#yeg turns five

#yegToday marks the fifth anniversary of the #yeg hashtag on Twitter (here’s #yeg tweet number one). Can you believe it has been five years since Twitter started to take hold here in Edmonton? I can’t. I’m also continually surprised at the impact our humble hashtag has had on this city. Here’s something I wrote back in 2009 about the start of the #yeg hashtag.

It started out simply but has exploded in use since, and not just online. Now it is common to see the tag offline, even in the names of companies like YEG Live. I’m always surprised when newcomers to Twitter discover and start using the hashtag, but I’m even more surprised when I see it out in the offline world! What is it about those three letters?

YEG didn’t start with Twitter, of course. Most Edmontonians would associate YEG with Edmonton because of our international airport, constructed around 1960. According to Tom Hinderks and Richard Skermer, YEG would likely have been assigned to us roughly a year before the airport received its operating certificate, so that would have been 1959. That means those three letters have been associated with Edmonton for more than 50 years! But it wasn’t until Twitter came along that Edmontonians really started to embrace YEG as a sort of identity for the city. It was probably a wise decision for the Edmonton International Airport to focus on EIA as its brand rather than YEG, because there’s a risk it would have gotten lost amongst the chatter.

Use of the hashtag on Twitter has grown fairly steadily over the years. Today it might not even be the hashtag that you follow most, it might instead be one of the 430+ related tags that have become popular such as #yegfood or #yegtraffic. There were nearly 1 million tweets posted by Edmontonians last year that included the #yeg hashtag or one of the related tags, and that’s up from less than 140,000 in 2009.

How do you pronounce it? I did an informal survey on Twitter in December 2011, and that was one of the questions I asked. About 61% say yegg (rhymes with egg), the rest spell it out as in why-e-gee. Around the same time I asked Chris Martyniuk, co-founder of YEG Live, how he pronounces it. “Originally we were adamant about spelling it out,” he told me. “But we gave in about a year ago, because everyone said ‘yegg live’.” However you choose to say it aloud, online those three letters have become synonymous with Edmonton.

People from other cities often comment on how connected and tight-knit the online community in Edmonton seems to be, and I think the #yeg hashtag is really at the heart of that. We’ve used it to make new friends, to share the news, to raise money for important charitable causes, and for thousands of other interesting and important reasons. The world of social media is very different today than it was in 2008, with a variety of new services like Pinterest and Instagram, but the #yeg hashtag remains as a way to bind it all together.

I had no idea that Twitter would become as popular as it has in Edmonton, nor that the #yeg hashtag would take hold and play such a significant role in creating a sense of community here. Thank you to everyone who has used #yeg to make this a richer, more interesting city to call home.

Here’s to the next five years of #yeg!

What good are (bike) plans without implementation?

Bike lanes have been in the news again, largely thanks to Mayor Mandel referring to the plans as a “nightmare” on Wednesday. It’s pretty clear that our poor public consultation practices are part of the problem here, but there’s another issue at play. As a city we’re good at talking the talk, but we too often fail at walking the walk.

From The Way Ahead:

In shifting Edmonton’s transportation modes the City recognizes the importance of mobility shifts to contribute to the achievement of other related goals. To do so suggests the need to transform the mix of transport modes, with emphasis on road use for goods movement and transiting people and transit use for moving people.

From The Way We Move’s Strategic Goals:

Public transportation and active transportation are the preferred choice for more people, making it possible for the transportation system to move more people more efficiently in fewer vehicles.

From The Way We Move’s Implementation Plan:

Active transportation includes any form of human-powered transportation, the most common modes being walking and biking. A key direction of The Way We Move is to develop an integrated and sustainable transportation system in Edmonton to enable citizens to shift to these modes.

And then of course there is the Active Transportation Policy which declares, “the City of Edmonton strives to be pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.”

Our plans and goals and policies all seem to support taking steps to make cycling in Edmonton more common. We know that doing so will help to reduce traffic congestion, preserve our road infrastructure, protect the environment, and make us healthier. Our goal of building 500 km of on-street cycling facilities in the next 10 to 20 years is achievable, and we can be confident it’ll help shift our transportation modes because just as you get more drivers when you add more roads, research suggests you get more cyclists if you add more bike lanes (pdf).

So why does it seem so difficult to make any actual progress?

Isaak Kornelsen Memorial Ride - August 31, 2012

When the 2012-2014 Capital Budget was being discussed, Active Transportation nearly missed out on funding. After lots of public feedback and discussion, Council amended the budget and did include $20 million. Now we get around to actually spending some of that money on cycling – $2 million or less this year – and we once again seem to be forced into the position of having to fight to move things forward. One step forward, two steps backward.

Without question the way the City does public consultation contributed to this mess – there’s a lot of room for improvement. But “poor public consultation” is also a convenient scapegoat for politicians and citizens opposed to the plans. There’s no conspiracy here. The notion of adding bike lanes to our streets didn’t suddenly appear one day out of thin air. These plans have been in the works for years.

All we need to do now is walk the walk.

You can learn more about Cycling in Edmonton here, and note the City is running a survey on the 2013 Bike Routes until February 27.

Two other thoughts:

  • Why wasn’t there any outrage about the loss of parking when the bike parking corrals were put in place over the summer? Was it just because they were temporary?
  • Am I the only one annoyed that we’re spending 10 to 30 times more on a “mechanized access” project for the River Valley that has no clear plan than we are on bike lanes?

Media Monday Edmonton: Oprah comes to town

Oprah Winfrey was in Edmonton tonight for the first of three Canadian stops on a mini speaking tour that will also take her to Calgary and Vancouver later this week. She has been the talk of the town lately, with thousands of Edmontonians looking forward to hearing from the TV icon herself (and spending a lot of money to do so). I was fortunate enough to attend with Sharon courtesy of EEDC, one of the event’s sponsors. While I didn’t exactly grow up watching Oprah, many people around me regularly watched her show, such as my Mom and Grandma. I think most of the people in attendance tonight (primarily women, it’s true) are fans of Oprah because of the good she does in the world, because of what she does for other people, but for me the appeal has always been her larger-than-life personality. I wasn’t hoping for a life-changing moment tonight. Instead, I was hoping to gain a better understanding of what makes Oprah the woman she is.

Oprah in Edmonton

Tonight’s event was hosted by Global Edmonton’s Carole Anne Devaney. She admitted to being extremely nervous, and shared with us some of her own memories of Oprah’s show. She then got the crowd fired up by sharing a few “favorite things” from Edmonton that Oprah will be going home with. She chose sausage, a photo/painting of the river valley, a basket of goodies from Duchess Bake Shop, and an Edmonton Oilers jersey with #1 and Winfrey emblazoned on the back. Oh and a purse shaped like truck nuts. “Ok maybe that’s not one of Edmonton’s favorite things,” she joked.

Oprah in Edmonton

I thought Carole Anne did a great job, and she looked absolutely smashing. “We’re all going to leave a little bit more inspired, a little bit more motivated, and a little bit more enlightened,” she said before she left the stage.

After an official introduction from CIBC’s Gary Mayzes, it was finally time for Oprah to come out on stage. Here’s a look at what it was like:

It was pretty incredible! As you can see, she decided to humor us and Carole Anne with the truck nut purse.

Despite all the chatter about Oprah coming to town, and despite the show being sold out, no one really knew what to expect. Oprah herself addressed this when she got on stage. The program explained that the event would provide “an intimate personal profile of someone who has touched people across the globe for more than a quarter century as one of the most powerful voices in media, resonating with and bringing hope to people of all walks of life.” Oprah set the record straight. “I am here because I have a glorious life; and I want that for you.”

Oprah in Edmonton

The next couple of hours seemed to go by pretty quickly. Using clips from her show, photos from her childhood, but mostly just stories, Oprah shared with us how she got from Kosciusko, Mississippi to Edmonton. I felt at times as if I were in a church sermon, especially with the various Oprahisms she shared. Here’s a taste:

  • “I come from the power, I have access to the power, but I am not the power.”
  • Purpose is Spirit seeking expression.
  • “Figure out what your defining thread is, and then share it in service to others.”
  • “The defining question, the thing everybody wants to know is, ‘do I matter?’”
  • “Life isn’t happening to you, it’s happening for you.”
  • “Failure at its most poignant is simply a push in a new direction.”

It’s kind of hard to read those statements out-of-context, I realize. Integrated with stories from her life and things she has learned from other people, they make a lot more sense. Based on the reaction from some folks on Twitter, you could look at Oprah’s remarks as simply popular psychology, but in the room, listening to her speak, they were something more. I think many people did in fact walk away feeling inspired. She’s a powerful storyteller, if nothing else.

She didn’t talk too much about the media part of her career, but there were a few tidbits I picked up. She talked about the recent interview with Lance Armstrong of course, and said that it wasn’t about making him say something a certain way, but rather it was offering him the space to share the truth. She talked about the countless hours of research and preparation that went into that interview, and told us that she had 112 questions prepared.

Oprah in Edmonton

Oprah also talked about the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). She said that 2012 was a terrible year, that she got slaughtered in the press for the network’s struggles. Reflecting on the last few years, she said a change happened when she began to look at herself rather than those around her for answers. “I had gotten comfortable with being successful,” she admitted. That realization led to what she described as a paradigm shift – a shift back toward the founding philosophy of, “how can the network be of service?” And she made a bold declaration: “In three years, the network will be a force for positivity.” She sounded positively energized by the challenge.

After her remarks, George Stroumboulopoulos joined Oprah on stage for a brief sit-down interview. I don’t think the interview was long enough for George to get into a rhythm, and given that Oprah likes to talk she dominated the time. Still, in the short amount of time he had, George managed to impress Oprah. After she described a recent experience with children, he asked, “What did you learn about yourself through that experience?” To which Oprah responded, “Ooh, that’s the kind of question I would ask!”

Oprah in Edmonton

Given that Oprah was such a major supporter of Barack Obama’s in 2008, many wondered why she was in Canada today instead of back in the US for his second inauguration. It turns out, a simple mix-up is to blame. She thought the inauguration was yesterday (which technically it was), though she quickly added: “because I’m here in Edmonton with you!”

The interview ended rather abruptly, but Oprah didn’t skip a beat, standing to offer some final words. She described her prayer for everyone in attendance, and said she hoped the kindness shown to her tonight is returned a thousand-fold to everyone. “What you have to offer is needed,” she declared.

Oprah in Edmonton

I really enjoyed the event tonight, probably more than I expected to. Yes at times Oprah was a little too new-age-preachy for me, but it’s clear that what she says comes from an honest and heartfelt place. I enjoyed hearing her talk about her struggles and her successes. I admire her ability to learn from experiences and her devotion to becoming a better human being. And I’m glad I got to see even just a little bit of the real Oprah – from the recognition that she has an ego, to her funny voices as she told us stories. It was a great night!

Oprah in Edmonton

You can see more photos here.

State of the Edmonton Twittersphere 2012 – Hashtags & Links

This is the third part in my State of the Edmonton Twittersphere for 2012 – you can read the overview post here (and here is the hashtags & links entry for 2011). As we saw in that entry, local users posted more than 4 million tweets containing links. They also posted nearly 5 million tweets containing hashtags. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly we tweeted about in 2012.

It’s difficult to extract a lot value out of links because everything is trapped behind the t.co wrapper, but I did want to highlight the time of day that links seem to be posted. Recall that the hourly peak for tweet volume in general comes at around 9 PM, whereas for tweets containing links the peak is 11 AM.

Local users used just over 1 million different hashtags in 2012, up from nearly 600,000 in 2011. Hashtags ranged in length from 1 character to 139, excluding the hash, and they were used for just about every purpose you can think of. The average hashtag length was 14 characters.

Here are the top 25 hashtags used by local users in 2012:

  1. #yeg
  2. #ableg
  3. #yegfood
  4. #oilers
  5. #abvote
  6. #edmonton
  7. #ff
  8. #cdnpoli
  9. #yyc
  10. #yegwx
  11. #jobs
  12. #wrp
  13. #nhl
  14. #yegarts
  15. #ualberta
  16. #shpk
  17. #yegtraffic
  18. #yegweather
  19. #yegcc
  20. #yegdt
  21. #yegmusic
  22. #cbc
  23. #stalbert
  24. #yegarena
  25. #fb

Here’s a visualization of the top 100 hashtags excluding #yeg:

The most popular hashtag of all is still #yeg by a long shot. It was used about 660,000 times by local users which works out to 13.4% of all local tweets containing hashtags. The list above also illustrates the prevalence of #yeg-related hashtags. In 2012, local users used more than 4200 of them, up from 3600 last year. Though half of them were used just once, 44 #yeg-related hashtags were used more than 1000 times each.

Here are the top 25 #yeg-related hashtags:

  1. #yegfood
  2. #yegwx
  3. #yegarts
  4. #yegtraffic
  5. #yegweather
  6. #yegcc
  7. #yegdt
  8. #yegmusic
  9. #yegarena
  10. #yegre
  11. #yegjobs
  12. #yegwxfx
  13. #yegtransit
  14. #yegfringe
  15. #yegtheatre
  16. #yegfoodag
  17. #yegctvml
  18. #yegfilm
  19. #yegbike
  20. #yegfashion
  21. #yegmedia
  22. #yegbeer
  23. #yegpets
  24. #yeggeek
  25. #yegwine

Here’s a visualization of the top 100 #yeg-related hashtags:

I noticed some trends looking at the top 100 hashtags, so I decided to group some tags into topics or categories. I came up with nine that stood out:

  • Arts – #yegarts, #yegfringe, #yegmusic, #yegtheatre, #yegfilm
  • Downtown – #yegdt, #yegarena
  • Education – #abed, #edtech, #ualberta, #epsb
  • Food – #yegfood, #yegfoodag
  • Politics – #yegcc, #ableg, #cdnpoli, #abpoli, #yegfed
  • Regions – #shpk, #sprucegrove, #stalbert, #fortsask, #strathco, #leduc
  • Sports –#oilers, #nhl, #esks, #cfl, #oilkings
  • Transportation – #yegtraffic, #yegtransit, #yegbike
  • Weather – #yegweather, #yegwx, #yegwxfx

Here’s a breakdown of how those categories relate to one another. You can see that we tweet more about politics and sports than arts and education:

Here’s a look at the frequency of each category over the course of the year. This starts to show some interesting variations over the year, most notably in the summer when we experience our nicest weather and the Fringe Festival is taking place:

And here’s that same frequency but highlighting the spikes that took place throughout the year:

I’d love to hear your ideas for what those spikes represent, but here are my guesses for a few of them:

  • Sports – April 10, 2012 – This was the day the Oilers won the lottery for the first overall draft pick.
  • Education – June 15, 2012 – This was the day of the HUB Mall shooting.
  • Sports – June 22, 2012 – This was the day the Oilers selected Nail Yakupov first overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
  • Arts – August 17, 2012 – This was the day after the Fringe started and was the day of the Metallica concert.
  • Downtown – October 17, 2012 – This was the day of the Downtown Arena update (Mandel’s deadline for the Katz Group).
  • Food – October 26, 2012 – This was the day of the public hearing on the Food & Agriculture Strategy.
  • Transportation/Weather – November 7, 2012 – This was the day of our first major snowfall.
  • Politics – December 12, 2012 – This was the day Council voted to re-open negotiations with the Katz Group on the arena.

You might be wondering about the provincial election that took place in April. Well I originally included #abvote in the Politics category, but it skewed the results so dramatically I took it out. Here’s what it the year looks like if you include #abvote:

April 23 was election day, and local users posted more tweets on that day than any other until the snowstorm came along and on November 6 and 7. In addition to those two days, just one other day in 2012 had more tweets than election day and that was December 12 when Council last discussed the arena.

This entry brings my 2012 report to a close. I hope you found it useful – thanks for reading!

2012 in Review

  1. Overview
  2. Users & Clients
  3. Hashtags & Links

State of the Edmonton Twittersphere 2012 – Users & Clients

This is the second part in my State of the Edmonton Twittersphere for 2012 – you can read the overview post here (and here is the users & clients post for 2011). As we saw in that entry, more than 105,000 local users posted at least one tweet in 2012. Let’s take a closer look at users and the tools they used to post tweets.

While a large number of users posted at least one tweet throughout the year, there are fewer users who post something in any given month. Keeping in mind that November is underrepresented in this chart, we can see that October had the most active users at nearly 52,000, and the trend is very clearly going up.

Again I think it is really interesting to look at this data over the longer term. Here’s a look at the growth in monthly active users since I started tracking data in 2009:

There are a small number of really active users, and a much larger number of less active users. In 2012, the top 100 most active users accounted for about 1.5 million or 8.8% of all local tweets (that’s down from 16% in 2011).

Here are the 25 most active users:

  1. MadMissee
  2. KikkiPlanet
  3. theleanover
  4. rootnl2k
  5. JameyMPhoto
  6. JovanHeer
  7. markyeg
  8. TrevorBoller
  9. Klayoven
  10. CommonSenseSoc
  11. prabhjots5
  12. Leask
  13. canadianglen
  14. edmontonjournal
  15. Walleedj
  16. PetitMonstre77
  17. alannafletcher
  18. AskMartyMisner
  19. ZoomJer
  20. MandaTRT
  21. jmschow
  22. DerrickDodgeYeg
  23. Pokerclack
  24. YEGlifer
  25. scottyos

Here are the 5 most active bots or automated feeds:

  1. EdmontonBizcaf
  2. GCAccess
  3. yegtraffic
  4. EdmCa
  5. yegwx

Combined, the top 30 users accounted for about 4.6% of all local tweets (down from 8.3% last year).

Here are the 25 most active users using #yeg:

  1. ctvedmonton
  2. DerrickDodgeYeg
  3. CBCEdmonton
  4. iNews880
  5. metroedmonton
  6. Edmontonsun
  7. edmontonjournal
  8. JBH8
  9. 1049VirginYEG
  10. RobWilliamsCTV
  11. GlobalEdmonton
  12. JOEFM
  13. lindork
  14. MaddCashFS
  15. 1023nowradio
  16. BTEdmonton
  17. OFSS1969
  18. SpontainRichFS
  19. TrevorBoller
  20. oldstrathcona
  21. KikkiPlanet
  22. EJ_Arts
  23. DebraWard
  24. artrubicon
  25. CommonSenseSoc

Here are the 5 most active bots or automated feeds using #yeg:

  1. EdmCa
  2. yegwx
  3. yegsphere
  4. yegtraffic
  5. hiresuccessjobs

The top 100 most active users using #yeg and related tags accounted for 1.4% of all local tweets, and 25.8% of all #yeg-tagged tweets, down from 30.3% last year.

Here are the 25 most replied to users (by other local users):

  1. KikkiPlanet
  2. JenBanksYEG
  3. JasonGregor
  4. nielson1260
  5. JameyMPhoto
  6. ZoomJer
  7. TrevorBoller
  8. Leask
  9. CommonSenseSoc
  10. britl
  11. YEGlifer
  12. Pokerclack
  13. Wildsau
  14. EdmontonOilers
  15. baconhound
  16. Luzzara
  17. BigAddie
  18. theleanover
  19. dantencer
  20. CopperTopper_85
  21. dstaples
  22. bananaramafoFin
  23. lindork
  24. Kristinnuendo
  25. amvanimere

Those 25 users accounted for 8.3% of all local replies, down from 11.2% last year. The top 100 most replied to local users accounted for 2.7% of all local tweets and 18.7% of all local replies (compared to 24.5% last year).

I think the retweet is one of the most valuable metrics on Twitter. Anyone can post a lot, or gain a lot of followers, but to get retweeted by lots of other people you need to be useful/interesting/funny/inspiring/etc. In the past I have just produced one list of the most retweeted users, but this year I decided to separate individuals from organizations.

Here are the 25 most retweeted non-individual users:

  1. edmontonjournal
  2. ctvedmonton
  3. EdmontonOilers
  4. metroedmonton
  5. CBCEdmonton
  6. GlobalEdmonton
  7. yegtraffic
  8. CityofEdmonton
  9. EdmOilKings
  10. Edmontonsun
  11. edmontonpolice
  12. HopeMission
  13. UAlberta
  14. EdmontonHumane
  15. iNews880
  16. CISNCountry
  17. AvenueEdmonton
  18. cfl_esks
  19. EJ_Extra
  20. oldstrathcona
  21. BlitzEdmonton
  22. TBSonK97
  23. sonic1029
  24. DerrickDodgeYeg
  25. FlyEIA

Here are the 25 most retweeted individual users:

  1. KikkiPlanet
  2. Paulatics
  3. mastermaq
  4. dantencer
  5. JasonGregor
  6. hallsy04
  7. joshclassenCTV
  8. CstPower
  9. ryanjespersen
  10. dstaples
  11. britl
  12. davecournoyer
  13. TrevorBoller
  14. lindork
  15. VassyKapelos
  16. sunterryjones
  17. ebs_14
  18. SBarsbyweather
  19. ChrisTse_
  20. nielson1260
  21. Wildsau
  22. GenePrincipe
  23. JameyMPhoto
  24. etownmickey
  25. bingofuel

A total of 59 users were retweeted by other local users 1000 times or more. Just 7 users were retweeted more than 5000 times, and @KikkiPlanet was the only individual in that group. Just like last year, only @EdmontonJournal was retweeted more than 10,000 times.

I did not keep track of the most followed users this year, primarily because the information is readily available elsewhere. If you want to know who the most followed users in Edmonton are, check out Twopcharts.

Clients

More than 3800 different applications and services were used to post tweets in 2012, up slightly from more than 3100 last year. For the first time since I have been tracking stats, the web is no longer the top dog! Here are the top ten:

  1. Twitter for iPhone
  2. web
  3. Twitter for BlackBerry®
  4. Twitter for Android
  5. TweetDeck
  6. HootSuite
  7. Instagram
  8. Facebook
  9. Tweet Button
  10. Echofon

The top ten clients accounted for 82.9% of all local tweets posted in 2012 (compared to 76.8% last year).

Coming Up

  1. Overview
  2. Users & Clients
  3. Hashtags & Links

State of the Edmonton Twittersphere 2012 – Overview

Welcome to the State of the Edmonton Twittersphere for 2012, my look at the intersection of Twitter and Edmonton in 2012. You can see my previous annual recaps here: 2011, 2010, 2009.

I’ve done my best to ensure all of the data in this report is accurate, but I make no guarantees – use it at your own risk. The data comes from the Twitter API, and was collected over the course of 2012. If a user has his or her location set to Edmonton, St. Albert, Sherwood Park, Leduc, Nisku, Stony Plain, Fort Saskatchewan, Beaumont, Spruce Grove, or matching lat/long coordinates, they are considered an Edmontonian, and thus a “local user”.

Please treat the numbers in this report as a minimum. There are instances where I wasn’t able to capture all of the data, and there are certainly users here in Edmonton who do not match the above definition of a “local user”. More important than the raw numbers themselves are the trends, and that’s why in many cases I have presented rounded rather than exact figures. You can click on any graph to see a larger version.

Here are the highlights for 2012:

  • More than 105,000 local users posted at least one tweet.
  • About 17 million tweets were posted by local users, which works out to 32.3 tweets per minute (up from 11.2 million tweets and 21.4 tweets per minute last year).
  • Here’s a breakdown of those tweets:
    • Nearly 900,000 tweets were tagged #yeg or a related hashtag (5.3%, down from 6.4% last year)
    • More than 850,000 tweets were retweets (5.1%, down from 6.2% last year)
    • About 6.5 million tweets were replies (38.8%, down from 39.4% last year)
    • Just under 2.4 million tweets were replies to other local users (14.2%, down from 15.2% last year)
    • About 4 million tweets contained links (23.3%, down from 22.9% last year)
    • Nearly 5 million tweets contained hashtags (28.9%)
    • More than 400,000 tweets were twooshes (a twoosh is exactly 140 characters) (2.5%, down from 2.9% last year)

When the year started, Edmontonians were posting about 1.2 million tweets per month. While the growth over the course of the year was less dramatic than in years past, the trend was clearly up. Please note that November shows a dip but that was due to issues with my system, and does not reflect a sudden drop in activity. October was the busiest month we’ve had in terms of tweet volume, with a little over 1.7 million tweets posted.

The day with the most tweets posted was November 7. A quick scan of the headlines shows that was the day of our major snowfall that caused all kinds of issues for Edmontonians, and clearly they took to Twitter to talk about it. A little over 50 tweets per minute were posted that day, and the number of local replies to one another was twice the average.

Roughly 47.5% of all local tweets were posted between the hours of 9 AM and 6 PM, which is down a little from 49.1% last year. The fewest tweets are posted around 4 AM, and the peak comes at around 9 PM.

Looking at days of the week, it turns out that Wednesday had the most tweets posted followed closely by Tuesday, with Monday being having the fewest. This is more or less the same as last year, when Wednesday was also the highest and Sunday was the lowest.

Looking at the stats by year is great, but it is the longer-term view that is most interesting. Here’s a look at the number of tweets posted per month since I started tracking back at the beginning of 2009:

When I built my tracking system at the end of 2008 there were very few users and very few tweets being posted each month. I have maintained and improved it over the last few years, and thankfully Twitter’s API has become incredibly stable. But the original design/approach has reached some limits. So with that in mind, I built a new system over the holidays that I will soon be launching at ShareEdmonton so that you can see this information in near real-time. It may not be as complete initially, but I will improve it over the course of the year. Stay tuned!

Coming Up

In order to make it easier to produce and consume this report, I have decided to break it into sections. This entry provided an overview, and upcoming entries will focus on different aspects of Twitter usage in Edmonton:

  1. Overview
  2. Users & Clients
  3. Hashtags & Links

If you have any questions about this information, please leave a comment below!

The Yeggies will recognize and celebrate online content creators in Edmonton

the yeggiesToday was a very exciting day for Edmonton’s vibrant social media scene! Adam Rozenhart of The Unknown Studio (among other things) officially announced the Edmonton New Media Awards, a.k.a. “The Yeggies”:

Edmonton has a particularly strong social media community. It’s quite remarkable, and I think pretty unique. I know other Canadian cities have enthusiastic social media users and communities as well, but — and I’ll admit to complete and total bias here — there’s just something different about Edmonton’s community.

You know what’s missing from Edmonton’s winning formula? True, unabashed recognition.

That’s where the new awards come in!

The Edmonton New Media Awards, or the Yeggies, is an annual awards show created to recognize and celebrate outstanding social media content creators in the capital region. It’s an awards show to highlight some of the amazing talent we have here in Edmonton — from people who code websites themselves, to those who write, speak, draw, all on their own time. Yeggies recipients inspire, evoke, inform, educate and entertain us, and they do it because they have a passion for it.

I’m really thrilled that this is really going to happen – there are so many creative people in our city making interesting things online. I am fortunate enough to be on the organizing committee, so I can tell you that coming up with the categories wasn’t easy. I’m sure we’ll hear lots of great feedback on how to improve, but I’m very happy with the award categories we decided upon for the first annual awards:

  • Best in Edmonton
  • Best in Political or Current Affairs
  • Best in Sports
  • Best in Food
  • Best in Arts and Culture
  • Best in Humour
  • Best in Fashion & Style
  • Best Twitter Persona
  • Lifetime Achievement Award

Yes, this means that a sports blog could be up against a sports podcast, for example. Blogs and podcasts are two different animals, but once you go down the path of having separate awards for each service or network you quickly realize it never ends. There is a special category for Twitter, but to me that’s a recognition of the outsized impact Twitter has had on the entire scene here in Edmonton.

Want to nominate someone? You have until the end of January!

Details for the awards show are still being worked out but it is currently slated to take place in the spring. If you’d like to get involved, we’re looking for both volunteers and sponsors.

Finally, I want to thank Adam for driving this forward. I think The Yeggies are going to be a big success, and I just hope I can play a role in helping him realize his vision for the project. Take a few seconds and thank Adam for once again giving meaning to the “Make Something Edmonton” idea.

Was today’s downtown arena news a setback or a setup?

Today behind closed doors City Council discussed a request from the Katz Group for more public money for the downtown arena project. In a letter to City Manager Simon Farbrother, the Katz Group’s John Karvellas wrote:

“…we believe the City has significant capacity beyond its commitment of $45 million to help fund the arena, which by all accounts is the catalyst for the CRL itself and which can help to fund so many other important projects to benefit downtown and the entire city.”

Council voted simply to reaffirm its commitment to the funding arrangement that was agreed upon nearly a year ago. Though the Katz Group letter outlines rising costs, it seems as though the request was actually for new concessions. And that didn’t sit well with Council. Only Councillors Sloan and Diotte voted against the motion (they had also voted against the funding deal).

Much of the discussion about today’s news has focused on the absurdity of a last-minute request from the Katz Group. Many have been critical of Daryl Katz’s decision to remain quiet and unseen, suggesting the approach has led to distrust among Edmontonians. And of course, Mayor Mandel’s statement that “frustrated” is a better word than “optimistic” has for many turned the arena from a done deal in to a big question mark.

But I’m not so sure. What if instead of a major setback, today was actually a major setup?

There’s a few things that don’t sit well in my mind. First, the timing is highly suspect. Two weeks ago the Downtown Business Association released a report that suggests $4.8 billion of investment could take place downtown in the next five years. Last week the Chamber of Commerce warned of a “massive setback” if the arena is not built. In between all of that, the province announced its financial outlook and said that revenues will fall short of projections, so a boost from that level of government doesn’t seem any more likely now than it did a year ago. Were the DBA and Chamber announcements simply well-orchestrated PR efforts designed to try to force the City’s hand? One wonders how much influence the Katz Group exerted.

Secondly, there’s much more than just the arena riding on the CRL. Municipal projects including the arena make up half of the DBA’s forecasted $4.8 billion, and most rely on the downtown CRL being approved. If there’s no arena, there’s no CRL, and if there’s no CRL, it’s back to the drawing board on how to fund all of the other initiatives. Talk is cheap yes, but I really do think that most on Council believe in the importance of a strong downtown. The prospect of putting all of the positive momentum and recent progress at risk must not be sitting well with them.

Thirdly, I just can’t get past that suggestion in the widely-circulated Katz Group letter that the City actually has the ability to contribute more money than previously agreed to. That seems like an odd thing to bring up now, at this juncture. Whether it is true or not, the seed has been planted.

Lastly, I think the Katz Group’s statement from this afternoon is quite strange. It focuses on the amount of time and money the organization has invested into the project, but remains optimistic about getting the issues resolved:

“The Katz Group is committed to continuing to work with the City to find creative solutions that work for both sides so that we can get on with the business of ensuring the Oilers’ long-term sustainability and accelerating the revitalization of the downtown core.”

Even more interesting, the statement seems to leave open the possibility that a larger deal can still be arranged:

“We have also offered to pay a fair share of arena construction costs above $450 million as part of a comprehensive package that makes economic sense.”

All of these things have me feeling as though today was more of a setup than anything else. Definitely to position the agreed upon $450 million limit as too low, and maybe even for a white knight to swoop in and save the deal, as I tweeted this afternoon. Could Katz himself now come forward in public with an increased financial offer and make Council look like the bad guys for refusing to match the increased funding requirements? Could someone on Council, perhaps someone angling for the Mayor’s chair next October, have a trick up his or her sleeve? Or perhaps most intriguing of all, could this finally be an opening for the province to step in and look like the heroes for salvaging the deal?

I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Farming in the City: Guided Bus Tours of Edmonton’s Northeast

About a month ago I shared with you some thoughts on the ongoing battle over food, agriculture, and Edmonton’s future growth. I noted that changes seem most imminent for the northeast part of the city, where land has been changing hands and individuals and organizations have been lining up on all sides of the issue. Talking about the agricultural land there is one thing, but seeing it firsthand as I did on my tour of Riverbend Gardens back in 2010 and at The Great Potato Giveaway is quite another. Now you have the opportunity to visit the area for yourself with the Farming in the City Guided Bus Tours:

Live Local and the Greater Edmonton Alliance (GEA) are proud to present the Farming in the City guided bus tour Sunday August 26, 2012. This will be your chance to tour some of Edmonton’s treasured agricultural lands and meet the farmers who nurture the soils and supply us with their amazing bounty!

Each informative and entertaining 3 hour tour will be led by a guide who will share the history of the northeast food lands. You will have the opportunity to visit a number of producers who will tour you through their farms, allowing you to see, smell, touch and taste the fruits (and veggies) of their labour!

The event is being organized by a small group of volunteers, some with ties to the Greater Edmonton Alliance. I had the opportunity to chat with three of them, Rachael Borley, Christiane Moquin, and Anna Vesala, to learn more about the event. The organizers are hoping to engage the general population with this event, not just “foodies” or people who are already familiar with the area. “It’s important to have a connection with the farmers and to see how they make their living,” Christiane told me. “People can then make their own decisions.” Rachael is hoping that families will “come and see what’s out there” and noted that the event is definitely family-friendly.

Riverbend Gardens
Riverbend Gardens

With the Food in the City report due back to City Council in the fall, there’s no question that this event is more than just a family outing however. There will be tour guides on each bus who will offer some history and explain things as the tour progresses, though the organizers stressed that they will be “sticking to the facts.” A couple of stops along the way will provide visitors with the opportunity to see the farms, fruit, and vegetables up close. At Horse Hill Berry Farm, visitors will get the chance to forage and taste some berries!

The event takes place on Sunday, August 26. Live Local and Northlands are partners, with Live Local providing the online ticketing and Northlands offering up its vast parking lot as the pickup and dropoff spot for the tours. Buses depart and return every 45 minutes, and each tour is roughly 3 hours long (the first bus departs at 8:30am). Tickets are $10 per person, or $25 for a family. You can pick your timeslot and get your tickets here.

The Great Potato Giveaway
The Great Potato Giveaway at Norbest Farms

If you’ve been curious about the northeast and want to learn more, this is the perfect opportunity to do just that. Don’t miss it!

I just hope they keep the corn dogs

If you haven’t made it down to Capital EX yet, you’d better hurry – Sunday is the final day for this year’s edition of the ex! Sharon and I made our annual visit last weekend, and ate way too much, enabled by a media package that gave us free food. It was fun, with some hits and some misses, but for the most part I found the experience similar to previous years.

Capital EX 2012

One of the new features this year was Ribfest. Its location was a little odd, but the ribs and pulled pork were both delicious. I’d like to see the competition aspect expanded in future years, especially as the vendors themselves seemed to enjoy showcasing their many trophies from around North America!

Capital EX 2012

Capital EX 2012

While walking the midway we happened upon the Canadian Beef Bacon wagon from Calgary. We decided to order the sliders, which gave us a nice sampler. To me it tasted a little like breakfast, with the beef bacon, an egg, and maple syrup-flavored bun. I really enjoyed it!

Capital EX 2012

Of course, no trip to Capital EX is complete without a corn dog and Those Little Donuts! Both were delicious.

Capital EX 2012
Forgive the picture, it’s all I’ve got!

Tomorrow is also the last day to Name Your Fair. Northlands is looking to rename the event next year, and after crowdsourcing suggestions from the public, narrowed the list of options down to six (with the help of partners Global Edmonton and the Edmonton Journal):

  • EdFest
  • The Edmonton Exhibition
  • Edmonton Summer Exhibition
  • K-Days
  • River City Festival
  • River City Summer Fair

Amazingly, that uninspired list is what they came up with after considering the following criteria:

  1. Relevance to the 21st century ahead.
  2. Consideration of the incredible historic growth and continued diversification of Edmonton’s multi-cultural fabric.
  3. Defining of the community spirit and outwardly fun characteristics that make Edmontonians who they are.
  4. Embracing of all demographics from new 21st century babies through to our shining senior citizens.
  5. Creative platforms enabling commercial partners to activate and deliver diverse and intriguing experiences.
  6. Agility that will allow a fresh and exciting new theme to be incorporated every year.

K-Days barely has any relevance to our past let alone our future. River City, while often used in Edmonton, could describe most cities in the world. And while the event is an exhibition, that’s not exactly the most exciting name.

Capital EX 2012

Why rename the event? Probably because attendance peaked in 2005, right before Klondike Days was renamed Capital EX. Maybe this is a case of garbage-in, garbage-out, but I find it hard to believe that those six names were the best suggestions the committee received. I don’t think crowdsourcing was the way to go this year. I think that no matter what the next name is, Edmontonians will like it better than Capital EX, simply because it will not have been the unlucky name to replace the beloved Klondike Days. For that reason, I think hiring an agency to do a complete rebrand would have been a better decision.

According to a news release sent out this morning, more than 40,000 votes have been cast in the Name Your Fair contest. It’ll be very interesting to see how many of them are for K-Days. You have until 6pm tomorrow evening to vote.

If those six names are the only options, I don’t really care which one wins. I just hope they still have corn dogs!

You can see more photos from our visit to Capital EX here.