UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

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How Twitter Expertise Helps Your Writing and Dissemination

Posted by Brian Kelly on 1 Jul 2011

The 31st issue of #JISC Inform has just been published.  The editorial describes how the issue features article which “look at how students are taking an active part in their course design and delivery which in turn is increasing their satisfaction levels” and goes on to add that “if you’re reading this edition through your mobile you’ll see that this and JISC Inform issue 30 are now available as mobile versions too“.

But how should one go about developing Web resources which can be used on both desktop PCs and mobile phones?  Answers to that questions have been described in a Mobile Web Apps briefing paper (PDF format) written by Mark Power of CETIS and described in a post on Mark’s blog. But although the 6-page briefing paper has been widely promoted for the developer community (and the comments on the blog post are from developers) there is also a need to be able to communicate best practices to policy makers and managers too.  This audience is likely to require a well-focussed summary rather than the in-depth implementation details.

In order to help ensure that best practices for innovation can become embedded within institutions UKOLN and CETIS, the two JISC Innovation Support Centres, have been exploring opportunities for collaboration, and yesterday we had a meeting in London in order to agree on appropriate areas for further work after the 1 August.

I was pleased that at the meeting I was able to mention that an article published in JISC Inform was the result of joint effort between Mark and myself.  And when I viewed how the article we had submitted had been published I was very pleased with the visual impact with, as shown, the top tips for providing mobile web service being depicted as iPhone apps.

On further reflection I realised that the tips we had provided (which  were summaries of advice provided in the briefing paper) could –  almost – be provided as tweets. For example:

There is no such thing as the Mobile Web 

leaves a further 100 characters to be used.  And whilst

Design for the usual internet and then make your site adaptable for mobile devices for example decreasing the screen size using CSS media queries and then scaling up for larger devices like tablets and PCs by progressively enhancing access for larger audiences.

is the equivalent of two tweets the final tip:

Use the W3C’s Mobile Web checking service: Compare the findings for your service with your peers as illustrated in a UK Web Focus blog post.

comes to exactly 140 characters! You may argue that additional characters will be need to include the link but a slight rewording provides a tweetable summary with the link:

Use the W3C’s Mobile Web checking service. Compare the findings for your service with your peers as illustrated at http://bit.ly/eZ47Tv

This example has made me realise that for those who feel that it is important to disseminate their work and to be able to reach out to policy makers and senior managers who may not be inclined to ready wordy and detailed reports, having skills in being able to communicate succinctly will be value.  Twitter, clearly, can help to hone such skills, so that when presented with an opportunity to write 500 words you should be in a better position to know how to best present your ideas or arguments.

Unfortunately the JISC Inform editor had to omit our final contribution to the article, possibly because it was too wordy.  I’ll therefore conclude with a tweet:

Survey on institutional plans & policies for mobile web still open – see http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ukoln-cetis-mobile-web-2011

and remind people, in 135 characters, that: Twitter can be full of trivia, just like the Web. But also like the Web it can be a valuable tool to support institutional activities!

2 Responses to “How Twitter Expertise Helps Your Writing and Dissemination”

  1. Mark Power said

    Good stuff, Brian – you’re absolutely right about the importance of being able to put across some of these messages in a form that is more easily digestible to different members of the food chain :)

    I have, however, been kicking myself at the absolute bloody awfulness of the wording/message of the first tip…not sure what happened there! :-/

    So I’ve written a quick clarification on my blog – http://markpower.me.uk/workblog/2011/07/top-tips-for-the-mobile-web-in-jisc-inform-31/

  2. […] opportunity to explain the value of one’s professional activities. As describe din a post on How Twitter Expertise Helps Your Writing and Dissemination  Twitter is a valuable tool for developing the skills in being able to communicate succinctly. […]

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