This post brings together a number of people listed in a few previous blogposts to try and get a list of Cambridge tweeple (people who use Twitter) that I interact with via Puffles into one place. This isn’t a ‘definitive’ list – nor do I intend it to be. The reason being is that people use Twitter for a variety of reasons, making an “all these people in this area us Twitter” list a little pointless. Just because someone lives in the same area as you does not necessarily mean that you will find them interesting. (I have bored more than enough people to death before social media even existed so I blog from experience!)
It was the 2010 general election that led to the growth of Twitter as a medium. The first I knew about this was when Cambridge Labour Party Secretary (and former workmate) @TheBigShow1976 said that he was killing off his Facebook account – which meant missing out on a daily dose of tribal status updates. The most high profile elected Labour figure for Cambridge is Richard Howitt MEP. On board the local Labour battleship are three young guns – two of whom seem to have the same name – Richard Johnson (of Cambridge University Labour Party) and Cllr Richard Johnson. Of no relation to the actor is Daniel Ratcliffe, also found campaigning in these parts too.
Cambridge is lucky to have more than its fair share of younger councillors than other places – Carina O’Reilly of Labour can be found tweeting about complicated stuff when not trying to get their heads around even more complex planning matters for which a simple “Yes/No” answer never seems to suffice. (E.g. I find the Belvedere development an insult to local people and Cambridge Leisure Park a spectacularly unimaginative development given the amount of time and money spent on deciding on what to put on the old cattle market. Yes, I am just old enough to remember when they did sell livestock on that site!) Cllr Gail Marchant-Daisley can also be found tackling the same things. I would like to list Cllrs Tariq Sadiq and Lewis Herbert but they need to tweet more! (Should I send Puffles after them?)
On the other side of the political divide are the Tories, of whom I seem to get the most responses from Andy Bower and @Radegund. Chris Howell (a former local councillor) and Nick Hillman (who stood at for the Tories at the 2010 general election) can also be found tweeting in these parts, though with less frequency due to their work commitments amongst other things. As a city, Cambridge currently has no Tories on the council, but the party does control Cambridgeshire County Council, for which Cllr Nick Clarke (whose constituency is just south-east of the city in Fulbourn) is currently the leader.
It goes without saying that Julian Huppert MP is the highest profile Liberal Democrat tweeter in the city. He’s set the standard for many backbench MPs on how to use Twitter and through that and other work has a far higher profile than his predecessor. In terms of local councillors, Cllrs Neil McGovern, Belinda Brookes-Gordon, Andy Pellew, Ian Manning and Sarah Brown appear most frequently in Puffles’ feed. Cllr Amanda Taylor - whose name I became familiar with on my paper rounds in the early 1990s (because her name was on the posters at election time) also tweets, but less frequently than the others. Mike Pitt and Clare Blair
Unfortunately Cambridge Green Party has lost much of its Twitter presence since Cllr Adam Pogonowski closed his Twitter account before switching to Labour. This means that Stephen Lintott is one of the few Cambridge Greens who tweets.
Richard Taylor has set the standard in terms of scrutinising local government and pushing for transparency and open data. Now that @SmithSam has moved to these parts, I look forward to seeing the results of putting two such bright minds together – especially with Michele Ide-Smith, Dan Stagger, Lisa Evans and Liz Stevenson around. From what I have found with open data, the benefits of making (certainly taxpayer-funded) data sets freely available far outweigh any financial gain that may be made from selling it – or worse, keeping it under lock and key. The challenge is getting enough momentum politically to get the public sector and publicly-funded bodies, organisations and projects (here’s looking at you Cambridge University) to open up their data sets.
I don’t have nearly as many links and contacts in science park world as perhaps I’d like to have. Part of me still wants to get back into science but the costs of retraining in a scientific environment (i.e. where you can get your hands dirty) are prohibitive. So I rely on the likes of Lou Woodley, Sarah Castor-Perry, Michelle Brook and the Naked Scientists to keep me posted on the important stuff.
The two local journalists I keep tabs on are Chris Havergal & Lucy Ross-Millar of the Cambridge Evening News. See who they are following for journalists that cover other subject areas. For Cambridge University types and watchers, you’re probably aware that The Cambridge Student, Varsity and The Tab are all on Twitter.
Being a born-and-brought-up local, I was one of many generations of people who did cycling proficiency at primary school. Hence why it’s nice to have the Cambridge Cycle Campaign keeping an eye on dodgy developments looking to make things awkward for those of us relying on pedal power. I joined them on their group cycle ride on the cycleway next to the guided bus route but decided to turn back 2 miles from St Ives because it got too windy and it felt like it was going to rain. (Actually it’s because I’m not nearly as fit as I’d like to be). It’s also nice to see them pushing for routes that may help take some traffic off of the roads – such as the Cambridge North-South Cycleway.
You could say that Ellie Stoneley (who does IT training), Eleanor Turney (who has more connections than a circuit board as far as the arts world seems to go), Louisa Loveluck (whose expertise was recently snapped up by the Chatham House), Caroline Bywater (one of the few tweeting planning lawyers I can find), Jules Bradley, Leila Khalifa and Emma Jackson Stuart are the “local to me” followers of/followed by Puffles tweeple who I’m still to meet in real life.
Talking of the world of creatives, Clare Denham and friends at CreativeFront set in motion some work under the Culture Hack East banner – the gathering recently I was critical of (but in a ‘here’s how you can improve it’ manner). One of the problems outside of Clare’s control was the lack of people using social media during the event – especially with Twitter. The question is how to persuade people to use it – especially in a field where using it to make connections is becoming more and more important? The same is true for the medical field where Fi Douglas is one of the few Cambridge medic types making waves.
This was something Ceri Jones blogged about in a post “What is Twitter to me?”. The piece of advice I had not thought about was around numbers of people to follow – especially those who follow very few people. In order for Twitter to work for you, you need to follow enough people (she says 60) in order to get the feed ‘rolling’ – otherwise you are staring at the same message from the same person for hours on end. It’s also not just about following anyone. My take is that there is no point in following big institutions unless they are “news makers” in your field. This is because such institutions tend to use Twitter as a means to cascade press releases. Even then, it may make more sense to follow someone else who filters those items that come out. It’s why Puffles does not follow the myriad of Whitehall departmental Twitter accounts. I prefer following individuals who use their Twitter accounts to interact with and have conversations with people.
There are lots of other people in Cambridge who use Twitter. This is not a ‘local celebrity’ list, nor is it a complete and exhaustive one. If you have any recommendations that you’d like to add, please do so (with links) in the comments field.