Jimmy Tidey

I'm Jimmy, I'm awaiting my viva for my PhD at The Royal College of Art. My research concerned building and testing a Twitter analytics platform designed for use by local government institutions as a case study in civic uses social media analytics.

Before starting my PhD I worked on digital products as a developer and a product manager. My undergrad degree is in physics & philosophy.

My research brings together my experience of developing digital products with theoretical approaches from network science, economics, public policy and design research.

Selected projects

LocalNets (ongoing)

Localnets is a Twitter analytics tool designed for use by local government institutions. I developed Localnets in the course of my PhD, using Mongo, Node & the Neo4j graph database.

It has been piloted with NHS Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group, the RSA, the Department for Communities and Local Government, DemSoc, the Greenwich Driverless autonomous vehicle trial and in numerous other projects.

Who Targets Me (2017)

Who Targets Me is a browser extension that collects data about the political adverts people see on Facebook. It was developed in the run up to the 2017 general election to combat ‘dark adverts’. It had over 20,000 installs and has since been deployed in Austria and Germany.

It was supported by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and The Guardian. I helped the team with communications, writing blog posts and appearing on Radio 4 and BBC World Service to describe the project.

Gale-Shapley algorithm (2017)

The RCA architecture department wanted a method to match students with tutors based on both groups voting on each other. I implemented the Gale-Shapley algorithm, which achieves an optimal matching (for a particular definition of optimal...). Image from XKCD.

Who Cites (2016)

Who Cites is a web app that visualises citation networks for academic publications using Google Scholar.

Developed to answer a personal need, nearly 300 other academics have registered to use the tool.

EU OpenCare report (2016)

The OpenCare report investigated non-traditional healthcare projects. Localnets mapped Twitter activity around projects developing open source insulin pumps, 3D printed prosthetics & smartphone based healthcare in developing countries.

It contributed to Edgeryders’ (a ‘distributed think tank’) report on open healthcare innovation, commissioned by the EU.

StoryMap (2016)

StoryMap was a digital/physical installation developed as part of the Shakespeare in Shoreditch festival. Participants used typewriters to record anecdotes from around Shoreditch and locate them on a semi-fictional map of east London. It featured local Twitter activity drawn from Localnets. This project was lead by fellow PhD candidate Benjamin Koslowski.

Metalonders (2016)

I helped run Metalonders, a week long, cross disciplinary workshop for students joining the RCA. We investigated narratives and social media in four sites across London, producing alternative maps of each location.

Connected Communities (2015-2016)

The Connected Communities report with the RSA. The report drew on two case studies from my PhD research, in Hounslow and Peterborough. The Hounslow work was funded by NESTA and generated a working paper.

Both projects were based on a collaboration between the RSA, the University of Central Lancashire and the Department of Community and Local Government.

Image shows a heatmap of social media activity in Peterborough.

Arthackathon (2014)

Arthackathon was a hackathon sponsored by Ravensbourne University. It brought over 50 artists and coders together to create exhibitable artworks over a weekend. The Localnets tool was used to evaluate changes in the participant's social networks over the course of the weekend.

WonkBook (2013)

Wonkbook uses Twitter to evaluate the networks that form between think tanks, politicians and journalists. Every week it creates a league table of the most impactful tweeters. It was created in conjunction with Stian Westlake, at the time director of research at NESTA.

Million Pound Drop (2012)

I worked on integrating an online game with Channel 4's Million Pound Drop TV show. It was one of the most successful integrations of its type, on some occasions over 10% of TV viewers were also playing along online.

BBC Lab UK (2011)

While at the BBC I worked on Brain Test Britain, an online experiment to see if brain training works (it doesn't!) with over 100,000 participants. The work resulted in a paper in the journal Nature and was one of the first psychology experiments carried out on the web.

I also worked on the Great British Class Survey, which generated unique insights into emerging class structures in the UK.


OpenDemocracy, October 2017 - What China can teach the west about digital democracy

HackerNoon, April 2017 - If the Internet was a block of flats, would you want to move in?

Open Democracy, April 2017 - Facebook needs to face up to the new political reality

CapX, May 2017 - How to stop Facebook undermining democracy

HacknerNoon, February 2017 - Open 2017: Platform Cooperativism Conference — Civic tech meets co-ops

Open Democracy, January 2017 - What would Twitter be if it adopted Wikipedia’s politics?

LSE Democratic Audit, July 2016 - Building an ‘anger radar’: Ideas for better democracy post Brexit

Visual Communication, June 2016 - Visualizing social media’s impact on local communities

LSE Democratic Audit, June 2016 - The EU referendum as a bad participatory design process

ACM International Conference on Interactive Experiences, June 2015 - Interactive Design Documentary As A Method For Civic Engagement

NESTA, May 2015 - Community Mirror: A Data-Driven Method for ‘Below the Radar’ Research

Talks & presentations

May 2016 - Meteor Dev Shop on StoryNets

May 2015 - Meteor Dev Shop Talk on building LocalNets

Aug 2014, Bejing summer school on Cultural Production - What does House of Cards tell us about Big Data and Culture?