Why I think a search on Twitter is better than using Google

Twitter is brilliant for talking to people and picking up new ideas. It’s the number one place where I get information related to my day job and my local blog. Twitter is all about following the right people.

But do you ever use Twitter as a search engine? The search function is brilliant and I find myself using it more and more. I’ve taken a few screen grabs to show how information picked up on a Twitter search is often more relevant than a google search. Welfare reform is a big part of my day job so I used that as a search term. I popped in Welfare Reform into google and these were the results.

A search for Welfare Reform on google

A search for Welfare Reform on google

The top couple of results take you to the Department for Work and Pensions website. Great for official information and the legislation. Lower down you can see a link to a story in the New Zealand Herald. Is that helpful? But what if you want to speak to people who are talking about welfare reform right now?

Now here is what came up when Welfare Reform was put in Twitter Search.

A Twitter Search for Welfare Reform

A Twitter Search for Welfare Reform

Let’s go through the six results.

1. An organisation in Brinnington is holding a welfare reform event. I could have replied and found out how it went and what information they shared. What questions were asked? Was it useful?

2. Ask Wiltshire shared an infographic on welfare reform. What a great way to understand more about the changes.

3. Wolverhampton Homes tweeted a link to info on their website. I could check and see how they were communicating the changes.

4. Leigh Robinson blogged a timeline to the changes. I could read a different voice and reply to him to find out more what his organisation is doing.

5. An organisation is holding an event in the high street. A quick reply could have given me more info about how it went, what went well, what didn’t go well. We could use this if we organised a local event in Torfaen.

6. An organisation is holding a webinar and inviting people to join. I could have sat at my desk and got involved or shared this with workmates.

Now that seems a lot more useful with opportunities to learn and network than the info you gain from a google search.

I also did a search on you tube and these were the results.

Welfare reform search on You Tube

Welfare reform search on You Tube

This was useful as well. I could have watched or shared online some brilliant videos that explain the changes in a visual way. Colleagues could spend a few minutes watching them to learn.

A mate’s Facebook status offends you. What do you do?

This happened to me this week and I didn’t do anything. I just clicked out of the app on my phone.

Since then I’ve had a funny feeling that I should have stood up for what I believe in and got involved in the debate.

I trust my belly and it’s telling me I should have done something. But what do you do with a mate on Facebook?

1. Get involved online? – I read somewhere that you shouldn’t start a conversation online that you’re not prepared to finish. His status had attracted a handful of likes and comments by the time I read it. I could tell it was going to run and run and I wasn’t planning on spending the day replying to any follow up comments..

2. Delete my mate as a friend?- This guy is a mate. Someone I actually know now and not from 25 years ago. I was a bit surprised at his views to be honest.

3.  Challenge him in person?- This is the most likely thing to happen. I don’t want to go into detail about what he said online for obvious reasons. The topic he wrote about is debated in papers and pubs across the country every day of the week. He chose to do it online which wasn’t a place I felt happy to talk. So will put it in the back of the mind  to chat to him about when we meet.

4. Delete your Facebook account?- This is my close second to number 3 on the list. I still enjoy Facebook and the small details of what your mates are up to make me smile. But there are occasional shares, likes and comments that you just don’t want to see…

These below have been added
after I posted this blog for the first time.

5. Forget about it and don’t let it bother you– This was suggested by @GrumpyWelshSod

6. You could also ask Facebook to develop a dislike button. This was suggested by @ena_lloyd

Axl Rose, Dane Bowers, 4yo skater boy and a year of local blogging fun on Cwmbran Life

In 2012 there were 73,792 hits on Cwmbran Life. It was a cracking year that was topped by winning Best Community Blog at the Wales Blog Awards. Other highlights were finding out a Cwmbran man is the lead singer in the world’s best Guns N’ Roses tribute band and bumping into Dane Bowers in a pub.

Today WordPress emailed a summary of this year and you can read it by clicking this link.

Here are the ten links that had the most views in 2012

Home page 22,057 views

Building work has started on a new Morrisons supermarket in Cwmbran 4,440 views

New Chinese restaurant has opened in Cwmbran 1,5823 views

About Cwmbran Life 1,201 views

4-year-old boy stuns visitors and skaters at Cwmbran Boating Lake 1,074 views

Cwmbran mum’s text to teenage daughter goes viral with 27,000 likes on Facebook 1,046 views

Missing dog in Cwmbran £100 reward 922 views

Cwmbran man is Axl Rose in the world’s leading Guns N’ Roses  tribute band 881 views

Dane Bowers has signed to play for Cwmbran Celtic football club 637 views

Photos of today’s fire in Old Cwmbran 558 views

How tenants are helping us to write in plain English and kill gobbledygook

The guidelines for the 'member approved' mark

The guidelines for the ‘member approved’ mark

The building has a facility that can be used to make copies of documents.

The organisation that used that sentence will remain anonymous. Most people call a ‘facility that can be used to make copies of documents’ a photocopier.

You can’t explain why people write in that way. The truth is it is harder to write in plain English than it is to write in jargon.

An estimated one in four adults in Torfaen have poor reading skills so we set up a group who help check our documents for plain English.

It doesn’t work perfectly and we know we can do it better by making more staff aware of this servicer. The group have good fun doing the checks and are really keen to have a nose at more documents and letters before they are used.

The group is five or six tenants who meet up every month. Some of them have email and if something comes in that needs to be quickly checked they are happy to do it by email.

Some of the group were worried that they didn’t have qualifications  They don’t need qualifications to decide they don’t understand something and suggest ways to make it clearer. The one thing they have in common is a hatred of  gobbledygook and jargon.

The forum developed our magazine Community News from an A3 newsheet into a professional A4 magazine that in 2011 won a national award in Wales. The CIPR judges said: “A nice dynamic publication, simply written with engaging content for the audience.” It was a great credit to the group to be told the magazine is ‘simply written’.

At their first meeting they come up with the simple checklist above that is used to check documents.   Jargon creates phone calls and queries so they are helping colleagues cut down on questions that can come from a unclear document.

Is this a facility for making copies of a document or a photocopier?

Is this a facility for making copies of a document or a photocopier?

Photo credit- The photcopier photo was taken by Daniel O’Connor and shared under a creative commons licence.

Can you imagine your town without any pubs? Think of the millions of conversations that will be lost. A quick blog

The Lost Pub Project lists pubs in England that have closed and up until the 18 December 2012 the site had 21,917.entries. Let’s take a guess at each of those pubs being the place where around 500 different topics of conversations took place each day. That’s around 11 millions lost conversations (10,958,500).

The topics could be jokes, anecdotes, political debates, disagreements, celebrations, commiserations, flirting, mundane, weather, sport, local schools…anything.

All these stories lost forever.

Stories in the media like this are shocking:  Is this the end of the British boozer? 18 pubs close every week in UK.

A pub is not just about alcohol. A pub is about conversations and people sharing stories. The thought of those conversations not happening and the impact on a town is quite depressing.

Everyone is equal in a pub. You walk in, get out some money and buy a drink. You can  say a quick hello, start a chat or just smile and nod at anyone. And it’s that anyone that is so important. Where else can you do that?

In the summer I was in a pub and in around 20 minutes I spoke to four people: an off-duty police officer, a man who has done a stretch in prison for assault, a boss who earns over £100,000 a year and an unemployed man. Communities where people from different backgrounds live and mix are important. A pub is the ideal place for this to happen.

Sports clubs often base themselves in a pub. Where will teams go for an after match chat?

My father-in-law moved from Essex to south Wales a couple of years ago. His new local pub in Cwmbran was a short bus ride away quickly gave him new friends. That pub has now closed. Where else would he have got to know local people in a short space of time?

An elderly man used to walk passed my house most days of the week in the early morning and walk back with a newspaper under his arm. If I was off work I would see him in the early afternoon do the same walk but this time his walk back would take a bit longer. I once popped in the local pub and my father-in-law was chatting to this man and introduced me to him. Now this pub has closed I don’t see this guy doing his second walk of the day. I wonder what he is doing now? Sat at home on his own watching telly?

Meeting people, talking and sharing a joke is a great  way to avoid being lonely and the health problems that can be linked. Will fewer pubs mean greater pressure on NHS mental health services?

Jobs are picked up in pubs. Over a beer my father-in-law found a landscape gardener who tides up his weeds every couple of months.

Politicians are using social media to debate issues with constituents  In my area there are two thriving Facebook pages that are popular with local councillors, Torfaen Matters and Torfaen Today.

I do wonder whether local councillors would be more effective speaking to local voters in a pub instead of commenting on Facebook posts. Face to face is surely a much better way to win over voters in a debate on local issues?

On Christmas Eve I picked up a horse tip while stood at the bar of a pub. It lost but still I thought I was sitting on some secret information when I placed my £2 bet.. On Christmas Day I took my 6yo daughter at lunchtime to a pub where we met a gang of our neighbours for a chat. She loved seeing them and showing off her presents. The place was packed and I bet the number of stories shared over those midday drinks would have been in the thousands.

One pub in my town is setting up a savings club in January (I’ll blog about it on Cwmbran Life soon) where people can meet on a Saturday and pay a few quid into an account ready for next Christmas. The couple running this pub are trying to be different and you’ve got to applaud that.

I’ve written this in the last hour but plan to come back to the importance of pubs for another post at a later date.