Radio National Drive: My Feed

Renowned equestrian and internet frog Jonathan Green recently asked me to have a chat to him on radio about a few things I’d found to be interesting on social media in the past week. The segment is available to listen to here. 

We didn’t get time to discuss all of the subjects I suggested, so I thought I’d revive my poor, neglected longform internet presence to record them.

1. Mel Campbell is a cultural critic and academic who has written extensively on fashion and style, although she stridently denies identifying as a “fashion writer”. This week she used the #vamff (Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival) hashtag to promote her guide to fashion speak, which is an entertaining yet informative tour through industry jargon. From when the term “fashionista” was first coined and how “wearable” is worse than damning by faint praise, to how “fierce” is a cultural re-appropriation worthy of RuPaul.

2. G’Day Patriots – a podcast by two Aussies and an American expat about the US election. I’m completely transfixed by the US election – I have to admit a couple of months ago I was one of the idiots hoping that Trump would stay in the race because it’s just so entertaining – and now here we are. I’m subscribed to about ten US political podcasts but this one is unique as it gives a very particular local slant to the latest news about the US primary race. Also the latest podcast has Alan Alda on it!

3. I’ve been thinking a lot about a prediction that Niemen Lab made late last year, about social media feeds and how they are increasingly moving from public to private spaces.

I’m certainly experiencing this in my own social media use – I spend far more time in secret facebook groups, group messaging apps and closed network apps than ever before. I thought that was a result of where I am in my life, but it seems to be a wider social movement that I am unwittingly a part of. It will be interesting to see how media, government and businesses approach the challenge of reaching people in these spaces.

4. Speaking of private, personal feeds: I had a baby last year, and I live in Canberra far far away from all of my family, so we use Tiny Beans, an app that creates a closed network for sharing baby photos and videos with whoever you want to add. A lot of my friends have created secret Facebook groups for that purpose, but we decided to use Tiny Beans because it appears to allow greater privacy (ie Mark Zuckerberg won’t own our baby photos) and gives the option of downloading all the media whenever you want, in a handy chronological book form. It’s one of the apps I use most on a day-to-day basis, so forms a large part of my feed.

5. Buy Nothing groups on Facebook
Hyper-local and environmentally superior, these groups foster a sense of community and a healthy sense of smugness. They do this by encouraging members to give freely of the material goods they don’t need, and taking same off the hands of other like-minded souls. Referred to as ‘gifting’, there is a whole multi-layered ethos around the practice: ‘fast-gifting’ refers to first-come first-served, take-it-off-my-hands-asap posts, while ‘slow-gifting’ means that the giver will consider a range of members who comment on the post and thoughtfully give it to whoever they deem most worthy. Or they could pick a number out of a hat. Regardless, it means that less stuff is thrown out or hoarded, and more is recycled.

And speaking of recycling, the person who introduced me to these Buy Nothing groups is Tim Hollo, the CEO of Green Music Australia, who recently launched a campaign called BYO Bottle, to make music festivals and events plastic water bottle free by encouraging attendees and artists to bring their own reusable water bottles – which I think is definitely worth a mention, as they need all the support they can get.


Digital Masterclass at the 2014 Emerging Writers’ Festival

Vertical Marketing, Online Presence, and Dino-Erotica

Featuring Nathan Farrugia, author of The Chimera Vector & Anne Treasure, The Civic Group

Writing isn’t what it once was, with writers expected to move faster than ever before, needing to keep up with bandwidth speeds and with brand new skills. The role of ebooks, social media, websites and more will be explored in this new masterclass to show you how to best launch your work into this brave new world of words.

The digital space allows publishers to identify niche audiences and target work to established communities of readers. How can writers engage with these groups in genuine, non-spammy ways? How important is a great author website to a writer’s online presence? Join Anne Treasure, recent survivor of the publishing industry, for a discussion with genre fiction author Nathan Farrugia (The Chimera Vector), as they work their way through a brave new world of ‘molecular specialisation’, metadata obsession, fan fic, and bestselling self-published dinosaur erotica.


We’re post-digital: the Kindle, which sparked the avalanche of digital reading, was first released in 2007. It’s been 7 years since digital reading and publishing went mainstream.

People used to refer to ebooks, but that feels clunky now – we just call them books, and it’s how you interact with the books that is defined – reading in digital or reading in print.

Readers now place a premium on convenience. All publishers should be focused on making books available when and where readers want them – with global availability, low cost and free of constraints.

But the big traditional publishers operate like ocean liners, and their course is set years ahead – they take a while to turn. Although, if Tor can do it

There are huge opportunities now for individual authors and start-ups to establish a presence by doing things more effectively, using reader-led decision making.

Infrastructure is important: making sure that the right infrastructure is there is more than half the battle for publishers – this can mean establishing platforms and communities and setting up all the framework required for readers to serendipitously find a book.

But most often it should mean publishers identifying segments of the market that already have this framework and then accommodating them.