Sam Michel's blog

Sam Michel

Sam Michel is the founder of Chinwag and blogs here for work, and more randomly at Toodlepip. He runs Chinwag Jobs, Digital Mission and tends to focus on murky place where technology, community and marketing collide. You'll find him on twitter @toodlepip.

Students: Facebook Might Be Good for Your Social Life, But Bad for Your Pocket

Is Social Media Ruining Students?

Facebook and students: A happy marriage, or a receipe for disaster?

As you'd expect, the answer isn't so simple. A study and rather lovely infographic (see below) produced by ponders this question from several different viewpoints.

As those tied to email all day can testify distractions hurt productivity, and the same is true when studying. Unsurprisingly, flicking between Facebook and studying results in 20% lower grades. Sound obvious? Turns out 79% of students don't believe it.

They're also less likely to be paying their way whilst studying, with Facebook user's working less than 5 hours per week, whilst their social-media-phobic counterparts clocking in an impressive 16 hours per week. Still, that's what student loans are for, right?

// more

Thank You: Global Grill Donations for Japan

American Red Cross Donation for Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund

A big thank you to everyone who attended Chinwag's Global Grill during the mission to South by South West last month and contributed to the Japan Tsunami appeal.

The event, designed to bring together all of the international delegates flying in to Austin for the event, saw the generous patrons of the event donating over $500 towards the American Red Cross' appeal to support victims of the earthquake and tsunami.

A big thank you to UK Trade & Investment for supporting the event, and the lovely Christopher Dunn from UKTI's Houston office for making sure the cash got to its proper destination, top chap!

// more

£1m R&D Funding Competition Launched to Support East London's Tech City

Shoreditch 002 by Erin Faulkner

The government's continuing focus on Silicon Roundabout, which they're dubbingTech City, sees the announcement of a £1m R&D funding competition launching in May.

Backed by the Technology Strategy Board this competition is intended to support small projects, which can then go on to raise further investment, seed capital. As with most TSB funds, this competition requires 50% match funding, but there's a neat difference this time around.

Companies that are successful in winning R&D money from the TSB will then have up to 12 months to approach potential investors to raise the other half of the money, rather than having to have it secured from the get-go.

// more

Dark Patterns: User Interfaces Designed to Trick People

dark-clouds-over-downtown-manhattan by Dan DeLuca

Optimising a user's experience is an attempt to improve life for a site's visitors and in doing so, for the site owners in the process. But what happens when usability goes bad?

Harry Brignull's presentation examines the dark side of interfaces, looking at how we're tricked, duped and cajoled towards handing over credit card details, signing up for free products, that aren't really free.

// more

Technology Strategy Board Launches R&D Grants for SMEs

lab by pastaboy sleeps

Update: The full application process and guidance notes are now live.

Monday (4th April) sees the launch of a new R&D grant scheme from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) for small and medium-sized companies in science, engineering and technology sectors.

Unlike previous TSB schemes which have required organisations to collaborate in order to secure funding, the R&D grants are available to single companies, which must be based in the UK and fit with the EU definition of an SME

Three types of grant are available:

// more

Britain's Great Firewall, Block List Built In Secret?

Brick Wall by TheArtGuy

The government's plan for ISPs to voluntarily implement a national firewall for the UK are still very much on the agenda according to a open letter from Ed Vaizey, UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries to the Open Rights Group (ORG).

An interesting move in a country that prides itself on freedom of speech, hyper-injunctions notwithstanding. Naturally enough, there are plenty of advocates making a well-argued case for why this won't work and campaigns to get MPs to stop website blocking.

// more

24 Hours of London's Tweets Visualised

London Tweets 24h

This is a fantastic visualisation of 24 hours' worth of tweets across London. It's a great video - and choice material for social media presentations, I'd wager - that brings to life the way information is shared across a geography.

The red dots are the tweets, with the yellow streaks showing the direction of a retweet (RT) from the origin to the destination. Of course, this is just a fraction of the actual volume as most people don't have geolocation turned on.

// more

SMW London Round-up: The Future of Social Search

Social Media Week 2011 #SMWLDN - Microsoft Advertising & iSpy

Social Media Week London generated so much coverage that it's taken us a little while to pull together all the information. Our first review brings together the video, slides, pictures and coverage from The Future of Social Search hosted by i-Spy Marketing.

The event investigated how Search and Social fit together, influence one another and how Facebook Advertising will be the next big thing.

// more

TSB Launches £200,000 IC tomorrow Scheme for Digital Media Entrepreneurs


A new initiative announced by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), sees the launch of IC tomorrow, a platform for content owners and app developers to test drive ideas and applications with a closed group of consumers (sign-up here) using content from major content owners including Sony Music, Getty Images and Crytek.

The platform will host 20 consumer trials focused on the creative industries including music, TV/film and publishing, with a total fund of £200,000 up for grabs to support six month-long trials on the platform. Entrepreneurs are being encouraged to use the platform which will also include mentoring, as well as up to £10,000 per project funding and access to premium content.

// more

Some SXSW 2011 Essential Tips

what's in my sxsw schwag bag by Joey Parsons

In amongst the 100+ events of Social Media Week London, plans are progressing rapidly for this year's trip to the incomparable South by South West Interactive 2011.

If you've not been before, be warned, it's not like any other conference you've been to before. In an attempt to ready yourself, mentally, if nothing else, we're planning to put together some tips for Brits heading out to Austin.

In the meantime, here's a brilliant slideshow from Dave Delaney that has some crucial tips on how to get the best out of South-by (if you want to sound like a local):

// more

Skype Announces Week-Long Free Wifi for London

Skype Access

There's lots of rather fantastic things happening during Social Media Week in London, and the latest addition is from the lovely folks at Skype.

SkypeTo celebrate Social Media Week, they're giving away free WiFi through Skype Access, the single-click Internet access feature, in New York, San Francisco, Rome, Paris, Toronto, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Istanbul and most importantly London for the duration of the festival.

From 0001 GMT on the 7th February 2011 to to 2359 GMT on the 12th February 2011, Skype Access will be free to use for up to 60 minutes, so you can surf the web, send email and make free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls at Skype Access-enabled WiFi hotspots in cafés, hotels and airports in New York, San Francisco, London, Rome, Paris, Toronto, São Paulo, Hong Kong and Istanbul.

// more

Bringing Home the Gongs: Shorty Awards, Tech Startup 100, NMA Effectiveness, Best Awards

Awards Dinner Lighting - Vodafone001 by Rob Sayer

I'm not sure if there's an awards season per-se for the digital world, but they seem to be cropping up thick and fast at the moment.

And who doesn't like a shiny gong to add to their awards cabinet? Below are details of four sets of awards from the digital, marketing, content and start-up worlds. In their own words, here you go:

// more

Social Media Week London - Updated Event List (With Spaces)

So close...just three more sleeps and it's Social Media Week London, there's now almost 100 events listed on the website, which can make it a little tricky to figure out what's on, and more important where tickets are available.

We've put together this handy list of all the events, sessions, gatherings and networking events that still have capacity. This is by no means the whole list, which you can see on the Social Media Week London schedule.

So without further a-do, for your delectation:

// more

All The World's a Game

game night at duende by danja vasiliev

My morning routine involves a diet of strange and wonderful podcasts including the thought-provoking TEDtalk series.

Today, I watched the Seth Priebatsch from scvngr talking about how the social web is pretty much built, next up is the building of the game layer on top.

Certainly an interesting perspective especially with <clench>gamification</clench> being liberally used in lots of recent discussions around the industry, including a recent paper from Wired UK's David Rowan.

// more

Social Media Week London - Latest List of Events, Over 70 of Them

Media140ThirdSector67 by Iain Weir

UPDATE: A more recent list of events that still have availability has been published here.

When we started the shenanigans that is Social Media Week London (Chinwag is the lead organiser), we estimated there'd be a maximum of 70 events with about 5,000 people attending. And we'd probably had a drink and were feeling ambitious at the time.

Yesterday, we breezed past the 5,000 RSVP mark for registrations at events across the week and the number of events (and believe us, it's tricky keeping track) passed the 80 mark.

Some of the events are full, and others filling up quickly, so one of our volunteers (thanks Anne) went through the whole list to find all of the events that still have space available.

Peruse the list below and click on the links for further info. If you're going to come along, please do RSVP to give the event organisers an idea on numbers. Any questions, the quickest response is via @smwldn. Hope to see you at some of the events...

// more