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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Librarians, Change or be Irrelevant!

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 16 October 2012

“Change or be Irrelevant!”

Change or be Irrelevant” was the title of Lukas Koster’s blog post in which he gave his reflections on the EMTACL12 (Emerging Technologies in Academic Libraries) conference which was held recently in Trondheim.

The need to be able to adapt to the requirements of the rapidly changing technical and economic contexts faced by those working in higher education was highlighted by Karen Coyle in her invited plenary talk entitled “Think ‘Different’“. Lukas provided a useful summary of the talk:

Think “different”’ is what Karen Coyle told us, using the famous Steve Jobs quote. And yes, the quotes around “different” are there for a reason, it’s not the grammatically correct “think differently”, because that’s too easy.  What is meant here is: you have to have the term “different” in your mind all the time. Karen Coyle confronted us with a number of ingrained obsolete practices in libraries.

But what are the technological developments which may have an impact on the academic library sector? In the closing talk at the conference I presented a paper on “What Next for Libraries? Making Sense of the Future” (available in PDF and MS Word formats) in which I described the evidence-based methodology used by the JISC Observatory team which aims to help organisations wishing to identify signals of technological developments which may have a significant impact on working practices.

In my talk (which is available on Slideshare) I reminded the audience of the inventions from the days of our youth which failed to live up to our expectations, including the monorail (which we’d use to travel to work, lunar bases (where we’d go for our holidays) and the jetpack. Patrick Hochstenbach picked up on my suggestion of the relevance of jetpacks for librarians in a cartoon in which he depicted a “super shush librarian” who makes sure that patrons aren’t making unnecessary noises in a distributed library environment :-)

Although some may be critical of the stereotype, I felt this provided a useful depiction of the way in which we expect inventions to simple automate existing practices, rather than transform such practices. This, therefore, illustrated the point I made about space travel: we may have expected the lunar landing which took place in 1969 to lead to further space exploration, including bases on the moon and possible Mars. In reality, however, manned space exploration ceased with the last manned mission to the moon taking place as long ago as December 1972. Rather than the manned space exploration we may have expected, we sent unmanned rockets to Mars, the moon and around the solar system (indeed last week we heard the news that the deep space probe Voyager 1 had left the solar system).

Preparing For Change; Preparing to be Relevant

Recently the JISC Observatory has published a report on Preparing for Data-driven Infrastructure and the final version of a report on Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of eBooks in Education, is due to be published in a few weeks time. These are two of the areas which JISC Observatory team members have identified as likely to be significant for the higher education sector. I would also add that these are areas which will be relevant for those working in academic libraries. There should be no need to mention the importance of the Mobile Web which was another area addressed in a JISC Observatory report on Delivering Web to Mobile.

The theme of preparing for change and preparing to be relevant is also being addressed at ILI 2012, the Internet Librarian International conference which takes place in London on 30-31 October. This year the event has the byline “Re-imagine, Renew, Reboot: Innovating for Success“. I’ll be giving a talk on “Making Sense of the Future” which will explore the ideas described in this post and the paper presented at the EMTACL12 conference. For those who can’t attend, I’ve summarised the presentation in the following cartoon :-)

Twitter conversation from: [Topsy]

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What Next for Libraries? Making Sense of the Future

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 2 October 2012

Tomorrow I’ll be giving an invited talk on “What Next for Libraries? Making Sense of the Future” at the Emerging Technologies in Academic Libraries 2012 Conference (emtacl12) which is being held at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology University Library in Trondheim, Norway.

The slides for the talk are available on Slideshare and are embedded below. In addition an accompanying paper is available on Opus, the University of Bath repository, in MS Word and PDF formats.

Twitter conversation from: [Topsy]

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Further Reflections on IWMW 2012

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 21 September 2012

Networking at Our Dynamic Earth at the IWMW 2012 event.

We are currently in the process of finalising a venue for UKOLN’s IWMW 2013 event. Next year’s event will be the 17th in the series of annual events which, as described in the newcomer’s session at IWMW 2012, aims to “keep web managers up-to-date with developments and best practices in order that institutions can exploit the Web to its full potential“.

But before becoming too immersed in the detailed planning it would be useful to look back at the IWMW 2012 event which took place in June at the University of Edinburgh. I have previously summarised the participants’ feedback from the event. When I received an email from the Scottish Web Folk mailing list about a regional meeting taking place which would review the IWMW 2012 event I realised that this would provide an opportunity for further feedback. After the meeting the following summary was sent to the list:

All agreed that it was a great conference.

  • All happy with the range of subjects covered. Many felt that the quality and relevance of talks were excellent. Trends around responsive websites and content as data and data as content appealed.
  • Some were pleasantly surprised that there was little on social media.
  • XCRI-CAP information very useful and all agreed that it would be important to monitor progress on this in England to prepare for impact on Scotland

Some ideas for next year’s conference:

More on content strategy, responsive design, multi-platform strategies.

We also agreed that it might be interesting to consider trying to get a big international name from the Web industry to provide a keynote and possibly controversial talk.

It was very pleasing to hear how well the event was received by Web managers across Scottish Universities. It was also good to see that the two main content areas – addressing the challenges of supporting mobile devices and understanding the opportunities provided by the growth in importance of data – were relevant to the sector.

In addition to the feedback provided from a meeting of Scottish Web Folk during the event itself we asked a small number of participants for their thoughts on the event. This feedback was provided as brief video interviews. There were a total of nine interviews, each of which lasted from 1.5 to 3 minutes. Four of the interviews, from Marieke Guy, David Sloan, John Kelly and Claire Gibbons, were given by workshop facilitators and typically summarised their sessions. The other five interviews were given by participants, three of whom were attending an IWMW event for the first time. These five interviews are available below.

Tracey Milnes
In this interview, lasting 2 minutes, Tracey Milnes, Website Officer at York St John University explains the reasons why she decided to attend an IWMW event for the first time. Tracey works for a small university with a small team Web team. Her main interest is content management and she was looking forward to meeting other people with similar interests – this was the most valuable aspect of the event. She has a particular interest in designing a responsive web site suitable for access to mobile devices. Tracey concluded by telling the interviewer that she’ll be looking forward to attending further IWMW events.
Jess Hobbs
In this interview, lasting 1 minute 55 seconds, Jess Hobbs, Content Manager at the Quality Assurance Agency, summarises her reasons for attending IWMW 2012 for the first time and describes how she learnt about the importance of data, the importance of openness and the importance of applying policies and processes to enhance web accessibility. Every talk and workshop has provided Jess with useful links and resources to investigate when she returns to work.
Sarah Williams
In this interview, lasting 1 minute 50 seconds, Sarah Williams, University of Exeter describes her reasons for attending IWMW 2012 for the first time. Her colleagues had attended previous IWMW event and had said how valuable the event was. She described it as “inspiring”, especially for learning from others and appreciated the willingness of her peers to share their approaches and solutions. She was particularly inspired by the session on Web accessibility and will be looking to apply the approaches used at the University of Southampton at her institution.
Kevin Mears
In this interview, lasting 1 minute 55 seconds, Kevin Mears, Web developer at the University of Glamorgan, describes his doodling activities at the IWMW 2012 event which he shared with other delegates. He highlighted Responsive Design and Data as the two key topics areas of interest and described his intentions to make use of Google Refine for data cleaning purposes.
Tom Knight-Markiegi
In this interview, lasting 1 minute 34 seconds, Tom Knight-Markiegi, Sheffield Hallam University, describes the importance of the networking opportunities provided by the IWMW 2012 event. He has a particular interest in the mobile sessions at the IWMW 2012 event. He has picked up lots of useful resources and tips at the event. He will be suggesting approaches to use of the mobile web to his colleagues and will be sharing details of resources he found, especially a number of relevant JISC resources.

What are the key messages from these interviews? It seems clear that networking opportunities provided at the event is particularly important as is the willingness of participants to share their experiences and share tips and resources. It was also interesting to note how the event can inspire participants. In recent years we have sought to invite inspirational speakers in order to provide such inspiration. Judging by the feedback received for IWMW 2010 and IWMW 2011, Paul Boag and Ranjit Sidhu successfully fulfilled this role in recent years. In light of the suggestion from the Scottish Web Folk that we should “consider trying to get a big international name from the Web industry to provide a keynote and possibly controversial talk” it seems that we should be looking to find an inspirational speaker for next year’s event. Whether the speaker should be encouraged to be controversial is an interesting question; Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski in his talk which asked “Going Online – Do Universities Really Understand the Internet?” was certainly controversial in his views of the limitations of the home page design for a number of prestigious UK Universities. The reaction to the talk was very mixed with feedback ranging from:

  • “I didn’t agree with everything he said but it was by far the most entertaining and lively talk we saw. Controversy is good“,
  • “He was excellent, even though most of what he said was complete rubbish! Very entertaining.
  • Very useful to get the executive perspective – really helped to understand why the execs don’t get it.

through to:

  • Really shouldn’t have been let in. Waste of a session. Ill informed at best. I can point to user research that contradicts some of his ‘facts’.
  • Abysmal, and to think the day was 30mins longer because of this…

Beyond the style of presenting to the content itself, it seemed that the decision to address the mobile environment and data in a number of sessions was appropriate. It was also pleasing that two of the video interviews highlighted the value of the plenary talk and workshop session on Web accessibility. These sessions, which highlighted the BS 8878 Code of Practice and its relevance in higher education, reflected work I have been involved with over the years with the two speakers, EA Draffan and David Sloan. It does seem that the sector is interested in hearing more about approaches to Web accessibility which go beyond advocacy for WCAG guidelines.

Finally it was interesting to note the value which was given in a number of the video interviews to sharing resources. We have encouraged workshop facilitators to make their slides available on Slideshare using the IWMW12 tag so that the slides can be more easily found by others and the IWMW 2012 Slideshare Presentation Pack currently contains 20 slideshows, including those given in plenary talks and workshop sessions. But beyond the slides we should look at additional approaches we can take to facilitate such sharing of resources. Since one of the interviews mentioned the value of JISC resources to support institutional Web development activities it will, I think, be useful to explore ways in which the range of resources developed through JISC funding can be highlighted across this community. The Scottish Web Folk report also pointed out that the “XCRI-CAP information very useful“. Since the session on “The Xcri-cap Files” given by Claire Gibbons and Rob Englebright was based on the JISC Coursedata programme it would appear desirable to ensure that relevant JISC-funded projects make use of engagement and dissemination opportunities at future IWMW events.

In brief, therefore, these reflections have led me to conclude:

  • IWMW attendees place great importance on the networking and sharing opportunities provided at the event. We should therefore ensure that presentation time (e.g. the plenary talks) does not intrude on networking events. In addition since live video streaming of plenary talks does not encourage such networking opportunities, we should not be concerned that live streaming will significantly reduce the numbers of attendees at the event.
  • We should ensure that relevant JISC programmes and projects are made aware of the opportunities for engagement and dissemination which IWMW events can provide.
  • We should explore additional ways in which resources can be shared.

I’d welcome comments on these reflections.

Acknowledgement: Photograph of Networking at Our Dynamic Earth at the IWMW 2012 event taken by Sharon Steeples and available on Flickr under a CC BY-NC-SA licence.

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Lanyrd Gets Even Better – But Can It Provide The Main Event Web Site?

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 8 August 2012


Updates to Lanyrd

Back in May 2012 I asked Why Would You Not Use #Lanyrd For Your Event? On 23 July the Lanyrd blog announced new developments to the Lanyrd social event directory service which means the service is getting even better:

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.

Once you have claimed an event you will be able to:

  • Add a description of events. As illustrated, the Lanyrd entry for the IWMW 2012 event has been updated to include brief details of the event together with hypertext links to related resources.
  • Display of grid view of events with multiple sessions, including parallel sessions, as we have done for the timetable for the IWMW 2012 event.
  • Provide access control for editors of the content.
  • Embed ticket sales using Eventbrite.
  • Syndicate content hosted in Lanyrd to other web sites. An example of such syndication can be seen on the page listing the speakers at the IWMW 2012 event.

When I asked Why Would You Not Use #Lanyrd For Your Event? I was conscious that one potential barrier to use of the service was the Wikipedia-style approach the service had taken to creating content, which meant that any registered user could update the content. As illustrated below once an event has been claimed you can now restrict edits to approved users.

I have now claimed over 20 events which I set up on Lanyrd and have changed access permissions so that only a number of colleagues at UKOLN can change the content for event which have already taken place although, as shown below, speakers still have the rights to update session information in case there were changes to the sessions which I was unaware of.

Reflections on Lanyrd

Back in May 2012 when I asked Why Would You Not Use #Lanyrd For Your Event? I suggested that creating Lanyrd entries for previous events could be useful for several reasons including:

  • Providing a better understanding of the speakers and facilitators who have contributed to the event over the years.
  • Helping to raise the profile of the speakers and facilitators.
  • Enhancing participants’ memories of the events.
  • Decoupling the content from the host Web site (which provides primarily a HTML view of the content).
  • Avoiding the need for local development.

In light of the recent developments I am now wondering whether Lanyrd could be used to provide the prime entry point for new events. In August 2010 I asked Should Event Web Sites Be The First To Be Outsourced? This post reflected on the decision to host the FAM10 (Federated Access Management) event web site using Google Sites. Nicole Harris, the event organiser, had decided to outsource the IT infrastructure for the event: “we will do all the event management in-house … using Google for booking forms, document management, presentation publication and event information“.

The blog post generated interesting discussions. In response to concerns that use of such third party services meant a loss of control of branding and visual identity for an event web site Martin Hawksey commented that:

Google sites do allow you to create your own custom template so it is easy to add logos change colours. The biggest cost in this area is probably staff time and whilst you might be saving money on hosting, you loose it in time required to set the site up.

Chris Gutteridge highlighted another concern:

Conference websites are part of the academic record and it is very important to maintain at least some of the content. Most conference webmasters don’t even shift the front page to be past-tense once it’s over but part of the design should be how it’s left long term.

Chris is right to raise this concern. Back in 2005 I spoke at the Accessible Design in the Digital World conference. But if I visit the ADDW05 web site I now get a parking domain, as illustrated.

I suspect there will be many conference web sites which are now difficult to find. For example looking at the IW3C2′s list of the international WWW conferences although the web site for the First International Conference on the World-Wide Web still exists, the web site for The Second International WWW Conference is only available via the Internet Archive whilst The Third International WWW Conference no longer appears to exist.

Although there are clearly risks in reliance on third party services for providing web sites it also needs to be recognised that there are also risks in attempting to simply use in-house services.

Many high profile conferences will wish to have their own domain name, so there will be a need to manage ownership of the domain for an extended period – as Chris Gutteridge suggested ten years might be regarded as the minimum period for a registering a conference domain.

But in addition to the management of an event’s domain, there is also the need to consider the risks associated with failing to exploit developments which may not be available if only in-house resources are used.

A compromise approach would be to continue to host content locally but to make use of services, such as Lanyrd to provide value-added functionality which may not be appropriate to provide in-house. This has been the approach taken to support recent IWMW events.

However such considerations do not necessarily mean that an external service can never be used to deliver an event web site. The FAM10 web site continues to be available on Google Site. In this case the issues related to the long-term sustainability of the event web site would be (a) is the service likely to be sustainable; (b) is provider of the service likely to change the terms and conditions; (c) can the content be easily exported; (d) is there a need for the content to be accessible and (e) can the costs in migrating the content be justified?

We can reasonably expect Google to continue and might reasonably expect any changes to the availability and terms and conditions for Google Sites to be notified to users of the service, as they have done for the iGoogle and Google Video services. But what of Lanyrd?

From the Lanyrd entry on Crunchbase we learn that Lanryd was launched on 31 August 2010 and received $1.4M funding. There appear to be only two people listed as being involved with the company: the co-founders Simon Willison and Natalie Downe (both of whom, incidentally, are from the UK and Natalie obtained her degree in Computer Science here at the University of Bath).

Using Lanyrd you can find out about other events speakers have spoken at and their forthcoming events.

Although I am a fan of the service, in light of the apparent lack of additional funding and uncertainty of the service’s business model I do not feel that Lanyrd can currently be used to provide the master source of content for a large-scale event, especially if access to the content for several years after the event is needed.

However I do feel that Lanyrd does have a valuable role to play in providing additional access to the content for an event as well as providing a social dimension to an event though use of the Twitter IDs for speakers and participants at events listed on Lanyrd, as illustrated in the accompanying image.

This social dimension is the Lanyrd’s key feature and this is the reason why I felt useful to create Lanyrd entries for previous IWMW events. But will Lanyrd not only continue to develop additional features which can support the needs of event organisers and participants and, perhaps more importantly, be able to demonstrate that the service will continue to be available for a period of 5 to 10 years?

I’d be interested in others’ views on the role which people feel Lanyrd can play in supporting events.

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

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Eventifier: Aggregating Amplified Event Content

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 6 August 2012


Aggregating IWMW 2012 Content

After UKOLN’s IWMW 2012 event was over there was a need for various the post-event activities. As described in a recent post the evaluation forms were processed and summaries of the various talks and workshop sessions were sent to plenary speakers and workshop facilitators. In addition to activities which will be required for most events, since IWMW 2012 was an amplified event which sought to exploit a variety of online tools to enhance the discussions and sharing of ideas, there was also a need to provide links to the various services to make it easier for people writing report about the event (such as the Ariadne article about the event which has been published recently) as well as providing an easily-found set of resources for speakers, facilitators, participants and other interested parties.

The Slideshare Presentation Pack widget aggregation of slides from the IWMW 2012 event

The main way of aggregating content is through use of tags. The #iwmw12 tag on Flickr, for example, enables photographs relating to the event taken by the participants to be aggregated. There are currently 851 slides with this tag. These images can also be embedded in other Web pages through use of a Flickr badge.

The #iwmw12 tag was also used on Slideshare to bring together slides used at the event – although in this case it should be noted that since LinkedIn’s purchase of Slideshare, tagging seems to being deprecated and the interface for creating tags and viewing tagged content is not easy to find. Slideshare does, however, enabled tagged slides to be aggregated in a ‘presentation pack‘ which can be embedded elsewhere. A screen shot of the IWMW12 Presentation Pack is illustrated.

Aggregation of event tweets is also importance. For the IWMW 2012 event tweets tagged with the #iwmw12 event hashtag were captured using Martin Hawkesey’s TAGS service. In addition, after the event the Twubs service was used to provide an additional archive of event tweets.

The Lanyrd service was also used to support the event. The IWMW 2012 Lanyrd entry contains details of the various talks and workshop sessions, including the times and abstract. In addition where possible we have embedded the speakers’ slides (if these have been hosted in Slideshare) and video recordings of the plenary talks. Lanyrd also provides a wiki-style approach which enables other users to add coverage of the event and the specific sessions at the event. We are pleased that a number of participants have added on links to additional content, such as blog posts about the event.

These various aggregations are linked to from a Key Resources page on the IWMW 2012 web site.

Eventifier: Aggregating Amplified Event Content

It would be nice if aggregation of content provided on a diverse range of services could be carried out in an automated fashion. Last week I was alerted to a service which appears to provide this functionality: Eventifier.

Eventifier has the strapline: “Smarter way to archive all your event photos, videos, slides, tweets, conversations and much more from the entire Web.

Using Eventifier is simple: you just have to supply an event name and its hashtag and provide an email address. I did this for the IWMW 2012. As can be seen the IWMW 2012 Eventifier archive has archived 11 photos, 14 videos, 34 tweets and 26 slides from 5 contributors.

This is, of course, only a small proportion of the content. After the content had been harvested I received an email notification with the URL of the archive which informed me that:

We have archived the event IWMW here, have a look at

As the event took place a month ago in the mid of July we couldn’t gather much data as twitter dumps the tweets for a hashtag after certain amount of time, nevertheless we have created the event page for both of the events.

This was no unexpected. But what might an Eventifier archive look like for a large event if the tag has been registered in a more timely fashion? Looking at the archive for the 140Edu conference, which has the byline:

The changes in the way we live our lives must create change in the way we teach and learn. The real-time web should create profound changes in the way we think about what, how and why students and teachers can do, create and communicate. The very nature of what we consider “school” should be radically different given the powerful reach of the communicate tools our students have at their disposal. #140edu is dedicated to exploring and expanding that change.

we find the service has archived 225 photos, 16 videos and 5,333 tweets from 1,266 contributors.


The experiences of the 140Edu archive suggest that Eventifier does appear to provide a simple and easy-to-use solution to aggregation of a range of content associated with an amplified event. However it should be pointed out that there can be no guarantee that the service will be sustainable, and it is not clear who provides the service, where it is hosted or whether they have a sustainable business model. Having said that since it can take less than a minute to set up an Eventifier archive, I would argue that there is no harm in doing so and, if the service does prove successful, event organisers can benefit from this type of service.

Of course, some people may argue that third party services have no role to play in the amplification of events, and the functionality needed should be provided by a managed event systems hosted within the institution. My view is that this scenario is not realistic and, in the near future, we will see useful services being developed by small companies. If event organisers wish to exploit such services in the short term they need to accept the risks that the services may not be sustainable together with the need, possibly, to spend some time in aggregating content from across the services. If this is a scenario which you agree with you may find Eventifier provides a useful role in the support of your amplified event.

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

Does Eduroam Work?

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 6 July 2012

Importance of WiFi at Events

Use of mobile devices (and note pads!) at IWMW 2012 (photo taken by Sharon Steeples)

A few months ago I came across a Twitter discussion about Eduroam – “It doesn’t work” complained one of my followers who was unable to access WiFi while away from his office at a conference. As at the time we were in the process of organising the IWMW 2012 event, I was concerned that participants would not be able to engage in discussions at the event using the #IWMW12 Twitter hashtag if they were unable to access WiFi. I therefore ensured that we provided advice on how to connect to Eduroam:

As described on the edroam Web site “eduroam (education roaming) is the secure, world-wide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community.

Use of eduroam for visitors to the University of Edinburgh is described in the advice for visitors provided by the Information Services department at the University of Edinburgh.

You should note the following:

    • Your home institution must be a member of the JANET Roaming service, or one of the other global eduroam federations.
    • You must be registered to use the eduroam service at your home institution.

You should note the following advice:

Before you visit the University of Edinburgh, make sure you configure your device to work with the eduroam wireless network at your home institution.


If your device can successfully connect to eduroam at your home institution you should not need to make any changes to use your device at the University of Edinburgh, or any other institution which supports eduroam.

But wince we were suspected people would be bringing along a diverse range of mobile devices and may have a variety of different eduroam configurations at their own institution we realised that the UIWMW 2012 event, which attracted 172 participants from across the UK, would provide a valuable opportunity to see how reliable access to eduroam was and, if difficulties were experienced, see if we could identify the problem areas.

A Surveymonkey form was set up and, in the IWMW 2012 conclusions, we encouraged participants to complete the survey form if they have tried to connect to the WiFi network using Eduroam. A summary of the responses is given below.

Survey of Use of Eduroam at IWMW 2012

A total of 33 responses were received, with 27 providing their names, 24 providing an email address and all 33 giving details of their host institution.

As can be seen from the diagram 25 (75.8%) of the respondents had used Eduroam successfully away from their host institution before attending the IWMW 2012 event and a further 2 people (6.1%) had tested Eduroam at their host institution with only 3 people (9.1%) having never used Eduroam prior to attending the event.

But how successful were they in using Eduroam at the event? From the second diagram we can see that 21 users (63.6%) successfully connected to Eduroam, but 7 people (21.2%) had some initial difficulties, before connecting to the service.

It seems that 3 people (9.1%) were unsuccessful in their attempts in connecting to Eduroam and 4 (12.1%) used a guest username and password to connect to the WiFi (we had reserved a small number of guest accounts in case people did not have Eduroam access or encountered difficulties in connecting to the service).

In response to the question which asked for a summary of “Experiences of using Eduroam at IWMW 2012″ we received 10 additional comments:

Generally Eduroam coverage was good, but disappointingly almost non-existent in the accommodation block. However inter-access point handover did not seem effective, meaning that it was often necessary to reconnect after any change of room in the Appleton Tower.

I couldn’t get Eduroam to work at all on the Monday, so resorted to getting a temporary login to the University of Edinburgh network on Tuesday, which I used successfully from then on. I used 3G from my smartphone on the Monday, but sparingly.

On most occasions it took two attempts to get a working connection. The worst was on the last morning when I probably tried about 10 times before finally getting a connection. It kept prompting me for my login details, and despite providing them (correctly) it wouldn’t connect. I was on the verge of giving up completely before it finally connected. A very frustrating experience!

Connection problematic with Android 2.3 – had to forget and then reconfigure the connection each time I reconnected, but find the same at my home institution, No problems with Android 4

Seemed to consistently take two attempts to connect with iPad. Works fine at Cardiff, so may just have been a network thing at Edinburgh

Using my HTC Evo 3D I managed to connect successfully every time I went online at IWMW 2012. However using a Dell Inspiron Mini 1018 (Windows 7 Starter) the ease of connecting to Eduroam was inconsistent. Generally once the connection was established it held for the period I was using the netbook for, but resuming from standby/hibernate the connection has to re-establish which caused issues.

my iPhone would connect about 50% of the time, my iPad kept prompting me for my Eduroam password and when I entered it it rejected it. I checked my password was correct when I returned to Oxford, it was and it _still_ won’t connect to Eduroam.

I used the Central wifi at Edinburgh (details provided by Natasha and her team).

I used 3G connection on my Windows Mobile 6.5 phone and Eduroam on my laptop.

Connected fine from my laptop but had problems connecting from my HTC android device (although this sometimes happens with other wifi connections) it would work after several attempts.

Lost the connection very occasionally (2 in 2 days of use), but a minor inconvenience

I used the University of Edinburgh WiFi, using the username and passwd provided by the organisers of the conference on a notebook.

My user login needed changing from [username] to [] to get it working in Edinburgh

My devices both had been set up with just my username as the ‘identifier’ – which works in Sheffield. Here, I had to change this to [username]

There was very patchy access to Eduroam Wifi in the accommodation halls.

I also used Edinburgh WiFi successfully, although not in my room at the halls which was a pain.

However, I was not able to connect via Eduroam in Pollock halls of residence, and had to pay £10 for access. I was a bit disappointed with that.

Mostly the connections to my iPad & iPhone were OK.But the signal strength wasn’t often that high. There were also a couple of occasions where I lost connectivity all together.

iPhone worked great from home institution and connected straight away when away. Windows 7 laptop could never connect at home and still failed here.

used laptop and phone

The most popular device used at IWMW 2012, as reported in the survey, was an Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch (used by 75.8% of respondents),; a laptop running MS Windows (used by 30.3%), an Android phone or tablet (24.2%), an Apple Macintosh laptop (18.2%), another type of phone or tablet (6.1%) or another type of laptop (3%). The additional devices including laptops running Linux and Windows 7 and Blackberry smartphones.

The majority of respondents (60%) were familiar with Eduroam and felt no need to read the advice provided on the IWMW 2012 or University of Edinburgh Web sites. 21.7% read the advice provided by their local institution; 9.1% provided on the IWMW 2012 web site and 3% provided by the University of Edinburgh. Three additional comments were made on the provision of online help accessed in advance of the event:

I needed to reinstall the Eduroam client from St Andrews on my newly installed Windows 8 laptop. It worked successfully in the office so I was confident of it working in Edinburgh.

I followed the advice on the IWMW2012 site and also checked the advice of my own institution. Eduroam was working fine on my laptop at my home institution before I left for Edinburgh.

Tried to use eduroam info from Janet. Entirely useless.

The following responses were given to the question “Please give a description of any problems in accessing or using Eduroam which you encountered during the event”:

No problems at all. Very disappointing that Eduroam was not available in the accommodation, however.

I basically couldn’t connect to Eduroam, even though I can when I’ve used the laptop at work in London.

Didn’t have any problems.

On my smartphone, Eduroam was being picked up but the network disconnected all the time after initially connecting and I couldn’t get it to connect again. Same problem on my laptop, despite the fact it was working at my home institution and I checked I had done all I should to get it to work away from home. Just kept getting a ‘eduroam is disconnected’ message on both devices.

no problem on using eduroam, the connection was flaky for a very short period at the start of the second day

None. Worked fine. Only issue was not having Eduroam access in the halls of residence (Pollock).

Sometimes it didn’t work and required me to forget the network and reconnect – but it did this with no trouble.

See my answer to question 6. Once connected, I had no problems at all.

same as question 6: my iPhone would connect about 50% of the time, my iPad kept prompting me for my Eduroam password and when I entered it it rejected it. I checked my password was correct when I returned to Oxford, it was and it _still_ won’t connect to Eduroam.

Using my HTC Evo 3D I managed to connect successfully every time I went online at IWMW 2012. However using a Dell Inspiron Mini 1018 (Windows 7 Starter) the ease of connecting to Eduroam was inconsistent. Generally once the connection was established it held for the period I was using the netbook for, but resuming from standy/hibernate the connection has to re-establish which caused issues.

Crappy Windown error.

The final question asked “Please give any suggestions on how you feel online access at events can be improved”. The following responses were given:

Web access in the accommodation — I had planned on blogging about the event and uploading photos to Flickr from the accommodation but wasn’t able to get online.

Would of liked WiFi in my room in halls but I just ventured down to the main entrance instead so not really that bad.

Maybe access to more specific help, although I was able to connect successfully to the Uni of Edinburgh network – I didn’t discover we could do this until Tuesday morning, though, so it would have helped to have this on the general advice available.

edinburgh and sheffield have the correct implementation of eduroam, if other institutions all went by the book the world would be a better place :)

Make the connectivity for Eduroam more reliable! And/or always provide an alternative using the local wifi network(s).

How can you improve on magic? It just connected, that’s all I needed.

WiFi in the accommodation rooms would have made things perfect.

Fellow attendees mentioned that wireless coverage in Pollock Halls was patchy. Fortunately I had a room with a good wireless reception for working before and after the conference.

Slightly surprised not to have eduroam access at the Halls, but I suppose this is where they make their money! Would be good though…


This post was introduced by reporting on concerns on arriving at a conference and finding that Eduroam doesn’t work. It was therefore pleasing to receive the comment:

 How can you improve on magic? It just connected, that’s all I needed.

Some of the teething problems which had been experienced seemed to be due to the need to provide a username and domain name (e.g. rather than just a username (e.g. foo) which may work locally but not when one travels to another institution. However other problems do seem more difficult to solve, such as:

However using a Dell Inspiron Mini 1018 (Windows 7 Starter) the ease of connecting to Eduroam was inconsistent. Generally once the connection was established it held for the period I was using the netbook for, but resuming from standy/hibernate the connection has to re-establish which caused issues.

In light of the feedback we received I would make the following recommendations:

Event organisers should:

  • Ensure that they advise participants on how to configure their mobile devices prior to leaving for the event.
  • Provide links to local advice on use of Eduroam at the host institution.
  • Have a number of guest usernames available for people who may not be authorised to access Eduroam or whose devices fail to connect to the Eduroam service.

In addition since in some quarters there is a perception that Eduroam is unreliable it would also be useful to attempt to identify problems across a number of events, especially IT-related events in which people experiencing problems would be able to provide relevant detailed information about the device, OS environment, error messages, etc. Perhaps a forthcoming JANET event might provide an ideal opportunity? If anyone would like to build on this initial survey, I would be happy to share information on the questions I asked and suggestions for improving the design – in particular a number of responses were related to the unavailability of Eduroam in the halls of residence. It was useful to see this confirmation of the popularity of WiFi access in halls, but this was strictly outside the scope of the survey, which aimed to understand problems in connected to Eduroam when it was visible.

Posted in Events | 3 Comments »

IWMW 2012: The Feedback

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 2 July 2012

“Thank you to all the organisers – another great IWMW!”

Over the 16 years of UKOLN’s annual IWMW event we have always valued the importance of user feedback for the event and this year is no exception.  When the rain stopped on the opening morning of the IWMW 2012 event I had the feeling that this year’s event would be special – and the analysis of the evaluation forms confirms my suspicion.

There were a total of 172 participants at this year’s event and we received 64 completed evaluation forms. As can be seen from the accompanying histograms, no fewer than 73% rated the organisation of the event as Excellent, with 41% regarding the content as excellent and 50% regarding the content as Very Good.

The highest ranked plenary speaker was Rob Borley.  His talk which asked “Do I Need an App for That?” scored 4.42 (on a scale of 1=Poor to 5=Excellent).

The other highly ranked plenary speakers were Keith Doyle and Paddy Callaghan, whose talk on “Serve Two Masters: Creating Large-Scale Responsive Websites” received a score of 4.32; Stephen Emmott whose talk on “Measuring Impact”  received a score of 4.32 and Dawn Ellis whose talk on “What Do You Really Want?” received a score of 4.24.  It was also pleasing that all of the plenary speakers received scores of Very Good or Excellent.

The general comments received on the content included:

  • Very good range of speakers in plenaries and interesting parallel sessions.
  • First time at IWMW – excellent conference, great speakers.
  • Was a bit scared that, as a learning technologist, the content would go completely over my head. Was pleasantly surprised that I understood much of the content so kudos to the presenters for putting their ideas over in a simple way.
  • Great topics, well presented.
  • Generally the content was well considered for the audience type and there were some interesting topics of discussion

The comments on the event organisation included:

  • Very well organised event, working like clockwork!
  • Well organised. Kudos.
  • Really well organised and a big shout out to the catering staff who rustled up some lovely gluten and dairy-free lunch for me!
  • Very efficient.
  • very smooth, under 1 roof, the technology worked well.

Comments made about the plenary talks included:

  • really good overview, hopefully his talk will be online and i can get colleagues to watch it“; “i fully intend to implement some ideas at my own institution” and “Some humour helped the drier “medicine” about data, go down very well. And I will definitely be trying out that Tag Galaxy which was demoed” – talk on “Data and the Web Manager” by Kevin Ashley
  • This talk in particular has driven me to open up our data where safe“; “Good to see Edinburgh Council embracing open data and the possibilities it gives for developers” and “Excellent presentation by a very dynamic expert who is always willing to share her knowledge, experiences and to learn.  Sally is a great ambassador for Edin City council. Suraj and Sally are a well rehearsed act. ” – talk on “Open Data Development in the City of Edinburgh Council” by Sally Kerr and Suraj Kika
  • Really thought provoking. Visualisation is cool!“; “Interesting to see the different ways to visualise data” and “Great innovative ways to present data and information” – talk on “Data Visualisation: A Taster” by Tony Hirst and Martin Hawksey
  • I already know A LOT about KIS as I am on the University’s KIS Project Board but it was good to get everyone up to speed with the KIS.  Generated some healthy debate and discussion later.  Andrew explained it very well and was very ‘human’ about the whole thing!” and “For me, this talk was the star of the whole event. A great speaker, who got stuck in and really told us the good, the bad, and the ugly about KIS and how it was going to affect us. Now all I have to do is worry about that widget….” – talk 0n “Key Information Sets Data” by Andrew Oakley
  • Excellent presentation skills and very informative“; “Well polished presentation and speaker outlying the pitfalls and benefits nicely. Well paced with good content” and “really comprehensively argued case that reinforced views that i didn’t realise i had” – talk on “Do I Need an App for That?” by Rob Borley
  • Interesting and useful. Have shared with colleagues back at the Uni and will reflect further with them“; “I knew a lot about this but it was a very good talk and brought together the area very well. She did very well when there was an incident in the audience – obviously an old hand” and “Very good to have this included, as I think Web Accessibility was one of the issues which we used to all worry about a lot, and in recent years has been pushed aside. Particlarly liked the speaker’s approach of showing practical solutions eg the AT Bar.” –  talk on “Beyond WCAG: Experiences in Implementing BS 8878” by EA Draffan
  • “I didn’t agree with everything he said but it was by far the most entertaining and lively talk we saw. Controversy is good”; “He was excellent, even though most of what he said was complete rubbish! Very entertaining.” and “Good speaker and probably the session that we’ll all remember from the conference. Some very good points, but I think it highlighted more the problem of senior managers imposing their somewhat selfish views on university web sites. ” – talk on “Going Online – Do Universities Really Understand the Internet?” by Ferdinand von Prondzynski
  • “This is what IWMW does best – inform about emerging trends and demonstrate approaches that other universities have taken.“; “Very useful, great to have the theory paired with practical implementation and expert voices on both” and “Was completely right to have a plenary on RWD, as it has become so important in the last 18months or so”  - talk on “Serve Two Masters: Creating Large-Scale Responsive Websites” by Keith Doyle and Paddy Callaghan
  • Dynamic busy individual would works with a mix of in-house and outsourced services which might well be the future for better or for worse“; “Great presentation and interesting to see the range of solutions and strategies been employed” and “Something of a twist in the tail from Stephen. I had expected a possible approach to measuring impact so to have Stephen eloquently and logically argue that it’s not our job was thought-provoking and refreshing. One of my favourite IWMW presenters over the years.” – talk on “Measuring Impact” by Stephen Emmott
  • Interesting to see the direction they’ve taken with their website which I think goes against the grain of what everyone else is doing. Also fantastic to hear about open source technologies that are being used.” – talk on “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Two Years of Running a Content Management Service” by Helen Sargan

But although the plenary speakers and facilitators of the parallel sessions provide the content for the event, it always seems that the sum of greater than the individual parts.  Here are some aspects of the IWMW 2012 event which were particularly liked:

  • Very well organised event, working like clockwork!
  • Well organised. Kudos.
  • Really well organised and a big shout out to the catering staff who rustled up some lovely gluten and dairy-free lunch for me!
  • “Spectacularly organised as ever. Everything seemed to run really smoothly from meeting up with everyone on the Sunday to getting bits and bats for our session to lunches and so on.
  • Well done all!”
  • Spot on
  • I liked the central venue which was easy to find and get to by public transport.
  • Generally very good.
  • The venue this year was excellent. The space available (both accommodation and conference space) were of a high standard. The food should get a special mention. The only slight downside was the distance between the accommodation and the conference.
  • It was nice to see a mix of old and new attendees and I know from talking to some “”newbies”” they really saw the value of the community.

And to conclude:

P.S. To whom it may concern:
Please, please, please. please, please keep funding this event. It is a lifeline to HE institutions and their hard-working web-related staff. It is the only event on the calendar which really gets to the heart of the issues we are all looking at, at the time we are looking at them

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

IWMW 2012: The Image

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 28 June 2012

Photos of IWMW 2012

A recent post on IWMW 2012: The Movie described how the accessibility of individual resources, such as  a set of slides and a video recording of a talk, can be enhancing by bringing together such related resources, rather than having to implement WCAG guidelines on the individual resources.

A related approach to enhancing accessibility by focussing beyond the digital resource could be images of an event. The IWMW 2012 photographs hosted on Flickr, for example, can enhance one’s long-term memory of an event by triggering memories of iconic aspects of an event. For me, the trip to Our Dynamic Earth was a highlight, and I’m pleased that Sharon Steeples took such a great photo of it, one of her many great photos of IWMW 2012, as illustrated at the top of this post.

But would it be possible to have a single image which depicted the three-day IWMW 2012 event? Well Kevin Mears (@mearso) has risen to that challenge!

During the event Kevin tweeted links to a series of cartoons he had produced which gave his visual impressions of a number of the plenary talks and parallel sessions he attended. During the event the following tweets were widely retweeted, favourited and images viewed:

For anyone who’s interested I did some visual notes for @usabilityed ‘s session.#iwmw12

I did a drawing of Brian’s welcome talk @iwmw  #iwmw12

Today’s doodle from the talk about data visualisation. So many interesting visualisations. #iwmw12

This getting hard work now. Plenty of info in the KIS talk. #iwmw12

I did a sketch note from B4 : big and small data. #iwmw12

Quick turnaround of the notes this time. Easy with such good sessions. #iwmw12

My doodle of the controversial session this afternoon. Hard for the drawing to be as dramatic as the talk! #iwmw12

Forgot to post last night’s drawing from the ‘Do I need an app?”. #iwmw12

Last doodle from immw12. Had to wait til I got home cos I’m too cheap to pay for mobile. #iwmw12. Had great time.

But most interesting of all was the tweet:

I collated my sketch notes from #iwmw12 into one big poster. Any demand out there for printed ones?

This image is embedded at the bottom of this post – and note that it can be viewed on Flickr at a number of sizes including 1600×1132. I suspect that looking at the details of the sketch will bring back memories which would not have been the case from a factual summary of the talk – the drawing (shown) of the line printer paper in the sketch of Ferdinand von Prondzynski‘s somewhat controversial plenary talk brought home the point about the somewhat rather protracted introduction in which the speaker sought to establish his credentials as an experienced user of IT.

Or to put it another way, images can be a valuable way of enhancing one’s understanding and recollections of things that happen in the physical world.  And to think that some people would ban such images unless they were accompanied by a comprehensive textual summary of every element of the sketches!


Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

Posted in Accessibility, Events | Leave a Comment »

IWMW 2012: The Movie

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 27 June 2012

Importance of Networking

The Wilson Review states that “Networking between universities & the business community is a critical component of an efficient innovation ecosystem” (point 7 in the Executive Summary). This is equally true for networking across institutions for those with responsibilities for the provision of institutional Web services across the sector. As I highlighted in the Welcome talk at UKOLN’s IWMW 2012 event senior managers in institutions are quite capable of using Google to search for “outsourcing web management and looking for alternative providers of such services. But rather than pretend that this couldn’t happen at the event we explored how sharing of expertise, knowledge, advice and support can help to provide cost-effective approaches to the management and development of web services across the sector.

“Work in More Open Ways”

Yesterday an article on the BBC News on TEDGlobal: Net opens up era of radical openness described a “call-to-arms for corporations to work in more open ways” . In the context of conferences, workshops and other events in the higher education sector such openness is being seen in the provision of amplified events in which, as described in a recent post the sharing of resources at conferences and other events need no longer be restricted to those who were able to be physically present.

Accessing Slides and Videos of IWMW 2012 Plenary Talks

The ideas shared, criticisms expressed and visions for the future made by plenary speakers at the IWMW 2012 event can now be seen by those who did not happen to be physically in a lecture theatre in the Appleton Tower at the University of Edinburgh during 18-20 June 2012: the videos of the plenary talks have now been processed and uploaded to the UKOLN Vimeo account. In addition a page on the IWMW 2012 Web site provides access to the embedded videos together with the accompanying slides.

As illustrated in the screenshot shown below the page on the IWMW 2012 web site allows you to view a video recording of a talk whilst simultaneously scrolling through the speakers slides. This provides an interesting aspect on accessibility: the slides and the video recording in isolation will have limitations in maximising one’s understanding of the individual resources, but brought together it can be easier to understand the points the speaker is making of the text and images displayed on a slide. It is. of course, not coincidental that the image I have used to illustrate this point is taken from the talk on “Beyond WCAG: Implementing BS 8878” given by EA Draffan. And for those in the audience who were distracted by the person fainting during the talk, the slides and video recording provide an opportunity to revisit the presentation.

Posted in Accessibility, Events | 2 Comments »

“Conferences don’t end at the end anymore”: What IWMW 2012 Still Offers

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 25 June 2012

IWMW 2012 Is Over: Long Live IWMW 2012!

Conferences don’t end at the end anymoretweeted @markpower two days after IWMW 2012 delegates had left Edinburgh and returned home.  This has always been the case: conferences organisers will have evaluation forms to analyse and invoices to chase.  But the point Mark was making related to the continuing discussions about the ideas discussed at an event and the accompanying resources, resources which increasingly these days may have been created during the event and support for the participants, which can help to ensure that an event is not just an collection of individuals who are co-located for a few days but, as I described in a recent post, a sustainable and thriving community of practice.  A related point was made recently in a post on “#mLearnCon 2012 Backchannel – Curated Resources” in which David Kelly described how “The backchannel is an excellent resource for learning from a conference or event that you are unable to attend in-person” and went on to add that he finds “collecting and reviewing backchannel resources to be a valuable learning experience …, even when [he is] attending a conference in person. Sharing these collections on this blog has shown that others find value in the collections as well.” But what are the resources from the IWMW 2012 which may be of interest to others, where can they be found and what value may they provide?

Key Resources


The slides used by the plenary speakers were uploaded to Slideshare in advance of the talks in order to allow the slides to be embedded in relevant Web pages and enable a remote audience to view the slides.  It should also be added that this also allowed participants at the event to view the slides if they were not able to view the main display of the slides. The slides have been tagged with the “iwmw12″ tag on Slideshare.  This enables the collection of slides to be accessed by a search for this string or by  browsing slideshows which use this tag.  Note that in previous years an event tag had been used, but this service was discontinued recently, after Slideshare had been bought by LinkedIn.

Creating a collection of slides used at the event enables a Slideshare presentation pack to be created, as illustrated, thus making it easy to access all slides used at the event which have been made available. As can be seen from the IWMW 2012 web site, the presentation pack can be embedded in Web pages. This service is being used since participants at IWMW have frequently asked to be able to access slides, including slides used in parallel sessions which they were not able to attend. Using Slideshare makes it easy to respond to this user need. In addition it helps to raise the profile  and visibility of speakers at the event.


The IWMW 2012 Lanyrd page was set up in advance to provide a social directory for participants at the event so they could see who else was attending. The value of this grows as Lanyrd is used across a number of events: from my Lanyrd, profile, for example, I can see that I have appeared at events on 12 occasions with my colleagues Marieke Guy and on 5 occasions with Paul Boag, Tony Hirst, Andy Powell, Keith Doyle and  Mike Nolan. In addition to the social dimension. Lanyrd also provides calendar entries for sessions at events. The date and time of sessions at IWMW 2012 has been provided together with links to the main page on the IWMW 2012 web site have been added, together with slideshows and links to reports on the sessions which we are aware of. It should be noted that, as illustrated, a Lanyrd has a Wiki-style environment for uploading resources which avoids the single-curator bottleneck. As the person who set up the IWMW 2012 Laynrd entry, together with the IWMW guide for all IWMW events, it should be noted that I receive an email alert when new entries are added to the coverage, such as:

<> (In guide IWMW) [22nd Jun 2012 07:52] *
@sheilmcn added coverage “Developing Digital Literacies and the role  of institutional support services” (  type:slides)
to session  “B2: Developing Digital Literacies and the Role of Institutional  Support Services”

This can help to spot if inappropriate entries are being added.


As described in a post on Streaming of IWMW 2012 Plenary Talks – But Who Pays? we used the service for the live video stream. The videos are currently being processed and will be made available via UKOLN’s Vimeo account shortly. This service will be used to wider access to the plenary talks so that they are available for those who were not present at the event – although, of course, they can also be viewed by people who were at the event and wish to watch the talks again. In addition to the video recordings of the talks we have also taken a number of short interviews with participants at the event which will enable their thoughts on the event to be shared with a wider audience.


With so many delegates now having digital cameras and smartphones there are a large number of photographs which have been uploaded to Flickr with the IWMW12 tag which can help to provide a collective memory of the event.

Having a large number of photographs, rather than a small set of selected ones taken  by an official photographer, provides a much broader perspective on the event. It also means that images browsing interface services, such as Tag Galaxy, are more useful by having a more diverse range of content.

The two images show a display of a Tag Galaxy search for photographs on Flickr with the “iwmw12″ tag and one of the many photographs taken by Sharon Steeples of the final conclusions session during which I showed an image of the video stream, captured earlier that morning when Dawn Ellis gave a summary of Web developments at the University of Edinburgh, subverting normal conference-style approaches to case studies by telling this as a fairy tale. The video recording of this talk will be particularly worth watching.


As can be seen from the image shown above, the lecture theatre also has a large blackboard.  The opportunity to use a blackboard during the final session provided too much temptation to ignore –  so in the summing up a tweet posted on the backboard was displayed, as a reminder that not everyone necessarily has a mobile device they could use for tweeting. However many people did use Twitter during the event. As is widely known, content posted on the Twitter stream becomes unavailable available a short period. There is therefore a need to analyse event tweets shortly after an event – or archive the tweets to allow them to be analysed subsequently.


As can be seen from the image of the Topsy search for #IWMW12 tweets posted over a period of the past 7 days (click for a larger display) there were 666 mentions on 18 June and 574 on 19 June.  The most highly tweeted link was to the IWMW 2012 video page, which was mentioned in 43 tweetsduring the week on 17-24 June 2012. In total Topsy reported that there were 748 tweets during the week on 17-24 June 2012, 808 in the month from 24 May-24 June and an overall total of 846 tweets to date.

Other Commercial Twitter Analytics Tools

It should be noted that a large number of Twitter analytics tools are available which be used to analyse how Twitter has been used. The Tweetreach service, for example, reports that tweets containing the #iwmw12 hashtag have reached 7,553 Twitter accounts. However, as is often the case with usage statistics, such figures need to be treated with a pinch of salt.

Beyond Commercial Twitter Analysis Tools

Topsy, Tweetreach and other Twitter analytics tools can provide a useful summary of use of Twitter hashtags. However  in the UK higher education development community we are fortunate to have the expertise of developers such as Martin Hawksey and Tony Hirst who have a well-established track record in the development of value Twitter analysis tools and who can continually develop their tools based on particular needs and interests of the community.

As Martin described in a post entitled IWMW12 Data Hacks for the IWMW 2012 event he was  “collecting an archive of tweets which already gives you the TAGSExplorer view“.

Looking at Martin’s Twitter archive of #iwmw12 tweets, provided by the TAGS v.40 service, we can see that the top five Twitterers were @iwmwlive (281 tweets), @PlanetClaire (149 tweets), @sharonsteeples (103 tweets), @mariekeguy (100 tweets) and @jessica_hobbs (81 tweets). Since the @iwmwlive Twitter account was managed by Kirsty Pitkin it seems that the top twitters at the event were all female: this seems particularly interesting in light of the fact that only about a quarter of the participants were female.

It should also be noted that this tool also provides a display of the tweets over time.  It can also be seen (right) that tweeting peaked at 2pm on Tuesday, 19 June 2012 with 229 tweets.

Finally I should mention Martin’s most recent development:  a filterable/searchable archive of IWMW12 tweets. As illustrated below, this provides a clickable word cloud of the content of the tweets, together with a search box and browse interface for the tweets.  It was while browsing the tweets that I came across a comment from @JohnGreenway who, during the conclusions, tweeted:

As someone from a commercial background, #iwmw12 has been excellent – hope everyone in HE realises how rare this is in other industries!

Such live tweeting helped in providing useful real time feedback not only to the event organisers but also the plenary speakers.  Other comments received during the event included:

  •  Excellent talk by Stephen Emmott – always a reliable IWMW speaker! #iwmw12 from @adriant
  • First time at #iwmw12 and had a brilliant time. Great ideas, great people, great weather, who could ask for more. from @millaraj
  • First time at IWMW: great speakers, interesting topics, fantastic Ceilidh. Many thanks to organisers and presenters. #IWMW12 #new #social from@seajays
  • Great summary by @sloands on how to build accessibility into project management processes using BS8878 #iwmw12 from @chistabel6

Further examples of tools which Martin Hawksey developed at the IWMW 2012 event can be accessed from his Delicious IWMW12 Hacks set of bookmarks.

The Daily newspaper

Finally I should mentioned the IWMW12 daily newspaper, which had been set up in advance of the event. This automated newspaper consisted of articles based on links which had been tweeted  containing the event hashtag.


Conferences have never ended immediately after the final talk has been given – this is always the paperwork to be processed, the evaluation forms to be analysed and feedback given to the speakers and local event organisers. What is different nowadays is that event resources and discussions are no longer ‘trapped in space and time’.  If an event has value, it should surely have value for those who may not have been able to attend.

It was therefore appropriate that during my opening talk I was able to announce the launch of the JISC-funded Greening Events II; Event Amplification report. We hope that the report will be useful for others who are planning amplified events.  As Mark Power put it: “Conferences don’t end at the end anymore” – you need to make plans for managing the resources after the conference is over. We hope the report will be useful for those planning amplified events.

NOTE: Shortly after this post was published a post entitled “But who is going to read 12,000 tweets?!” How researchers can collect and share relevant social media content at conferences was posted on the LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog which echoed the approaches described in this post.

Posted in Events, Evidence, preservation, Twitter, Web2.0 | 3 Comments »

Twitter Analysis: Can #bathopenday Learn from #IWMW12?

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 21 June 2012

In the final session at UKOLN’s IWMW 2012 event which finished yesterday I suggested that the community analysis techniques which Tony Hirst and Martin Hawksey were applying to the #IWMW12 tweets might be useful in institutional contexts. “Suppose your University is having an Open Day” I suggested “and you promoted a Twitter hashtag which could be used by visitors to your institution who, it seems, are now making greater use of Twitter. You might be able to apply the tools developed by Tony and Martin to help develop a better understanding of that important community – 17 year old students who may choose your University next year“.

After the IWMW 2012 had finished, whilst unwinding in a pub opposite the Appleton Tower in Edinburgh I checked my email and spotted an email which announced “Over 5,000 visitors expected on campus tomorrow!” and went on to add:

As with any Open Day the campus will be busy, especially the car parks. As usual we have plans in place for overflow parking but if you can car share to help ease the pressure then please do so. Buses are also likely to be very busy, so please take this into account when making your travel arrangements.

On arrival at the University I spotted posters around the campus signposting the various departments – all of which contained the Twitter hashtag for today’s Open Day: #bathopenday So whilst tweets from staff at the University could well be full of complaints about travelling up the hill to the University, it does seem that there may be an opportunity to analyse the #bathopenday tweets.

Yesterday Tony Hirst (@psychemedia) tweeted “Visualising folk commonly followed by recent users of the #iwmw12 hashtag” which is illustrated.

In addition Martin Hawksey (@mkawskey) has provided a timeline view of #IWMW12 tweets.

Might it be possible to apply these approaches to Bath’s #bathopenday tweets, I wonder? And is anybody else taking similar approach to their Open Days?

Posted in Events, Evidence, Twitter | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Streaming of IWMW 2012 Plenary Talks – But Who Pays?

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 18 June 2012


The sixteenth in the series of annual Institutional Web Management Workshops, IWMW 2012, is now underway. As we were concerned last year that Web team budgets and pressures of work would make it difficult for people to attend a 3-day event, the IWMW 2011 took place over two days. However the feedback we received in the final session last year made it clear that there was demand for the event to revert to its traditional 3 day format.

Since the concerns about budgets and workloads will probably be even more valid this year we were still concerned about the number of delegates. However, following an influx of last minutes bookings, the final numbers are even larger than last year with 170 registered delegates.

We also have a number of sponsors again this year, with Jadu sponsoring the badges and lanyards, TERMINALFOUR are sponsoring a parallel session and Siteimprove providing inserts in the delegate pack. In addition Statistics into Decisions and Gas Mark 8 are co-sponsoring the event amplification and video-streaming of the plenary talks.

Since the University of Edinburgh video-streaming service has other commitments this week, TConsult, who have provided event amplification at IWMW events in the past, will this year also be providing the video-streaming service. The service is being used to deliver the live video stream. However since we are aware that viewers will probably not appreciate the adverts include in the free version of the service, we will be using Watershed, the premium version of the service. The charging for this service is based on viewer hours. Looking at the pricing options it seems that we can pay $49 for a month’s subscription, which gives us 500 viewer hours, with an additional $0.49 per additional viewer hour. This seems reasonable – unless the plenary talks attract a large audience. Since there are 8.5 hours of plenary talks we will be able to cater for 60 people watching all the plenary talks. Based on previous year’s experiences the expected numbers should fall within the standard allowance. However if some of the talks become unexpectedly popular – and the popularity which can be generated by viral social networks such as Twitter – we could be hit with a large bill. We have therefore put a cap on the total number of users. In order to ensure that people who wish to watch a plenary talk do not have access blocked we ask that people watching the live video stream switch off the live stream when the talks they are interested in has finished.

These considerations lead to the question: who should pay for live streams at conferences? At recent IWMW events the live video streaming was provided as part of the service by the host institution. However this year we have had to address the question of the business model for the provision on the service for the first time.

Although we are providing access to an ad-free video-streaming service we cannot commit to doing this in the future. One alternative will be to make use of the free ad-supported version of the service. As illustrated, when you join a stream an advert will be displayed, for about 20 seconds, it would seem.

Adverts which are used to fund a video service which is free at the point of delivery is, of course, something we are all familiar with – ITV have been doing this for many years and we are all willing to watch programmes on commercial channels, provided the content is of interest to us.

I would be interested to hear from people who would not be willing to watch video streaming of content of interest to them on how the costs of the service should be provided. I would, of course, expect such suggestions to be reasonable and feasible: saying that we should simply be getting more money to provide such services is not realistic in the current environment.

A similar question could be asked about the accessibility of recordings of the videos. We do not intend to provide captions for the recordings and, since legislation talks about ‘reasonable measures’ we do not feel there is a legal requirement to do this. We feel that the provision of the live video stream itself enhances the accessibility of the event – a point brought how to me last year when Janet McKnight uploaded a photo of herself watching the live video stream, with her baby in her lap (as illustrated). Put simply, the provision of the live video stream itself enhances access to the content for people who can’t attend the event for a variety of reasons. Having to spend additional money from an undetermined source to caption the videos would potentially undermine the provision of the live video stream itself, forcing us back to the world of siloed conferences in which only paying delegates could participate.

Unless, of course, we could make use of the textual summaries of the plenary talks provided by the official event amplifier on her Twitter account. We did this at IWMW 2010, as can be seen from the accompanying image of the Twitter captions of the talk by Ranjit Sidhu. This will be an approach we will explore again at this year’s event.

I‘ll conclude this post by summarising the policy for video streaming and access to video recording of talks at IWMW events.

In order to maximise the impact of the ideas presented in talks at IWMW events we will seek to support event amplification to enable members of the sector who aren’t physically present to engage in the discussions and sharing of ideas. We will also seek to provide a live video stream of plenary talks and access to recordings of the talks after the event.

We will aim to provide these services in a sustainable fashion. We will be transparent about the ways in which these services are being funded.

Is that a reasonable policy?

Posted in Accessibility, Events | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Tools to Support a Community of Practice

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 14 June 2012

The Web Management Community of Practice

On Monday 18 June I will be co-facilitating a session on “New to the Sector? New to Web Management? New to IWMW?” at UKOLN’s annual IWMW 2012 event. Mike Nolan, Head of the Web Services team at Edge Hill University and Amber Thomas, programme manager at the JISC, will also be contributing to the session, with Mike giving his thoughts from the perspective of a Web manager who has had both technical and managerial responsibilities and Amber describing the ways in which JISC supports the needs of those working in institutional Web management teams.

In my talk on the role of the Innovation Support Centre at UKOLN I will focus on our involvement in the development of the Web management Community of Practice (CoP) through 16 years of the IWMW event and, in the early years, engagement on mailing lists. As described previously the two main lists used by this community have declined significantly since 2002, and now are used primarily for announcements of events, calls for papers and job advertisements. This decline is not surprising in light of the growth of a wide range of communications and collaborative tools during that time.  The challenge, however, is identifying the tools which can support the community and understanding how they can be used.  Or to put in in more concrete terms:
  • What tools are available which can support the professional interests of web managers?
  • What patterns of use of such tools are emerging?
  • Web managers are busy people – can use of such tools provide a positive ROI?
We will now try to address these questions, with a focus on use of such tools across the community rather than within an institution or team.

Engaging with the Web Management Community on Twitter

Sceptics will point out that Twitter is full of trivia, and use of Twitter can be time-consuming. Established Twitter users will agree that Twitter is full of trivia – and James Clay’s regular #thisiswhattwitterwascreatedfor tweets seem to confirm such views. But we should also remember that mailing lists and the Web itself are also full of information which are of no interest and are time-consuming to read – indeed it is also worth pointing out that libraries are full of books which are of no interest to individual readers!  The issue is not the tool itself, but the way in which the tool (or the library) is used. And surprisingly for some, Twitter’s apparent simplicity provides a diverse way in which it can be used, beyond telling people what you had for breakfast.

Twitter lists

When Twitter lists first came out it was unclear as to what benefits they would provide. However a number of applications now make use of Twitter lists. I have created a list for IWMW 2012 attendees who have provided a Twitter ID on their registration form. Viewing the  Twitter stream doesn’t provide much value (at the time of writing people are tweeting about a Euro12 football match and what they’re having for tea). However this list can be used in application such as Flipboard enable a personalised newspaper to be created based on content from a variety of sources including RSS feeds, Facebook and Twitter. Further examples can be seen in the post on  Who Needs Murdoch – I’ve Got Smartr, My Own Personalised Daily Newspaper! – although the Smartr app is no longer available the post illustrates the concept of how a Twitter list can be used as a filter for links to resources posted in Twitter.


A post entitled How Bottlenose Can Help Turn Twitter into a High Signal Channel illustrated how various tools developed around the Twitter environment can provide ease of access to quality content.

The accompanying screenshot shows a search for the hashtag #eucookielaw.  As can be seen, this enables you to focus in on tweets with other hashtags (such as #iwmw12) or keywords (such as ICO).

The point of these two examples is to illustrate how Twitter can be useful in finding content of interest. However the main purpose of this post is to illustrate how Twitter can be used in the support of a community. We will now explore examples of such uses.

Twitter as an Identity Provider

You do not have to post tweets in order to gain benefits from having a Twitter account.  If you are a speaker at events you can include your Twitter ID on your title slide, along with your email address. This can help you find what people were saying about your talk afterwards e.g. a tweet saying “Great talk by @johnsmith” will arrive in @johnsmith’s incoming messages whereas “Great talk by john smith” will be more difficult to find.


The Lanyrd service enables a user with a Twitter account to link their attendance at an event (as a speaker, delegate or organiser)  with your Twitter account.  As can be seen for the Lanyrd entry for the IWMW 2012 event you can see the 56 people who have currently associated their Twitter ID with the event.  Selecting a user, such as my colleague @MariekeGuy, you can view the other events she has been involved with, as well as the other users she has appeared with at other events.

Social Ties

The Social Ties app, available for the iPhone and Android platforms:

…  shows you which friends are present and list everyone else by our ‘shared interests index’. Anyone you don’t know becomes a ‘discovery’, the highest ranked are those who talk about the same things as you.

This is an example which seems to provide the ability to help develop one’s community of people with shared interests, based on attendance at forthcoming events. As described by the developers:

Social Ties is an iPhone app that utilises advanced AI algorithms to mine Social Network data to provide you with detailed profiles of people at the conference or event that you are attending, and orders the results according to how interesting we think you will find them.

It should be noted that Social Ties gets its event data from Lanyrd.


Unlike the other examples given so far, Shhmooze is not part of the Twitter infrastructure. Rather, as I described last year, Shhmooze  is designed to facilitate networking at an event. We have set up a Shhmooze entry for the IWMW 2012 event and will be inviting delegates to try out the tool during the three day event.


The session on New to the Sector? New to Web Management? New to IWMW? which will be held next Monday “will provide orientation for those who have not attended the event previously or are new to the sector or the community“.  I will give an overview of the IWMW event and suggest that it is not the skills of members of institutional Web teams or the services provided by the teams which have the potential to be the key aspect of a sustainable institutional Web team.  After all, policy makers within the institution are capable of carrying out this search query and looking for alternative providers of Web services. But what members of web teams within the institutions should have is the strength of their community.  Let’s continue to build and develop this community!

Posted in Events, Social Networking | 3 Comments »

What Can Offer the Web Manager?

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 1 June 2012

I’m pleased to say that we will be running an additional parallel session at the IWMW 2012 event in Edinburgh in just over two weeks’ time. Phil Barker will be facilitating a session which will seek answers to the question What Can Offer the Web Manager? The session, which will take place on Monday 18 June from 14.00-15.30, will explore ideas Phil described in a recent post which asked Will using metadata improve my Google rank?

As described in the abstract for the session: is a major new initiative supported by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Bing and Yandex with the aim of “making it easier for people to find the right web pages”. It is a simplified profile of microdata, a means of embedding metadata in web pages that is aligned with HTML5. It differs significantly from previous attempts at providing resource descriptions for web pages to aid discovery, such as various metadata schema, microformats and RDFa in that it has support from the major search engines plus W3C, making it both standards-based and with vendor support.

As can be seen from his guest post on the Creative Commons blog on the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative Phil has a particular interest is in the potential which may have in enhancing the discovery of educational resources. However when we discussed his proposal we realised that the issues he would be covering in the session would be of general interest: How can one provide structured metadata in Web pages to facilitate discovery? What is different to use of to previous metadata proposals such as simply embedding Dublin Core in HTML resources? A common example of use of is for recipes (as illustrated) – how might one develop a vocabulary relevant to the needs of the higher education sector and, equally important, ensure that search engine vendors understand and process such vocabularies?

Phil’s session on a metadata standard for resource discovery complements the session which Alex Bilbie will be facilitating on the following day (Tuesday 19 June) on Linking You (session C5). As described in the abstract for that session:

This workshop will provide an introduction to the JISC-funded Linking You toolkit. We’ll reflect on the project’s recommendations, dig into the sector-wide review of HEI’s use of identifiers and discuss the resulting draft data model for institutions and possible ways forward for implementation.

At the end of this session, participants should have a better understanding of how identifiers are being used across UK university websites, had a chance to respond to the proposed data model and influence future work in this area.

These two sessions would seem to provide an ideal opportunity for those who have an interest in exploring approaches to enhancing the discovery of a range of resources hosted on the Web.

If you have already booked a place at the IWMW 2012 event and this session is of interest you can change your selected parallel sessions using the username and password you were given when you registered (note that the session has code B7). If you haven’t booked a place for the event which takes place at the University of Edinburgh on 18-20 June, the bookings are still open. And note that although bookings were originally due to close later today, in light of the extended Bank Holiday weekend, which means that the event organisers will not be in the office until later next week, we have decided to keep the online booking system open until Friday 8 June.

Posted in Events | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Trends in Slideshare Views for IWMW Events

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 31 May 2012

“Why does everybody ask for slides during/after a presentation?”

Why does everybody ask for slides during/after a presentation? What do you do with them? I’m genuinely curious.asked @MattMay last night. I use Slideshare for a number of reasons:

  • To enable a remote audience to view slides for a presentation they may be watching on a live video stream, on an audio stream or even simply listening to the tweets (and a provide a slide number on the slides to make it easier for people tweeting to identify the slide being used.
  • To enable the slides to be viewed in conjunction with a video recording of the presentation.
  • To enable my slides to be embedded elsewhere, so that the content can be reused in a blog post or on a web page.
  • To enable the content of the slides to be reused, if it is felt to be useful to others. Note that I provide a Creative Commons licence for the text of my slide, try to provide links to screenshots and give the origin of images which I may have obtained from others.
  • To enable my slides to be viewed easily on a mobile device.
  • To provide a commentable facility for the slides.
  • To enable my slides to be related, via tags, to related slideshows.

It seems that I am not alone in wishing to share my slides in this way. Slideshare, the market leader in this area, was recently acquired by LinkedIn. As described in a TechCrunch article published on 3 May 2012: “LinkedIn has just acquired professional content sharing platform SlideShare for $119 million in cash and stock“.  The article went on to state that: “SlideShare users have uploaded more than nine million presentations, and according to comScore, in March SlideShare had nearly 29 million unique visitors”.

Slideshare is also widely used in higher education. But how is it being used, especially in the context of annual events for those involved in web management and web development activities?

Use of Slideshare at IWMW Events

A year ago today, on 31 May 2011, in a post entitled Evidence of Slideshare’s Impact I reported on the number of views on slides of talks which had been given at UKOLN’s IWMW event since 2006.  hosted on Slideshare. It is timely to update that survey.

The slideshows for each year are available in the following Slideshow event groups: IWMW-2006IWMW-2007IWMW2008IWMW2009 and IWMW2010 (note we changed the naming convention in 2008 once Twitter started to gain in popularity).  Note that since not all of the slideshows have been added to the event groups the analysis also made use of the Slideshare tags: IWMW2006,IWMW2007IWMW2008IWMW2009, IWMW10 and IWMW11. It should also be noted that on 20 May Slideshare discontinued event groups so we will not be able to use this approach for grouping slides used at IWMW 2012.

The numbers of views for each slide are available on Slideshare.  A Google Spreadsheet has been created which summarises the figures. The overall totals are given below.

Year Nos. of views
(May 2011)
Nos. of views
(May 2012)
Total nos.
of slides
Nos. of
plenary slides
Nos. of slides from
parallel sessions
2006 48,360  51,535 11 11  0 Slides added retrospectively.
In May 2012 most popular plenary: 12,216 views.
In May 2011 most popular plenary: 10,190 views.
2007 44,495  61,739 7 5  2 Slides from 2 w/shop sessions included.
In May 2012 most popular plenary: 27,814 views; w/shop: 12,267 views.
In May 2011 most popular plenary: 21,679 views; w/shop: 9,838 views
2008 94,629 109,055 17 8  9 W/shop facilitators encouraged to use Slideshare.
In May 2012 most popular plenary: 33,656 views; w/shop: 18,369 views.
In May 2011 most popular plenary: 26,005 views; w/shop: 22,525 views.
2009 38,877  46,238 29 10 19 In May 2012 most popular plenary: 2,489 views; barcamp: 2,839 views.
In May 2011 most popular plenary: 3,313 views; barcamp: 4,023 views.
2010 11,833 18,758 18 10  8 In May 2012 most popular plenary: 1,896 views; w/shop: 1,601 views.
In May 2011 most popular plenary: 2,816 views; w/shop: 2,599 views.
2011 -   6,393  11  5  6 In May 2012 most popular plenary: 1,119 views; w/shop: 944 views.
TOTAL 238,259 297,741  88  44  44 Growth: 2011 to 2012 = 25%

Note that these figures were mostly collected on 25 May 2012, but a small number of changes were made on 30 May. Also note that two different slideshows used in workshop session at IWMW 2012 had the largest numbers of views in May 21011 and 2012.


A paper on “Who are we talking about?: the validity of online metrics for commenting on science [v0]” presented at the Altmetrics11 Tracking scholarly impact on the social Web workshop described how:

… we are not searching in online bibliographic databases for evidence of publications but that we are isolating the existence of online activity on the social web including: blogs; micro-blogging (Twitter); activity on social platforms – LinkedIn, and Mendeley; and sharing of presentations through Slideshare. 

The potential importance of Slideshare metrics was also highlighted yesterday in an article entitled Scientists: your number is up published in  Nature:

Herbert Van de Sompel at the Research Library of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, who is a long-standing proponent of author identifiers, hopes that the [ORCID] system might be used to generate alternative metrics by linking authors to their outputs in “less traditional venues of scholarly communication, such as tweets, blog posts, presentations on Slideshare and videos on SciTV”.

To illustrate the possible benefits of using Slideshare to host a slideshow consider Kristen Fisher Ratan’s slides on “Metrics: The New Black?“. From this I can view Kristen’s other slideshows and discover that she is the Product Director at PloS (Public Library of Science) and that her Twitter ID is @kristenratan. I can also find related slides hosted on Slideshare with the tags almsmetricspublishing and altmetrics.  This can be useful and I haven’t even looked at the slides yet! Slide 18 (illustrated) states that “Powerpoint download feature inadvertently tracked sub-article usage” which suggests that links to a PowerPoint presentation from a paper might provide usage information about the paper which might be difficult to find in other ways. I’m please that this slideshow has been uploaded to Slideshare!

But if Slideshare have a role to play in a portfolio of online metrics which may help to provide a better understanding of the impact of scientific research, what can be learnt from these metrics taken over a period of six years? Although the IWMW event is aimed at practitioners rather than researchers, it did occur to me that the experiences gained in collating these statistics might be of interest to those who are considering use of Slideshare statistics in an alt.metrics context.  Some thoughts that occurred to me:

  • Fragmented statistics: A number of speakers uploaded slides to their own Slideshare account. In cases where this was done after the slides had been uploaded to our main IWMW Slideshare account, we did not always know about the alternative location, which could result in difficulties in aggregating the usage statistics.
  • Reuse of slides at other events: On a couple of occasions, slides used for presentations at IWMW event were also subsequently used at another event.

However there are clearly more significant things to consider when looking at Slideshare metrics: namely, what is it that is being measured?  In this post I will not attempt to answer that question.  Instead I will simply conclude by providing a simple answer to Matt May’s question: “Why does everybody ask for slides during/after a presentation? What do you do with them? I’m genuinely curious.” by pointing out what the evidence tells us “They ask for them because they wish to view them. Why, therefore, would you not provide access to the slides?“. Even if the slides don’t provide significant textual content, they may be useful by letting others see how you have designed your slides and structured your ideas.

As I concluded in last year’s post:

Martin Weller made [the] point in his post on The Slideshare Lessons when he said: “by sharing good Slideshare presentations you are sharing ideas, and people will react to these. It can be in the form of comments on your blog post which features the presentation, on the Slideshare site itself, or through other social media such as twitter“.  Why, I wonder, are people still hosting their slides in the silo of an institutional Web site when the slides can easily be made available as a social object?

Or to put it another way, why would you not publish your slides on Slideshare?

Posted in Events, Evidence, Web2.0 | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

“Big Data, Big Deal?” – It’s the Interpretation of the Evidence That’s Important

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 16 May 2012

On Thursday, 10 May I attended the Eduserv Symposium 2012 on “Big Data, Big Deal?“. The Symposium Web site introduced the topic by focussing on the excitement which currently surrounds the phase “Big Data”:

The hot IT buzzword of 2012, big data has become viable as cost-effective approaches have emerged to tame the volume, velocity and variability of massive data” – Edd Dumbill, O’Reilly Radar.

In the opening to the event, Andy Powell, the Eduserv Symposium chair, suggested that claiming 2012 as the year of Big Data probably means that the term will be over-hyped. Rather than revisiting suggestions as to what Big Data could do, Andy explained that the aim of the Symposium would be primarily to provide an opportunity to hear about what practitioners are actually doing.

This approach meant that many of the talks went into either technical details relation to software and systems (Hadoop, DB Couch, NoSQL, etc.) or of the application area (e.g. Genome sequencing). Due to my lack of expertise I will not attempt to summarise the details of the talks. If you do have an interest in the details of the presentations which were given you will be pleased to hear that recordings of the talks are available via the Eduserv Web site together with the speakers’ slides can also be accessed.

For those who are new to the area, my colleague Marieke Guy has summarised what is meant by Big Data:

Big data is considered to be data sets that have grown so large and complex that they present challenges to work with using traditional database management tools. The key factors are seen to be the “volume, velocity and variability” of the data.

Several of the talks addressed the relevance of Big Data in areas of scientific research. Although this is clearly of interest to the higher education sector, I felt that it was unfortunate that there were no talks on learning analytics. The popularity of the Learning Analytics and Knowledge 2012 conference, held in Vancouver on 29 April – 2 May 2012, indicates the importance of this area and as a number of people from JISC and JISC services attended the conference, I felt it would have been particularly useful if the symposium has addressed this topic – as I suggested at the event after hearing about how large retailers are gaining competitive advantages from analysis of purchasing patterns, although it may be interested to analyse electronics and cans of beans, analysis of data associated with student learning raises many interesting ethical issues which the sector needs to address.

The opening speaker who pointed out that the aggregation and analysis of large volumes of data would support evidence-based policy decisions. This is an approach I support, and over the past few years I have gathered small data in order to inform policy-making processes. For me the role of the data scientists and data journalists who can help to interpret, understand and communicate findings provided by data, big or small, will be important. For scientists the interpretation of the Big Data might inform the development of scientific understanding (as is the case in the Big Data being gathered by the Large Hadron Collider) whereas as we can be seen from the abstract for the talk on Making data a way of life for public servants given by Max Wind-Cowie Head, Progressive Conservatism Project Demos:

The data agenda has made great progress under this Government – particularly in the area of transparency. But public servants too often feel left out of the equation or, worse, see transparency as a threat. Too often the public sector looks at big data as a risk, a problem waiting to happen and a potential tool for undermining its work. If Britain is to truly reap the benefits of big data we need to make data – its collection and its use – a boon to public servants, not a burden.

The interest in Big Data in informing policy decisions by the Government clearly makes the subjectivity of the interpretation of the analysis of Big Data clearly an important issue!

My colleague Marieke Guy summarised some of the key themes in her report on the event, which included:

We don’t need to get hung up on the ‘big’ word. Many of the benefits of evidence-based policy decisions can be gained by analysis of data which may be regarded as Big based on the characteristics of ” volume, velocity and variability”.

The tools are now available. Marieke highlighted Hadoop, DB Couch, NoSQL which all allow people to work easily with data sets – and may address the issues of tools which can be used for managing Big Data in her session on “Big and Small Web Data” which will be held at the IWMW 2012 event. I should also mention that a post on “Analytics Reconnoitre: Notes on Open Solutions in Big Data from #esym12” by Martin Hawksey of JISC CETIS also highlights a range of tools and provides a useful set of links to further sources of information.

We don’t yet know what data to get rid of. The issue of preservation of Big Data was of particular interest to me in light of my involvement in Web preservation issues. Preservation experts often point out the importance of selection criteria to define resources which should be preserved. However, as we heard at the symposium, such selection criteria is based on an understanding of what should be regarded as important. For the preservation of scientific data the decisions will be based on an understanding of a particular model – but what if the model is found to be incorrect? Donald Rumsfeld famously suggested that:

[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.

To paraphrase this:

[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know are of value and worth preserving.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know whether they are worth preserving.
But there are also incorrect unknowns – there are things we thought we knew we were mistaken.

Martin Hawksey concludes his report on the event by encouraging readers to:

watch some of the videos from the Data Scientist Summit 2011 (I’m still working my way through but there are some inspirational presentations).

I agree with Martin – there were some excellent talks at the event. I would also thank Andy Powell and his Eduserv colleagues for the live-streaming and for making the videos available shortly after the event was over. I was also pleased when I discovered that the videos have been made available on Eduserv’s YouTube channel, which means that I can now embed the Opening keynote – Big Data and implications for storage: Rob Anderson at Eduserv Symposium 2012 in this post:

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Why Would You Not Use #Lanyrd For Your Event?

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 15 May 2012


Lanyrd: a Conference Directory Website

I’m a fan of Lanyrd, which is described in Wikipedia as “a conference directory website created by Simon Willison and Natalie Downe and launched in 2010“. The article goes on to add that “The site compiles blog posts, photos and other coverage from events and keeps it organised by session and speaker. Users on the site are identified through the Twitter API and events are shown to users based on their contacts on Twitter“.

Lanyrd was released in September 2010 and I started to make use of it shortly after its launch and have been a fan ever since.

The IWMW 2012 Lanyrd Entry

Speakers at IWMW 2012

We have set up a Lanyrd entry for UKOLN’s forthcoming IWMW 2012 event. This provides a calendar view of the programme (which can be exported in various calendar formats), But perhaps of most interest is the social dimension to the service. As can be seen you can view the speakers at the event. Since the speakers are identified by their Twitter ID, once you have signed in to the service you can quickly see the speakers who you follow on Twitter or, if you aren’t currently following them, you can choose to extend your professional network by following them.

The service isn’t just for speakers, facilitators and organisers at an event, however. If you are attending an event you can register as a participant. If you are merely interested in the event you can also register your interest in the event by tracking the event.

Lanyrd has developed since its launch, and there are now dedicated Lanyrd apps available for the iPhone/iPad and Android devices. In addition there is also a mobile interface to the web site available which can be used if you haven’t installed an app or an app is not available for your mobile device.

Reflecting on Previous Events

But in addition to Lanyrd’s potential for forthcoming events, it can also help to provide a better understanding of an event over the years, including the speakers, participants and the content.

A Lanyrd guide (a collection of related events) has been set up called IWMW which provides details of all 16 IWMW events since its launch in 1997. The entries for the early years (currently) provide details of the title of the event, the location and the dates. But in addition, the abstracts for plenary talks and workshop sessions together with speaker details for events held since 2006 are also available.

Speakers at IWMW 2006

As can be seen we have provided speaker details going back to IWMW 2006, which, as you will see if you view the list of sessions held on Lanyrd, was the start of interest in Web 2.0 across the UK higher and further education sector.

We also made use of Slideshare for many of the plenary talks given at the IWMW 206 event (although these may have been uploaded after the event was held). And since Lanyrd supports embedded objects includes slides and videos, we have been any to facilitate access to the slides (and, in one cases, accompanying videos) for the plenary talks.

What benefits might this provide? I would suggest that use of Lanyrd in this way can:

  • Provide a better understanding of the speakers and facilitators who have contributed to the event over the years.
  • Help to raise the profile of the speakers and facilitators.
  • Enhance participants’ memories of the events.
  • Decoupling the content from the host Web site (which provides primarily a HTML view of the content).
  • Avoiding the need for local development.

But what else might use of Lanyrd provide? A question on Lanyrd’s FAQ asks I want to play with your data. Will there be an API? and we find a positive response:

Yes, an API is in the pipeline. If you are interested in receiving announcements and updates about the API, you can join our API discussion mailing list.

As a conference organiser I’ve an interest in developing the APIs for Lanyrd guides. For the 16 IWMW events it would be useful to be able to display information on the numbers of speakers across all events, the numbers of times they have spoken. In light of the recent post which asked Are There Too Many Male Speakers at Events? it might also be useful to be able to provide statistics on gender balances, although I appreciate there are sensitivities with such questions.

But perhaps the most useful aspect of Lanyrd would be gained if participants at previous events used Lanyrd to list the events they have attended. This would help to give an understanding of the participation at events, beyond the speakers. Such information is clearly personal and would be covered by Data Protection Legislation. But if individuals were to provide such information for themselves that would overcome privacy concerns.

We tend to focus on using technologies to enhance forthcoming events. I wonder whether there may be value to be gained in data-mining the wide range of events held in the higher education sector over, say, the past ten years. Any thoughts?

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

Posted in Events | 5 Comments »

Are There Too Many Male Speakers at Events?

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 12 April 2012

Are Conferences Dominated By Male Speakers?

Yesterday I announced that UKOLN’s annual IWMW 2012 event is now open for bookings. But is the event, aimed at those responsible for managing institutional Web services, dominated by male speakers? In a recent Twitter discussion Nicole Harris revisited this topic which she has commented on previously:

… more lack of female presenters i moan about. % of female speakers at UKSG plenaries even, not just tech

As we run many events at UKOLN I wondered whether we too tended to fail to give female speakers an opportunity to talk. In order to base subsequent discussion on evidence I looked at the numbers of male and female plenary speakers at IWMW events and also included the figures for the forthcoming IWMW 2012 event. The figures are summarised in the following table.

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Total Total %
Male 7  9  11 10 9 7 11 8 6 10  7 7 9 9 7 9  135 86.5%
Female  1 1 1  1 0 2  2 1 0   1 1 3 0 2 1 4    21 13.5%
Link  Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link  Link

It seems then that there have been only 13.5% female plenary speakers at the 16 IWMW events, with the IWMW 2005 and IWMW 2009 events held at Manchester and Essex seemingly being men-only events from a speaker’s perspective. A post about a Gendered Conference Campaign on the Feminist Philosophers blog”aims to raise awareness of the prevalence of all-male conferences … of the harm that they do“. Is the IWMW event guilty of “All-male events and volumes help to perpetuate the stereotyping of [web technologies] as male” as is highlighted on the blog in the field of philosophy?

Although the IWMW event hosts a number of plenary talks, the main focus is on the parallel workshop sessions which aim to provide a more interactive and participative approach to learning and staff development.  What are the gender balances for the workshop facilitators? The figures are given in the following table.

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Total Total %
Male -  8 6  8 18 17 13 15 15 23  24 17  16  21 12  14  219 74.5%
Female -  1 1  0   7  9 14   8   6   6    4   3    6   3   3    4    75 25.5%
Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link  Link


  • A record of the facilitators of the sessions held at the first IWMW event was not kept.
  • The numbers given in the two tables may contain small inaccuracies due to people running multiple sessions, late replacements, etc.

From these figures we can see that there are almost twice proportionately as many female facilitators as plenary speakers. We can conclude that the event is not based on only men leading talks and sessions, although we are far from parity. But does this simply reflect the gender disparity across the institutional web management community? One way of finding an answer to this would be to look at the gender split across the participants at IWMW events.

Since we do not record gender information we made use of the Status field (Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms). This approach does mean that the gender of attendees who are Doctors or Professors may be mis-recorded but for the IWMW event, these numbers are likely to be small. The figures for recent years are given below.

2009 2010 2011 Total Total %
Male 113 132 116 361 71.5%
Female   60  37   47 144 28.5%

We can thus conclude that the overall numbers for plenary speakers and facilitators (354 males and 96 females or 78% and 21%) are not significantly different from the overall gender split at the event.

Do We Need to Gather Gender Statistics?

Dr Chris Sexton

In order to be able to analyse gender information for both participant as well as speakers at future events we have started to have a discussion as to whether we should explicitly ask for such information on registration forms. We had to manually identify whether participants were male or female and are aware that in some circumstances, such as ambiguous or unfamiliar first names, such as Dr Chris Sexton, mistakes may we made.

When we raised this question on Twitter, the responses were mixed. Some people felt that it was inappropriate, perhaps because we should be minimising personal questions which are asked but also, it seems, because of a feeling that gender issues aren’t a simple binary split. But others felt that it would be appropriate to ask such questions, especially if the purpose of asking the question was provided.

This specific issue does raise a more general question regarding gathering of information. Some people feel that information on booking forms should only be used if the information will be used in some concrete fashion. For the IWMW 2012 event we ask about the mobile devices which people are likely bring to the event partly to be able to ensure that any technologies we intend to use at the event can be used on popular devices, but also so that we can identify trends in the numbers of devices people are taking to the IWMW events and the types of devices themselves. We are unlikely to make use of gender information in any specific ways, but we are wondering whether the information about the speakers and facilitators should inform our policies for future events. Should we, for example, actively solicit more contributions from women? On the other hand, if the number of female speakers correlates with the numbers of female attendees, might the imbalance be a larger societal issue for which we, as event organisations, are not in a position to address? Or maybe you feel that such suggesting there should be some form of quotas for female speakers is ‘political correctness gone mad’?

We have now opened up bookings for IWMW 2012, without asking for gender information. In addition Sally Kerr, EA Draffan, Dawn Ellis and Helen Sargan will be giving plenary talks, with Katherine Pickles and Marieke Guy chairing sessions and Claire Gibbons, Sheila MacNeill and Marie Salter, together with Marieke Guy facilitating workshop sessions.

But what about other UKOLN events? And what about other events held across the sector? How does the gender split for participants and speakers at IWMW events compare with, say, ALT-C, UCISA and JISC conferences? And do such organisations have policies which seek to ensure appropriate levels of representation from women? Alternatively, if you run a library event with female participants in the majority, do you face these issues in reverse?

I should add that after the first few years of running successful IWMW event the programme committee pro-actively sought female speakers and workshop facilitators, which resulted in 28% of the workshop facilitators in 2001 and 2002 and 52% in 2003 being female. However in subsequent years gender issues seem to have been forgotten about, with no plenary speakers giving talks in 2005 and 2009.

Your views would be welcome. Feel free to leave a comment on this post. Alternatively you may wish to resp0nd to the survey forms which ask for your views on asking for gender information on event booking forms and policies on seeking larger numbers of female speakers.


Posted in Events | 13 Comments »

IWMW 2012 Open For Bookings

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 11 April 2012


IWMW 2012, University of Edinburgh, 18-20 June

I’m pleased to announce that bookings are now open for IWMW 2012, the sixteenth annual Institutional Web Management Workshop. This year’s event will be held at the University of Edinburgh on 18-20 June. We have reverted back to the three-day format for this year’s event, and since we’ll be starting on the opening morning (rather than after lunch) we are able to provide a fuller programme than usual, with 11 plenary talks and 20 parallel sessions.

A summary of the content of the IWMW 2012 event is given below.

Embedding Innovation

The theme for this year’s event is “Embedding Innovation” . The event will provide an opportunity for those with responsibilities for providing institutional Web services to hear about and discuss ways in which news ways of working are being embedded to reflect technological developments and the changing funding and political environment.

Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski

I am particularly pleased that this year’s event sees the first plenary talk by a Vice-Chancellor. Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, the Principal and Vice-Chancellor at Robert Gordon University who, in addition to being a regular blogger and Twitter user, is also featured in Wikipedia. Professor von Prondzynski will contribute to the event’s theme in asking the question “Going Online – Do Universities really Understand the Internet?“. Having come across Professor von Prondzynski’s blog post on Institutional tweets in January 2011 which began “Do universities that maintain Twitter pages know what they are doing, or why they are doing it?” I am particularly looking forward to this talk which will, perhaps, invite delegates to rethink their approaches to use of online services – after all, if we are looking to embed innovation we should probably rethink the approaches we have traditionally taken in the provision of our services. Earlier this year in a post on “Learning, unlearning and relearning” Steve Wheeler, Associate Professor of Learning Technology in the Faculty of Health, Education and Society at Plymouth University, made this point when he suggested that “there are times when unlearning just has to be done“.

The need to rethink established approaches to the development of Web sites will be continued in EA Draffan’s talk on “Beyond WCAG: Experiences in Implementing BS 8878“. In the talk she will suggest that a resource-based standard such as WCAG may need to be used within the context of a process-based standards and, within the UK, we are now in a position to make use of the BS 8878 Web Accessibility Code of Practice. But are universities, after over ten years of suggesting that conformance to WCAG would bring out universal accessibility, ready to acknowledge that, beyond the simple provision of informational resources, universal accessibility – whilst a laudable goal – may not be achievable?

The final plenary talk on the theme of “Embedding Innovation” will address ways in which institutions should be preparing for the Mobile Web. In a talk entitled “Do I Need an App for That?” Rob Borley will point out that although last year saw the 15 billionth download from the Apple app store and there are now over 500,000 different apps available to consumers, in developing a mobile strategy there is still a legitimate need to ask: “Do I need an app for that?“.

Data: the New Content

The second theme for the plenary talks at IWMW 2012 is “Data: the New Content“. The talks in this session will highlight the opportunities provided for those involved in providing institutional Web services in moving beyond the management of content (often text, images and multimedia resources) into the management of and access to data.

This session will provide an opportunity to hear from open data developments beyond our sector, with Sally Kerr, corporate Project Manager at the City of Edinburgh Council, describing “Open Data Development in the City of Edinburgh Council“.

But once you have open data, what can your (and other) developers do with it? In a talk entitled “Data Visualisation: A Taster” Tony Hirst and Martin Hawksey will illustrate how open data can be gathered, processed and visualised – and they hope that this taster presentation will encourage participants to sign up for their 90 minute “Data Visualisation Kitchen” workshop session (although I should add that participants will need to sign up for the parallel sessions in advance!).

We will not, however, focus only on the interests of policy makers and developers. In a talk entitled “Design Work for Key Information Sets” Stuart Church will outline the user-centred design (UCD) process that was used to design the Key Information Sets (KIS) and discusses some of the design challenges that were faced. In addition, he will consider some of the design approaches that can be used to make online ‘infographics’ more effective. For those who are unfamiliar with KIS, are part of a HEFCE initiative to provide comparable sets of standardised information about undergraduate courses. From September 2012, universities and colleges will be expected to publish these information sets on their web sites.

Institutional Case Studies

In a time of cuts, those who work in institutional Web teams should welcome the new opportunities which will be highlighted in the two strands summarised above. But in addition there will be a continued requirement to manage and develop existing institutional Web services. The third strand on “Institutional case Studies” provides an opportunity to hear from practitioners on the approaches they are taking to their mainstream work activities.

In this session we will hear from Dawn Ellis who will provide answers to the question “What Do You Really Want?, Keith Doyle and Paddy Callaghan who will address the challenges in having to “Serve Two Masters: Creating Large-Scale Responsive Websites“, Helen Sargan on “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Two Years of Running a Content Management Service” and Stephen Emmott who will give the final plenary talk on “Measuring Impact“.

The Parallel Workshop Sessions

Although the plenary talks aim to provide shared experiences for participants, with the opportunity to hear about changes, developments and working practices, the importance of active participation at the event has always been emphasised.

This year there will are currently twenty parallel sessions, which last for 90 minutes, which aim to provide opportunities for active participation.

Topics to be covered in these parallel sessions include addressing the legal implications of cookie legislation, development of mobile services, user centred design techniques, agile development, developing large-scale responsive web site, evaluation of conferencing tools, mobilising WordPress, data visualisation techniques, identifying and responding to emerging technologies, addressing digital literacy challenges and more.

More detailed information about the parallel sessions is available. It should be noted that IWMW 2012 participants will be able to three sessions. In addition, we have kept two sessions free to enable anyone who wishes to organise a session at the last minute can do so.

Booking for the Event

Our Dynamic Earth, venue for the IWMW 2012 reception

The online booking form is now available. The cost is £350 per person with two night’s ensuite accommodation or £300 per person with no accommodation. This will include the meals listed on the booking form and refreshments.

In addition to the main event meal on Monday, on Tuesday there will be a wine reception which will be held at Our Dynamic Earth. As described in WikipediaOur Dynamic Earth is a science centre in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is a prominent visitors attraction in the city [which] sits in the Holyrood area, beside the Scottish Parliament building and at the foot of Arthur’s Seat“.

When you book for the event you will be able to select your parallel sessions. Please note that since places on the parallel sessions are provided on a first-come first served basis, we advise early booking if you wish to guarantee a place on a preferred session.

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Is Web Interoperable Being Led By Global Social Media Services?

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 19 March 2012

The use of social media at conferences in the higher education sector now seems to be increasingly accepted. Many conferences, especially those with a technology focus, will now make use of Twitter with an event hashtag being adopted in order to make it easy to find relevant discussions and, particularly at larger event, perhaps even a dedicated Twitter account being used to support the event (providing administrative information, for example) or summaries of the  talks being provided by an official ‘event amplifier’.

In addition to Twitter other social media services which may be used might include Flickr, Facebook and LinkedIn, as can be seen from the list of social media used at the recent VALA 2012 conference.

I’ve an interest in the talks given at the VALA 2012 conference partly, as I have mentioned recently, because the UKOLN Director, Liz Lyon, gave a keynote talk on “The informatics transform : re-engineering libraries for the Data Decade” at the conference. But in addition when I viewed the conference tweets I noticed there was a lot of interest in the talk on “Libraries & the Post-PC era” given by Jason Griffey.

The abstract for the talk described how:

Most people on the Internet are not using what we would traditionally think of as a computer. The fastest selling non-phone personal electronics device in the world is something that just a few years ago was available only in science fiction. New wireless standards promise to give us Ethernet-like speeds, anywhere we happen to be. The rise of the mobile phone and tablet signals the move into the Post-PC era. How do libraries respond to this future? What will the next 3, 5, and 10 years look like for mobility and information?

I was interested in the presentational style which several people commented on via the Twitter event hashtag and Jason has written a post in which he described “How I Presented at VALA2012“. However  it was the content of the talk which is of particular interest to me – and, I hope, others who have an interest in views on the implications of a post-PC scholarly environment.

The conference organisers made a video recording of this talk and other plenary talks given at the conference.  In light of the emphasis given to use of social media at the conference I expected that I would be able to embed the video recording elsewhere including, ideally, on this blog.  But it seems that this is not possible, so I have had to include a screenshot of the video and, if you wish to view it you will have to leave this page.

It would also be useful to be able to embed the slides used by the plenary speakers. This is normally achieved by uploading slides to slide sharing services such as Slideshare – the service which I find most useful as slides hosted on Slideshare can be embedded in posts published on the platform which I use for this blog.

However it seems that a conference Slideshare account has not been used and, on 16 February when I initially wrote this post, I found only two embeddable slideshows may have been uploaded by individual speakers: Mining the treasures of Trove by Tim Sherratt and Co-design an ILMS for the Future by Zena Howard. In order to illustrate the benefits of embedding rather than linking I have embedded the Mining the treasures of Trove slides at the bottom of this post.

On 19 March 2012, however, there are now 8 slideshows hosted on Slideshare with the #vala2012 tag. These slides has been uploaded by haikugirl,  ewallis, peterneish (2 slideshows), sirexkat, wragge and zaana (2 slideshows).

It does seem that services which provide embeddable content tend to be the global social media services, with traditional institutional web sites and content management systems not seeming to provide such functionality.  Which makes me wonder: is Web interoperable being led by the global social media services?

It seems to me ironic that for example, as happened at a recent UCISA event on “Using social media to communicate“,  whilst the UCISA web site simply provides links to slides held elsewhere, the Lanyrd page for the event provides embedded slides and videos hosted on Slideshare and Vimeo, as well as providing connections for those who attended the event.

Or, to ask a question for those who provide institutional web services, how could the slides on Mining the treasures of trove shown below be embedded if they were hosted on an institutional web site rather than on a social media service such as Slideshare?

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Revisiting the Management of Disruptive Technologies Six Years On

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 24 February 2012

Looking Back

Exactly six years ago today, on Friday 24th February 2006 myself and John Heap (from Leeds Metropolitan University and, at the time, a UCISA committee member) organised a joint workshop at Warwick University on “Initiatives & Innovation: Managing Disruptive Technologies“. The abstract for the event is described how:

Computing, IT and Learning Technology Services within HE institutions must maintain reliable, stable, high availability services whilst undertaking development work on new systems, applications and technologies. All this is done within a framework of new opportunities, and occasionally new constraints, provided by national and regional managed initiatives and development projects.

Additionally, as technology is increasingly used in the direct support of teaching and learning, new ideas and technologies arise not from the Computing Service itself, but from academic staff who, understandably, want maximum flexibility in their ability to introduce and exploit new technologies.

This workshop will explore the issues involved in managing these potentially disruptive technologies and will work towards a framework that can be used to balance the demands for innovation and constant development with the need for stability and security.

The following definitions of disruptive technologies were provided:

The Free Online Dictionary defines disruptive technology as: “A new technology that has a serious impact on the status quo and changes the way people have been dealing with something, perhaps for decades. Music CDs all but wiped out the phonograph industry within a few years, and digital cameras are destined to eliminate the film industry. The most disruptive technologies in history have been the telephone, the computer (and all of its offshoots) and the Internet.

Another definition from Christian Brothers University defines disruptive technology as: “Technologies that enable the breaking of long-held business rules that inhibit organizations from making radical business changes”.

It is interesting looking at the objectives for the event, which aimed to ensure that the workshop participants:

  • Gained an understanding of JISC’s E-Framework strategy and the role of SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) in JISC-funded development activities.
  • Had an opportunity to discuss the implications of the E-Framework for institutional IT Service departments.
  • Learnt about the potential to support teaching and learning and research of a variety of Internet technologies such as instant messaging, Blogs, Wikis, Skype, etc.
  • Discussed some of the potential difficulties in providing, maintaining and supporting such technologies.
  • Explored approaches to reconciling the tensions between the user community’s desires to make use of such technologies and the difficulties in satisfying such requests.

“IT Services: Help or Hindrance?”

It was around this time, which coincided with the height of Little Britain’s popularity, that I made use of the catchphrase “Computer Says No” to point out the popular stereotype of IT Service departments, which we also saw in the IT Crowd. Interestingly it seems that Little Britain also had a following in the US, with Michael Stephens noticing a presentation I gave and writing a blog post which featured the accompanying image.

At the UCISA Management Conference 2006 I posed the, somewhat provocative, question “IT Services: Help Or Hindrance?” in which I raised concerns which I had previously described in a paper on IT Services – Help Or Hindrance To National IT Development Programmes?. As described in the abstract for the paper:

There is a danger that development work, including development funded by national and international funding programmes, can be hindered by institutional IT services departments. However IT services may feel that developers fail to understand the security, performance and support issues which deployment of applications is likely to entail.

Around that time there were concerns over the provision of instant messaging clients, such as MSN Messenger, for student use. Such applications were, some IT staff suggested, only used for trivial purposes. The arguments for blocking access to Skype covered both performance issues (“Skype can turn PCs  into a ‘Supernode’ and consume bandwidth“), ideological (?) (“Skype uses a proprietary standard – we should only provide access to SIP-compliant Internet teleph0ny applications“) and policy (“Use of Skype contravenes the JANET AUP so we can’t use it“). The arguments concerns regarding provision of blogs and wikis tended to relate to concerns about inappropriate content being published and the associated difficulties in managing the content and the legal and reputational risks.

How Have Things Changed?

How have things changed over the past six years?

Some of the specific concerns I listed above are now, surely, no longer an issue. The value provided by Skype to the sector has, I feel, been accepted and although SIP-compliant VoIP services may be used as part of an institution’s telephony infrastructure on the desktop (and, indeed, on mobile phones) Skype probably is the safe mainstream option.

Similarly the desire to block access to instant messaging services probably became untenable once web-based client became popular, as well as many instant messaging facilities in a host of other applications: it seems strange when editing a collaborative document in Google Docs and having realtime chat with co-authors that at one time such activities were regarded as trivial.

As to whether IT Services should provide access to blogs, with the associated risks related to the lack of formal editorial control processes, the arguments for the need to control use of such applications became marginalised as academic, researchers and, indeed, IT Service staff themselves, started to make use of cloud-based solutions such as and On 17 October 2007, for example, Christine Sexton, IT Services Director at the University of Sheffield launched her blog on Blogspot published 62 posts in the remainder of the year and 208 in 2008, heralding the first generation of senior managers in IT Services who were willing to make use of blogs. And as well as use of third party blog platforms by those who wanted to exploit the potential of blogs to support their professional activities, we also saw institutions starting to install, and in some cases, develop blog platforms hosted within the institution. The lead in this area was taken by the University of Warwick Blogbuilder platform. Interestingly although people have been known to swear on their blog posts, the world hasn’t collapsed and there are now 8,311 blogs, 160,810 entries, 27,497 tags, 217,208 comments and 119925 images!

Have we then seen over the past six years “[Disruptive] Technologies that enable the breaking of long-held business rules that inhibit organizations from making radical business changes” which have transformed of the education business – the role of IT Service departments? I don’t really feel that this is the case. Rather we have seen IT Services (in higher education – this is not necessarily the case in schools or across other public sector organisations) IT Services becoming more flexible and more user-focussed in their approaches. In part this is due to the leadership shown by senior managers such as Chris Sexton (who, in 2010 when she was also UCISA chair managed to published 162 blog posts). But, ironically, to an extent we also have the financial crisis to thank for the culture change we are seeing, with a realisation that at a time of reductions in funding and opportunities provided by cloud services (especially those which are free to use) that the priority should be to support the needs of the user community. So I’m prepared to acknowledge the (unforeseen) benefits which the international banking sector helped to instigate :-)

But I’d be interested in your views on changes in the provision and support of IT across the sector over the past six years. Do you agree with my view that things have improved or would you prefer to go back to the way we were?

Posted in Events, General | 1 Comment »

Call For Proposals for IWMW 2012

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 6 January 2012

UKOLN’s annual Institutional Web Management Workshop will be held at the University of Edinburgh on 18-20th June 2012.  IWMW 2012 is the sixteenth in the series of events which is aimed at those involved in the provision of institutional Web management services.

This year’s theme is “Embedding Innovation“. At the IWMW 2010 we explored the theme of The Web in Turbulent Times and last year we described institutional approaches for Responding to Change. Now, after having absorbed the implications of reductions in funding and begun the processes of new approaches to delivering services we now wish to explore ways in which embed changes related to new working practices and the rapidly changing technical environment and user expectations, especially from students who will be paying significant amounts of money to attend University.

The call for proposals is now open. Since the event is aimed at a broad section of those involved in the provision of institutional Web services we welcome proposals which cover the spectrum of  interests ranging including the technical challenges of managing institutional Web service, the ways in which a diversity of user needs can be addressed, the ways in which content and services can be managed, the increasingly challenging legal  implications of providing online services, they ways in which the Web can be used to support a broad range of business requirements, the growing importance of social media, the opportunities and challenges posed by Cloud Services, strategies for dealing with a mobile environment, staff development issues, etc.

We welcome submissions for plenary talks. There will be a small number of plenary talks which typically last for 45 minutes and should be of relevance to a broad section of the audience. Since the event has always sought to provide opportunities for active participation we will be providing a larger number of workshop sessions, which normally last for 90 minutes and aim to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate actively.  In addition we welcome other ideas, perhaps for panel sessions, debates, and other ways in which the challenges of managing large-scale Web services can be addressed in an informative and, perhaps, fun ways.

If you have never attended an IWMW event before you may wish to view the programme for the IWMW 2011, IWMW 2010 and IWMW 2009 events to get a feel for the range of topics which have been covered.

If you have any queries or would simply like to have a chat about possible contributions, feel free to get in touch with me.

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Remote Participants Invited to Seminar on “The Benefits of Amplified Events”

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 15 November 2011

On Thursday 17th November 2011 my colleague Marieke Guy  is giving a talk on “The Benefits of Amplified Events” as part of the University of Bath’s Green Impact seminar series.  There will be a live stream of the talk which is being provided by my colleagues Julian Prior and Marie Salter from the eDevelopment team in the Division for Lifelong Learning.

Marieke will be explaining the benefits of amplified events, including ways in which amplified events can help to maximise the impact of ideas presented at an event  and provide access to people who are unable to physically attend. One additional important area, which is being addressed in our participation in the JISC-funded Green Events II project,  is the environmental impact of events. Clearly avoiding the necessity to travel can provide environmental benefits, and I’m pleased that there has been participation from Spain, Denmark, the US, Canada and Australia at amplified events hosted by UKOLN.

But what of the environmental costs of the video streaming itself?  We would like to explore these issues by encouraging remote participants to record details of the bandwidth used in viewing a live video stream of forthcoming amplified events.

Thursday’s seminar will be streamed using the University of Bath’s Adobe Connect service which can host up to 20 participants.  If you wish to view the live video stream please register on the EventBrite system. In addition we would like to invite people to give their feedback on the experience and, if possible, to provide statistics on the bandwidth usage. Ideally, ideally it would be useful if remote participants could run simple network tests such as ‘traceroute’ or possibly use the Firebug plugin for FireFox (which tracks data volumes and provides information on  the IP addresses and domains used) together with the NetExport extension to save a log called NetExport (which adds the ability to Firebug to ‘export’ the HAR file to your hard drive). If. however, you are not able to install these tools but have an interest in this topic, feel free to sign up – although we’ll be asking you to describe your experiences, including any problems, which will help us to improve our amplification services and advise others on best practices.

Note (added on 16 Nov 2011): If you wish to take part in the exercise of monitoring network traffic for watching the video stream, once you have installed Firebug and the NetExport extension to Firebug you should use the following steps:

  1. Switch Firebug on for all pages using Firebug icon in top right corner of Firefox. Click the down arrow and choose ‘On for all pages’.
  2. Click on the Net tab at the top of the Firebug pane that appears and that should bring up a new menu directly below it. That will probably be on ‘All’ (greyed out) if not click on ‘All’.
  3. Navigate to the relevant Web page. Firebug will start logging all the connections/downloads on that page (don’t navigate away from that page in that tab) it will continue to log all activity from that page.
  4. When you want to save the log file clink on the ‘Export’ button on the lower Firebug menu – choose ‘Save as’ and save the ‘.har’ to disk, from where it can be e-mailed to the event organisers!

Note, however, that it is currently unclear as to whether this technique will work with the Adobe Connect interface.

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

How Should the Library Sector Respond to Predictions of Technological Developments?

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 31 October 2011

On Thursday I presented a short paper entitled “What’s on the Technology Horizon?” at the ILI 2011 conference. The paper, which is available in MS Word format, described initial work of the JISC Observatory which led to the publication of the Technology Outlook: UK Tertiary Education report.

The paper summarised the findings of the report (which are illustrated)  including the technological developments which have (now) arrived; developments which are expected to have a time-to-adoption horizon of two to three years and those with an expected time-to-adoption horizon of four to five years.

The focus of the short paper and the accompanying presentation at the ILI 2011 conference was “how should the sector respond to such predictions?”  Since I was expecting significant numbers of participants in the  session to have mobile devices I intended to encourage the participants to contribute their thoughts on how the library sector should be responding.  When the response to my question “How many of you have smart phones or table computers?” showed positive responses for over 90% of those present I was hopeful that we would be able to crowd-source suggestions for appropriate actions in preparing for the technological developments.

As shown below, I provided some examples of how I might expect libraries to be preparing for technological developments which should now have arrived, with each brief sentence being provided in a form suitable for tweeting.

Area Actions

Mobile and Tablet Computing

Personal use of mobile phones & tablets in order to gain experiences of new working practices; experiences of accessing library services, etc. Update Acceptable Use Policies to address use of mobile devices. Update Web developments tools and standards to ensure mobile access is treated as ‘first class citizen’.

Cloud Computing

Staff development to provide better understanding of Cloud Computing concepts and implications. Update Acceptable Use Policies to address use of cloud services. Ensure potential risks are understood as well as opportunities. Develop risk minimisation strategies.

Open Content

Staff development to provide better understanding of open data as well as open access including licensing issues for open content.  Understand personal and organisational barriers to provision of open content as well as consuming open content.  Seek ways in which the Library can provide open content.

Table 2: Actions for developments for today’s technologies

If each of the hundred of so participants in the room could tweet one or two similar summaries, I suggested, we would have a significant resource based on suggestions from practitioning librarians and information professions. This would be particularly valuable for those technological developments which may not yet be impacting on daily activities which are listed below:



Game-Based Learning

Learning Analytics

New Scholarship

Semantic Applications

Table 3: Actions for developments expected to be adopted in two to three years



Augmented Reality

Collective Intelligence

Smart Objects


Table 4: Actions for developments expected to be adopted in four to five years

I had hoped that, following the talk by Åke Nygren who was giving an alternative view of the future, we would have time available to actively solicit feedback from the audience. Unfortunately due to technical difficulties Åke’s talk overran and we didn’t have time to discuss the ways in which libraries should be responding to these predictions.  In addition I was unable to record a video of my talk due to the video application on my camera stopping after my camera received an SMS alert :-(

I have captured the tweets about my talk using Storify which has tweets from the following 15 Twitterers @StarseekR, @karenblakeman, @librarygirlknit, @daveyp, @mstephens7, @SoullaStylianou@joeyanne, @psychemedia, @ujlibscience, @cybrgrl, @abbybarker, @issip, @jennye, @jannicker and @katelomax.  One  tweet commented:

RT @abbybarker #ili2011 #a101 I have two mobile devices with me and neither if them are connecting to the wifi properly! Ditto.

In retrospect I think I was too ambitious in seeking to use small group exercises which are more suited to a workshop session than a short presentation, with the limited time and technical delays conspiring against me. However perhaps a blog post can provide the opportunity for feedback which wasn’t forthcoming during my talk.  My question, then is, what actions are you taking today in response to the technologies which seen now to be mainstream and those which are expected to arrive in the next two to five years?

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What Twitter Told Us About ILI 2011

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 29 October 2011

Thoughts on #ILI2011

As I said to one of the two video bloggers who recorded participants’ thoughts and comments about the Internet Librarian International (ILI) conference, ILI is probably my favourite conference as it provides an opportunity to catch up in developments in the online Library world in the UK, Europe, North America and Australasia.  This year at ILI 2011 I could only attend for the first day, but this did give me an opportunity to hear about, amongst other topics, JISC-funded developments in the areas of usage data, analysis techniques which can help to prove value and three cutting-edge technology developments taking place in Norway, Belgium and the USA.

Unfortunately I don’t have the time to give detailed thoughts on the sessions I attended. However an analysis of Twitter usage at the conference might help to provide some insights into how Twitter was used at the conference.

What Does Twitter Tell Us?

If you carry out a sentiment analysis of the archive of the tweets from last week’s #ili2011 (Internet Librarian International) conference I suspect you’ll find a lot of positive comments.  Without going into a textual analysis of the content, what can we learn from the Summarzr statistics of the 2,683 tweets from 310 users? (Note as described in a post on Conventions For Metrics For Event-Related Tweets I feel that such summaries should include a data range, so this total covers the period from slightly after the start of the opening plenary talk on Thursday 27 October at 08:38 (actually 09:38) to Saturday 29 October at 09:37).

As perhaps might be expected for an event with over 300 librarians and information professions the Twitter users understood the benefits of providing distinct tags for the three parallel streams. This is a bit of a hobbyhorse for me and I was pleased that I was able to set a precedent in the first set of parallel sessions when I encouraged the 100 or so participants in the session on “A101 – What’s on the Technology Horizon?” to use the tag #A101 to be able to differentiate the conversation from those taking part in sessions “B101 – Not So Secret Weapons – Advocacy and Influence” and “C101 – The e-Book Revolution in Libraries“:

ili2011 (2676) , a101 (98), c202 (67), lidp (61), a104 (54), a203 (53), b103 (45), a102 (44), a201 (41) and b202 (32).

The easily-identifiable tweets will help myself and Åke Nygren, my fellow speaker in the session, to be able to see what was being discussed during our talk, so such session tagging provides a useful way for speakers to gain feedback for their talks. Our opening track seems to have been the only one in which significant numbers of session-tagged tweets were used. However it seems that the benefits of such tagging were quickly spotted with the second, third and fourth parallel sessions (which end in 2, 3 and 4) being included in the above list of the top ten hashtag contained in the TwapperKeeper archive. I should also add that in revisiting my post on Thoughts on ILI 2010 it seems that use of session hashtags is new this year, with only session #C102 being included in the list of top ten hashtag for last year’s event. (Having just looked at last year’s programme it seems that Session C102 on Monitoring and Maximising Organisational Impact was given by myself and Joy Palmar, so it seems it has taken a year for this practice to become embedded!)

The list of the top Twitterers at the conference included several of the ‘normal suspects’ who have a proven track record of tweeting at conferences headed, as was the case for ILI 2010 by @bethanar and @Mimomurr.

Comparing the overall numbers of tweets at the year’s events with ILI 2010 it seems that Twitter usage has now stabilised:

ILI 2011: 80% (2150) of the tweets in this TwapperKeeper archive were made by 14% (45) of the twitterers. The top 10 (3%) twitterers account for 46% (1241) of the tweets. 56% (175) of the twitterers only tweeted once.

ILI 2010: 80% (2032) of the tweets in this TwapperKeeper archive were made by 15% (57) of the twitterers. The top 10 (2%) twitterers account for 45% (1143) of the tweets. 61% (229) of the twitterers only tweeted once.

It should also be noted that once again there were very few geo-located tweets: 39 tweets this year compared with 18 last year, both of which represent no more than 1% of the total number of tweets.

Feedback From Twitter

The event organisers have sent out a SurveyMonkey form to ILI 2011 participants which will help to inform planning for next year’s events. But in addition the event organisers will also be able to analyse the content of the tweets.

I have created a Storify page which summarises a number of tweets related to particants’ thoughts on the conference, rather than comments on the topics discussed at the conference. The most recent tweets are shown in the accompanying screen shot.

Beyond ILI 2011

We were told about changes in ILI conference organisation, with next year’s event being the responsibility of Information Today’s office based in Oxford.  Although I’ve enjoyed previous ILIs, I do feel it will be beneficial to have greater participation from the UK and mainland Europe. I felt that it was somewhat strange, for example, that although there was much interest in use of social media, there was little discussion about privacy issues and the implications of EU privacy legislation related to cookie use.

In light of the changes to the event organisation I would like to conclude by making some suggestions related to use of social media at the event, based on the ideas I’ve described in this post which I hope with be useful for other event organisers.

  • Create a TwapperKeeper (or equivalent) archive of event tweets well in advance of the conference. Note that I discovered that a TwapperKeeper archive hadn’t been set up for the #ILI2011 tweets during the opening talk. I created an archive  during the talk, but this meant that tweets made in the run-up to the event will not be included in the archive
  • Be aware of the benefits of session-related (or room-related) hashtags for parallel sessions and ensure that you clearly publicise such hashtags if you wish to encourage their use.
  • Be aware of  how tweets can be used in the evaluation of an event.

Finally I’d also suggest that event organisers should consider being pro-active in promoting use of the Lanyrd service. It was suggested that participants badges should include their Twitter ID. But in addition, the  Lanyrd page for ILI2011 provides an electronic means for participants to develop their professional network.  No fewer than 24 of the speakers at the conference are listed on Lanyrd, but as there are only an overall total of 42 participants, this means that the majority of the 311 people who tweeted (or the 136 who tweeted more than once) aren’t included in this network.  I think that’s a shame, as I’m a great fan of Lanyrd and have included details of my talk on the Lanyrd page. But that should be the topic of another post!

Posted in Events, Twitter | 9 Comments »

W3Conf: Practical Standards for Web Professionals – Free for Remote Participants!

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 28 October 2011

The W3C are hosting their first conference: “W3Conf: Practical Standards for Web Professionals” which will take on 15-16 November 2011 at the Redmond Marriot Town Center, Redmond, USA. Although the early bird registration fee of $199 for the two day event seems very reasonable I suspect that despite the event’s focus on HTML5 and the Open Web Platform probably being of interest to many readers of this blog, not many will be able to travel to the US to attend this conference (but if you do wish to attend note that the deadline for the early bird registration is 1 November when the fee will go up to $299).

However the event Web site states that “The recordings of the presentations will be freely available” and goes on to add that “During the event, there will be a live stream of the sessions, with English subtitling. After the event, each session will be archived for future reference“.

The following sessions will be held at the conference:

Day 1, 15 November:

  • Welcome: Contributing to Open Standards, Ian Jacobs (W3C)
  • Testing to Perfection, Philippe Le Hégaret (W3C)
  • Community Groups: a Case Study With Web Payments, Manu Sporny (Digital Bazaar)
  • Developer Documentation, Doug Schepers (W3C)
  • HTMl5 Games
  • Web Graphics – a Large Creative Palette, Vincent Hardy (Adobe)
  • Modern Layout: How Do You Build Layout in 2011 (CSS3)?, Divya Manian (Opera)
  • Shortcuts: Getting Off (Line) With the HTML5 Appcache, John Allsopp (Web Designs)
  • The n-Screens Problem: Building Apps in a World Of TV and Mobiles, Rajesh Lal (Nokia)
  • The Great HTML5 Divide: How Polyfills and Shims Let You Light Up Your Sites in Non-Modern Browsers, Rey Bango (Microsoft)
  • HTML5: the Foundation of the Web Platform, Paul Irish (Google)

Day 2, 16 November:

  • HTML5 Demo Fest: The Best From The Web, Giorgio Sardo (Microsoft)
  • Shortcuts: Data Visualisation With Web Standards, Mike Bostock (Square)
  • Universal Access: A Practical Guide To Accessibility, Aria, And Script, Becky Gibson (Ibm)
  • Security and Privacy: Securing User Identities and Applications, Brad Hill (Paypal), Scott Stender (Isec Partners)
  • Shortcuts: Touch Events, Grant Goodale (Massively Fun)
  • Mobile Web Development Topic: Building For Mobile Devices
  • Shortcuts: Modernizr, Faruk Ateş (Apture)
  • Browsers and Standards: Where the Rubber Hits the Road, Paul Cotton (Microsoft), Tantek Çelik (Mozilla), Chris Wilson (Google), Divya Manian (Opera)

It was very timely to read about this conference during Open Access 2011 Week, which the JISC, among many other organisations, are supporting. The free access to the talks and resources which will be used illustrates how openness can be used to enhance learning and creativity, in this context for developers who are looking to use Web standards to enhance their services.

The provision of remote access to the conference is also very timely in the context of the JISC-funded Greening Events II project which is being provided by ILRT and UKOLN.    It would be valuable if the conference organisers were able to provide statistics on remote participation during the event.  How many people viewed from the UK, for example, and for how long. It would be interesting to see if the environmental costs of delivering the steaming video and hosting videos and slides for subsequent viewing could be compared with the costs of flying to the US.

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Learning Analytics and New Scholarship: Now on the Technology Horizon

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 26 October 2011

What’s On The Technology Horizon?

Tomorrow I’m giving a talk on “What’s on the Technology Horizon?” at the Internet Librarian International (ILI) 2011 conference. This talk is based on a “Technology Outlook: UK Higher Education” report commissioned by UKOLN and CETIS which explores the impact of emerging technologies on teaching, learning, research or information management in UK tertiary education over the next five years.

In a post entitled “I Predict A Riot”: Thoughts on Collective Intelligence” I described how “the report highlights Collective Intelligence as one emerging technology which is predicted to have an time-to-adoption horizon of 4-5 years“. Two areas which are expected to have a time-to-adoption horizon of 2-3 years are Learning Analytics and New Scholarship. I would agree that these areas are likely to have an impact on mainstream university activities before collective intelligence, but are these areas really 2-3 years away?  It does seem to me that early adopters in these areas are already having an impact on the mainstream.

Learning Analytics

Dave Pattern, systems librarian in the Library at the University of Huddersfield, for example, is also giving a talk at the ILI 2011 conference about the JISC-funded Library Impact Data Project (LIDP). The slides Dave will be using, together with an accompanying handout, are available from the University of Huddersfield repository.  In addition the slides are also available on Slideshare which, perhaps somewhat ironically, means that the slides are more interoperable, as they can be easily viewed on mobile devices such as an iPhone through Slideshare’s HTML5 interface and can be embedded on third party Web sites, such as this blog:

The talk will describe how “The project looked at the final degree classification of over 33,000 undergraduates, in particular the honours degree result they achieved and the library usage of each student” and explored the hypothesis “There is a statistically significant correlation across a number of universities between library activity data and student attainment‘.

If you want to know the findings of the project you may wish to view the slides, read the project blog or the various papers which have been published about this work including an article on “Looking for the link between library usage and student attainment” published in Ariadne in July 2011.

This project is one of several which have been funded under the JISC’s Activity Data Programme.  These other projects are providing engagement and dissemination activities on the project blogs which includes:

It therefore does seem to me that we are seeing JISC project-funded activities which are helping to explore the relevance of, in this case, activity data related to student achievements and their use of library resources and that the findings are being made available to a wider audience through this contribution to the ILI 2011 conference.  But what of New Scholarship?

New Scholarship

The Technology Outlook report (PDF format) describes how:

Increasingly, scholars are beginning to employ methods unavailable to their counterparts of several years ago, including prepublication releases of their work, distribution through non-traditional channels, dynamic visualization of data and results, and new ways to conduct peer reviews using online collaboration. New forms of scholarship, including creative models of publication and non-traditional scholarly products, are evolving along with the changing process. 

Some of these forms are very common — blogs and video clips, for instance — but academia has been slow to recognize and accept them. Proponents of these new forms argue that they serve a different purpose than traditional writing and research — a purpose that improves, rather than runs counter to, other kinds of scholarly work. Blogging scholars report that the forum for airing ideas and receiving comments from their colleagues helps them to hone their thinking and explore avenues they might otherwise have overlooked. 

As we have seen from the above the library sector seems to be willing to make use of blogs in supporting scholarly activities.  We can also see an example of pre-publication of scholarly work. Readers of this blog are also likely to be aware of ways in which Twitter is being much more readily accepted as a means of supporting a variety of educational and research activities, with a recent post on Les Carr’s Repository Man’s blog describing ways of Using EPrints Repositories to Collect Twitter Data.

Beyond the library and repository sector, as described in a post on Recognising, Appreciating, Measuring and Evaluating the Impact of Open Science the recent Science Online London 2011 conference provided an example of how scientific researchers are making use of open approaches which can be regarded as new scholarship and the Beyond Impact project,  “an Open Society Foundations funded project that aims to facilitate a conversation between researchers, their funders, and developers about what we mean by the “impact” of research and how we can make its measurement more reliable, more useful, and more accepted by the research community” is looking to ensure that appropriate ‘reward’ mechanisms can be provided for researchers who wish to engage in scientific research beyond the traditional publication of peer-reviewed papers.


In this post I am suggesting that both Learning Analytics and New Scholarship are moving beyond the early adopters and starting to be embraced by the mainstream.  I also feel that the Open Access 2011 Week, which is taking place this week, provides a timely opportunity to welcome such developments since New Scholarship, in particular,often encourages use of blogs, Twitter and similar tools to work in a more open fashion and Learning Analytics can benefit from the provision of open, although also perhaps anonymised, data. I am looking forward to seeing the level of interest in these areas at participants at the ILI 2011 conference.  But is my optimism misplaced?   Åke Nygren is also speaking in the session on  “What’s on the Technology Horizon?” and, as can be seen from his slides which are also available on Slideshare and embedded below, he has a very different view to  mine! Both of our slides are embedded below to make it easier to compare the contrasting visions.


Posted in Events | Tagged: | 8 Comments »

What’s On The Technology Horizon? Implications for Librarians

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 15 September 2011

JISC Observatory’s Horizon Scan

As described on the JISC Observatory blog the JISC Observatory is a “JISC-funded initiative to systematise the way in which the JISC anticipates and responds to projected future trends and scenarios in the context of the use of technology in Higher & Further Education, and Research in the UK“.

The JISC Observatory is the first major collaboration between Cetis and UKOLN in their role as JISC Innovation Support Centres. A recent post on the JISC Observatory blog described how the JISC Observatory team commissioned a study by the New Media Consortium (NMC).  The report was launched during the ALT-C 2011 conference. The report, “Technology Outlook: UK Higher Education” is now available on the NMC Web site (in PDF format, 24 pages). This report is part of the NMC’s series of widely-read Horizon Reports which provide a series on annual reports in technology trends which date back to 2004.

The Technology Outlook report explores the impact of emerging technologies on teaching, learning, research or information management in UK tertiary education over the next five years, as identified by the Horizon.JISC advisory board: a group of experts comprised of an international body of knowledgeable individuals, all highly regarded in their fields representing a range of diverse perspectives across the learning sector. The methodology taken  by the Horizon.JISC advisory board is described on the Horizon Project | JISC Observatory Wiki. The work includes monitoring appropriate press clippings, identifying key trends, discussing and then refining the trends and critical challenges before a voting process to seek consensus.

Implications for Librarians

Next month I will be speaking at the Internet Library International ILI 2011 conference. The conference takes place in London on 27-28 October 2011 and I’ll be talking with Åke Nygren, Stockholm Public Libraries in the opening session of the Technology Developments and Trends track on the topic on “What’s on the Technology Horizon?

Rather than having to come up with my own thoughts on new technological developments relevant to the library sector, I will be summarising some of  the predictions which have been made in the Technology Outlook report and, in the  15 minutes available to me, discuss the implications of these developments for information professions. In addition to summarising the key predicted developments I’d like to provide examples of early adopters within the sector.  If you have been involved in development work in the areas listed below feel free to let me know, either in a comment on this blog or my email, and I’ll see if I can include the example in my presentation.

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One year or less:

  • Cloud Computing
  • Mobiles
  • Tablet Computing
  • Open Content

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two-three years

  • Learning Analytics
  • Semantic Applications
  • New Scholarship
  • Semantic Applications

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four-five years

  • Augmented Reality
  • Collective Intelligence
  • Telepresence
  • Smart Objects

And whilst I’m happy to hear about libraries which may be nmaking use of mobile devices and tablets or using Cloud Services, I’d be much more interested to hear of library uses of Augmented Reality, Collective Intelligence, Telepresence or Smart Objects!

Posted in Events, jiscobs | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

“Battling legal, logistical and technical obstacles to archiving the Web”

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 12 September 2011

Recent Features on Web Archiving

The recent guest blog post entitled Web archives: more useful than just a ‘historical snapshot’ was quite timely, having been published a few days after a related article in the Time Higher Education (Memory Failure Detected) which described how:

A coalition of the willing is battling legal, logistical and technical obstacles to archive the riches of the mercurial World Wide Web for the benefit of future scholars

The article went on to illustrate a use case from the preservation of Web resources:

It is 2031 and a researcher wants to study what London’s bloggers were saying about the riots taking place in their city in 2011. Many of the relevant websites have long since disappeared, so she turns to the archives to find out what has been preserved. But she comes up against a brick wall: much of the material was never stored or has been only partially archived. It will be impossible to get the full picture.

But, as I describe below, we don’t need to wait until 2031 to have a reason to analyse Web content which may have been thought to be ephemeral.

Analysis of Twitter Usage at Recent ALT-C Conferences

The article in the Times Higher Education referred to an archiving initiative led by the Library of Congress which is archiving Twitter posts which will allow, at some time in the future, researchers to analyse public tweets. The article could also have mentioned the TwapperKeeper  archiving service which benefitted from JISC-funding to enhance its archiving capabilities to address requirements of the UK HE’s sector. The TwapperKeeper service was used to keep an archive of tweets posted about last week’s ALT-C 2011 conference.  The JISC-funded developments to the service included the provision of enhanced API access which led to development of the Summarizr analysis service  by Andy Powell at Eduserv.

In order to make valid comparisons across annual events I have previously suggested that the Twitter traffic for a week is analysed, so that discussions in advance of an event and shortly afterwards can be analysed. The Summarizr statistics for tweets at the ALT-C conferences for the past three years are given in the following table.

Note: Following the publication of this post Martin Hawksey pointed out in a comment on the post that the Twapper Keeperr archive was not available at the start of the ALT-C 2011 conference, until he created the archive on the opening morning of the conference.  An updated column has been published, but note that this does not include tweets form the opening morning of the conference.

ALT-C 2009 ALT-C 2010 ALT-C 2011 ALT-C 2011 (updated)
Date of event 8-10 Sept 2009 7-9 Sept 2010 6-8 Sept 2011 6-8 Sept 2011
Dates for analysis 6-12 Sept 2009 5-11 Sept 2010 4-10 Sept 2011
(partial archive)
6-11 Sept 2011
Nos. of tweets 4,442 6,138 6,296 6,342
Nos. of users 726 658 802 809
Nos. of URLs tweeted 701 664 1,083 1,102
Top five twitterers jamesclay (168)
sputuk (113)
haydnblackey (112)
emmadw (110)
JackieCarter (97)
dajbconf (330)
timbuckteeth (279)
AJCann (174)
jamesclay (153)
jak82 (111)
digitalfprint (327)
timbuckteeth (212)
sarahhorrigan (187)
FieryRed1 (165)
kevupnorth (140)
digitalfprint (327)
timbuckteeth (217)
sarahhorrigan (187)
FieryRed1 (165)
amcunningham (141)
Top five tweeted hashtags altc2009 (4,333)
jisccdd (108)
dubaimetro (84)
wheniwaslittle (72)
dupedb (64)
altc2010 (6,089)
digilit (173)
awesome (25)
altc2011 (24)
fail (23)
altc2011 (6194)
ds106radio (54)
altc2012 (42)
oer (39)
opencountry (35)
altc2011 (6,240)
ds106radio (54)
altc2012 (42)
oer (39)
opencountry (35)
Nos. of geo-located tweets 0 (0%) 35 (0%) 83 (1%) 83 (1%)

Archiving of the tweets allows us to provide such analyses in order to see the importance of Twitter at such events and identify the people who are particularly active Twitter users at the events. The figures also suggest that the amount of Twitter traffic seems to have stabilised over the past two years and the geo-located tweets, although growing in numbers, is not yet being used to any significant extent.

The Coalition of the Willing – Should Include You

The article published in the Times Higher Education highlighted a number of examples of  initiatives designed for archiving the broad ranges of resources available on the Web, including work being undertaken at the British Library, the Library of Congress and the Internet Archive as well as a number of national libraries in Europe.

The emphasis of national and international organisations may lead to the impression that archiving of Web resources is being addressed by others and so there is no need for individual universities to need to consider web preservation issues. This is, I feel,  a mistaken view.  Indeed not only should those who have a responsibility for the management of institutional digital resources need to address preservation issues, so too do those who manage project resources as well as, as we have seen above, those who may wish to preserve content associated with events.

JISC has recognised the importance of Web archiving and will be hosting an event on “The Future of the Past of the Web” which will be held at the British Library Conference Centre on 7 October 2011. This free event is the third joint Web archiving workshop which has been organised by the JISC in conjunction with the British Library and the DCC. The event is aimed at:

  • Curators, librarians, archivists interested in the preservation of web resources
  • Organisations that are engaged in web archiving and digital preservation
  • Researchers who depend on access to stable web resources for their research
  • Web developers and content creators who value their content
  • Information managers with responsibility for legal compliance

If this event is of interest to you note that bookings should be made before 12:00 on Friday 30th September 2011.

Posted in Events, preservation | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Use of Twitter at the SOLO11 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 4 September 2011

SOLO11: the Science Online London Conference

On Friday and Saturday, 2-3 September 2011 I attended the Science Online London 2011 event, SOLO11.  This event was launched in 2008 with a focus on science blogging. I attended the second in the series (and published a post entitled The Back Channels for the Science Online 2009 Conference) by which time the event had broadened in scope to address a wider range of issues of interest to scientists and researchers, those involved in journal publishing and those involved in science communication. In  light of the popularity of the event last year the event moved from the Royal Institution to the British Library which enabled up to 250 people to attend, double the previous capacity.  Unfortunately I couldn’t attend last year’s event but I was pleased that I was able to get to the event this year.

Use of Twitter at SOLO11

I’ll not comment on the talks and sessions at the SOLO 2011 conference – I suspect we will see a lot of detailed posts about the event over the next few days, particularly since the event will have attracted those who are pro-active in making use of blogs, Twitter, etc. Rather I’ll provide some comments on metrics of the event’s use of the #solo11 Twitter event hashtag.

Tony Hirst (@psychemedia) has already provided a visualisation of the #solo11 Twitter community and this image is embedded in this post.

In addition to the various tools Tony uses to produced such visualisations the TwapperKeeper service is increasing being used to keep archives on event tweets with the Summarizr service providing a statistical summaries of usage.

We can view the Summarizr statistics for the #solo11 tag. But how might we go about making comparisons of Twitter usage with previous SOLO events?

Although not very well documented it is possible to restrict a Summarizr analysis to a particular date range. In a blog post on Conventions For Metrics For Event-Related Tweets I pointed out that in order to make valid comparisons between the use of Twitter at events there will be a need to use comparable date ranges. The Summarizr tool can therefore provide comparable statistics for the SOLO10 and SOLO11 events (note that the SOLO09 event only lasted for one day, with an evening event the day before):

SOLO11 (2-3 Sept 2011)
Summarizr stats for 2 days for 2 full day event: There were 2,132 tweets from 413 users. There were a total of 114 hashtags and 120 URLs tweeted. There were 41 geo-located tweets (1% of the total).
SOLO10 (3-4 Sept 2010)
Summarizr stats for 2 days for 2 full day event: There were 2,148 tweets from 410 users. There were a total of 96 hashtags and 140 URLs tweeted. There were 28 geo-located tweets (1% of the total).
SOLO09 (22 August + evening event on 21 August 2009)
Summarizr stats for 2 days for 1 full day and 1 evening event: There were 72 tweets from 46 users. There were a total of 5 hashtags and 20 URLs tweeted. There were 0 geo-located tweets (0% of the total).
Science Blogging 08 (1 July 2008)
No TwapperKeeper archive of tweets available.

We can therefore see that Twitter usage for SOLO10 and SOLO11 seems to be at fully similar levels.

What Else Do We Need?

At events such as SOLO we can expect to see intensive use of Twitter. The participants and organisers are also likely to have an interest in how Twitter was being usage and the impact which its use may have had. In order to carry out subsequent analyses there will be a need to have an archive of tweets. There will also, as the scientists who attend the event will be aware of, be a need to ensure that analyses are carried out in  a reproducible and consistent fashion.  In addition there will be a need for various analysis and visualisation tools.

Are we in a position in which the data capture processes, tools and methodologies for analysis and interpretation are available in a systematic way?  I’d welcome feedback from those who attended SOLO11 and the wider community. For me there seems to be a failure in the lack of a consistent URI to refer to SOLO conferences – how do I cite the SOLO10 event, for example?


After publishing this post it occurred to me that there may be both individual and organisational benefits for being able to analyse SOLO event tweets.  During the event I spoke to Martin Fenner and Lou Woodley and, after realising that we had shared interests, started to follow them on Twitter.  There were other people I followed during the event, but I can’t remember who they were.  It occurs to me that it would be interesting to be able to record details of people one starts to folow at events, especially if this leads to subsequent significant joint work (as I described in a post on 5,000 Tweets On Twitter has led to contributions to a joint paper including one which won an award for the Best Communication Paper at W4A 2010).

From an event organiser’s perspective it would be interesting to gather evidence of growth of networks from a broader perspective. Would it be possible, I wonder, to see how the Twitter networks for participants at an event develop over the duration of an event and might it be possible to relate this to more tangible evidence of impacts or other benefits?

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Providing an Amplified Event Service

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 22 August 2011

Greening Events II

For several year’s we have explored ways in which a range of technologies can be used to enhance discussions at an event and maximise the impact of events by providing what has become known as amplified or hybrid events. Back in 2005 we made use of an IRC channel to enhance discussions at the IWMW 2005 event (which was notable for alerting the small numbers of people who brought along a laptop to news of the London bombings).  Over the years we have explored use of wiki technologies and social networking services. However as the technologies mature and we have an opportunity to reflect on our experiences and the feedback we have received we are now better positioned to provide advice on best practices for providing an amplified event as a service, as opposed to an experiment.

Our interest in providing such advice is based on our involvement with the JISC-funded Greening Events II project. This project is led by ILRT, University of Bristol who host the Greening Events II blog. Our involvement in this work is to develop:

An Events Planning Toolkit to help event organisers think through what type of event they need to hold (physical, virtual or hybrid) and then to provide assistance in the form of guidelines and technology tools with each stage in the process to enable them to reduce the negative sustainability impacts of their event.

Our experiences in running a wide range of amplified events over the years will inform our development of the toolkit.  Some initial thoughts, based on our recent provision of the amplification of the IWMW 2011 event and summarised in the posts on the Evaluation of UKOLN’s IWMW 2011 Event and Reflections on Technologies Used at IWMW 2011, is given below.

Amplified Event Planning

As part of the planning processes for an amplified event we suggest use of the following template.

Purpose(s): Document the intended purpose(s) of the event amplification. This should also include a summary of the main beneficiaries (which could be the local audience, remote participants, speakers, etc.).

Technologies Used: Describe the technologies which will be used to support the purposes described above

Resources: Describe the additional resources which will be needed to provide the event amplification.

Risk assessment: Provide a risk assessment associated with the provision of the event amplification service.

Evaluation: Describe how you will evaluate the effectiveness of the event amplification.

Metrics: Describe the metrics you intent to collect in order to provide quantitative evidence of use of (and possibly value of) the event amplification.

Example of Use of this Template

An example of use of the template is provided in the documentation of the event amplification for the IWMW 2011 event.  A summary is given below.

Purpose of the Event Amplification at IWMW 2011:

Enhancing discussions at event
Based on event amplification at previous IWMW events we are aware that participants make use of an online back-channel to discuss the contents of the sessions as well as communicate with other participants and the event organisers.
Engaging with remote participants
Based on event amplification at previous IWMW events we are aware that there are people with an interest in the topics being discussed at the event who will be willing to view the talks remotely and discuss the issues raised.
Maximise the impact of the ideas and resources
We wish to ensure that the ideas and experiences shared by the speakers and workshop participants are made available as widely as possible.
Enabling resources to be accessed after event
Based on an analysis of usage of slides used at previous events after the event is over we are aware that there is a demand to access speakers’ slides after the event is over.
Support community-building
Based on experiences at previous events we are aware that participants value the opportunities for participants to expand their community of practice.

Technologies Used

A Twitter event hashtag was used to support an event back-channel. In addition a Twapper Keeper archive of the tweets was used to provide an archive of the tweets so that we could analyse the content to help identify the strengths and weaknesses of the event as well provide evidence of the usage of Twitter through use of the related Summarizr service.
Adobe Connect
The Adobe Connect service was used to provide a live video stream of the plenary talks.
The Vimeo service was used to host videos of the plenary talks and interviews.
The Slideshare service was used to provide access to slides from the plenary talks and workshop sessions after the event was over.


Event Amplifier
A dedicated event amplifier had responsibility for providing a Twitter summary of the plenary talks, publishing summaries of the plenary talks and carrying out and publishing interviews on the event blog.
Event Video Streamer
A dedicated video streamer had responsibility for providing the live video stream of the plenary talks and publishing the videos of the talks and the video interviews.
Event Organisers
The event organisers had responsibilities for monitoring the Twitter and video-streaming channels and responding to comments and queries.
The licensed Adobe Connect service was sponsored by Collaborate.


Monitoring of Twitter, Shhmooze and video streaming systems
Monitoring of the various online channels enabled the event organisers to respond to any concerns which were raised. In addition an archive of the channels will enable the content to be analysed.
Evaluation form
An online evaluation form provided feedback on the event and of the provision of the event amplification.


Twitter statistics
Usage of the Twitter event hashtag was provided by the Summarizr service and has been summarized in a post on Reflections on Technologies Used at IWMW 2011.
Video-streaming statistics
A record of use of the Adobe Connect video streaming was kept and is available on the IWMW 2011 Web site.


The feedback we have received from remote participants at a variety of UKOLN’s amplified events has demonstrated the level of interest in participation in events remotely.  We hope that the guidance which we will be developing will be beneficial to both those involved in organising events and those who are looking to participate in events remotely.  We welcome feedback on the initial set of advice provided in this blog post.

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