My review of Lucy didn’t contain my link to my tweetnotes on Under The Skin, so I’m embedding them here:

SurreySave is one of a number of new credit unions that sprang up in communities across the country in the wake of the banking crisis. Formally launched on the 9th of January 2012, SurreySave has been going from strength to strength, reaching 1000 members in March 2014, and three months later announced that members had deposited their first £1 million of shares.

Credit unions are financial co-operatives; not-for-profit and owned and controlled by their members. Decisions are made democratically amongst members, and there are no external shareholders. Most credit unions, particularly in the UK, focus their efforts on supporting the local community from which they stem and investing ethically. The intent is to be able to offer local members more competitive rates for loans and related services than banks and building societies.

Estimates from the World Council of Credit Unions put global credit union members at 118 million in 94 countries. They are especially popular in Ireland, America and the Caribbean. In the UK, there are over 550 credit unions and more than 550,000 members – and these numbers are growing rapidly.

SurreySave Credit Union has so far awarded loans worth over £750,000 to Surrey citizens and received many messages of thanks from those whose lives have been transformed by being able to access affordable credit. They pride themselves on offering finance to the financially excluded that cannot access standard high street banking. In this way they hope to improve the community as a whole, with an ‘all in it together’ philosophy.

There are numerous examples of Surrey citizens being able to access finance from SurreySave, rather than having to resort to loan sharks or pay day lenders. The rates are better, the trust is higher; and in the end the community as a whole benefits.

A friend has recently had his Twitter hymen torn asunder, but is still unsure about the whole thing, so I’m putting a few Twitter-related thoughts together as a haphazard guide. The Guardian does a better job of it, but I’m not going to let that stop me.


First off, what is Twitter:

  • Twitter is micro-blogging, restricted to 140 characters per post. Some find 140 characters limiting, I actually find it useful in focussing thoughts, particularly those random snippets too short for an actual blog post. But it is a blog, so unlike Facebook you can’t restrict your messages to your nearest and dearest. But it also means your words are disseminated wider, which is useful if you want to use Twitter as…

  • A community builder, if you want it to be and if you let it. Not appropriate to me, but then I don’t have a webcomic/novel/band/live act/political career.


What Twitter isn’t:

  • Advertising. It’s all very well interspersing your tweets with “I’m performing at…” or what-have-you. But a stream of nothing but that would become tedious. This will not stop people trying to advertise to you of course

  • Sandwich blog. I’m sure some people are so desperate to tweet and so uninspired that “I’m eating a sandwich” is the sum of their contribution to the world, but there is a special layer of hell reserved just for them. Top tip: Don’t follow anyone whose updates put you in a coma with their sheer inanity. Disclaimer: I reserve the right to tell everyone in the world that I am drinking/drunk/hungover. I do this in person, why shouldn’t I spread the love over the interwebs?

  • A popularity contest. Some people need the affirmation of having a billion followers and go about this by following a gazillion random people in the hope that a proportion of those will return the favour. Follow those people whose updates you actually want to read. People who are interesting/funny/famous/inherently popular will accumulate followers quite naturally.


So what else are people using Twitter for?

  • Novels. 140 characters at a time. Not something I’m following, but interesting concept

  • Poetry. But then, who’d be interested in that?

  • News trending. The Trending Topics are the popular themes that people are tweeting about at this exact moment, whether it be the Sri Lankan cricketers or recently when Gmail went down for me and I was able to discover the extent of the problem way before it hit the news wires.


So how best to use Twitter? You can, of course, just browse to the webpage every time you’re curious as to what’s going on or want to tweet, but it kind of misses the point. Try this:

  • If you want to use it mainly from a computer, I recommend Tweetdeck, which makes the whole process much less painful

  • Twitter is basically made for the mobile internet, so see if you have any data allocation on your mobile contract. Unfortunately you can’t currently tweet by text message in the UK, but hopefully that will be sorted at some point

  • If you have an iPhone there are great free apps like Twitterfon

  • If you read webfeeds, either in standalone software or using something like Google Reader and just want to follow people rather than tweet yourself, you can just link to your friends’ feeds.


Sorry about all that splurge, I’m messing around with blog/twitter integration…

Two British men should not have had their DNA and fingerprints retained by police, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

BBC NEWS | UK | DNA database ‘breach of rights’.

The judges said keeping the information “could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society”.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she was “disappointed” by the European Court of Human Rights’ decision.

The database may now have to be scaled back following the unanimous judgement by 17 senior judges from across Europe.

Under present laws, the DNA profiles of everyone arrested for a recordable offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are kept on the database, regardless of whether they are charged or convicted.