The Eyewitness platform is an open source Faceb00k Messenger bot and management interface designed to let news organisations create their own bot that distributes stories and collects User Generated Content (UGC).

The project is co-funded by Code for Africa and Facebook.

Funding issues

First off, an apology. When we pitched this project we intended to begin development sometime in spring and to have a working product out in the market by this point.

Unfortunately, the funding process meant Code for Africa weren’t able to provide all the money needed to complete this project and we didn’t want to risk delivering a product…


For some time I’ve been meaning to put together a guide for writers and designers working on conversational interfaces based on my experiences designing bots over the last eighteen months.

While I haven’t quite found time to do that yet, I’ve managed to collate a list of what I believe are the best articles and resources on the subject.

Feedback and suggestions welcome.

Contents


I’ve been thinking a lot about how to get people to vote the last few days.

The more I’ve thought about it the more amazed I am that as many people vote as they do. After all, 1 vote in 60 million is effectively meaningless.

Considering voting is so irrational, why is it that we vote?

Is it some mythical sense of ‘civic duty’ where voting in itself is in inherent good? If that was the case then surely the undecideds would go to the polling booths and vote for someone at random and feel-guilt free.

No, it’s clear that…


Like many people, after the neverending car-crash that was 2016 I decided to hunker down and try to pretend politics is something that happens to other people.

Today’s announcement however is something I can’t ignore.

The election on June the 8th is a chance for those of us who believe that tolerance and collaboration are key to success in the 21st century to articulate the positive vision of an open multi-cultural Britain that was so lacking during the EU referendum.

I also believe that it is time for the tech industry to fix the mistakes we’ve made.

Recent votes across…


I was busy clearing out some old folders and discovered this list of resources I put together for a friend of mine who wanted to get into digital content (she’s now an editor as a world famous digital publisher). Most are a few years old but a lot of the points are still valid so I thought I’d share them in case anyone else is interested.

Essential reading

The A/B Test: Inside the Technology That’s Changing the Rules of Business

Use of a technique called multivariate testing, in which myriad A/B tests essentially run simultaneously in as many combinations as possible, means that the percentage of users getting some kind of tweak may well…


Slides and video recording from my talk to the UK Government content community at #concon5

Want to know more? Tweet me @tomhewitson or drop me a line at www.tomhewitson.com


LastSeen is a simple chatbot that asks the user to check-in once a day and notifies their designated contact if they don’t.

Just under a year ago my dad passed away after a long battle with cancer. Once the immediate impact had subsided and ‘normal life’ such as work began to reassert itself I started feeling a new fear — what if something were to happen to my mum now she’s living alone?

My instant reaction was to make sure checked in with her every evening just to make sure everything was ok. If I didn’t then who would?

This…


Update: We won! We’re being funded to build Eyewitness and will be looking for beta partners soon. If you’re interested getting access drop me a message @tomhewitson.

As a former journalist I know that often the best stories come from the most unlikely sources.

That’s why as part of the #innovateAFRICA challenge myself and @johngriffin are building the Eyewitness chatbot platform.

Eyewitness lets media organisations use their Facebook account to gather tips, opinions and quotes from their fans through a simple-to-use chatbot and analysis platform.

By connecting Eyewitness to their Facebook account the media organisation can let people send unsolicited…


As a content person in a product team I’m often asked how I spend my time, considering there isn’t much copy to write.

To which I reply: I’m a designer, I just design with words instead of pixels!

On a product team it’s my job to make sure that users understand what the product is, whether they should use it and how they can do so. Depending on the project this could involve anything from writing documentation to picking the product’s name.

As well as working on products themselves, product content people also play an important role within teams by…


#thelabldn crew carrying out a pre-mortem at Global Radio

If you’ve worked in digital for any length of time you’ll almost certainly have worked on a project that’s crashed and burned (unless you’ve been incredibly lucky).

One way you can try to avoid this is by running a pre-mortem before you start.

A pre-mortem is just like a project postmortem except, as the name suggests, it takes place before you’ve even begun. You release your inner pessimist, assuming that the project has been a complete disaster and everything that could’ve gone wrong did.

By doing this you can quickly highlight the project’s biggest risks so you can start mitigating…

Tom Hewitson

Conversation designer & founder of labworks.io Previously @facebook and @gdsteam. Occasional posts about interesting things. www.tomhewitson.com

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