Track Swine Flu with Google Maps Mashup.

Via Shankrila

News channels have been completely taken over by the news on the H1N1 swine flu in the last few days. Swine flu is caused by a new flu virus strain, a mixture of various swine, bird and human viruses.

The US has declared a public health emergency on Sunday. Mexico where the virus seems to have first been found have their businesses, schools, etc shutdown for days together. The World Health Organization has activated its 24-hour war room command center.

With so many news outlets reporting various numbers, it is easy to get the wrong notion between the number of ’suspected cases’ vs ‘confirmed cases’.

It is important to stay informed with the right facts. At times like these misinformation can spread like a wildfire.

Swine Flu Google Maps Mashup

This Google Maps mashup shows the global swine flu cases with different colored markers.


  • Purple – Confirmed or probable
  • Pink – Suspected cases
  • Markers with no dots – Deaths
  • Yellow – negative

BBC Swine Flu Map

BBC also maintains a swine flu map showing the history of cases reported as the days progress. This is being updated everyday with number cases per country.

H1N1 Swine Flu FAQ

Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN has answered the most frequently asked questions on the h1n1 swine flu. And NDTV has a FAQ section as well.

In spite of it’s name, this virus now spreads among humans and eating pork doesn’t infect you. In fact, this virus spreads just like a common cold – when an infected person near you coughs or sneezes or if you come into contact with the virus via eyes, nose or mouth. Simple hygiene like washing hands could help protect yourself to a certain extent.

Stay informed. Stay healthy!

When you wished a Barcamp was actually just a bar..

This may be online heresy but so be it, I’m going to rant. Social Media Camp then. I was told by the twittersphere, my boss and various others that it was a must attend event where like minded chaps and chapesses would meet, greet and have fun times. Sounded like my kinda event. I wanted to be there. I’d set a reminder in my work Outlook calendar telling me when tickets were available. As you can tell, I didn’t want to miss out.

Tickets released were staggered over two sittings. A wise move. Everyone that didn’t get a ticket, went nuts over it the second time round and some, perhaps not knowing what they were getting all excited over, waited patiently in line too. First round tickets went in 9 minutes, the following in 2 minutes. TWO MINUTES! I tried to get a ticket each time, unsuccessfully as work got in the way in the precious first few minutes. I didn’t expect them to go so quickly, in 2 minutes? Amazing. There were a few cancellations and I got a ticket. Happy days and a fist punch in the air later, I looked forward to it.

In the week in the run up to the SMC, for one reason or another I hadn’t really read up on what a Barcamp was, busy week at work. My bad, I hadn’t been to one before so wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. It wasn’t until the night before that I read up about all attendees having to present for 40 minutes on a topic of their choice. This was a bit of a worry, considering it was the night before. Me and presentations get on but preparation is an absolute must and lots of it. I like to be confident about what I’m talking about, to not do something half assed and to ensure that I’m pleased and happy delivering the presentation is not something I can do over night. God knows how I did it at University and I’m certainly not bloomin’ @whatleydude who did his in the lunch time before his afternoon slot. Now that’s ninja. I’m happy to contribute to the debate, help out with anything behind the scenes, I just wasn’t really down with presenting. Deliberated over whether to go or not, and thought could I turn up without presenting? I put a tweet out there asking if presenting was a must, everyone that came back to me essentially said yes, you can’t turn up without presenting, like this one and this one.. It’s like the LAW! Which bothered me more and made me think that I couldn’t possibly turn up without having something prepared.

So I watched proceedings from a distance through the hashtag on Twitter which was #SMCLondon. I saw people’s pictures put up to Twitpic, I watched some brilliant people’s video recordings of presentations. Some speakers even put up their presentations soon after doing them. It was almost as if I was there yet it didn’t replace the fact that I felt a bit of an idiot for not being there. As the reviews flooded in after of the day, I kicked myself further. Then I read this, which offered a different perspective and I’m really glad it wasn’t just me that felt put off going.

Stop whining? Probably. I know that Social Media is to encourage collaboration, open ended conversation and sharing / thoughts and ideas but I wanted to go myself primarily to learn from real experts, the people who are getting up and talking about the topics and issues close to them and current today. People fascinate me, their backgrounds and how that relates to what they are doing now, their delivery of their chosen topic and what I can learn from them. I wonder why I studied Marketing and not Psychology at Uni!

My reason for wanting to go to Social Media Camp was to spectate (whilst observing and learning), the very thing that is positively discouraged. I’m a relative upstart to the industry, 22 years young and always looking to learn from the best. Whilst growing in knowledge, I don’t feel like I have enough experience to put that on others in a conference style format. It’s something I’m working on. So why don’t I just go to a conference? Tickets for those are usually cost prohibitive being thousands of pounds each. With that in mind, there’s definitely a need and a place for Social Media Camp. It was unfortunate that the second day of events had to be cancelled because of event sponsors pulling out, another case to show that even though tickets were sold out in an incredible time, monetizing social media is a thoroughly perplexing issue.

Tying in further was an email I got through today from an agency which read as follows.

“Hi Litman!

How you doing? I came across you online (no surprises there!) We are a PR agency based out of the UK and are in need of an expert to present on social media to one of our clients, and I am hoping you might be the man for the job.

Are you interested?

Thanks X”

I don’t think I’ve been addressed by my surname in an email since school but I skirted past that.

My response soon after was

“Hi X

I think you might be looking for someone a bit more senior for this. I’m hugely flattered though. Here’s a few people I think may be more suitable. (emails supplied).

Best Regards,

You’re probably thinking, idiot!? Turning down a great opportunity like that, grow some balls and man up! And you’re 100% right. As I said, flattered and it’s great to be achieving exposure for the right reasons but I felt embarrassed at the idea of being called an expert, it was all wrong. That term is banded about far too frequently.

So to come back to SMC – There’s been a fantastic response in the comments section to Kat Neville’s post here (which I might add is a stylistically fantastic web page) You should check it out, some great thoughts and view points.

What do you think? Is there a place for spectators at a barcamp style event?

Interacting via social media isn’t the preserve of the young

Following on from my post previously from The Times here another interesting read was found in the 16th April issue of NMA where Rebecca Jennings, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research wrote a similar piece how an older age than expected is using social media. The following is a repost of that article.

Most interactive marketers know that young consumers are very engaged in social media, but many fail to appreciate that the same social tools can also be used to reach older users. Recent Forrester research shows there are a significant number of European baby boomers – adults aged 43-63 – who already read social media on a regular basis, and another, slightly smaller subset who are already uploading their own content, like videos, onto the web. Marketers can take advantage of this by offering them value with useful information and support provided in a social context.

Overall, 47% of younger boomers – those online adults aged 43 to 52 – now engage with social media on a regular basis, as well as the 41% of older boomers – those aged 53 to 63 – that also take part. In each of the groups, more than a third can be classified as spectators, or those who are reading social content such as blogs at least monthly.

While boomers are taking the plunge into consuming social content, they’ve been slower at joining social networks; just 10% of younger boomers and just 7% of older boomers participate in this type of activity. For example, one of the most popular social networks aimed at older consumers, SagaZone in the UK, has around 45,000 users, compared to Facebook’s estimated 18m+ users.

Despite their resistance to joining social networks, both young and old boomers are contributing their own opinions online – known as being a critic. These critics do things like participate in forums or post their own reviews online. Encouragingly for marketers, around a tenth of both age groups fall in to this category and a slightly smaller percentage, 9% of younger boomers and 7% of older ones, are creators: those who upload their own content or write their own blogs.

Marketers should also take note that just as participation in social media varies between age groups, it also varies between European countries. Dutch boomers lead the pack as the most engaged older audience overall, with 69% of 43-52 year olds and 60% of 53-63 year olds using social media on a regular basis.Of these other Europeans, Italian boomers are the keenest creators, with around 17% of younger boomers and 14% of older boomers involved. Younger boomers in the UK are considerably more engaged than older ones, with around 52% of 43-52 year olds engaged in social media, but just 38% of 53-63 year olds. About 40% of boomers in both France and Spain are keen spectators but just a third of the German boomer audience are engaged in social media.

Twitter Parody – Worth a watch.

Something starts to get really big when the spammers wade in and the jokers make fun. The below video is freakin’ hilarious.

So everyone’s going tweet this, tweet that, what on twearth is this all about and how are they ever going to make any twoney? Ok maybe with less of the tw’s but there you tw-go. Let’s forget about the money part for a moment, in a recent interview Biz Stone said that they are currently working on value, the more value they can provide through Twitter, the more it will be worth. I think they’ll be alright for some reason.

This has probably done the rounds already in the tech circles but it’s still pretty fantastic.

#Amazonfail and a coincidental job advert

This post was originally going to be entitled ‘A picture speaks a thousand words’ and simply put up the image below but felt like it deserved a bit more than that..

Reading this is probably the best place to start.. then come right back..

I’ve been keeping half an eye over the weekend on the steadily building #Amazonfail which is incidentally the top trending topic on Twitter and there are this minute more mentions than even Easter. (For an example of it’s talkability factor, in the past hour there’s been a further 700+ mentions since I carried out the original search.)

Amazon PR Week Job Posting

It’s starting to also garner mainstream coverage now as the traditional press catches up but it is something as far as I know started on Twitter and then made it’s way through the blogosphere shortly after.

What’s happened since then? #Amazonfail was being mentioned 4 times a second barely an hour after the first tweet. A petition was started (which over 15,000 people have signed) a Google Bomb took place, and no I formerly had no idea what one of them was either but it sounds pretty damaging. A Facebook group ‘Boycott Amazon’ has been started. A poll was created with the question being ‘Can Amazon redeem/repair their reputation after #amazonfail?’ A list has popped up featuring all the affected titles – here. Some internet hackers are claiming it’s all their doing whilst the names and numbers of the Board of Directors at Amazon HQ have been published. The CTO has been also been ‘unmasked’ (and remains quiet on the whole debacle). Clearly, this is an issue that’s not going to just disappear overnight.

I’ve rounded up a few posts below. One question that everyone at one stage appeared to be asking was do Amazon have a PR manager in the UK or otherwise to deal with freak happenings like this? The advertisement to my right that I coincidentally spotted in the back of the most recent issue of PR Week would suggest otherwise. I put up the picture on Twitpic and soon after @girlonetrack (an affected publisher) retweeted it to her followers.

A few questions for you..

Do you think this is going to affect Amazon’s reputation at all? Has their silence thus far helped or hindered the situation? What do you think their response should be?

Roundup -

Blogs and Twitter coin Amazonfail by Wall Street Journal

Amazon feel the web’s wrath by Zoe Margolis

Amazon sees censorship decisions magnified through the social web magnifying glass by Becky McMichael

Amazonfail – Easter PR Disaster by Matt Churchill

Amazon = FAIL by Alas, a Blog

#Amazonfail – Timeline of WTF by Anastacia

Amazon Follies by Mark Probst

AmazonFAIL discussion thread at Metafilter

Amazonfail: A call to boycott Amazon by Edward Champion

Amazonfail – Malice or Bumble by Jessica Gottlieb

Amazon has removed it’s customer based reporting of books by Brutal Honesty

Amazon blames a glitch by Los Angeles Times

Midlife chatterers show they like to keep it short and tweet

The following is an article written by Murad Ahmed, Technology Reporter and featured in the British newspaper, The Times, today (Monday, April 13th) so for those that didn’t see it or are over in the US and elsewhere this is for you. (I’ve added in a few Twitter cartoons just for fun..)

Twitter appears to be the embodiment of youth culture with tech-savvy and fast-thumbed teens firing off short updates filled with abbreviations about their lives. But it turns out that the keenest users are the greying brigades of the middle aged.

More mature users, led by famous tweeters such as Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross and Sarah Brown, are the driving force behind the popularity of the site. New research shows that 45-54 years olds are 36 percent more likely than the average to visit the site, with figures from comScore, the internet market researchers, showing that the majority of the 10 million Twitter users worldwide are aged 35 or older.

Twitter Cartoon

Twitter is a social networking and “microblogging” site, where users post short updates – “tweets” of up to 140 characters via the website or a mobile phone. More than 3.5 million people signed up in the first two months of this year.

Celebrities such as Russell Brand and Jamie Oliver are avid users, while Barack Obama used it as a tool during last year’s presidential elections to talk directly and quickly to hundreds and thousands of followers.

Stephen Fry, 51, the actor and comedian whose tweets are followed by about 400,000 people, has become a leading advocate for the service. “I love how Twitter confirms all too often assaulted belief that most humans are kind, curious, knowledgeable, tolerant and funny” he wrote on his blog. (Is your Twitter page a blog in the traditional form? I’m not so sure)

Celebrity tweeters have pushed others towards the site “It’s the role model thing” said Richard Drake, 51, from London. “You see Stephen Fry and think, they’re doing it, so why can’t you?” You’re not teenagers, so you’re no longer following the crowd to the same degree perhaps. “But you think, well, he’s finding it interesting, there’s something happening there, and people my age are doing it.”

Twitter Cartoon
Other social networking websites, such as Facebook and MySpace have also seen an increase in the number of older people signing up in recent months. But the simplicity of Twitter has made it most popular with the golden oldies and 2o percent of all tweeters in Britain are over the age of 55, compared with 12 percent of all Facebook users.

However, it seems that the young are being put off by the increasing number of older users. “I do think there’s a feeling that, if your parents are doing it, suddenly it’s not cool any more” said Jamie Gavin, an analyst at comScore.

Ageing tweeters also said that whereas Facebook seemed to reveal every aspect of your life – something the young seem more at ease at doing – Twitter was less intrusive, and often is used by people at work. “I only Twitter professionally,” said Ian Williams, 41, an executive at a price comparison website. “For us, it’s just another communications tool. That’s the beauty of Twitter, if you decide something is not interesting or inane, you can stop following it. It’s just not invasive”Twitter Cartoon