UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

The Home Worker’s IT (and other) Support is in the Cloud

Posted by Brian Kelly on 20 May 2013

“I Need Some Help”

Twitter-discssion about home networkingOn Friday I asked for advice on home networking. I am having some work carried out on my house, which has included converting a bedroom into an office. I currently use Powerline Ethernet to provide network access to my main PC, but realised that with other networked devices (including a wide screen TV and Blu Ray player, both of which have Ethernet ports in addition to desktop computers) I should really be thinking about including cabling to ensure that adequate and reliable bandwidth is available across my home.

In response I came across a discussion about the merits of Powerline networking (plugging a device into a mains socket) and a variety of useful links, including advice on techniques for installing such cabling.

My colleague Marieke Guy highlighted the importance of reliable home networking in a tweet in which she commented:

We have crappy cables & telephone lines all set up wrong. BB [broadband] constantly goes. Have someone coming round on Monday to rewire!

Marieke followed up the comment by herself asking for advice from her Twitter network:

Can anyone recommend any good UK suppliers of promotional materials for conferences etc. Quick turnaround & good value for money imp.

The query relates to Marieke’s new role as project co-ordinator with the Open Knowledge Foundation in which, as she described in a post on Redundancies and Pastures New, she will be working on their LinkedUp project supporting the adoption of open data by educational organisations and institutions.

The Home Worker’s IT (and other) Support is in the Cloud!

For both myself and Marieke we have been seeking for advice from our networks. For both of us the main network we will use for such questions will be Twitter, but we may also use other online networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

Marieke Guy's tweet about onference-stuffThese online networks will be particularly important for myself and Marieke after we are made redundant on 31 July and are forced to leave the comfort zone of UKOLN and the University of Bath. Previously advice on networks and other technical issues would have been asked of our IT support staff, and questions about conference schwagg would have been the responsibility of our events team. But in just over two months we will no longer have access to such expertise within our host organisation – as we will no longer have a host organisation!

For both of us the online networks we have cultivated should prove valuable when we start work as self-employed consultants. Marieke already has several year’s experience of how her Ramblings of a Remote Worker blog has proved valuable in obtaining advice on home working, including use of a variety of Cloud services. The need to be able to make productive and effective use of online tools when there is no it-support email address available will be important for both of use after 31 July. Indeed as Marieke tweeted in Friday as part of the discussion about the importance of a reliable home network:

New job requires constant access as *everything* is stored in the cloud.

The advice received on home networking and sources of conference materials illustrates the importance of being part of a thriving online network, especially for those of us who will be moving from working within an institution to working from home. For us, the face-to-face connections we have with our colleagues and the informal networks we have with people we meet over coffee or at lunchtime will have less importance and the links with our online communities will grow in importance and value.

Growing Your Network

I touched on such issues when I gave a seminar for UKOLN colleagues back in December 2012. The talk, entitled Managing Your Digital Profile, highlighted the importance of professional networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter. However the slides, which are available on Slideshare) didn’t really suggest ways in which one could grow one’s professional community. In this post I’ll therefore provide six tips on use of Twitter:

  • Ensure that your Twitter biography summarises your main interests and has a link to further information.
  • Follow relevant hashtags and follow people who are posting tweets which are relevant to you.
  • Favourite (i.e. bookmark) tweets, as that action can be visible to the Tweeter who may chose to follow you if your Twitter biography and recent tweets are of interest.
  • If you are giving a talk at a conference, include your Twitter ID on your title slide. People are more likely to tweet this ID than, say, your email address. This will enable others to easily find out more about you.
  • If you can help others by sending them a tweet, do so. Spending time in writing 140 characters to provide advice or support to others will demonstrate that you are willing to help others. People will be more likely to help you if they see this.
  • Show your personality and not just your work interests. If you enjoyed Eurovision on Saturday night, you missed an opportunity to join in the conversation.

Who knows, the person who has added you to your Twitter network, perhaps because they too, liked Ireland’s Eurovision song, might be the person who can give you the advice you need on home working, conference schwagg or whatever advice it is you are seeking.

I should add that Marieke has written a blog post on What’s with the Wiring? in which she summarised the discussion about home networking from her perspective.

View Twitter conversation from: [Topsy] | View Twitter statistics from: [TweetReach] – []


One Response to “The Home Worker’s IT (and other) Support is in the Cloud”

  1. Hi Brian

    You quite rightly talk about twitter is a fantastic tool to grow your network. In my experience, LinkedIn is probably a better tool in terms of finding great suppliers.

    If you go into a group on LinkedIn and ask for support union. Many experts common answer the question for you and from those you can pick a likely candidate.

    As those candidates appear. It’s very often the case that someone in your LinkedIn network will know them so you can just ask for the recommendation. :-)

    It’s an interesting twist on exactly where Google is going over the next few years. The whole area of social opinion influencing Google rankings will become more and more prevalent over the next few years!

    Kind regards

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