Category Archives: Social media

Registering changes in language and technology

The December issue of Business Information Review should be available to download in a couple of weeks, and hard copies will be posted shortly after. One of the highlights of the journal is Martin White’s Perspectives column, which in the December issue explores the theme of Language, communities and virtual working. This raises a question about how technology changes language, and how that affects business processes and our working lives.
One of the most prolific commentators on technological changes to language is David Crystal. Over a long and distinguished career as a linguist, Crystal has written number of accessibly books about the changes to language that technology brings about. These include Language and the Internet (2001) and Txting: The gr8 Deb8 (2008).  Through these works, Crystal attempt to counter widespread anxieties about the damage to language done by the internet, video games, and mobile phones  typified by Robert Winson’s book Bad Ideas? (2010).  You can get a sense of Crystal’s arguments from this video:
Technology may not be destroying language, but it does change language, and this does have profound consequences for the ways in which we communicate in a business context. Over the past twenty years for example we have seen a massive diversification of contexts within which writing is used – emails, SMS, Twitters, virtual worlds, online gaming, blogs, wikis, and so on – the list is almost endless. Each of these brings with it a series of social conventions about the appropriate form language to use – the appropriate linguistic register. We have also seen writing used in many contexts that would previously have been reserved for the spoken word. How many of the emails we receive every day would have been sorted with a phone call twenty years ago? How much ambiguity arises out of the fact that writing now dominates business and professional communication, and writing lacks the linguistic clues carries by gesture, expression, and tone of voice of the written word?
One of the key skills that employers often state new career entrants lack is writing and communications skills. However, my experience as an educator has been that it is not skills in using language effectively that many young people lack, but skills in understanding and adopting the appropriate linguistic register.  And this is understandable perhaps not only because the conventions of communications have shifted to a more informal register over time, but also because those conventions are more fluid as a consequence of the diversification of communications channels. Everyone knows how to open and sign-off a business letter, but practices in opening and signing-off business emails vary wildly. There is little doubt that business communication has become more informal over time, but that dividing line between the appropriate use of more formal and more informal registers has in many contexts become quite difficult to discern. As channels of communication continue to grow more diverse the conventions will almost certainly become less fixed, and the difficulties of adopting the appropriate register will undoubtedly grow.

Luke Tredinnick

Social Network Analysis (SNA) and LIS research

Louise Cooke and Hazel Hall have published an article in Journal of Documentation exploring the potential value of SNA in library and information science research.  Here’s the abstract:

Social Network Analysis (SNA) is a research approach that focuses on relationships among social entities, and the patterns and implications of these relationships. This paper reviews the value of SNA as a method appropriate to research in the domain of Library and Information Science (LIS). In addition to offering a brief overview of the academic antecedents of modern-day SNA, the relevance of SNA to LIS research is illustrated through the presentation of a case study.

The paper cites an article by Bonnie Cheuk (on SNA and knowledge transfer, published in BIR in 2007) and also develops ideas presented by Hall, Irving and Cruikshank in BIR in 2012.

If you would like to read the article, the published version can be accessed from JDoc contents page on the Emerald web site (non-subscribers to Emerald will need to pay a fee to reach the full text). The full-text of the manuscript is available also available and free to download.

The coolness of social media produces an analysis of Britain’s ‘coolest’ brands and has just released its latest findings.  Brands may be nominated by members of the public and the coolest are selected by an expert council and members of the public before the top brands are identified.
Coolness, as Coolbrands admits, is subjective.  The judging criteria they use are:
·         Style
·         Innovation
·         Originality
·         Authenticity
·         Desirability
·         Uniqueness
(Usefulness, value or impact do not seem to get a look-in.)
The latest top 10 features Apple, BBC’s iPlayer, Google, Twitter and YouTube.  (Luxury brands such as Aston Martin, Liberty and Bang and Olufsen also appear).   ‘Attractions and the arts’ features as a category (cool brands in this category include the Glastonbury Festival and the Royal Albert Hall). 
Unfortunately libraries do not feature at all, even though there are innovative, stylish and unique libraries out there.   

Using social media to find business information

In social media for company research, (BIR 28, 3) Scott Brown described how three key social media tools (LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube) can be used to locate key business information.

Scott is also a blogger for the SLA and in his latest blog post he presents a case study on searching for information about Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands (Philips) using ‘non-traditional sources such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

Twitter analytics tool

Twitter has announced the imminent launch of Twitter Web Analytics, a tool designed to help users monitor the flow of traffic from Twitter to their websites.

The tool will help website owners assess website traffic driven by Twitter, as well as the level of content sharing across the Twitter user network.

Twitter Web Analytics is currently being tested by a pilot group, and should be rolled later this year.

Microblogging in business contexts

Euan Semple’s latest newsletter is full, as ever, of useful and interesting ideas and references. In particular, his link to this article will no doubt be of interest to many people who are challenged with proving the value of social media – and microblogging in particular – in the workplace.

Written by Elizabeth Lupfer and published on Social Media Today the article summarises and provides links to more that 40 success stories/case studies on the use of microblogging in a wide range of organisations. The stories are grouped by business need/outcomes, ranging from process improvement to ideas generation.

In December’s issue of BIR, we published an article by Loudon and Hall about the usage of Twitter in library and information services provision.

New opportunities for LIS skills

Expertise in social media is growing in the LIS profession (watch out for the article by Hazel Hall in the December issue). At the same time, demand for social media consultants is rising in the UK (See Twitter is boosting the jobs market, claims The number of businesses looking for “Twitter consultants” to help them exploit the messaging service has grown by 300per cent this year, says the online recruitment company. Facebook advisors and YouTube experts are also needed to advise business on how to make better use of social media services particularly in sales and marketing. Perhaps this demand will provide new opportunities for information professionals?

Social activism via social media

In this week’s New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell, author of, among other titles, Blink and The Tipping Point considers the nature of social activism and argues that social media tools are not reinventing activism.

He argues that to compare campaign engagement via social media such as Twitter with the courage of ‘true activists’, giving the civil rights movement as an example.

“Where activists were once defined by their causes, they are now defined by their tools” he argues.

Naturally, the debate is taken up in the New Yorker’s Room for Debate. Well worth a visit to read the full article and the resultant debate.

Contact synching – that sinking feeling

Alexandra Samuel blogs entertainingly for the Harvard Business Review on information and social media issues. In her quest for a ‘master rolodex’ she wonders why it is so difficult to synchronise her contacts and discovers that, as with so many things, it’s simple (to request), but it ain’t easy (to deliver!).

She speaks to Joseph Smarr, who moved from Plaxo to Google where he focuses on the social web. Smarr outlines the technological challenges, but urges consumers to pressure companies for change to make their data work and link how they want. When discussing Buzz, Smarr acknowledges that some people responded with surprise and dismay. In February 2010, Phil Bradley blogged that Google had failed to understand that a good social media product should be designed first and foremost to make the user’s life easier and that Buzz was a failure in this respect. Only six weeks later, he reports how interest in Buzz has fallen sharply and that he is continuing to rely on tried, tested and trusted Facebook and Twitter.

And the wait for a synching tool continues.

Tools for social engagement

Sarah Hammond is the founder of, an organisation that seeks to facilitate communication between the police and the public. In a Guardian interview , Hammond suggests that a key challenge for the UK police force is ‘getting’ social media and appreciating how it can be used to engage positively with the public. It’s another example of large organisations failing to comprehend the power of new communication tools.

It will be interesting to see how Hammond’s vision of ‘consumer-focused data’ is realised and how MyPolice collaborates with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Contabulary to generate useful, consumer friendly, information.