Tagged: Twitter

Being the Content Owner


I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. (So that’s a bizarre start let’s see how I tie that into a talk about content creation.) I don’t do them, I think that they are mostly a waste of time. In my entire life I have met very few people who stick by them, so they seem to be a whim, a whimsy, a pipe dream, unrealistic.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like resolutions. Leigh makes them each year, but they are goals that she thinks through, and gods bless her she tries her damnedest to stick by them. She tries so hard that she will often complete them in a different year, keeping at that same resolution until it is done.

I am not like that. I will fail if I do a resolution that way, my attraction and enthusiasm will quickly wane. I have to think a bit more about any resolution I do. Often it takes me into mid-January to do so.

Which is why it was part way through January 2013 before I realised I wanted to be the content owner and not just the content producer and that would be the challenge I faced in that year.

A Bit More Context

In 2012 I was using Instagram quite a lot and really liking it. I enjoyed taking snaps and sharing them with my slowly growing audience and engaging with the others I found on there.

When Facebook purchased them I cared little as to me the services were already integrated and it meant little. Then there was a small perturbation, a changing of the rules which meant that the ownership of images gained a new meaning. Facebook didn’t take away ownership, however they did alter the potential display and usage. This made me close my account as I felt it was a freedom I didn’t want to lose.

However it got me thinking. I shared lots on Facebook, flickr, Twitter etc., and all of this was in the realm of less-owned. All the material was in a grey area that was becoming murkier as the services themselves evolved.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t blaming these services or having a knee-jerk response, though at first there was enough of that particularly angsty state, I was genuinely concerned at my position.

I wasn’t the content owner anymore, just the content producer.

Being the Owner

I like producing content and I have no issue with sharing that content as much as i can. I guess I am a cheerful self-promoter and attention slut. But, sharing original content, and owning original content have now become a mixed field with shifting boundaries and I wanted to make it very clear what material I owned, what i just produced (releasing some control) and that which I shared (which I know I would have the least control over).

So I became a content owner.

I started in January last year a ritual of only producing material to my blogs (of which I have several) and then sharing those links to the social media networks. Any material shared directly to the sites would be items i had little to no care in regards to the ownership. I wanted to produce less original media, or long text, that was published in an original context to these sites.

It is the reason I first decided to PAY for Flickr, so that I more closely control my output.

This was most relevant to pictures of the kids and family. I didn’t want to be in a position where they could be used as a part of a ‘fair usage’ terms of service agreement that I had no control over.

My blogs, except for the Tumblr account, are all self-hosted so the ownership is very clear, the material is now under my ownership and remains there. The allowance for the sites to use them is only b the nature of them being linked and appearing as a context-relational thumbnail. I have moved from producer to owner.

Creative Commons

This, by the way, does not contradict my belief in open sharing of content. I still love the idea of Creative Commons and Open Media. I admire those people who produce great content to share with others and have relied on them for much material that i have used in the past.

I still produce content for these sites as well.

This was about choice. This was about taking back the control and the ownership instead of unwittingly handing it to others. If I appear to sound like I am either criticising those sites, or people who are happy to share their material on those sites it is unintended. i think it is a choice that you make, a decision. I just make my resolutions slowly and I try to stick to them.


The final bit of fun for you all, here is a series of graphs I produced to show the amount of material I pushed to various blogs last year. Please bear in mind that many of these are picture posts hid amongst the longer written articles. if I get bored I will do a word count and let you know how many words were produced, but that’s a job for a very boring afternoon.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 07.49.44 Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 07.50.02 Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 07.49.56 Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 07.49.35 Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 07.48.54

Back to the Grind

It has been a while since I was writing regularly to this blog. The world of social media and Twitter seem to have taken me in their grasp and I have left the longer pieces to dwell in the recesses of my mind, well hopefully this will change and I will take the thrust up again.

I have been writing some long pieces, alongside the Tweets and Status updates, I have managed to keep writing to the per.ly blog and the Shadowcat News page, but not so much on the personal side.

This month I also wrote a really long (about 9,000 words) article on the 25th Anniversary of Perl that today made it to the front page of Slashdot, for which I am a little happy – not too much that might crack my modesty circuit and remove me from the Bashful Societies Yearbook.

Screen Shot 2012-12-19 at 16.07.42

Anyway, that’s the few status words updated, hopefully there will be more soon.


(Twitter Etiquette)

Okay so I saw this tweet (I removed the names and some of the details):

“Please stop retweeting your ——. They’re spoiling my time line.”*

And my reaction is now, “frack you, stop following them”. So why do I have this reaction?

I guess it is because of a few reasons and just let me spill out my thoughts in a lazy edit of semi-stream-of-consciousness.

1. There is a sort of understanding that when you follow someone you may disagree with what they say, so you say so to them.

2. You chose to follow them, if they piss you off, choose to unfollow them.

3. Isn’t it rude to tell people what they can Tweet about? I see tweets from the profound to the moronic, and my decision on what determines their importance is just that, my decision. My level of engagement. My opinion. It isn’t the opinion of the tweeter, it shouldn’t be the opinion of the tweeter. They get to make that themselves, if I don’t like it…unfollow.

4. If it is a retweet, you can still argue back, or say you don’t like the comment, but telling them what they can or can not post is wrong.

5. It could be tedious, it could be highly offensive, but the world is a vast collection of those things and we all have our levels of judging them. I might find peoples evasive use of polite language which masks their inner true beliefs more offensive than hate rhetoric, I might hate anyone talking about Pokemon, it doesn’t matter, I should still allow them to have that opinion and choose whether I follow or listen to it. But I don’t get to decide if they have the rights to their opinions, no matter how much I might disagree or agree with them. Equality of opinion is a burden as well as a blessing, there are costs to liberties.

I am of the opinion that there is a ‘twittequette’, you can use the social medium to block and ignore some things and if they roll out more filters maybe you’ll be able to block more, and you can also scan and hide Tweets, so asking someone to moderate their responses just because you think it spoils something is just wrong.

I have in the past been accused of posting -too many- things. Once was a mistake in judgement and I was politely called on it, the second I warned that I was going to Twitter-Bomb a set of posts so people could choose to ignore me for an hour or so, the third wasn’t so nice. Frankly I was called up for not being interesting basically, and so i have this level of bile that wells up to Tweets like this, and I think that this is rude and you should consider what you are saying…or not, hell it’s your 140 characters 🙂

(end rant).

* btw, I think in this case the original tweeter was being sarcastic, but it still gave me my knee jerk response.


Do what thou wilt…

(Caution this post contains personal opinion, emotional choice and casually rambling rhetoric, a shorter version can be found at http://mdk.per.ly/2011/08/07/do-what-thou-wilt/)

I was asked, online in Twitter(1) by a friend (@techpractical is their  twitter ident) if I would support their efforts to form a LGBT.pm. So a bit of knowledge for those of you who don’t understand what that is, LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transsexual; .pm is shorthand for a Perl Mongers group as they use the domain identifier .pm.org for the groups these are usually regional groups who meet up to be part of their local technical community, hence london.pm.org and northwestengland.pm.org.

@techpractical had decided that Perl needed a specific group to represent these people, now as I mentioned above the .pm groups are traditionally regional matters but there are precedents for their being other types of groups as shown by the drinkers.pm and Dahut.pm groups amongst others.

I think that he was approaching me for a couple of reasons, I am the Managing Director of Shadowcat who are known for supporting the community and community efforts, I am the organiser and co-organiser of a number of conferences and events, I am the Chair for the Perl Foundation Marketing Committee, I am a Director and Secretary for the Enlightened Perl Organisation and I think I have a reputation for helping people to get things done and supporting other people’s efforts to improve the community for everyone.(4) There is also the fact that we know each other socially which might also be the only reason.(5) Of course the possibility exists that it is none of these reasons whatsoever or a subset of them that I haven’t considered.

My initial response via Twitter  (scroll to the end of the article for the tweets) was to clearly state that there were precedents for having groups that were not location based but based on identity or lifestyle so I had to support that. That is when I hit the usual ‘140 characters is not nearly long enough for a good response’ as it seemed a cold response. I sounded as if I supported a general concept based on the fact that there was historical bias. I wasn’t. I was trying to indicate that we had a good case for it in the first part and that identity based Monger groups already existed. The Perl community supports at least two identity based Monger groups to my knowledge (6). There is the infamous ‘drinkers.pm’ who meet at conferences and troll the bars after the event has finished, in this way they do become a geographical group when they meet but they are divergent otherwise. Then there is ‘Dahut.pm’ who organised the 2011 YAPC::NA conference and are comprised mostly of organisers. I could also mention that unlike most other groups my own northwestengland.pm covers a whole region and not just a city due to the diversity of locations we all reside in.

So in my very next tweet I mentioned that the subject needed support and that this would be a good way of showing the support for equality in our community. Now in my head I can run a lot of arguments for and against supporting such an issue and most of it is political or aimed at personal sensitivities, I am not entirely comfortable with listing them all as many of them are positions i have no favour for and wouldn’t promote them even in an abstract example for a sensible argument.

I can, however, make a very good case for equality and the representation of such that bears a simple and pragmatic understanding. I have always liked to think that no two people are equal, it is hard in my mind to make that assessment. I am not equal to my wife in looks, intelligence and general musical skills and she doesn’t have my arrogance, pedantry or strength (she also lacks my knowledge of Doctor Who)(7). Some of these distinctions are genetic, some are environmental, but they are still differences, they are what marks us all out as unique beings. This also mixes a qualitative argument with Sophistry on the nature of equals, can you define equal by matching elements of testable cogency, practical/physical examination and individual taste? However, and despite that cul-de-sac, we all have the right to be treated as equals and in regards to any organisation whether governmental or otherwise we should be afforded those same rights.

Though I should still relate that I have a concern that we might appear to be over politicising the Monger groups and a distributed community of interest is not the place to create communities and pseudo communities based on identity.(8) One could respond that it is impossible to remove identity from community and that we already share these things and it is why and how we form such close bonds. One could equally argue that this is just a feature of similar interest not identity or lifestyle choice which is arguably what this group would be(9). So we return to an over politicising stance, we are using the community to highlight, comment upon and correct, what can be seen as a broader societal problem.

However, I am not opposed to there being some political stance, this isn’t about posturing or forcing people to accept that stance it is about recognising it exists. We have a community that has members who clearly identify with this issue, some of us live in a society and mix in cultures that classifies these people with derogatory labels, reduces their rights and in some locales criminalises their behaviour.(11) If we are to allow people the right to form groups that have a similarity based upon the worship of that sweet nectar we call alcohol we have to allow groups that identify themselves with mythical beasts amongst other ways. It is progressive to be inclusive and not exclusive, it is also a natural evolution of a community, from a community of interest to one that shares identity and celebrates individuality and the choices of it’s members.

Now an anecdote and something I normally do not like to think about. I am going to wander towards my youth and a confession upon it. When I was younger I had my perceptions challenged and I realised a horrible truth about myself that I forced myself to change. I was presented in a social psychology class(12) with a video of two men kissing deeply on a high street and the narration casually declared that most people were uncomfortable viewing this image(13), I didn’t find that surprising as I knew I was uncomfortable seeing it at that point. It hadn’t really struck me before as I had never seen two men passionately kissing in a public place. I guess, to my lasting shame, that this was at that time a mild homophobia. A product of environment if we are kind, and in all respects thoroughly wrong. Like most apparent heterosexual men in the western world I was quite happy with two women kissing passionately as the stereotyped fascination was already thoroughly ingrained into me, but not two blokes kissing.

I felt ashamed on that day, and not mildly but deeply as I had always felt that I saw people for who they were and judged them on their deeds, not their sexuality or gender. I had friends who were gay and I realised they were never affectionate in public society as much as other people were, in fact they seemed to never be that affectionate when with friends. I discussed this class with them at the time and realised I was a moron, I had never looked at the expressions on other people’s faces when they walked hand in hand in a public place. Was I one of those people?

This was less than two decades ago. I decided then that I would ditch that attitude as that was not the person I wanted to be and I don’t believe it was the person my mother raised me to be. It wasn’t as easy a task as it should have been, I would love to tell you that my stance changed overnight, it didn’t, attitudes are hard to shift even if you don’t like them, but I did change. So I guess I emote these days with this argument, I don’t want to live in a world that has these attitudes built in to it. I don’t care if you choose to be a homophobe, I allow you that choice even if I think it is wrong. In fact, being the arrogant pedant I am I might even defend your right to be an arse. But, I do care that people are made into arses without being exposed to a world where that attitude is seen as a choice and hopefully an unpleasant one. So when asked to support lifestyle choice, and the freedom to express and to encourage participation based on identity then I have to support it.(14)



Post Scriptum: The request was officially accepted and there is indeed now a LGBT.pm (http://www.pm.org/groups/757.html)

Original Tweets

(Reprinted here for reference)

Evening of the 20th Jun:
@shadowcat_mdk i think a lgbt.pm group might be good for perl. thoughts?
34 minutes ago

@techpractical we have groups such as Dahut.pm and drinkers.pm, it is established that some groups are identity not location. I support it.
14 minutes ago in reply to techpractical

@techpractical also, lgbt is a huge societal issue that needs to be embraced by all communities, damed right that we recognise/support this.
12 minutes ago in reply to techpractical

@techpractical perfdave is very connected with these issues politically iirc, so I think we can conscript his support.
10 minutes ago in reply to techpractical

@techpractical @shadowcat_mdk: Count me in.
10 minutes ago in reply to techpractical

Morning of the 21 Jun:
@shadowcat_mdk he’s on here as @davepa ge_ld . I’m happy to set up up the group with your support

@shadowcat_mdk and if shadowcat could donate space for a website and mailist lists ,this would be even better 🙂

@techpractical would be honoured to provide space and a mailing list.


(1) It struck me at the time that Twitter timeline was such a public place to be asked and that my life has changed so rapidly with the continuing march of technology. There was a time when I would have never have started a discussion about what I may or may not support in a public forum, mostly because I wouldn’t have been in that forum being a naturally shy person(2), now it seems normal(3).

(2) I really am that shy, honest, I just don’t come across that way, partly because of my current life/work/social matrices and partly because shy people tend to be gregarious and loud to combat the shyness.

(3) There is probably a longer post somewhere about how much I have changed my opinion and how this has been affected by my exposure to technology.

(4) I know many people reading this know that list but I was trying to engage all readers, also you have to list the reasons people approach you rather than it just being a random conversation on Twitter between two people. I should also state that @techpratical is a well-known member of his local .pm group and a well respected coder and contributor to the community. He also is a cheerful and vocal campaigner for rights.

(5) If of course that was the only reason then I do apologise for the above self-grandising speculation.

(6) Thou the official bias is not recorded here as I am not sure who makes an ‘official’ decision on these matters, well I know of them but I cannot speak for them or any position they consider official.

(7) A tad modest but bears a lot of truth as well. I do consider my wife more intelligent than me in that she has an ability to structure her thoughts in a far more cogent fashion, I can construct a faster argument and pull from more diverse sources, but that is a matter of being wider read. She is more attractive, goes without saying there is photographic evidence to support this and she is musically talented, she plays the trumpet, the piano, has a beautiful singing voice and I sound like a goose farting in the fug and have yet to master the intricacies of the triangle.

(8) Computer languages, and in particular Per,l is our principal shared passion in the .pm groups but because of their nature they evolve and include other shared elements. So we have a “Community of Interest” that shares an over riding shared passion that has pseudo-communities and geographical relationships a s a distinct part of its make up, but we have also evolved true community and familial relationships from our interaction and from the natural evolution of a community. Covered a little more in my presentation “I <3 My Community”.

(9) Please note that I do not consider sexual orientation to be a “lifestyle choice” and evaluating it in that manner is facile and quite stunningly insulting. Choosing to like Star Trek, dress as Spock and attend conventions is a lifestyle choice, the complex dynamic of socio-cultural forces that shapes your sexuality (and I am ignoring genetics as that is a whole different and treacherous kettle of sharks) can not be reduced to a choice! “Oh darling, I am so bored with watching typically hetro TV shows, I am going to try my hand at being queer so that i might watch musicals and sing freely the greatest hits of Abba”(10).

(10) Gay gags of the 1980s reunited in the one location.

(11) It is for reasons like these that I find the need to be proactive and make action to overcome these actions.

(12) The class was part of an introductory module in my first year at university. I had never before then considered myself to hold any attitude towards/against gay people or anyone having a right to choose, I felt comfortable with my position as i had a gay uncle so that surely qualified me as being fine with the world as I never thought bad of him for his sexual orienation.

(13) This was in the days afore Brokeback and “gay cowboys eating pie”.

(14) Barring those whose lifestyle choice is to be a part of a group that removes the choices from others of course, old Wicca standard, “do what thou wilt, without harm”. But, seriously I can support just about anything that allows people the right to choose but not the stance that if you support it will remove that right, there has to be basic rights we all have.(15)

(15) I am not a Wiccan I just like the phrase, I guess we could also use “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

More Twittering

How fickle and pointless I have become, I found myself recently responding to various celebrities, not because I wanted to comment on something interesting they had said, but to see if I could be re-tweeted by them. All this because a few people I know had been retweet by a celeb. How sad is my behaviour.

Please, don’t answer that, it is sad. I normally just reply to whomever I follow when spurred by what they write, but I found myself watching the one or two celebs I follow more keenly and responding to them more, perhaps not as much as some of my other Tweeples, but definitely more than I had done previously.

Well, now I have caught myself I will stop. I promise, cross my heart and…ooooh a chance to respond to Ben Goldacre, gotta go…

Trending Nonsense


Does anyone who is even remotely sane follow the trending topics by looking at the actual responses anymore. My basic issue is this:

  1. You see a trending topic;
  2. You open the link to view;
  3. You read the first few replies and realise at least two of them are retweets;
  4. You look up and notice at least 20 new tweets have been added in the time it took you to read three;
  5. You try to make a tweet, but your words are lost in the miasma of retweets, inane comments, WTFs etc.;
  6. You give up on looking…

So I do not understand why anyone bothers with them at all. What do people get by making something trend. Okay I know that things will trend just by being mentioned, but a lot of people make them trend by insisting on using the # (which is fine to use), or by using the appropriate keyword that is trending. We all have at least some mastery of English, it is easy not to use the word and avoid trending the inane.

Basically trending topics give analysts an idea of the public consciousness, apparently, and I say ‘apparently’  as I have noticed that they in fact are not the zeitgeist of the modern persona but an inflation of a small section. Take, for example, that during the coverage of the Earthquake near Japan one of the trending topics was PearlHarbour. The tweets were split between the offensive “this is revenge/karma for Pearl Harbour”, to the angry “how can people compare this to Pearl Harbour” and the various millions who retweeted. It made it look as if this was a hot topic of division.

It wasn’t really, it was mostly over-reaction from both sides leading to a spurious heated exchange lost in the wealth of pointless retweets and insults. The trending topic is the new internet flame war, Twitter allows us to vent our spleen in much tidier packages that can distill the essence of our bile and render ineffective any viewpoint we have.

How can we analyse and debate anything in a mere 140 characters. Twitter is a great tool for an instant thought, or linking something of importance, but it is nano-blogging, there is no scope for reflection.

The trending topic has become a parody, it no longer shows the pattern of public feeling, more the shoaling of minnows with little voice. Yes, from a distance a lot of shouting may appear to be a great tide of opinion, but when all they are doing is chanting to a tune you realise it is just an audience at a spectator sport.

“You’re shit and you know you are” (endless repeat)
“Who’s the b*stard in the black” (and many other varieties)
“We’re all bald impotent w*nkers with girlfriends who remain sexually unfulfilled” (truthful option)