UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

What Twitter Tells Us About The #DevCSI #a11yhack Event

Posted by Brian Kelly on 23 Jun 2011

The DevCSI #a11yhack Event

On Tuesday and Wednesday I attended the DevCSI’s Accessibility Hackdays – A11y hackspace which was described as “A two day workshop bringing accessibility (a11y) users, experts and developers together to hack on ideas, prototypes and mashups, while exploring the challenges in providing usable accessibility“.

Unfortunately I arrived late on Tuesday and so didn’t have an opportunity to join in the discussions which aimed to identify development areas related to accessibility ( for which the Twitter tag “#a11y” is often used).   So yesterday I used the development time as an opportunity to identify existing Twitter applications which might be used to support the event.

In response to my colleague’s Mahendra Mahey’s invitation for participants to describe the problem space prior to summarising the development activities which had taken place I stated that:

UKOLN’s DevCSI work has a focus on the building of communities. There have been community activities over 2 days.  But what evidence do we have of community engagement; sharing and the sustainability of such communities and how do we enable participants to understand, interpret and curate their own communities?

I then demonstrated a number of applications and summarised how the applications can help to address the problems described above.

What Twitter Told us About The Event

TwapperKeeper and Summarizr

I began my mentioning the TwapperKeeper archive for the #a11yhack hashtag which I created on the train on Tuesday afternoon after I noticed that the archive hadn’t been set up.  I then showed the output from the Summarizr analysis service for the #a11yhack tag and pointed out that @maccymacx was the top Twitterer and was also mentioned or replied to the most. As she tweeted shortly afterwards@briankelly preso: #twitterstreamgraphs shows that I’m top of most #a11yhack twitter ratings, should I be worried? :S“. Note I also pointed out that there were only two geo-located tweets, one from Birmingham and one from London.  Such low levels of usage has been recorded for many of the Summarizr summaries I had examined, indicated that Twitter is not currently being used to geo-locate tweets.

Graph of folk recently tweeting q=a11yhack

After the demonstration related to the Twitter volume I then demonstrated Tony Hirst’s Web based tool which provided a visualisation of the connections between people who tweeted with the #a11yhack tag (though note I found that I had to enter the hashtag into the search box).

As Tony described in a blog post entitled Using Protovis to Visualise Connections Between People Tweeting a Particular Term this service was developed in April in order to “publish a service that lets folk generate their own network visualisations”. In his post Tony described how “the app demonstrates whether folk recently tweeting a particular term or hashtag all know each other, or whther the discussion going on around the term/tag is taking place outside of an echo chamber“.

Twitter StreamGraph

After discussed how the service described above helped to gain a better understanding of the connections between people using the event’s hashtag I demonstrated the Twitter StreamGraph timeline for the #a11yhack hashtag.

From this we could clearly see that the peak time for the tweeting had been at about 11am yesterday morning, with a second peak after we had returned from lunch.  Perhaps most interesting, however, are the much smaller visualisations of a small number of tweets at 2am (just before the hackers were heading off to bed) and at about 7am (when they were getting ready to start hacking on the final day).  I think this demonstrates that such DevCSI events do have a requirement for network access at unexpected times of the day!

Using Gephi To Map Twitter Networks

In a recent post Tony Hirst described A Map of My Twitter Follower Network.  The production of the map requires some manual intervention so it was not possible to be able to provide a live demonstration of Twitter networks related to, say, the @devcsi account.  However I suggested that since the DevCSI had an important role to play in supporting the development of communities that it might be useful exercise to see the develop of Twitter communities around the various topics areas which have been addressed at DevCSI events.

Realtime Display of #a11yhack Tweets

I concluded by demonstrating the Revisit realtime display of #a11yhack tweets (which is illustrated).

A point of showing this display was to demonstrate how a wide range of visualisations of Twitter streams can be provided, which can allow users to choose an interface which reflects their personal preferences, rather than expecting every Web-based interface to be universally accessible to all users – as some felt to be the case in the early years in the development of accessible Web sites.


Shortly after the DevCSI event was over Sandi Wassmer, the invited keynote speaker at the event, in giving her thanks to the event organisers picked up on how the DevCSI #a11yhack event had appeared to have fulfilled its purpose:

Thanks to  @mahendra_mahey  @SteveALee  @devcsi for enabling collaboration, innovation & creativity to flourish at #a11yhack.

An example of the collaboration, innovation and creativity was seen when, following Bruce Lawson’s   demonstration of webVTT in his invited talk on HTML5, Scott Wilson of the JISC-funded CETIS service developed a W3C widget to generate WebVTT (the Web Video Text Track file format that is under development for solving time-aligned text challenges for video.). Bruce, who was only present at the event on this first day, was alerted to this development on Twitter and shared the news across his Twitter community, as illustrated in the above image.

Further summaries about the event should be published shortly on the DevCSI blog. I’d like to conclude by echoing Sandi’s comments on how the DevCSI event helps to support collaboration, innovation and creativity and to give thanks to my colleague Mahendra Mahey, the DevCSI project manager for his willingness to take risks in providing the environment which supports the rapid development environment we saw over the last couple of days and Steve Lee, the co-facilitaor of the event, and wish Steve well in his new venture with the  OpenDirective, spin-off company from the JISC OSS Watch service.


4 Responses to “What Twitter Tells Us About The #DevCSI #a11yhack Event”

  1. Tony Hirst said

    @brian For me, @devcsi a/c is not something I follow directly. For me, the community is defined through the #devcsi hashtag, which i follow through a saved search column on Tweetdeck.

    Here’s what I found from running a couple of quick scripts over the followers of the @devcsi account [ how @devcsi followers follower each other: ], and recent users (as discovered via a twitter search) of the #devcsi hashtag [how recent users of #devcsi follower each other: ]

    PS Gephi, not Gelphi ;-)

  2. […] his blog post “What Twitter Tells Us About the #DevCSI #a11yhack Event” Brian discusses these issues in more detail and provides visualisations of the event […]

  3. […] One-off DevCSI event. Report has been published. […]

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