As someone who has a terrible memory I was fascinated to learn about a method of Spaced Repetition via this amazing web comic-style thing. If you struggle to remember information, or just want a better memory, give it a go.
Last night my brain interrupted my enjoyment of Time Trap to make me ponder why I’m not particular motivated to learn new things. When there’s so much New to learn in web development all the time, it’s pretty important to keep up, but I haven’t been feeling up to it.
Thankfully I remembered that I learn best by doing. When I first started out I played around, broke things, fixed them and repeated that over and over. When I started to use books I’d never get through them – instead I’d learn a bit, put it into practice and then build from there by actually creating stuff and learning as I went.
I recognised very well the benefit of Josh’s suggestion to combine guided and unguided learning to build skills. The suggestion of the the tutorial fade was particularly interesting to me as a way to help the learned knowledge sink in, too.
There’s a bunch of tips in there and I’d encourage you to read it! In fact, this very blog post is an example of one of the strategies Josh recommends – let me know when you find out which 😉
Good, hopefully now you won’t sue me for excessive use of bullet points.
We started off with an ‘audit’ – shared experiences of law on the ‘net. Key points were;
The law covers the articles you write and any user-generated content.
If the Police tell you something, that doesn’t mean you can print it – you have to have evidence to back up everything you say. Put simply, don’t trust anything anyone says.
The WWW is exactly what it says on the tin – a World Wide Web and as such is covered by global law and the phenomenon known as libel tourism.
It’s often the easy fish that get caught. We discussed the case of an Indian blogger who was sued because he criticised TV coverage of the Mumbai attacks while the head of the church, who also criticised the coverage, faced no action at all. It seems that newspapers are easy targets because they’re insured and independents are easy targets ’cause it’s too risky for them to fight back so they’ll settle.
We talked about the risks and concluded that there is always some risk, otherwise you would end up publishing very little. It has to be a calculated risk, though. The Times rejected the MPs expenses story after getting the advice of their lawyers. However, the Telegraph obviously went for it. Some lawyers actually don’t mind a fight and you might find you get differing opinions if you consult them.
Then we talked about what exactly defamation is:
it lowers people’s opinion of someone
it is without justification (i.e. just an insult for the sake of it)
it is calculated
it causes the victim to be shunned and avoided (y’know, like when someone in the playground has the lurgy)
We also had a visit from Marc Reeves, editor of the Birmingham Post. Marc gave some good insight into how they deal with defamation at the Post. Being part of the Trinity Mirror group means they have a team of lawyers on the end of a phone in head office at Canary Wharf so they can always check first.
Interestingly, when they receive a notice of defamation they will immediately take down the material in question, to be on the safe side. They’ll also make efforts to get the pages removed from Google as that can be a sticking point in libel cases – just being shown to have made the effort is enough.
We also discussed how newspapers are established targets – it’s quite a common occurrence. Marc said they deal with many cases that cost a few hundred to a few thousand pounds. That’s a lot of mullah to be shelling out!
We went on to some specifics of the law;
In England, there is a 1 year time limit on bringing a libel action from the date of publication.
In Scotland it is 3 years.
Each re-publication resets that time-limit back to zero.
Each view of a web page is considered a re-publication so even a lawyer checking the page out for a case is causing that material to be re-published again.
The need to keep notes was discussed – because libel action could effectively be brought years after publication it’s important that any notes that you have around the published material are kept in case they are important to the case. We discussed the potential for libel ‘holidays’ where people wait for years to bring action in order to increase their chances of winning.
There is a Ministry of Justice consultation going on right now on defamation and the internet and it’s available on Write to Reply. Go add your views!
Having looked at what is defamatory and who can and can’t sue we discussed the possible defences to a libel action.
Is not malicious
Is honest & sincere views
Based on facts (that are well known or clearly indicated)
Matters of public interest (such as what politicians are up to)
Saying “it’s just my opinion” is no defence
Where there is a moral, legal or social duty or a public interest in reporting
This refers to reporting the likes of court hearings and council meetings
Reporting must be fair and accurate; missing bits out will land you in trouble
Whole court hearings must be reported otherwise you could be found in contempt of court
This refers to the ability to print everything that goes on in a court hearing or in Parliament
Even defamatory statements can be published without the re-publication rule applying
This supposedly over-rides everything else including injuctions
Contempt of court still applies if you don’t present a fair and balanced view of proceedings
You must make it clear a case is ongoing and previous articles about a case should really link to one about the outcome
The defence that despite publishing inaccurate accusations it can be acceptable if it was deemed to be responsible journalism
It comes from the case of Reynolds vs. Times Newspapers Ltd where the court established the Reynolds factors
This is the “I didn’t see it” defence though as soon as notification of libellous content is found, it should be removed otherwise you may be held responsible
It’s important to have Terms & Conditions for commenters that hand over the copyright of whatever they right to you so that you may edit/remove their comments
If a person has consented to defamatory material about him or her being published, that is an absolute defence – remember to have evidence though!
We touched on regulation, too. Check out the NUJ which aims to promote ethical standards in journalism amongst other things, and also the EFF which seeks to defend the rights of bloggers and citizens in the digital world.
That’s it. If I’ve missed anything important, please let me know, and here is Paul’s presentation;
“Based on usage patterns and feedback, we’ve learned most people want to see when someone they follow replies to another person they follow… however, receiving one-sided fragments via replies sent to folks you don’t follow… is undesirable.”
See it yet? He said most people. That means a majority. It means that some aren’t like that. That means changing it will be bad for that minority.
Consider this change from Twitter to be entered into the 101 of how to piss off your users.
It’s all about choice. Give people choice and they will reward you with their loyalty, respect and recommendations.
Take features away or make life harder and they will scream, shout, complain and generally bang your door down.
“Top media laywer Mark Stephens” was quoted saying, “I suspect the husband’s lawyers will claim it was an invasion of privacy that will cost him his marriage and Range Rover.”
He may well lose his marriage and precious shagg wagon but it’s not Street View that’s brought that cost upon him, he’s done that all on his own.
And here, my patient readers, is where my point comes in.
The internet is an open and democratic medium. Get filmed, photographed or otherwise captured doing something you shouldn’t and you could well face the consequences.
It’s not the fault of the internet, of Google, of ISPs or of web site owners. It’s your fault.
Moaning about having your ‘privacy invaded’ because you got caught humping your cleaner thanks to the internet is akin to complaining that you got caught speeding because you happened to have been followed by an un-marked Police car.
The solution is quite simple: don’t do anything you wouldn’t want anyone knowing about. Especially cheating on your wife!
And guess what, the same applies (even more so, in fact) to companies.
On an almost daily basis my twitterstream contains tweets pertaining to bad customer service. I always worry for those companies. I wish, for their sake, that they’re monitoring Twitter, and the rest of the web.
If not, they are potentially letting their reputation sink lower and lower. As tools like Twitter, Facebook and Get Satisfaction gain traction, more and more people are making themselves heard. Word of mouth as a communication medium has rocketed to new heights.
So, if you’re a business do two things right now.
Smarten up. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t mind the world knowing about.
Keep an eye on what’s happening to your brand online. Failure to do so could result in a seriously damaged reputation.
But as recent talk has shown, some MPs don’t quite get social media and aren’t quite doing it right. They can’t see the benefits, which is probably one reason for the Government’s search for a Director of Digital Engagement to co-ordinate public engagement through the use of digital technologies.
In the meantime, I thought I’d help our MPs out a bit with some quick pointers on using Twitter. I’ll start off with the benefits.
What are the benefits of using Twitter to engage with the public?
Accessibile – constituents can connect with you how they want, making you more accessible to them.
Immediate – Twitter is a very time-sensitive animal meaning both you and constituents can get quick answers to quick questions.
Democratic – the broadcast nature of Twitter gives you the opportunity to consult your constituents. Not sure which way to vote on an issue? Tweet the vote and ask constituents what they want.
So how do you go about using Twitter to do that?
Obviously, you need a Twitter account. That’s a fairly straight forward process.
Next, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to use Twitter. There is Twitter itself or you can use one of the many Twitter clients. To get you going, here’s some recommendations;
On Nokia phones, either Tweete within the phone’s web browser or install Twibble.
So now you’re all set up it’s time to start tweeting. Tweet about the work you’re doing in the community, issues you are thinking about, discussions in the commons and anything else that your constituents might like to hear about. There is little about to help the public find out what MPs are up to, so giving them that information through Twitter will likely be welcomed with open arms.
You can also use clients like Tweetdeck, or use Twitter search, to set up searches of places in your constituency that you can monitor. This approach will help you to find constituents with grievances and connect with them. Showing your presence alone should enhance your reputation, using Twitter to address issues will put you in very good stead.
When it comes to followers, please don’t feel you need to follow everyone. You’re not expected to read everyone’s tweets. The most important thing is that you pick up on @replies and respond to them, just like you pick up on letters and e-mails.
Hopefully that’s helped you get on the ladder and for those already there, I hope it’s helped you to use Twitter more effectively. Obviously you can use the comments or tweet me for more help and advice, if you need it.
A great opportunity for the AdSense team at Google to get instant feedback on what people are finding difficult so that they can make some improvements.
There could be lots of people talking about your product or service not just on Twitter but throughout the web. Are you finding them and addressing their concerns? The impact on your reputation either way could be dramatic.
According to LinkedIn, I am now the proud owner of a company.
How so? Because I told them I was.
Why did they believe me? Because they didn’t bother to check.
I gave them an e-mail address that in no way resembling the company’s web address and in return they let me create and play around with the company profile.
As I write this I’m searching around my head for ways that LinkedIn could verify company employees but as yet my brain is returning a 404 (wow, that was geeky).
Luckily for LinkedIn the company is a client of mine and I’m simply in the process of managing their on line presence, which includes making sure we’re in control of LinkedIn.
However, I just went looking for a couple of competitors and found they hadn’t built their company profiles yet. If I was a lesser man I might do it for them with my own “special” twist. Others might not be so kind.
This, if you ask me, is really scary. Every company out there needs to hurry up and get their LinkedIn profile sorted. Otherwise, you might find someone else doing it for you.
In fact, links pages themselves are a particularly bad idea, unless they are in context (a corporate partners page, for example).
In the thread, a few posters encourage editing the links directory, leaving only those links that are relevant. Ensuring the links are relevant to your visitors is kind of obvious, but what nobody seems to have touched upon is whether they are actually useful.
If you have a site about widgets then a links page listing other sites that focus on widgets would seem like a logical move, but would it be useful to your visitors? Lists of links is a very blind way of exploring the web, hence why the search engines stole market share from the directories so well.
Much better is to have links to relevant sites in a contextual way, where it makes sense. For example, on a page about custom widgets, links to custom widget manufacturers or examples of custom widgets can be included within the normal flow of content. The links are likely to be much more helpful to the visitors when presented this way.
A couple of posters in the thread talk about a quota for reciprocal links versus one-way links. Using such a system is also a bad idea. The only way links can be completely natural (and therefore arouse no suspicion from the search engines) is to be measured entirely qualitiatively. Using a quota is an attempt at using a single quantative target to match an algorithm that looks at numerous qualitiative and quantitative factors.
If you have a links page, think about whether those links serve the needs of your visitors. If they do, think about how they could be incorporated into the content throughout the site to better serve those needs. Then do what makes the most sense and forget about search engines!