News

Fail

We had a really big fail on White Water Writers this week.

Since June last year a (low priority) project has been to add ‘promotional’ chapters to the end of the White Water Writers books. You’ll have seen such chapters before. They normally look like this:

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…and add a characteristic look to the spine of a book:

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Getting the grey border right took ages, and after quite a lot of wrangling the typesetting we got this:

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Amazon (where we publish the books) turns out to be very much anti this approach presumably because they have a flat rule about any colours in the bleed area of the page.

So that’s annoying, but the important thing is that we tried and we learned something new about the technology in the process.

Where all our files are

This is mostly a post for people internal to equality time but it costs nothing to make it open. There is now a guide to our filesystem availible as a Google Document.

Some initial notes: in general we divide our files by three levels of access:

  • Files that only trustees and CEO can see, like personal staff information or other information that is held on trust
  • Files that only staff and trustees can see
  • Files that are Publicly viewable.

In general, we try to place files in the most widely accessible place possible. There should be a reason why something is not public rather than a reason is it. 

The guide covers all levels of access and is itself for all users from members of the public to trustees.  If there is some content that you would like but isn’t in your access level, get in touch and we’ll see what can be moved or redacted.

Funding Application to Amazon

This week we applied for the Amazon Literary Partnership with White Water Writers We think we’ve got reasonably good odds: we tick all of the listed boxes. We’re also quite heavily involved in the Amazon Ecosystem (we publish our books there and we host the code on the Amazon Virtual Machines so we’re a fairly good use-case.

This application was also notable for being the first time we’ve used a professional fundraiser to work on the bid. We’ve never nbeed great with written applications for funding (while being wonderfully and happily successful whenever we’ve presented live) and we judged that it was time to bring in some proper help. It’s been very interesting so far – lots of things were written in a different way than I would have: some things reordered, others removed, others emphasised. We’ll find out how much difference it makes in late May, which is when Amazon get back to us.

Sequels, adaptions and so on.

We’ve been asked a sensible question by email so I’m putting our answer here for the next time someone asks the same sensible question:

Can I use the novel I wrote with you guys and the team(as part of White Water Writers) as the basis for future work I do? Like writing a sequal or turning it into a play?

The very most acurate answer is: we don’t know. We’re not copyright law professionals and we don’t know enough about the ins and outs of the law to give any advice. However we can tell you our understanding.

The good news is that we (by which I mean the project ‘White Water Writers’ and the organisation ‘eQuality Time’) claim no copyright on any novels we produce. We did for the first few books and got writers to sign a thing that said we could use the books to promote the project, but we don’t any more. There’s an argument to say that we should bring it back, at least for the younger writers, because it’s a good way to underline how real the project is, but that is a seperate issue.

This is also the bad news because the copyright is held by *all* the writers in the group *jointly*,  which means that if you want to do anything commercial with the IP, you need to get *all* of them to agree (but not us).

I think that this only applies if you want to eventually sell/show/profit from the IP (which I assume you’d at least like as an option) – if you are happy that you’ll never turn it into money, then you can do what you want (I think it’s still polite to tell people though)  

Improvements to White Water Writers eBooks

To report a small internal success: I rewrote the code behind White Water Writers so that it automatically generates a well-formed ebook at the same time as the print-ready pdf that we send to Amazon.

This means that we can upload them seperately rather than relying on Amazon to convert our nicely-formatted pdf into a ebook. The reason this was necessary was because Amazon’s automatic conversion has been causing problems for years, even with our relatively consistent and clean formating.

There should be a measurable increase in quality going forward and I might even go back through our 200 book back catalog and regenerate all the ebooks.

The REAL Implications of Project REAL

It doesn’t seem five minutes since my last update, but I am aware it has been a lot longer; time flies when you are enjoying a project! It has been all go the past couple of months with Project Real…. we are now starting to see the REAL implications of Project REAL, which are fantastic and really emphasise the importance of this project!

The co-creation was a success and the suggestions and materials the young people came up with were a great basis for the development of the five sessions: Fake News, Fake Stories, Fake Accounts, Fake Photos and Fake Videos. Their ideas included quizzes, spot the fake photo, write your own conspiracy theory and many, many more.

As a team, we found it an enjoyable task collating the young people’s ideas into deliverable PowerPoint presentations! After all, the young people are the experts in what they find enjoyable, and we want these sessions to be as engaging as possible. I strongly believe co-creation is a fantastic research tool!

It was apparent that the young people enjoyed engaging with the influencers as I talked about in my prior post. The young people asked for a variety of videos to be developed by the influencers for the final materials. As with co-creation principles, these ideas were taken on board and for each session various influencers described how to spot for example, fake news, and the pros and cons of again, as an example, fake news.

Another common theme throughout the final materials, was the reference to SOURCE an acronym designed to help people spot fake news (see image below). This ensured focus on the main aim of the project and was especially great to see written on a whiteboard when I visited the schools- seeing research in action really is exciting!

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Talking about going into schools, I also had the pleasure of running focus groups with the young people who had participated in the sessions and the teachers who had delivered them. I was overwhelmed with the positive responses and am greatly enjoying transcribing these interviews!

So what’s next? After transcribing the interviews, as a team we will explore ways in which the programme can be improved. We will also analyse the survey data to further examine the REAL implications of Project REAL.

Keep your eyes peeled for conference appearances and research papers…

Accounts for 2019-2020

Our accounts for 2019-2020 are in the accounts folder!

An exciting part of this year’s accounts was that we prepared them ourselves and had them independently examined, this:

  • Saved us a reasonable amount in accountants fees
  • Meant that there is a much closer relationship between the accounts we submit and the internal state of our systems.
  • Meant that we can produce the accounts to our own style (which is as simple as ‘we can edit the document and put our own logos and so on in’)

We were only able to do this because we’ve spend a fair amount of time and effort upskilling staff, adding trustees with significant accounting background and generally improving our systems (it also helped, due to lockdown, that the accounts were quite simple, and that COO had a bit more time on his hands as buisness built back up).

New Flowers For Turing Website

One of the small projects of the last few months has been the complete rebuilding of the Flowers For Turing website.

It started as a small migration project – I’m a bit unhappy with our current webhost and wordpress in general so I wanted to move it to Github Pages site.

Of course, while actually doing the mirgation, I discovered five year old typos, poor layers, entirely missing pages, and generally poor presentation. So it ended up being a complete rewrite, and I’d like to thank everybody who helped with proofreading and testing.

In the process, and partly because of this, I also properly reviewed our Google Analytics, made sure things worked in the right browsers, and did Actual Internet Things like setting up a funnel in Analytics so that I can get some data about how people interact with the site before donating.

I also took the oppertunity to properly set up on Paypal as a Charity – a process which is much more paperwork than setting up with the UK goverment as a charity so we should benefit from reduced fees this year.

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Having a problem with Amazon pay by invoice?

This is one of those posts to help people searching google for a particular problem, it’s not relevent to eQuality Time or it’s projects more generally.

We have a credit line with Amazon so that we can pay by bank transfer (vital for charities that need two signitories on any outgoing spend). During the pandemic, we weren’t buying anything, so Amazon reduced our credit limit to £0 automatically.

So, you know, we couldn’t buy literally anything.   To fix this you have to ring up and ask for a credit limit increase. I did that several times. You have to pick an amount and hope it’s approved. 

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You then get an email like this:

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We went round that loop a few times. It turns out that the solution, at least for us, was that I (Joe) personally bought some pens using the buisness account and my own bank card. That put some history on the account and the next credit increase worked.

Instagram Influencers Influencing Co-Creation

Wow! What a REELY interesting and exciting start to the Fake News Project!

Now, you may be a social media enthusiast, you may just think I can’t spell, or you may simply have missed my spelling ‘mistake’ in the past sentence. But actually there’s a reason for this ‘mistake’. Reels are an element of Instagram and this week has been all about Instagram influencers! 

(Side Note: Spelling mistakes can indicate fake news. Don’t worry this blog isn’t fake news but be sure to be vigilant if you spot them online, especially in relation to profile names…)

This week we invited three influencers to speak to the young people in the participating schools about their experiences and opinions of fake news online. They provided a great deal of food for thought around the good, the bad and the deceptive sides of social media, having experienced this themselves with very large followings. Feel free to check their profiles out using the usernames below.

Up first, we had Harriotte who spoke to pupils at Notre Dame High School. Her online presence focuses on beauty and in particular beauty pageants where she is crowned Miss UK International. Next, in a similar fashion (pardon the pun), we had Bushra. She spoke to pupils at Hillhead High School about her previous career in banking and how she got into lifestyle blogging. 

Interestingly, they both discussed how to detect fake profiles and their experiences with these. They shared the useful tool of Social Blade, which can be used to check Instagram accounts and detect any abnormalities in followers, for example if followers have been bought and there is a sudden spike in the number of followers. It’s crazy, you can buy followers! It also seems that the infamous blue tick, is not all it appears to be! Despite some regulations, it seems there is means and ways around the process!

They also discussed editing photos, using various platforms such as Face Tune and Photoshop. The young people seemed very interested in this and how it related to body image. They both discussed how they don’t alter their appearance but often change lighting and backgrounds. So, it turns out that those beautiful empty beaches you often see on influencers profiles aren’t actually empty but edited! Crazy, right?

Bushra also shared with the young people that she likes to show her followers a before and after editing of her posts. I think this is a fantastic way of highlighting creativity and transparency! What are your thoughts on this? See below for an example of her work.

Last but not least, we had Phoebe, who led a novel discussion on her fashion blog with Whitehill Secondary School. The day before the session, she had run a giveaway with her followers. Unfortunately, this led to fake accounts imitating her profile being created and sadly Instagram deleting her account. The fake accounts had misspelled usernames and were asking followers for personal details. Despite the devasting impact of this, Phoebe gave an interesting talk using this example to emphasise the importance of detecting fake accounts and being vigilant online. 

We would like to thank Harriotte, Bushra and Phoebe for a great week!