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Pecha Kucha Kuala Lumpur

I was kindly invited by Niki Cheong to take part in a 'Pecha Kucha' event organised by the British Council - this is an evening where people get to talk about what they want, but they are limited to twenty slides with one image on each one, and each slide moves forward automatically after twenty seconds.

It's a great idea, but I mistakenly thought that it would also make the planning of the slides a lot more straightforward. Not at all! For someone like me who tends to ramble on and likes to talk only with notes and then ad-lib a bit, restricting myself to twenty seconds per slide is tough.

But I did it (though it was late, sorry organisers). I decided to talk about the ancient past, and the future of social media. It's made me well nervous, and then I went over to look at Niki Cheong's website (check it out, it has all the relevant information) and saw the list of luminaries who will be speaking too, and I've just got more nervous! Argh! I just don't feel too confident about the slides... I like the idea, but I don't know if it's going to work.

Anyway, here's one image to give you an idea
tambum rock paintings Ipoh malaysia

Yes it's prehistoric rock paintings. What has that got to do with social media? Well, come along and find out! :-) Click here for the Facebook event page.


The 15-minute blog post.
I like to blog, but I can't afford to spend a lot of time on it. Solution: limit myself to 15 minutes per post.
One link, one picture maximum.
All comments, critiques and corrections are welcome. Thank you.

Social Network Analysis of the Social Media Club - Kuala Lumpur

SMCKL is a group that meets occasionally to explore matters relevant to social media and industry. The most recent one was about social media monitoring tools, and featured three presentations by comScore, Brandtology and JamiQ. They were interesting, but I was surprised that nobody was talking about social network analysis - so I thought I'd do a little demonstration here.

There was much tweeting going on before and after the evening, which was also an occasion for people to meet and network. Using NodeXL, I gathered all the tweets with the hashtag #smckl: in all there were 71 tweeters, and 757 'edges' (i.e. links in the form of 'Followed' relationships, 'Mentions', or 'Replies to'). The following examples only take into account the Followed relationship - i.e. I am only showing a link between tweeters when one follows the other.

A question for social media monitoring has to be: how influential is any particular tweeter? Here I'll look at two ways of visualising that.

A common measure is how many followers a tweeter has.
nodexl social network analysis sna visualisation twitter social media malaysia

In these images, the size of the profile picture is proportionate to the number of followers - the bigger the profile picture, the more followers. Also, the more central the tweeter is, the more ties s/he has with the other tweeters. The person in the middle is the most embedded in the network - with the most ties to other people, directly or indirectly; on the other hand, as you can see, there are some really on the edge - with only a couple of lines attached them to the denser cluster in the middle. They are outliers, less likely to be influential within this group.

The first picture was very dense, so I have filtered out all tweeters with less than 500 followers
nodexl social network analysis sna visualisation twitter social media malaysia

and with less than 1000 followers.
nodexl social network analysis sna visualisation twitter social media malaysia

Again, a pattern emerges of a denser cluster in the middle with a few outliers. What this suggests is that most people at the SMCKL evening already know each other. But not all: I said above that outliers are less likely to be influential within that group - it's important to note here that the person with the most followers (@victorliew) is an 'outlier'. This suggests that he could be an important 'bridge' for this group to connect to another group. The question would be - who is he? And why are so many people following him?
Continue reading "Social Network Analysis of the Social Media Club - Kuala Lumpur"

How can 10,000 unique visitors mean an audience of 100?

A distinct advantage of internet advertising is the ability to accurately measure the audience (through page views), and to know precisely how many people took an interest in the ad by clicking on it. 'Click fraud' (simulating different people by repeated clicking) is detected by automated software, and 'unique visitors' (based on the IP addresses) deals with the problem of the same person refreshing a page in order to simulate a different person.

This is how Google has made billions of dollars, so it must be pretty reliable overall.

However, how can 10,000 unique visitors equal an audience of 100? To answer this, we have to consider the network within which the ad is displayed. For this example, let's imagine a random blog advertising network - called 'BlogAdNet': BlogAdNet works by registering thousands of blogs, all of whom allocate space on their blog for advertisements to be automatically displayed as and when BlogAdNet wants to. They then go to potential clients and say, for example, 'Our network of blogs receives 10,000 unique visitors a day'; but this does not necessarily mean 10,000 different people. Imagine a very dense network of 100 bloggers, all of whom visit each other's blog every day - each blogger reads 99 other blogs every day. 99 x 100 = 9,900. So, the 10,000 unique visitors could in fact be 100 people, plus one other person (imagine BlogAdNet doing regular monitoring) visiting all the blogs.

I've used NodeXL (a useful social network analysis (SNA) tool that integrates with Excel), to think about a few examples that demonstrate how SNA can give more insight into the behavioural aspects of blog readers. Represnted in an SNA graph, the dense network of 100 readers would look like this (except that I've scaled it down to ten users to be easier to see):
social networks analysis sna blogs malaysia

Everyone is connected to everyone else, and nobody is more 'influential' than others.

However, this would be very unusual. Most networks are clustered - using the above ten blogs, I've chosen A, B and C as the 'top bloggers': everyone visits them, and they always visit each other (but don't visit the other). DEF always visit ABC, and each other. GHI are a similarly clustered sub-group. And J, who is visited by nobody (aww) always visits ABC (like everyone else), and also D, F, G and I.

Now, the same network, based on the same calculations, looks like this:
social networks analysis sna blogs malaysia

The size of the nodes are based on the 'in-degree' - i.e. the number of incoming visitors. So A, B and C are the biggest, and J the smallest.

You can also calculate 'Betweenness'. In a network, it's not only the direct connections that matter - someone 'between' you and another person may be relaying your thoughts, or enhancing your reputation.
social networks analysis sna blogs malaysia

So, the node J is now bigger than the other two sub-groups DEF, and GHI. So, in theory, J could be seeing something on A's blog, and then telling others about it; or starting conversations in their comments section and acting as a 'bridge' between sub- groups DEF and GHI. Or maybe J is just a lurker, who never says anything? The only way to find out would be to go and look at what J does. This points to one of the limitations of SNA - you can detect the presence of a link, but you don't always know what it means in practice.

The Eigenvector Centrality calculation combines the above, looking at the number of connections each blog has, and the degree of the blogs it connects to:
social networks analysis sna blogs malaysia

E and H are now smaller, because they have less overall connections. J remains apparently influential, but the lack of incoming links is not reflected here.

OK, I've got to stop this, and get on with writing my thesis!! :-|

Some conclusions

The density of a blogger network tends to depend on a few factors such as: geographical location, shared cultural features, blog genre, gender, and interest. For example, Malaysian bloggers/readers are more likely to read other Malaysian blogs; or female bloggers/readers interested in fashion and makeup will read blogs that focus on that. The density will be increased when they go to events together, when they link to each other, and so on.

If you want to measure influence on the internet, relying on classic data that is based on non-contextualised quantities is not enough. For example, if you say ‘There are 5,000 mentions of new product X since we launched the campaign’; this does not tell you the relative importance of each mention. You can combine that with unique visitors: ‘5,000 mentions of which 200 were on blogs that receive more than 2,000 daily unique visitors’. But still, what if all those 2,000 visitors are part of a densely clustered network who mostly read each other’s blogs?

The subjective and 'thick' understanding of the contextual meaning of links still needs human eyes. But they can be helped by automated processes that, for example, detect key words, emotional content, etc.

What do you think? How important can SNA be in elucidating these more subjective social aspects of online interaction?

I’m still learning about SNA, and don’t know much about what happens in social media monitoring companies, so if anyone has any corrections or advice, please use the comments section below. Thanks! :-)

Xpax, Blackberry, Party, Future

Doing research as a blog anthropologist, I get sick of people saying, "But what's happening in 'real life'?"...

I mean, what's NOT real about talking, sharing and ranting with friends and acquaintances? Humans have been doing that since the first barbecue outside of a cave in Africa - is it more real because it's happening in a bar, at work or at school; then when it's happening while you're on the move and keeping in contact with friends around town, overseas, or at home? Does anyone ever say letters aren't 'real'?!

The point is - you can do BOTH of these! You can have a life online AND offline - each one complements the other, and that's the way the future's going to be. Get on the train (or more likely the maglev), and get with the future!

In the future, everyone is going to have presence online as well as offline. They'll even be provided by the government, and kids in playschools will be taught how to play online, just like they're taught how to cross the road safely. The technology will be portable nanocomputers, inserted under the skin and with controls directly from the brain (for example).

OK - we're not there yet :-O

But to get a feel of it you are going to need one thing - that's a smartphone, like a BlackBerry. So you can surf the net, update your social media, call your family, write emails, play games (important that one) - basically, have your own communications centre wherever you go...

OK - any blogger, tweeter or Facebooker wants to be able to chat with friends, do some IM'ing or check Facebook while they're out and about, but... you're going to be worried about the cost, right? I mean, if each tweet, IM message or Facebook update costs money, the bill is gonna be stiff right?

Well - I have to say that Xpax have a good solution here - RM1 per day for prepaid UNLIMITED ACCESS! So - load up with RM 30 at the beginning of the month and you're safe for thirty days.
Check out the details on the Xpax site. The RM1/day deal is for social networking sites - for unlimited internet surfing, etc, it's RM2.50 a day.

"No hidden clauses, no upfront payment" - sounds good enough to me :-D

So - the other problem with switching phones is changing your telephone number, right...? No - wrong! With Mobile Number Portability now available in Malaysia, you don't have to change your number anymore.

At the Xberry party the BlackBerry Curve smartphone 8520 was going at RM888, but if you hurry you can still get a special deal by going to any Blue Cube outlet: get a reload for RM50 and you'll be able to get the Blackberry for RM998, one week free access, and an imported skin.

Wait too long (after November 15) and the price will go back to RM1188.

I'm too skint at the moment even to get it at RM888, but at the Xpax Blackberry party, if I had been able to check Twitter I would have known that the prize draw was going on! And maybe won a free Blackberry!
tweet xpax blackberry party

OK you're gonna say - just pay more attention! But I was!

I was paying attention to an amazing beatboxer Shawn Lee and spotting celebrity bloggers such as Cheesie and and upcoming superblogger/journalist/allround party animal jessie ;-)
shawn lee ringo cheesie benjicajess xpax

and Flizzow couldn't be avoided...
Flizzow xpax

nor could Arabyrd
arabyrd xpax

(not to forget the trips to the VVIP section for free flow, food and dancing...)
(and meeting kruel74, dustyhawk, YapThomas, aprilyim, bernard and others who I forgot...)

So all I can say is thanks Xpax and Nuffnang for the party!

Get a a Blackberry Curve to lead your life from in front - it's your life, your number, and your future :-D

Visualising a monetised Twitter network

This is just a little experiment with nodeXL, inspired by this example of using it to visualise a Twitter network. NodeXL is a very nice social network analysis (SNA) and visualisation tool. It works from Microsoft Excel, and is very light and easy to use. The NodeXL Tutorial provides instructions on how to use it.

One thing that's particularly nice, for an SNA neophyte like myself, is that nodeXL can both search the net and do the visualisation (you can do this on VOSON too, though). And you can search Twitter too.

Many people on the Malaysian twitterverse will have noticed #xpaxblackberry coming up fairly often recently, and it seems clear that Xpax had purchased the help, perhaps via ChurpChurp, of various key bloggers/tweeters to get the word out. In addition, Xpax was organising an event last Saturday (which I was able to go to, after entering a competition with Nuffnang) to launch their new prepaid Blackberry service.

So - I decided to see what would happen if I put the search term - "xpaxblackberry" into NodeXL.

This is what I got on the 8th October - two days before the launch party
social network analysis visualisation nodexl twitter monetisation

This represents the tweeters who mentioned 'xpaxblackberry' in their tweet, and the lines represent who follows whom, within that group.

The size of the picture is relative to the "Betweenness centrality" of the tweeter: i.e. some people are more connected to other people, either directly or via other people, so they are 'in between' more people. For example: if I know Joe, Peter, and Jane, but none of them know each other, then I have a greater 'betweenness' value.

So, in the above graph, we can see that the four tweeters with the greatest centrality are @kennysia (BC value = 1), @benjern (BC value = 0.876), @julesisapen (BC value = 0.703), @joycethefairy (BC value = 0.671).

I also ran a 'Cluster' calculation, which calculates "the number of edges connecting a vertex's neighbors divided by the total number of possible edges between the vertex's neighbors." (Hansen, Shneiderman & Smith, p16). Basically, it tries to spot the clusters of nodes that are more interconnected amongst each other than to other people. They are represented by represented by the different colours, which can be seen easier here - four major clusters are visible.
social network analysis visualisation nodexl twitter monetisation

The next time I ran it was on the 10th October, in the afternoon before the event.
social network analysis visualisation nodexl twitter monetisation

The top four this time are: @benjern (BC value = 1), @julesisapen (BC value = 0.834), @kennysia (BC value = 0.685), @spinzer (BC value = 0.357).

The third time was on the 15th October, the Thursday following the event.
social network analysis visualisation nodexl twitter monetisation

The top four this time are: benjern (BC value = 1), @julesisapen (BC value = 0.625), @xpaxsays (BC value = 0.432), and @joycethefairy and @MyXpaX are equal in fourth place (BC value = 0.398).

• There are clearly more people, but not many more clusters here.
• Two new tweeters are prominent, @xpaxsays and @MyXpaX - they are 'corporate tweeters'.
• One interesting point is that although @joycethefairy has 1,521 followers, and @MyXpaX has only 19 followers, they have the same degree of centrality in this particular snapshot of the twitterverse. This shows how much the sample can influence the result of the 'social network' being analysed: within this sample thirteen followers of @joycethefairy and @MyXpaX tweeted 'xpaxblackberry', meaning they have the same weight in this sample. What has happened is that @MyXpaX keeps retweeting/mentioning and following tweeters who mention 'xpaxblackberry'.
• @kennysia, who was initially the most prominent and central person, has disappeared right off the graph. This must be because the archives are only kept for so long, and he has not tweeted recently enough; or that the tweets have gone beyond the 10-page limit (discussed here, I'm not sure what the exact story is). Or nodeXL only limits itself to a certain amount of days.

• To do an experiment like this better one would have to analyse more carefully over time (e.g. doing a search every hour or something - for a more sophisticated example see Tim Highfield's foray).
• What's interesting is to note the shifting of the centre of this particular 'conversation'.
• To get an idea of the relative importance of the tweeters, or at least assumed importance, it would be necessary to include some computation of the number of followers each one has.
• The reciprocity of follower/following is important too. The more followers there are compared to following, the more significant that tweeter is likely to be.
• The connections between tweeters are generally quite dense - that is to say, although there is clustering of smaller groups, there are lots of ties between the groups too.
• Overall, the leading tweeters are also leading bloggers. For the moment, I would say that there's no clear differentiation between the Malaysian blogosphere and twitterverse.

Twestivalkl - first tweetup!

On Sunday 19 September, I went to the #twestivalkl tweetup at the Mist club in Bangsar. It was my first one and so I went along to check it out. At the back of my mind I was wondering how it might be different from a blog meet, but I was also thinking that I should try to give fieldwork a break for once, and just enjoy. Which may be why I ended up drinking too much beer and regretting it for two days afterwards... :-|

They had stalls by 1901
twestivalkl tweetup kuala lumpur 1901 stall

and New Zealand ice-cream
twestivalkl tweetup kuala lumpur New Zealand ice cream stall

they were 'free flow', as was the Tiger beer (hence the morning after...)

I met a bunch of ex-students which was nice: reubenhot, cheeChingy, another guy whose name I forgot (I think it was Bryan? argh, sorry... beer...), and last but not least, DJ Prem :-)
twestivalkl tweetup kuala lumpur DJ Prem

It always reminds me of my age to meet students who are now working in real jobs and so on, but it's also nice to see them outside of class. Honestly, teaching is a great job sometimes, and it's such an honour to have an opportunity to make a small difference in the life of so many people - sounds corny, but it's true. For a great rant on this topic - check out "What teachers make", by Taylor Mali.

Anyway, back to the twestivalkl.
twestivalkl tweetup kuala lumpur

It was a charity event too - in to help Destiny Starting Point (video here). It's there to help boys who have dropped out and got involved in various delinquency problems - helping them to get back into schooling and get back on track.

Here is the Pastor who founded the place handing over a donated Lenovo computer to the fortunate Lucky Draw winner (looks happy, doesn't he!)
twestivalkl tweetup kuala lumpur lenovo winner

and here he is again with @nikicheong, one of the organisers of the event,
twestivalkl tweetup kuala lumpur niki cheong Pastor Stephen

the others being @davidlian, @suanie, @eevon, @radianceleong, @nigelais, and @Ling_Chan

Other prizes were a Poken, won by @kellster (who always seems to be winning things!)
twestivalkl tweetup kuala lumpur kellster poken

And here are various Poekeners - with @aprilyim invading from the left :-P
twestivalkl tweetup kuala lumpur poken

There were also some of the usual suspects: @dustyhawk, kruel74, @joshlim, and the intrepid photographer - @benjicajess
twestivalkl tweetup kuala lumpur benjicajess

and others who I can't remember...

So. Were there significant differences with a blog meet-up? Basically, no. If they had had the live screening of tweets it could have made a big difference - with people interacting on and offline but in the same physical space. I'm sure that if I had a mobile access to the tweets it would have been different too - and would have contributed to and read what other tweeples were doing.

Many of those there are also bloggers, but not all. I reckon that many people who find blogging too much work, will enjoy tweeting a lot more. There would also be less of this kind of post happening after a tweetup (i.e. what happened, photos, etc). For a tweetup it's a lot more spontaneous and co-synchronous (happening at the same time). And once the event is over, there may be a 'thanks it was cool #twesitivalkl' tweet, and tweeple move onto whatever is happening in their life and tweetzone at that time.

[did a few edits - forgot to include a photo intially, some typos]