UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

OpenSocial and the OpenSocial Foundation: Moves to W3C

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 December 2014

OpenSocial logoYesterday, 16th December 2014, the OpenSocial Foundation and the W3C announced that the “OpenSocial Foundation [is] Moving Standards Work to [the] W3C Social Web Activity“.

In the press release John Mertic, President of the OpenSocial Foundation, described how:

The consensus of the OpenSocial Board is that the next phase of Social Web Standards, built in large part on the success of OpenSocial standards and projects like Apache Shindig and Rave, should occur under the auspices of the W3C Social Web Working Group, of which OpenSocial is a founding member. The OpenSocial community has taken the idea of industry standards to govern the Social Web from dream to reality. By shifting our work now to the W3C Social Web Working Group, we will make the Open Social Web inevitable and ubiquitous.

OpenSocial has already developed a number of mature specifications which have been managed by the W3C Social Web Working Group including Activity Streams 2.0 and OpenSocial 2.5.1 Activity Streams and Embedded Experiences APIs.

The OpenSocial Foundation and W3C are invite participants in the following groups:

  • The Social Web Working Group, which is defining technical standards and APIs to facilitate access to social functionality.
  • The Social Interest Group, which is coordinating development of social use cases, and formulating a broad strategy to enable social business and federation.

The Social Web Working Group (SocialWG) wiki provides a summary of the proposed areas of work. I found the (current) singe user case of particular interest: SWAT0, the Social Web Acid Test – Level 0, provides an integration use case for the federated social web:

  1. With his phone, Dave takes a photo of Tantek and uploads it using a service
  2. Dave tags the photo with Tantek
  3. Tantek gets a notification on another service that he’s been tagged in a photo
  4. Evan, who is subscribed to Dave, sees the photo on yet another service
  5. Evan comments on the photo
  6. David and Tantek receive notifications that Evan has commented on the photo

Such functionality will be familiar to Facebook users, but in this case the users don’t need to have accounts on the same service.

It will be interesting to see how this standardisation work develops and, in particular, the extent to which we will see take-up of the standards by existing providers of social media services and the development of new services which may provide competition to existing providers.


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Posted in Social Web, standards | Leave a Comment »

Implications for Institutions of a Backlash Against Facebook

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10 December 2014

Moves Away from Facebook?

We are apparently seeing a backlash against use of Facebook. Over the weekend a post on Facebook’s struggle to keep teens described how, although in September 2014 had 864 million daily active users, 703 million mobile daily active users and 1.35 billion monthly active users, “the company faces a significant challenge keeping the service relevant to younger users“. Earlier this week Niall Sclater provided a personal anecdote in a post on How a fifteen year-old Scottish girl uses social media which suggested “Facebook is mainly for older people who want to share baby photos“.

Also over the weekend the Observer included an article by Ben Goldacre entitled When data gets creepy: the secrets we don’t realise we’re giving away. The popularity of this article can be gauged by the 323 comments made on the article to date as well as, ironically, the 7,390 shares made on social media.

But Continued Use By Professionals in Higher Education?

Linkedin Facebook groupThe article on Facebook’s struggle to keep teens suggests that  teenagers may be moving towards use of messaging applications although a post published  by Piper Jaffray earlier this year described how a Survey finds teens still tiring of Facebook, prefer Instagram.

However moves towards use of messaging applications do not seem to be reflected in my professional uses of social media services. Twitter continues to be a valuable tool but I also seem to be making greater use of Facebook for professional purposes, in part  helped by the release earlier this year of a bookmarking facility for Facebook posts. I also find that there are various Facebook groups for professional purposes which have been subscribed by my professional contacts who also make use of Twitter. A good example of this is the Linked Web Data for Education Facebook group which has 102 members, including 35 I am connected with on various social networks.

In additional to use of Facebook by professionals to support their work in additional to social interests we also see continued use of Facebook by institutions.

Back in July 2014 a post on Facebook Usage for Russell Group Universities, July 2014 provided figures related to Facebook usage by the 24 Russell group universities and summarised growth since similar surveys were published in 2011 and 2012.

An updated survey was carried out on 8 December 2014 which includes metrics which weren’t collected fin previous surveys, including the numbers of Facebook users ‘talking’ about the institutional Facebook page and the numbers of new ‘likes’ for the page. I hope that this data will provide a benchmark which could help to indicate a decline in interest in Facebook use: we might expect Facebook ‘likes’ to continue to grow users probably don’t ‘unlike’ pages, but the number of new pages ‘likes’ should provide a better indication of current levels of interest. Clearly Facebook page administrators will be able to view the metrics for their institutional Facebook page but will not be able to detect trends unless such data is shared.

It should also be noted that, as described in a Facebook support page,  an apparent decline in the numbers of ‘likes’ may be due to Facebook users managing their privacy settings:  Earlier this year Facebook announced new privacy controls for Making It Easier to Share With Who You Want and we are now seeing a range of resources, such as this poster on “How to Stay Safe on Facebook” which can help to educate users on how to manage Facebook more effectively.

Should Institutions and Experienced Professionals Cease Using Facebook?

However rather that making decisions on professional use of social media services such as Facebook on business criteria such as the level of use, the audience profiles, the costs of providing the services and the estimated benefits, might there be an argument that organisations and individuals who place a high value on ethical business practices should cease making use of services which infringe users’ privacy and exploit their intellectual property from unfairly using their dominant position in the market place. We have been here before – back in 2004, the EU ordered Microsoft to pay a fine of over £380 million for abuse of its dominant position in the market. But beyond such infringement of monopoly legislation which are decided by a court case, might the business decisions being taken by social media companies such as Facebook be regarded as a social injustice which individuals and organisations should face up to, just as many did by disinvesting in South Africa during the apartheid era?

I’ve already mentioned Ben Goldacre’s Observer article which highlighted such dangers: When data gets creepy: the secrets we don’t realise we’re giving away.  And a few day’s ago Pete Johnston posted a comment on this blog in which he summarised his concerns:

Targetting, profiling and “personalisation” are central, and vast resources are ploughed into trying to gather or infer information about individuals’ activities and preferences based on our behaviour on the Web. Sometimes that data collection is overt and explicit: we are invited to volunteer personal data to a social media service in exchange for access to communication channels and the creation of an online profile without which we are told we are a second-class citizen. Sometimes it is rather more covert, as in the surreptitious tracking of our behaviour across Web sites through ever more complex digital sleight of hand tricks. And that tracking increasingly extends into our physical world behaviour (tracking mobile wireless signals in shopping malls, linking email addresses to “loyalty” cards and so on).

That personal information is gathered, stored, merged with other information, analysed/mined, transferred/bought/sold/brokered/requisitioned/intercepted/lost/found/stolen, and (re)used by different parties for purposes and in contexts over which we have no control – from “personalised offers” to spam to profiling to surveillance to identity theft to ending up on Theresa’s Big List of Domestic Extremists because someone on your “friends” list once “liked” a Bad Book. Services’ promises of ephemerality, security and anonymisation appear to mean little when the price is right (ba-dum-tish) and they can fall back on that get-out clause buried deep in the terms of service.

 Your Thoughts

Facebook currently has 864 million daily active users and 703 million mobile daily active users. The data provided in Appendix 1 gives some figures for Facebook’s use across official pages for the 24 Russell Group universities. But is such data irrelevant? I’d welcome your thoughts.

Appendix 1: Institutional Use of Facebook by Russell Group Universities, December 2014

Note that the data provided in the following table is also available as a Google Spreadsheet.

Ref. No. Institution and Web site link
Facebook name and link
Nos. of likes
(Dec 2014)
Nos. of visits
(Dec 2014)
Nos. talking
(Dec 2014)
Nos. of new page
likes (Dec 2014)
Statistics
 1 InstitutionUniversity of Birmingham
Fb nameunibirmingham
   10,853 118,057  4,020 4,020 [Link]
 2 InstitutionUniversity of Bristol
Fb namebristoluniversity
    32,715   3,053     950      183 [Link]
 3 InstitutionUniversity of Cambridge
Fb namecambridge.university
1,081,801 - 14,240   8,336 [Link]
 4 InstitutionCardiff University
Fb namecardiffuni
      57,660  -     241     200 [Link]
 5 InstitutionDurham University
Fb nameDurham-University/109600695725424
     32,636  11,004  -  - [Link]
 6 InstitutionUniversity of Exeter
Fb nameexeteruni
      34,572   47,314    2,242   202 [Link]
 7 InstitutionUniversity of Edinburgh
Fb nameUniversityOfEdinburgh
      87,865    32,402     1,598    552 [Link]
 8 InstitutionUniversity of Glasgow
Fb Name: glasgowuniversity
     82,736  69,505     4,646     555 [Link]
 9 InstitutionImperial College
Fb nameimperialcollegelondon
     83,629 -     1,391    437 [Link]
10 InstitutionKing’s College London
Fb nameKings-College-London/54237866946
     44,189    32,020       544    190 [Link]
11 InstitutionUniversity of Leeds
Fb nameuniversityofleeds
    29,410   20,856     1,557    237 [Link]
12 InstitutionUniversity of Liverpool
Fb name: University-of-Liverpool/103803892992025
    70,647  48,447 -  - [Link]
13 InstitutionLSE
Fb name: lseps 
   163,854   50,554   2,140  1,070 [Link]
14 InstitutionUniversity of Manchester
Fb name:TheUniversityOfManchester
     67,346  23,170   6,709     567 [Link]
15 InstitutionNewcastle University
Fb namenewcastleuniversity
    42,868  19,383    3,038    379 [Link]
16 InstitutionUniversity of Nottingham
Fb nameTheUniofNottingham
     72,015  85,596    2,381     279 [Link]
17 InstitutionUniversity of Oxford
Fb namethe.university.of.oxford
2,038,667 -   25,012 13,531 [Link]
18 InstitutionQueen Mary, University of London
Fb name: QMLNews
     85,861   21,478       1,132       291 [Link]
19 InstitutionQueen’s University Belfast
Fb nameQueensUniversityBelfast
     25,162 -     2,930     209 [Link]
20 InstitutionUniversity of Sheffield
Fb nametheuniversityofsheffield
  76,932    83,375    1,011      279 [Link]
21 InstitutionUniversity of Southampton
Fb nameunisouthampton
  58,409   71,726   2,039     384 [Link]
22 InstitutionUniversity College London
Fb nameUCLOfficial
  105,048    83,375   4,938    489 [Link]
23 InstitutionUniversity of Warwick
Fb namewarwickuniversity
   55,146  -    1,459   285 [Link]
24 InstitutionUniversity of York
Fb nameuniversityofyork
  20,785 14,605      467    56 [Link]
TOTAL  4,460,806    835,920     84,685          37,731

 

Posted in Evidence, Facebook | 4 Comments »

Librarians and Wikipedia: an Ideal Match?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 December 2014

Characteristics of Librarians

Image from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_library

Image illustrating librarians’ characteristics from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_library

What are the key characteristics of librarians? According to LibraryScienceList.com the basic personal traits and skills which librarians typically share include:

  • A love of knowledge and learning
  • A desire to work around people
  • Love of books
  • Broad overall knowledge of life and the world
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Good with numbers
  • Friendly
  • Ethical
  • Personable
  • Basic affinity for working with large volumes of information
  • Computer skills

How might these skills and traits relate to Wikipedia?

Wikipedia’s Purpose and Key Principles

Wikipedia’s purpose is “to benefit readers by acting as an encyclopedia, a comprehensive written compendium that contains information on all branches of knowledge“. As described by Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s founder: “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing.

Wikipedia seeks to achieve its goal by its five pillars:

  1. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia: Wikipedia is not, for example, a soapbox, an advertising platform, a vanity press, an indiscriminate collection of information, or a web directory.
  2. Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view: Wikipedia strives for articles that document and explain the major points of view, giving due weight with respect to their prominence in an impartial tone. It avoids advocacy and we characterize information and issues rather than debate them.
  3. Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit, and distribute: Since all editors freely licence their work to the public, no editor owns an article and any contributions can and will be freely edited and redistributed.
  4. Editors should treat each other with respect and civility: Contributors are expected to respect fellow Wikipedians, even when you disagree. Apply Wikipedia etiquette, and don’t engage in personal attacks.
  5. Wikipedia has no firm rules: Wikipedia has policies and guidelines, but they are not carved in stone; their content and interpretation can evolve over time. Their principles and spirit matter more than their literal wording, and sometimes improving Wikipedia requires making an exception.

How well do the characteristics of librarians relate to Wikipedia’s goals and principles?

How Well Are The Two Communities Aligned?

The following table suggests how these characteristics of librarians relate to Wikipedia’s goals and principles and other information about Wikipedia.

Librarian Traits / Characteristics Relevance to Wikipedia
1 A love of knowledge and learning Aligned with Wikipedia’s goal of “a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge“.
2 A desire to work around people There is a strong Wikipedia community: in October 2013 there were 31,000 active editors with about half of the active editors spending at least one hour a day editing, and a fifth spend more than three hours
3 Love of books  -
4 Broad overall knowledge of life and the world Wikipedia provides access to broad knowledge of life and the world. In addition Wikipedia provides an environment in which librarians can share their knowledge and support their users who may also wish to share their knowledge.
5 Strong organizational skills There are currently 4,616,531 articles in the English-language version of Wikipedia. In order to help manage such a large number of articles there will be a need to have good organisation skills (e.g. in making use of metadata such as Wikipedia categories) to help manage the service.
6 Good with numbers As described in a post on , the 1:AM conference Wikipedia provides a wide range of metrics, which may be of relevance  to those with interests in altmetrics.
7 Friendly Aligned with Wikipedia principle that Editors should treat each other with respect and civility
8 Ethical Aligned with Wikipedia principle that Editors should treat each other with respect and civility
9 Personable Aligned with Wikipedia principle that Editors should treat each other with respect and civility
10 Basic affinity for working with large volumes of information This is of direct relevance to Wikipedia.
11 Computer skills  This is of direct relevance to Wikipedia.

Perhaps the librarian trait which does not initially appear to be aligned with interests in Wikipedia is a love of books. However the Wikibooks service which, along with Wikipedia, is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation does provide access to an open-content collection of text books that anyone can edit which currently hosts 2,722 books with 49,758 pages. In addition librarians with a love of books may well find that the Wikipedia summary of  lists of books that have articles on Wikipedia, organised by various criteria may provide a useful starting point for sharing their expertise!

Of course the library traits of friendliness and being personable will traditionally have been relevant to the real world environment and visitors to the physical library. Nowadays if would be appropriate to relate these traits to the online environment, just as they would also apply to engagement with patrons on the telephone.

Librarians and Wikipedia: an Ideal Match!

I would argue that there are a number of other important key characteristics shared by dedicated professional librarians who are comfortable working in today’s online environment which are relevant to an environment in which Wikipedia provide a resource which is widely used.

In a talk on “Wikipedia in the library – the elephant in the (reading) room?” given at the LILAC 2014 conference Nancy Graham and Andrew Gray pointed out the flaws in the view that: “We have a problem. The kids these days are reading too many encyclopedias“. As can be seen from their slides they argued that considerations of the relevance of Wikipedia in education provides an ideal teaching moment for thinking critically about online material,  differentiating the good from the bad and even engaging with the means of production.

Beyond digital literacy, librarians are also perceived as belonging to a trusted profession. Although expertise in use of online tools is now essential for librarians, not all online tools will necessarily respect users’ privacy concerns – indeed as Phil Bradley recently pointed out Google is tracking your every move.  Other popular online services, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. will also track your online activities and display ads based on the resources you visit.

Although such tools will be used by librarians, they will find that Wikipedia provides a more ethical online environment, with visitors to the Web site not having to worry out intrusive adverts or their browsing patterns and online profile being sold to advertisers.

Librarians and Wikipedia: surely an ideal match! Wouldn’t you agree? If you do agree I’d be interested to hear how you are using Wikipedia in your library. If, however, you don’t agree feel free to give your reasons why you feel librarians should not actively engage with Wikipedia.


About the author

Brian Kelly is the Innovation Advocate at Cetis, University of Bolton. He has responsibilities for promoting use of innovative technologies and practices in higher and further education. Brian has given talks on the importance of Wikipedia for librarians including “Editing Wikipedia: Why You Should and How You Can Support Your Users” at the CILIP Wales 2014 conference and “Why and How Librarians Should Engage With Wikipedia” at the CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2014. Brian has also written a number of blog posts about Wikipedia including Top Wikipedia Tips for Librarians: Why You Should Contribute and How You Can Support Your Users and Wikipedia, Librarians and CILIP.

About this post

This post was submitted to the CILIP Blogger Challenge, a competition which provides bloggers the opportunity to talk about important library, knowledge and information issues. Posts must be between 500-1,500 words words long and must be submitted by Friday 7 November. Submissions will be judged on the following criteria: 1) be short and focussed on one issue; 2) have a short, meaningful and descriptive title; 3) be relevant; 4) be bold and encourage debates; 5) be original and 6) make complex concepts and ideas accessible to non-experts.

However since criteria 5 requires that submissions be original (i.e. “should provide a new and original perspective and should not have been published anywhere else previously, including on your own blog”) this post is being published after the CILIP Blogger Competition judges have selected the winning blog posts.

The post did not win the challenge. The winning post of the CILIP Blogger Challenge was entitled “Is digitisation the answer or is digital preservation the question?” and was written by Jenny O’Neill. The 4 “highly commended” blog posts  are:

  1. Managing agricultural indigenous knowledge in my rural library by Eric Nelson Haumba
  2. Architecture, memory and metaphor in the digital domain by Nadia Holmes
  3. Libraries and archives could teach gamers a thing or two by Ros Malone
  4. Sharing stories: how libraries can help new parents live happily ever after by Katy Loudon

 


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Flickr and Creative Commons; Lessons from Open Source Software

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 December 2014

Flickr’s Commercial Exploitation of Photographs

Yesterday in a post entitled Sharing Information, Misinformation and Untruths I suggested that an article entitled “Flickr is about to sell off your Creative Commons photos” which had a sub-heading providing a warning to Flickr users: “And no, you won’t see a single penny from it“ was being disingenuous as such commercial exploitation has always been available for resources which have a Creative Commons licence which do not have a NC (non-commercial) exclusion.

Last night on Twitter I found a number of people agreed with my perspective – if resources have a licence which permits commercial exploitation, you can’t complain if that’s what happens. However today I have read posts such as “What’s wrong with this picture? Flickr is about to sell off your Creative Commons photos” and “I don’t want “Creative Commons by” to mean you can rip me off” from bloggers who are unhappy with Flickr’s announcement.

The Battle For Open

'The Battle For Open' by Martin WellerCoincidentally a few hours ago I noticed a Facebook status update from Martin Weller, Professor of Educational Technology at the Open University, in which he announced that his book entitled “The Battle for Open: How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory” is now available to download for free – but if you wish to buy the hardcopy you will have to wait for a couple of weeks.

This was therefore a timely announcement. I’ve not yet read the book but I have downloaded the PDF and the table of contents for this 244 page book makes it clear that the book is of interest to me, covering topics such as “The Victory of Openness“, “What Sort of Open?“, “Openness Uncovered” and “The Future of Open“.

Revisiting Openness

My thoughts on openness are informed by my personal involvement in a number of aspects of open and closed resources in the 1980s and 1990s.

In the 1980s whilst working in the Computer Centre at Loughborough University I discovered that the terms and conditions covering use of a engineering package prohibited transfer of the package or its outputs from a list of countries which the US was not on friendly terms with. I can’t remember the full details but I do recall that the list included countries (the USSR and Bulgaria) which I had visited. I wondered whether I should monitor the nationality of users of the software and block access to the software if they were from one of the prohibited countries or, since the terms and conditions didn’t prohibit them from using the software. just from exporting the outputs, ask them to sign a form saying that they wouldn’t take any printouts from the software or export magnetic tapes containing data. That didn’t happen – and I suspect a manager suggested that I ignore the terms and conditions.

In 1994 I wrote a handbook on “Running A WWW Service“. The document included a statement that “This work may be copied in its entirety, without modification and with this statement attached“; today this would be covered by a Creative Commons CC-BY-ND licence. I was pleased the the document was mirrored in over a dozen countries, including countries behind the Iron Curtain.

During my time as a member of the Advisory group for the Jisc OSS Watch service I learn about how Free Software Licences must be“non-discriminatory” among licensees. Such licences would permit open source software to be used in countries that one may not be on friendly terms with and by organisations which may have business practices which one may disagree with: businesses in Russia and Iraq and companies such as Microsoft, Google and Apple can, and indeed do, freely use open source software.

This notion of non-discriminatory use also applies in use of patented software. As described in WikipediaReasonable and non-discriminatory terms (RAND), also known as fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND), are a licensing obligation that is often required by standards organizations for members that participate in the standard-setting process.

My Perspective

My view is quite simple: if content uses a Creative Commons license which permits commercial exploitation, then it would be inappropriate to complain if such commercial exploitation takes place.

One might wish to argue that there is a need for additional Creative Commons licence which enable additional restrictions to be placed on how content may be commercially exploited. But that, to me, would seem to add unnecessary complications and would be difficult to implement and enforce.

To put it simply, Creative Commons is about openness for everybody, and not just one’s friends. I’ve shared my thoughts – I’d welcome yours.


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Sharing Information, Misinformation and Untruths

Posted by Brian Kelly on 1 December 2014

Recent Mainstream Examples of Misinformation and Untruths

It’s good to share. And we now have a global infrastructure in place which facilitates sharing and encourages discussions on the information which has been shared.

But as well as sharing information the infrastructure (such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+) can also be used to share misinformation and untruths – and it’s not always easy to differentiate between the different types of information. This is especially the case if we would like to belief the misinformation.

This struck me over the weekend when I came across three examples of misinformation and untruths which were being widely shared across my stream on Facebook and Twitter.

On Friday and Saturday I came across a number of Facebook status from people I am connected to who posted links to stories about how ‘Black Friday’ originated with the slave trade.

Coalition of resistanceI also came across a number of links to a post published by the Coalition of Resistance: Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay organisation which provided visual evidence that MPs will turn up on large numbers for votes on MPs expenses and pay but won’t attend parliament for votes on the war in Afghanistan, the ex abuse inquiry, knife crime prevention, drug laws, the impact of welfare reforms on the sick and disabled and similar issues.

The outrage which this series of images generated can be seen from the large number of Facebook ‘likes’ (28,615 to date), shares (67,721 to date) and comments.

In this case the Spectator, a right-of-centre publication, published an article entitled “The menace of memes: how pictures can paint a thousand lies” pointed out misinformation:

When debates go on for several hours, MPs often pop in and out as they have other business going on at the same time. They may be in a select committee, meeting constituents, taking part in a Westminster Hall debate, running an all-party parliamentary group meeting, briefing journalists, plotting a rebellion with colleagues or working in their office 

and untruths:

The bottom image claims to be from 11 July 2013. There was no debate on pay that day, which was a Thursday. There are often fewer MPs in the House on a Thursday. So this image is from the wrong day. I’ve combed the PA images archive and, surprise, surprise, it’s not from a debate about pay in 2013. It’s from Prime Minister’s Questions on 5 September 2012.

associated with this post and associated discussions.

In the case of the origins of the term ‘Black Friday’ the Snopes service provides evidence that the claim that “The term “Black Friday” originated with the practice of selling off slaves on the day after Thanksgiving is false.

Examples of Misinformation and Untruths About Online Services

The two examples given above were not only popular across my networks but also more widely. However two further examples are of more direct relevance to those with professional interests in online services.

Flickr is about to sell your photosThree days ago the Dazed Digital blog published an article entitled “Flickr is about to sell off your Creative Commons photos” which had a sub-heading providing a warning to Flickr users: “And no, you won’t see a single penny from it“.

I’m come across similar misleading posts about the terms and conditions of popular online services in the past. Back in April 2012 in a post entitled “Have You Got Your Free Google Drive, Skydrive & Dropbox Accounts?” I pointed out, in response to suggestions that Google owned everything uploaded to the newly released Google Drive service, the terms and conditions which state:

“You retain ownership of any intellectual property that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours”?

In the case of Flickr, according to a c|net articleit turns out the Web giant is selling prints of photos some photographers intended to give away for free, according to a report Monday by the Wall Street Journal“. But it seems that this will only happen for photographs which have been shared with a licence which permits commercial reuse, such as a Creative Commons CC-BY licence.  If Flickr users do not want others to make money from their photographs they simply need to provide a Non-Commercial (NC) licence. In this the original blog post was not being untruthful in saying “And no, you won’t see a single penny from it” but was being misleading in hinting that Flickr was implementing new terms and conditions.

Facebook copyright memeThe final example which I came across over the weekend is the Facebook copyright meme. In this case the misspellings (“the Berner Convention“) and poorly-written text (“Facebook is now an open capital entity“) provide clues that this text is meaningless and a Gawker article gives further details on why “That Facebook Copyright Thing Is Meaningless and You Should Stop Sharing It“.

Popular Memes

I suspect that few people in my network have been misled by the racist Britain First organisation (I do not intend to raise its visibility further by providing a link, but it seems that it currently has 590,762 ‘likes’).

But what about other memes such as “If You’re Not Paying for It; You’re the Product“? In some respects this isn’t saying anything new: I don’t pay to watch ITV and am happy to accept that ITV sells advertisers eyeballs for advertisements, with programmes as the filler between the ads.  But I didn’t pay to go to university. Was I, back in the 1970s, a product of the establishment? And should I welcome the fact that today’s generation of students are not products but consumers?!

Memes can help to disseminate useful information as well as misinformation and untruths. But it’s not always easy to differentiate between them!


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Posted in General | 3 Comments »

Making Effective Use of Google Docs (and Who Will Support Researchers?)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 20 November 2014

Looking to Make Google Docs a Richer Authoring Environment

Google Docs: table of contents addon

The Table of Contents add-on for Google Docs

These days I find myself making extensive use of Google Docs. This is the tool of choice for the LACE project I am involved in. Although Google Docs doesn’t have the power of MS Word it does provide access control capabilities which are important for project work with partners working at different institutions across Europe.

As a long-standing user of MS Word (since its days which it competed with WordPerfect on MS DOS!)  I have become accustomed to its functionality and user interface. As I described in a post which summarised the collaborative authoring approach myself and my co-authors used in writing a “Paper Accepted for #W4A2012 Conference” I have made use of MS Word and Microsoft’s Onedrive (then called Skydrive) so that we could edit the document using our preferred authoring tool. Since our paper was hosted in the Cloud we could edit a single copy and avoided the problem of authors editing multiple copies of a paper. However although the approach worked for a small group of authors who were happy to use MS Word, it is not necessarily the best approach when there are a more diverse group of contributors.

In my current environment we used a shared Google Drive folder and I typically create project documents using Google Docs and receive contributions and comments from project partners. Some of the documents, which are intended for use by the project team, will continue to be hosted on Google Drive. However other documents. which are intended for submission to the European Commission, will migrate to an MS Word environment using the project’s template for submission of deliverables.

I have recently started to explore ways to enhance the Google Docs environment for producing documents. Sometime ago I installed the Google Docs Table of Contents add-on which, as shown, provides a document outliner which can be useful, especially for longer documents, in depicting the document structure.

What Do I Do Need to Do More in Google Docs?

It seems that at some point I also installed the Gliffy Diagrams add-on, which can be used to “create professional looking diagrams and flowcharts in Google Docs“.  As I often include diagrams in documents I produce using  MS Word I have felt the need for such functionality, but I haven’t got around to using this tool on a regular basis. This may be because I use Google Docs as the initial authoring environment but produce the final version in MS Word and use MS Word tools for embedding images and producing the polished final version.

Google Docs add-onsBut what more do I need to make greater use of Google Docs, I wonder?

As described in a TechCrunch article published in March 2014 “Google Launches Add-On Store For Google Docs“.  The article explains how on 11 March 2014:

Google announced the launch of its add-on store for Google Docs’ spreadsheet and word processor apps. The store, which resembles the Chrome Web Store in its design, currently features about 50 add-ons, with more coming in the near future.

According to Google, the idea here is to provide users with new tools that will give them access to more features — especially features that aren’t currently available through Google’s own products.

I’d be interested to hear if anyone has experiences in use of these add-ons for Google Docs. Are there any power users who are using Google Docs in sophisticated ways and are making use of add-ons to enhance the functionality of the service?

Beyond the Tools – Managing Google Docs

As a long-standing user of MS Word I can remember when using a word processor was a solo experience. However nowadays tools such as Google Docs are designed to provide collaborative authoring environments. Such tools also provide collaborative commenting and viewing capabilities, with the ability to manage access to document, co-authors, commenters or viewers.

There will therefore be a need to understand best practices for managing access to Google Docs. This will go beyond the use of folders and file naming conventions: there will be a need to make use of scaleable approaches which will enable  authors to be able to manage large numbers of documents shared with  potentially a wide range of contributors and viewers. Giving world write access to documents is one way of managing access, but this approach does have risks! Note that there will also be a need to manage access when collaborators leave projects or change their host institution.

Supporting Researchers

Earlier today Dave Flanders alerted  me to the Research Bazaar Conference (#ResBaz) which aims to “kick-start a training programme in Australia assuring the next generation of researchers are equipped with the digital skills and tools to make their research better“. The event is described as:

an academic training conference (i.e. think of this event as a giant Genius Bar at an Apple store), where research students and early career researchers can come to acquire the digital skills (e.g. computer programming, data analysis, etc.) that underpin modern research

I suspect there will be a lot of sharing of open source tools at the event. But I wonder if making effective use of mainstream tools such as Google Docs will be covered? And if such issues aren’t addressed at events such as #RezBaz, who will take responsibility for training of postgraduate students?


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Including Your Missing 20% By Embedding Web and Mobile Accessibility

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 November 2014

Launch of a Book on Web and Mobile Accessibility

Including your missing 20% by embedding web and mobile accessibilityLast week, on Monday 10 November 2014, Professor Jonathan Hassell launched his highly anticipated book entitled “Including Your Missing 20% By Embedding Web and Mobile Accessibility“. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the launch event, but I used Storify to capture the buzz surrounding the launch event. As described in the book summary on Amazon:

Almost 20% of the world’s population have some form of disability or impairment that impacts their use of digital products. Yet Digital Accessibility is often a misunderstood concept. It isn’t just a way of organisations protecting themselves from being sued by coding their websites according to a standards tick-list so they work with screen-readers. It’s about working to ensure your website, intranet, widget, workplace application, mobile site, mobile app, or IPTV app is able to be used by as many people in its target audiences as possible. It’s about recognising that no product is ever going to be usable to all users, and finding a reasonable, justifiable way of balancing the resource costs of inclusion against the benefits. And it’s about letting your users know when you’ve not been able to fully support their needs. Fundamentally, it’s about understanding the challenges of inclusion, and solving them in creative ways, to gain a bigger audience so your product is more successful. In this book Professor Jonathan Hassell, award-winning international thought-leader in digital inclusion and lead-author of the BS 8878 British Standard on Web Accessibility, will take you on a journey to transform your organisation to achieve the consistent creation of web products that are usable and accessible to all your customers, at the most efficient cost.

I have to declare an interest in this book and the author. I met Jonathan several years ago and his work which led to the development of BS 8878, the BSI’s Web Accessibility Code of Practice, was carried out in parallel to the papers on web accessibility written by myself, David Sloan, Sarah Lewthwaite and several other web accessibility researchers and practitioners. One of our papers from 2007, “Accessibility 2.0: People, Policies and Processes“, reflects the approaches which were taken in BS 8878, which, on the www.access8878.co.uk web site, explains that (emphasis added):

BS 8878 is not a declaration that the finished web product has met a standard. It’s a statement that the process of developing the product has followed a standard where educated decisions about accessibility have been made. Through this process web managers and developers will gain a deeper and broader understanding of web access issues that will bring both short-term and long-term benefits to the community as a whole.

This focus on following a set of processes is helping to move institutional practices on from use of the WAI model, in which the emphasis has tended to be on ensuring that Web resources conform with WCAG guidelines. For me the next step should be exploring how the higher education sector can make use of BS 8878 in enhancing the accessibility of online teaching and learning and research services.  If you’ve an interest in this area feel free to get in touch. If you’d like to know more about the book visit the Amazon or BSI web site.


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Thoughts on the OU’s Innovating Pedagogy Report

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 November 2014

Innovating Pedagogy

Innovating Pedagogy 2014 reportThe Open University has recently published the Innovating Pedagogy 2014 report (PDF format), the third in a series of annual reports on innovations in teaching, learning and assessment. As described in a blog post which introduces the report:

This third report proposes ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education.

The blog post also provides links to summaries of these ten innovative areas:

  1. Massive open social learning
  2. Learning design informed by analytics
  3. Flipped classroom
  4. Bring your own devices
  5. Learning to learn
  6. Dynamic assessment
  7. Event-based learning
  8. Learning through storytelling
  9. Threshold concepts
  10. Bricolage

Some Thoughts on the Report

A few days ago I reported on the opening session of The NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries, an event which was based on the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition (available in PDF format). The Open University and the NMC report are important reading materials for those with responsibilities for planning and implementing use of IT in higher education. Although such reports can’t be guaranteed to describe what the future will bring they do provide useful background material which can be valuable in informing institutional planning and decision-making.

I’ll provide some personal thoughts on the areas of innovation which are of particular interest to me.

  • Massive open social learning: The report introduces this topic by describing how:

Massive open social learning brings the benefits of social networks to the people taking massive open online courses (MOOCs). It aims to exploit the ‘network effect’, which means the value of a networked experience increases as more people make use of it.” The section summarises this are as “Free online courses based on social learning“.

Initially I was surprised at the inclusion of this topic as the first innovative area since the Open University has led MOOC activities in the UK through its FutureLearn platform. However it seems that the emphasis is on “social learning” rather than simply massive open online courses. It should also be noted that the report gives this are a potential impact rating of high and suggests a short (1–2 years) timescale for its widespread implementation.

StackexchangeI was interested to note that the report had mentioned StackExchange as a service which illustrates the power of social learning in other contexts:

In our previous reports we have given the example of StackExchange, with over 5 million users, which exploits the power of social learning. It is an example of problem-led massive social learning. When people have a problem to solve in the
relevant field they pose it online. Other people in the community provide answers. Yet more people expand the answers and rate the contributions, so the most interesting questions and best answers become more visible to all users. 

Back in 2010 I asked the question “Is Stack Overflow Useful for Web Developers?” The answer, it seems, was ‘yes': “I’m pretty sure that most web developers will have come across Stack Overflow quite some time ago“.

Looking at the StackExchange lists of sites it seems that although the original Stack Overflow “Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers” is still the most popular, many other areas are also covered as shown (in part) in the accompanying screenshot. The less widely-used areas, which are not included in the image, include “History of Science and Math“, “Italian Language” and “History“. I have to admit that the extent of such communities which can support informal learning as part of the StackExchange range of services was a surprise to me, which I had previously thought was focussed on IT topics.

  • Learning design informed by analytics: This is described as “A productive cycle linking design and analysis of effective learning” which also has a potential impact rating of high although in this case a medium (2-5 years) timescale for its widespread implementation. The report describes how:

As learning is taken online, there are opportunities to collect data on student activities and analyse these, both to inform the design of new courses and to improve the learning experience. The data can also be linked with test results to show which learning activities produce good results and to identify where learners are struggling.

The reports highlights the question of “what to measure?” and “ethical considerations” as two important areas which need to be addressed.

The report concludes:

An important consideration for institutions wanting to implement learning analytics is their capacity to produce and act on reliable data. Organisational change takes substantial time, effort and financial resources. We expect an increased use of learning analytics by managers and teachers to improve the quality of their courses. This, in turn, will help the learning analytics community to understand more clearly which variables for learning are important, how to incorporate informal learning, and where the ethical boundaries of learning analytics lie.

Note these are areas which are being addressed by the EU-funded LACE (learning analytics community exchange) project which Cetis is involved with. I should also mention that my colleagues were authors of the Cetis Analytics Series and co-authors of Analytics for Education, an article published in JIME.

  • Flipped classroom: Flipped learning “reverses the traditional classroom approach to teaching and learning. It moves direct instruction into the learner’s own space. … This allows time in class to be spent on activities that exercise critical thinking, with the teacher guiding students in creative exploration of the topics they are studying.

I’ve an interest the learning and staff development opportunities which networked technologies can provide beyond the lecture theatre. In this context I tend to use the term “amplified event“. For researchers this may be characterised as the “amplified conference“, a term coined in 2007 by Lorcan Dempsey and described in more detail on Wikipedia. Initially communication tools, such as Twitter, were used to encourage a remote audience to engage with discussions. However we may also be seeing resources being made available before an event, in part simply to facilitate sharing with a remote audience, but this enables use of such resources in advance of a talk.

  • Bring your own devices: As described in the report “when students bring their own smartphones and tablet computers into the classroom, this action changes their relationship with the school and with their teachers“. The report feels that BYOD will have a high potential impact in a timescale of 2–5 years.

The importance of mobile devices has highlighted in the recent NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries, with the opening session providing an “Emphasis on Mobile“. The session build on the findings of the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition in which mobile apps was felt to have a time-to-adoption horizon of one year or less. It therefore seems surprising that the OU’s Innovating Pedagogy report predicts a longer period before ‘bringing your own device’ has a significant impact in learning.

Perhaps the differences reflect the differing perspectives from the teaching and learning and library sectors, with the library focussing on ensuring that content is mobile-ready, whereas the teaching and learning community will need to consider how BYOD policies can be integrated within the learning environment. The opportunities provided by BYOD approaches will also have to aligned with institutional policies regarding security, privacy and support issues, as summarised in the following image (taken from Bring Your Own Device: A Guide for Schools. Edmonton, Canada: Alberta Education, available in PDF format).

BYOD models

Your Thoughts

I’ve given my initial thoughts on four of the ten innovative areas mentioned in the Innovating Pedagogy 2014 report. I’d welcome your thoughts.


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NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries: Emphasis on Mobile (Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 13 November 2014

The NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries

NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of LibrariesYesterday I took part in the NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries. I was invited to be a panel member following my participation in the group which took part in the development of the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition.

The half-day symposium provided an opportunity for “library professionals, educators, and thought leaders will explore four major themes from the NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition”:

  1. Emphasis on Mobile
  2. Increasing Access and Discovery Opportunities
  3. Content Management and Technical Infrastructure
  4. Rethinking the Roles and Relationships of Librarians

Together with Alex Freeman (NMC), Joan Lippincott (Coalition for Networked Information), Geneva Henry (George Washington University) and Gary Price I took part in the opening session on Emphasis on Mobile.

The virtual symposium was hosted on Google Hangouts and attracted about 100 registered participants.

Emphasis on Mobile

NMC Horizon symposiumThe NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition (which is available in PDF format) highlights mobile apps as one of the two most important technological developments for  academic and research libraries in the short term. The importance of mobile content and delivery is being driven by its prioritization as a key trend which is driving technology adoption in academic and research libraries over the next one to two years.

I won’t attempt to summarize the session as I was concentrating on my contribution, ensuring the technology work and monitoring the backchannels (the Twitter feed and the discussion on Google Hangout) and thus was not able to keep notes on the points made by my fellow panelists. However I used Storify to create a summary of the #NMCHz tweets about the session. In addition, as mentioned below, I also created a Lanyrd entry for the event which can be used by those who attended the event to provide links to reports on the event.

However it is fair to say that the panelists all felt that the mobile environment is important for the future and provides valuable opportunities for librarians.

Anytime, Anyplace Anywhere

The panelists were asked to respond to the question “Do you have a mobile use scenario that you think is particularly innovative?“.  To paraphrase my response:

Think about the world we are now in. We each have (or can have) the equivalent of a supercomputer in our hand. And just as James T Kirk on Star Trek could ask questions of the Enterprise’s computer, so we can make use of tools such as Google and Wikipedia to address out informational queries and social media tools to interact with our social and professional networks. For me, therefore, I wouldn’t like to mention a specific innovative technology. Rather it’s about the scale of use of technologies which we possess. “The future is here and may now be evenly distributed – and it’s in our hands!“. I think this is the exciting future. And surprising for some, use of mobile devices in bed might be important for many of our users.

My comment about use of mobile devices in bed was based on the responses to a question I asked the audience “Have you ever used a mobile device for work-related purposes in bed?“. The responses on the Twitter channel suggested that some felt somewhat apprehensive about admitting to this:

  •  uh, yes I do use my device to do work while I am abed. :)
  • Regularly use my smartphone in bed to reply in the evening and to check email in the morning.

whilst others seemed more unapologetic:

  •  i have used my smartphone daily while still laying in bed
  • Me too. Every morning. RT @MULkatie: Checked my work email before I got out of bed this morning
  • @briankelly yes I have done this many times
  • I’d miss too much of general interest if I only checked when at work. How times have changed since I started at IA in 1998!

However some never use mobile devices for work-related purposes in bed:

  • I have never done that in bed.

I first asked this question back in 2012 and summarised the responses in a post on which described how “Twitterers Do It In Bed!“. Since then I have asked the question at a number of events and found, fairly consistently, that the responses are split between those who feel confident about this type of behaviour, those who seem reluctant to admit to it and those who do not use mobile devices in bed, with some being horrified at the idea.

Clearly taking one’s work to bed is a personal decision and taking work to bed which is accessed on a mobile device (rather than on dead trees!) should not be something to be done without the agreement of one’s partner. However asking this question is useful, I feel, as it provides indications of changing patterns of behaviour.

Privacy Implications of Mobile Devices

In the symposium  much of the discussion focussed on the potential benefits of mobile devices to support teaching, learning and research activities in higher education. Due to lack of time (the session only lasted for 45 minutes) it was not possible to address barriers to their use. There was some discussion about DRM barriers to accessing content but, in the conclusions, I highlighted privacy issues as a particularly complex area which needs to be acknowledged. In the presentations we heard speakers describe the importance of content shared on social media and the value of, for example, archiving Twitter streams for subsequent analysis.

I agree with these comments. Indeed in this post I have made use of the Storify archive of yesterday’s tweets which I created and cited some of the tweets in this post. Although in the past people have suggested that it is inappropriate to cite tweets (and may infringe copyright unless permission has been given). I should also note that although use of an event hashtag (“#NMCHz” in this case) may be regarded by some as an implied licence to permit reuse, in this case some of the tweets were public messages to me and did not include the hashtag.

Additional comments were made on the Google Hangout chat tool. I have not included relevant comments in this post, mainly because of technical barriers (I could not archive the content) but also because I feel that the Google Hangout was more of a private area than a public tweet.  But is this an appropriate distinction?

I concluded my summary by mentioning the recent release of the Samaritan’s Radar app which monitored Twitter feeds and the subsequent backlash which led to the withdrawal of the app. As described by the BBC News:

An app made by the Samaritans that was supposed to detect when people on Twitter appeared to be suicidal has been pulled due to “serious” concerns.

Might we find that our current scholarly interests in analysis of social media is meant with a similar backlash?  A topic I will revisit in a subsequent post,  but I’d welcome your thoughts.

Further Information

NMC-Horizon-Symposium-on-the-Future-of-LibrariesIn addition to the NMC Virtual Symposium on the Future of Libraries a Lanyrd entry for the event is also available. Since Lanyrd provides a wiki-style approach to content creation and updates I hope that participants at the virtual symposium will add links to trip reports and other resources relevant to the seminar.

 


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Evidence Submitted to the House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10 November 2014

The House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills

House of Lords Select CommitteThe House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills is seeking answers to the question “how should the UK join up ‘fragmented’ digital skills teaching?

Last month, on Tuesday 14 October 2014, the House of Lords’ Digital Skills Committee quizzed Karen Price OBE, Chief Executive, e-skills UK, Maggie Philbin, UK Digital Skills Taskforce & CEO TeenTech and Rachel Neaman, CEO, Go ON UK about digital skills teaching in the UK. If you missed the live video stream of the meeting  a recording of the meeting is available on the UK Parliament’s web site.

In addition to the oral evidence which has been presented to the Select Committee a significant number of written submissions have also been made, with a total of approximately 125 contributions included in the Oral and written evidence report, a substantial PDF document containing no fewer than 763 pages!

About the Select Committee on Digital Skills

The Select Committee on Digital Skills was announced in the chamber of the House of Lords on Monday 9 June 2014. The Select Committee will consider information and communications technology, competitiveness and skills in the UK. It is expected that the committee will submit its recommendations and publish its report by 5 March 2015.

The Digital Skills Committee published its call for evidence on 11 June. The deadline for submitting written evidence was 5 September 2014.

In addition to the call for written evidence the Select Committee held a number of meeting which sought answers to questions from various sectors:

  •  On Tuesday 22 July the Select Committee asked Google, Microsoft and some of the UK’s leading technology specialists  about the UK’s readiness for technologies of the future.
  • On Tuesday 29 July the Committee heard from campaigners for digital start-ups, the voice of SMEs in the UK and the country’s tech sector and asked them whether rapidly changing technology trends are creating barriers for businesses, whether businesses’ tech skills are falling behind, how the UK’s infrastructure can be improved, and whether the end result of these challenges is damaging to the UK economy.
  • On Monday 1 September the Committee heard from the British Chambers of Commerce, Direct Line, McKinsey & Company, BT, Boston Consulting Group and Virgin Media. Questions that the Committee put to the witnesses included How can UK businesses prepare for the future?; What skills do future workers need for the UK to be globally competitive?; Does the UK have a competitive infrastructure to support a knowledge-driven economy?; How is the change in technology affecting this infrastructure?; How does the UK compare to other countries? and How important is faster Internet speed for businesses and their development?
  • The following day, Tuesday 2 September, the Committee held further evidence sessions, where they heard from the BBC, Ofcom and lifelong learning experts, among others. In these sessions they concentrated on the issues of: boosting levels of digital and media literacy; digital careers; and lifelong learning.
  • On 3 September  the Committee went on a tour of the offices of Guardian Media Group and Google Campus in London. The purpose of the visit was for Committee Members to see both how digital technologies are being produced at Google Campus and to learn about how Guardian Media Group is using digital technology to innovate and grow its global footprint.
  • Finally, as mentioned above, on Tuesday 14 October the Committee asked ‘how should the UK join up ‘fragmented’ digital skills teaching?’ and quizzed witnesses on several aspects of skills delivery, from preparing the workforce, to identifying skills gaps, to reducing inequality between the digitally skilled and the unskilled.

The Oral and Written Evidence Report

As mentioned above the Oral and Written Evidence Report is a substantial PDF document containing 763 pages. I’ve not attempted to read the report. However I have a number of observations after skimming through the list of contributors and reading the evidence provided by organisations I have some knowledge of.

CILIP Response

I was pleased to see that CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, had responded to eight of the fifteen questions in the call for evidence. CILIP pointed out that “Increased mobility within the workforce means the ability to telecommute is more attainable than ever“. CILIP also highlighted two areas which were of particular importance to their organisation:  information which “needs managing well and the skills and expertise of information managers need acknowledging as they will be an essential component to future success in a knowledge driven economy” and information literacy, defined as “knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner“. The CILIP response then went on for 9 pages to provide more detailed responses to points raised by the Select Committee.

Wikimedia UK Response

Wikimedia UK provided 7 pages of evidence. Their submission concluded:

There is an expectation that the fostering of digital skills in the 21st Century will take place in an ‘always on’ open environment. For the potential of such developments to come to fruition, legislative change around the opening of cultural heritage, and innovation around education design both need support. ‘Open’ practices are not simply about copyright reform and open licensing of public materials; they embody the kinds of literacies – informational and digital – required in the digital environment, and as such deserve consideration as important ‘digital skills’.

Other Responses from the Higher Education Sector

Searching the table of contents for submissions from the higher education sector I found:

  • Association for Learning Technology (ALT), on pages 36-39.
  • Bath Spa University on pages 70-71.
  • The Open University (OU) on pages 292-801.

Although there may have been additional submissions from individuals who work in the higher education sector, the limited numbers of responses from higher educational institutions and affiliated organisations seems disappointing, especially in light of the larger numbers of responses from commercial organisations including:

  • Barclays Bank on pages 49-52.
  • British Sky Broadcasting (Sky) on pages 137-143.
  • BT on pages 160-171.
  • Channel 4 on pages 176-179.
  • EE on pages 295-301.
  • Google, Microsoft and UK Forum for Computing Education on pages 364-380.
  • Microsoft, Google and UK Forum for Computing Education on pages 532-534.
  • Samsung Electronics UK on pages 660-676.
  • Virgin Media  on pages 777-786.

There are many other submissions which I have not listed from a variety of sectors. However I find it surprising that a Select Committee which is looking for answers to the question “how should the UK join up ‘fragmented’ digital skills teaching?” seems to have such limited input from the higher education sector. Should we be concerned? Or is the answer to be provided by companies such as Google, Microsoft, Sky and Barclays Bank?!


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From the Modernisation of Higher Education Report to the Open Learning Analytics Network Summit

Posted by Brian Kelly on 7 November 2014

More Personalised Learning Informed by Better Data

In a recent post on a Report on Modernisation of Higher Education I described how the High Level Group’s report on the Modernisation of Higher Education which covers New modes of learning and teaching in higher education gave a high profile to the importance of learning analytics. The report includes a section entitled More personalised learning informed by better data which explains how:

In traditional lecture hall settings, it is difficult for a teacher to follow the progress of each and every student. It is impossible to adapt the pace of the course to match individual needs. Online provision allows the capturing of a range of data that can be used to monitor student progress. Advances in big data and learning analytics can help our higher education system customise teaching tools and develop more personalised learning pathways based on student data. However, the collection, analysis and use of learning data must only occur with the explicit consent of the student.

Data can capture how students engage in the course, interact with other students and retain concepts over time. It can provide information on the learning process as opposed to just learning outcomes. Teachers can experiment with different approaches and examine the immediate impact. Data can also be used to identify at-risk students at an early stage, assisting in efforts to increase retention rates. While still a relatively young field, exciting developments in learning analytics are underway. Several universities in the United States have programmed automatic dashboards, giving teachers the possibility to monitor their student’s performance live. The massive availability and usability of data has also great potential for empirical research on learning and teaching. Stanford’s Lytics Lab is one example that applies empirical research to better understand the performance of students. Learning process and feedback tools are yet another development that allows students to monitor their own performance and adapt it accordingly. The Open-Learning Initiative of the Carnegie Melon University and the Check-My-Activity-Tool of the University of Maryland are two examples of these promising developments.

Note that the 37 page long report is available in PDF format.

Open Learning Analytics Network Summit

Open learning analytics network summit 2014As part of its work on the LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project, Cetis is organising a one day summit event to broker collaboration around the idea of an Open Learning Analytics platform – based on principles of modularity, open architectures, and open standards – in Amsterdam on 1st December 2014, collaborating with colleagues from the University of Amsterdam and the Apereo Learning Analytics Initiative.

We have seen how the Modernisation of Higher Education report which covers New modes of learning and teaching in higher education has given a high profile to the importance of learning analytics.

In addition Learning Analytics and interoperability are identified as key areas for research and innovation in the Horizon 2020 call ICT-20, “Technologies for better human learning and teaching“.

The time is therefore right to gather a European critical mass of activity behind the idea of an Open Learning Analytics platform.

The purpose of the Open Learning Analytics Network Summit Europe event is to develop a shared European perspective on the concept of an Open Learning Analytics framework, based on a critical view of where we are now and what is feasible in the next 3-5 years.

The intended outcomes of the summit are concrete plans for collaborative research and innovation. These plans will set out to meet the challenges and realise the possibilities of 21st century learning and teaching, including those outlined in the ICT-20 call, in a way that properly embeds the Open Learning Analytics principles.

The Open Learning Analytics Network – Summit Europe 2014 will take place at the Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam on 1st December 2014. Participation is invited from public and private sectors, including innovators from all sectors of education and training, open source and proprietary software developers, people with experience of learning analytics interoperability and architects of modular and distributed systems.

Further information including the full call for participation is available on the LACE project web site.


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Report on Modernisation of Higher Education: Focus on Open Access and Learning Analytics

Posted by Brian Kelly on 5 November 2014

New Modes of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Modernisation of higher education reportVia a post on the Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE) LinkedIn group which described how a “Report on Modernisation of Higher Education specifically refers to LA [learning analytics]” I came across the High Level Group’s report on the Modernisation of Higher Education which covers New modes of learning and teaching in higher education. The 37 page report, available in PDF format, provides two quotations which are likely to welcomed by educational technologists.

We need technology in every classroom and in every student and teacher’s hand, because it is the pen and paper of our time, and it is the lens through which we experience much of our world” David Warlick

and:

… if we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow” John Dewey

The coverage and tone of the report can be gauged from the table of contents:

  1. Introduction: why Europe needs to act
  2. Harnessing new modes of learning and teaching to modernise higher education
  3. Challenges and how they can be addressed
  4. Recommendations
  5. Selective glossary of terminology
  6. Acknowledgements
  7. Members of the group

From the section on “Harnessing new modes of learning and teaching to modernise higher education” I noticed a number of areas of particular interest to me:

  • Greater global and local collaboration and cooperation: I noticed that this focussed on “collaboration and cooperation” rather than competition.
  • More personalised learning informed by better data: This was the aspect of the report which is being addressed on the LACE LinkedIn group.

Report Recommendations

Recommendations of the Modernisation of higher education reportHowever it was recommendation 13 which surprised and pleased me:

Governments and higher education institutions should work towards full open access of educational resources.

In public tenders open licences should be a mandatory condition, so that content can be altered, reproduced and used elsewhere.

In publicly (co-)funded educational resources, the drive should be to make materials as widely available as possible.

I also found it interesting that copyright concerns weren’t considered to a significant barrier in the report. Instead the report focusses on the legal challenges posed by the privacy implications for the collection, analysis and reuse of learning analytics data. For example Recommendation 14 states that:

Member States should ensure that legal frameworks allow higher education institutions to collect and analyse learning data. The full and informed consent of students must be a requirement and the data should only be used for educational purposes.

In addition Recommendation 15, the final recommendation in the report, states that:

Online platforms should inform users about their privacy and data protection policy in a clear and understandable way. Individuals should always have the choice to anonymise their data.

Conclusions

It’s pleasing when a significant report is closely aligned with the interests of one’s host institution! In this case the ebook Into the wild – Technology for open educational resources by Amber Thomas, Lorna M. Campbell, Phil Barker and Martin Hawksey (which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License) provides a series of reflections on three years of the UK OER Programmes from staff at Cetis and Jisc who were closely involved with the three phases of the Jisc OER programme.

In addition since the start of 2014 Cetis have been working on the EU-funded LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project. If you’ve an interest in this important new area feel free to visit the LACE project Web site, subscribe to the LACE Newsletter, join the Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE) LinkedIn group, or simply follow the @laceproject Twitter account and the #laceproject hashtag. If you were following the Twitter stream you may have noticed the announcement of the Notes from Utrecht Workshop on Ethics and Privacy Issues in the Application of Learning Analytics –  a very timely report in light of the recommendations made in the Report on Modernisation of Higher Education!


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Subverting Copyright (and Other Flawed Legislation)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4 November 2014

Be Informed: Recent Changes to Copyright Law

JISCLegal slide on copyrightLast week Jason Miles-Campbell, manager of the JISCLegal service, gave a talk entitled “Be Informed: Recent Changes to Copyright Law” at the CILIPS Autumn Gathering.

Jason summarised changes to copyright legislation which were approved by Parliament in July 2014 and came into force on 1 October 2014.

The slide (illustrated) Jason used which caught my eye described how:

the fact that our system of communication, teaching and entertainment does not grind to a standstill is in large part due to the fact that in most cases infringement of copyright has, historically, been ignored.

This quotation comes from a post published in 2008. Since the blog asked for its content not to be attributed I will not provide a link (but note that I used Google to find the source of this quotation!)

The quotation came from Sir Hugh Laddie, a British High Court judge, lawyer, professor, and a specialist in intellectual property law who died in 2008. The blog post suggested that:

In the field of copyright, two of Sir Hugh’s articles should be laminated and placed on your desk so they may be re-read often. The first is his 1995 Stephen Stewart lecture, “Copyright: Over-strength, Over-regulated, Over-rated”, published in 18 European Intellectual Property Review 253 (1996).

and went on to describe how Sir Hugh:

criticized the insane criminalization of the economic tort of copyright infringement: “We have … reached the stage where taxpayers’ money is being used to enforce private rights which many might think are more than adequately protected by civil remedies. I should also mention that it appears that in most cases it is not the poor and weak who are using these criminal provisions but the rich and well organised.”

In light of the recent changes to copyright legislation Sir Hugh Laddie’s comment, made that many years ago, that “the fact that our system of communication, teaching and entertainment does not grind to a standstill is in large part due to the fact that in most cases infringement of copyright has, historically, been ignored” could be regarded as demonstrating that flawed legislation will eventually be repealed. However I think this ignores the value of the actions taken not only by those who have pro-actively sought to change the legislation but also the actions taken by those who have ignored legislation which is clearly flawed, in which no or minimal harm is done to others by such action.

A Risk Management Approach to Copyright  Legislation

web2rights risk calculatorSeveral years ago Professor Charles Oppenheim gave a seminar about copyright and institutional repositories at the University of Bath – and terrified the audience when we realised that most of our  work in developing an institutional repository would like infringe copyright.

However in response to a question I posed as to whether copyright concerns would inhibit the development of the repository, Charles said this needn’t be the case: rather there is a need to understand the legal issues but to make an informed decision on actions based on an assessment of the risks and a decision as to whether the organisation was prepared to take the risks.

Charles and I subsequently co-authored a paper on “Empowering Users and Institutions: A Risks and Opportunities Framework for Exploiting the Social Web” in which we documented a framework for making an informed decision in addressing copyright and other issues.

Charles and Naomi Korn subsequently developed a Risk Management Calculator as part of the Web2Rights OER Support Project. As illustrated if you wish to make use of a textual document which wasn’t published with a commercial intent, doesn’t contain clinical content or images of identifiable individuals or children but the provenance and licence of the resource is unknown, there will be risks in reusing the resource, but the risks will be low. In this situation the toolkit concludes “[The] Indicative Risk Value indicates that there is some risk associated with the content that you wish to use. If your organisation is risk adverse and seeking permission or using alternative material then you will need to consider seeking permission or using alternative material.

What Else Have We Subverted?

Beyond copyright there are other examples of supposed legal requirements which can be seen to be flawed, so that ignoring them can be done for those who are willing to take a small amount of risk.

Cookie legislation is one example; since the requirement that users must ‘opt-in’ to use of cookie has been shown to be technically flawed, a pattern of use in which web site owners simply inform visitors that they make use of cookies and document the cookies used and their purpose is now widely accepted as an acceptable practice.

Another example is email disclaimers. A few days ago I received an email message which contained a request for information which could be easily addressed by forwarding the message. However the message contained a legal disclaimer:

Legal disclaimer
The information transmitted is the property of the University of xxxx  and is intended only for the person or entity  to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/or privileged material. Statements and opinions expressed in this e-mail may not represent those of the company. Any review, retransmission, dissemination and other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon, this information by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibited. If you received this in error, please contact the sender immediately and delete the material from any computer.

Although I am entitled to forward the message it would appear that subsequent forwarding to other who may have to process the request for information is prohibited. But does anyone care about such legal niceties?

Beyond the infringements which many computer users may be guilty of in the early days of the Web creators of HTML pages will have created pages containing links to other Web sites almost certainly without getting permission to create such links. But even back in 2008 there were still discussions as to whether you need permission to link to someone’s content.

Conclusions

Just over  year ago I asked “Do We Want Radical Law-Breaking Librarians?” The background to the post was a BBC News article which described how “UK’s top prosecutor defends journalists who break law in public interest“. The story was about the role of journalists in making information publicly available. Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions insisted that it “would be very unhealthy if you had a situation where a journalist felt that they needed to go to their lawyer before they pursued any lead or asked any question“.

The article went on to suggest that library rules which seek to ban use of mobile phones which can be used to make copies of copyrighted resources or take photos of people without their permissions may be counter-productive. I would argue that the welcome changes in copyright legislation have come about not just from the advocacy of organisations such as Jisc and CILIP but also by the risks-takers. Blessed are the risk-takers for they set the path for others to follow!


Note: A few hours after this post was published Andrew Cormack alerted me to an article published less than a week ago which described how the CJEU rules on whether ‘framing’ amounts to copyright infringement:

On 21 October 2014 the CJEU had to decide in the case of Bestwater whether embedding content in a website via “framing” constitutes “communication to the public” within the meaning of Article 3 of the InfoSoc Directive [1] and therefore infringes the copyright of the creator of the content.

The article goes on to explain:

The CJEU has now made it clear that linking does not constitute a “making available to the public” (or any other form of communication to the public), irrespective of which linking technique is used as long as the link leads to a website that is available to the public as a whole.

This decision drew on a previous ruling:

where it had already decided that hyperlinks do not constitute a “making available to the public” provided the link is to content that is freely and lawfully available online.

Or, in brief, you can link to Web resources and embed Web content in frames provided that the content itself is freely and lawfully available online. You can now, it would seem, create links from your Web pages to such resources without having to worry too much about the legal ramifications. Of course, you may have been doing this already, before the legal ruling was made!


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“Proud to be a Librarian” – Reflections on #CILIPSAG14

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 November 2014

CILIP Scotland Autumn Gathering

Proud to be a librarianThe CILIP Scotland Autumn Gathering event took place in Edinburgh on Thursday 30 October 2014. Although the CILIP Scotland Web site provides information about the event, a more comprehensive set of resources can be found on the Lanyrd entry for the event, including links to speakers’ slides (where available), additional speaker information, links to archives of event tweets, etc.

“Proud to be a Librarian”

The highlight of the day’s event for me and other participants was the opening plenary talk on “Full Disclosure: Hillsborough and the human side of information work” given by Jan Perry, the CILIP Vice President (and President in the new year).

In the presentation Jan  described her work with the Hillsborough Independent Panel. This was a very moving presentation, especially for someone, like me, from Liverpool -and although I’m from the blue half of Liverpool hearing about Jan’s involvement with the independent panel for the Hillsborough disaster brought back particular strong memories as my dad died around that time.

As I commented during the talk:

Listening to talk about Hillsborough, The Sun, etc at is making me feel angry. Memories of 80s: miners strike, Thatcherism.

Others also shared their thoughts on the presentation, including @AminaTShah who began by commenting that:

Jan Parry describing her role in the Hillsborough enquiry and proving information really is power.

and went on to report how:

Liverpool libraries helped families who lost loved ones in the Hillsborough disaster search for information online

and @bainofmylife who tweeted:

the small decisions, personal and political, documented and less so behind Hillsborough – sobering

But the comment which summarised the positive aspects of Jan’s talk was made by @libraries4us who concluded on a positive note:

Proud to be a Librarian today after hearing about their contribution to the Hillsborough Independent Panel

Unfortunately there was no time for questions but over the coffee break I was able to thank Jan for her talk; she told me that I was not alone in my emotional response to the talk.

“[The] current attack on libraries is part of a wider movement against people without money”

Tweets about Alan Bissett at CILIPS Autumn Gathering

The final plenary talk at the event was also full of passion.  Alan Bissett, author and playwright, provided the final keynote talk and was passionate about his belief in the importance of public libraries. Alan’s talk was more overtly political than Jan Perry’s but resonated with many in the audience, with @Miss_Horan7 commenting:

Thought provoking and powerful stuff at today’s How do we distill @alanbissett to share him round Scottish librarians?

and @JLMacfadyen concluding:

Final thought from Alan Bissett: current attack on libraries is part of a wider movement against people without money …

The Role of Library Professionals  in Light of Such Political Considerations

As I have described the CILIPS Autumn Gathering began and concluded with plenary talks which had political connotations for information professionals. The third plenary talk, on “Be Informed: Recent changes to Copyright Law“, also had interesting implications for information professionals with Jason Miles-Campbell, manager of the JISC Legal service, pointing out that “the fact that our system of communication, teaching and entertainment does not grind to a standstill is in large part due to the fact that in most cases infringement of copyright has, historically, been ignored.

The reminder of the CILIPS Autumn Gathering consisted of parallel sessions. As I mentioned previously I had been invited to facilitate a session on “Why and How Librarians Should Engage With Wikipedia”.

The day before the event began a tweet from @CILIPScotland explained:

We’d like to see our organisation documented on . Can @briankelly inspire you to help?

During the session I gave reasons why librarians should engage actively with Wikipedia, not only understanding some of the hidden secrets behind the service but also  why they should be willing to update Wikipedia articles and even create new articles.

The suggestion that there should be a Wikipedia article provided an opportunity to address issues of neutrality and the Wikipedia principal regarding a Neutral Point of View (NPOV).  As described on the Wikipedia Web site:

Editing from a neutral point of view (NPOV) means representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic. All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view. NPOV is a fundamental principle of Wikipedia and of other Wikimedia projects. This policy is nonnegotiable and all editors and articles must follow it.

Prior to discussing the creation of an article, I updated the Wikipedia article for CILIP to include details of the membership numbers since CILIP was founded in 2002.  As can be seen from the figures shown below there has been a drop in the membership numbers every year since CILIP was founded (note where possible the figures have been taken from CILIP annual reports but not all annual reports are available).

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
CILIP members nos. ~23,000 22,689 N.A. (20,373) N.A. 19,206 18,490 17,634 17,192 15,705 14,555 13,974 13,470

The decline in CILIP membership numbers has been a bone of contention over recent years. It would probably therefore be inappropriate for a Wikipedia user who is employed by CILIP to comment on the membership trends, as this would conflict with the neutral point of view principle. I would, however, suggest that if a CILIP employee has access to membership numbers for 2002 and 2004-2006 these could be added to the table,  ideally with a comment on the talk page declared a vested interest.

CILIPS Wikipedia articleI used this example when I address the suggestions that there should be a Wikipedia article for CILIPS.

Initially I asked whether CILIPS, the CILIP in Scotland organisation should be regarded as sufficiently notable to have its own Wikipedia article. As described in Wikipedia:

On Wikipedia, notability is a test used by editors to decide whether a given topic warrants its own article. Information on Wikipedia must be verifiable; if no reliable third-party sources can be found on a topic, then it should not have a separate article. Wikipedia’s concept of notability applies this basic standard to avoid indiscriminate inclusion of topics. Article and list topics must be notable, or “worthy of notice”. Determining notability does not necessarily depend on things such as fame, importance, or popularity—although those may enhance the acceptability of a subject that meets the guidelines explained below.

However in discussions I discovered that CILIPS has its own governance, its own web site and as involved in consultations with the Scottish Parliament for the development of the National Library of Scotland Bill 2011. This would seem to make it appropriate for there to be a Wikipedia article for CILIPS.

We then discussed the need for content to be provided by contributors who have a neutral point of view. I suggested that the talk page for the CILIP article could provide a forum for discussions about the creation and evolution of a CILIPS article.

However as I concluded the session I was informed that a CILIPS article already exists! The Wikipedia article, entitled Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland, is shown. Looking at the history for the page we can see that it was created on 5 November 2013. However on 9 August 2014 it was proposed that the article should be deleted. In response one user “added a reference to a Scottish Parliament document. I believe this organization is sufficiently notable to remain given that they were consulted in writing a national library bill.” It would appear that this information provide sufficient evidence of the notability of the organisation.

Conclusions: The Importance of Librarians’ Trustworthiness

I began this post by describing two plenary talks which described organisations (the police force and the Labour party in Scotland) whose reputations have been undermined through a loss of trust. We are not in that position with libraries. And yet librarians and information professional should not rest on their laurels. In my talk (the slides are available on Slideshare and embedded below) I spoke about the close parallels between librarians and Wikipedia, both of which aim to provide neutral and unbiased access to information. Wikipedia had documented its core principles which aim to ensure that Wikipedia provides a neutral source of information.

A while ago I came across an article entitled “So who’s editing the SNHU Wikipedia page?” which described how analysis of editing patterns and deviations from the norm may be indicative of inappropriate Wikipedia editing strategies, such as pay-for updates to institutional Wikipedia articles.

The article  pointed out how the PR sector has responded to criticisms that PR companies have been failing to abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s terms of use: Top PR Firms Promise They Won’t Edit Clients’ Wikipedia Entries on the Sly. The article describes the Statement on Wikipedia from participating communications firms which is hosted on Wikipedia. The following statement was issued in 10 June 2014:

On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia’s unique and important role as a public knowledge resource. We also acknowledge that the prior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationship with the community of Wikipedia editors.

Our firms believe that it is in the best interest of our industry, and Wikipedia users at large, that Wikipedia fulfil its mission of developing an accurate and objective online encyclopedia. Therefore, it is wise for communications professionals to follow Wikipedia policies as part of ethical engagement practices.

We therefore publicly state and commit, on behalf of our respective firms, to the best of our ability, to abide by the following principles:

  • To seek to better understand the fundamental principles guiding Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.
  • To act in accordance with Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines, particularly those related to “conflict of interest.”
  • To abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Terms of Use.
  • To the extent we become aware of potential violations of Wikipedia policies by our respective firms, to investigate the matter and seek corrective action, as appropriate and consistent with our policies.
  • Beyond our own firms, to take steps to publicize our views and counsel our clients and peers to conduct themselves accordingly.

We also seek opportunities for a productive and transparent dialogue with Wikipedia editors, inasmuch as we can provide accurate, up-to-date, and verifiable information that helps Wikipedia better achieve its goals.

A significant improvement in relations between our two communities may not occur quickly or easily, but it is our intention to do what we can to create a long-term positive change and contribute toward Wikipedia’s continued success.

If we wish to maintain the level of trust which librarians currently possess and we wish to see librarians supporting use of Wikipedia, should there be a similar statement of neutrality for those who are members of CILIP and CILIPS?


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Forthcoming Talks on Wikipedia in Edinburgh

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 October 2014

Yesterday was the first anniversary since I started work at Cetis. During that period  I have been involved in two main areas of work: supporting the outreach and engagement aspects of the LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project and promoting use of open educational practices and in particular, use of Wikipedia.

Later today I will be travelling to Edinburgh to give talks about Wikipedia at two conferences.

Tomorrow I’ll be explaining “Why and How Librarians Should Engage With Wikipedia” at the CILIP Scotland Autumn Gathering. I will explain how Wikipedia provides a good match for the interests of librarians and how librarians can become involved in updating Wikipedia content in order to both support their role as librarians and t develop skills and expertise which can be used in supporting their user communities.

On Friday I will give a joint presentation with Filip Maljković at the Eduwiki 2014 conference. In the talk on “Working with Wikimedia Serbia” we will summarise the Eduwiki Serbia Conference and Learning Day which I attended earlier this year,

I was pleased to observe that both events are fully subscribed, which might perhaps indicate the level of interest in open practices, such as making use of Wikipedia.

The slides for “Why and How Librarians Should Engage With Wikipedia” and “Working with Wikimedia Serbia” are available on Slideshare and embedded below. Comments on the slides are welcomed. Also note that the Twitter hashtags for the events are “#cilips1g14″ and “eduwiki”14 so feel free to participate in the discussions on Twitter if you can’t make it to either of the events


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What Do You Think Are The Major Technology Trends Which Will Impact Library Services?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 October 2014

Technology Innovation and Impact Strand at ILI 2014

ILI 2014 conferenceOn Tuesday 21 October 2014 I am giving a talk at the ILI 2014 conference which will address the question What are the major technology trends that will impact library services and their users? This talk takes place on the morning of Tuesday 21 October 2014, the opening day of the conference and is the first talk in Track B, the Technology Innovation and Impact strand, one of the three conference tracks.

The NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition

The talk will be based on the approaches taken by the NMC Horizon team in the development of the NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition, a 50-page report which “examines key trends, significant challenges, and emerging technologies for their potential impact on academic and research libraries worldwide“.

I was pleased to have been invited to participate in the expert panel which took part in the NMC’s process for identifying the key emerging technologies and the significant trends which are driving their adoption and the challenges which may impede their take-up.

The report describes 18 topics which the expert panel identified as very likely to impact technology planning and decision-making: six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in technology.

In my 30 minute talk I will review two technologies which the panel feel to be significant ion the short term (less than a year to adoption), two trends driving technology adoption in the medium term (3 to 5 years) and two difficult challenges which may impede technology adoption in academic and research libraries.

Since the report is freely available online (in PDF format) I do not feel that simply summarising details form the report will be the most effective use of the session at ILI 2014. Instead I will describe the ‘Delphi; approaches used by the panel in identifying and then ranking the key trends, challenges and technological developments. I intend to then invite the audience to participate in a mini-Delphi process, whereby they can add their thoughts on technological developments of importance in the short term, trends driving technology adoption in the medium term and difficult challenges which may impede technology adoption in academic and research libraries which may have not been prioritised in the NMC Horizon report.

I intend to gather the suggestions during the talk, using a combination of asking the audience for their suggestions and inviting suggestions on Twitter. This will be followed by a quick vote to identify the responses which the audience feel are most important.

Attempting to reduce the Delphi process for which “over the course of three months in the spring of 2014, the 2014 Horizon Project Library Expert Panel came to a consensus about the topics that would appear here in the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition” will be a challenge and we shouldn’t attempt to read too much into the findings. However the purpose of this approach, rather than taking the safer route of simply summarizing the report, is to make the point that one should not simply accept the findings of a report on technological developments which experts feel will have an impact on the sector. Instead I feel that institutions should use the report to inform institutional planning which should be complemented by identification of developments which are of particular relevance in the context of the host institution’s local context, including local political, economic, social and technological factors.

What Do You Think Is Missing?

Since soliciting user responses in a large conference auditorium may prove challenging I would like to invite contributions to this post, in advance of this talk.

I will report on the technological trends which the NMC Horizon report feels will be important in the short term (less than a year to adoption). These are (with a  summary taken from the 2 page report for each area being provided):

  • Electronic publishing: Electronic publishing is creating a sea change in how people consume media, research, news and stories. Digital assets such as video, images, and audio can be easily deployed in a variety of media formats — a notion that has huge implications for expanding the reach of a library’s content and the dissemination of academic research. Libraries are poised to be major players in the digital revolution as academic electronic publishing becomes more sophisticated. While the PDF format (now an open ISO standard) has long been supported in libraries, closed systems, such as Apple’s iBook and Amazon e-books, are posing challenges to their existing publishing workflows. EPUB 3, a new standard for interactive and media-enhanced e-books, offers many opportunities for electronic publishing and new library content services,207 but there are still no user-friendly tools available for library professionals to aid the process. The emergence of open access policies from government agencies, coupled with unsustainable costs of print and citation cycles, has led to a shift in how education institutions publish. There is now motivation for libraries to take resources that are generated locally, including university research outputs, learning objects, and material digitized by faculty, and turn them into teaching materials as new publications. Among the chief considerations for libraries establishing such e-publishing workflows are storage capacity, comprehensive concepts for linking the scientific working process of text and scientific data, software tools that integrate and visualize complex data, copyright issues, bibliometric tools, and content hosting coordination.
  • Mobile apps: With the advent of mobile apps, the way we think about software itself is changing, and whole industries are adjusting to a new world in which sophisticated but
    simple tools routinely sell for 99 cents or are completely free. In contrast with the model for desktop applications that stack feature upon feature in a one-size-fits-all
    approach, mobile apps are small, simple, and elegant. They generally do one thing, or a small list of tightly related things, extraordinarily well. They cost so little, trial versions are unnecessary, and it is simple to outfit a tablet or mobile phone with exactly the feature set one wants for far less than one would pay for typical desktop software.

I will also describe the trends driving technology adoption in the medium term (3-5 years):

  • The evolving nature of the scholarly record: With the advent of mobile apps, the way we think about software itself is changing, and whole industries are adjusting to a new world in which sophisticated but simple tools routinely sell for 99 cents or are completely free. In contrast with the model for desktop applications that stack feature upon feature in a one-size-fits-all approach, mobile apps are small, simple, and elegant. They generally do one thing, or a small list of tightly related things, extraordinarily well. They cost so little, trial versions are unnecessary, and it is simple to outfit a tablet or mobile phone with exactly the feature set one wants for far less than one would pay for typical desktop software.
  • The increasing accessibility of research content: Academic and research libraries are gradually embracing the movement toward openness as the Internet has opened the floodgates of information and scientific knowledge. The open access movement has been an influential element of this trend, and it has a significant following in the library community among those who believe in removing financial and intellectual barriers for scholarly work. Major funding entities such as the UK’s Research Excellence Framework, the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health have implemented guidelines requiring researchers to include dissemination plans for their data along with their outputs, expanding access to encompass all scientific outputs. A number of libraries are opening up their institutional repositories, allowing the general public to access their research. Several journal publishers are meeting institutions halfway by developing novel payment schemes that are based on region or quantity of outputs. More collaboration is taking place between institutions as they work co-operatively to lower costs within the publication process.

My talk will conclude by mentioning the difficult challenges which have been identified (note that the challenges have been categorised as (1) solvable challenges: those that we understand and know how to solve ; (2) difficult challenges: those that we understand but for which solutions are elusive and (3) wicked challenges: those that are complex to even define, much less address):

  • Capturing and archiving the digital outputs of research as collection material: One of the essential purposes of academic and research libraries has been to collect the outputs of academic research. Traditionally this has consisted of collecting textual, audio, video, and image-based outputs. With the introduction of new digitally-generated materials and processes, research outputs are growing in variety and types of format. It is important for these new digital data sets to be preserved alongside the research derived from them for future use and in longitudinal studies, but this presents a perpetual challenge for library acquisition and archiving practices as formats continue to evolve. The shift to new materials and processes has not only affected how material is
    captured and archived, but also how it is accessed and retrieved by other researchers and the general public.
  • Competition from alternative avenues of discovery: Before the rise of the Internet, libraries were widely perceived as the ultimate gateways to
    knowledge. However according to a faculty survey conducted by Ithaka S+R, the information gateway function of the library is declining. Wikipedia, contains nearly five million content articles and over 33 million pages and although sceptics caution that Wikipedia is not a credible resource for academic research and writing projects the sheer number of registered users (21.5 million) indicates a shift in where people are going for information, for convenience and ease of use. Online environments such as Google Scholar and the Web of Knowledge curate data from multiple sources. Academic and research libraries are in the difficult position of having to compete with these channels. However rather than regarding such trends as a concerns for libraries, some library organisations are using the changing environment as an opportunity to adapt and even partner with these platforms.

I’d welcome your thoughts on technological trends which will be important for libraries in the short term; trends driving technology adoption in the medium term and the difficult challenges which impede technology adoption.

Or course if you’d like to make other comments, ask questions or would like to suggest, and perhaps even provide answers, for the wicked challenges facing libraries, feel free to make them!

Note that the slides to be used at the talk are available on Slideshare and embedded below.


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Why Don’t We Share More Multimedia Support Materials?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 October 2014

“Why do so few organisations live-stream their events?”

John Popham's Facebook postI came across two interesting posts in my Facebook stream earlier today. In the first post John Popham, a digital storyteller posed the questionwhy do so few organisations live-stream their events?” As illustrated, John provided an accompanying image which illustrated how live-streaming can nowadays be carried out using a smartphone which many of us will now carry.

Back in March 2011 I asked a similar question. In a post about a Seminar on “Mobile Technologies: Why Library Staff Should be Interested” which I published shortly after giving the seminar to University of Bath library staff I explained how:

As well as describing how I use mobile devices (in particular the iPod Touch) the seminar also provided an ideal opportunity to demonstrate various uses of mobile technologies. This included:

I received the following feedback on the live video stream:

  • 11:26  anonymous: Hi Brian!  Bir jerky on the video, audio is fine. :)
  • 11:26  working pretty well brian: Yeah a bit jerky now
  • 11:27  itsme: video jerky audio good
  • 11:27  lescarr: Quality of video & audio very good. It does halt sometimes.
  • 11:27  mhawksey: audio is great, vid a bit jerky cam keeps refocusing
  • 11:29  Jo Alcock: Audio OK – video a bit jerky (but my connection isn’t very good here)
  • 11:30  Jo Alcock: Started watching it on iPad (through Twitter app), works well but moved to desktop now to enable chat
  • 11:30  Nicola: As tweeted: Audio good, video patchy at first but now pretty good – bit blurry but very much what you’d expect from a phone and v. acceptable #bathlib
  • 11:33  working pretty well brian: Video fairly patchy – Mahendra, Audio ok

In addition Ann Priestly (@annindk) an information professional currently working in Denmark) commented:

Watched yr seminar over lunch – thanks! Quality just fine, thinking ROI must be good for these quick sessions

It was interesting to note how Ann had picked up on the return on investment benefits which can be gained from such informal approaches to sharing talks with a wider audience, beyond those who are physically present. Such recordings of talks will enable local staff who weren’t able to be present to be able to view talks which have been recorded using simple mobile technologies. In addition, there are typically no additional costs for sharing such recordings with others.  A great ROI, especially for those who wish to promote open educational practices. And as academic librarians are likely to be involved in promoting the benefits of use of open access research publications it would seem to be a natural extension to promote the benefits of other aspects of openness.

What about sharing screencasts?

Guus van den Brekel's Facebook postI mentioned that I came across two interesting updates in my Facebook stream this morning. In the second update Guus van den Brekel provided “A few useful tips on the use of Google Scholar for work or study in a short video” with a link to an accompanying video recording hosted on YouTube. The video was a screencast lasting 3 minutes 44 seconds which showed Guus demonstrating some of the benefits of Google Scholar. Although I make use of Google Scholar I admit that I learnt something from this, so I am grateful for Guus sharing this not only with staff and students at his host institution, the University Medical Center Groningen, but for making it freely available to everyone and, specifically, sharing it with his Facebook friends. In addition to viewing the video on YouTube, it is also embedded below.

What are the barriers?

What are the answers to the question John Popham posed: “why do so few organisations live-stream their events?” And to broaden the questions slightly: “why don’t more institutions provide screencasts about use of popular services which are freely available to everyone?

Some possible reasons include:

  •  The costs of providing live streaming, video recordings and screencasts.
  • Concerns over the legal implications of publishing multimedia resources (e.g. privacy, data protection, etc.)
  • Concerns over potential copyright infringements (i.e. including of copyrighted user interfaces)
  • Concerns over being seen to make mistakes, which may be accepted in real-life presentations.
  • A belief that institutions should be making money from their intellectual activities.
  • A feeling that there are others who could make better multimedia resources.
  • A concern that multimedia resources which are created may not be used.
  • It’s not our job!

What other barriers may there be? Feel free to add a comment  to this post or participate in the poll given at the bottom of this post.

Is ILI providing opportunities for sharing multimedia resources?

Coincidentally I have just received an email related to next week’s ILI 2014 conference. The email describes the ‘ILI App – Your conference app with your conference content’. The email goes on to invite ILI participants to submit multimedia summaries of work which is relevant to the ILI conference:

Just send or bring along some information you think would be relevant to any of the ILI 2014 conference tracks. This may take the form of something you have written, an image or two, or perhaps a short video or audio file which relates to your work. Email it to us or visit us at the ‘ILI app’ tabletop in the Sponsor Showcase. If you give us a title and a brief description of what you did and the impact it had (100-150 words max), plus whatever visual or audio content you want to share – we will add it into the app. Once we have uploaded it, your contribution and that of all your peers, will be shared in real time to the app.

Perhaps this may provide an opportunity to create a multimedia resource. And, if you’re not attending ILI 2014, why not share it with your peers, as an open resource for other librarians?


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Posted in Events, library2.0 | 1 Comment »

LACE Project Infographic (and Keeping Up-to-date With New Posts)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6 October 2014

LACE Project Infographic

The EU-funded LACE  (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project is “bringing together key European players in the field of learning analytics (LA) and educational data mining (EDM) in order to support the development of communities of practice and share emerging best practice“.

LACE project infographic (portion)Last week the LACE project blog included a post on “Infographic Learning Analytics“. This post described how learning analytics can help answering questions such as:

  • When is a student ready to proceed to the next subject?
  • When is a student at risk of dropping out?
  • What grade will a student most likely receive for a specific subject?
  • Does a student need extra support on a specific area?

The post, which provided comments on learning analytics from a school perspective went on to add that “It will take some time before Learning Analytics will be broadly adopted in schools. We expect that within two to five years approximately 50% of the schools will make use of systems that are more or less driven by Learning Analytics principles.

In order to encourage discussions on this topic the LACE project team have created an infographic which depicts “the roads to more differentiated and personalised education“.

A portion of the infographic is included in this post.The full infographic (which can be downloaded as a hi-resolution PDF) goes on from the traditional and personalised educational environments to summarise how learning analytics can help; the learning analytics cycle; the four levels of learning analytics; the teacher’s role and ask ‘what’s next?’.

Keeping Up To Date With LACE Blog Posts

Other posts on the LACE project blog published in the past two weeks have covered topics including:

But if you have an interest in learning analytics how should you ensure that you do not miss any of the blog posts? Traditionally this has been done by adding a blog’s RSS feed in your RSS reader. In the case of the LACE project blog the RSS file is available at http://www.laceproject.eu/feed . However RSS usage seems to have declined significantly in recently years, particularly since July 2013 when Google closed down the Google Reader.

These days many professionals seem to keep informed on new articles and blog posts through their Twitter network. If you use Twitter you may find it useful to follow the @laceproject Twitter account or monitor the #lacproject hashtag which is used by the project team.

However as well as RSS readers and Twitter, another way of ensuring that new LACE project web sites are delivered to you is to subscribe to an email delivery services for new posts.

LACE feedburner - subscription

The Feedburner service is basing used to provide this service. If you would like to receive automated email delivery of new LACE project blog posts simply click on the following link:

Subscribe to LACE – Learning Analytics Community Exchange by Email

You should note that if you wish to unsubscribe from this service you can do so at any time.

 


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Posted in learning-analytics | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

New Developments for ILI 2014

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 October 2014

ILI – the Internet Librarian International conference series

Some time ago I was asked if I would be a ‘blog partner’ for the ILI (Internet Librarian International) conference.  I was happy to do that last year and again this year for ILI 2014.

In a report on last year’s event I described ILI as my favourite library conference. I am attending the event again this year – and it seems the conference organisers are not resting on their laurels but are implementing a number of new features for the event this year, as highlighted in the screenshot.

Developments at ILI 2014As described by the event organisers these innovations include “Internet Librarian International’s X Track,
a brand new collaborative space for meeting, co-creating, learning
and problem-solving in a buzzing, fun and hands-on environment“. As illustrated the page goes on to add that “ X Track promises a new and different experience, comprising discussion, get-togethers and hands-on trials, alongside access to experts to help you resolve issues within your own professional environment“.

The X Track sessions include the ILI Unconference, five’sharing sessions‘ (short, informal presentations with a chance to chat to the presenters), the ‘ILI conference App‘ (which is described as a ‘co-created conference experience’), the ‘ILI selfie booth‘ (take selfies with fellow delegates and post on social media) and the  ‘Borrow an Expert sessions‘ (in which participants can spend 15 minutes with an expert through a ‘borrowing’ scheme which provides opportunity for a one-to-one meeting with a library and information specialist).

I am taking part in the ‘Borrow an Expert’ sessions which include:

  • Ask Phil Bradley about social media tools and search techniques.
  • Meet Sindy Grewal, an expert career coach and knowledge management expert.
  • Talk to conference co-chair Marydee Ojala about search.
  • Ask Jan Holmquist about community engagement, gamification, communities and collaboration.
  • Learn how Donna Saxby nurtured the career of style icon and reading champion @realbatgirl.
  • Find out from Brian Kelly how librarians can engage with Wikipedia, including how to update – and even create – articles.

These X Track sessions take place across the two days of the ILI conference, which runs on 21-22 October 2014. In addition to the X Track there are a wide range of more conventional sessions on Tuesday 21 October and Wednesday 22 October.

I hope to see some of you there. And if you are attending, do you fancy taking a selfie with me – there’s a prize for the best photo uploaded to social media!


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An Exemplar Use of Lanyrd (and a Proposal for Creating Lanyrd Entries)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 October 2014

Looking Back at Lanyrd

Back in November 2010 I wrote a post on Developments to the Lanyrd Service two months after the service had been launched. I described how commentators had described the Lanyrd “uses Twitter to tell you which conferences, workshops and such your friends are attending or speaking at. You can add and track events” and highlighted some planned developments: “ soon you’ll be able to export your events as iCal or into your Google calendar … Soon, too, you’ll be able to add sessions, slides, and videos“.

The following week after my initial experimentation I gave some Further Thoughts on Lanyrd. I cited Graham Attwell’s comments that “The site is very open. Anyone is free to add and edit on the wikipedia shared knowledge principle.

Such openness can lead to risks: the wiki approach taken by Lanyrd which allows anyone to create and update Lanyrd entries would appear to be prone to misuse and vandalism. In the post I described how information [is available] on Lanyrd about the forthcoming Online Information 2010 conference – and looking at that entry today it seems clear that the entry has not suffered from vandalism.

In May 20012 I asked Why Would You Not Use #Lanyrd For Your Event? and three months later described how Lanyrd Gets Even Better … following the announcement that:

We’re now inviting event organisers to claim their event listings on Lanyrd. Claiming an event is free and claimed events gain access to useful additional features including event descriptions, advanced schedule editing and the ability to embed schedule and speaker information on another website.

My post did add a caveat, though as it went on to ask But Can It Provide The Main Event Web Site? and asked questions about the financial viability of the company. A few hours after publishing the post I received a response from Simon Willison, who established the company:

Our company is actually up to seven people now – we’ve spent much of the past year growing our team and building out important parts of the service such as our mobile apps (for iPhone and Mobile Web). We haven’t come close to spending the money we’ve raised though – expect to hear a lot more from us soon on the revenue side of things.

I share your concern about the longevity of conference data – that was actually one of the things that inspired us to create Lanyrd in the first place: we were frustrated that so many conference websites vanished 6 months after the event. We have no intention of contributing to that problem ourselves, and it’s an issue that has a strong effect on our decision making.

That response reassured me. The news on 3 September 20013 that Lanyrd [had] acquired by Eventbrite also seemed positive as the acquisition by an online event management company appeared to nicely complement Lanyrd’s role. I have continued to make use of Lanyrd and would encourage others to use it.

1:AM: the First Altmetrics Conference as an Exemplar Use of Lanyrd

Annotated Lanyrd entry for 1AM conferenceIn a post I published on Monday on #1amconf, Altmetrics and Raising the Visibility of One’s Research I highlighted a number of aspects of the 1:AM Altmetrics conference which were of particular interest to me and mentioned the event’s Lanyrd entry as a way of finding further information about the conference including links to reports, video recordings of talks and access to speakers’ slides which may still be being added to.

I was pleased with the way on which Lanyrd page has developed since I created it, a day or so before the conference started.

My contribution to the entry was primarily to create the page, add event details which were provided on the main conference web site, create the schedule for the two days, using the session names and times provided on the schedule page on the conference web site and add the speaker IDs, where that could be easily found.

The Lanyrd entry was announced on Twitter during the event and may also have been mentioned in the concluding session.

Over the weekend additional links to coverage for the event were added by others, which included speakers’ slides (typically hosted on Slideshare), video recordings of the talks (typically hosted on YouTube), reports on the various talks and links to Twitter archives. There are also links to photos from the conference, which is currently based on a Google image search for the conference hashtag. The photos also includes an image of the poster I displayed at the conference.

What Benefits Does This Provide?

Since a conference web site already exists for the conference it might be asked “What benefits does a Lanyrd entry provide?

I think having a Lanyrd entry for an event can provide a number of benefits:

  • Marketing: Hosting information about an event on a popular service provides additional marketing opportunities for the event.
  • Access on mobile devices: Lanyrd is mobile-friendly so having the event’s timetable available on Lanyrd will allow participants to easily read the timetable on their mobile device, even if the main event web site is not optimised for mobile use.
  • Ease of content creation: Lanyrd’s wiki-style approach to adding relevant links can avoid the content maintenance bottleneck which may be encountered when only conference organisers can update the event web site.
  • Raising visibility of speakers: Profile pages for speakers can help to raise their visibility.
  • Providing historical information for events: It is possible to create Lanyrd entries for previous events, thus providing a historical context and potentially enabling trends to more easily detected. For example Lanyrd entries are available for all 18 of the IWMW events with detailed information available since IWMW 2006. Such historical information might also be useful in enhancing the preservation of digital resources for events and the event’s collective memory.
  • Aggregation of related events: Related events can be aggregated in a Lanyrd guide, thus providing those with an interest in a particular area with a simple way of accessing relevant events. For example see the guides for learning analytics and UCISA conferences as well as the IWMW guide mentioned previously.

There are, however, also risks in making use of Lanyrd. Such risks include:

  • Views of the event organiser: Event organisers may feel that they own the information about an event and would not want the information to be reused by others.
  • Duplication of resources: A reason for not wanting a Lanyrd page to be created is that resources (such as details of talks) may be replicated.
  • Changes to content: Replication of content may be of particular concern if the content changes, such as speakers cancelled, timings of talks changed. changes to the location, etc.
  • Private or invitation-only events: It may also be felt to be inappropriate to create a Lanyrd entry for a private event or one for which only invited participants may attend.
  • Content ‘hijacking’: In addition to concerns regarded appropriate use of Lanyrd, event organisers may also have concerns regarding inappropriate use, such as deliberately incorrect or misleading information being provided for vexatious reasons.

In a way such concerns are not new – there have been concerns in the past regarding creating of web sites, Facebook pages, etc. by third parties. In addition Wikipedia articles are expected to be created and maintained by those who have a neutral point of view.

A Proposed Approach for Creating Lanyrd Entries for Events

There are dangers that the concerns could lead to inaction, leading to a failure to reap the benefits which use of Lanyrd can provide. In order to avoid this risk the following approach for creating Lanyrd entries for events is proposed.

Be bold! image (from Wikipedia)

Be bold! image (from Wikipedia)

Key principle: Be bold! This approach is taken from Wikipedia, which states that “The Wikipedia community encourages users to be bold when updating the encyclopedia. Wikis like ours develop faster when everybody helps to fix problems, correct grammar, add facts, make sure wording is accurate, etc. We would like everyone to be bold and help make Wikipedia a better encyclopedia.

Create information for Lanyrd entries at an ‘appropriate’ level of detail: It can be useful to create entries for each session at an event and provide the title, abstract, time and location. However simply creating the entry with a title and time is normally sufficient as this is all that is needed if you wish to be able to associate reports, tweets, photos, etc. for a particular session. Such an approach also minimises the risks of changes to the times and locations.

Be willing to share ownership to others: Lanyrd entries can be ‘claimed’ and, once claimed, others can be granted administrative permissions to the entry.

Be prepared to write-off work: This is also taking from the Wikipedia advice: “Don’t get upset if your bold edits get reverted“. In the case of Lanyrd entries, if event organisers complain about an entry which has been created you may need to be prepared to delete the entry

Encourage event participants to add their details and add links

Ensure that Lanyrd users are aware of ways they can be alerted to other events of interest and ways in which these alerts can be managed.

These suggestions relate to the creation of Lanyrd entries for events organised by others.

Encourage event organisers to create Lanyrd entries for their events: The benefits which Lanyrd can provide to the various stakeholders (event organisers, speakers, participants and others with an interest in the event) can be more easily achieved if event organisers are pro-active in creating a Lanyrd entry.

Encourage event participants to add their content (photos, trip reports, etc) to the Lanyrd entry: Event participants may not be aware that Lanyrd can provide an environment in which user content related to an event can be easily provided and thus discovered.

Encourage event speakers and participants to add their details to the Lanyrd event entry: Adding an identify (normally Twitter) can enable event participants to more easily discover each other and grow their professional network. In addition providing information about the events you attend will enable you to receive personalised alerts about relevant events based on your interests and events you attend together with the events your peers attend

Lanyrd email notificationsEncourage Lanyrd users to understand how they can configure their account to maximise the benefits: Encourage Lanyrd users to understand how email notifications can be managed or disabled (as illustrated) if they are concerned about information overload.

Your Thoughts?

Is this an appropriate approach for encouraging greater use of the Lanyrd service? I’d welcome your thoughts.


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Posted in Events | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

#1amconf, Altmetrics and Raising the Visibility of One’s Research

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 September 2014

1:AM, the First Altmetrics Conference

Lanyrd entry for 1:AM altmetrics -conferenceAs described in a post entitled , the 1:AM conference, the first dedicated altmetrics conference took place in London last week.

This was a fascinating conference, with lively discussion taking place at the conference and on the #1amconf Twitter back channel.

The conference embraced event amplification technologies, with a number of remote speakers giving their talks using Google Hangouts and all of the plenary talks being live-streamed and made available on the conference’s YouTube channel.

With so much discussion taking place across a range of channels I created a Lanyrd entry for the conference and publicised it on the final day of the conference.

I’m pleased to say that many of the participants and event organisers used the Lanyrd page to provide access to the various reports on the sessions, access to slides used by the speakers and video recordings of the talks, photos of the event and archives of the discussions and arguments which took place on Twitter: at the time of writing links have been added to 35 separate resources.

Altmetrics as an Indicator of Quality or of Interest?

On the first morning of opening day of the conference in particular there were lively discussions on the value of altmetrics with Professor David Colquhoun (@David_Colquhoun) in particular being scathing in his criticisms:

To show that trivialises and corrupts science is to look at high scoring papers

The blog post on Why you should ignore altmetrics and other bibliometric nightmares mentioned in this tweet generated much discussion on the blog and elsewhere. For those with an interest in this area I recommend reading the post and the follow-up comments, such as this response from Euan Adie, founder of the Altmetric.com company:

Hi David. Thanks for writing the post! I founded Altmetric.com. I think you and Andrew have some fair points, but wanted to clear up the odd bit of confusion.

I think your underlying point about metrics is fair enough (I am happy to disagree quietly!). You’re conflating metrics, altmetrics and attention though.

Before anything else, to be absolutely, completely clear: I don’t believe that you can tell the quality of a paper from numbers (or tweets). The best way to determine the quality of a paper is to read it. I also happen to agree about post publication review and that too much hype harms science. 

Euan concluded his comment by providing a link to his post which suggested that those with interests in the impact of scientific research to Broaden your horizons: impact doesn’t need to be all about academic citations.

The consensus at the conference seemed to be that the view (perhaps based on misunderstandings)  that altmetrics would provide an alternative to citation analysis to determine the quality of research and should determine how research should be funding is no longer widely accepted; instead altmetrics are regarded as being complementary to citation data and can provide a broader picture, especially of how research is being discussed and debated.

Raising the Visibility of One’s Research: Kudos

In discussions with other participants I heard how the view that researchers (and funders of research) had responsibilities for raising the visibility of their research is becoming accepted: the view that only one’s peers need be interested in the research was felt to be no longer relevant. “We need to be seen to be able to justify funding for research“was one comment I heard.

Back in March 2012 in a post on Marketing for Scientists Martin Fenner made a similar point:

Scientists may feel uncomfortable about marketing their work, but we all are doing it already. We know that giving a presentation at a key meeting can be a boost for our career, and we know about the importance of maintaining an academic homepage listing our research interests and publications. And people reading this blog will understand that a science blog can be a powerful marketing tool.

But if researchers are now accepted the need to raise the visibility of their research, the question then is what tools can they use to support this goal?

The Kudos dashboardThe session on Altmetrics in the last year and what’s on the roadmap provided brief summaries about altmetrics application including talks about  Altmetric, Plum Analytics, Impactstory, PLOS, Mendeley, Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association and Kudos.

Kudos was the one tool which was new to me. A recent post which describes how Kudos Integrates Altmetric Data to Help Researchers see Online Dissemination of Articles summarised the aim of the service:

Kudos is a new service designed to help scholars and their institutions increase the impact of their published research articles. Altmetric tracks and collates mentions of research articles on social media, blogs, news outlets and other online sources. This integration means mentions are now incorporated on the Kudos metrics pages for individual authors, and accompanied by a short summary which further details the number of mentions per source. Each article is assigned a score based on the amount of attention it has received to date, and authors are able to click through to see a sample of the original mentions of their article.

I have created an account on Kudos. I was able to quickly claim many of my research papers. As can be seen from the screenshot of the dashboard  a number of my papers already have an Altmetric score, which is defined as “a reflection of the amount of interest your publication has attracted across news outlets and social media“.

Altmetric score for paper on "Accessibility 2.0: Next Steps for Web Accessibility"My paper on Accessibility 2.0: Next Steps for Web Accessibility, for example, has an Altmetrics score of 6. If I wanted to raise the visibility and impact of the paper the Kudos tool allows me to:

Explain: Explain your work and tell readers what it’s about and why it’s important.

Enrich: Enrich your publication by adding links to related materials.

Share: Share a link to your publication by email and social media.

Measure: Measure the impact on your publication performance.

Raising the Visibility of One’s Research: Wikipedia

Wikimedia and Metrics posterIn a recent post entitled Wikimedia and Metrics: A Poster for the 1:AM Altmetrics Conference I described the metrics for Wikipedia articles which may provide indications of the effectiveness of the outreach of the article. The post summarised a poster which was displayed at the conference and which is shown in this post.

As may be shown by usage metrics, Wikipedia can provide a mechanism for raising the visibility of topics described in Wikipedia articles, which can include articles based on research work.

It would appear that Kudos and Wikipedia both provide mechanisms for enhancing interest in research work. But these two tools provide contrasting approaches to the way they support such dissemination work.

With Kudos, authors of research papers are expected to provide summaries of their work. by (a) adding a short title to the publication to help make it easier to find and can help increase citations; (b) adding a simple, non-technical explanation of your publication will make it easier to find, and more accessible to a broader audience and (c) adding an explanation of what is most unique and/or timely about your work, and the difference it might make, will help increase readership.

In contrast, content added to Wikipedia should be provided based on the fundamental principles of Wikipedia , known as the five pillars. In brief:

  1. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia: It combines many features of general and specialized encyclopedias, almanacs, and gazetteers. Wikipedia is not a soapbox, an advertising platform, a vanity press, an experiment in anarchy or democracy, an indiscriminate collection of information, or a web directory.
  2. Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view: We strive for articles that document and explain the major points of view, giving due weight with respect to their prominence in an impartial tone. We avoid advocacy and we characterize information and issues rather than debate them.
  3. Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit, and distribute: Since all editors freely license their work to the public, no editor owns an article and any contributions can and will be mercilessly edited and redistributed. Respect copyright laws, and never plagiarize from sources.
  4. Editors should treat each other with respect and civility: Respect your fellow Wikipedians, even when you disagree. Apply Wikipedia etiquette, and don’t engage in personal attacks. Seek consensus, avoid edit wars, and never disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point.
  5. Wikipedia has no firm rules: Wikipedia has policies and guidelines, but they are not carved in stone; their content and interpretation can evolve over time. Their principles and spirit matter more than their literal wording, and sometimes improving Wikipedia requires making an exception.

The second of these principles,  which expects Wikipedia articles to be written from a neutral point of view, will be the most challenging for researchers who would like to use Wikipedia to raise the visibility of their research to a wider audience. One of three core content policies for Wikipedia articles is that, content should be provided from a neutral point of view – and it will be difficult to do this if you wish to publish or cite content based on one’s own research. Another challenge for researchers is a second core content policy  which states that Wikipedia articles must not contain original research.

What Is To Be Done?

Perhaps a simple approach which could be made by open researchers who are willing to share their experiences openly would be ensure that initial desktop research  which typically may be used as a literature review is used to support existing articles.

However the bigger challenge is to address the tensions between the funders’ requirement to ensure that research they fund is widely disseminated and exploited by others and Wikipedia’s requirement for neutrality.

In a recent post on Links From Wikipedia to Russell Group University Repositories I highlighted similar challenges for universities which may be tempted to seek to exploit the SEO benefits which links from Wikipedia to institutional web pages may provide.

In the blog post I cited an article from the PR community who had recognised the dangers that PR companies can be easily tempted to provide links to clients’ web sites for similar reasons. In response to concerns raised by the Wikipedia community Top PR Firms Promise[d] They Won’t Edit Clients’ Wikipedia Entries on the Sly. The article,which is hosted on Wikipedia, describes the Statement on Wikipedia from participating communications firms . The following statement was issued in 10 June 2014:

On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia’s unique and important role as a public knowledge resource. We also acknowledge thattheprior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationshipwiththe community of Wikipedia editors.Our firms believe that it is in the best interest of our industry, and Wikipedia users at large, that Wikipedia fulfill its mission of developing anaccurate andobjective online encyclopedia. Therefore, it is wise for communications professionals to follow Wikipedia policies as part of ethical engagement practices.We therefore publicly state and commit, on behalf of our respective firms, to the best of our ability, to abide by the following principles:

  • To seek to better understand the fundamental principles guiding Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.
  • To act in accordance with Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines, particularly those related to “conflict of interest.”
  • To abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Terms of Use.
  • To the extent we become aware of potential violations of Wikipedia policies by our respective firms, to investigate the matter and seek corrective action, as appropriate and consistent with our policies.
  • Beyond our own firms, to take steps to publicize our views and counsel our clients and peers to conduct themselves accordingly.

We also seek opportunities for a productive and transparent dialogue with Wikipedia editors, inasmuch as we can provide accurate, up-to-date, and verifiable information that helps Wikipedia better achieve its goals.

A significant improvement in relations between our two communities may not occur quickly or easily, but it is our intention to do what we can to create a long-term positive change and contribute toward Wikipedia’s continued success.

Might research councils and other funders of research find it useful to embrace similar principles? And is there a role for research librarians and others with responsibilities for supporting members of the research community in developing similar guidelines which will help ensure that researchers make use of Wikipedia in a way which supports the Wikipedia principles which have helped to ensure that the encyclopedia is regarded as a valuable source of information?


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Posted in Events, Evidence, Wikipedia | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Wikimedia and Metrics: A Poster for the 1:AM Altmetrics Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 25 September 2014

1:AM – time for an altmetrics conference!

Wikimedia and Metrics posterThe 1:AM Altmetrics conference is being held in London today and tomorrow, 25-26th September.

The aims of the conference are summarised on the conference web site. It particular I noted:

We will be taking a closer look at how authors, readers, funders, publishers and institutions are beginning to integrate altmetrics into their scholarly communication processes — and the challenges that they face along the way.

With a quick overview of recent developments and future plans, we will aim to better understand how and why altmetrics can be of use to the community — and draw further inspiration from those outside academia.

The conference programme is packed with interesting talks and workshop sessions running from 9am to 5/5.30 pm on both days. It is not surprising that the conference was fully booked shortly after the conference was announced.

Wikimedia and Metrics

I will be attending the conference and will present a poster designed by myself and Martin Poulter on behalf of Wikimedia UK. The poster (which is shown and is also available on Scribd) summarises metrics which are available for Wikipedia articles, including usage statistics for articles and media, information on both in-bound and outbound links to and from Wikipedia articles, statistics on the contributions made by editors of Wikipedia articles and statistics on the evolution of articles.

If you are familiar with Wikipedia metrics, if you visit a Wikipedia article you will notice a “View history” button near the top of the window, as shown below for the Global warming article.

Wikipedia article on Global Warming

Clicking on this button and then selecting the Revision history statistics you will see a comprehensive set of statistics about the article. At the time of writing (9 September 2014) you can see that:

  • Statistics for Wikipedia article on Global warmingThe first edit was made on 30 October 2001.
  • The latest edit was made 4 days ago.
  • There have been 4,776 minor edits, 3,307 anonymous edits (identified by an IP address) and 200 edits made by bots (automated edits).

In addition to information about edits to the articles indications are provided on the articles potential impact and levels of interest.  For example there are:

  • 8,042 links to the article from other Wikipedia articles
  • 527 links in-bound links to the article.
  • 1,712 watchers (who receive notification of changes to the article).
  • Over 406,000 views of the article over the past 60 days.

Next Steps

As the world’s fifth most popular web site, Wikipedia shapes public discussion of every area of theoretical and applied science. Its open data and APIs are used by to develop new evaluative tools to assess the impact of a user, set of content, or contributing organisation.

The Wikimedia community welcomes opportunities to exchange ideas on further developments with the altmetrics community. Feel free to leave any comments, questions or observations on this blog post.


View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – [bit.ly]

Posted in Wikipedia | 1 Comment »

Analytics Events: For Learning and For Research

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24 September 2014

Moves Towards Analysis of Data

I suspect I am not alone in finding that my interests and activities in my professional life no longer focus primarily on digital content but now encompass data. There are two events taking place over then next four weeks which may be of interest to those with interests in the analysis of data to support learning and research.

The SoLAR Flare Event

The EU-funded LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project is organised a one-day event which will be held at the Open University on 24 October 2014.

As described on the event booking web site:

SoLAR Flare eventThis is a networking gathering for everyone interested in learning analytics. Under the auspices of the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) and organized by Europe’s Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACE), this event forms part of an international series. SoLAR Flares provide opportunities to learn what’s going in learning analytics research and practice, to share resources and experience, and to forge valuable new connections.

SoLAR defines learning analytics as ‘the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs’. The LACE project is working to promote knowledge exchange and increase the evidence base in this field, so that analytics can be used effectively in a wide range of educational settings, including schools, higher education, workplace learning and within MOOCs.
We therefore invite technology specialists, teachers, researchers, educators, ICT purchasing decision-makers, senior leaders, business intelligence analysts, policy makers, funders, students, and companies to join us in Milton Keynes.

 The event is free to attend, so I suggest that you sign up quickly in order to guarantee a place.

1:AM: The First Altmetrics Conference

On Thursday and Friday of this week 1:AM London, the first altmetrics conference is taking place at the Welcome Collection, London.

1:am ALtmetris conferenceAlthough the conference is fully-subscribed the conference organisers are seeking to maximise engagement through event amplification. As described on the event blog:

Can’t make the conference in person, or missed out on a delegate place? Fear not! Along with a blog write up of each session, we’ll be live-tweeting on the #1amconf hashtag, and live streaming on our YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/altmetricsconference

Note that a Twubs archive for the event hashtag is available.

As illustrated in the screenshot the conference progamme begins with a review of recent altmetrics activities followed by a session on how people are currently using altmetrics. Further sessions on the first day cover research communications, ethical implications of research involving social media, impact assessment in the funding sector: the role of altmetrics and uses of metrics within institutions.

The sessions on the second day cover altmetrics and publishers, lessons learnt, tracking other research outputs, update on standards and a group workshop session to review activity around altmetrics to date, and to propose ideas for future development.

I will be representing Wikimedia UK at the conference and will present a poster on Wikimedia and Metrics.

Are You Attending?

In a recent post I summarised the benefits of Using Twitter to Meet New People on the Way to Conferences. If you are attending either of these events and would be interested in making contact with others you may find the Lanyrd entry for these events of interest. Simply go to the Learning Analytics SoLAR Flare Event in UK or the 1:AM London Lanyrd entries and either track the events of interest or register yourself as a participant or speaker.

As I’ve found with the IWMW event series, the details for the 40 speakers, 59 attendees and 15 people who tracked the IWMW 2013 event can help to identify key members of a community of practice with shared interests. Use of Lanyrd may help, I feel, to support the community of open practitioners who have interests in learning analytics and altmetrics.


View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – [bit.ly]

Posted in Events, Evidence | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Using Twitter to Meet New People on the Way to Conferences

Posted by Brian Kelly on 22 September 2014

Travelling to a Project Meeting

Using Twitter on the way to eventsLast week I attended a #LACEproject consortium meeting in Graz, Austria. The LACE project, which is funded by the EU, is “bringing together key European players in the field of learning analytics (LA) and educational data mining (EDM) in order to support the development of communities of practice and share emerging best practice“.

The consortium meeting provided a valuable opportunity for me to meet colleagues in the project, most of whom I had only come across in our regular video-conference calls.

As the leader of the work package which covers communications and dissemination I have an interest in how social media tools can be used both for supporting communications and collaboration across the project partners and also with the wider community of people with interests in learning analytics.

Developing One’s Professional Network

The potential value of use of Twitter at conferences, workshops and seminars is now widely appreciated. However one aspect which is probably not so well-understood is using Twitter while travelling to events.

This occurred to me last week following my tweet at Heathrow Airport:

On my way to Dusseldorf and then Graz for a meeting.

Twenty minutes later I received a response to my tweet from Nick Pearse (@drnickpearce):

@briankelly I’m off to Graz tomorrow for ECTEL workshop, are you off to that? http://www.ec-tel.eu/index.php?id=681 …

As can be seen from the Storify summary of our Twitter discussions we tried to meet during the EC-TEL 2014 conference but since my meeting took place at a different location we were not able to do this. However our brief exchange of tweets motivated me to look at Nick’s Twitter profile:

Sociologist having fun teaching anthropology + sociology! at Durham University’s Foundation Centre. Digital scholar interested in social media + pedagogy

and visit his Digitalscholar blog. His areas of interests overlap with mine, I felt. But unfortunately it looked as though we wouldn’t have an opportunity to meet.

As I was leaving Graz I made use of the free WiFi available at the airport to, indirectly, say that I was leaving:

At Graz airport. Couldn’t connect to Internet. Rebooted tablet; no joy. Started IE; saw click to connect button. Should I make IE default?

Nick was also at the airport on his way home:

@briankelly i’m here too, are you getting the frankfurt flight?

Unfortunately we were on different flights but we managed to have a brief chat before we left. This confirmed our mutual areas of interests and we agree to get in touch after we had returned home.

Twitter as the Interactive Business Card

Back in April 2008, in the early day’s of Twitter usage I wrote a post explaining one of the benefits of Twitter for academics, especially when travelling to conferences: Twitter? It’s An Interactive Business Card.

Since then the online infrastructure has developed significantly. Many people will now own a smartphone which will provide access to networked tools such as Twitter. In addition no longer is WiFi access limited to conference venues and hotels; increasingly WiFi is available. often for free, at airports and railway stations. We can now exchange our virtual business cards whilst travelling!

Trip to LACE meeting announced on FacebookSome people may have concerns about the risks of sharing their location. It’s true that there can be risks in using one’s phone in dodgy areas, but this is not normally the case in airports. And my approach to minimising the risks associated with people knowing that I am not at home is to make sure I’ve locked the doors! I also shared my location when travelling on an extended trip to south east Asia  as a way of ensuring that details of my journey were publicly available in case I had any problems on the trip.

I should also add that I also use Facebook to check in to train stations and airports when I’m travelling. Again I’ve found this useful, for example, when friends suggest places to visit while I’m travelling. However use of Facebook doesn’t provide the serendipity for making new connections which Twitter can provide.

In the past I have also explored the potential for use of dedicated geo-location services such as FourSquare and Gowalla. However I’ve found that these don’t have sufficient take-up to be of value (and Gowalla folded in 2012). I’ll therefore continue to use a combination of Twitter and Facebook when I’m travelling to work-related events.

Do others do likewise? Do you have any stories to share of the benefits of such approaches, or of the risks?


View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – [bit.ly]

Posted in Social Networking, Twitter | 2 Comments »

Guest Post: Reflections on IWMW 2014 from the University of Edinburgh

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 September 2014

In a recent guest post on this blog Mike McConnell described how the IWMW event  “is much loved by its community and reflects a collegiate and resolutely non-commercial mindset that was once taken for granted in HE” and went on to explain how the key theme for the IWMW 2014 event  was “The Year It Went From Web To Digital” and describe how there was “an unapologetic focus of the user as customer and repeated references to ‘product’ and the user experience“.

Mike was not the only participant to find this year’s event a stimulating experience which provided new insights into institutional developments.  Neil Allison, a speaker at this year’s event, attended along with a number of his colleagues from Edinburgh University. In his report on the event Neil described how “my big takeaway was the need for organisational change and executive-level buy-in to truly bring about digital transformation“. Neil, together with his colleagues Aldona GosnellMartin MorreySteven RossStratos Filalithis  and Bruce Darby have summarised their reflections on the event on the University of Edinburgh’s University Website Programme  blog. They have kindly agreed that a slightly modified version of the post can be republished here.


Higher ed web managers conference write up – Neil Allison

Last month a small group of colleagues from across the University of Edinburgh attended IWMW 2014,  the annual web managers conference held, this year, in Newcastle. I asked everyone to answer three quick questions to give you a snapshot of what they thought of the event.

The Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW) has been running for nearly 20 years now and I’ve been attending (most years) since joining the University Website Programme in 2006. This is probably the largest turnout by Edinburgh staff (apart possibly from 2012 when we hosted) and definitely the highest number of contributors with myself and Martin Morrey giving plenary talks, while Bruce Darby ran a workshop.

Blog posts on my talk at this year’s IWMW and Martin Morrey and Neil’s preview of their IWMW 2014 presentations have been published previously on the University Website Programme  blog.

As ever, the IWMW event provided a Lanyrd site to capture slides, write ups and various thoughts from contributors and attendees. I recommend you explore the resources, perhaps steered by the additional comments of colleagues which are included below.

Quick conference write ups

I asked colleagues who attended to answer three quick questions:

  1. Why did you decide to attend the conference?
  2. What was the best presentation or session?
  3. What was the big trend or takeaway point you took from the conference?

The responses from my colleagues are included below.

Aldona Gosnell

Ross Ferguson at IWMW 2014My reason for attending the IWMW conference was mostly to keep my eyes open and to listen. Not under any pressure to deliver my own presentation or sell a product, I had the luxury of not having to worry too much about what to say, and the freedom to explore whatever caught my interest. The truth is that we (the CHSS Web Team) don’t get a chance to stop and look around very often.

It is hard to choose one talk out of the many expertly delivered and entertaining IWMW presentations this year. Perhaps the one that rung particularly true for me was “Using the Start-up playbook to reboot a big University Website” by Ross Ferguson (University of Bath) as I have a long standing interest in both start-ups and big university websites. To some extent it echoed the agile processes developed in my team – especially  “release iteratively and often” and “provide ongoing support”.

I had my eyes open for any signs of the agile trend. I discovered that some of the delegates held the official SCRUM accreditation. It was interesting to meet with an official “Scrum Master” – Edele Gromley – and her team from the University of Kent. We have been trying to find our feet in the agile world for some time and come up with a successful recipe for the right balance between planning, doing and documenting.  Had I been less worried about making a nuisance of myself, I would have asked her outright – do you really have the everyday stand-up 15-minute meeting, and is that working for you guys?

Aldona is the Web Team Manager at the College of Humanities and Social Science. See Aldona’s staff profile and the HSS Web Team blog.

Martin Morrey

Martin Morrey and colleagues at IWMW 2014 conference

Martin’s answers to the questions posed by Neil are:

  1. I was speaking (!) + It’s the best way to find out what the rest of sector is doing.
  2. Ross Ferguson.  Reminded me that you can achieve change quickly if you are determined/stubborn/insensitive enough!  Also, Paul Boag on Digital Transformation.
  3. Digital Transformation.  Rethink digital experience from scratch, and from the point of view of the end-user.

Martin is the Manager of the Web Integration Team in Information Services, with responsibility for portal, web development, and graphic design services.

Steven Ross

This was the first IWMW I had attended so wasn’t sure what to expect. I hoped it would be an opportunity to gain insight into industry best practice and also a chance to pick the brains of others facing similar challenges. It’s too easy to become stuck in your institutional ways, so a reminder that others face and address similar challenges, was revitalising.

The theme that weaved its way through many diverse presentations was digital transformation.  To meet our users’ needs, we need to enable digital teams to function beyond organisational bureaucracy and dated processes. It’s clear that without organisational belief in the value of digital, we will continue to be perceived as facilitating the vision of others, rather the driver that brings improvement and keeps pace with fast evolving user demands.

Ross Ferguson’s presentation encapsulated these points well and unsurprisingly grabbed peoples’ attention. He countered the challenges we all face by presenting a brave new world where digital teams possess all the building blocks and resources required to deliver user focused services and products. Being able to quickly deliver and iterate products gives credence to this approach and generates confidence within the organisation and management.

I’ll be keeping an eye on Bath to see if the rhetoric rings true.

Steven is the Senior Digital Marketing Officer in Communications and Marketing.

Stratos Filalithis

As this was the first time I have attended the IWMW 2014 conference, my goal was to listen, learn and engage with people working within the UK Higher Education. It was a very nice opportunity to understand how common challenges are dealt in other institutions, as well as to understand different solutions or approaches to similar problems. All IWMW presentations were interesting and I was really happy that they covered an area of themes rather than focusing on a specific subjects.

I think that the presentation by Ross Ferguson (Head of the Digital team at the University of Bath), titled “Using the Start-up playbook to reboot a big University Website” really stood out, and was probably a taste of things to come on how to govern websites and digital services in general.

What was even more interesting was the following ‘birds of feathers‘ session around web governance itself where interesting conversations around how centralised and devolved models address the issue. It was apparent that there isn’t a magic solution as teams are structured in a way to suit each institution’s philosophy, business or organisational structure, while it’s too difficult to make radical changes even though they might directly fulfil their needs. It was really an optimistic touch, though, that there are initiatives, like the one at the University of Bath, which can rock the boat of web governance in UK Higher Education, if successful.

These are, certainly, interesting times and IWMW 2014 showcased the amount of change around us.

Stratos is the CMS Service Manager at the University Website Programme.

Bruce Darby

I’d heard a lot of good things about the IWMW conference but the main reason for going was that I thought it would be a good opportunity to see what issues other education institutes around the UK were concentrating on and what their approaches were. If you never leave the University to go to conferences there is a real danger you can become institutionalised!

Ross Ferguson’s talk on using start-up techniques to reboot the University of Bath’s website was also the best of great bunch for me. I felt that it was an honest and open presentation about his working practises. He’s implementing some of the things we are setting out to do with the new Drupal CMS project we’re currently working on. Three slides in particular I liked which seemed to say if you are using the agile methodology, which we are, be confident to follow these techniques and approaches through to the end however difficult it can become.

A few statements from the three slides stood out:

  1. Put users’ needs first.
  2. Keep things simple and consistent.
  3. Fail fast and lower risk.

And two final points were ‘too much product’ and ‘burn out’. I took the first to mean that there is lot of pressure to build too much into projects in one go and so ‘burn out’ is the inevitable outcome. If you are aware of this and constantly look out for it then at least that gives you some protection.

What surprised me was that quite a few universities seem to be embracing the term ‘digital’ even going as far as to include it in team and job titles. Paul Boag, who was at the conference, has been saying this for some time. It’s about incorporating digital into everything rather than seeing it something separate with its own strand and strategy.

Bruce is a Project Manager at the University Website Programme.

And finally, my thoughts …

Steven Ross at IWMW 2014 conference

I attended the conference as I think it’s a fantastic forum to network with colleagues in the sector, to learn about what they’re up to; their challenges and successes. The presentations are always varied and typically of a high standard. So great from a professional development and a social point of view. I always follow up with a few people via email or Twitter afterwards and end up with a new reading list and a few new people I can call on for an opinion or a bit of help.

Everyone has been talking about Ross Ferguson’s presentations so I will pick on something else – there were a good few excellent sessions besides him. (Martin and I for starters!) I went to a workshop session run by Richard Prowse (coincidentally from the University of Bath) in which he went through the principles of Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE) and shared his experiences of trying to implement this with his university’s prospectuses. As I suspected, it’s been a big challenge for Bath, but it sounds like his hard work will pay dividends in the years to come. It’s not the first time I’ve seen Richard speak, and his experiences in the emerging field of content strategy are always worth hearing [or reading – see Richard Prowse’s blog – Content Bear].

My big takeaway was the need for organisational change and executive-level buy-in to truly bring about digital transformation. We web management folk can do great things in our sphere of influence, but there comes a point where you have to accept that to be able to present information and services in a way that really works for the customer, then the culture of the organisation needs to change. This message came across loud and clear in the presentations of Ross Fergusson (on agile development), Paul Boag (on digital adaption) and Tracy Playle (on social media). It was also a major point in my own presentation about user experience.

I’d encourage you all to check out the conference materials available and consider coming along to next year’s conference.


About the authors

The contributors to this guest blog post are:

  • Neil Allison, Head of User Experience, University Website Programme, University of Edinburgh.
  • Aldona Gosnell, the Web Team Manager at the College of Humanities and Social Science, University of Edinburgh.
  • Martin Morrey,  Manager of the Web Integration Team in Information Services, University of Edinburgh.
  • Steven Ross, the Senior Digital Marketing Officer, Communications and Marketing, University of Edinburgh.
  • Stratos Filalithis, the CMS Service Manager at the University Website Programme, University of Edinburgh.
  • Bruce Darby, a Project Manager at the University Website Programme, University of Edinburgh.

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – [bit.ly]

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Standards for Web Applications on Mobile: Update on W3C Developments

Posted by Brian Kelly on 15 September 2014

Standards for Web Applications on Mobile: Current State and Roadmap

Back in July 2014 W3C published an overview report on Standards for Web Applications on Mobile which summarised the various technologies developed in W3C which increase the capabilities of Web applications and how they apply to use on mobile devices.

The document describes a variety of features which will enhance use of mobile devices to access Web products which are grouped into the following categories: graphics, multimedia, device adaptation, forms, user interactions, data storage, personal information management, sensors and hardware integration, network, communication and discovery, packaging, payment, performance and optimization and privacy and security.

For each of these categories a table is provided in the report which, for each of the detailed features relevant to the category, summarises the relevant standard (specification) and the W3C working group responsible for the standard. An indication is provided of the maturity of the standard and its stability (draft standards may be liable to significant changes in light of experiences gained during testing). In addition to information about the maturity and stability of the standard information is also  provided on its deployment in existing mainstream browsers together with links for developers to developer resources and test suites.

An example of the table for graphics. covering 2D vector graphics, is shown below.

Extract from chart on W3C mobile standards

Discussion

I feel that the report which summarises the current status and roadmap for future development of standards which aim to ensure that mobile devices are an integral part of the “open web platform” provides a welcomed mature approach to the complexities and obstacles which have been faced in the past in the deployment of open standards in a Web environment.

In the early days of the web there was a belief that open standards simply needed to be proven through implementation of at least two interoperable open source implementations – once that was achieved the benefits of open standards, such as platform independence, would inevitably lead to acceptance in the marketplace. That, at least, was the expectation for the W3C’s SMIL standard, which was felt to provide an open killer alternative to the proprietary Flash format.  Of course, despite the availability of a number of SMIL readers, the format failed to take off. Flash wasn’t killed by an open standard, I would argue, but by Apple decision not to support in on the iOS platform. And the eventual alternative to Flash wasn’t SMIL but a variety of W3C standards which are covered by the term “open web platform“.

I made this point in a post published in November 2008 which asked Why Did SMIL and SVG Fail? The post generated much discussion, primarily about the level of support for SVG. In August 2003 Isaac Shapira made the point that I guess in retrospect this article is very wrong. SVG is a prominent use, and has active development and support today -> in 2013“.

As can be seen from the above image this comment is correct: SVG 1.1 is now widely supported and SVG 2.0 is under development. Although, to paraphrase John Cleese “SMIL is dead. It’s passed on! This standard is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker!“. In contrast, SVG was merely resting!

Implications for the Sector

In retrospect institutional conservatism regarding the adoption of innovative open standards is understandable. Institutions may have legitimate reasons to be reluctant to upgrade the desktop environment due to the resource implications, the need for testing, etc. (There will probably also be less justifiable reasons to wish to avoid updating desktop browser as the use of systems which make use of proprietary features of specific – typically Microsoft’s Internet Explorer – browsers; however let us hope that this concern is no longer relevant!)

However W3C now appear to appreciate the need to be transparent about the take-up of their standards by mainstream browsers. This is to be applauded. The risk now, it would seem, involves the development or procurement of systems for use in a mobile context which are based on platform-specific apps.

I hope that everyone involved in the development or procurement of mobile applications, in managing staff with such responsibilities or with strategic planning for the institution’s IT environment will read the W3C’s report on Standards for Web Applications on Mobile and use the report to inform their planning. My concern would be with the senior manager, perhaps in the marketing department, who comes across information such as the recent (April 2014) infographic on “The rise of mobile technology in higher education” who makes a decision to invest on an institutional mobile app based on this evidence. Another interesting challenge will be faced by institutions which have already purchased a mobile app service, before the mobile web environment had approached its current level of maturity. Will this be the twenty-first century equivalent of the institutional Gopher service or Camus Wide Information Service? And is now the time to move to an infrastructure based on the open web platform?

Infographic on student use of mobiles

Posted in Mobile, standards | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Using Social Media to Build Your Academic Career

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10 September 2014

Background

Back on 19th June 2014 I gave an invited plenary talk on “Open Practices for Researchers” at the Research and Innovation Conference 2014 at the University of Bolton. I was pleased to have an opportunity to share my experiences with researchers at the University of Bolton, an institution which has a clear focus on teaching and learning but is seeking to develop its research activities.

The slides for the presentation are available on Slideshare. However these do not provide detailed information on the approaches I would recommend to researchers who wish to develop their professional networks and maximise access to their research outputs.

On Thursday 11th September I am giving an invited presentation on “Using Social Media to Build Your Academic Career” at  a workshop on “How to Build an Academic Career“ in Brussels for the five Flemish universities.  The workshop participants (about 60-100) will mostly be late phase PhD students and post-docs in Life Sciences but there will always be some few senior scientists.

This provides an opportunity to document in more detail the ideas I will be presenting in my talk. As well as providing a wider forum for the ideas, this blog post (as opposed to depositing a paper in a repository) makes it easier to solicit questions, comments and feedback.

Using Social Media to Build Your Academic Career

Should you use social media to support your research career?

This presentation seeks to provide a response to a rather provocative assertion posted on the Smart Scientist blog: “Social media profiles are bad for most scientists!“.

My answer to the question is that researchers should use social media to support their research career. But they should do so for specific purposes, namely to:

  1. Develop your professional network
  2. Engage in discussions and exchange of ideas with your peers
  3. Disseminate your research ideas to a wider audience

The blog post which argued that “Social media profiles are bad for most scientists!” highlighted the risks of inappropriate use of social media:

Displaying photos of yourself being drunk, undressed or being masqueraded as Adolf Hitler, a suicide bomber or a sexually overactive transvestite. Your friends may find these pictures funny, many people will find them unpleasant, crude and bad taste.

The post concludes with the advice:

The golden rule for scientists using social media profiles:

Do NOT use them – or use them professionally.

I propose a modified version of this golden rule:

The golden rule for scientists using social media profiles:

Use them – and use them professionally.

The question then is “how should researchers make use of social media to support their professional activities?” I will seek to provide answers to this question in this post. But before doing so I would like to address the implied suggestion that social media is inherently irrelevant to researchers professional activities.

Tabloid newspapers

Print media has no relevance to researchers! Really?

We could make similar claims about TV if we looked only at reality TV programmes. We could be dismissive of print media if we considered only the tabloid newspapers.  Indeed the Web could similarly be dismissed (and, in fact, was dismissed by some librarians in the early 1990s) as being irrelevant to the scholarly and research activities carried out in higher education!)

We know, of course, that another form of print media, peer-reviewed journals, is very relevant to researchers. And just as we have Keeping Up with the Kardashians we also have BBC 2’s Wonders of the Universe in which the physicist Professor Brian Cox “reveals how the most fundamental scientific principles and laws explain not only the story of the universe, but the story of us all“.

We can see that print media and the TV can be used for trivial purposes as well as supporting professional activities including exchange of ideas with one’s peers (research publications) and dissemination to the general public (as science documentaries on the TV do). Social media can also be used for a diversity of purposes, and it would be wrong to dismiss it by focussing on only its trivial (mis)-uses.

Similarly it would be a mistake to be dismissive of the ‘social’ aspects of social media. If you think about the environment in which research is disseminated consider how conferences not only provide opportunities for disseminating one’s research, receiving feedback and sharing ideas but also for developing one’s network – indeed the conference dinner and late night drinking in the bar have an important role in cultivating one’s professional network and establishing new contacts. The informal aspects of social media tools can hep support this activity.

Personal Experiences Of Benefits of Social Media

@slewth's Twitter profileI have some personal experiences of how such informal use of social media led to a successful research collaboration. A post on “It Started With A Tweet” described how I received a reply to a tweet in which I invited researchers to complete a survey on use of social media. Sarah Lewthwaite (@slewth) responded. I then looked at her Twitter profile and discovered she had similar research interests (in Web accessibility). I followed the link in her profile to her blog (if it had been to her university web site I wouldn’t have bothered doing this!) and realised that her interests and expertise complemented mine nicely. So I sent Sarah a direct message:

 BTW was interested in your short paper on Aversive Disablism and the Internet. We’ve similar interests. See http://bit.ly/8BVFt

As described in the post “Winner of John M Slatin Award at W4A 2010” that Twitter conversation led to a joint paper on “Developing countries; developing experiences: approaches to accessibility for the Real World” being written. This was accepted by the W4A 2010 conference and subsequently won an award for the best communications paper!

A related example of the tangible  benefits of use of Twitter was summarised just over 4 years ago in a post on 5,000 Tweets On published after I had posted my 5,000th tweet.  As described in the post after presented a paper at the OzeWAI 2009 conference two members of the audience sent me a tweet: @RuthEllison told me that she “enjoyed your presentation this morning about a holistic approach to accessibility #ozewai” and @scenariogirl also showed some Australian warmth: “Fantastic talk this morning, I will come up and say hi at lunch ;)”.

Having my Twitter ID on the title slide for my talk made it easier to receive feedback on the talk. In this case subsequent discussions at the conference also led to Ruth Ellison and Lisa Herrod (@scenariogirl) providing case studies from Australia which were included in the paper on From Web Accessibility to Web Adaptability which was published 6 months after we met.

Being Pro-active: An Implementation Plan

Having gained some unexpected experiences of the benefits of Twitter to support my research activities the next step was to make use of social media in a systematic way.

Use of Slideshare at W4A 2012After hearing that our paper on “A challenge to web accessibility metrics and guidelines: putting people and processes first” had been accepted by the W4A 2010 conference myself and my co-authors – Martyn Cooper (@martyncooper), David Sloan (@sloandr) and Sarah Lewthwaite (@slewth) agreed that we would be pro-active in our use of social media in order to raise awareness of our paper and the ideas outlined in the paper, hoping that this would lead to real-world actions: citations from other accessibility researchers and take-up of the ideas by practitioners.

We ensured that we knew the URLs for the key resources associated with the delivery of the paper: the URL of the paper in the institutional repository and the slides hosted on Slideshare. This enabled the co-authors to write blogs about the paper in advance and schedule them for publication during the conference.

David Sloan, who presented the paper, ensured that the Twitter IDs of the co-authors was included on the title slide, as shown. The slides concluded with links to the various blog posts and other resources (such as a YouTube video which summarised the paper) we had created.

After the conference had finished we used Topsy to analyse the Twitter discussions about the slides on Slideshare, the event hashtag (#w4a12) and the paper in the University of Bath repository.

It was pleasing to observe positive comments we received from influential Twitter users with large numbers of followers:

@stcaccess (Influential):
Enjoyed “Challenge to Web Accessibility Metrics & Guidelines” slides from @sloandr & Co. slideshare.net/sloandr/w4a12-… #w4a12 #a11y #metrics

and how such comments were shared by other influential Twitter users across their communities:

Mike Paciello @mpaciello (Influential): RT @stcaccess: Enjoyed “Challenge to Web Accessibility Metrics & Guidelines” slides from @sloandr & Co. slideshare.net/sloandr/w4a12-… #w4a12 #a11y

Since both of these Twitter users are well-known in the Web accessibility community we hoped that their actions would raise awareness of our work across their communities. But do we have any evidence that our pro-active approaches was successful in raising the visibility of our work?

Shortly after the conference had finished I analysed the Slideshare usage statistics for the three sets of slides which had been tagged with the conference hashtag. I found that after a week our slides had 1,391 views while the others had 3 and 311 views. It would appear that you need to be proactive if you wish people to view your resources – which it probably a truism which is relevant to many digital resources.

But did the popularity of the slides lead to a corresponding interest in the paper itself? The answer is yes: the download statistics for 2012 show that the paper was the third most downloaded of my papers during the year. The downloads also led to citations with Google Scholar Citations reporting that there have been 12 citations of the paper to date.

Aggregate Links to Your Papers

Whilst use of social media to raise awareness of your research activities engage others in discussions about the ideas is an important aspect of use of social media it would be a mistake to ignore the importance of Google – after all this is probably the most important tool people use for finding your research papers, especially once the buzz associated with a conference is over.

ResearchGate_profile: Brian KellyFor some time I have made use of various third-party services for profiling my professional activities. LinkedIn is an important tool for providing an online CV. However in addition to using it to provide a summary of my skills and expertise  a few years ago I used it to include links to all of my peer-reviewed papers.

As researcher profiling services, such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu, grew in popularity I started to use these services to provide additional links to my peer-reviewed papers, which were hosted in Opus, the University of Bath institutional repository.

I then realised that links from such popular services to the Opus repository was likely to enhance the visibility of papers in the repository to Google, as Google ranking algorithms make use of the numbers of links from popular Web sites as an indication of relevance. This led to myself and Jenny Delasalle writing a paper which asked Can LinkedIn and Academia.edu Enhance Access to Open Repositories? We concluded:

A survey of use of such services across Russell Group universities shows the popularity of a number of social media services. In the light of existing usage of these services this paper proposes that institutional encouragement of their use by researchers may generate increased accesses to institutional research publications at little cost to the institution.

I now make use of LinkedIn, ResearchGate and Academia.edu to provide details of my research papers. This is an approach I would recommend to others – and since the profile is likely to require updating on change of jobs or significant change of responsibilities and new content needs to be uploaded only when new papers are published the maintenance work need not be too onerous,- unless you are a very productive researcher!

Reviewing the Evidence

This post has summarised personal approaches to use of social media to support my research activities. But what evidence is there of the value of such approaches?

OPUS statistics: Top authors on 8 Sept 2014As illustrated, the download statistics for Opus, the University of Bath institutional repository, show that my papers have, in total, been downloaded over 51,000 times, compared with over 14,000 and 13,000 downloads for the authors with the next largest numbers of downloads.

There may be a number of reasons for such popularity including:

  1. The quality of the papers.
  2. Effective use of SEO (search engine optimisation) approaches.
  3. Use of unethical ‘black hat’ SEO approaches.

I feel that the second reason is the most likely reason for the large number of downloads. But does this lead to increased number of citations?

According to Google Scholar Citations I currently have a h-index score of 13 and an i10-index score of 18 (as shown below).

Google Scholar Citations (August 2014)

I do not find it strange that in order to maximise the numbers of citations you need to maximise the numbers of your peers (the people who are likely to cite your papers) who download and read the papers. Since, if cultivated appropriately,  your professional social network is likely to comprise of fellow professionals who have similar research interest to yours we should not be surprised at the effectiveness of social networks to develop one’s research career. But do other researchers have similar experiences.

In a blog post entitled “The verdict: is blogging or tweeting about research papers worth it?” Melissa Terras described how:

In October 2011 I began a project to make all of my 26 articles published in refereed journals available via UCL’s Open Access Repository – “Discovery“. I decided that as well as putting them in the institutional repository, I would write a blog post about each research project, and tweet the papers for download. Would this affect how much my research was read, known, discussed, distributed?

Melissa Terras's download statisticsWas this activity successful? Melissa concluded that:

Most of my papers, before I blogged and tweeted them, had one to two downloads, even if they had been in the repository for months (or years, in some cases). Upon blogging and tweeting, within 24 hours, there were, on average, 70 downloads of my papers. Now, this might not be internet meme status, but that’s a huge leap in interest.

The effectiveness of tweeting links to peer-reviewed papers is shown in the accompanying image. It may be that Melissa gained benefits of being an early adopter of use of Twitter in this way. These days I would feel that there is a need to ensure that you tweet links to papers at an appropriate time or context (e.g. when the paper is first deposited; during a conference when it is being presented or when the content of the paper is appropriate to a Twitter discussion.

In an article by Athene Donald, a professor of physics at the University of Cambridge, published on Physics Focus Professor Donald argued that “Tweeting and blogging aren’t wastes of academics’ time – they can be valuable outreach“. She concluded by asking researchers:

isn’t it time you considered blogging and tweeting as part of your professional activity, not just something you ascribe as being only suitable for teenagers or those with time to kill?

What Can I Do?

If you agree with Professor Donald your first question might be “What do I do?“. For those who are new to social media my suggestions are:

  • Identify your personal objectives: Have a clear idea of what you wish to gain from use of social media to further your career as a researcher. Do you wish to use social media simply as a broadcast media to announce your professional activities or will you prefer to engage in discussions with your peers?
  • Identify and follow/engage with your peers: For an effective professional network you will need to establish connections with your peers. Note that even if you are an experienced user of social networks there are likely to be times in your career when you have new responsibilities or areas of work, so you may still need to implement strategies for following and engaging with new peers. Conferences you have an interest in which have a Twitter hashtag provide an ideal opportunity to identify your peers and add them to your Twitter network.
  • Try Twitter for at least 10 days: After you have signed up for a Twitter account you should try and use it on a daily basis for at least ten days. This can help you to ‘get it’. Note that it order to make effective use of Twitter to support your research career you will need to reach a critical mass for your Twitter  community.
  • Make use of social sharing services for your resources: If you give presentations you may find that hosting your slides on a resource sharing service such as Slideshare can provide an effective way of developing your professional network: unlike hosting your slides on your institutional Web side, using a service such as Slideshare enable your slides to be publicly favourited by others and enables other Slideshare users to be notified when new slides are uploaded.

Once you have created and started to make use of a social media services you should ensure that you manage the network and explore additional tools and services you can use:

  • Update your LinkedIn account: LinkedIn is a generic online CV service. As described in a paper which asked Can LinkedIn and Academia.edu Enhance Access to Open Repositories? presented at OR 2012: the 7th International Conference on Open Repositories since LinkedIn is such a popular service links from the service to papers hosted in an institutional repository are likely to enhance the discoverability (the ‘Google juice’)  of paper in the repository. It can therefore be beneficial to include links to your research outputs to your LinkedIn profile.
  • Create an account on a researcher profiling service: Services such as ResearchGate and Academia.edu can complement use of LinkedIn by providing added exposure to your research papers.
  • Monitor use of Twitter through (freely-available) Twitter analytic tools: As described in a post on The Launch of Twitter’s Analytics Service and Thoughts on Free Alternatives a number of analytics tools are available which can help you to gain a better understanding of your use of Twitter and your Twitter community.

Managing Information Overload

Researchgate: configuration optionsInformation overload is a concern sometimes raised regarding use of social media.

By default many social media will try and maximise the time users spend on their web sites as these ‘eyeballs’ can be monetised, typically through advertising.

Although advertising on web sites tends not to be very popular, there is a need to acknowledge that the services do need to have some means of raising money to provide their services.

The good news is that many services enable alerts to be configured: there is no need to accept the default settings.

In order to avoid the need to visit Web sites in order to see if your papers have been commented on, favourite, accessed, etc. you can choose to receive email alerts. Many services will allow you to select the activities for which you wish to be notified. ResearchGate, for example, has notification settings for Profile, Network, Q&A, Publications and Job email alerts (there are over 60 activities which can be managed).

Similarly in order to provide management capabilities for lively Twitter streams back in May 2014 Twitter announced “Another way to edit your Twitter experience: with mute“.

Such approaches won’t eliminate the problems of information overload, but can ensure that such concerns can be managed.

Of course another solution to the problems of information overload caused by social media would be to avoid social media completely. This is an extreme way of managing the problems (as you will also fail to gain any of the benefits). However there is nothing to stop you choosing to switch off social media channels when you are on holiday, at weekends or on other occasions when you need  break form your professional activities.

Addressing Other Barriers

The risks and opportunities frameworkThere are other barriers to effective use of social media for supporting one’s research career. A paper on a risks and opportunities framework was described in a paper on Library 2.0: Balancing the Risks and Benefits to Maximise the Dividends which was later enhanced in a paper on Empowering Users and Institutions: A Risks and Opportunities Framework for Exploiting the Social Web to include details of ways of addressing copyright risks.

In brief, yes there are risks in using social media to support one’s research activities. However there are also risks in failing to use social media (the missed opportunities) as well as risks in simply continuing to make use of existing institutional tools.

The risks and opportunities framework provides a structure for identifying and documenting risks and strategies for minimising such risks.

Conclusions

This post is longer than normal. If you have skipped straight to the conclusions here is the TL;DR summary:

Social media is valuable for researchers in enabling them to easily exchange ideas and engage in discussions with their peers and potential beneficiaries of their research. The evidence demonstrates the value of managed use of social media.

Resources

The slides used in the presentation are available on Slideshare and embedded below.


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Posted in openness, Social Networking | Leave a Comment »

Guest Post : It’s Not About Technology! The Digital Challenge is Institutional

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4 September 2014

Mike McConnell has attended many of the IWMW events which have been held since its launch in 1997. This year’s event made a particular impression, particularly with its focus on ‘digital’ rather than ‘web’. In this guest post Mike reflects on the event and describes the moves towards digital taking place at his host institution, the University of Aberdeen.


In June I attended the Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW 2014) event which was held at the University of Northumbria. IWMW is primarily aimed at Higher Education (HE) web managers and their teams and has been running as an annual event since 1997. Its ponderous and slightly quaint title is much loved by its community and reflects a collegiate and resolutely non-commercial mindset that was once taken for granted in HE.

I have attended IWMW, on and off, almost since its inception and each conference seems to have its defining, epochal ‘thing’, which often overshadows the formal agenda, e.g.  The Year Of The CMS, The Year Of The Rejection Of The CMS, The Year We Daringly Asked Marketing People Along, The Year The Everything Became Irrelevant Because Of Web 2.0, and so on. This year’s formal title was ‘Rebooting The Web’ but the real ‘thing’ was The Year It Went From Web To Digital. There was an unapologetic focus of the user as customer and repeated references to ‘product’ and the user experience.

I expect that before too long the word ‘digital’ in this context will sound as anachronistic as Web 2.0 but currently it makes the term ‘Web’ itself sound dated. My view is that this is because, to an extent, the community has ‘solved’ the Web, if Web is defined as technologies related to the traditional university website. Of course there are massive, ongoing operational issues related to university websites, but the challenge is no longer primarily a technological one.

The disintermediation brought about by social media was an early indicator for institutions of the disruptive effect of digital. Many have risen to the social media challenge, but social is only a piece of the digital jigsaw. Digital goes beyond web and marketing; it is about institutions, how they are structured and how they respond to change. The traditional guardians of Web – IT and Marketing – find that digital increasingly requires them to operate outside their normal spheres of influence – it is a business-wide problem that requires strategy, governance, technology, people and processes. How can IT and Marketing effect the scope of change required?

At my own institution, the University of Aberdeen, awareness of the digital issue grew out of a traditional Web project to implement a new information architecture (IA) for the University site. Once the IA had been approved and the templates created in the CMS, it became increasingly apparent that the challenge was no longer a technological one but was instead related to content, ownership and governance. It became apparent that there was no-one at all in the entire institution who wrote content for the Web as part of their formal duties. This might seem startling to non-HE readers, but I suspect it is not just our institution where this was the case.

The result of this was that we created a new type of role, the Digital Communications Officer (DCO). The DCO job description included the model skills we felt were lacking in the institution’s web authors: writing for the Web, an understanding of IA, web usability and user experience, social marketing experience and the ability to utilise analytics to inform web design.

Our initial appointment of two DCOs and the adoption of a third from another role proved to be transformative for the traditional website. Almost immediately the Web Team were released from having to make decisions about governance and content. The DCOs rationalised website structures and used analytics data to make their arguments. The website became smaller, more effective and standardised.

However, the DCOs also started asking awkward questions. Why is the site not responsive? What is the brand? Why does the architecture reflect the institution and not user journeys? Why do we not have a content strategy? And so on. In short, all the questions that the Web Team had been aware of for years but not had the time, resource or authority to do anything about.

The result was that we managed to persuade the University to create a Digital Strategy Group (DSG). The DSG is a traditional University committee, comprising senior staff from across the institution as well as Web staff and the DCOs. Its remit is “to provide high level direction for the delivery and resourcing of the University’s digital engagement, including the production of an overall digital strategy”.

At the time of writing, the group has convened three times. At the first meeting the group was presented with a vision piece from some third party consultants. This showed a digitally enabled student journey, from applicant to student, alumnus and beyond.

This was tremendously helpful for showcasing the potential opportunities of digital. DSG members responded with enthusiasm, the result of which was that we engaged with the consultants for 5 days of ‘discovery’ work to ascertain our digital readiness. The consultants conducted 3 days of interviews with staff from across the institution to understand activities, strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats.

The results of this discovery work were presented at the second meeting of the committee. Findings were broadly as follows:

  • There is lots of digital-type activity ongoing in the institution, much of which is good, but there is no overall vision for this, or alignment with strategic objectives.
  • There are varying levels of digital understanding across the institution and no individual interviewed has a complete vision.
  • The University does not currently have the structures or targeted resources in place to deliver a digital vision.
  • The University does not need separate digital strategy; rather it requires an overall business strategy that is fit for the digital age.

It has been difficult for the DSG to convey the universal scope of the digital challenge and indeed group members themselves have differing interests and views. It is hard to explain to some staff that, for example, for a student to have a responsive, seamless customer experience on the front-end website that the institution might require a customer relationship management (CRM) system and beyond that an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). Understandably, such systems and concepts can be alien to many of the key University decision makers.

The DSG acknowledged that to overcome these challenges and identify and articulate a digital vision for the institution it was desirable to seek outside expertise. The University therefore went to tender for support. The following text is abstracted from the tender documents:

This Invitation to Tender (ITT) is issued as part of an initiative to define a digital vision for the University of Aberdeen; to ensure that this is embedded in University strategy, and to help assess what people, systems and processes are necessary to deliver this vision.

The University wishes to define a digital vision that will enable it to achieve its strategic ambitions; differentiate itself significantly from its competitors; engage with all its major stakeholders and customers, and enhance and develop its brand.

It is suggested that in order to achieve this, suppliers might wish to follow the following methodology:

  1. A discovery phase, which would provide a detailed understanding of current capabilities and activities; market analysis, and customer groups
  2. A vision stage, which would identify and prioritise ideas; run research with target groups; identify opportunities, strategic aims and an operating model, and formulate a business case
  3. A planning stage, which would produce a high level business plan, options and recommendations

Suppliers are however welcome to suggest alternative methodologies and outputs to help the University achieve the objectives defined above.

The tender was deliberately written in broad terms because the DSG wished suppliers to engage with the University prior to submission and also because the DSG itself was unclear on what the strategic objectives should be, prior to any visioning stage. Concerns that suppliers would find this confusing or off-putting have proved to be unfounded and we have been encouraged by how many suppliers seem to ‘get it’. Almost all understand the scope of the issue and that it is not about technology – at least at this stage.

The tender has now concluded and we have had healthy number of responses. The DSG trust that the exercise will provide us with a digital vision that is broad in scope and world class in its ambition.

However, I am conscious that despite the University’s aspirations, we are approaching this challenge using traditional methodologies – committees and projects – and existing structures. I am curious how other HE institutions are approaching the digital challenge and would ask colleagues the following questions:

  • What is the focus of your digital activity: student lifecycle, research, alumni, donors, public engagement?
  • Who owns digital: Marketing, IT, senior management?
  • Who drives digital: is it top down or bottom up?
  • What new roles or teams are required?
  • What has changed about the institution? What should change?
  • What effect has this had?
  • What does digital ‘success’ look like?

About the Author

Mike McConnell

Mike McConnell is Business Application Manager in IT Services at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. He manages the Web and Corporate Systems teams who are responsible for digital, web and corporate applications development.

His main duties are:

  • Leading on institutional IT digital strategy, including web and mobile development.
  • Supporting and developing the institutional corporate systems environment including Finance, HR, Admissions and Student Record systems.
  • Supporting and developing the institutional SharePoint and CRM environments.

Contact details:

LinkedIn: mikeramcconnell

Twitter: @mike_mcconnell

 


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Posted in Guest-post | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

The Launch of Twitter’s Analytics Service and Thoughts on Free Alternatives

Posted by Brian Kelly on 1 September 2014

The Launch of Twitter’s Analytics Service

It was via a tweet I received last week when I first heard the news about the public launch of Twitter’s analytics service:

Today, opened its analytics platform to the public TLDR: Images get more engagement

This tweet was of particular interest as it not only provided news of the new service and a link to a post in which the service was reviewed but also a brief summary of findings from the analysis of the posters’ use of Twitter with suggestions for best practice: “Images get more engagement“. The longer version explained how:

Finally, what Twitter Media and News staff had already told people who are listening is backed up by what they’re showing me: including pictures, maps and graphics in your tweets will raises your “engagement” numbers, at least as measured by people resharing tweets, favoriting them, @mentioning or @replying to them.

Twitter analytics for briankellyAs illustrated the service provides statistics on tweets (potential impressions, engagement and engagement rate). Additional tabs provide information on followers (changes in the numbers of followers and profiles of their gender, location and interests) and Twitter cards.

If you don’t use Twitter, make small-scale use of the tool or use it purely for social purposes you probably won’t have an interest in what the analytics may tell you about your use of the tool. However increasingly researchers will have an interest in use of alt.metrics measures which provide indications of interest in their research outputs. In additional research support librarians will have an interest in this area in order to support and advice their users. Finally, those involved in digital marketing are likely to be interested in the information provided by this new service.

Other Analytic Tools

There are, of course, a number of other Twitter analytics tools.

TweepsmapI use Tweetstats which, as illustrated, provided a display of the locations of one’s followers. The free version of the tool also provides information on inactive Twitter followers and other profiles of one’s followers, although subscription to the premium service is needed for the full range of services.

I also use Sumall which provides similar information for which ‘payment’ consists of a public tweet about one’s metrics which is published weekly:

My week on twitter: 2 New Followers, 3 Mentions, 3.66K Mention Reach, 6 Replies, 14 Retweets. via sumall.com/myweek

TwtrlandThe other tool I use is Twtrland. I receive a weekly email summary from this service but I’ve not logged in to the dashboard for some time but, as show, the free version does appear to provide a comprehensive set of information.

Finally I should mentioned Social Bro.  I’ve used this tool in the past and found that the free version was useful in providing recommendations on the best time to tweet and in profiling my followers’ community (e.g. I found that people I follow typically tweet on a daily basis, publish between 1 and 5 tweets daily and follow between 100 and 500 Twitter accounts.  This, for me, was a particularly useful insight into ‘normal’ Twitter use patterns and helped confirm my belief that to make effective use of Twitter to support one’s professional interests  you will need to achieve a critical mass for your Twitter community.

Unfortunately the free version of this service is only available in you have a total Twitter community (your followers and the accounts you follow) which is less than 5,000. Since my community exceeds this by a few hundred I am not able to give an update on the information the tool currently provides, but I did find it useful when I first used it.

Your Thoughts

I’d be interested in hearing about other Twitter analytics tools which people find useful, especially free services which are appropriate for researchers who will not be in a position to afford premium accounts which may be used by those who work in marketing departments. And is anyone advising researchers on such tools (including the dangers of reading too much into the information provided!)


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Posted in Evidence, Twitter | 5 Comments »

Links From Wikipedia to Russell Group University Repositories

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 August 2014

Wikipedia as the Front Matter to all Research

A session at the recent Wikimania conference provided an opportunity for discussion on the topics: “The fount of all knowledge – wikipedia as the front matter to all research“. The abstract describes how:

This discussion focuses on how Wikipedia could become the entry or discovery point to all significant research for the general public, and for scholars who are working just outside of the topic of interest. For most people, even researchers from closely related areas, summaries and explanations of a piece of research can be a crucial means both to discover and to begin to get into a new piece of research.

Currently overviews of research topics are supported through two mechanisms: reviews and “front matter” content. A review is a systematic summary of a field, written by an expert. These go out of date quickly, particularly in rapidly moving areas of research. Front matter is “News and Views” pieces, often found at the “front” of scientific journals that explain newly published research and put it in context. This often includes a discussion of explaining how the research is an important advance and its broader societal implications.

Both of these functions could easily be provided in a more up to date and scalable manner by tapping into a global community of experts. Wikipedia articles are often the top web search result for initial queries in many research areas and these articles are a major source of traffic for scientific journals. As the first port of call for many users of research and a significant discovery route the potential for Wikipedia as a form of dynamic, expertly curated “front matter” for the whole research literature is substantial. This facilitated discussion session will focus on how this role could be enhanced, what is currently missing and what risks exist in taking this route.

Reading this I wondered about the extent to which Wikipedia articles currently link to papers hosted in institutional repositories.

In order to explore this question I made use of Wikipedia’s External links search tool to monitor the number of links to from Wikipedia pages from to institutional repositories provided by the Russell Group universities.

The survey was carried out on 28 August 2014 using the service. Note that the current finding can be obtained by following the link in the final column.

Table 1: Numbers of Links to Wikipedia from Repositories Hosted at Russell Group Universities
Ref.

No.

Institutional Repository Details Nos. of links

from Wikipedia

View Results
1   2 [Link]
2
InstitutionUniversity of Bristol
Repository used: ROSE (http://rose.bris.ac.uk/)
  6 [Link]
3  82  [Link]
4
InstitutionCardiff University
Repository usedORCA (http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/)
   1  [Link]
5
InstitutionUniversity of Durham
Repository usedDRO (http://dro.dur.ac.uk/)
109  [Link]
6  55 [Link]
7
InstitutionUniversity of Exeter
 17 [Link]
8
InstitutionUniversity of Glasgow
120 [Link]
9
InstitutionImperial College
   5 [Link]
10
Repository used: King’s Research Portal (https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/)
  45 [Link]
11
InstitutionUniversity of Leeds
  65 [Link]
12    1 [Link]
13
InstitutionLSE
 186 [Link]
14    74 [Link]
15
InstitutionNewcastle University
   4 [Link]
16   10 [Link]
17
InstitutionUniversity of Oxford
Repository usedORA (http://ora.ouls.ox.ac.uk/)
   19 [Link]
18
Repository used: QMRO (https://qmro.qmul.ac.uk/)
  15 [Link]
19     3 [Link]
20
Repository used: The University of Sheffield also uses the White Rose repository which is also used by Leeds and York. See the Leeds entry for the statistics.
 (65) [Link]
21  134 [Link]
22   98 [Link]
23
InstitutionUniversity of Warwick
Repository usedWRAP (http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/)
  57 [Link]
24
InstitutionUniversity of York
Repository used: The University of York uses the White Rose repository which is also used by Leeds and Sheffield. See the Leeds entry for the statistics.
  (65) [Link]
 Total 1,108

NOTE:

  • The URL of the repositories is taken from the OpenDOAR service.
  • Since the universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York share a repository the figures are provided in the entry for Leeds.
  • A number of institutions appear to host more than one research repository. In such cases the repository which appears to be the main research repository for the institution is used.

Discussion

The Survey Methodology

It should be noted that this initial survey does note pretend to provide an answer to the question “How many research papers hosted by institutional repositories provided by Russell group universities are cited in Wikipedia articles?” Rather the survey reflects the use of this blog as an ‘open notebook’ in which the initial steps in gathering evidence are documented openly in order to solicit feedback on the methodology. This post also documents flaws and limitations in the methodology in order that others who may wish to use similar approaches are aware of the limitations. Possible ways in which such limitations can be addressed are given and feedback is welcomed.

In particular it should be noted that the search engine used in the survey covers all public pages on the Wikipedia web site and not just Wikipedia articles. It includes Talk pages and user profile pages.

In addition the repository web sites include a variety of resources and not just research papers; for example it was observed that some user profile pages for researchers provide links to their profile on their institutional repository.

It was also noticed that some of the files linked to from Wikipedia were listed in the search results as PDFs. Since it seems likely that PDFs referenced on Wikipedia which are hosted on institutional repositories will be research papers a more accurate reflection on the number of research papers which are cited in institutional repositories may be obtained by filtering the findings to include only PDF results.

In addition if the findings from the search tool were restricted to Wikimedia articles only (and omitted Talk pages, user profile pages, etc.) we should get a better understanding of the extent to which Wikipedia is being used as the “front matter” to research hosted in Russell group university institutional repositories.

If any Wikipedia developers would be interested in talking up this challenge, this could help to provide a more meaningful benchmark which could be useful in monitoring trends.

Policy Implications of Encouraging Wikipedia to Act as the Front Matter to Research

Links from Wikipedia to Instituoonal Repositories (pie chart)There are risks when gathering such data that observers with vested interests will seek to make too much of the findings if they suggest a league table, particularly if there seem to be runaway leaders.

However as can be seen from the accompanying pie chart in this case no single institutional repository has more than 17% of the total number of links (and remember that these figures are flawed due to the reasons summarised above).

However there will be interesting policy implications if universities agree with the suggestion that Wikipedia can act as “the front matter to all research”, especially if links from Wikipedia to the institution’s repository results in increased traffic to the repository. Another way of characterising the proposal would be to suggest that Wikipedia can act as “the marketing tool to an institution’s research outputs”.

This could easily lead to institutions failing to abide by Wikipedia’s core principles regarding providing content updates from a neutral point of view and a failure to abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s terms of use.

Earlier today I came across an article entitled “So who’s editing the SNHU Wikipedia page?” which described how analysis of editing patterns and deviations from the norm may be indicative of inappropriate Wikipedia editing strategies, such as pay-for updates to institutional Wikipedia articles.

The article also pointed out how the PR sector has responded to criticisms that PR companies have been failing to abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s terms of use: Top PR Firms Promise They Won’t Edit Clients’ Wikipedia Entries on the Sly. The article describes the Statement on Wikipedia from participating communications firms which is hosted on Wikipedia. The following statement was issued in 10 June 2014:

On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia’s unique and important role as a public knowledge resource. We also acknowledge that the prior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationship with the community of Wikipedia editors.

Our firms believe that it is in the best interest of our industry, and Wikipedia users at large, that Wikipedia fulfill its mission of developing an accurate and objective online encyclopedia. Therefore, it is wise for communications professionals to follow Wikipedia policies as part of ethical engagement practices.

We therefore publicly state and commit, on behalf of our respective firms, to the best of our ability, to abide by the following principles:

  • To seek to better understand the fundamental principles guiding Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects.
  • To act in accordance with Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines, particularly those related to “conflict of interest.”
  • To abide by the Wikimedia Foundation’s Terms of Use.
  • To the extent we become aware of potential violations of Wikipedia policies by our respective firms, to investigate the matter and seek corrective action, as appropriate and consistent with our policies.
  • Beyond our own firms, to take steps to publicize our views and counsel our clients and peers to conduct themselves accordingly.

We also seek opportunities for a productive and transparent dialogue with Wikipedia editors, inasmuch as we can provide accurate, up-to-date, and verifiable information that helps Wikipedia better achieve its goals.

A significant improvement in relations between our two communities may not occur quickly or easily, but it is our intention to do what we can to create a long-term positive change and contribute toward Wikipedia’s continued success.

If we wish to see Wikipedia acting as the front matter to research provided by the university sector should we be seeking to develop a similar statement on how we will do this whilst ensuring that we act in accordance with Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines? Of course the challenge would then be to identify what the appropriate best practices should be.


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Launch of the NMC Horizon Report 2014 Library Edition

Posted by Brian Kelly on 20 August 2014

The NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition

The NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition was launched earlier today at the IFLA 2014 conference.

NMC horizon report 2014: LibrariesAs described on the NMC Horizon web site:

The NMC Horizon Project charts the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning, and research, creative inquiry. Launched in 2002, it epitomizes the mission of the NMC to help educators and thought leaders across the world build upon the innovation happening at their institutions by providing them with expert research and analysis. 

I was pleased to have been invited to have been invited to have been invited to participate in the NMC Horizon Project Library Expert Panel, one of only three invited experts from the UK. My colleagues at Cetis have previously been involved in NMC Horizon Report Regional Analyses on the Technology Outlook: UK Tertiary Education 2011-2016. My contribution to this volume, the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition, is based on my recent work in predicting technological developments which was described in a paper by myself and Paul Hollins in a paper on “Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow” presented at the Umbrella 2013 conference together with workshop sessions on this subject this year at two library conferences this year: SAOIM (Southern African Online Information Meeting) 2014 and ELAG (European Libraries Automation Group) 2014.

About the Report

The report examines key trends, significant challenges and emerging technologies for their potential impact on academic and research libraries worldwide. panel. Over the course of three months in spring 2014, the 2014 Horizon Project Library Expert Panel came to a consensus about the topics that would appear in the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition.

The report summarises the trends which are accelerating technology adoption in academic and research libraries; the challenges impeding technology adoption in academic and research libraries and important technological developments for academic and research libraries. As shown in the accompanying image the expert panel identified 18 topics very likely to impact technology planning and decision-making: six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology.

The important technological developments highlighted in the report, especially, in the short term, electronic publishing and mobile apps and, in the medium term, bibliometrics and citation technologies and open content, will probably be familiar to most readers of this blog. Similarly the key trends driving adoption of technologies (an increasing focus on research data management (RDM) for publications and prioritization of mobile content and delivery in the short term; the evolving nature of the scholarly record and the increasing accessibility of research content in the medium term and the continual progress in technology, standards, and infrastructure and the rise of new forms of multidisciplinary research in the longer term) are topics which are widely discussed on library mailing lists and at events for academic librarians.

However it is the challenges which are impeding technology adoption in academic and research libraries which I found of particular interest. Identifying technological developments and associated trends which may drive adoption of technologies is less threatening than the identification of the challenges which are impeding adoption of the technologies within libraries. I found the way in which such challenges had been categorised particularly interesting: solvable challenges which we understand and know how to solve; difficult challenges which we understand but for which solutions are elusive and wicked challenges which are complex to even define, much less address.

What Next?

Understanding the Key Questions in Your Organisational Context

I recommend that those who work in academic libraries and have responsibilities for policy-making or implementing new technologies should read this report. But it should be recognised that reading the report will lead to further questions rather than simply providing answers. Some questions to be considered include: ‘Are the technological developments highlighted in the report relevant to my library in my particular institutional context?’ and ‘Do the trends driving technology adoption which have been identified by an expert panel from 16 countries reflect the trends relevant in my country?’ And, of particular relevance for specific institutions, ‘What are the key challenges our library will face in the short-term, medium-term and long-term which will impede the adoption of relevant technologies?’.

Once these questions have ben re-formulated from an institutional context there will then be a need to answer the question: What should we do next?

ILI 2014 programme: Track AA particular strength of the methodology used by the NMC Horizon team in producing their report is in assembling a team of experts from a variety of backgrounds who can help ensure that a broad range of interests and experiences are used to inform the discussions which inform the production of the final report.

Conferences, especially international conferences, provide another mechanism for hearing about different approaches being taken across the library sector to addressing particular drivers and challenges in order to exploit technological developments.

ILI 2014: Hearing About Other Technology Developments

The ILI 2014 conference takes place in London on 21-22nd October 2014. This conference, for which I’m a member of the advisory committee, will provide an opportunity to hear about technology-related trends in libraries.

As illustrated, the opening day of the conference explores new blueprints for libraries, with track A on New Blueprints for Libraries beginning with a session on Tomorrow’s world today – trends in library services and followed by a session on Redesigning library services.

ILI 2014 programme: Track BAt the same time I will be facilitating the opening session for track B on Technology Innovation and Impact. Following my summary of the NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition there will be a session on ‘Real-world tech’ which will cover examples of use of 3D printers and augmented reality in a library context followed by a session on ‘Driving change with technology partners’.

The theme for ILI 2014 is “Positive Change: Creating Real Impact“. The conference web site explains how attendance at the conference can help librarians to:

  • UNDERSTAND the changes you can make to ensure your communities thrive
  • LEARN about emerging models and roles that meet the changing demands of end-users
  • HEAR how libraries – and librarians – must change to be future ready
  • TAKE HOME new skills and ideas for transformative new services to impact positively on your organisation

If you’re attending the conference and have an interest in technological developments, the drivers which can help accelerate the take-up of such developments and the barriers to their deployment feel free to either leave a comment on this blog or get in touch and I’ll try to address comments I receive during the session. Of course even if you’re not attending the conference I’d welcome your thoughts on the report.


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