learning, particularly the more timid. I’m a pretty confident person but even I sometimes feel a bit gun shy about using Welsh on Facebook. Interface is irrelevant here – it’s about existing friend group and expectations. Maybe this point counters the hypothesis that fluent Welsh users are judgmental about informal Welsh and bratiaith. That is, in my experience by contrast it has been the non-Welsh speakers who cause problems.
Twitter is better for confidence because it’s not predominently based on offline relationships for many people. There is a lot of freedom and variation in the way it’s used. There is a more of a sense that people can experiment, be individual and also that those who don’t appreciate it should just unfollow. And then blogging offers the best feeling of a space you control yourself where anything goes, at least in my experience.
These notes are incomplete and are based on personal experiences rather than data.
I was going to leave a comment but instead opted to write here. White says:
At risk of sounding hopelessly naive, I don’t know why Twitter and Facebook would restrict the free flow of headlines via RSS. Sure, in Twitter’s case the headline is basically the whole tweet and it may be about attracting people to their website where they can see advertising, but this risks alienating many users. RSS remains the best way for content to be shared and fed through to multiple platforms.
Facebook are trying to compete with the open web and offer the whole experience there. Facebook.com is a – pretty seductive but ultimately inferior – second web.
Facebook the company are happy to use the architecture of the web but would much rather you experience it in their garden. That’s why they don’t want to offer RSS.
I have friends who land on Facebook as their default home page and largely equate Facebook with the web. That’s perfect. For Facebook. More generally I think people undervalue RSS because they haven’t tried it or they’ve been lured away by RSS-lite systems like the Twitter or Facebook feeds. That goes for tech journalists too, the people who should be highlighting how important this is.
Where Facebook does play with the open web – identity system, like buttons, comment system and so on – it’s in an attempt to make websites and their visitors more dependent on Facebook. And to bridge people into their experience.
I don’t know exactly what Twitter are planning but I know they were a promising start-up with a variety of monetisation options they could have chosen but are now essentially an advertising company, as Facebook are. So probably the same.
White also highlights the tension between the “privacy settings” and the open web:
Twitter cited security concerns, but Twitter is a tool for sharing content with the option of setting updates to private if you want to. In the same way, there is no particular reason why RSS shouldn’t also be available from Facebook pages and groups unless they are explicitly set to private. It’s an important part of web literacy to understand that if you wouldn’t share something in earshot of people you don’t know in real life, you shouldn’t share it online. That still leaves a lot that we want to share.
The designers of these systems often make the mistake, or perpetuate the untruth, that privacy is merely a set of software options. Privacy on the web is really about us, the users, understanding what we’re getting into and being in true control of our information sharing. By this definition, Facebook in particular fail big time with their privacy offering. Of course, their interests are not aligned with your interests in controlling your privacy. It benefits the company if there is personal information on there which has been posted in trust.
Thing is, if Facebook and Twitter were totally public it probably would have been better for people’s privacy.
A group of us did a free, open event in Aberystwyth on 30th January 2010 called Hacio’r Iaith. It was fun. I learned things. It was based on the BarCamp format. You can use the format to have a conference on any subject and many people do. Some people call it an unconference.
The reasons we organised an offline event should be obvious. A chance to shake hands and consume body aroma content, the only remaining experiences not yet available online.
Around 40 people came. That number seemed about right for a one-day event, I didn’t even get a chance to talk to everyone properly.
One of the main aims was to get people together to talk about shared interests, so on that basis it was almost bound to be a success after the second or third person said they’d come along. When you know people will get talking there is no need for anxiety, even if the wifi access goes down (it was fine actually), the food doesn’t arrive (it did and was splendid – thanks chefs and sponsors!) or the firewall doesn’t allow FTP access (unfortunately it didn’t, but that was a mere glitch and chance to learn something).
Keywords will be in bold here because this is getting long…
The offline component of the event is finished. For a few reasons it’s a pity you can’t access big chunks of the event now. You really had to be there maaan. Saying all that, it’s still open to an extent because we purposefully made it a hybrid of offline and online. Several web-based backchannels existed before and during the meet-up: the event wiki, the group blog, Twitter messages, videos on YouTube and photos/images on Flickr.
These backchannels persist afterwards, which increases the value of doing the event for years to come. That goes for potentially everyone on the web (especially now that Google Translate can get you the gist of the Welsh in several other languages).
These are some of the benefits of the social web. These benefits are seldom discussed by the mainstream media, incidentally!
I want other people to see all this stuff if they search for related things. I know there are other people who attended who want it to have an influence. On that note, not every problem is a problem of information. (That’s the second Neil Postman link in this post. Consider that chin thoroughly stroked.) But some problems are related to information. For instance, taking abundant information and converting it into something useful is something we can step up. It’s something that could benefit Wales, where I live and most of the attendees live.
I’d like to see more BarCamps, unconferences and so on happening in Wales. Incidentally that’s part of the reason why I’ve chosen to write this in English, to give the non-Welsh speaking people in Wales some access to the proceedings. And other people around the world who might be interested.
As far as I know, Hacio’r Iaith on Saturday was the first BarCamp-style event to be conducted in Cymraeg, the Welsh language. The subject matter? Web and technology as it relates to the Welsh language. Those things – language and subject matter – don’t necessarily follow. Naturally people discuss their language in their own language. But a group could organise a BarCamp about any subject and do it in the Welsh language. Absolutely any subject.
For nearly everyone who attended it’s their number one language for everything they do daily and has been for as long as they remember.
I can only talk about the sessions I attended. Everything is from my perspective!
The first session was about tools for Welsh learners, including a website and series of online lessons called Say Something In Welsh build with phpBB, an iPhone application called Learn Welsh and some ideas for mobile app “flashcards” suggested by a tutor. We talked about the conflicting difficulties of making apps available to all mobile users, even if they are web-based apps running on mobile. I asked Aran from Say Something In Welsh a question about open content and search engines. The site is a private “walled garden” for a number of reasons related to maintaining a community of learners, but it’s free to register to join. (UPDATE: See Aran’s comment below for more about this.)
I then stayed for the Metastwnsh podcast recording and live web stream. Metastwnsh is a web and technology blog with several contributors. There was some discussion of gadgets and some jokes. My favourite part was a discussion of how the language choice of our online posts and conversations can differ from that of our offline choice. In particular, Twitter was cited as an example of a tool which first language Welsh speakers sometimes opt to use in English, for many reasons – some understandable. It was suggested that perhaps in some cases they file it under an “English language part of their brain”, alluding to the possibility that bilingual people associate some spaces or platforms with specific languages. So the effect of the platform is not necessarily “neutral”, or doesn’t remain that way. (I’ve been building a list of Welsh speakers on Twitter, including learners. Every person who is on the list can see the list and access all the other members of the list. It’s a way of strengthening the network and thereby, potentially, the impulse to post in the Welsh language should people wish to do so. Linguistic diversity leads to other forms of diversity and improves the internet as a whole in my opinion.)
I popped next door to catch the very end of a presentation about Llen Natur, a website about wildlife and nature. It has a dictionary of species, maps and photos.
Free lunch was not something I had insisted on, especially as it increases the admin for such events. But Rhodri ap Dyfrig was convinced it was possible and fixed up catering and covered it with money from some of the sponsors. For me it was a valuable part of the event, meeting some very talented people I’d only previously known online.
It was my turn next – purely because I’d volunteered to speak, as had everyone. So the title was “FyWordPressCyntaf.com – does dim angen profiad o flaen llaw” (which translates as MyFirstWordPress.com – no previous experience necessary). I wanted to talk about WordPress as a blogging and general site CMS, downloadable from wordpress.org with no coding necessary. It gave me the chance to talk about free software (unambiguously rendered as meddalwedd rydd in Welsh, free software as in freedom) with a bit about how localised code and themes are available for Welsh (but, as I also added, we can always do with more). Unlike the audience, Welsh isn’t my first language so I had a job explaining some of the concepts. I achieved my main objective though, which was to get a bare bones installation of WordPress running to show how quick and easy it can be.
In hindsight it was a little ambitious to shoehorn the mash-up/hack session into the event plan. On the day I ended up putting my talk in the hack session, which came just to mean practical session. Even WordCamp, which I attended last year, was spread over two days – allowing space for team building, pre-planning and the hack session on the second day. At Hacio’r Iaith, I think the initiative and creativity of the attendees to do the hacks could have been there, as well as the capability. But in a day already packed with presentations and to some an unfamiliar format, it became too much to expect. Next time some more practical stuff would be good. I do think a dedicated hack event could work.
We had a quick discussion about making online how-to videos and what subjects to cover. There is plenty of room for how-to videos in Welsh, especially showing non-geeks and normal people how to get the best use of software and the web. The ideas we generated are available to take.
Finally I went to a session on the game Civilization IV and its unofficial Welsh translation, using game mods. Welsh translation of open source games like OpenTTD also came up. I’m not a big gamer but it gave me some ideas…
At the moment Twitter’s web interface is only available in four languages – English, Japanese, French and Spanish. Also on the way now are Italian and German.
So Twitter Inc have decided to increase support for the world’s languages, which is an excellent move. They’ll be asking users to collaborate on translating the interface, which again is good. The language community, made up of fluent users and some professional translators, knows best. Then everyone wins.
Twitter Inc haven’t said exactly how they’ll choose the next languages. But we can ask for Welsh. Here’s how.
Click the link “Sign up with your username and language”.
Type your Twitter username.
Select “Welsh” from the list.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a Welsh speaker or not. Welsh can belong to everyone!
I’m calling it a “vote”. You might as well use your vote for a language you’d like to see supported, even if you’re not a speaker.
Let’s not wait months and months for Welsh to get support – we can ask now. If they receive a high number of requests, it may spur them into offering Welsh.
Facebook made a similar move a while back. The whole thing was a game, with scores and a leaderboard for contributions. This resulted in a very rapid translation, completed in around three or four weeks as I recall. Twitter will be even quicker, I think we’ll do it in mere days.
In fact, Welsh was among the first languages to be supported by Facebook. This was mainly because there was a lot of demand expressed noisily, via a group.
Twitter the company never describe their service as “microblogging”. That’s a smart move from the viewpoint of marketing the service to people who might have preconceived ideas about blogging. But mainly, it probably helps each user and the communities represented to be unconstrained and perhaps more creative in the way they actually use it as a medium.
Twitter feels like blogging at reduced friction. Each tweet (blog post) is tiny and you can type it quickly, on the go. They are also quicker to read than macroblog posts.
So Twitter could be fairly accurately described as microblogging. Some of the Twitter observations Pickard makes are accelerated in comparison to blogging.
People write more posts (tweets) than on a long-form macroblog – in my experience. The “half-life” of conversations is reduced. There’s probably a whole bunch of research someone could do on that if they wanted. (And I’m not talking about the paper where they dismissed 40% of Twitter as “babble”. I think that totally missed the point.)
So I wanted to expand on Pickard’s post and draw more connections between blogging and Twitter, between macroblogging and microblogging if you will. Some of this will apply to Identi.ca and other microblogging services. But I think Twitter’s larger user base makes it a bigger playground for this stuff.
Let’s start with the obvious. A tweet is a blog post. Your tweets are organised by time, with newest at the top. Apart from that you can write anything you like. Same, same.
Following is subscribing. Again, there’s less friction on Twitter because it happens in fewer clicks.
The client Your Twitter client is your feed reader. The default web client is just a web-based feed reader. You get everyone you’re following aggregated together. But it can also be set to a single blog (a single person’s Twitter timeline).
URL and feeds Your blog has a HTML version and it also has an RSS or Atom feed. Twitter feels like it has feeds but they’re invisible, they’re simulated by API calls. What I mean is, when you click Follow you’re not made aware of what happened in the background, it’s a black box. Whereas when reading blogs there is a URL to a feed which you subscribe to. (Although every Twitter account has a bona fide RSS feed as well.) Also, because Twitter and other services have emphasised real time there are efforts to make blog feeds real time. Twitter, in turn, is influencing technologies that were established before.)
Replies on Twitter are like blog pingbacks. They notify @someone that you made a response to their post. But unlike blogs, the “pingback” of a Twitter reply is not visible to onlookers reading the original tweet.
Tags and categories
The counterpart of blog post metadata – tags and categories – is the Twitter hashtag, which was deliberately introduced by a user and then popularised. The Hashtags website is what Technorati is for macroblogs (or rather used to be).
Retweets, usually written as “RT @someone” or “via @someone”, are ostensibly about acknowledging a source. They’re a somewhat strange byproduct of Twitter’s lack of a quick way to link to, and read, another tweet. For programmers, it’s analogous to passing by value instead of passing by reference. They’re not native to Twitter at the time of writing.
Suggested user list
When someone joins Twitter now, the site suggests accounts for you to follow. This helps new users to get started and see how it’s being used. But it also offers a huge boost and arguably an unfair advantage to companies and individuals represented. It’s an editorial decision made by Twitter staff, one of the very few such decisions on a service which is mostly neutral – which to some “feels” wrong. There’s no equivalent on the blogosphere, which is sustained by a network and not hosted by a single provider. If Twitter the company want to be seen as fair, maybe they should behave like the blogosphere.
In the early years of blogging, a blogger would have a “blogroll” which is a list of links to their favourite blogs. These seem to have faded in importance and usage as blogging has popularised. But during the growth of the new medium, they were useful for people navigating the blogosphere and finding other bloggers to subscribe to. Blog rolls were also about giving kudos and link juice. The earliest form of blogroll I have noticed on Twitter is the #followfriday tag, where people suggest accounts worth following.
Twitter list feature (new!)
The new Twitter list feature is a bit like a blogroll. It can be seen as a public endorsement of certain accounts and also a way of giving kudos. You can have up to 20 different lists, e.g. colleagues, bands, journalists, people in my hometown – which is similar to blogrolls that have categories. With Twitter, the emphasis seems to be on usefulness to the compiler of the lists, with the openness and kudos as byproducts. Like blogrolls, the lists help to grow the network by helping people navigate. Twitter lists can also be likened to OPML files, which are bundles of links to RSS feeds. In other words, an OPML file is a blogroll in a file.
Besides Twitter has always had lists. Each account has a grand list of all the people you’re following and it’s public. So the list of people you’re following is a blogroll. Albeit massive and context-blobby.
I think I’ve talked about Twitter as microblogging in enough detail now.
At times I’ve let it slip. But there’s no use feeling any guilt over it. Guilt won’t motivate me, it won’t fix anything and it’s never the right response to ANYTHING. It’s probably better to feel total, utter freedom. FREEDOM. Try it.
The overall point is I CARE about my work and the promises I make. The act of giving out an email address carries responsibilities. If the inbox were to flood to a river of unanswered messages, bacn and spam, it would be time to rethink my involvement. Merlin Mann wrote a good piece about the high cost of pretending. It’s well worth a read. For instance, if you’re going on holiday why make a weak promise about your email backlog if you just can’t keep it?
I am continuing with email but those guys have taught me it should be a deliberate decision, not a default. Most of it is up to me because on a positive note, I am totally at one with my Thunderbird email software. I have customised every square millimetre to my little foibles. (We all have little foibles.) It runs locally so there is a minimum lag between my commands and its obedience. It will always be quicker than Gmail’s web interface, for instance. Thunderbird engenders super slick sensations of being highly-effective which I then transmute into reality.
By contrast, I dislike these pseudo-email systems that are creeping in. By that I mean direct messaging on any social site which is a bit like email but doesn’t let you DO STUFF to it. Facebook messages are pretty awful. The interface is clunky. I need to archive things out of sight and it’s not possible. I’m left with a river of everything. I think it probably reinforces bad habits for people. Don’t even mention auto-filtering, that’s nowhere. As for the volume of messages, if you don’t respond to an event you’ll get every single mass broadcast related to that event.
I can’t turn off Facebook direct messages but I do want people to be able to contact me. So next to my face I’ve written “If you are thinking of sending me a private message, I will respond far more quickly to proper email. Just saying.”. Let’s hope it doesn’t sound too arsey. I just want my every action to be gilded with quality feelings for all involved.
Twitter direct messages are OK I guess. You can’t DO STUFF with them. (Scoble listed the stuff.) But at least they’re 140 characters long or less – you can express anything with that! Well, nearly.
Anything more interactive deserves a wiki or a Google Doc. (Or a Wave but that isn’t available yet.)
There is a lot of trivial information on the web. You know the sort – status updates about the minutiae which make up life.
It’s all fine I guess. I could pick an example, but then I would probably try to find something noteworthy about the event, its ramifications for society, etc. which would make the update seem less trivial. It’s not my job to judge another person for writing something which was only meant for a few of their friends. That would be mean of me. Imagine trying to compare that to a great work of literature when it was never intended as such!
Why all the trivia now? The web has lowered the hurdles of cost and effort in getting your message out there. Messages which would never get through to you can now get through. All kinds of important and worthwhile examples abound. Creative ideas and works which previously lacked the funds or force to emerge. News from brave dissidents in oppressive regimes. Forgotten, sidelined or hard-to-find historical documents, files and recordings. Current dispatches from remote places far away from big city journalists, news agencies and PR companies. That sort of thing. Maybe I can talk about this stuff next time. Today I’m here to give you the trivia.
Before you cry “hyperbole!”, my title above is incorrect. It’s not “all” my possible trivial status updates. It’s just a selection. But I’m sure you’ll agree it gives a diverse range of magnolia shades – numerous daily activities in all their unsurprising, inconsequential and marginal glory. Actually there’s not much glory, just indifference. May the vastness of its triviality yawn before you.
Does a big list of all this stuff become, by virtue of its existence, any less trivial? I don’t know. It’s probably more trivial for all I know.
What I’m mainly trying to do is collect them somewhere for those that might care. If nobody reads them here then I don’t particularly care either. I have used this to fully purge my system of triviality sharing. From now on, if you are wondering what trivial things are happening to me or being occasioned by me, you have the option of referring to this list. One or more will have applied to me in, say, the last hour (if I’m still on this planet when you read it).
After this moment, everything that I put or publish online will have some wilful intent to provide relevance and value to finite groups of other people. The urge to detrivialise is the only change. I mean, I might fail to do this and put something really trivial on the web by accident. Or something which you would consider trivial. You could earnestly point it out – but only if you feel you have the time and energy.
OK then. What don’t I mean by “trivia”? Last summer I went to a gig and saw a grey-haired man, a band member, swooshing a live chainsaw through the crowd, augmenting the music with its ferocious buzzing sound. It was supposed to be a pleasant evening of vintage German experimental rock music but in that moment, seeing and hearing the thrashing chainsaw, I actually feared for my life. It was then that I realised I must send a short text to the world to announce this. You might have wanted to do this too if you’d been there. Fearing for your life. Or, if not your life, then the integrity of your limb attachments. Obviously I didn’t succeed in texting the whole world, but a little section of my tiny world may have taken note. I sent something to Twitter and that’s when Twitter began to make sense to me. Myspace made sense to me when I used it to listen to some music by a band I’d never heard before. Facebook made sense to me when I saw a photo of somebody with a funny facial expression which made me feel somewhat cheery. The items in these examples don’t count as trivia, neither are they all that notable. Nevertheless these kinds of activities will probably continue.
Obviously I can’t promise ever to succeed in actually being “profound”, but I can at least clear away the reports of the everyday and the banal. To be sure, there are people who’d be well advised NEVER to attempt to be profound – or even allow themselves to consider the possibility. I’m mainly thinking back to ex-footballer Eric Cantona and the seagull metaphor he once used, tenuously, in a press conference. Maybe he should have stuck to what the French call the quotidian.
Other than that last unprompted and – might I add – uncharacteristic slight, I’m not talking about other people. This is the web and what they or you do here is not my business. This is MY trivia!
Usually you can comment on my blog but I’ve disabled the comment function this time. It would be cruel to tease you with the opportunity to attempt a response when you can only but salvage a meagre something from this litany of the nondescript. So let’s hear no more of it.
This post may leave you feeling somewhat beige. Feel free to read in any order, or not at all.
putting the rubbish out
putting the recycling out
washing a few dishes
buying sponges and detergent to accomplish previous chore
trimming my nails
going to the toilet
shuffling some papers
deciding what to eat
putting on socks
choosing colour of socks as prerequisite to previous task
double-checking the oven is on (or off)
deleting a text message
posting a tax form
standing and waiting in a queue
picking up a leaflet while waiting in a queue
making tea or coffee
querying a bill
sniffing the milk to discern its fitness for consumption
buying a bag of frozen peas
deciding whether or not to “call it a day”
eating some cake (a pre-packaged, shop-bought variety)
deleting an exclamation mark
setting mobile phone to silent
using the computer cursor to idly highlight some text in an article
reviewing bank statement
trimming nasal hair
cleaning a kitchen worktop (or inside walls of microwave oven)
checking a spelling
using cling film to cover a plate of food
placing food in fridge
using a hole punch to punch two holes in a piece of paper
being on hold
checking the small amount of change that has just been handed to me
reading food packaging
remembering a dream which happened during the previous activity
peeling aluminium seal from the spout of a new tube of toothpaste
waiting for a bus
stretching an elastic band for no good reason
deleting my spam email
reviewing a miscellany of stationery items which have accumulated in drawer
operating a light switch
gathering pens from the four corners of the desk
opening a jar
closing the windows
crossing off a task which I previously wrote on a list
adjusting a shoe
going into another room to fetch something
eating an apple (or banana)
scribbling on a piece of waste paper to coax an old ballpoint pen into a working state
washing my hands
placing wallet and keys in their rightful household place
(You don’t need to be signed up to Twitter to try solving it. You can still view the webpage twitter.com/wordwhale to monitor what’s going on and try solving it. But if you’d like to enter and have a chance of being recognised as first to solve the anagram, you need to be signed up.)