Grumpy Cat and twerking – popular search terms of 2013

Winners this year include Prince George (the new royal baby), the iPhone 5  and twerking.

US searches

The US top ten of Yahoo search terms is the usual reassuring mix of celebrities (Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber), technology (iPhone 5) and gaming (Minecraft).  For expert editorial analysis you can do no better than Ron Burgundy’s explanatory video available on the Yahoo website.

Bing has also released its analysis of the top US search terms, showing the top tens in a range of categories including most searched for musicians, sports teams and people.  Prince George was Bing’s most searched news story in 2013.

Bing figures also include searches for social media, apps and streaming websites.

US: Pinterest , Harlem Shake and Candy Crush

  • Bing’s figures show that Pinterest has entered its top ten of social media searches for the first time this year and has taken second place, with only Facebook ahead of it.
  • Harlem  Shake was the most popular meme in 2013, followed by Grumpy Cat
  • Candy Crush was the most searched for app, beating Angry Birds into second place

UK Bing searches

  • Twitter has replaced YouTube as the UK’s most searched for social media site
  • Facebook takes fourth place, behind LinkedIn and Skype

Meanwhile, YouTube has released its top trending videos for 2013.  Norway’s The Fox takes top spot, followed by the original Harlem Shake.

Twitter has also released its 2013 review, including this wonderful month-by-month breakdown of top news hashtags and photographs from people on the spot.

The Google top search terms are expected to be released later this year.

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How to be happy – love, friendship and altruism

The Grant Study is a 75-year longitudinal study of Harvard graduates (1939-1944) and ‘disadvantaged’ youths growing up in Boston (1940-1945).  All white American men, the subjects were followed for 68 years.  One of the Harvard graduates was John F Kennedy.

Subjects were evaluated at least every two years using questionnaires, medical records and personal interviews.  Data was gathered about their mental and physical health, career enjoyment and their relationships.

For 40 years, George Vaillant has led the study and written books on the findings. Despite the mass of data and analysis accumulated, Vaillant sums up the key to happiness “Happiness is love. Full stop.”

  • What goes right is more important than what goes wrong
  • A happy childhood is preferable but an unhappy one can be overcome
  • The ability to achieve [emotional] intimacy is the strongest predictor of health and happiness in old age
  • Participants did manage to change over time; many found love and happiness for the first time later in life

Happiness at work

According to new research from Glassdoor, you could also choose to work in one of the happiest workplaces:  Twitter, Facebook and Google score well in the happy workplace charts.

And finally, if you’re a librarian don’t read articles such as this which define librarianship as a dead end job and imply we’d all be a lot better off if we became nutritionists….

Additional source: Huffington Post

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From Selfish Giant to Slumdog Millionaire – lessons from Channel 4 film and drama

Sometimes it is good to step outside of the information echo chamber. 

What can we learn from leaders in another profession – one which seeks to balance creative vision with tight budgets; is challenged by new formats, technology and delivery channels; has to balance multiple stakeholders; is threatened by pirated content, and is working to meet the anytime, anywhere demands of end users?

Tessa Ross is the Controller of Film and Drama for Channel 4 and recipient of the 2013 Bafta award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema’.  Her projects included Slumdog Millionaire, A Field in England, In Bruges and The Selfish Giant.  She came to film via theatre and – speaking at the Olive Till Memorial Lecture* – described a ‘drift’ into her current role rather than a firm plan.  She commissions films for the Channel with a ‘tiny’ budget of £15 million a year.

Her responsibility is to spend that budget wisely and to help people fulfil their creative vision.  Her role requires her to combine creative mentoring, experimentation and risk taking, in depth knowledge of the industry and the people within it, team development and creative matchmaking – and financial and business acumen.

“I think you’re brilliant.  What can I do to help you?”

For Ross, talent rather than the medium is her objective.  The vast majority of projects brought to her will not be made and Channel 4 may not be the right home for everyone’s idea.  But for those that she does work with, her focus is on helping them fulfil their creative vision.  This requires tenacity and sometimes a long-term commitment (One of her recent films, Under the Skin, took 13 years to make it from script to screen).

Channel 4’s remit encourages eclectic storytelling and experimentation.  The recent ‘magic mushroom/civil war’ film A Field in England was the result of an experimental masterclass in making a low budget feature film.  It was released simultaneously on multiple platforms.

Ross works with – and helps to develop – creative talent and her role requires a wide-ranging skill set.  Many members of the audience, the majority of them film students, expressed their interest in working with Channel 4 – and her.  And who wouldn’t want a mentor like that?!

*The Olive Till Memorial Debate and Bursary are presented by Stewart Till CBE, CEO Icon Entertainment and Deputy Chair Skillset, in memory of his mother at Goldsmiths, University of London’.  Previous speakers have included Danny Boyle and Tim Bevan.

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Selfie is the word of the year

“Is this a selfie which I see before me,
The angle toward my hand? Come, let me tweet thee*”

Oxford Dictionaries have announced that their word of the year for 2013 is ‘selfie’.

Over the course of the year, the frequency of the usage of the word selfie (the act of taking a self-portrait) has increased by 17,000%. Several spin-off terms have also emerged, including ‘drelfe’ (a drunken selfie) and ‘welfie’ (a workout selfie).

Once again the word of the year showcases technological and social trends that impact the general consciousness.  (Last year’s words of the year included ‘omnishambles’ and ‘hashtag’.)

Other words shortlisted in 2013 include bitcoin, showrooming and <shudder> twerk.

In the Netherlands Participatiesamenleving – ‘participation society’ – has been named as the word of the year.  One of the runner-up words was socialbesitas – ‘addiction to social media’ – a word which some of us would find useful – and apt!

The German slang word of the year is ‘babo’. It derives from a Turkish word meaning boss or chief.

Selfies – selfish or ‘another way to connect’?

According to mobileYouth, 48% of the photographs posted by UK teenagers to Instragram are selfies.  Graham Brown’s slideshare presentation challenges us to look beyond the surface ‘narcissism’ of the selfie and encourages us to think of it – like Blipfoto – as ‘ordinary people doing ordinary things’.

The Oxford University Press blog explores the history of the self portrait – from early daguerrotypes onwards and *Alice Northover has rewritten Shakespeare for the selfie generation.

Finally, here’s a wonderful selfie image, taken by Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the last Czar of Russia.  One hundred years ago.

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Women at work – quotas, booth babes and clones

Two of Germany’s political parties have reached a policy compromise supporting the ‘Frauenquote’ – a move to regulate the representation of women on the boards of large companies.

The policy would require companies listed on the German stock exchange to have at least 30% women on their boards.  It would also require large firms to publish their plans to ensure more women land top executive roles.

Similar quota policies already exist in Belgium, France, Italy and Spain.

In a blog post on Harvard Business Review, Joan Williams, author of What works for women at work, looks at a recent Gallup poll about people’s attitudes to female bosses.  On the surface, things are looking up.  Of course you would expect more people today to prefer a woman boss – or to have no gender preference – than did 60 years ago.   However, she then highlights a number of research projects which examine the ongoing negative gender dynamics in the workplace.

No matter what your view of the existence – and the need for – quotas, when you read the disheartening comments made in response to a blog post about the use of ‘booth babes’ at an IT exhibition you can’t help but feel that there is still much progress to be made.

Meanwhile a report on the makeup of Swedish boards (by the Albright Foundation) found a distinct lack of diversity.  Most were full of people similar to each other in gender, skills experience or contact networks.  An Albright report from earlier this year shows that there were more board members called Johan in Sweden than there were women board members!

Additional source: The Guardian.  Thanks to @pennyrleach for the booth babe story.

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Paper and digital archives – preserving the present for the future

Germaine Greer, the author and academic, has sold her personal archive for £1.8million.  She is to donate the proceeds to support a rainforest charity.

The archive will be housed by the University of Melbourne in Australia and contains over 150 filing cabinet drawers of correspondence, manuscripts, videos and audio tapes, lecture notes, letters and diaries. Over the years, Greer has corresponded with some of the key thinkers, politicians, writers and actors of the age (Margaret Atwood, Indira Gandhi, Warren Beatty).

Germaine Greer herself has said about archives that they are “the paydirt of history… Everything else is opinion. At a certain point you actually need documents.”

The University of Melbourne archivist (Dr Katrina Dean) said that Greer’s archive had been “meticulously maintained” and some of the correspondence represented “a rich vein of social history on social, sexual and intellectual challenges and changes”.

In a piece for the Independent newspaper (31st October 2013), author Simon Garfield wonders whether this is the last of the great ‘paper-based’ author archives.  Salman Rushdie’s archive, which has been held at Emory University in Atlanta Georgia since 2010, is a mixture of digital and hard copy files.

The University of Melbourne is working to ensure Greer’s archives are available to future researchers and academics.  In 2012/13 the British Library was contemplating the 100 websites it felt should be preserved for future generations.  The websites it chose to preserve would somehow provide a state of the nation/way we live now resource of inestimable value to future researchers and historians.

One of the sites chosen was Blipfoto, a photo journal website which encourages members to take and save one photo a day – with accompanying explanatory text. The website now holds thousands of authentic pictures and stories.  It is, as Hazel Hall has written “…a collective record of human history”. It is images with context and meaning, which sets the site apart from the millions of images being saved (with no metadata) every day on other social media sites.

For a visual of how the size of curated photo collections compare with the mass of photographs on Facebook see the wonderful photograph taken by Starr Hoffman of the CEO of Blipfoto speaking at Internet Librarian International. 

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Teenagers, Facebook and message apps

If teenagers are losing interest in Facebook, where are going – and why?

Facebook’s Q3 earnings statement revealed that it had exceeded its revenue targets.   However, in the company’s accompanying comments it also revealed that it was seeing “a decrease in daily users, specifically among teens”.

As Facebook becomes increasingly popular – even with parents – it is at risk of losing any element of ‘coolness’.  Teenage interest is splintering into a number of other tools and apps, including Instagram, Tumblr, Pheed, Kik and WhatsApp.

There are 2.1 billion mobile device owning young people in the world and 36% of their money is spent on mobile services and products.  They are a big potential market for any social network and a decline in popularity with such an influential group is important.

Piper Jaffray surveyed 5,200 teens of whom 33% said that Facebook was their most important social network.  Although still a high figure, it is down a full 9% in a year.  Twitter is catching up with Facebook (30% reported it as their most important tool).  Tumblr took 17% of the votes.

A preference for mobile message apps

Writing in the Observer newspaper, Parmy Olson discusses teenagers preferences for messaging apps.  Mobile message apps (such as WeChat and WhatsApp) offer private, real time chatting with real friends – without advertising and without broadcasting to an entire network of friends and acquaintances. Message apps are incredibly popular – about 90% of the population of Brazil uses them; three-quarters of Russians, and half of Britons. WhatsApp has over 350 million monthly active users around the world.  The early adopters and power users of these apps are under 25 years old.

The messaging services also offer private sharing of photographs (which teenagers love for a variety of reasons!).  But they are also developing into social media networks in their own right, in Asia in particular.  WeChat, KakaoTalk and LINE have millions of users and provide messaging services, games, music sharing and stickers.

Sources: MobileYouth;  Parmy Olson The Observer;  Forbes; Tyntec.

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Digital romance and relationships

“Living like a 1950s housewife has saved me money, helped me lose weight and kept my marriage strong”.

Leafing despondently through a copy of WI Life, I came across this feature.  The interviewee and her new husband had agreed to spend the first year of their marriage without television, computers or mobile devices.  This radical decision had meant that they now “actually have to talk to each other to communicate”.

A small (and unrepresentative*) survey published in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy looked at how young adults in serious relationships used digital technology in their relationships. The researchers found that young people in a relationship were more likely to use text (rather than social media) to communicate with each other.   They also found that sending a loving text made both sender and recipient feel good about the relationship and those who attempted to resolve arguments via text message were associated with unhappier relationships. 

The Pew Research Center has just published its updated Online Dating and Relationship report (it first began researching this area in 2005).  The latest report explores how social networks and mobile devices are impacting the world of dating.

Key findings

Social networking profiles can contain a wealth of information on potential (or past) partners (relationship status, photographs, hobbies and interests…) and many respondents report doing so:

  • 31% of social network users have ‘checked up’ on someone they used to be in a relationship with
  • This rises to 48% of those aged 18-29

Breaking up can be complicated enough but the sensitive politics of breaking up now have to take social media presence into account.  Many respondents report blocking, unfriending, deleting and untagging their exes.  Women users of social media are much more likely to be doing this, either because a relationship has broken down, or because the other person’s behaviour is making them uncomfortable.   

  • 37% of smartphone users have asked someone out on a date by sending a text message on their cell phone
  • 17% have posted details or photos of a date
  • 30% with ‘recent dating experience’ have researched prospective partners on social media
  • This rises to 41% of 18-29 year olds 

Breaking up is hard to do

  • 17% of those who have a smartphone and/or use the internet have broken up with someone via text, email or an online message!
  • 17% have been broken up with digitally! 

* A small study with a much higher than average proportion of engaged couples – and Mormons.

 

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Developing professional networks – what social network analysis teaches us

Social network analysis has been used to measure the impact of the DREaM project which set out to nurture a network of researchers.

Social Network Analysis (SNA) explores social relationships and their implications.  As a research methodology, it is employed by a range of subject specialists, and is much favoured by knowledge management practitioners seeking to explore the ‘human’ aspects of knowledge mobilisation.

A new article by Louise Cooke and Hazel Hall* explores the applicability and value of Social Network Analysis (SNA) as a means of investigating the development of researcher networks. The authors believe that their study provides transferable lessons about SNA as a tool as well as the interventions that can encourage speedy development of social infrastructure in new networks, which are applicable across professional groups.

After a discussion about the development of SNA as a research tool and its previous use in the context of library and information science (LIS), the article reports on a case study based on the Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM) project.

DREaM was established in 2011 to create, and support the development of, a network of LIS researchers, connecting them in new ways and improving the quality and impact of LIS research. It is this case study that will be of most interest to LIS practitioners.

What does the ‘before’ and ‘after’ data from the case study tell us about how strong professional networks can be nurtured?

Key findings

  • ‘before’ data shows that members of this participant network were not highly connected or aware of each other’s expertise: existing networks were highly centralised around a small number of academic librarians and researchers
  • ‘after’ data shows a demonstrable increase in expertise awareness and interaction; participants had increased their number of network ties; the network became more ‘even’ with less dependence on a small number of densely networked actors; academic librarians in particular moved towards the centre of the network

What was it about the way the DREaM project was designed that helped develop the network?

The authors suggest that the combination of workshops, social events, networking opportunities, the development of an online community and the effective use of social media tools:

  • Reduced the isolation of participants
  • Helped participants exchange ideas and broaden their knowledge base
  • Provided opportunities for participants to exchange sources of information and references

A range of event amplification techniques (live-blogging/tweeting; delegate reviews; session recordings and many more) also helped those unable to attend events in person, to participate in the network remotely.

This inclusive, boundary-spanning approach helped the participants double their awareness of each other’s expertise and almost double their levels of social interaction.

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*Cooke, L. & Hall, H. (2013). Facets of DREaM: a Social Network Analysis exploring network development in the UK LIS research community. Journal of Documentation, 69(6), 786-806.

Further information about the article (Hazel Hall’s blog).  You can download the full text of the article from Emerald (subscription-based service).  You can download the full-text of the article manuscript at no charge here.   Further information on the DREaM project can be found here.

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Open Access and MOOCs – disrupting academia

Research set outs to explore the impact of disruptive innovations on academia and teaching.

Green and Gold models of Open Access (OA) have been growing steadily over the last decade.  An estimated 17% of articles indexed in ISI’s Web of Knowledge index are published in Gold OA journals; almost 7000 free online journals are currently listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and it is estimated that 25% of peer reviewed research is already deposited by authors in open archives.

A new study by Richard Wellen (published in SAGE Open) sets out to explore the consequences of moves towards the ‘new digital academic commons’ in the shape of OA publishing, megajournals and Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs).

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The value of knowledge is best realised when it is shared.  It is beneficial for society to create an ‘academic commons’ to facilitate the reciprocal use of knowledge.  Scholarly journals have an important role here, but high prices and other barriers to access can exclude many. The drive towards OA comes from a consensus about the importance of openness for progress and productivity.

Wellen asks whether and how OA could bring a disruptive challenge to the market power of publishers and to what extent new academic platforms and other intermediaries will take on such roles as quality control, filtering and content discovery.

Conclusions

  • Stakeholders have embraced OA as a solution to ‘dysfunctional’ publishing models and as a way to maximise the impact of research
  • Open content and ‘academic unbundling’ look set to transform the economics and social structure of higher education and research communication
  • Megajournals, academic networking services and MOOCs are all linked to a market-oriented reform of academic governance
  • An emerging ‘gift’ economy in academic content is linked to new ways of commodifying academic services
  • Researchers still place a high value on journal prestige
  • Some library functions may move to independent services operating at a trans-institutional level
  • Despite being open, MOOCs are meant to earn revenue
  • MOOCs have become marketing tools for universities
  • Politicians want to address cost, access and productivity issues in HE e.g. by loosening the link between teaching and research ranking
  • Academic unbundling raises challenges for the governance of academic commons

You can access the full article Open Access, Megajournals, and MOOCs: On the Political Economy of Academic Unbundling here.

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