UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Exploiting networked applications at events

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6 Nov 2006

We are now seeing many events taking place at venues with WiFi capabilities – and many participants (especially at many of the events I attend which are aimed at Web developer and Web user communities) arriving at such venues with laptops, PDAs or other networked devices (or non-networked devices, such as iPods, digital cameras, mobile phones, etc. which can be used to capture content at events and subsequently uploaded to Web services).

Initially we tended to find that laptops were used for reading email or Web surfing. This can be a problem for speakers and event organisers, as it can mean that participants aren’t paying full attention to the talks and discussions. Rather than banning use of networked devices, I have felt there’s a need to be pro-active in providing an environment in which the technologies can be used to enrich the event.

Some of the ways I have tried to do this at events I have been involved in organising include:

  • Use of a Wiki to support note-taking during discussion groups, and using the Wiki in reporting back. This has been very successful since I started doing this at the “Beyond Email – Strategies For Collaborative Working In The 21st Century” workshop in February 2004 (back then I used Wikalong, and you can see the notes from the discussion group sessions on Instant Messaging, news feeds, Blogs and Wikis).
  • A chat facility – I’ve made use of MSN Messenger, Jabber and IRC. This has seemed to be appreciated, but by a smaller group. The most interesting occasion was when IRC was being used at the IWMW 2005 event on 7/7 (the day of the London bombings). A small group of about 15 IRCers were aware of the news, whilst others in the 150+ audience were hearing about it if they were sat close to an IRCer. The use of such networked technologies in an environment in which we are more acutely aware of potential disasters (terrorism, weather, traffic, etc.) or inconveniences (e.g. delayed trains) is something we should give more thought to, and which I’ll return to at a later date.
  • Social bookmarking: I now tend to bookmark resources I talk about in my presentations in, to make it easier for people to access resources I mention (and also to add their own).
  • Tagging: a strength of UKOLN is its expertise in metadata. So I try to use a scalable approach to defining a tag for an event. Use of this tag is encouraged in social bookmarking, photo and other resource sharing services, Blogs and similar services. Use of the iwmw2006 tag, for example, can help find the resources related to the IWMW 2006 event, as can be seen using Technorati.

Some of the initial work in this area was described in “Using Networked Technologies To Support Conferences” paper by myself, Emma Tonkin and Paul Shabajee in a paper given at the EUNIS 2005 Conference. I need to revisit this work, though, in particular looking at embedding this approach within events and the context of use (not everybody will want to do this).

3 Responses to “Exploiting networked applications at events”

  1. hlis2 said

    Hi There!

    I think you’ll find lots of people finding your blog now that Michael Stephens has alerted us to it.

    This is a very timely post. Since returning to Sydney from ILI2006, I’ve sent up a wiki for a two-day workshop we’re running (, and I’m having fun working out how far I can push it. I’m hoping to use it as a series of virtual whiteboards during the final discussions; today I’ve put a sign-up form on it, and I’m sure there’s heaps I’m missing. Looking forward to reading your presentations.

    Gillian Wood

  2. ukwebfocus said

    Hi Gillian
    Yes, Michael’s posting has generated a lot of traffic :-)
    On the subject of use of Wikis at events, on Friday 3 Nov 2006 I ran a workshop on Wikis – and guess what technolgoy we used for the reports of the discussion groups :-)
    Links to the various materials are available at:
    The following documents may also be of interest:
    # Guide To The Use Of Wikis At Events, (briefing 104)
    # Use Of Social Tagging Services At Events, (briefing 105)
    # Exploiting Networked Applications At Events, (briefing 106)
    # Guidelines For Exploiting WiFi Networks At Events, (briefing 107)

    Note that a Creative Commons licence is available for these resources.

    I’ll post a report on the WIki workshop shortly (we still need to analyse the feedback forms).

  3. […] So what has happened so far? I could of people commented on the “I’ve a Blog – What Next?” posting. And then my former colleague Paul Miller spotted the Blog (possibly through Technorati? – Paul, can you tell me how you found it?) and emailed Michael Stevens and Phil Bradley, my fellow speakers at the ILI 2006 conference. Phil has commented on this Blog about my Blog as well as (as commented on in an earlier post) Michael in his Tame The Web Blog. Both of these are high profile Blogs – so it will me interesting to see how these posting affect the traffic to my Blog. Incidentally the Blog is now number two in a Technorati search for ‘UKOLN’, as shown below. […]

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