UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Reflections on the Amplified Events session at #JISC11

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 Mar 2011

The JISC 2011 Conference

As described in a recent post yesterday Marieke Guy and I facilitated a workshop session on “Amplified Events: What? Why? How?” at the JISC 2011 Conference. This was a very appropriate session for the conference in light of the emphasis that was given by the conference organisers on the amplification of the opening plenary session and the ongoing amplification during the rest of the day.  The importance of Twitter to the event amplification can be gauged from the Summarizr statistics. At the time of writing there have been a total of 2,610 tweets with the #JISC11 event hashtag, from 544 Twitter users who have included 188 hashtags in their tweets and 349 URLs.

Others will be writing reports on the conference – with the first conference summary being published by Chris Sexton. I sat next to Chris in the opening session as she wrote her summary of the opening session on her iPad using the iPad virtual keyboard.  This post was published at 11.39am, 39 minutes after the first session had finished. To those who feel that using a computer during a talk is rude and means you are note concentrating on what the speaker is saying  I think Chris’s post demonstrates that this need not be the case.  Chris also published two additional posts: one on the Clouds and clouds and feeling strange session and one on the two sessions in the afternoon: Innovation and Amplification.

Chris’s final post gave her thoughts on our Amplified Events session.  In this post I will give some further thoughts on the issues raised during the session and some general points on the amplification of the JISC conference.  I won’t, however, go into details of the talks given at the session as the three sets of slides were published in advance and embedded in the previous post. In addition my colleague Marieke Guy  used by iPod Touch to record a video of the opening talk which is now available (in two parts) on YouTube and embedded below.

Curating Conference Tweets

The first think to say is that the tweets related to the session have been curated in a Storify archive.  I used Storify to curate tweets which contained both the “#jisc11” conference hashtag and the “#amp” hashtag I proposed to identify tweets related to the session.  This will, however, have missed tweets which did not contain this set of tags. It was interesting to see from the Summarizr statistics the list of the top 10 tweeted hashtags: #jisc11 (2,449 tweets), #amp (89), #jiscdigital (41), #jiscassess (40), #mediasite (38),  #ocstories (31), #ukoer (29),  #jiscmrd (27), #cetisbos (23) and #jisc11oer (22).   The #cetisbos hashtagwas used for a session facilitated by Paul Hollins, CETIS which I attended. I had suggested to Paul that he proposed a distinct tag for the session at the start and so they chose #cetisbos with ‘bos’ standing for benefits of open standards.  I suspect most of the other tags also related to the workshop topic but, as possibly can be seen from the #ukoer and #jisc11oer there may be fragmentation of use of such tags – indeed this happened in my session with four uses of the ‘#jiscamp” tag (I should add that although I suggested the tag in advance and included the two tags on the title slide of the opening talk since the slides had been submitted to JISC in advance I used an old version of the slides which didn’t include details of the hashtag).

My advice to JISC (which I mentioned to JISC events staff on a crowded train returning from Liverpool last night) would be for the conference organisers to allocate each session a short ID.  At UKOLN’s IWMW 2009 and IWMW 2010 events we identified the plenary sessions #P0-#P9 and the first set of parallel session #A1-#A9 and the second set #B1-#B9. Alternatively, as suggested by Chris Gutteridge and used at Dev8D, the identifier could relate to a code for room. Whichever convention is used I think it is clear that for a large event with multiple parallel sessions there is a clear need to be able to disambiguate the session tweets.

Time Travel and “The Persistence of Memory”

In the opening talk in which I described what an amplified event is and why such approaches are important I used two metaphors: an amplified event can provide a form of time travel, so that you can go back in time and watch a talk which was given in the past. In addition, as one’s memories of an event start to fade event amplification can help to make memories more persistent, both in providing access to the discussion which happened at the time and in enabling discussions about the topics to help clarify understanding.

We had intended to provide live video streaming of the talks at the session. Unfortunately due to problems with the WiFi network (ironic, as the conference was held in the BT Conference Centre) this was not possible. As I had not brought along a Flip camera and tripod (and failed to spot a tweet which offered to let me these devices) we had to use my iPod Touch to record the opening talk. The video was split into parts one and two since halfway through the talk I went into the audience to respond to some of the questions.   Although the talks given by myself and Marieke were not amplified directly we had provided access to the slides on Slideshare in advance and these provided a context for the remote audience who were reading the session tweets.

Paul Shabajee, our third facilitator,  could not attend the conference for personal reasons. However Paul had provided an audio version of his PowerPoint slides on “Amplification and Rethinking Events” – so if you view the slides (available in MS PowerPoint format) you will be able to access his talk in the same way in which the attendees did.

The Amplified Events Session Tweets

Unfortunately since Marieke was occupied videoing the opening talk she was not able to keep notes of the various reasons people gave for attending the session and the issues they hoped would be addressed – and now, the following day, I find that my recollections of the issues is somewhat hazy.   I can recall people asking for advice on best practices for amplifying events and for ways in which evidence of the impact and benefits of event amplification can be gathered. But despite my fading memories of the opening session I am able to view the tweets which were posted during the session and can respond to the various issues raised. This is particularly useful as, although we did not have an opportunity to discus this much at the session, ILRT and UKOLN have been funded by the JISC for the Greening Events II project which will include development of “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“.  The notes given below will help to inform the identification of the guidelines we’ll be developing.

We used the Storify Twitter curation service to aggregate the tweets containing the #jisc11″ and “#amp” tags (a service I initially encountered from a post by Kirsty Pitkin on her Event Amplifier blog.

The first series of tweets tended to provide a summary of the opening two talks by myself and Marieke. However after these talks there was a more general discussion about issues relating to event amplification.

@adamhuffman commented:

Seems to be more reluctance to have live amplification in “traditional” subjects, whereas pretty much expected at tech. events #amp #jisc11

This is confirmed by my experiences – events attended by developers and Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 folk tend to expect to be able to participate in  an event’s back channel, whereas more traditional events this is not the case. However this view was challenged by @dosticen (Lorna Prescott, who was a remote participant and, in a follow-up tweet, informed us that she has “been training social reporters today to help amplify event next week, such fun” who responded to a tweet from @joeyanne:

RT @joeyanne: … type of people who will follow remotely, likely to be “techy” people #amp #jisc11 << not true in my case, the topic is key

Perhaps there is a split in the development community between the early adopters and those who have failed to be convinced which is not necessarily reflected in other sectors? I think there is a need to develop a better understanding of perceptions across different sectors.

A participant in the session raised concerned about possible dangers:

Good Q from the room: how do you avoid amplifying too much? #amp #jisc11

A follow-up question on the problems of tweets which represented the views of the speakers generated a fair amount of discussion in the session and on Twitter with a consensus seeming to agree that it is better to get errors published openly as ‘many eyes’ can help to spot,and possibly correct, such errors:

If you’re misrepresented you do get chance to correct and engage. #jisc11 #amp

@joeyanne Quite – it’s useful for speakers to have access to the backchannel, either during or after their talk. #amp #jisc11

In her blog post Chris Sexton’s followed up on her contribution to the discussion:

Someone also commented that tweets sometimes misrepresented the speaker – said things they didn’t say, or interpreted things wrongly. Did that mean they were only half listening because they were tweeting?  I would say in general no. As someone who tweets a lot during talks, I find I concentrate much more – my mind doesn’t wander as much because I’m having to listen to be able to type the tweet. I also believe that speakers sometimes misremember what they’ve said. I’ve read tweets and thought “I didn’t say that”, and then gone back and checked the video, and I did!  Also, if as a speaker you are misrepresented, twitter gives you the chance to correct, explain again, and engage with the listener.

The final talk was given by Paul Shabajee who discussed some on the economic and environmental factors related to the sustainability of events.  In response to a tweet from @timbuckteeth (Professor Steve Wheeler) which summarised Paul’s talk @lesleywprice commented:

RT @timbuckteeth: Will conferences reduce due to economic problems? Survival of the fittest events? #jisc11 #amp < its happening already!

In response to a request for evidence to backup this remark Lesley made the following points:

RT @timbuckteeth: Examples? No of people attending #jisc11online lots of tweets over last couple days saying cost prevented attendance (see source)

RT @timbuckteeth: not just cost of event….cost of travel, cost of accommodation and cost of time out of office…events becoming a luxury (see source)

@timbuckteeth so good value or not…and to whom? Attendees get may value, but how does that transfer back to the organisation? (see source)

@timbuckteeth …Lots of confs full of presentations and keynotes..we know this is not effective learning so why does it still happen? (see source)

Chris Sexton concluded her post by touching on such environmental and economic issues and the importance of engaging with the amplification of events:

Very good session to end on, and I’m a great believer in amplified events – the concept can be extended to any event, including meetings – doesn’t just have to be conferences. With the need to reduce our carbon footprint and travel less I think it it will become more the norm.

The Resources Used

For me the important part of the session was the discussion summarised above. However I still feel there is a tweet for content around which a discussion can be held.  The following resources were used in the session.

Title Speaker Comments
Amplified Events: What and Why? Brian Kelly, UKOLN Slides available from UKOLN Web site in MS PowerPoint format and on Slideshare. Video available on YouTube (part 1 and Part 2)
How to Amplify an Events: Case Studies Marieke Guy, UKOLN Slides available from UKOLN Web site in MS PowerPoint format and on Slideshare
Amplification & Rethinking Event Paul Shabajee, ILRT Slides available from UKOLN Web site in MS PowerPoint format (with audio) and on Slideshare

The YouTube videos are also embedded below.

One Response to “Reflections on the Amplified Events session at #JISC11”

  1. […] post-session blog post, reflecting on the conference amplification as a whole, plus Twitter stats […]

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