UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Archive for June, 2012

IWMW 2012: The Image

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 June 2012

Photos of IWMW 2012

A recent post on IWMW 2012: The Movie described how the accessibility of individual resources, such as  a set of slides and a video recording of a talk, can be enhancing by bringing together such related resources, rather than having to implement WCAG guidelines on the individual resources.

A related approach to enhancing accessibility by focussing beyond the digital resource could be images of an event. The IWMW 2012 photographs hosted on Flickr, for example, can enhance one’s long-term memory of an event by triggering memories of iconic aspects of an event. For me, the trip to Our Dynamic Earth was a highlight, and I’m pleased that Sharon Steeples took such a great photo of it, one of her many great photos of IWMW 2012, as illustrated at the top of this post.

But would it be possible to have a single image which depicted the three-day IWMW 2012 event? Well Kevin Mears (@mearso) has risen to that challenge!

During the event Kevin tweeted links to a series of cartoons he had produced which gave his visual impressions of a number of the plenary talks and parallel sessions he attended. During the event the following tweets were widely retweeted, favourited and images viewed:

For anyone who’s interested I did some visual notes for @usabilityed ‘s session.#iwmw12

I did a drawing of Brian’s welcome talk @iwmw  #iwmw12

Today’s doodle from the talk about data visualisation. So many interesting visualisations. #iwmw12

This getting hard work now. Plenty of info in the KIS talk. #iwmw12

I did a sketch note from B4 : big and small data. #iwmw12

Quick turnaround of the notes this time. Easy with such good sessions. #iwmw12

My doodle of the controversial session this afternoon. Hard for the drawing to be as dramatic as the talk! #iwmw12

Forgot to post last night’s drawing from the ‘Do I need an app?”. #iwmw12

Last doodle from immw12. Had to wait til I got home cos I’m too cheap to pay for mobile. #iwmw12. Had great time.

But most interesting of all was the tweet:

I collated my sketch notes from #iwmw12 into one big poster. Any demand out there for printed ones?

This image is embedded at the bottom of this post – and note that it can be viewed on Flickr at a number of sizes including 1600×1132. I suspect that looking at the details of the sketch will bring back memories which would not have been the case from a factual summary of the talk – the drawing (shown) of the line printer paper in the sketch of Ferdinand von Prondzynski‘s somewhat controversial plenary talk brought home the point about the somewhat rather protracted introduction in which the speaker sought to establish his credentials as an experienced user of IT.

Or to put it another way, images can be a valuable way of enhancing one’s understanding and recollections of things that happen in the physical world.  And to think that some people would ban such images unless they were accompanied by a comprehensive textual summary of every element of the sketches!


Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

Posted in Accessibility, Events | Leave a Comment »

IWMW 2012: The Movie

Posted by Brian Kelly on 27 June 2012

Importance of Networking

The Wilson Review states that “Networking between universities & the business community is a critical component of an efficient innovation ecosystem” (point 7 in the Executive Summary). This is equally true for networking across institutions for those with responsibilities for the provision of institutional Web services across the sector. As I highlighted in the Welcome talk at UKOLN’s IWMW 2012 event senior managers in institutions are quite capable of using Google to search for “outsourcing web management and looking for alternative providers of such services. But rather than pretend that this couldn’t happen at the event we explored how sharing of expertise, knowledge, advice and support can help to provide cost-effective approaches to the management and development of web services across the sector.

“Work in More Open Ways”

Yesterday an article on the BBC News on TEDGlobal: Net opens up era of radical openness described a “call-to-arms for corporations to work in more open ways” . In the context of conferences, workshops and other events in the higher education sector such openness is being seen in the provision of amplified events in which, as described in a recent post the sharing of resources at conferences and other events need no longer be restricted to those who were able to be physically present.

Accessing Slides and Videos of IWMW 2012 Plenary Talks

The ideas shared, criticisms expressed and visions for the future made by plenary speakers at the IWMW 2012 event can now be seen by those who did not happen to be physically in a lecture theatre in the Appleton Tower at the University of Edinburgh during 18-20 June 2012: the videos of the plenary talks have now been processed and uploaded to the UKOLN Vimeo account. In addition a page on the IWMW 2012 Web site provides access to the embedded videos together with the accompanying slides.

As illustrated in the screenshot shown below the page on the IWMW 2012 web site allows you to view a video recording of a talk whilst simultaneously scrolling through the speakers slides. This provides an interesting aspect on accessibility: the slides and the video recording in isolation will have limitations in maximising one’s understanding of the individual resources, but brought together it can be easier to understand the points the speaker is making of the text and images displayed on a slide. It is. of course, not coincidental that the image I have used to illustrate this point is taken from the talk on “Beyond WCAG: Implementing BS 8878” given by EA Draffan. And for those in the audience who were distracted by the person fainting during the talk, the slides and video recording provide an opportunity to revisit the presentation.

Posted in Accessibility, Events | 2 Comments »

“Conferences don’t end at the end anymore”: What IWMW 2012 Still Offers

Posted by Brian Kelly on 25 June 2012

IWMW 2012 Is Over: Long Live IWMW 2012!

Conferences don’t end at the end anymoretweeted @markpower two days after IWMW 2012 delegates had left Edinburgh and returned home.  This has always been the case: conferences organisers will have evaluation forms to analyse and invoices to chase.  But the point Mark was making related to the continuing discussions about the ideas discussed at an event and the accompanying resources, resources which increasingly these days may have been created during the event and support for the participants, which can help to ensure that an event is not just an collection of individuals who are co-located for a few days but, as I described in a recent post, a sustainable and thriving community of practice.  A related point was made recently in a post on “#mLearnCon 2012 Backchannel – Curated Resources” in which David Kelly described how “The backchannel is an excellent resource for learning from a conference or event that you are unable to attend in-person” and went on to add that he finds “collecting and reviewing backchannel resources to be a valuable learning experience …, even when [he is] attending a conference in person. Sharing these collections on this blog has shown that others find value in the collections as well.” But what are the resources from the IWMW 2012 which may be of interest to others, where can they be found and what value may they provide?

Key Resources


The slides used by the plenary speakers were uploaded to Slideshare in advance of the talks in order to allow the slides to be embedded in relevant Web pages and enable a remote audience to view the slides.  It should also be added that this also allowed participants at the event to view the slides if they were not able to view the main display of the slides. The slides have been tagged with the “iwmw12″ tag on Slideshare.  This enables the collection of slides to be accessed by a search for this string or by  browsing slideshows which use this tag.  Note that in previous years an event tag had been used, but this service was discontinued recently, after Slideshare had been bought by LinkedIn.

Creating a collection of slides used at the event enables a Slideshare presentation pack to be created, as illustrated, thus making it easy to access all slides used at the event which have been made available. As can be seen from the IWMW 2012 web site, the presentation pack can be embedded in Web pages. This service is being used since participants at IWMW have frequently asked to be able to access slides, including slides used in parallel sessions which they were not able to attend. Using Slideshare makes it easy to respond to this user need. In addition it helps to raise the profile  and visibility of speakers at the event.


The IWMW 2012 Lanyrd page was set up in advance to provide a social directory for participants at the event so they could see who else was attending. The value of this grows as Lanyrd is used across a number of events: from my Lanyrd, profile, for example, I can see that I have appeared at events on 12 occasions with my colleagues Marieke Guy and on 5 occasions with Paul Boag, Tony Hirst, Andy Powell, Keith Doyle and  Mike Nolan. In addition to the social dimension. Lanyrd also provides calendar entries for sessions at events. The date and time of sessions at IWMW 2012 has been provided together with links to the main page on the IWMW 2012 web site have been added, together with slideshows and links to reports on the sessions which we are aware of. It should be noted that, as illustrated, a Lanyrd has a Wiki-style environment for uploading resources which avoids the single-curator bottleneck. As the person who set up the IWMW 2012 Laynrd entry, together with the IWMW guide for all IWMW events, it should be noted that I receive an email alert when new entries are added to the coverage, such as:

<> (In guide IWMW) [22nd Jun 2012 07:52] *
@sheilmcn added coverage “Developing Digital Literacies and the role  of institutional support services” (  type:slides)
to session  “B2: Developing Digital Literacies and the Role of Institutional  Support Services”

This can help to spot if inappropriate entries are being added.


As described in a post on Streaming of IWMW 2012 Plenary Talks – But Who Pays? we used the service for the live video stream. The videos are currently being processed and will be made available via UKOLN’s Vimeo account shortly. This service will be used to wider access to the plenary talks so that they are available for those who were not present at the event – although, of course, they can also be viewed by people who were at the event and wish to watch the talks again. In addition to the video recordings of the talks we have also taken a number of short interviews with participants at the event which will enable their thoughts on the event to be shared with a wider audience.


With so many delegates now having digital cameras and smartphones there are a large number of photographs which have been uploaded to Flickr with the IWMW12 tag which can help to provide a collective memory of the event.

Having a large number of photographs, rather than a small set of selected ones taken  by an official photographer, provides a much broader perspective on the event. It also means that images browsing interface services, such as Tag Galaxy, are more useful by having a more diverse range of content.

The two images show a display of a Tag Galaxy search for photographs on Flickr with the “iwmw12″ tag and one of the many photographs taken by Sharon Steeples of the final conclusions session during which I showed an image of the video stream, captured earlier that morning when Dawn Ellis gave a summary of Web developments at the University of Edinburgh, subverting normal conference-style approaches to case studies by telling this as a fairy tale. The video recording of this talk will be particularly worth watching.


As can be seen from the image shown above, the lecture theatre also has a large blackboard.  The opportunity to use a blackboard during the final session provided too much temptation to ignore –  so in the summing up a tweet posted on the backboard was displayed, as a reminder that not everyone necessarily has a mobile device they could use for tweeting. However many people did use Twitter during the event. As is widely known, content posted on the Twitter stream becomes unavailable available a short period. There is therefore a need to analyse event tweets shortly after an event – or archive the tweets to allow them to be analysed subsequently.


As can be seen from the image of the Topsy search for #IWMW12 tweets posted over a period of the past 7 days (click for a larger display) there were 666 mentions on 18 June and 574 on 19 June.  The most highly tweeted link was to the IWMW 2012 video page, which was mentioned in 43 tweetsduring the week on 17-24 June 2012. In total Topsy reported that there were 748 tweets during the week on 17-24 June 2012, 808 in the month from 24 May-24 June and an overall total of 846 tweets to date.

Other Commercial Twitter Analytics Tools

It should be noted that a large number of Twitter analytics tools are available which be used to analyse how Twitter has been used. The Tweetreach service, for example, reports that tweets containing the #iwmw12 hashtag have reached 7,553 Twitter accounts. However, as is often the case with usage statistics, such figures need to be treated with a pinch of salt.

Beyond Commercial Twitter Analysis Tools

Topsy, Tweetreach and other Twitter analytics tools can provide a useful summary of use of Twitter hashtags. However  in the UK higher education development community we are fortunate to have the expertise of developers such as Martin Hawksey and Tony Hirst who have a well-established track record in the development of value Twitter analysis tools and who can continually develop their tools based on particular needs and interests of the community.

As Martin described in a post entitled IWMW12 Data Hacks for the IWMW 2012 event he was  “collecting an archive of tweets which already gives you the TAGSExplorer view“.

Looking at Martin’s Twitter archive of #iwmw12 tweets, provided by the TAGS v.40 service, we can see that the top five Twitterers were @iwmwlive (281 tweets), @PlanetClaire (149 tweets), @sharonsteeples (103 tweets), @mariekeguy (100 tweets) and @jessica_hobbs (81 tweets). Since the @iwmwlive Twitter account was managed by Kirsty Pitkin it seems that the top twitters at the event were all female: this seems particularly interesting in light of the fact that only about a quarter of the participants were female.

It should also be noted that this tool also provides a display of the tweets over time.  It can also be seen (right) that tweeting peaked at 2pm on Tuesday, 19 June 2012 with 229 tweets.

Finally I should mention Martin’s most recent development:  a filterable/searchable archive of IWMW12 tweets. As illustrated below, this provides a clickable word cloud of the content of the tweets, together with a search box and browse interface for the tweets.  It was while browsing the tweets that I came across a comment from @JohnGreenway who, during the conclusions, tweeted:

As someone from a commercial background, #iwmw12 has been excellent – hope everyone in HE realises how rare this is in other industries!

Such live tweeting helped in providing useful real time feedback not only to the event organisers but also the plenary speakers.  Other comments received during the event included:

  •  Excellent talk by Stephen Emmott – always a reliable IWMW speaker! #iwmw12 from @adriant
  • First time at #iwmw12 and had a brilliant time. Great ideas, great people, great weather, who could ask for more. from @millaraj
  • First time at IWMW: great speakers, interesting topics, fantastic Ceilidh. Many thanks to organisers and presenters. #IWMW12 #new #social from@seajays
  • Great summary by @sloands on how to build accessibility into project management processes using BS8878 #iwmw12 from @chistabel6

Further examples of tools which Martin Hawksey developed at the IWMW 2012 event can be accessed from his Delicious IWMW12 Hacks set of bookmarks.

The Daily newspaper

Finally I should mentioned the IWMW12 daily newspaper, which had been set up in advance of the event. This automated newspaper consisted of articles based on links which had been tweeted  containing the event hashtag.


Conferences have never ended immediately after the final talk has been given – this is always the paperwork to be processed, the evaluation forms to be analysed and feedback given to the speakers and local event organisers. What is different nowadays is that event resources and discussions are no longer ‘trapped in space and time’.  If an event has value, it should surely have value for those who may not have been able to attend.

It was therefore appropriate that during my opening talk I was able to announce the launch of the JISC-funded Greening Events II; Event Amplification report. We hope that the report will be useful for others who are planning amplified events.  As Mark Power put it: “Conferences don’t end at the end anymore” – you need to make plans for managing the resources after the conference is over. We hope the report will be useful for those planning amplified events.

NOTE: Shortly after this post was published a post entitled “But who is going to read 12,000 tweets?!” How researchers can collect and share relevant social media content at conferences was posted on the LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog which echoed the approaches described in this post.

Posted in Events, Evidence, preservation, Twitter, Web2.0 | 3 Comments »

Twitter Analysis: Can #bathopenday Learn from #IWMW12?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21 June 2012

In the final session at UKOLN’s IWMW 2012 event which finished yesterday I suggested that the community analysis techniques which Tony Hirst and Martin Hawksey were applying to the #IWMW12 tweets might be useful in institutional contexts. “Suppose your University is having an Open Day” I suggested “and you promoted a Twitter hashtag which could be used by visitors to your institution who, it seems, are now making greater use of Twitter. You might be able to apply the tools developed by Tony and Martin to help develop a better understanding of that important community – 17 year old students who may choose your University next year“.

After the IWMW 2012 had finished, whilst unwinding in a pub opposite the Appleton Tower in Edinburgh I checked my email and spotted an email which announced “Over 5,000 visitors expected on campus tomorrow!” and went on to add:

As with any Open Day the campus will be busy, especially the car parks. As usual we have plans in place for overflow parking but if you can car share to help ease the pressure then please do so. Buses are also likely to be very busy, so please take this into account when making your travel arrangements.

On arrival at the University I spotted posters around the campus signposting the various departments – all of which contained the Twitter hashtag for today’s Open Day: #bathopenday So whilst tweets from staff at the University could well be full of complaints about travelling up the hill to the University, it does seem that there may be an opportunity to analyse the #bathopenday tweets.

Yesterday Tony Hirst (@psychemedia) tweeted “Visualising folk commonly followed by recent users of the #iwmw12 hashtag” which is illustrated.

In addition Martin Hawksey (@mkawskey) has provided a timeline view of #IWMW12 tweets.

Might it be possible to apply these approaches to Bath’s #bathopenday tweets, I wonder? And is anybody else taking similar approach to their Open Days?

Posted in Events, Evidence, Twitter | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Streaming of IWMW 2012 Plenary Talks – But Who Pays?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 June 2012


The sixteenth in the series of annual Institutional Web Management Workshops, IWMW 2012, is now underway. As we were concerned last year that Web team budgets and pressures of work would make it difficult for people to attend a 3-day event, the IWMW 2011 took place over two days. However the feedback we received in the final session last year made it clear that there was demand for the event to revert to its traditional 3 day format.

Since the concerns about budgets and workloads will probably be even more valid this year we were still concerned about the number of delegates. However, following an influx of last minutes bookings, the final numbers are even larger than last year with 170 registered delegates.

We also have a number of sponsors again this year, with Jadu sponsoring the badges and lanyards, TERMINALFOUR are sponsoring a parallel session and Siteimprove providing inserts in the delegate pack. In addition Statistics into Decisions and Gas Mark 8 are co-sponsoring the event amplification and video-streaming of the plenary talks.

Since the University of Edinburgh video-streaming service has other commitments this week, TConsult, who have provided event amplification at IWMW events in the past, will this year also be providing the video-streaming service. The service is being used to deliver the live video stream. However since we are aware that viewers will probably not appreciate the adverts include in the free version of the service, we will be using Watershed, the premium version of the service. The charging for this service is based on viewer hours. Looking at the pricing options it seems that we can pay $49 for a month’s subscription, which gives us 500 viewer hours, with an additional $0.49 per additional viewer hour. This seems reasonable – unless the plenary talks attract a large audience. Since there are 8.5 hours of plenary talks we will be able to cater for 60 people watching all the plenary talks. Based on previous year’s experiences the expected numbers should fall within the standard allowance. However if some of the talks become unexpectedly popular – and the popularity which can be generated by viral social networks such as Twitter – we could be hit with a large bill. We have therefore put a cap on the total number of users. In order to ensure that people who wish to watch a plenary talk do not have access blocked we ask that people watching the live video stream switch off the live stream when the talks they are interested in has finished.

These considerations lead to the question: who should pay for live streams at conferences? At recent IWMW events the live video streaming was provided as part of the service by the host institution. However this year we have had to address the question of the business model for the provision on the service for the first time.

Although we are providing access to an ad-free video-streaming service we cannot commit to doing this in the future. One alternative will be to make use of the free ad-supported version of the service. As illustrated, when you join a stream an advert will be displayed, for about 20 seconds, it would seem.

Adverts which are used to fund a video service which is free at the point of delivery is, of course, something we are all familiar with – ITV have been doing this for many years and we are all willing to watch programmes on commercial channels, provided the content is of interest to us.

I would be interested to hear from people who would not be willing to watch video streaming of content of interest to them on how the costs of the service should be provided. I would, of course, expect such suggestions to be reasonable and feasible: saying that we should simply be getting more money to provide such services is not realistic in the current environment.

A similar question could be asked about the accessibility of recordings of the videos. We do not intend to provide captions for the recordings and, since legislation talks about ‘reasonable measures’ we do not feel there is a legal requirement to do this. We feel that the provision of the live video stream itself enhances the accessibility of the event – a point brought how to me last year when Janet McKnight uploaded a photo of herself watching the live video stream, with her baby in her lap (as illustrated). Put simply, the provision of the live video stream itself enhances access to the content for people who can’t attend the event for a variety of reasons. Having to spend additional money from an undetermined source to caption the videos would potentially undermine the provision of the live video stream itself, forcing us back to the world of siloed conferences in which only paying delegates could participate.

Unless, of course, we could make use of the textual summaries of the plenary talks provided by the official event amplifier on her Twitter account. We did this at IWMW 2010, as can be seen from the accompanying image of the Twitter captions of the talk by Ranjit Sidhu. This will be an approach we will explore again at this year’s event.

I‘ll conclude this post by summarising the policy for video streaming and access to video recording of talks at IWMW events.

In order to maximise the impact of the ideas presented in talks at IWMW events we will seek to support event amplification to enable members of the sector who aren’t physically present to engage in the discussions and sharing of ideas. We will also seek to provide a live video stream of plenary talks and access to recordings of the talks after the event.

We will aim to provide these services in a sustainable fashion. We will be transparent about the ways in which these services are being funded.

Is that a reasonable policy?

Posted in Accessibility, Events | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Tools to Support a Community of Practice

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 June 2012

The Web Management Community of Practice

On Monday 18 June I will be co-facilitating a session on “New to the Sector? New to Web Management? New to IWMW?” at UKOLN’s annual IWMW 2012 event. Mike Nolan, Head of the Web Services team at Edge Hill University and Amber Thomas, programme manager at the JISC, will also be contributing to the session, with Mike giving his thoughts from the perspective of a Web manager who has had both technical and managerial responsibilities and Amber describing the ways in which JISC supports the needs of those working in institutional Web management teams.

In my talk on the role of the Innovation Support Centre at UKOLN I will focus on our involvement in the development of the Web management Community of Practice (CoP) through 16 years of the IWMW event and, in the early years, engagement on mailing lists. As described previously the two main lists used by this community have declined significantly since 2002, and now are used primarily for announcements of events, calls for papers and job advertisements. This decline is not surprising in light of the growth of a wide range of communications and collaborative tools during that time.  The challenge, however, is identifying the tools which can support the community and understanding how they can be used.  Or to put in in more concrete terms:
  • What tools are available which can support the professional interests of web managers?
  • What patterns of use of such tools are emerging?
  • Web managers are busy people – can use of such tools provide a positive ROI?
We will now try to address these questions, with a focus on use of such tools across the community rather than within an institution or team.

Engaging with the Web Management Community on Twitter

Sceptics will point out that Twitter is full of trivia, and use of Twitter can be time-consuming. Established Twitter users will agree that Twitter is full of trivia – and James Clay’s regular #thisiswhattwitterwascreatedfor tweets seem to confirm such views. But we should also remember that mailing lists and the Web itself are also full of information which are of no interest and are time-consuming to read – indeed it is also worth pointing out that libraries are full of books which are of no interest to individual readers!  The issue is not the tool itself, but the way in which the tool (or the library) is used. And surprisingly for some, Twitter’s apparent simplicity provides a diverse way in which it can be used, beyond telling people what you had for breakfast.

Twitter lists

When Twitter lists first came out it was unclear as to what benefits they would provide. However a number of applications now make use of Twitter lists. I have created a list for IWMW 2012 attendees who have provided a Twitter ID on their registration form. Viewing the  Twitter stream doesn’t provide much value (at the time of writing people are tweeting about a Euro12 football match and what they’re having for tea). However this list can be used in application such as Flipboard enable a personalised newspaper to be created based on content from a variety of sources including RSS feeds, Facebook and Twitter. Further examples can be seen in the post on  Who Needs Murdoch – I’ve Got Smartr, My Own Personalised Daily Newspaper! – although the Smartr app is no longer available the post illustrates the concept of how a Twitter list can be used as a filter for links to resources posted in Twitter.


A post entitled How Bottlenose Can Help Turn Twitter into a High Signal Channel illustrated how various tools developed around the Twitter environment can provide ease of access to quality content.

The accompanying screenshot shows a search for the hashtag #eucookielaw.  As can be seen, this enables you to focus in on tweets with other hashtags (such as #iwmw12) or keywords (such as ICO).

The point of these two examples is to illustrate how Twitter can be useful in finding content of interest. However the main purpose of this post is to illustrate how Twitter can be used in the support of a community. We will now explore examples of such uses.

Twitter as an Identity Provider

You do not have to post tweets in order to gain benefits from having a Twitter account.  If you are a speaker at events you can include your Twitter ID on your title slide, along with your email address. This can help you find what people were saying about your talk afterwards e.g. a tweet saying “Great talk by @johnsmith” will arrive in @johnsmith’s incoming messages whereas “Great talk by john smith” will be more difficult to find.


The Lanyrd service enables a user with a Twitter account to link their attendance at an event (as a speaker, delegate or organiser)  with your Twitter account.  As can be seen for the Lanyrd entry for the IWMW 2012 event you can see the 56 people who have currently associated their Twitter ID with the event.  Selecting a user, such as my colleague @MariekeGuy, you can view the other events she has been involved with, as well as the other users she has appeared with at other events.

Social Ties

The Social Ties app, available for the iPhone and Android platforms:

…  shows you which friends are present and list everyone else by our ‘shared interests index’. Anyone you don’t know becomes a ‘discovery’, the highest ranked are those who talk about the same things as you.

This is an example which seems to provide the ability to help develop one’s community of people with shared interests, based on attendance at forthcoming events. As described by the developers:

Social Ties is an iPhone app that utilises advanced AI algorithms to mine Social Network data to provide you with detailed profiles of people at the conference or event that you are attending, and orders the results according to how interesting we think you will find them.

It should be noted that Social Ties gets its event data from Lanyrd.


Unlike the other examples given so far, Shhmooze is not part of the Twitter infrastructure. Rather, as I described last year, Shhmooze  is designed to facilitate networking at an event. We have set up a Shhmooze entry for the IWMW 2012 event and will be inviting delegates to try out the tool during the three day event.


The session on New to the Sector? New to Web Management? New to IWMW? which will be held next Monday “will provide orientation for those who have not attended the event previously or are new to the sector or the community“.  I will give an overview of the IWMW event and suggest that it is not the skills of members of institutional Web teams or the services provided by the teams which have the potential to be the key aspect of a sustainable institutional Web team.  After all, policy makers within the institution are capable of carrying out this search query and looking for alternative providers of Web services. But what members of web teams within the institutions should have is the strength of their community.  Let’s continue to build and develop this community!

Posted in Events, Social Networking | 3 Comments »

Serindipity? It’s Madness!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 12 June 2012

The final preparations for UKOLN’s IWMW 2012 event included booking a ceilidh band for the evening social on the opening night of the event. This had been left until just over a week before the event as we were unsure of the numbers we might get in light of limited budgets for people to attend such events. However I’m pleased to say that the event will be even larger than last year with approximately 170 delegates.

I had been in touch with a number of ceilidh bands based in Edinburgh but the one that seemed most appealing was The Belle Star band.  As described on their web site:

One of Scotland’s top all-women dance bands, The Belle Star Band have got to be unique in spanning three cultures – Scottish Urban Ceilidh, Jewish Klezmer and Canadian/American Contradance. Their great sense of swing, strong fiddle-driven sound and love of playing for dancing make them the glue in any social gathering“.

Before confirming the booking I thought  I’d ask if anyone I knew had seen them. In response to my tweet I received the reply:

Wow! Yes. Blast from the past!

and following my question “Any good?” came the confirmation:

Oh yes! Sort of the female version of Madness back then, but they didn’t get a look in :-) Talent and energy and great music :-)

That was good enough for me, and we have now booked The Belle Star for Monday night’s ceilidh. The Twitter account which helped me make this decision was @disabilityarts. As Web accessibility is an important area of my work I was interested in finding out more. From the Twitter biography I found that “DAO is a journal for disabled bloggers, creatives and performers to share work and experience. Tweets are from Marian (sub-editor) and Colin (editor)“.

The serendipity of finding out that someone who recommended The Belle Star Band had similar interests was confirmed in a Twitter discussion from which I learnt about the user-focussed approaches to the redesign of the web site and, of even more interest to me, was an article on Digitising Disability. This provided a quote on the Disability and Steve Jobs’ Legacy  by Tim Carmody in which explained that:

“’Accessible’ means ‘something everyone can use.’ In pop culture and consumer technology, “accessible” sometimes means things that are easy for lots of people to understand or enjoy.

This view of accessibility clearly has parallels with the W3C WAI’s approach to Web accessibility for which the mantra, expressed by Tim Berners-Lee is “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect“.

But just as we wouldn’t expect all works of art to be accessible to all, we should also not expect all Web products to be accessible by all.

Back in 2004 myself, Lawrie Phipps and Elaine Swift realised that the accessibility of Web resources shouldn’t be the prime consideration for elearning resources.  In a paper entitled “Developing A Holistic Approach For E-Learning Accessibility” we argued that the important aspect was the accessibility of the learning outcomes, not the digital resources.  The “understanding” of the content may come about through a particular pedagogical approaches, such as Social constructivism in which, according to Wikipediagroups construct knowledge for one another, collaboratively creating a small culture of shared artifacts with shared meanings“.

In a subsequent paper on “Accessibility 2.0: Next Steps For Web Accessibility” we developed out initial ideas and explored what accessibility might mean for access to cultural resources:

The Great Masturbator by Salvador Dali

How could you describe [the accompanying image] meaningfully to someone unable to see it? What is it a picture of? What is it about? How helpful is it to know that the artist, Salvador Dali, called it “The Great Masturbator”?

The Creative Case For Diversity page, which @disabilityarts brought to my attention, went on to describe the Capturing the moment, capturing the motion video which is embedded below. The article explains:

The technology is there to be exploited, to be harnessed, to be pushed. Simon Mckeown is a disabled artist who has spent much of his working life within the commercial world of gaming and computer animation and so knows a thing or two about pushing at boundaries.

But is this video accessible to a blind user? Does the web site conform with WAI accessibility guidelines? The answer is no. And this illustrates that the focus on conformance of the digital resource with a technical checklist is an over-simplistic approach to enhancing accessibility.

For me it is now timely to go the mechanistic approach to web accessibility and move towards a ‘post-digital’ view of accessibility which we touched on in a paper on Web accessibility metrics for a post digital world.  The article on “Digitising Disability” went on to explain howThe technology is there to be exploited, to be harnessed, to be pushed“. Let’s take One Step Beyond the simplicities of a checklist approach to accessibility. That step should be based on an understanding of what accessibility means from those engaged in disability studies and seeing how this might be applied in an online environment.

Posted in Accessibility, Twitter | 1 Comment »

The Blog Post as a Magnetic For Impact Findings

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11 June 2012

We have recently been asked to provide evidence of the usage and impact of the diverse services we provide. Such a request is perfectly understandable – commercial companies with be able to point to their profit margins as evidence of the effectiveness of their activities and whilst ways of doing this for those working in higher education will be more complex, I appreciate the need to do this.

Usage statistics can be easy to gather, especially for use of social media service. As an example on Saturday @dajbelshaw tweeted:

Whoah. Just noticed my ‘TELIC: The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’ presentation has had 9,539 views since uploading *yesterday!*

and the following day informed us that:

20,000 views now. Uploaded Friday. Insane.

This example made me realise that the velocity as well as the overall usage statistics – coincidentally my most viewed slides on Slideshare, Introduction To Facebook, have also been viewed over 20,000 times – but this has been over a period of four years.

Whilst such usage statistics can be relatively easy to gather (and I will leave it to others to interpret the metrics), it can be more time-consuming to gather qualitative evidence of the take-up of services.

On Friday, however, I noticed an incoming link which was sending traffic to this blog. The link was from the eGovernment Resource Service for the Victoria Government, Australia and related to a post on Aversive Disablism, Web Accessibility and the Web Developer which I posted on 1 May 2012, the Global Accessibility Awareness Day. It then occurred to me that having a blog post embedded in a government’s web site might be a useful indicator of the value of my work in the area of web accessibility. Further investigation I found addition pages on the web sites about an article I had written on Web Accessibility: Putting People and Processes First and a paper on Forcing Standardization or Accommodating Diversity? A Framework for Applying the WCAG in the Real World.

As described on the Web sitethe eGovernment Resource Centre provides access to the Victorian Government body of knowledge on eGovernment, government 2.0, government use of social media and information and communications technology (ICT) and government website best practices, with Australian and international examples“. It does seem to me that I will be able to use this as an example of the impact at an international level of my work.  I also realised that I would not have been aware of this if I had not seen the incoming link to the blog post.  Blog posts, it would seem, can act as a magnet for attracting evidence of impact which would be difficult to detect otherwise.

I then went on to wonder why the Victorian Government in Australia was aware of my work.  I then remembered that in January 2009 I gave the opening plenary talk on “From Web Accessibility 2.0 to Web Adaptability (1.0)” at the OzeWAI conference in Melbourne and in November 2009 gave a plenary keynote talk, provided as a pre-recorded slidecast on “From Web Accessibility To Web Adaptability” at the OzeWAI at OZCHI 2009 conference”. Perhaps the connections I made in the first trip and the followup talk I gave ten months later made an impact which I have only become aware of recently?

Meanwhile, back to the gathering of further evidence ….

Posted in Accessibility, Evidence | Leave a Comment »

Guest Post: Further Evidence of Use of Social Networks in the UK Higher Education Sector

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6 June 2012


Further Evidence of Use of Social Networks in the UK Higher Education Sector

A series of recent posts on the UK Web Focus blog have summarised use of social networking service such as Facebook and Twitter by the 20 Russell Group universities. In today’s guest post Craig Russell, a Web Systems Developer at the University of Leicester, provides a picture across the UK higher education sector. Craig’s work is particularly timely as it has been carried out shortly before UKOLN’s IWMW 2012 event. Craig will be attending the event and will welcome feedback and comments from fellow participants on the survey and, perhaps more importantly, the implications of the findings and how they should inform policy decisions.

These are lean times for UK universities. The second half of this year is going to be a challenging one for all of us. Purse strings are being pulled tight in response to post-September uncertainty and we are all finding ourselves spread thinner than before, having to find new ways to do more-for-less. Universities have a strong history of academic collaboration, a practice that we in the corporate and support services should seek to emulate. By way of an example, I’d like to share my experiences of sharing a project of my own with the university community and the great benefit that this has returned.

In recent weeks I’ve set out to compile a dataset of all UK university social media (SM) accounts. Initially I was working alone in compiling the data set, and I got a fair way with it, but it wasn’t until sharing my work with the university web community that it grew in to the comprehensive resource that it has become.

I began with a list of institutions taken from the Guardian League Tables, which turned out not to be the best source as it didn’t use the correct names for institutions nor did it list all HEIs in the UK. When I shared the dataset with members of the WEB-INFO-MGT mailing list I received a few responses from institutions who were disappointed to find they weren’t included in it. Wanting to make this resource as inclusive as possible, I later adapted it to use the institution list provided by HESA in their “2010/11 Students by Institution” dataset. In addition to being more complete and accurate, this allowed me to include the HESA Institution ID and UK Provider Reference Number, which will make it easier to join this dataset with others in the future.

Figure 1: Number of social media services used

Initially I only collected data for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and iTunesU accounts. My thinking at the time was that that the first four were the most popular (and therefore the only interesting ones – herp) and I had a general interest in iTunesU. While collecting the data I noticed that other networks were also fairly common among universities. This revelation was reinforced by the emails I received from web maintainers, which listed a variety of services. So in the revised version I included every service that universities identified themselves as using. The dataset now lists 16 different services that are currently being used by UK universities. A surprisingly broad spread.

Expanding the dataset in this dimension allows an important questions to be asked; what are the social network that UK universities are currently using, and how popular are they? The chart below answers this question. The data shows that my initial hunch about the top four was correct (but all the better with evidence), though I expected Flickr to be more popular than it is. In contrast, LinkedIn is better represented than I had thought. Also of note is the low position of Google+, echoing the general attitude towards the much-hyped service.

Figure 2: Distribution of accounts across institutions

Another question worth asking is; how many social networks are universities using? The histogram shown in Figure 2 the distribution of accounts across institutions. Most universities have a presence in 3 or 4 networks, with a significant minority above and below this range. The peak at 0 suggests missing data, therefore it’s likely that university presence in social media is in truth greater than this chart would suggest.

Though this is only a fairly superficial analysis of the data, these results raise many more questions than they answer. Why do most institutions have only 3/4 social media accounts? I suspect that the availability of resources in the university to manage an on-line social presence is the primary limiting factor, though the response to the popularity of these services in our target markets should also be considered. The combination of popular services is interesting too. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and to a lesser extent Flickr, seem to provide a complimentary suite of tools – why?

I’m also interested to understand the strategy guiding the use of these services. Having glanced over a few accounts I see that some institutions use twitter primarily as a broadcast medium to share information about themselves, whereas others use it as a two-way channel to communicate and converse with their audience. On a related point, while most universities linked to their SM accounts from their homepage, those that did not, commonly linked to it from their news and events pages. This implies a ‘broadcast’ view of social media, though it may simply reflect where responsibility for managing these accounts lays within the organisation.

I originally compiled this dataset to answer a few questions of my own. But thanks to the involvement of the university web community it has grown and developed in to a resource that has been useful for me and (I hope) you too. If you use this dataset as a basis for your own work, or if you have data of your own that others may find useful, I’d encourage you to share it. Post a few links to the WEB-INFO-MGT mailing list or better yet attend an event such as IWMW12 to meet and discuss your work. The chances of you being the only person who finds your work interesting or useful is vanishingly small, find those other people and help one another.

The UK University Social Media Accounts dataset is up on Google Docs. Please do email me with any updates, corrections, comments or criticisms. I will be attending IWMW next month, so do come say hi if you’d like to chat about this – or anything else for that matter. Finally I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the dataset and sent messages of encouragement, I am very grateful.

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

We may well have found ourselves shoe-horned in to the free-market, but I strongly believe that it is through our cooperation, not our competition, that UK universities will continue to thrive in a challenging future.

Posted in Guest-post, Social Web | 8 Comments »

What Can Offer the Web Manager?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 1 June 2012

I’m pleased to say that we will be running an additional parallel session at the IWMW 2012 event in Edinburgh in just over two weeks’ time. Phil Barker will be facilitating a session which will seek answers to the question What Can Offer the Web Manager? The session, which will take place on Monday 18 June from 14.00-15.30, will explore ideas Phil described in a recent post which asked Will using metadata improve my Google rank?

As described in the abstract for the session: is a major new initiative supported by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Bing and Yandex with the aim of “making it easier for people to find the right web pages”. It is a simplified profile of microdata, a means of embedding metadata in web pages that is aligned with HTML5. It differs significantly from previous attempts at providing resource descriptions for web pages to aid discovery, such as various metadata schema, microformats and RDFa in that it has support from the major search engines plus W3C, making it both standards-based and with vendor support.

As can be seen from his guest post on the Creative Commons blog on the Learning Resource Metadata Initiative Phil has a particular interest is in the potential which may have in enhancing the discovery of educational resources. However when we discussed his proposal we realised that the issues he would be covering in the session would be of general interest: How can one provide structured metadata in Web pages to facilitate discovery? What is different to use of to previous metadata proposals such as simply embedding Dublin Core in HTML resources? A common example of use of is for recipes (as illustrated) – how might one develop a vocabulary relevant to the needs of the higher education sector and, equally important, ensure that search engine vendors understand and process such vocabularies?

Phil’s session on a metadata standard for resource discovery complements the session which Alex Bilbie will be facilitating on the following day (Tuesday 19 June) on Linking You (session C5). As described in the abstract for that session:

This workshop will provide an introduction to the JISC-funded Linking You toolkit. We’ll reflect on the project’s recommendations, dig into the sector-wide review of HEI’s use of identifiers and discuss the resulting draft data model for institutions and possible ways forward for implementation.

At the end of this session, participants should have a better understanding of how identifiers are being used across UK university websites, had a chance to respond to the proposed data model and influence future work in this area.

These two sessions would seem to provide an ideal opportunity for those who have an interest in exploring approaches to enhancing the discovery of a range of resources hosted on the Web.

If you have already booked a place at the IWMW 2012 event and this session is of interest you can change your selected parallel sessions using the username and password you were given when you registered (note that the session has code B7). If you haven’t booked a place for the event which takes place at the University of Edinburgh on 18-20 June, the bookings are still open. And note that although bookings were originally due to close later today, in light of the extended Bank Holiday weekend, which means that the event organisers will not be in the office until later next week, we have decided to keep the online booking system open until Friday 8 June.

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