Socially Disruptive Technology … in action

The Web is a socially disruptive technology. By that I mean it changes the status quo . It alters how we interact and act in the world. Facebook, LinkedIn,  iPhones, skype, YouTube,  twitter, blogs, forums, reviewing on e-commerce sites are all changing the way we communicate. It’s impact on every day life is fast becoming  equal or even greater than that of the telephone, TV or radio.  

By focusing on the social I am taking a  different slant to Christensen’s original definition of “disruptive technology” which was more to do with the way technology disrupts markets. This direct impact on our communication and interaction with each other is deep seated and is going to lead to significant revolutionary change. I am fascinated in trying to understand how the internet and social media foster change. How do we harness such power to the benefit of us all?

I think the only way to gain a deeper understanding is to experiment with it in a personal way. So here goes:

Experiment No: 1  Creating Good News

My first experiment in this area was triggered by a frustration I felt with the negative nature of British news reporting. My other half and I listen to the Today program on BBC Radio 4 every morning. I have become increasingly frustated with the negative slant of the news delivered. One morning we woke up to the single line “Children in Britain are overweight” followed by a different news item. What a great way to start the day. I groaned and rolled over.  Every News program has a gate-keeper who choose what stories to go with. Such editors have incredible power to adjust the mood of a program and as a consequence the mood of millions of listeners! I began to wonder how we could create “good news” stories. I decided that they really had to be stories around positive things that had happened in the community.

So later that day I went onto Facebook and started up the Facebook Group “Make Malmesbury Better”. Malmesbury is where I have lived for the last two and a half years. It is a pretty, ancient market town on the edge of the Cotswolds. It is great and my family and I have been made very welcome here. However as with anywhere there are plenty of ways it could be better. So the aim of the group is that we gather suggestions and build agreement around positive ideas for change.

Less than two weeks later we have four members and about seven topics. Not great progress you may think… however yesterday to my amazement I was invited to do a recorded radio interview for Heart FM based on my obvious passion for the topic.

One of the topics I posted about on the group was the possibility of building a padel court in Malmesbury. This morning a contact phoned me with quotes for how much it would cost and pictures of a padel court.  The simple act of creating a group on Facebook and listing a quick wish-list (both of which took me about 15 minutes) has resulted in two positive actions in 10 days!

I look forward to seeing what next week will bring!

Postscript:  Yesterday on the Today program (which for some reason I am still listening to) they actually had four positive items and the presenter actually passed comment on the fact that the news was positive that day. EVERY DAY could be positive if they chose to make it that way! Who wants to join a facebook group to make British news programs more positive??? Does Experiment No. 2 beckon???

photo by Thomas Hawk

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5 responses to “Socially Disruptive Technology … in action”

  1. ltweedie says :

    You can visit “Make Malmesbury Better” here

  2. ltweedie says :

    We are up to 156 members now! I have been interviewed by Heart FM and contacted by our local county counciller. This has been my most successful experiment so far. Will keep you posted.

  3. Lisa Tweedie says :

    Thought it was time to update this. A year on and the group now has 250 members. It is used by Wiltshire Counciller Simon Killane on a regular basis. Other local community activists also use it. I have used it to promote my mothers company “phonic books” and those of my friends. I have found it a low maintenance way to keep updated about the community. Personally it has done my repuatation no harm and has been a low grade way to get involved in local activity.

    I have since experimented further by creating two more facebook groups. One for Phonic Books and another for an alumni group from the “Birmingham Sun” – Aston Student’s Guild Newspaper. Both are still in the early adopter stage!

    I have also experimented with linkedin. I started a group called “UX remote work” which now has almost 100 members. I have found this a very supportive group for my start up. I have also created a group for my team here at Tweedie Consulting. Interested to see how that works out.

  4. ltweedie says :

    Another update on my technology experiments.

    1. Facebook

    Make Malmesbury better (2 years old) still has 248 members. I have done very little with it over the last 6 months. But it still seems to have a bit of life of its own.

    Birmingham Sun (8 months) – alumni group still adding members at a rate of a couple a month … great way to catch up with old hacks (:

    New Page: Many Hats – this is to launch my new company … just starting out with that – it is a Facebook “page” rather than group.
    Am using it to record the early stages of development of my first product so that when it goes live there is some interesting content

    Plans for the future : Remote bookclub (invite only).
    Might do a UX bookclub too if that works out.

    2. Linkedin

    UX remote work group – going from strength to strength (almost 200 members)… Have had some great discussions on there. Have kept it member only. Lovely to have a group of people to bounce ideas off .. especially when you are remote working.

    3. Blog
    Positive Technolgy – very bad blogger …. but it is still getting lots of hits … not sure if that is still the Chile earthquake effect (see below)..

    Phonic Books blog – is going from strength to strength. I have trained up one of their directors to blog themselves. They are beginning to see it as a real marketing tool.

    4. Twitter
    Very poor twitterer recently. This will change when my first product released. You will see elsewhere on this website that I did a great deal of posting and tweeting around the Chile Earthquake (I was actually accused of being a bot … I exceeded the twitter message posting number of numerous occaisions!). This was partly because I felt able to help (I speak spanish, understand the technology and had lots of time on my hands) and partly because i was fascinated to see if my tweeting could really make a difference. To this day I have no idea if it did (although I did receive many tweets of thanks). However it did help my twitter stats! So I think when I start tweeting to promote my product it will have positive side effects (does that sound outrageous?).

    4. Remote working
    Odesk proving a great place to find consulting work. Am shifting my model to a mentoring role … where I work in tandem with an employee from the clients company. Seems to be working much better.

    One of my problems with remote work is that it is lonely. Earlier this year I posted an advert to take on some UX apprentices. Within a few days I was inundated with requests about 75 excellent cvs. I still have not taken that any further.

    Instead I tried to focus on training up some local parents. I did it for a period of about 2 months. It was very hard work. We did fairly well but it was hard to sustain financially (had to keep bringing in new contracts). I also don’t really like the Boss – employee model. For me gets in the way of creativity. I decided to stop. Cient work doesn’t work well with new trainees. However I have lots of new thoughts about revenue generating products and how to create them collaboratively with others (see point 5).

    5. Ipad Development
    I am becoming an Ipad Developer! Watch this space for my first app (; Facebook has been an invaluable asset here as many other ipad developers have pages for their products so I have been able to make some great contacts. A lovely open community.

    Looking forward to starting some collaborations here.

    6. Other things I tried and need to try….

    Well I had a go with Google Wave … but never got into it.
    Need to try out Google Circles.
    Want to revamp this blog and of course the marketing campaigns for the new products is a whole new ball game (;

    Thats it for now

  5. ltweedie says :

    Make Malmesbury Better has 1500+ members now… It is incredibly active and making waves. An experiment that grew wings.

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