What Is Amplified?

If you follow me on Twitter, or we’re friends on Facebook, you may have seen me mention Amplified over the years. We started Amplified almost in 2008, but I still quite often get asked what it’s all about, so I thought I’d write a post about what we do (this was first written in 2012, and tweaked in 2017). I ran it by the brilliant Brian Condon, who tweaked it further, and this is what we came up with – hopefully it’ll serve as a bit of an explanation for those who are new to it, as well as a thing we can send to people who are interested in hiring us and want more info…

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Amplified is about online conversational integrity

We help enable conversations online around events. We are amplifiers of ideas, opinions, perspectives, and we bring with us our own curiosity and interests in order to facilitate honest, meaningful discussion.

Through years of incorporating social media into our daily work and lives, we have a deep understanding of what works best for particular situations. The environment is changing constantly – partly why I describe Amplified as a ‘perpetual beta project’. Anyone who thinks they have social media “mastered” is in for a shock when the next sea-change happens in usage, perception and tools in a week’s time…

So what do we offer the client? We help facilitate a much bigger conversation, we help distill big ideas into social-media-sized conversational elements and we do so from a position of trust with our extended networks. Everyone who works with Amplified is there because they are trusted and are experienced in the use and application of social media to web-scale conversations.

The elements that come to play are:

  • Documentary – through live blogging, tweeting, photographing and audio-recording, we make the substance of the event readable, audible and visible online, both during and after the event.
  • Conversation – by being part of (and often central to) the Twitter conversation around the event’s hashtag, we are able to feed questions from the room to those outside, and vice versa, as well as talk about our own experience of being at the event and of the event’s area of focus. We also often use Audioboo to publish conversations with attendees, speakers and organisers of events, asking questions and sharing insights in a way that helps distill thoughts and ideas into sharable media online.
  • Aggregation – the liveblog is often central to what we bring to an event – using a number of live tools, and also Storify to aggregate tweets and photos as part of the timeline. The combination of the two gives greater context.

At events where our personal Twitter accounts are the focus of a lot of people’s attention, we use selective retweeting to reflect the thoughts and ideas that are happening elsewhere on Twitter, for those that aren’t just following the hashtag, thus exposing them to a potentially much larger audience.

Our experience and the benefits:

Our experience has been that meaningful engagement around people’s negative responses is better for everyone, and the honest feedback allows you to tailor your events to your audience, and leaves them feeling like they’ve been listened to rather than just talked at. We’re not a marketing or PR agency; we do something different so we won’t spin your mistakes, we won’t hide the opinions of those who aren’t into your event. We don’t feed trolls or give voice to angry malcontents, but we also don’t attempt to bury legitimate criticism.

We’re also not journalists (though a number of our team have a background in the BBC or writing for national papers and magazines) – the role of our own opinions within events is just that of an observer, a participant. We often have better access to the speakers and organisers than the majority of attendees, just because we’re working for them, but we’re more ‘super-delegates’ than journos. Where we do write reportage-style pieces, we do so from an informed position but not an exalted one. We don’t have ‘an angle’.

In almost 8 years of organising and amplifying events, we’ve never had one ‘go bad’. Our policy of transparency and trust has time and again led to far better outcomes than a more guarded, controlled and lower risk approach might. The conversations are wider ranging, and the input of outsiders more genuine, as well as the archive being of far greater use to the event organisers due to the richness of the thought and opinion shared by those who are included in the process and the conversations.

‘Amplified’ as a company is mostly dormant, but all those of us who have been involved along the way are still available for social media support and strategy around events. When I’m asked, my own inclination is towards helping to formulate an approach to social media that makes most sense of the event and its constituents, and then assembling the right team of freelancers and specialists to support the vision for the event.

Please do get in touch to talk further.

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As an example of a recent event I’ve worked on, here are the Storify pages that I helped to curate for Nitrobeat’s event around theatre and diversity, called The D-Word – https://storify.com/nitrobeatuk

Leadership, Mentoring, Art and Music…

Last week, I attended the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s ArtWorks launch, which is focused on “Leading Through Practice: Artist-led Leadership in Participatory Settings.”

It was an amazing day (see the liveblog at amplified11.com/ArtWorksPHF ) and certain themes emerged, particularly as they relate to support structures for artists. The themes of sustainability and cross-disciplinary learning/practice came up a few times, which inspired me to think about how they relate to pop/rock musicians.

Continue reading “Leadership, Mentoring, Art and Music…”

Ada Lovelace Day 2011 – Nancy Baym.

Ada Lovelace day is a day to celebrate women in technology/science/maths – a way of redressing the still-apparent imbalance in the representation of the role of women in the past present and future of the various strands of technology.

One strand of it is people blogging about women who have influenced them and their tech/science/engineering/maths-life. So that’s what I’ll do.

This year, I want to write a little about Nancy Baym – Nancy is Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, with a special personal emphasis on “personal connections in a digital age” (the title of her excellent book) and in the changing relationship between musicians and their fans.

I’ve been reading Nancy’s ‘online fandom’ blog for years, and was drawn in immediately by her scholarly approach to looking at the subject. Almost all the people who write about the changes that the internet has brought about for musicians and music fans do so from a purely anecdotal perspective – me included (albeit somewhat aggregated anecdotes that point to a sea-change in those relationships). Nancy is doing brilliant research and presents that work all over the world at conferences in both the academic and music sectors. Her book is one of -if not THE – key text(s) on connections online.

I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from Nancy and swap ideas with her over the last couple of years. I finally met up with her at a conference in Berlin last year, and have been interviewed by her twice for different books or papers she’s writing. It’s not often that an interview teaches me more than I’m able to impart but not only does talking to Nancy make me up my game just through her not letting me get away with any folksy fluffy BS about the internet being nice for musicians – at least not without backing it up – but her questions are the best questions and her responses reveal her to have the most astute grasp of the whole area of online communication as it relates to musicians of anyone I’ve ever come across.

She’s a brilliant academic, digital ninja, ardent music fan and brilliant analyst of what happens beyond the fluffy shiny stuff of our lives onine. She also wins at Twitter – follow her at @nancybaym – she manages to be funny, sarcastic, erudite and fiercely intelligent in 140 characters. Another rare trait.

There are still a few hours of Ada Lovelace Day to go – who are your digital heroines?

The Housing Question – Travelling North & Shirts4Shelter

This is the week we say goodbye to London. Well, at least, the week we cease to call it home. We’re off to Birmingham, since the cost of being in London in no way reflects the benefits of still being here. Birmingham is home to many of our friends, it’s a cool city for music and the arts, and close enough to the capital for working here when I need to.

We’re very lucky, in that neither of us are in jobs where we’re trapped into staying in an unaffordable house by the promise of future earnings. It seems all too common now for people caught between crash-related falling wages and pre-crash defined housing costs to end up in ‘speculative debt’ – taking out loans or putting rent on credit cards, in the hope of things picking up and them paying it all off.

One of the latest projects that Amplified are involved in is looking at this very issue – ‘Shirts4Shelter’ sees shirt maker TM Lewin teaming up with housing and homelessness charity Shelter. They are helping raise money, awareness and support for Shelter, as the charity seek to help and advise people from across society who are facing housing difficulties. It will culminate in a ‘shirt amnesty’ in London and Manchester – bring an old, sellable shirt to be donated to Shelter’s charity shops, and get a TM Lewin shirt with a hefty discount, with part of those sales also being donated to Shelter. a massive win all round, methinks.

They’ve also produced a series of videos, telling the stories of people caught in what are sadly increasingly typical stories of modern housing crisis. Here’s the first one. Please feel free to share it around, tell your story, and check out www.shirts4shelter.co.uk to find out just how TM Lewin are helping out.

Calling All Indie Musicians…

dear lovely musicians,

want to be a part of something fun that may make life a little easier for all of us? 

I’ve been working with the genius digi-gnomes at the Imperial College Dept Of Social Computing for over a year on a music sharing app/platform. It’s been through a few revisions, and we want to give it a trial now.

If you’re up for being involved, all that would happen is you’d get to download the app, and could then upload your music. There won’t be any financial transactions in the trial version of the app (though it will be a really interesting proof of concept to see if anyone who hears you chooses to go outside of the app in order to pay you for your music!) – so there’s no money in it, but there is some potential audience, and the chance to play with something very cool before anyone else. You need to have the rights to all your music – if you’re legally allowed to put it on bandcamp, you can put it here as well.

So, if you’ve got at least one album you’re happy to upload into the system (you’ll have the option to remove it again before any properly live version of the app goes out to the general publique.) let me know and I’ll send you an invite as soon as the app’s available (in the next couple of days)

 Sound good? of course it sounds good. Call me, m’kay? 

In search of ideologically sound rock music

(by Jennifer Moore)

A 7-year-old of my acquaintance is soon to receive the exciting present of an MP3 player, and I have been co-opted to the organisation of this great event.

I feel sure it would be a much more satisfactory present if it arrived with some music already on.

He loves rock music, so I’m looking for some. I’m thinking say 3 to 10 tracks, depending on what I find.

Here’s my spec:

  • Legitimate free versions available… or, at a pinch, very cheap. I don’t want to spend a small fortune on something he may not take to. (But if ever there were a situation fitting the profile of “win future fans by letting them hear the music”, this surely must be one 🙂 )
  • Lyrics encompassing a healthy world view. So none of ye olde “My woman done me wrong”, and preferably (though I know this is a tall order) none of the “You made me feel/do X”.
  • Rock music of some description. Can’t be much more descriptive here as I don’t know exactly where his tastes lie, but hey, why not expand them while we’re at it, anyway 🙂
  • Or orchestral music! as he likes that as well.

I tried looking on Bandcamp, but ran out of time/energy before finding anything within my parameters. There are some tags relating to ideology – like “feminist” or “queercore” – but can you search on “all of several tags/criteria” on their site, like you can on say a shopping site? I couldn’t figure out how. I wanted to ask it for the intersection of ideologically sound and free/cheap and rock. And the ones I did find with promising tags, most didn’t have the lyrics written down for me to quickly scope out… and I ended up quailing at the amount of music I’d apparently have to listen through to (if I could even make out all the words) to check out whether something really met my standards on the “acceptable messages for a 7 year old” front!

So I thought this was a case for consulting some actual humans (probably ones who listen to more new music than I do). Hence posting here 🙂

Any recommendations?

(of course feel free too to riff on the general nature of using words to search for music, etc…)

What Happens When ‘They’ Don’t Get Social Media? Why the Bullying Of Baskers Matters.

Wow, there really have been a whole load of social media shitstorms of late.

First, there was the case of Paul Chambers, AKA the #twitterjoketrial, where one guy tweets a jokey, hyperbolic, frustrated tweet ostensibly to his friends that follow him, and has now ended up (after appeal even) with a £1000 fine and a criminal record. And has lost his job.

Then there was the case of Sarah Baskerville – @Baskers on Twitter. She’s a Civil Servant, one that clearly cares a great deal about her job and has a whole load of wonderful ideas for making the processes involved in governing the country more transparent through social technology.

However, when Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail decided – without any warning or reasoning – to write an article about her, instead of praising her well-documented forward thinking approach to the role of emergent technology in the CS, and her commitment to improving CS practices, he instead drew attention to a couple of tweets that mention her having a hangover and suggested that she should be sacked for them.

Wow. What a shitbag he is. Continue reading “What Happens When ‘They’ Don’t Get Social Media? Why the Bullying Of Baskers Matters.”

The Internet Is Not The Enemy – Inspired by An Excellent Rant

Yesterday, the wonderful and talented Miranda Ward wrote this brilliant rant entitled ‘The Internet Is Not The Enemy‘.

Which in turn inspired in me a comment so long it kinda deserves its own post. So here it is, but read her post first 🙂

-o0o-

Excellent Rantage.

I feel afronted by the web-phobic ramblings for two reasons – one, just about ever good idea I’ve come across in the last 12 years has been because of the internet. There have been email discussion lists that have changed the course of my life, forums that have connected me to communities that have challenged and supported my various endeavours, found music, videos, books, thinkers, friends… Continue reading “The Internet Is Not The Enemy – Inspired by An Excellent Rant”

IBM Summit At Start – Sustainability, Collaboration, Copyright and Language.

For the last three days I’ve been at the IBM Summit at Start – 9 days of seminars, hosted by Prince Charles, looking at Sustainability issues, particularly as they relate to business.

There have been some amazing speakers, particularly James Jones the Bishop of Liverpool, Ellen McArthur, Larry Hirst, Stephen Howard… all offering an inspiring challenge to think big, get creative, redefine the rules of the game, challenge business orthodoxy… These have been contrasted with a few more circumspect views, starting from the point that businesses just need to get smarter and less wasteful at what they do in order the fix things, that the bigger questions about the foundations of the western economic project are not really up for discussion. Continue reading “IBM Summit At Start – Sustainability, Collaboration, Copyright and Language.”

Greenbelt: Actively Doing Nothing.

August Bank Holiday Weekend IS Greenbelt. Sometimes it feels like the banks are closed in honour of it. For 19 of the last 21 last-weekend-in-Augusts I’ve spent my time in a field (til ‘99) or racecourse (the fest has been in Cheltenham for 11 years) engaged in four simple pleasures: