Social Media Update 08.04.10

3D Google Maps

3D Street View!

3D Street View

As this appeared on the 1st April, you could be forgiven for thinking it was just an April Fool’s joke. However, the functionality stuck around for an entire week, leaving many confused. It was fun while it lasted, and perhaps at some point they’ll come up with a useful application for this technology.

Pixels (well, voxels, technically)

Picking up on the trend of 80s nostalgia, this short film from Patrick Jean and One More Production has been spreading like wildfire. If you’ve ever wanted to see Space Invaders take over New York, or Donkey Kong on the Empire State Building, this one is for you. (Thanks to Holly for drawing this my attention.)

Uniqlo’s UTweet

I love Uniqlo. Not so much for their clothes, but for their superlative social media skills. The UTweet microsite simply chooses a selection of tweets about you (or your chosen keywords) and inserts them into a little movie – at the end, you can tweet them, share them, see other people’s or try it again. Easy. Thousands of tweets and retweets already.


We’ve all heard about the scandalous passing of the Digital Economy Bill. Skeptobot wrote a gloriously vituperative post on the matter:
“A handful of MPs ignored democracy in their attempts to control that which they don’t understand… Those wishing to censor ideas have been given a most powerful weapon. Culture will suffer. Whilst creators will gain nothing.”
Not only do most MPs not really understand the bill itself, but our “Minister for Digital Britain” doesn’t even know what an IP address is (apparently, he thinks it stands for Intellectual Property Address – no joke).

“Digital Britain” predictably mobilized itself with a Twitter hashtag (#debill) and an online petition , not that it did any good. Even the BBC noticed that the mainstream media hadn’t really been giving the issue the airtime it deserved:
“In 24 hours, the hashtag #debill appeared 14,400 times on Twitter, as compared to 1,470 tweets using the election hashtag #ge2010. So, does that mean the mainstream media, with its concentration on campaign news, is ignoring the really big story?”
A quick Sysomos analysis comparing noise around #debill with noise on #ge2010 (and #ukelection for good measure) shows a marked disparity between interest in the two topics.

Sysomos graph

Sysomos graph showing tweet volumes for #debill, #ge2010 and #ukelection

Obviously the digitally literate have a vested interest in fighting the Digital Economy Act, and Twitter is not yet representative of the general population. The question is – can campaigners keep up the pressure without being drowned out by the upcoming election struggle?


3 responses to “Social Media Update 08.04.10

  1. To be fair, the campaign against the Digital Economy Bill had a bit more than a hashtag and a petition – over 20,000 people wrote to their MPs about it, and there were live protests attended by hundreds of people. The Open Rights Group even bought full-page ads in the major newspapers, paid for entirely by individual donations. (In response, the BPI also bought newspaper ads the following day, paid for entirely by, um, their members’ massive profits they claim are under threat.)

    That said, the #debill hashtag did become the #3 trending topic *globally* during the hours leading up to the Commons vote.

  2. Yes, it almost makes you proud that it became a #3 trending topic. Then you remember why, and the shame returns.

  3. While it’s crappy that the Bill passed, there have actually been some pretty good outcomes. Chalk one up for the ability of social media to organise and direct people. We took what was initially seen as a niche issue – that only computer nerds and die-hard pirates would care about – and made it mainstream. We convinced national media that real people had real concerns about the Bill, and that the political process was being hijacked; although sadly we didn’t manage to convince the majority of MPs.

    More directly, we created a movement of tens of thousands of people who were worried enough about the Bill to actually take action – spending time writing to their MP, or even donating money. Those people are still around, and now that they’ve seen their MP ignore their concerns, they’re hopefully even more pissed off.

    This kind of special-interest-driven legislation is going to get much harder to pull off. MPs are going to be watched more closely, and there’s already a campaign to ban secret backroom discussions with industry.

    So while the story of the Digital Economy Bill itself has been a mockery of democracy from start to finish, the response to it might well point the way toward the future of British democracy.

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