Tag Archives: Twitter

Google testing new options interface?

Twitter followers of @daveyp and myself may have spotted a brief exchange of tweets between us and Phil Bradley (http://philbradlel.typepad.com/ Twitter name @philbradley) about additional icons appearing on Google results pages when ‘Show  options’ was selected. An example of what @daveyp was seeing is at http://www.daveyp.com/blog/stuff/google.jpg . He was using Google.com, the “search provider” box in IE and running IE8.0.6001 on WinXP SP3. It did not matter whether or not he was signed in to a Google account.

Phil Bradley and I attempted to replicate this on our various machines, operating systems, browsers etc but could not and neither could anyone else in @daveyp’s twitterstream. Phil Bradley wondered if @daveyp had stumbled upon some unique, bizarre experiment. In the mean time I had turned to the email discussion list of the AIIP (Association of Independent Information Providers), one of my professional networks. One hour and fifteen minutes later, fellow member Donna Fryer responded with a link to http://blogoscoped.com/forum/163640.html, which suggests that Google are testing a change to the format and layout. The posting also refers to http://searchengineland.com/google-streamlines-search-options-30143 . By this time @daveyp had reported that the icons had disappeared and the layout returned to normal!

I subscribe to the Blogscoped RSS feed but had completely forgotten about the posting. In a follow up tweet Phil Bradley echoed my own thoughts when he pointed out that the Blogscoped article was written in November 2009 and asked why they had started testing again now. The answer may be in the Search Engine Land post: “the cleaner display may be launched across Google after the New Year.” So keep your eyes peeled for a new layout in Show Options.

As well as alerting me to a potential change in the Google results layout, this whole exchange reinforced to me the power of networks and social media when one is faced with a problem – and I include the good old-fashioned, traditional email discussion lists. One person reports an oddity on their preferred social network (in this case Twitter). Members of that person’s network pick it up, investigate and pass it on to members in their preferred networks  (in my case the AIIP discussion list). Suggestions, advice and information are passed back to the original enquirer and problem solved!

UK’s Tweeting Councillors

Heavy snow hit us overnight in Caversham and as I write the fluffy white stuff is still falling. From my office window I can see through a gap in the houses opposite the traffic on Briants Avenue and there have been no buses, or indeed any traffic at all. Our local radio stations provide good general information and updates on the weather, roads and public services but #rdg in Twitter is by far the best source of detailed local news. So today I was paying extra attention to the #rdg column in my Tweetdeck and spotted that one of Reading Borough’s councillors, @CllrDaisyBenson, is on Twitter. A couple of tweets later she informed me that three of her Lib Dem colleagues are on Twitter and about the same time I found the CllrTweeps web site – Finding and following the UK’s Tweeting councillors at http://www.cllrtweeps.com/.

The list was started by @CllrTweeps who is @JamesCousins. The project is currently being developed by James Cousins and @DafyddBach. Not surprisingly the wonderful @Liz_Azyan has been involved with the list and is credited with identifying a lot of the councillors.

You can search the list by council, party and “tweeps” – an alphabetical list of tweeting councillors.If you are a tweeting UK councillor and not on the list details of how to add your user name are at http://www.cllrtweeps.com/about/

UK Tweeting Councillors

Which country makes the best chocolate

Major headline news in UK is the hostile bid by Kraft for chocolate manufacturer Cadbury. Cadbury apparently called Kraft’s offer derisory but there are now stories circulating that Hershey is in the race to gain control of Dairy Milk and Bourneville chocolate, amongst others. This has started a debate over US vs UK chocolate (see BBC News -The great transatlantic chocolate divide http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8414488.stm). This then spread over to  Twitter and other countries were mentioned as producers of the world’s best chocolate.

So choccy consumers of the world, here is a twtpoll to determine the truth! Poll ends Friday 18th December 2009.

Presentations: Online Information 2009

I shall be giving three presentations this year at the Online Information conference and exhibition at Olympia, London (http://www.online-information.co.uk/). One is on Twitter in the main conference and I am also giving two free talks in the exhibition area. Details are as follows:

The ever changing landscape of search: Google is not enough (Free seminar being given as part of the Online Information 2009 exhibition)
Online Information 2009 Tuesday, 1st December 2009, 11.45-12.15 Theatre C, Grand Hall, Olympia, London
Twitter for Business: an essential marketing and research tool (Online Information conference presentation )
Online Information 2009 Tuesday, 1st December 2009, 16:00-17:30, Track 2 Olympia Conference Centre, London
Business research: Web 2.0 is not an option but a necessity (Free seminar being given as part of the Online Information 2009 exhibition)
Online Information 2009 Wednesday, 2nd December 2009, 12.00-12.30 London Room, Grand Hall, Olympia, London

All three presentations will be available on Slideshare http://www.slideshare.net/karenblakeman

I shall be on the UKeiG stand (number 734) for a while over the next three days, so come and say hello if you are wondering round the exhibition.

If you are attending either the exhibition or the conference and tweeting, the conference tag is #online09

Twitter search in Bing and Google

Bing and Google have both announced that they have done a deal with Twitter that enables them to offer ‘real time’ Twitter searches. The Bing service is live now at http://www.bing.com/Twitter/. SearchEngineWatch has an overview of the service at Bing.com/Twitter: A Visual Tour. It looks impressive but as is so often the case with Bing the reality does not live up to expectations.

I have just returned from a conference on chemical information held in Sitges – hashtag #icic09. This should be an easy one for Bing Twitter to handle I thought. Silly me. Up came “We did not find any Twitter results or links for icic09″. I tried it with and without the hashtag – still nothing.  And yet both search.twitter.com and www.twazzup.com had no problem finding tweets from the conference.

Bing Twitter results on #icic09

Twazzup results on #icic09

It also appears that you cannot search on a username. I then compared the results of searches on keywords and names that I knew had been tweeted at the conference: chemspider, chemspiderman, David Walsh, semantic mediawiki, markush. Nothing! It seems that the whole conference has been boycotted by Bing Twitter. I did begin to suspect that the service is not really up and running but searching on Nick Griffin came up with plenty of results and it found a tweet from one of my Twitter network about chickpea curry that had been posted a few minutes before.

There is something seriously wrong with Bing Twitter. Until they fix it and can present credible results I recommend that you give it a miss.

So what of Google’s offering? It isn’t live yet but there is useful discussion and comments on Google Social Search Is Coming & More On Google-Twitter. The main question for us as searchers is whether or not the Twitter search will be integrated into the standard web search or made available as a separate option. Tweets are already included in the web search as I discovered when I did a search on icic09 but they are spread out amongst the results. It would make sense to have a separate search tool such as Google’s Blogsearch. Another option would be to incorporate it into the side bar under “Show options” (See Google new search and display options).

Bing have yet again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. As for Google Twitter, we shall just have to wait and see.

University Twitter

Liz Azyan is well known for her excellent lists of local government and councils using social media but now she has turned her attention to the UK Universities. The List of UK University Twitter Accounts as of 28th July 2009 has  56 accounts so far and as well as the name of the university it includes the ‘bios’. A surprising number don’t have one! In addition there is a University Twitterleague according to number of followers as of 28th July 2009. If your institution is missing from the list either email Liz at research@lizazyan.com or leave your details in the comment box to the posting.


You might also want to check out the  List of UK Universities Fan Pages on Facebook as of 28th July 2009 sorted by number of fans. The top two, and way above the rest, are The Open University (16,913) and Oxford University (14,867). Again email Liz or leave a comment if your university is missing from the list.

PATLIB 2009 presentations

The presentations that I gave at PATLIB 2009 in Sofia, Bulgaria lastweek are now available at http://www.rba.co.uk/patlib2009. There are two: a 25 minute  presentation that was given as part of the main conference and the longer half day pre-conference workshop. As usual, many of the slides will probably not make sense without my commentary but you are welcome to email or Twitter DM me if you want more information.

There is also a two page “Getting started with Twitter” document. Yes, I know that there is a plethora of  how-to-twitter pages on the web but almost none of them answer the questions that I am asked on my workshops. The best and most succinct that I have found so far is the two page http://portfolio.ginaminks.com/job_aides/twitter_cheat_sheet.pdf

Twitterplan – UK local government mashup for planning applications

I discovered Twitterplan via a posting on Liz Azyan’s excellent blog – Twitterplan: The Newest Mashup in UK Local Government via her Twitterstream @liz_azyan .

Twitterplan is a new service that has been set up by Lichfield District Council with help from the City of Lincoln Council and Planning Alerts. It sends a Twitter direct message to you whenever a planning application is submitted in your area. Go to http://www.twitterplan.co.uk/ and follow the instructions on screen.


The service covers 324 local authorities at present and there is a list of participants on the Twitterplan web site. My own council – Reading Borough Council – are included, which surprised me. Reading BC do not seem to be that keen to embrace Web 2.0 technologies and their web site can be a nightmare to navigate. They may be in the list, I thought, but will they actually deliver? A few hours after I had signed up my first two DMs arrived!


I am impressed: click on the link and you are taken direct to the details on the authority’s web site. It beats having to carry out an advanced Google site search on the Reading BC web site and trawling through the local newspaper planning applications.