London’s new traffic reduction policies have caused protests, vandalism and furious online arguments. This is the first of three posts analysing the Twitter debate around London’s contentious Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

An LTN in Oval, photo from

When the #LTN hashtag appeared in my Twitter feed in July 2020, it caught my eye. It affects the area I live in, but I also noticed it because it was so acrimonious. So far, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) have caused protests across London, a campaign of vandalism, death threats to local politicians, and all the other familiar inhumanity of politics on Twitter. At the same time, there are also…

Are black cabbies the best lobbyists in the LTN debate? Perhaps. This is the second in a series of three posts present data analysis of the Twitter activity around London’s contentious Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

An LTN in Oval, photo from

This is the second in a series of three posts analysing the Twitter debate around LTNs, using data from the Twitter API. It looks at how black taxi drivers play a special role in the Twitter LTN debate. My first post gives some background and reflects on the fact a handful of hyperactive individuals account for much of the LTN activity on Twitter. …

Can we build tools that make Twitter a more constructive form? This is the third in a series of three posts present data analysis of the Twitter activity around London’s contentious Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

An LTN in Oval, photo from

This is the third of a series of three posts on the Twitter debate around Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. The first two focused on discovering which individuals and groups shape the LTN debate. This post asks how we could make these types of patterns visible in other civic debates on Twitter.

Buildings designed for politics, for example, the House of Commons, give immediate visual cues about who…

Here is what I learned about vivas, PhDs, & myself.

Here is what I learned from a grinding, traumatising and occasionally comic journey towards getting a PhD. In the UK, a viva is a verbal defence of your thesis; unlike other countries, it is not a formality, there are lots of ways it can go wrong.

For me, getting a PhD was a deflating struggle across an arbitrary finish line; a relief rather than a cause for celebration.

Writing the thesis took four years of challenging but satisfying work. The subsequent corrections, however, were exceptionally unpleasant — I woke up every day knowing that my sense of self-worth, not to…

Coverage of the Cambridge Analytica scandal is not asking a crucial question: how effective was Cambridge Analytica at influencing elections using data analysis? Failure to ask this question undermines the whole debate around digital politics.

There is a danger that CA will be portrayed as an evil super-villain with a comic-book style machine to control the political weather — all they had to do was set the controls to “populist fantasist”, a cold front of protectionism swept in, and when the mist cleared Trump was in the White House.

Politicians will react to this “super-villain” story in two ways. They…

This might be the whiteboard referred to in Wired’s ‘Hellish Two Years’ article. On the other hand, Facebook probably doesn’t let journalists photograph their wall.

We’ve got free speech wrong: you don’t have an unlimited right to say anything at all, you will never have that right, and you can still live in a repressive society even if you do have such a right. It’s a common presumption that the digital public sphere ought to embody a perfectly level playing field for all views: The “I disagree with what you have to say, but I’d die for your right to say it” school. The more you think about this position, the less sense it makes.

Wired’s recent epic exploration of Facebook’s “Helllish Two Years” opens…

Trump in a wrestling ring, taking revenge on someone who had the audacity to have a full head of natural hair

2017 — the year we ignored the enormous issues facing us and watched a political pantomime instead. He’s behind us! Oh no, he isn’t.

For the first 11 months of 2017 it looked like the Trump presidency might be the perfect advert for why people like Trump shouldn’t be in office. Not only because he had stupid and malicious ideas, but also because he just wasn’t any good at making his ideas into reality. No health care reform, no tax reform, no leverage over North Korea. …

The Institute of Making workshop

How can you measure the impact of makerspaces better? Can they be part of the solution to the UK’s productivity problems?

These are some notes about the Maker Assembly Summit I attended at the Institute of Making at UCL. I’m not myself deeply embedded in the maker community, but it is one of a range of alternative forms of cooperation that I’m interested in — I have a familiar but perhaps slightly external perspective.

The ecology of makerspaces seems to be at something of a formative moment, attendees reported various symbolic turning points — laser cutter suppliers Just Add Sharks…

This is the third post in a series of three looking at how technology is shaping our social connections. The first post tried to convince you that our online and offline social networks are incredibly important. The second outlined some strategies designers can use to design better social networks.

If I am friends with you, who owns that information? Facebook says either of us can reveal our friendship to the world. But that surprises many Facebook users, so they constantly report it as a security bug. Information about our social interactions poses unique challenges.

This post looks at sources of…

We have more data than ever describing our social lives. Digital artefacts, in particular, are modifying our social connections in unprecedented ways. How can we make the best of these phenomena?

[This is the second in a series of three posts, the first describes how technology is changing our social connections, and designers should take responsibility. The third is on sources of social network data.]

This post describes three theories that can guide designers when they have to make decisions that will impact our social connections.

The common-pool resources and social capital sections describe how social network structures can lead…

Jimmy Tidey

PhD on digital systems for collective action and social network analysis.

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