Posted by: Wandren | December 7, 2009

16 Azar part 2

A quick map to demonstrate the variety of indivdiuals Tweeting through #16Azar to 11:08 GMT. Larger spheres are the hours, smaller ones the contributers. Interestingly a large number of individuals have only been active for one or two hours, with relatively few near the middle of the map active over a longer period of time.

Posted by: Wandren | December 7, 2009


Quick and rough look at Tweets using #16Azar as protests continue in Tehran.

Growing volume over the last week:

Today (to 11am GMT)

The rising volume of tweets during the day – 296 to 8174

Rising active users during the day – 85 to 261 per hour (active users counted as those who tweet in that hour).

Of those active in the 7th December data, there is a long tail of people contributing a few tweets. Highest user has contributed 607 tweets by 11am GMT.

at least 60% Tweets are using RT

Following on from the data posted on the USC Public Diplomacy blog, a few people asked why not include #IranElection – the answer was twofold, first it had so much more traffic it would have dwarfed the others, making distinctions harder to identify. Second, the level of traffic limited the extent to which a user could keep up with the flow of information from #IranElection. at its peak the #tag was running at over 22,500 tweets an hour and nearly 100,000 tweets in a day. There is little anyone can get from reading 375 tweets a minute, forcing users to rely on filters such as the more specific tags, or choosing only to follow certain users; narrowing the field of view but having a chance to understand what is being produced.

Continuing on from that post, and with a nod of thanks @jobrieniii for the work on Twapperkeeper, I have looked at the data from #IranElection for 10 weeks following the election.

The following images chart the usage of #IranElection and shows 1.4 million tweets spread out over that time.

I wouldn’t quite say I’ve got all of the bugs out of the data,so consider these ‘draft’, but they give a good idea of how usage has varied with time.

Below is the comparison of #Neda and #GR88 usage over a slightly later time period. A further observation form the data is that the top two contributors to #neda have used the tag over 4,000 times each.

The image below, backing up the initial observation in the USC post that users of #HelpIranElection were isolated from other discussions, demonstrates the longevity – or should that be brevity – of usage this #tag had amongst users.

While still vaguely active in October, Tweets a day had barely been in double figures for quite some time. Actual interaction through this tag was also much lower; 78% of tweets carrying #HelpIranElection were identical.

The average tweets per user suggests a similar story. For example, in the case of #FreeIran the average tweets per user was 15.4, #Sohrab it was 11.99 while #HelpIranElection was used on average 1.09 times. This is the difference between ‘click to show your support’ of #HelpIranElection and genuine interaction.

Will update further soon.

Posted by: Wandren | November 20, 2009

Using digital media? Be serious about visualizing the data

While the enthusiasm for using digital media to engage with individuals around the world shows little sign of abating, interestingly the enthusiasm for discussing hard data about those interactions seems to be lagging behind.

While not every Public Diplomat need nor can be expected to have a detailed knowledge of vast spreadsheets with numerous columns and thousands of rows of data, there should be a clear understanding of the trends. Numerous sites provide some of that data for example Twitter Analyzer , TweetStats , TwitterCounter and Trendsmap among many others. Whichever method is used, key to success is understanding the people who are following what they are saying, after all how meaningful an interaction can occur otherwise?

Building on earlier pieces analyzing and mapping followers on Twitter, it seemed only fair to have a look at Dipnote’s over 9,000 followers. So who follows Dipnote on Twitter & where are they?

This is a cloud of the most common words appearing in the screen-names of those following Dipnote. While it appears there are a lot of people called David following Dipnote, this doesn’t tell us much except confirm that we can identify all the followers individually.

More important than their chosen screen-names is the geographic location of followers. Looking at the users who identify their location can give an idea of the geographic spread of the followers. While there is no guarantee the individuals are anywhere near where they say they are, it might be assumed that a large portion of users volunteering the information are doing so to give an indication of their location.

Similar to, the most common locations are predominantly in the USA, and specifically Washington DC – I’ll leave it to others to draw conclusions from that.

There are numerous other aspects of the data which could be analyzed, one of which is the profile of these followers? What are the most common things they choose to say about themselves?

This shows the most common words in the profiles of the 9000 followers. Another aspect is that these followers in turn have an average of 2810 followers of their own (although this is likely skewed by a few very high values, e.g. one user has 42,000 followers)  While clouds of screen-names might be a little frivolous, being able to quickly identify common values from 9,500 rows of data can significantly increase the understanding of followers. It can highlight factors which might have serious implications on tactical and strategic decision making about the use of digital media.

As a final thought, what has Dipnote been tweeting about recently?

These images demonstrate there is no need to operate in the dark; the data is out there. The onus must be on those directing Public Diplomats to use digital media to also ensure data is available in a format which those on the frontline can easily understand.

All images in this post were produced using

Posted by: Wandren | October 28, 2009

Update: mapping those following on twitter

Matt Armstrong a while back highlighted the issue that had more followers listing their location as in America, than they did followers from the rest of the world.

I mapped the data he collected to demonstrate how the location of those followers could be broken down by region.  By way of an update, here’s an alternative map of the same data.

please forgive the colours, they aren’t exactly the same as in the original, but I hope you’ll still get the idea.

Posted by: Wandren | October 28, 2009

Cautionary note on partnership in Public Diplomacy (part 2)

Does it matter in Public Diplomacy terms if an organisation with which you partner is heavily criticised in an official report? This post continues from an earlier post on the British Council’s partnership with weapons manufacturer BAE Systems.

The earlier post focused on the  considerations which must exist alongside the potential benefits of partnership in Public Diplomacy. Specifically, the need to identify those things an organisation will not give up at any price.

In this instance the financial support for British Council programmes provided by BAE systems may have brought with it certain risks to reputation, beyond the possible conflict some may feel exists when a cultural relations organisation, working to increase international understanding and bridge trust gaps in order to create harmony and prosperity for all, partners with a weapons manufacturer. The reputation of the organisation could be at risk as its partner  BAE Systems faces prosecution over bribery allegations.

In addition, the independent review of the 2006 RAF Nimrod crash that killed 14 military personnel has delivered a damning verdict. Among those heavily criticised in the report were BAE Systems.  The full report was so damning of BAE that I’ve included some of the longer sections below as abbreviation does not do them justice:

In contrast, the ‘Training Bridge‘ project run by the British Council and in which BAE Systems participates seeks to

promote lasting UK – German co-operation in the field of work-based training. Participating in the programme is a means to share best business practice while giving trainees and trainers new skills that can be easily applied back in the workplace.

The reality of Public Diplomacy partnerships, whether through the ‘Training Bridge’, UKIERI in India, or exchange programes in Saudi Arabia, is that the large financial resources of corporations such as BAE Systems can increase the reach and impact a Public Diplomacy organisation can achieve. However, these organisations also have their own agenda, methods and organisational culture. As the British Council website notes many of our business partners gain competitive advantage… from these partnerships.

The question for a Public Diplomacy organisation partnering or recieving sponsorship must be whether the increased impact is worth certain other risks.

This leads ultimately to the same conclusion as the previous post on this issue, an organisation must identify things which are not for sale – asking the question posed at the British Council Advisory Board 2007;

  • What should we not give up at any price?

High on the list has to be credibility, without which the ability to engage in meaningful interaction with members of other communities and societies will be severely curtailed.

Posted by: Wandren | October 22, 2009

The world is 3D – why not a network map?

Quick look at 3D network map.

This one of followers of FCO accounts on Twitter, will follow-up with further data.

Understanding importance or influence within a network depends in part on perspective; both the way you look at it and what your priorities are. The ability to view the map in 3D is all about understanding the network from its different perspectives.

We live in a networked world. Whether known as family, kinship, tribe, village, neighbourhood, community, work place colleagues, or online social network, they are all networks in the sense of being a series of relationships between different individuals.

Social network analysis (SNA) explores the relationship between actors within a network by identifying the points that people “huddle around”. The potential uses of SNA and network mapping are vast. It can be used to plan, develop and evaluate engagement for, among other purposes, public diplomacy and strategic communication.

This piece provides and introduction and demonstrates how it can be used to evaluate interaction on Twitter through the example of Dipnote and Americagov. Read in full

Posted by: Wandren | October 6, 2009


The response by individuals using Twitter to the Iranian election provides important perspectives for the scholarship and practice of Public Diplomacy.


The ability to map and analyze the interaction between Twitter accounts can provide a greater understanding of the response to a specific event, in this case the Iranian election, in a way not possible in narrative accounts. This same technique of mapping tweets also provides the potential to understand opportunities in conducting and evaluating PD 2.0

Analysis of Twitter usage following the Iranian election demonstrates that if Public Diplomacy 2.0 or digital diplomacy is to be truly successful – the ability to understand the actual interactions of social media users will have to become central to the planning and evaluation of programmes and initiatives.

Read full text on USC Center on Public Diplomacy Blog

Posted by: Wandren | October 1, 2009

A cautionary note on partnership in Public Diplomacy

The current vogue for conducting Public Diplomacy through ‘partnerships’ and the movement in theory on collaborative / collective action can create some difficult challenges in practice.

For those who conduct Public Diplomacy in partnership with BAE Systems, the announcement that BAE Systems faces prosecution over bribery allegations, while as yet unproven, creates awkward questions. This comes just over a year after a separate investigation into BAE by the SFO was dropped in 2007 after it was decided that national security was at risk.

One such organisation working in partnership with BAE is the British Council, who places amongst its organisational values:


We demonstrate this by

  • being honest
  • being consistent both in what we do and say
  • taking responsibility for our actions and decisions.

The British Council has been running programmes in partnership with BAE Systems for almost 20 years. Although the allegations of corruption are unproven, they may still undermine the British Council’s commitment to increase international understanding and bridge trust gaps in order to create harmony and prosperity for all.

Partnerships with BAE have included the Post-doctoral Summer Research (PDSR) Programme in Saudi Arabia. The British Council website acknowledges that The programme is supported by BAE Systems, the major British company with overall responsibility for the Al-Yamamah programme. The Programme has been sponsored from its inception in 1991 by BAE Systems and administered by the British Council.

The Al-Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia has been the focus of a guardian investigation and an SFO investigation which the UK Government controversially halted in 2006. Tony Blair argued at the time that he believed an ongoing investigation would lead to complete wreckage of a relationship that is of fundamental importance of the security of this country and that the investigation would lead absolutely nowhere.

BAE Systems is also a corporate partner of the UK India Education and Research Initiative UKIERI. Martin Davidson (British Council CEO) identified in his introduction to the British Council Annual Report 07/08 that one way to increase impact is to run more programmes in partnership with others. For example UKIERI is a unique programme involving 11 funding partners. UKIERI is run with corporate partners BAE Systems, BP, GlaxoSmithKline and Shell. Martin Davidson concludes If we are to achieve our growth objectives, we recognise that we need to increase our ability to develop successful partnerships such as UKIERI

Partnership with the British Council is advertised on their website as helping many of our business partners gain competitive advantage in an increasingly challenging global market place … many companies also welcome the opportunity to work with us as a way of underlining their company values and commitment to corporate social responsibility.

The example of the partnership between BAE Systems and the British Council demonstrates the real risk which Public Diplomacy organisations can face in expanding their engagement in partnerships. Ironically, it was the British Council’s advisory board meeting in 2007 The Meaning of Partnership which posed many of the pertinent points for consideration when any PD organisation begins to consider partnership.

  • What might be the greatest gains we can have from strong partnerships?
  • What risks will we need to manage when making larger, more strategic partnerships?
  • How can we ready ourselves to mitigate risk and gain the most from this new direction?
  • What will we have to consider losing along the way…at what price?

And the final, and most salient question

  • What should we not give up at any price?

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