Looking Back at Lanyrd
Back in November 2010 I wrote a post on Developments to the Lanyrd Service two months after the service had been launched. I described how commentators had described the Lanyrd “uses Twitter to tell you which conferences, workshops and such your friends are attending or speaking at. You can add and track events” and highlighted some planned developments: “ soon you’ll be able to export your events as iCal or into your Google calendar … Soon, too, you’ll be able to add sessions, slides, and videos“.
The following week after my initial experimentation I gave some Further Thoughts on Lanyrd. I cited Graham Attwell’s comments that “The site is very open. Anyone is free to add and edit on the wikipedia shared knowledge principle.“
Such openness can lead to risks: the wiki approach taken by Lanyrd which allows anyone to create and update Lanyrd entries would appear to be prone to misuse and vandalism. In the post I described how information [is available] on Lanyrd about the forthcoming Online Information 2010 conference – and looking at that entry today it seems clear that the entry has not suffered from vandalism.
We’re now inviting event organisers to claim their event listings on Lanyrd. Claiming an event is free and claimed events gain access to useful additional features including event descriptions, advanced schedule editing and the ability to embed schedule and speaker information on another website.
My post did add a caveat, though as it went on to ask But Can It Provide The Main Event Web Site? and asked questions about the financial viability of the company. A few hours after publishing the post I received a response from Simon Willison, who established the company:
Our company is actually up to seven people now – we’ve spent much of the past year growing our team and building out important parts of the service such as our mobile apps (for iPhone and Mobile Web). We haven’t come close to spending the money we’ve raised though – expect to hear a lot more from us soon on the revenue side of things.
I share your concern about the longevity of conference data – that was actually one of the things that inspired us to create Lanyrd in the first place: we were frustrated that so many conference websites vanished 6 months after the event. We have no intention of contributing to that problem ourselves, and it’s an issue that has a strong effect on our decision making.
That response reassured me. The news on 3 September 20013 that Lanyrd [had] acquired by Eventbrite also seemed positive as the acquisition by an online event management company appeared to nicely complement Lanyrd’s role. I have continued to make use of Lanyrd and would encourage others to use it.
1:AM: the First Altmetrics Conference as an Exemplar Use of Lanyrd
In a post I published on Monday on #1amconf, Altmetrics and Raising the Visibility of One’s Research I highlighted a number of aspects of the 1:AM Altmetrics conference which were of particular interest to me and mentioned the event’s Lanyrd entry as a way of finding further information about the conference including links to reports, video recordings of talks and access to speakers’ slides which may still be being added to.
I was pleased with the way on which Lanyrd page has developed since I created it, a day or so before the conference started.
My contribution to the entry was primarily to create the page, add event details which were provided on the main conference web site, create the schedule for the two days, using the session names and times provided on the schedule page on the conference web site and add the speaker IDs, where that could be easily found.
The Lanyrd entry was announced on Twitter during the event and may also have been mentioned in the concluding session.
Over the weekend additional links to coverage for the event were added by others, which included speakers’ slides (typically hosted on Slideshare), video recordings of the talks (typically hosted on YouTube), reports on the various talks and links to Twitter archives. There are also links to photos from the conference, which is currently based on a Google image search for the conference hashtag. The photos also includes an image of the poster I displayed at the conference.
What Benefits Does This Provide?
Since a conference web site already exists for the conference it might be asked “What benefits does a Lanyrd entry provide?“
I think having a Lanyrd entry for an event can provide a number of benefits:
- Marketing: Hosting information about an event on a popular service provides additional marketing opportunities for the event.
- Access on mobile devices: Lanyrd is mobile-friendly so having the event’s timetable available on Lanyrd will allow participants to easily read the timetable on their mobile device, even if the main event web site is not optimised for mobile use.
- Ease of content creation: Lanyrd’s wiki-style approach to adding relevant links can avoid the content maintenance bottleneck which may be encountered when only conference organisers can update the event web site.
- Raising visibility of speakers: Profile pages for speakers can help to raise their visibility.
- Providing historical information for events: It is possible to create Lanyrd entries for previous events, thus providing a historical context and potentially enabling trends to more easily detected. For example Lanyrd entries are available for all 18 of the IWMW events with detailed information available since IWMW 2006. Such historical information might also be useful in enhancing the preservation of digital resources for events and the event’s collective memory.
- Aggregation of related events: Related events can be aggregated in a Lanyrd guide, thus providing those with an interest in a particular area with a simple way of accessing relevant events. For example see the guides for learning analytics and UCISA conferences as well as the IWMW guide mentioned previously.
There are, however, also risks in making use of Lanyrd. Such risks include:
- Views of the event organiser: Event organisers may feel that they own the information about an event and would not want the information to be reused by others.
- Duplication of resources: A reason for not wanting a Lanyrd page to be created is that resources (such as details of talks) may be replicated.
- Changes to content: Replication of content may be of particular concern if the content changes, such as speakers cancelled, timings of talks changed. changes to the location, etc.
- Private or invitation-only events: It may also be felt to be inappropriate to create a Lanyrd entry for a private event or one for which only invited participants may attend.
- Content ‘hijacking’: In addition to concerns regarded appropriate use of Lanyrd, event organisers may also have concerns regarding inappropriate use, such as deliberately incorrect or misleading information being provided for vexatious reasons.
In a way such concerns are not new – there have been concerns in the past regarding creating of web sites, Facebook pages, etc. by third parties. In addition Wikipedia articles are expected to be created and maintained by those who have a neutral point of view.
A Proposed Approach for Creating Lanyrd Entries for Events
There are dangers that the concerns could lead to inaction, leading to a failure to reap the benefits which use of Lanyrd can provide. In order to avoid this risk the following approach for creating Lanyrd entries for events is proposed.
Key principle: Be bold! This approach is taken from Wikipedia, which states that “The Wikipedia community encourages users to be bold when updating the encyclopedia. Wikis like ours develop faster when everybody helps to fix problems, correct grammar, add facts, make sure wording is accurate, etc. We would like everyone to be bold and help make Wikipedia a better encyclopedia.“
Create information for Lanyrd entries at an ‘appropriate’ level of detail: It can be useful to create entries for each session at an event and provide the title, abstract, time and location. However simply creating the entry with a title and time is normally sufficient as this is all that is needed if you wish to be able to associate reports, tweets, photos, etc. for a particular session. Such an approach also minimises the risks of changes to the times and locations.
Be willing to share ownership to others: Lanyrd entries can be ‘claimed’ and, once claimed, others can be granted administrative permissions to the entry.
Be prepared to write-off work: This is also taking from the Wikipedia advice: “Don’t get upset if your bold edits get reverted“. In the case of Lanyrd entries, if event organisers complain about an entry which has been created you may need to be prepared to delete the entry
Encourage event participants to add their details and add links
Ensure that Lanyrd users are aware of ways they can be alerted to other events of interest and ways in which these alerts can be managed.
These suggestions relate to the creation of Lanyrd entries for events organised by others.
Encourage event organisers to create Lanyrd entries for their events: The benefits which Lanyrd can provide to the various stakeholders (event organisers, speakers, participants and others with an interest in the event) can be more easily achieved if event organisers are pro-active in creating a Lanyrd entry.
Encourage event participants to add their content (photos, trip reports, etc) to the Lanyrd entry: Event participants may not be aware that Lanyrd can provide an environment in which user content related to an event can be easily provided and thus discovered.
Encourage event speakers and participants to add their details to the Lanyrd event entry: Adding an identify (normally Twitter) can enable event participants to more easily discover each other and grow their professional network. In addition providing information about the events you attend will enable you to receive personalised alerts about relevant events based on your interests and events you attend together with the events your peers attend
Encourage Lanyrd users to understand how they can configure their account to maximise the benefits: Encourage Lanyrd users to understand how email notifications can be managed or disabled (as illustrated) if they are concerned about information overload.
Is this an appropriate approach for encouraging greater use of the Lanyrd service? I’d welcome your thoughts.