Cultural markers in the East of England

Category: Software

The automatic librarian…

Our small journal produces a lot of data. We generate twitter feeds, meta-tags and article categories…on and on. Does it have a use?

One thing we do at conversationsEAST every month is to run our Twitter generated content through a Knight Lab application called BookRX. (Part of the conversationsEAST team day job is to be booksellers and publishers, so the findings can be used to plan thematic content for our literacy projects, for example…Ed).

For our journal it can serve the same function, offering insights into subjects that can be useful as leaders to content ideas, or to see if the profile of our readers is on the trend we believe we are following.

BookRX works like this…

it analyzes your tweets (the words, Twitter usernames, and hashtags you use) and compares them to terms that are correlated with book categories.

… it is a book recommendation app at heart. The results can be interesting. We publish below this months analysis of our journal Twitter feed. We have featured the lead book in three categories; Science and Technology, Politics and Social Sciences and Business.

The Mobile Wave - are we immersed already?

The Mobile Wave – are we immersed already?

‘In the tradition of international best-sellers, Future Shock and Megatrends, Michael J. Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy, brings The Mobile Wave, a ground-breaking analysis of the impact of mobile intelligence-the fifth wave of computer technology.

The Mobile Wave argues that the changes brought by mobile computing are so big and widespread that it’s impossible for us to see it all, even though we are all immersed in it’.

The Mobile Wave by Michael Saylor  You can buy this book from here



Panarchy cover imageThe book examines theories (models) of how systems (those of humans, nature, and combined human natural systems) function, and attempts to understand those theories and how they can help researchers develop effective institutions and policies for environmental management.

The fundamental question this book asks is whether or not it is possible to get beyond seeing environment as a sub-component of social systems, and society as a sub-component of ecological systems, that is, to understand human-environment interactions as their own unique system

Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems by Lance H. Gunderson (Editor), C. S. Holling (Editor)  Buy this book from here

Just Listen cover image‘The first make-or-break step in persuading anyone to do any thing is getting them to hear you out. Whether the person is a harried colleague, a stressed-out client, or an insecure spouse, things will go from bad to worse if you can’t break through emotional barricades.

Drawing on his experience as a psychiatrist, business consultant, and coach, and backed by the latest scientific research, author Mark Goulston shares simple but power ful techniques readers can use to really get through to people—whether they’re coworkers, friends, strangers, or enemies’.

Getting through is a fine art but a critical one.

Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Mark Goulston M.D. (Author), Keith Ferrazzi (Foreword). Buy this book from

Did BookRX get the feel of our readership right? The acid test for us is does the machine generated selection have an appropriate ‘RSA feel’ to it? We think it does, providing sources that are appropriately defined through the prism of our journal content.

The app also generates selections for sports and fitness, as well as a fiction list. These are a little more difficult to empathise with, although we may publish future lists as book recommendations of regular interest for Fellows, particularly as the volume of our Twitter traffic grows.

One charitable application for the technology, we can think of, is to use the Knight Lab service to generate book lists for on-line sale as a fund-raising initiative. Taking the guess work out of list building for your audience?

Editors Note:

BookRx was created by Shawn O’Banion and Larry Birnbaum and designed by Jeremy Gilbert and Sarah Adler at Northwestern University’s Knight Lab, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the National Science Foundation

Northwestern University Knight Lab advances news media innovation and education. Developing ideas from experimentation through adoption, the Lab makes technology that aims to help make information meaningful and promotes quality storytelling on the Internet.



Web? Writing? Whither?

The web has promoted a revolution in media delivery and consumption,  and has generated a similar paradigm shift in production processes and work flows. Whether for the corporate giants of this world, or the lonely writer crafting a masterpiece in his or her garret.


Evidence of the changes in news and visual media were well illustrated in a recent RSA lecture by John Ryley, Head of Sky News. His father, he tells us, was a vicar’s son, who was profoundly affected by his son’s elevation to the ranks of journalism.

You can hear the lecture, and an introduction by Matthew Taylor of The RSA, with an audience Q&A, by using the audio player below…

Rolling News – the Backbone of a Digital Future by Royal Society Of Arts on Mixcloud


In his lecture John Ryley describes his own early acquaintance with television. Describing it as a pseudo-religious experience, with the family sitting in rows, silent, facing an iconic piece of equipment, bathed in a particular blue light.

Web technologies and new software have also promoted a similar revolution in print journalism, which  that and the ubiquitous access that the web offers to any journalist, would be or otherwise, the chance to profoundly affect their ability as humans to tell simple stories.

Why do we write, and become journalists, historians, authors, self published or otherwise? Has technology really affected the way we look at the word on paper and on screen?

George Orwell, writing in 1946, mapped the landscape of why we write. That perceptive voice is still being heard from Manhattan offices to Cumbrian writerly retreats…

  • “Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed”.
  • “Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity”.
  • “Political purpose. — Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude”.

Collected Essays, by George Orwell, Why I Write (1946)

Orwell’s philosophy of the narrative is being flexed for the internet age at the The New York Times.  Long an innovator in print journalism technology, they have recently published an article on the creation of their new back office production engine for the newspaper.

What is trans-figurative for New York Times journalists is the new focus on web and mobile as the default primary templates in this production process. The ability to blend digital content  for traditional press production is not an incidental or trivial outcome, it is imperative to keep ‘paper on the street’, but it is a secondary outcome of the creative writing and editorial process. This is new.

You can read the New York Times article about their new CMS, content management system, here.

It is also interesting that it is not only production processes and outputs that are being blended. The Mozilla Foundation, creator of the Firefox web browser and scion of the radical, open internet, has recently been the recipient of a grant “…of roughly $3.9 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which promotes innovation in journalism”.

With the money Mozilla will build a new ‘comments’ software for the New York Times and the Washington Post. It is remarkable that both newspapers are the properties of major league capitalists, but this non-profit initiative is geared to giving readers the chance to generate content, and to take part in the journalistic process by offering the writers direct feedback on their articles in new and  innovative ways.

A new blend of capital, charity and community engagement, which may well transform newspaper publishing?

Finally, amidst all this corporate activity and development at scale, technological innovation for the lone writer has not been lagging behind. From your own desk you can change the world one article at a time by using the services of Medium – a mixture of blogging platform, paid for content, social networking and collaboration tool.

With a beautifully designed interface, and tools that are intuitive and graceful, you can craft stories, news and research that are delivered in an elegant format to your readers.

We like Medium. Its content can be challenging and provocative, but it is also a place where the thoughtful, considered article can find a home. From new fiction to a story of how the cellular structure of the nematode worm has an impact on human brain function, sculpted with light…all writing is here. (You can find the worm article here…).

Of course, as an RSA Fellow in the East of England, you could publish your thoughtful piece in the pages of conversationsEAST. That’s new too!

Send copy at any time to editor (at)  …your audience awaits.


Climate Data – Microsoft contributes

Microsoft Research has recently announced its commitment to provide large amounts of cloud computing resources to help research projects contribute to the White House Climate Data initiative, a response to the Climate Action Plan sanctioned by President Obama. interneticon

The programme involves Microsoft Research providing 40 successful bidders with 180,000 hours of cloud computing time, using Windows Azure, and facilitated with 20 Terabytes of cloud storage.

Microsoft will also provide researchers with training and classes to ensure that project teams are best equipped to exploit cloud data mechanics.

Microsoft further commits to the deployment of FetchClimate, a climate data resource for past and present observations and for climate-prediction information. FetchClimate will be available as a fast, free, intelligent environmental information-retrieval service and as a cloud-based system that can be adapted to the specific needs of new projects.

interneticon You can read more about FetchClimate, a Microsoft free on-line tool tool, here.

The process for research teams to apply is not complicated. Short, three pages, submissions must be sent in by June 15th, 2014.

interneticon The on-line application form is here.

interneticon The call for proposals FAQ is here.

If you do, the very best of luck. See you in the cloud.


DataUp updated

The Open Source, award winning data curation programme, DataUp was recently subject to a comprehensive set of updates, which were launched at 2014 International Data Curation Conference in San Francisco.

The new version of DataUp gives administrators the opportunity to select and define metadata, as well as auto-define the meta values loaded by users and can now run  a Data Quality Check, at an administrator level, to verify the data input from system users. Checking to see that entries and uploads comply with repository requirements.

This release is the fruit of much work done at the California Digital Library, and was supported by the interneticon Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.  interneticon Microsoft Research says of DataUp in its endorsement…

Presently, DataUp supports two different types of repositories, though more can be added via repository adapters: (1) a personal or organizational Microsoft OneDrive repository or (2) a repository that adheres to the ONEShare standard developed by the California Digital Library.

You can read more about DataUp on the interneticon California Digital Library web page here. New users can get started on-line by simply logging in with their existing Microsoft account details from this page. interneticon

dataUpLogoButtonIf you are interested in Open Source software, cloud applications and research data access and manipulation DataUp is a useful tool. Not the only cloud based service available to researchers, but readily accessible and easy to get started with we would argue.


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