Social media

How to build an online community

Last Sunday I attended a Guardian Masterclass on building online communities. On the work dollar of course, and all for the sake of the project we’ve been working on for over a year.

Overall it was a good day with some excellent speakers and interesting coffee break chat (surprising given that we were all clearly missing our usual Sunday lie-in!). My stream-of-consciousness notes are below, and you can also follow more from the live tweets from the day on #socialconf. Continue reading “How to build an online community”

Social media

Social media sessions Part 4: New social networks and YouTube

The final sessions in my social media series introduced the many new networks on the scene and a closer look at one often forgotten as a social network, yet one of the biggest websites on the planet.

The New Social Networks

New social media channels spring up all the time, but what are they and which are worth dabbling in? This session covered:

  • Google+

  • Pinterest

  • Instagram

  • Foursquare and Gowalla

  • What’s the next big thing? Branch, Medium, etc.

  • What happened to the oldies? Friends Reunited, Myspace, Bebo, Friendster etc.

Crib sheet:

A Guide to YouTube

A guide to one of the biggest, most influential social networks. It is of course the biggest video sharing/hosting site in the world and actually the second-biggest search engine (after Google) too. Hosted by the Wellcome Trust’s Multimedia Producers Barry Gibb and Chris Chapman, this session gave a practical overview of the platform and many of the social functions people may not know about, as well as a discussion of how people are using it, how we’re using it for the Trust, Wellcome Collection, Wellcome Library and a chance to watch some of the best and most entertaining videos on the web.

Crib sheet:

You can see presentations and crib sheets from the entire social media series of talks here.


Big questions from a first book

XKCD questions
Sadly not the questions in our book

Between December and May this year, my spare time has been spent working furiously on a book. The Big Questions in Science: the quest to solve the great unknowns is a popular science coffee-table book looking at, well, exactly what it says. You can read more about it in this feature we wrote for The Observer.

The book is a joint effort between myself and two friends and fellow science writers, Hayley Birch and Colin Stuart, and it’s now available to buy in hardback to decorate your fine shelves, prop up your wonky tables and, of course, entertain and enlighten you with our fine prose.

Shit just got real.

The book came about after the three of us pitched similar ideas through our agent and our publisher, Carlton Books, were interested enough to take a punt. The subject matter is inherently fascinating, giving an excuse to delve deep into questions we ourselves would like to know the answers to. And given how I spend much of my day job editing or in meetings, it was GREAT to exercise my writing muscles, particularly at a decent length and for such interesting topics.

Looking back, it’s been one heck of an experience and I’ve certainly learned a lot about the process of book publishing, my writing and myself. Here are a few of my lessons learned: Continue reading “Big questions from a first book”