Monthly Archives: November 2009

A Charity Twitterthon

On Wednesday evening, with an hour to spare in a Paris hotel, and some free wifi – a rarity these days – I started thinking about how I might take part in this year’s Children in Need fundraiser. I asked for suggestions on Twitter, then came up with my own idea – a “follow for a fiver” campaign. I offered to follow anyone on Twitter for £5, and retweet them for £10 or more.

The next stage was to set up a Justgiving page where I could gather donations, and be sure that Gift Aid would be paid on top, and decorate it with a Pudseyfied image of myself – just £1 from the Children in Need site. I went live at around 1700 on Wednesday evening – and by I830 I had already collected over £400. So just a few simple bits of web technology, coupled with the power of a Twitter network, had enabled me to raise money at the rate of nearly £5 a minute.

After that initial burst, things slowed down a bit – but by Friday morning, the Children in Need day, I’d raised around £900 towards my target of £2000.  More Twitter ‘noise’ was needed – people react very quickly on a social network, but need constant reminders because there is always something new to distract them.

So I made a quick YouTube video explaining the next stage – the auctioning of various gadgets via my Justgiving page:

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Raising money via Twitter“, posted with vodpod
The trouble was, nobody quite got the idea of posting a bid for a gadget on the Justgiving site., and  I then realised it was not designed (or indeed permitted) to be used for an auction. Whereas Twitter was, so I set about appealing for bids direct from my network  – and rapidly sold four gadgets for something like £1000.
The people at Justgiving noticed my fundraising efforts and linked to them from their blog, and other Twitter friends started tweeting about it unprompted. The result was that by 8pm on Friday evening, my target of £2000 had been breached.
But it didn’t stop there. Prompted  with some more subtle (ok, incessant..) reminders in my Twitterstream through Saturday, the money kept flooding in. So by Sunday morning, the total stood at over £3200.
I’m really proud that something which involved just a little effort and a smattering of technology has paid off so handsomely. But I’m even prouder of the extraordinary generosity of the friends – many of whom I’ve never met – who contributed to this appeal. I will get round to following them all on Twitter – but I’m a bit worried that retweeting those who offered £10 or more will clog up my twitterstream for days.
So here’s a suggestion – I’ve entered every donor and their messages in a Roll of Honour. They’re in rough chronological order  starting on Wednesday evening  and I haven’t said how much they gave because from £5 to £300 they’ve all played their part. If you still fell short-changed by the lack of a retweet get in touch and I’ll do it. And if you are a contributor whose name is missing, please add it in a message on this blog. Oh – and feel free to donate if you haven’t already – the appeal page is still open.
Roll of Honour

@benbutterworth Good luck!
Great idea, good luck with the fundraising @Solwise xxx
Donation by Quaristice
Good luck, Rory. Donation by @suburbman
Good luck with the twittering fundraising! Donation by @virtualewit
Great idea! @how2crafts Donation by John Morse-Brown
Think you may be following me anyway and no worries on the RT I was going to do it anyway! Cheers, @jonno Donation by Jon Collins
well done Rory, good use of Twitter Donation by @KeithUnderdown
Good luck reaching your target Rory. Donation by Lyndon Johnson @lyndonJJ
Great idea. Good luck getting to your target Donation by @NancollasGree
All the best Donation by @EclipseDeb
Here’s hoping my small donation helps you reach your target! Good luck! Donation by @seng40
Great idea Rory – is CiN on Twitter too? Donation by twitter/russellphoto
Just a little donation towards your goal and for a very good cause! Donation by @anne_f_
Good luck! Donation by @peeebeee
Let’s make it a good year for the kids Donation by @tonepowell
Sure you’ll make it. Donation by @SBA1
Great job Rory. Your name heads a whole TweetDeck group for me @AlisonKS Donation by Alison Shore
Donation by Anon (by the power of twitter)
Best wishes Rory @slicknic Donation by Nick
Nice work, Rory! @Pam_Nash Donation by Pam Nash
Great idea! Could you RT @Mubaloo 23 days left to enter our competition to win a free app for your business: Donation by Fran Allen
From @nickshore at @linITX, hope you hit your target Donation by Nick Shore is a weekly podcast for the UK mobile phone industry. Good luck with your challenge! Donation by @thefonecast
@Veritape: Hi and good luck with the fundraising. A RT would be great, thanks 🙂 Donation by Veritape – call recording made simple
Nice to see social media being used for Children in Need.. Go and get all those PR people who pester you to pay up!! 🙂 Donation by thinkbroadband
You already follow me, but you can have a fiver anyway – nice effort, well done! @katebevan Donation by Kate Bevan
Delighted to contribute @SchoolDuggery Donation by Rachel Gooch
Good work. No worries about the follow. @nickj89 Donation by Nick Jones
Nice idea Rory – @jonathanfrewin Donation by jonathan frewin
Best of luck Rory – I’m @division6. Donation by Armand David
@billiwilliams – can you tweet #gdaddyhorns please Donation by Rachel Williams
I think my tenner means this great idea has now raised £1000! Surely that’s worth an RT 🙂 Donation by @jez_mercke
think you’re already following me but if not I’m @guyclapperton – many thanks. Donation by Guy Clapperton
No need to follow : @headbones Donation by Christopher Gibson
Great stuff – Great cause Donation by @billgibbon
Good luck Rory @chrisbignell Donation by Chris Bignell
Paying a journalist to write/retweet – seriously dodgy… but then again, ’tis a good cause and Shirley did you Welshies proud. Well done Mr C-J. Donation by Rachel Lankester
We’ll be asking you to RT in a moment…thank you, this is great 🙂 Donation by Bev Toogood/Little Sunflowers (@LittleSunflower)
Great use of Twitter Donation by @bubela
@ideasgroup It’s the beginning of the end for the silver disc! Linn to cease production of CD players. Streaming is the future. Donation by @ideasgroup
Feeling guilty about refusing to don the bear suit this afternoon. Perhaps this will help! @davidacgregory Donation by @davidacgregor
Top idea. Now, about next year’s nude tech calendar… Donation by Paul Clarke – @paul_clarke
Fantastic cause and ingenious idea! Donation by Chloe Francis – @chloef
Great idea rory Donation by @ralvin
Great idea. Donation by Louise @louisebinns
Hi Rory, keep up the fundraising, it’s great work! Please can you RT #nothanksbillyocean Donation by @lee_ridley
So much easier to do this ahead of the big night! Donation by @snorestor
Good idea @ruskin147. Onwards and Upwards. @alanmort Donation by Alan Mort
Great idea. I’m @reyes Donation by Mauricio Reyes
Hi Rory good twitter idea and a good cause. Promise we won’t ask you to use #m**nf***t this time 😉 Donation by @wendytanwhite
@neiladam Donation by Neil Adam
Nice idea. @sciorama Donation by tweeter
Don’t worry about the follow, I’d rather earn it through my tweets than buy it. Great idea, good luck reaching your target. Donation by John Keleher @johnkatcrittall
@StudioBunny says: we expect an embarrassing CiN challenge for you to confront – Hah!
This is a great idea, and raising money for a fantastic cause. Good luck reaching your target! @Hendy14 Donation by Scott Henderson
I am sure you will reach your target. Good idea and effort in any case! @mikehellers Donation by Mike Hellers
Hope you reach your target! @mrmackenzie Donation by Sinclair Mackenzie
Well done Rory. Donation by @tftd 2
Good luck with reaching your target – great to see you use your considerable Twitter following for good 🙂 Donation by @jon_bedford
Good luck! A great idea indeed 🙂 No need for the follow, you’ll drown in tweets! Donation by @g4eid
ok here’s an extra fiver to make it up to £30 @darlingbuds Donation by Andrew Darling
It wouldn’t be Children in Need if I wasn’t donating something to Rory.. keep it up @tricias Donation by Tricia
best of luck. Donation by Andrew Darling
@mgarthwaite Rory, you are almost there! Donation by Martin Garthwaite
Go Rory! Helping raise awareness of censorship and libel abuse affecting UK journalists. Donation by @AVerySecretBlog
Good luck! Donation by @nicolehudspith
Keep going! Donation by fdelaroche
Hope you reach the target. @lozhead
Donation by Mark Prigg
I’d quite like to take you to party with Pudsey tonight… Donation by Diane Coyle
Great idea Donation by @journotutor
Fantastic effort Rory – good luck, you shall go to the ball!! Donation by ALISONJB
keep up the good work, 10/10 for effort – All at Donation by nicado
Excellent use of Twitter. Fingers crossed you can make it £2k. Donation by @matt_rf
Good work & a good cause, from @willsturgeon and @the_mediablog Donation by Will Sturgeon
Well done. Great idea. Great Tweets. @paddythedaddy Donation by Andrew Barber
A very worthy cause. Good luck with hitting the target Donation by @darrenwaters
hopeyou raise lots for Pudsey on twitter! Donation by suseaslowknitta
Donation by Sarah White
Will pass on to all my colleagues at Speed Communications! Good luck! Donation by @Nicky_Savage
Nice one! Donation by Mark Cowell @markcowel
excellent idea! @mrs_od Donation by @mrs_od
Fab idea! Good luck. Donation by @camelliazarbo
Donation by Andrew Darling
Well done Rory! Fantastic haul for a fantastic cause. Keep up the good work! Donation by David Kerr(winning bid for Blackberry Bold)
Well done Rory Donation by @cloggingchris
Well Done Rory! @happymichael Donation by Michael Chung(winning bid for MiFi)
pls RT: Just back from fab Esperanto-speaking school trip to Hungary, part of innovative primary school language course. Donation by @timsk3
Well done Rory! Great work. (@documentally)
Brilliant stuff Rory – great way of raising money for such a good cause. @abisignorelli Donation by Abi Signorelli
My twitter username is: @sissling – I really don’t think I have anything worth retweeting! Donation by @sissling
Here’s another donation for a great cause! This is much better than that whole baked bean thing..:) Donation by @Moggle
Good job Rory Donation by @saturngirl
Good work Rory, all in a good cause Donation by @craigblog
Great fundraising idea!! From @CRUKWalton Donation by Nancy Scott
Congratulations on hitting the £2000 mark. @Dobblesworth is my username on Twitter. Donation by Daniel O’Brien
3K beckons Donation by Piers Parry-Crook
Cheers to you! @deebdublin Donation by Dee Blake
Well done……!! Donation by @halfwelshdragon
congratulations Donation by @dawnhallybone
I thought I’d tip you over the £2000, but someone just pipped me to to it Donation by @daycoder
Well done Rory Donation by Heather Gorringe
Well done Rory, almost there! Donation by essjayme
Donation by John Church
Good one Rory! Donation by a follower
Well done on the fund raising. Enjoy the party. Oh – and I can’t see why you would be remotely interested in my tweets. No need to follow Donation by Frances Hyde
FANTASTIC to see you getting so close yto your Target Rory. @digitalmaverick Donation by Drew Buddie
Good effort, Rory! This way you don’t have to RT, but you do get (almost) the same amount Donation by Drew White
Good luck with the target! Donation by Bobbyshaw (winning bid for HTC Hero)
Hope you reach your target! Donation by savesnine
Hope you manage to reach your target tonight – here’s a little something to help Donation by @bexxi
Children In Tweed? Where’s my specs…well done Rory. Donation by @ianwylie
Great effort Rory. Well done. You’ll probably need to join the news presenters dance next year to top this. Donation by Peter Horrocks
Excellent idea Rory – RT me (@jordandias) and follow (@adrianlovell) who’s also a fan! I’m with the Bear too! Donation by Jordan Dias
hope your over-achievement means you can concentrate on the dancing Donation by @filemot
Keep it up. Good seeing you at the 140conf. Donation by JP
Nearly at £3k – well done, Rory! Donation by @julietanne
Great work Rory & thanks for the tweet coverage. @gingerpete
Tune into BBC 1 Wales on Sunday evening to watch the Children in Need Gala concert organised by BBC Wales – a brilliant evening Donation by @gingio
That’s the list as at 0930 on Sunday. If you donate after that, please add your name in a comment below.

Hanoi, Halong Bay and Digital Diplomacy

Hanoi street scene

At the end of October, I found myself in Hanoi talking to Vietnamese civil servants and diplomats about the social media revolution and how they needed to get involved. Then I took a couple of days holiday to explore Hanoi and make a quick trip to Halong Bay, one of the most bewitching places I’ve ever visited.
Dusk in Halong Bay
Some of the photos I took during the trip can be seen here.

I also recorded some audioboos including this one about eating in Hanoi:

And also this video walking through Hanoi:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Walking to lunch in Hanoi", posted with vodpod

I wrote a blog post about the digital diplomacy event which appeared first on the blog of Stephen Hale, the head of digital diplomacy at the Foreign Office, then in Vietnamese on the BBC Vietnamese service website. Here it is:

“It was one of the most daunting audiences I’ve ever faced. They sat in formal suits ranged behind tables in the windowless conference room of a Hanoi hotel and as I began my presentation I was not quite sure just how I’d ended up there or whether anyone wanted to hear what I had to say. But a quick trick I’ve used on audiences ranging from schoolchildren to business leaders seemed to relax everyone.

I got out my mobile phone and took a picture of the audience encouraging them to wave at me and just a few minutes later I was able to show them that a photo featuring some of the cream of the Vietnamese civil service had been posted on the social networking site Twitter, where they were now waving to the world.

The event was the Digital Diplomacy Workshop organised by the British Embassy and Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and I had been invited to come and speak. As I explained to my audience, I am neither a diplomat nor a politician, but a journalist – so in fact it’s my job to be as undiplomatic as I can manage without getting into trouble.

But I did feel that we had something in common in that my world as a BBC reporter had been turned upside down by technology in recent years, and theirs was undergoing a similar revolution. My presentation was entitled “Learning To Talk”, and my message was that in a world where just about anyone can get their voice heard there is no alternative to joining the global conversation.

When I started in broadcasting more than a quarter of a century ago, news editors thought they knew what was good for the millions who tuned in to our TV and radio news bulletins – and those audiences had few alternatives but to sit back and accept what they were given. Similarly, politicians and diplomats in the analogue age were able to talk for hours, and the world had to listen, or at least fall asleep quietly.

Now the internet has given just about everyone the chance to talk back at journalists, politicians and diplomats – whether though blogs, through YouTube videos or most likely through social networks like Facebook and Twitter. The reaction of those who used to be in charge of the conversation was at first uncertain, but now mainstream journalists, governments, corporations, governments and diplomats are plunging in, writing blogs, recording YouTube videos, tweeting and Facebooking as if it were going out of fashion – which may indeed happen once something new comes along.

My message to my Hanoi audience was to embrace this new world – but be aware that there are new rules, and just because you are keen to talk it doesn’t mean the world wants to listen. So I showed them one blog from a big pharmaceuticals business which had attracted no comments at all – and a YouTube video from the same company where comments were disabled. Not much of a conversation there.

And I warned them that they might find it difficult to walk the hazy line between the personal and the professional which is an essential feature of blogging and social networking.

When it came to question time, I was pleased to discover that the audience was keen to engage. They’d already shown that they were not shy about cutting through to the essentials, putting Stephen Hale from the UK Foreign Office on the spot about the cost of digital diplomacy.

But it was that issue of personal and professional which was the focus of many of the questions to me – and the other speakers. How could institutions trust individuals to blog – or tweet – without strict supervision so that they did not make up policy on their own? We explained that this was an issue of trust – my employer expects me to be as impartial in my blogs or social networking activity as I am when broadcasting, and the Foreign Office trusts its ambassadors to behave as cautiously in the digital sphere as they do elsewhere.

Still, there was already widespread familiarity at the workshop with Facebook, Twitter and other aspects of modern web culture and everyone seemed keen to plunge into digital diplomacy – as long as it could be done within existing departmental budgets. There was, however, an elephant in the room – the question of free speech in a society where the government has not been tolerant of bloggers and journalists considered to have acted against the interests of the state. Before the workshop, someone had sent me on Twitter a link to an article in The Economist about the recent arrests of three people who had written critically online about Vietnam-China relations.

At various stages during the workshop, I attempted to steer our debate towards the free speech issue, stressing that once you plunge into the digital conversation you can expect to hear plenty of views you may find annoying, ridiculous, or just plain wrong. But I detected some reluctance, not just amongst the Vietnamese officials but also from two overseas online businesses working in Vietnam, to confront this issue.

That evening, I did get another chance. At a British Embassy reception, I found myself talking to the spokeswoman for Vietnam’s foreign ministry and, plucking up courage, I asked her why her country had chosen to arrest bloggers for expressing their views. Politely, but firmly, she corrected me, insisting that it was not what they had written that had got the bloggers into trouble but their involvement in other public protests. Amidst the hubbub of the embassy party, I found it difficult be quite clear exactly what they had done but one message did come through loud and clear – don’t try and tell a country where memories of the war with the United States are still fresh that it does not have the right to impose limits on what can and cannot be said.

To this first-time visitor, Vietnam appeared to be a country making rapid strides into the technological future – from the young people answering their mobile phones from speeding motor scooters, to civil servants working out how to use the web to promote their country’s interests, to the bloggers testing the limits of their government’s patience. It will be fascinating to see just how Vietnam adapts to a world where everyone seems to want to be part of the conversation.”