UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Archive for June, 2013

Using Social Media to Enhance Your Research Activities

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24 June 2013

SRA paperLater today I’ll be presenting an invited paper on “Using Social Media to Enhance Your Research Activities” at the Social Media in Social Research conference which is being organised by SRA (Social Research Organisation). The paper is available from the University of Bath repository in PDF and MS Word formats.

The abstract for the paper describes how:

In this paper the author summarises the benefits which can be gained from use of social media to support research activities. The paper is based on personal experiences in using social media to engage with fellow researchers, meet new collaborators and co-authors and enhance awareness and impact of research papers.

The accompanying slides are available on Slideshare and embedded below:

Posted in Web2.0 | 2 Comments »

Event Amplification at #IWMW13

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 June 2013

Event Amplification at IWMW Events: The History

For several years we have provided a live video stream of the plenary talks at IWMW events. This decision was made for several reasons:

  • To maximise access to the talks given at the event.
  • To ensure that a wide audience was aware of the event and, potentially, attend the event the following year.
  • To enhance the accessibility of the event for those who may not be able to attend for a variety of reasons.

The background to these decisions has been explained in a video clip which is available on YouTube and is embedded below.

Event Amplification at IWMW 2013

panopto interfaceWe are pleased to announce that the IWMW 2013 event will be amplified, with a live video stream being provided for the plenary talks.

BUCS, the IT Services department at the University of Bath will be providing the video stream. They will be using the Panopto service for this.

Since Panopto requires Silverlight support in order to run there will be a need for remote viewers to check that their local computer has Silverlight installed.

Before viewing you are advised to check the
viewing requirements.

The Panopto service will capture/stream screen capture and MS Powerpoint display from the lecture room PC. A test page (illustrated) is available which can be used for testing.

Further information about the video streaming, including the URLs which will be used and the times the video stream will be live is available on the IWMW 2013 Web site.

Posted in Events | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

UKOLN Wins Award For Best Paper At International Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 June 2013

Award-Winning Paper

ELPub 2013 paperOn Friday I received an email message from my colleague Stephanie Taylor which informed myself and my colleagues at UKOLN that a paper on “Cover sheets considered harmful” (PDF format) by Emma Tonkin, Stephanie and Greg Tourte had won an award for the best paper at the ElPub 2013 conference.

I’d like to echo the sentiments expressed by others in giving my congratulations to my UKOLN colleagues Emma and Stephanie and former UKOLN colleague Greg.

This award was quite timely as the prize was awarded less than two months before Jisc”s core funding of UKOLN ceases and the majority of staff are made redundant. The award is therefore very timely, as it provides a very relevant addition to Emma and Stephanie’s CVs.

The award follows on from a number of other papers which have received recognition at international conferences. including a paper by myself on “Implementing A Holistic Approach To E-Learning Accessibility” which was judged to be the Best Research Paper at the international ALT-C 2005 conference; another on “Developing countries; developing experiences: approaches to accessibility for the Real World” which presented with the John M Slatin Award for the Best Communications paper at the W4A 2010 conference and one “Strategies for the Curation of CAD Engineering Models” by my colleagues Manjula Patel and Alex Ball which was awarded a prize for the best peer-reviewed paper at the IDCC 2008 conference. All of the papers I have mentioned were co-authored with research colleagues based in other institutions but in all cases the lead author was based at UKOLN.

It will be a loss to the sector when this expertise becomes lost. I would also add that it is not just the expertise possessed by individuals, but also the synergies provided by researchers working closely with colleagues who may be focussed on project work or user engagement and dissemination activities.  The loss of this proven level of research expertise will place a particular challenge for Jisc staff who are now promoting themselves not so much as a funder of innovative IT developments, but as expertise themselves. As the recently relaunched Jisc Web site states in unambiguous terms:

We are the UK’s expert on digital technologies for education and research

At a time in which there are increasing expectations in the higher education sector that assertions will be back by evidence it would be helpful to hear more about the background to this assertion!

Cover sheets considered harmful

But what of the paper which suggested that “Cover sheets [are] considered harmful“?

Back in July 2010 in a post on “Automated Accessibility Analysis of PDFs in Repositories” I mentioned a paper on “From Web Accessibility to Web Adaptability” (available in PDF and HTML formats) in which I suggested that institutions should:

run automated audits on the content of [PDF resources in] the repositories. Such audits can produce valuable metadata with respect to resources and resource components and, for example, evaluate the level of use of best practices, such as the provision of structured headings, tagged images, tagged languages, conformance with the PDF standard, etc. Such evidence could be valuable in identifying problems which may need to be addressed in training or in fixing broken workflow processes.”

My colleague Emma Tonkin picked up on that idea as it related to the JISC-funded FixRep project she was working on which “aims to examine existing techniques and implementations for automated formal metadata extraction, within the framework of existing toolsets and services provided by the JISC Information Environment and elsewhere“.  Since there were clear overlaps between metadata for resource discovery and metadata (or, indeed, data) to enhance access to resources Emma and I discussed ways in which the FixReport project work could monitor the accessibility of resources hosted in institutional repositories.  Their initial findings were published in a paper on“Supporting PDF accessibility evaluation: Early results from the FixRep project“. This paper was accepted by the “2nd Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries International Conference (QQML2010)” which was held in Greece on 25-28 May 2010. A Slidecast (slides with accompanying audio) are available on Slideshare and embedded below.

Emma concluded in the presentation “We may be ‘shooting ourselves in the foot’ with additions like after-the-fact cover sheets. This may remove original metadata that could have been utilised for machine learning.

Fast-forward to 2013 and earlier this year Emma, Stephanie and Greg revisited the question  as to whether repository managers are shooting themselves in the foot in the ways in which cover sheets are provided. Again we saw the benefits of the synergies across UKOLN staff with a diversity of interests. In a post entitled “Why I’m Now Embedding ORCID Metadata in PDFs” I described the benefits which researchers can gain from embedding their ORCID researcher ID in the PDFs of their peer-reviewed papers. However the post referenced another post on “Reflections on the Discussion on the Quality of Embedded Metadata in PDFs” which reported on problems caused by repository workflow processes which meant that ORCID IDs (and other embedded metadata) were being lost.

Although this was a bug which has subsequently been fixed, Emma, Stephanie and Greg had an interest in addressing broader issues, including assumptions that end users value cover pages since they provide information on the origin of the paper. Is this really the case, or does the motivation for providing cover pages come primarily for institutions which wish to see papers in their repositories branded? In addition they sought answers to the question of the mechanisms used for creating cover pages and whether such processes were interoperable with other requirements, such as text mining.

In response to a survey it seems that branding is the main motivation for use of cover sheets, closely followed by clarification of documents’ governance. However the need to support text mining and to maximise the benefits of indexing by search engines such as Google were identified by only one respondent.

The paper concluded by acknowledging the challenges faced by repository managers:

repository managers don’t make the rules; the repository manager is tasked with identifying and applying an appropriate compromise between the concerns of the different stakeholder groups involved, which is not a trivial undertaking.

I agree. We don’t need ‘experts’ who know whether cover sheets are desirable or not; rather we need experts who know about the potential benefits of cover sheets but also their limitations; we need software developers who know about the implementation of workflow processes which support both end users and other automated systems; we need researchers who can survey stakeholders and provide relevant statistical analyses of the findings and we need people with skills in supporting communities.

This award-winning paper was valuable because of the ways  in which it gathered inputs from a variety of sources, synthesised the findings and provided a series of achievable recommendations. But what about the implementation challenges? Next week at IWMW 2013 Stephanie Taylor together with Nick Sheppard, Leeds Metropolitan University are facilitating a session on The Institutional Web Site and the Institutional Repository: Addressing Challenges of Integration. This might possibly provide an opportunity for exploring practices for integrating repositories with Google. If you’d like to attend this session, please book quickly (and note that day tickets for the IWMW 2013 event are available).




Posted in Repositories | Leave a Comment »

Benefits of IWMW Event Beyond Its Main Purposes

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 June 2013

Events are Primarily About Content and Networking

The IWMW  2013 event is rapidly approaching. In recent posts I’ve highlighted the key content areas which will be covered at the event. I have also described how we have responded to feedback from previous events which have highlighted the importance of the networking opportunities which the event provides – this year, for example, in addition to the opportunities to network during the conference dinner and reception at the Roman Baths we are encouraging participants to explore the potential of mobile applications which can support such networking activities.

Additional Benefits of Events

But what of the hidden benefits which such an event can provide? The IWMW 2013 illustrates a couple of such benefits which may not be obvious: the opportunity to evaluate tools which may be of interest for institutional use and the opportunity for participants to organise and discuss surveys addressing relevant areas of interest. These two examples are summarised below.

Evaluation of Event Networking Tools

A recent post in This Year’s Experiment at #IWMW13 – the Bizzabo Mobile Event App described how the Bizzabo mobile app (available on Apple and Android mobile devices) is being used to provide access to the event timetable, speaker biographies as well as biographical details and links to Twitter and LinkedIn profiles provided by participants who choose to sign up and provide such information. In addition the app provides a communications infrastructure which enable participants to communicate with ones – and I have already received a message from one participants who would like to know if there is a recommended meeting place for those who will arrive on the Tuesday evening, the night before the event starts.

Although such an app can be particularly useful for event organisers (e.g. getting in touch with people directly if we have found lost property) knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of such tools may also be of interest to those working in institutional Web teams who may be asked to recommend an application available for use on mobile devices to support events in their local institution.

One of the issues which Web managers will be aware are the tensions between mobile apps (which typically need to be developed for a range of platforms such as Apple and Android devices) and mobile Web interfaces to such services, which should be platform neutral. But although there would appear to be significant benefits in recommended a mobile Web solution, the benefits of services which require take-up by a critical mass of users to be effective will not materialise if users choose not to make use of a mobile Web solution, for whatever reason.

In order to provide a comparison of such alternative approaches, at IWMW 2013 we are providing the event details on the Lanyrd Web service, which also has a mobile interface.

In addition to the main architectural differences, these two services have slightly different functions: Lanyrd was set up (by two Computer Science graduates from the University of Bath, incidentally) as a social directory of events (you can see the events which your Twitter followers attend) whereas Bizzabo is focussed on supporting communications at a specific event.

Repository Survey

Lanyrd email message about iwmw2013I mentioned how Lanyrd can provide information on events one’s Twitter community have attended, spoken at or organised. In addition, as Lanyrd takes a wiki-style approach to the addition of event-related information, this morning I received an email alert of new addition to the IWMW 2013 Lanyrd entry: as illustrated Nick Sheppard had added a link to a survey on institutional approaches to the provision of institutional repositories.

The blog post which is referenced in the coverage describes how the survey:

is designed to provide a snapshot of opinion on how successful institutional websites are at disseminating research information, outputs and data.

This illustrates the second hidden benefit of events such as IWMW 2013: it provides an opportunity to survey usage patterns, opinions and concerns across a group of professionals with shared interests and enables the responses to be discussed in a structured environment – in this case during the 90 minute workshop session on “The Institutional Web Site and the Institutional Repository: Addressing Challenges of Integration“.

What Can You Do?

If you have an interest in evaluating services to support networking at events, feel free to install the Bizzabo app and join the IWMW 2013 event or to sign up for the IWMW 2013 Lanyrd entry. In both cases, it should be noted, that there is no need to be physically attending the event, although Lanyrd does allow you to ‘track’ an event rather than register as a speaker, organiser or participants.

If you have an interest in giving your views on the success(or not) of your institutional website in disseminating research information, outputs and data feel free to complete the survey.

If you’d like to attend the workshop session in which the findings will be discussed, or, indeed, sign up for the IWMW 2013 itself, you will need to register quickly as we have been informed that the university accommodation requirements need to be finalised.


Posted in Events | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Update on IWMW 2013

Posted by Brian Kelly on 13 June 2013

IWMW 2013, the annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, will take place at the University of Bath on 26-28 June 2013. As that’s less than 2 weeks away I thought it would be timely to give an update on the planning for the event. Note if you are unfamiliar with the event you can view the IWMW 2013 programme or read the posts about the event and the video summary of the event.

Additional pricing plans: Since we have been told that, in a number of institutions, staff development budgets have been reduced significantly we have introduced a day rate for attendance at the event. Although the cost of £350 for the three day event (which includes 3 nights’ accommodation) is very reasonable, the £100 daily rate may be of interest for those on small staff development budgets or who have other commitment s and can’t attend for the full 3 days. This new daily rate has been added to the IWMW 2013 booking form.

New sessions added since bookings launched: Since the booking form was launched a number of additional workshop sessions have been added, including Connections, Connecting, Connected, Opening Up University Space Online Using Google Street View, Interactive Maps & Dynamic Web Design and Are We Too Easily Distracted by Shiny Objects?. Since people who booked early will not have been aware of these sessions we will notify participants of these sessions, in case they wish to modify the parallel sessions they have signed up for.

Event information provided on a range of online services: The IWMW 2013 programme is now available on Lanyrd (which also has a mobile interface) and on the Bizzabo app (as described in a recent post). Although such duplication may cause some confusion, it also provides an opportunity to make comparisons between use of a mobile Web site and a mobile app for use of events. Such comparisons may be useful for institutional Web managers who are making plans for the provision of event information for mobile devices.

Logistics for social programme being finalised: The plans for the event dinner in the Claverton Rooms on Wednesday 26 June and the Wine Reception at the Roman Baths on Thursday 26 June are being finalised, which includes details of the buses which people can take to get to the centre of town from the University. In addition to these two organised events we are still exploring options for people who may arrive on the Tuesday as well as suggested restaurants and pubs which people may wish to visit after the reception at the Roman Baths. A Google Map of pubs and restaurants is being developed which currently lists pubs I would recommend; however I will add details of wine bars for those who may have different tastes :-)

Travel information being finalised: A travel page is being finalised which will provide information for people arriving by plane, train or car. Note for people who attended IWMW 2006 or IWMW 2000, which were also held at the University of Bath, there is now a direct bus service from Bristol airport as well as two bus services (the 18 and the U18) from Bath bus station to the University.

Information about technical infrastructure being finalised: A page on technologies provides information on connecting to the WiFi network and the applications which may be of use at the event (e.g. details of the event’s Twitter hashtag). We recently found that some Eduroam users had difficulties in connecting to Eduroam at Bath University, so we’ll be encouraging them to test their settings in advance and try to connect as soon as they arrive on campus.

Information sent out to speakers and workshop facilitators: We’ve sent out information to the plenary speakers and workshop facilitators to ensure they have booked for the event and informed us of any special requirements they may have.

I now have less than two weeks to prepare my welcome talk and the parallel session I am running. But have I forgotten anything, I wonder? Do let me know!

Posted in Events | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

What Could Data Journalism Tell Us About Events?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6 June 2013


Location of plenary speakers at IWMW eventsOne of the sessions at the forthcoming IWMW 2013 event is entitled “IWMW: The Digital Story“. The 90 minute-long session will provide an opportunity for participants to share their stories, anecdotes and digital resources for IWMW events since it was launched in 1997. The aim will be to provide a series of stories about the event including some of the key moments, the ways in which the event has influenced participants over the years and the role the event has had in supporting a thriving community of practice for those with responsibilities for providing large-scale institutional Web services.

What Can the Data Tell Us?

But beyond the recollections of the community and the memories which may be triggered by photographs and video clips, what stories could be told by use of data associated with the event?

Due to long-standing interest in the value of data (and particularly open data) we have been providing a series of data sets about the IWMW series of events for a number of years. In particular we have RSS files available for:

  • Locations for the 17 IWMW events
  • Biographical details of the plenary speakers at the IWMW events.
  • Biographical details of workshop facilitators at the IWMW events.
  • Abstracts of the plenary talks and workshop sessions at IWMW events.

The biographical details includes the location of the host institution of the plenary speakers and workshop facilitators (normally where they are based in a university). These geo-located RSS files can be viewed in services such as Google Maps, and (for example see the location of plenary speakers using Google Maps and the location of workshop facilitators using

facilitators-all RSS fileThe RSS files ensure that the information is provided in a format which can be used by a number of freely-available applications. An example of a fragment of one of the RSS files is illustrated, which shows how the file contains the biographical information supplied by the speakers, the geo-location of their host institution, the date  of their session and a link to their biography on the IWMW Web site.

The following caveats should be noted:

  • The location of the host institution is normally available only for people who are based at a University (although on a number of occasions, the location of people based in organisation such as Eduserv hasd been provided).
  • The coordinates has been obtained from Google Maps and may differ slightly over the years in different buildings representing the institution have been found.
  • The date of the talk or session will only apply to the first session, if multiple talks have been given.
  • The date has not been used for all years.
  • The date may not take into account British Summer Time.
  • The semantics of the have been subverted, as the date does not give the date the item was published (this field was used as it is processed by some timeline applications.
  • There may be errors in the data.

But what stories could be told using such data? My thoughts are:

  • The range of institutions which have contributed to the series of events is depicted by the location map.
  • Connecting the institutions with institutional profiling information e.g. size of institution and grouping (e.g. Russell Group) might tell us if large institutions or research-led institutions showed a greater tendency to share their expertise and activities (or boast about it!) across the sector.
  • Tag clouds of the session titles and abstracts might tell provide a visualisation of the topics covered.
  • Applying a timeline across the data could provide an indication of the changes in topics of interest over 17 years.

Such stories may emerge from consideration of the data which is available. But what about the stories which the gaps could tell us? These might include:

  • Institutions which have never provided a speaker or facilitator.
  • Topics which might be expected to have been covered in the past 17 years but which have not been included in session titles or abstracts.

A page containing links to the various RSS feeds is available. Anyone have suggestions for other stories which could be told? And would anybody like to provide a visualisation, an infographic or a story based on this data? Finally, I’d welcome suggestions on how analysis of the data associated with well-established events (such as Jisc, UCISA, SCONUL, ALT-C, etc. events, for example) might provide fresh insights into such events.

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

Posted in Events | 1 Comment »

Institutional Web Team Blog Aggregator: Advance Notice of Closure

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 June 2013

The Institutional Web Team Blog Aggregator

IWTB: Institutional Web Team blog aggregator

The Institutional Web Team Blog Aggregator was announced at the final session of the IWMW 2011 event held at the University of Reading.

The aim of the service was to provide a centralised location which aggregates blog posts provided by institutional Web teams, by individuals who post primarily about their work in supporting institutional Web services or by others who support members of the institutional Web management community.

In a post on “Sharing Job Information More Effectively” I gave an example of one additional use case was for ensuring that members of Web teams at other institutions could easily find details of job vacancies.

However it’s probably fair to say that use of blog technologies as a simple mechanism for letting others know about the work being carried out in Web teams, plans for new areas of work and more general sharing of information hadn’t taken off to the extent to which I had hoped.

Advance Notice of Closure

In light of the forthcoming cessation of UKOLN’s core funding we are in the process of archiving our digital content and, where appropriate, shutting down services.

This post provides notification of the closure of the Institutional Web Team Blog Aggregator. It should be noted that this should not mean the loss of significant content – the aggregator is a collection of blog content published elsewhere. If people find this aggregation of content useful I suggest that you visit the IWTB blog while it is still available, make a note of the RSS feed for blogs of interest to you and add them to your own blog reader.

Note that we cannot guarantee that the service will continue to be available after 30 June.

Posted in Blog, rss | Tagged: | 3 Comments »