The power of twitter!

I wanted to recall a book i read a few years ago. The trouble was, i remembered very little about it, but i think a friend of mine might like it. Google was proving absolutely useless. Time to turn to the power of twitter!

Ten minutes ago i posted a slightly jokey tweet:

i read a book a few years ago. it had a blue cover. any ideas, twitter?!

I got a few appropriately jokey answers:

did it have a man with a face in it? And that woman with a name?

Conservative Manifesto perhaps: amazon.co.uk/Invitation-Joi… ;-)

“Beautiful Code”?

it’s that one written by that author. He wrote all that stuff about things.

That last one reminded me that the book was written by a female author. I gave a few more clues:

the book had some kind of medieval/renaissance/inquisition theme, set in the south of france. author was female, i think.

i seem to recall some sort of circular symbol on the cover, and the title was one fairly long word. i think it’s historical fantasy.

in the book was some kind of weird cult that met in a room underground. people died in it. come on, someone must have read it!! ;) ;)

That was enough for mason to be confident enough to post a picture. In fact, mason had got it by the time i mentioned the theme and location.

if I am right, after all these sarcatic tweets I claim a prize.. (Please wait)

??? If I’m right then I’ll probably shit the very bed I just took this picture on. yfrog.com/h4chnuxyj

Indeed, mason was right! Labyrinth by Kate Mosse is the book that i was looking for! The power of twitter, hey?! :)

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This is why we need a bi community

There is a television drama series on BBC3 at the moment called Lip Service which depicts the lives of a group of lesbian and bisexual women in Glasgow. I’m really enjoying the show and i’m pleased that the BBC is doing something to increase the visibility of lesbian and bisexual women on television. It hasn’t done a great job of depicting bisexual people so far, but i was pleased in the last episode when they showed that Frankie’s bisexuality is more than just words.

The episode provoked a strong biphobic reaction from a lot of people who were apparently shocked to see Frankie, one of the main characters, having sex with a man. They apparently missed Frankie talking openly about being bisexual in the first episode and flirting with a man in the second episode. I wasn’t at all surprised at the way the story developed; it made perfect sense within the storyline.

I commented on twitter that it was a shame to see such a biphobic reaction. Somebody gave me this response:

not biphobic I don’t think, just disappointment that what was billed as a lesbian drama has turned out to be a bi one. That’s fair

Well unfortunately, that comment in itself sounded biphobic to me. I pressed the person whether a gay character in an otherwise straight drama would make the series a gay drama. As it turned out, the issue was more that they felt the show had been wrongly advertised.

We chatted a bit more. I said i thought it was realistic: bi people exist within the LGBT community, and we often feel marginalised, and i wondered whether they could see how these comments make us feel exculded. To which i got this response:

yes I totally agree that bi exsists in the queer community but not in the lesbian community, they are two conflicting lables

At this point i was so upset and shocked that i decided to pursue it no further and went to bed. But this should not be left unchallenged. This is prejudice from within the LGBT community: this person (who identifies as lesbian) believes that bisexual people are unwelcome in the lesbian community. This person claims not to be biphobic but makes comments like “LESBIANS DONT SHAG MEN!!!!!”

Bi women do exist within the lesbian community. Some are open about their bisexuality, and some are not. Some people who describe themselves as lesbian sometimes enjoy sleeping with men. Some are scared to admit their attraction to men in a community that might consider them a traitor. I know all this is true because i know people in these situations.

I just find it so sad that people who know what it’s like to be discriminated against feel it’s quite okay to do the same to others.

The upside to this is that it made me all the more grateful for the bi community, which is so accepting of everyone. Gay, lesbian and straight people are welcome in the bi community, as well as bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual and queer people. The bi community is a place where all kinds of people feel at home in their diversity. I rarely see discrimination, and i often see great care taken to be inclusive of everyone. People make an effort to learn about different minorities and how to be more encompassing. I’ve known people to feel terribly distressed if they unintentionally discriminated against somebody through their lack of understanding.

I was recently asked why we need a bi community. Being put on the spot, i floundered a little and said something like, “Because it’s nice to be part of a community where no questions are asked and no assumptions are made.” If i were to be asked the same question again now, i might answer, “Because, sadly, we are not always accepted within the wider LGBT community.”

I’m looking forward to Lip Service tonight, to see how the characters on screen react to Frankie having slept with Jay. I wonder whether the reaction will be similar or different to the overwhelming negative reaction on twitter.

Right Now Search

With all this talk of Google wanting to buy Twitter, it got me thinking about the exciting potential for real-time searching. I’ve seen some greasemonkey scripts for adding Twitter search results into Google, but i wanted something a little bit different. I wanted to search multiple places and bring them together in columns. Something a bit like this:

Right Now Search

So i spent the whole afternoon figuring out how to do it (and in the process, learning how to do object-oriented PHP!) and you can try it out here: rightnow.aimee.mychores.co.uk

I need help on making it more interactive. It should be fairly easy to define new search locations like plugins. I want people to be able to choose which they wish to search on. I would like AJAX updating with auto refreshing. And of course i need a lot of help with the design!

If you fancy having a play, fork it on Github! github.com/sermoa/right_now_search :)

#uksnow results!

It worked!!

#uksnow results!

Generated purely from people around the country sending tweets with their location and marks out of 10 for snow!

I gave a 9/10 for Winchester! It is beautiful soft powdery snow, slightly crunchy under-foot. Wonderful! It’s still coming down thick and fast now, and apparently will do all day!

Welcome to Winchester

Pretty pretty

I love how milk deliveries in the UK are always so reliable! They will do their utmost to deliver milk if they possibly can.

Snowy milk!

Twitter: you're doing it right!

Some days Twitter can be such a buzz! What you get out of it is closely correlated to what you put into it, in my experience.

  • You’re @replying to multiple people having multiple conversations simultaneously.
  • You’re sending direct message to someone to arrange a meetup.
  • You’re following a trending topic on twitterfall.com and participating using the hashtag.
  • You look at pictures related to the trending topic and make comments on TwitPic.
  • You make a blog post, add a link on Delicious, make a comment on 43Things, tick off a task on MyChores, it all gets updated on Twitter.
  • You catch onto a meme and help spread it and promote the mashup.

All these things and more have happened to me today! My tweeting activity has earned me 6 new followers, and i started following 2 new people.

In this case the trending topic is #uksnow, and the mashup is benmarsh.co.uk/snow. Make a tweet like this to register your postcode and marks out of ten for snow fall. The map will update automatically!

#uksnow SO23 2/10

The only thing i didn’t do today is re-tweet anybody. I still haven’t got the hang of re-tweeting. I briefly used Twitterfox which made it easy, but i still prefer to go directly to twitter.com for instant results!

Twitter TOS – my final word

This whole Ariel Waldman thing has turned into an enormous, fierce debate with some people strongly supporting Ariel, some people congratulating Twitter for not turning into a nanny service, some people claiming it’s all lies and a publicity stunt, and many other opinions in between.

My opinion is: I don’t care whether Ariel made it all up. I only care about the way Twitter react to personal harassment, abuse and racial hatred – all of which i have seen on Twitter yesterday. At the moment Twitter are sending the message that it’s perfectly okay and they are turning a blind eye. This is causing people to push the boundaries further still, to see how much they can get away with.

Here’s the catch: i’m strongly against censorship … but i’m also strongly against personal attacks, bullying, discrimination and incitement of hatred. So what do you do? Where is the line drawn between free speech and harassment? Who is to decide what is okay and what is not okay?

I do think that Ariel should have gone to the police rather than rally up this huge mob of angry people. It has not really done Ariel any favours at all. But as for Twitter i’d like to see some sort of statement that deliberate foul abuse of any individual or any group of people is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. They need to do something about it. If they continue to imply that it’s perfectly okay to abuse whoever you like on Twitter, then i am not going to want to be associated with Twitter any longer.

A warning against Twitter

Resumo: La retejo Twitter rifuzas preni agadon kontraŭ ofenda kondukto. Tiu ĉi estas komplete malakcepteble.

To all who use Twitter: you need to be aware of this:

Twitter refuses to uphold Terms of Service

This story is shocking in the extreme. After months of ongoing bullying, harassment, foul language, hate speech, smearing of a person’s identity, Twitter had this to say:

“We’ve reviewed the matter and decided it’s not in our best interest to get involved.”

This is absolutely shocking and Twitter need to change their tune fast. This kind of behaviour is absolutely unacceptable and there is no question that the abusive user needs to be banned from Twitter and all their hateful comments purged. Twitter are scared of a legal battle, but their Terms of Service clearly state:

“You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users […] Violation of any of these agreements will result in the termination of your Twitter.com account.”

As an internet community we have a moral responsibility not to let anyone get away with this kind of behaviour. I write this in support of the victim, but also for the good of the Twitter community as a whole. If one person can get away with it, people will soon learn that Twitter is a place where they can be as abusive as they like with no repercussions. This needs to be stopped as soon as possible.

Digg it, Stumble it, blog it … do whatever it takes. If Twitter will not deal with this, then we as a community most certainly will.

Update: Follow @wesupportariel and help take action on this! Oh, i love a good bit of activism!!