UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

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Announcing IWMW 2014!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 20 January 2014

I am delighted to be able to formally announce the IWMW 2014 event will be held at Northumbria University on 16-18 July.

The IWMW event: a well-established national event for those working in university Web management teams.

The IWMW event: a well-established national event for those working in university Web management teams.

The Institutional Web Management Workshop series, better known as IWMW was launched in 1997 to enable those responsible for managing institutional Web services to share best practices, hear about new developments and discuss their relevance. The event has been held at locations across the UK in the 17 years since it was launched.

Last year’s event was slightly shadowed by the forthcoming cessation of Jisc funding for UKOLN. However, a post-event survey together with comments we received during the event indicated an overwhelming appetite for continuation.

Over the past few months I have been exploring new funding options to cover planning, organising and hosting the event in 2014. I have received positive feedback from commercial vendors who would be willing to sponsor the event and my new organisation, Cetis, has agreed to provide support for the event. In addition, Jisc Netskills have agreed to act as co-organisers for the event.

The call for submissions will be announced shortly. If you have any questions or queries, feel free to get in touch. This includes those who may be interested in speaking at the event, as well as potential sponsors for the event.

The IWMW 2014 will take place over 3 days, which, based on feedback from previous events, has proved an ideal length for attendees – enabling them to enhance their skills and expertise and develop their professional networks.

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

“Using Social Media to Enhance Your Research Activities” – Workshop Session at the #DAAD2013 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 December 2013

Earlier today I facilitated a workshop session on “Using Social Media to Enhance Your Research Activities” at the annual conference of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), London.

From Tweet to Blog Post to Peer-Reviewed Article: How to be a Scholar NowThis is a topic I have spoken about a fair amount since the realisation that the Social Web could be used to support research activities and not just share photos and videos of cats! This year I have facilitated a hands-on workshop session on “Managing Your Research Profile” at the Information Science Pathway’s day on alt.metrics which was held at Edinburgh University in June and, in the same month, presented a paper on “Using Social Media to Enhance Your Research Activities” at the SRA’s Social Media in Social Research 2013 conference.

The DAAD 2013 conference provided an opportunity to explore the benefits of the social web with a new community: humanities researchers and, in particular, German humanities researchers who are working in universities in the UK and Ireland.

I had been informed that, unlike the scientific and library communities I am more familiar with, although the participants would probably have smart phones and use Facebook, they probably didn’t make significant use of social media to support their research or teaching activities.

In my preparation for the session I came across a paper on Re-Skilling For Research hosted on the RLUK Web site which described how (my emphasis):

They [Connaway and Dickey, 2009] found,  for example, that science researchers … are more likely to use Twitter, while mathematicians and computer scientists are more predisposed to archive their own material, and, like classicists, to disseminate their research outputs themselves. Social scientists on the other hand are more reluctant to use new technologies, for example they are less likely to Tweet or use a laptop at a conference.

This was certainly the case for the DAAD conference; for example although everyone in my session had a mobile phone, with most having an iPhone and Android smartphone, they weren’t being used to support conference activities. I therefore began the session by exploring the purposes of conferences for academics and how social media could support such purposes. The previous night I had discovered that the Cumberland Lodge, the venue for the conference, had been designed so that rooms weren’t locked and the were no TVs in the accommodation; design decisions made in order to enhance opportunities for networking, sharing ideas and discussion. I subsequently learnt that participants at the conference were expected to share their room although, as an invited speaker, I had a room to myself.

I drew parallels with such design decisions for conference venues and the typical structure for a conference programme (which also normal provide informal networking opportunities)  with the ways in which social media services can be used to share ideas; discus and refine ideas, develop one’s professional community; gain additional input from others and then subsequently share the outputs from such collaborate activities with one’s peers and the wider public.

I used the physical example of post-it notes to illustrate approaches to using Twitter: write how you might use social media to support your research on a Post-it note and share it with a colleague – that’s similar to a Direct Message. Note put the Post-it notes on a shared notice board so that everyone can see the ideas – that’s a public tweet.

The feedback from the participants was very positive and I enjoyed facilitating the session. But we didn’t really have the opportunity to explore the reasons why use of networked technologies still don’t appear to be widely used at conferences in the humanities. At one stage humanities researchers would probably not have laptops which science researchers would be more likely to possess. But these days even those who have laptops appear more willing to use the own smartphone for tweeting at events.

During the talk I cited the example of a recent blog post entitled From Tweet to Blog Post to Peer-Reviewed Article: How to be a Scholar Now published on the LSE’s Impact of Social Sciences blog which describes how:

Digital media is changing how scholars interact, collaborate, write and publish. Here, Jessie Daniels describes how to be a scholar now, when peer-reviewed articles can begin as Tweets and blog posts. In this new environment, scholars are able to create knowledge in ways that are more open, more fluid, and more easily read by wider audiences.

But this was based on experiences from the US. I’d be interested to hear examples of use of social media in amplifying events in the humanities in the UK and to hear suggestions as to why event amplification appears to be so unusual for this sector,

Note that the slides I used are available on Slideshare and are embedded below.

View Twitter conversation from: [Topsy]

Posted in Events, Social Web | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Reflections on the Hyperlinked Library MOOC

Posted by Brian Kelly on 9 December 2013

About the Hyperlinked Library MOOC

Networked personality badgeI have (finally) completed a MOOC. The MOOC in question was the Hyperlinked Library MOOC which was organised by Michael Stephens and Kyle Jones of the School of Library and Information Science at the San José State University.

As described by Michael Stephens in the initial post on the MOOC blog:

This MOOC is based on a course I’ve been teaching at San Jose State University SLIS since 2011.We’re excited to adapt it to a larger scale and gather some of the folks we admire to share their expertise as we explore the model.

The post went on to provide the background to the MOOC and the relevance of the hyperlinked organisation model in a library context:

Libraries continue to evolve. As the world has changed with emerging mechanisms for global communication and collaboration, so have some innovative, cutting edge libraries. My model for the Hyperlinked Library is born out of the ongoing evolution of libraries and library services. David Weinberger’s chapter “The Hyperlinked Organization” in The Cluetrain Manifesto was a foundational resource for defining this model as are the writings of Michael Buckland, Seth Godin, and others.

The Hyperlinked Library is an open, participatory institution that welcomes user input and creativity. It is built on human connections and conversations. The organizational chart is flatter and team-based. The collections grow and thrive via user involvement. Librarians are tapped in to user spaces and places online to interact, have presence, and point the way. The hyperlinked library is human. Communication, externally and internally, is in a human voice. The librarians speak to users via open, transparent conversation.

The model incorporates dialogues about Web 2.0 by such authors as O’Reilly, and concepts tied to participatory service, including ideas presented by Casey and Savastinuk in their book Library 2.0.

The model is broader than just online communication and collaboration. It encompasses both physical and virtual space, as well as many types of libraries. Presenting the model to assembled teacher librarians at the Australian School Library Association conference in Perth in 2009, I argued that school librarians could use the model as well to extend support for learning beyond the walls of the school library and engage with students, teachers and administrators in an open, transparent manner wherever the learning takes place.

MOOC Activities

Students on the Hyperlinked Library MOOC had been informed that they could receive a SJSU SLIS certificate of completion by completing two required assignments (regular blogging during the course and completion of a presentation at a Virtual Symposium towards the end of the course) and three other additional assignments from five on offer (Community EngagementEmerging Technology/Social Media PlanningContext BookOnline Professional Learning Network and Director’s Brief).

As I described when I began the MOOC the Hyperlinked Library MOOC arrived at a timely moment for me; following the cessation of Jisc funding for UKOLN I had been made redundant shortly before the MOOC began. Participation in the MOOC therefore provided a useful opportunity to further develop my professional skills, extend my professional network and gain experiences in how MOOCS work and their strengths and weaknesses.

Towards the end of the MOOC I started work as Innovation Advocate at Cetis. In light of Cetis’s interest in e-learning developments and, as I described recently, open educational practices, the MOOC became particularly relevant for me, and so I chose to complete all of the assignments.

The MOOC’s Strengths and Weaknesses

Storify summary of final tweets about the Hyperlib MOOCAs the Hyperlinked Library MOOC came to an end I used Storify to capture the final tweets about the MOOC. The comments provided evidence of students’ high regard for the course:

  • Much interest in because it is so awesome!
  • The end of my first but not last MOOC

and the benefits they gained:

  • Not saying that was the reason I got a new job, but I did get questions on it during my interview. Great learning experience!

Using the Google Custom Search Engine I set up for the MOOC you can see further evidence which suggests that the MOOC was valued by the participants with, at the time of writing, 212 occurrences of ‘awesome‘ and 1,330 occurrences of ‘great‘ but only 98 of ‘poor‘!

Other indications of the perceived value of the MOOC can be seen from students’ creation of a Hyperlinked Library MOOC Facebook group and WordPress blog which aim to sustain the community and the culture of sharing.

I did, however, have some reservations about the MOOC. In a post in which I summarised my Initial Reflections on The Hyperlinked Library MOOC and the Badges I Have Acquired I described how I felt patronised by being awarded badges for trivial activities. These sentiments were echoed by sevarl others who commented on the post on the blog and on Facebook, including @cogdog:

I echo the cynicism of micro badging for every possible task; I would go beyond and find it revolting and demeaning. 

However @cogdog went on to suggest that:

 A more comprehensive system might aggregate a series of actions, like all you have done to get this account set up, and perhaps badge something in a large skill, like establishing and online community presence.

In reality that seems to have been the case so although I have received in total 29 badges (yes, my expertise in deleting a private message has been acknowledged!) only a handful have been submitted to my Credly account, covering the higher level activities such as blogging activities, peer reviewing, use of networking tools and active learning.

Regarding the MOOC content itself, I did feel that the course material failed to provide an adequate critique of the hyperlinked library model. There was a module on Transparency & Privacy but this provide only a superficial account of the potential dangers of more open approaches, use of third party services and recent revelations of government snooping on online services. It was also interesting to observe the pause in the YouTube video after a question 25 minutes into the video on the ramifications of government spying of online services with this issue being ignored and an example of online racism and bullying being addressed with the suggestion that “if you’re a hateful person you shouldn’t be putting it out on the web … you shouldn’t be a hateful person” and “in kindergarden do we teach people what it means to participate?

This was the most disappointing aspect of the MOOC, since these questions, together with related concerns regarding the sustainability of social media services, the ownership of user generated content, privacy issues, etc. are hardly new. If the MOOC aims to encourage librarians to embrace use of the hyperlinked library model which includes use of social media tools and more transparent approaches we might expect such legitimate concerns to be addressed.

But despite this concern I did enjoy the MOOC and found the time I invested in participating the MOOC worthwhile, In particular the assignment on planning the development of one’s online professional learning network was very relevant for my new post, and the Director’s Brief assignment, in which I addressed Library Use of Wikipedia and Other Wikimedia Projects, also proved useful in recent events on use of Wikipedia I have been involved in.

Captioning of the hyperlinked-library-mooc

I was also interested to observe how video resources used on the MOOC seemed to illustrate a risk management approach to accessibility issues.

In one of the initial video resources, which provided orientation for the MOOC, a full transcript of the talk was provided, as shown in the accompanying screen shot.

However the majority of the video lectures and additional video resources were hosted on YouTube, with no captioning being provided.

It had occurred to me that the effort in providing captioning for video resources used in the MOOC was not likely to be sustainable, especially as there doesn’t appear to be any significant income stream to cover the production of the materials and support for the MOOC participants.

In the case of the initial video I suspect that a script had been written in advance, and it did not require significant additional effort to include the script in conjunction with the video recording using, in this case, the Panopto screen capture software. However other video lectures were more free format, typically involving a conversation. In this case, although broad areas for the discussion will probably have been agreed in advance, there will be no formal script which can be used.

Such use of digital resources which do not conform with WCAG guidelines for accessibility provides an example of the difficulties in deploying online services which conform with best practices. But rather than the binary decision to either ensure that all video resources will be captioned or they will not be used, we have here an example of where a more nuanced approach must be taken and the question answered “Should we not make video resources available if we do not have the resources to caption them but we feel they would be valuable to MOOC participants?” This is likely to be a question faced by many organisations which are looking to host MOOCs. This is an issue I will revisit in the future.


How might I summarise my thoughts on the Hyperlinked Library MOOC? I’ll conclude by giving brief recommendations to librarians who may be considering participants of a future version of the MOO:

If you are a librarian and you wish to hear more about the value of open approaches to library work and see examples of how social media services are being used, the Hyperlinked Library MOOC will provide useful examples and will provide opportunities to hear about and discuss implementation strategies with like-minded librarians and information professionals. If, however, you are sceptical of the value of the hyperlinked library model, based on the experiences of the first version of the MOOC you will probably not find concerns that you have being addressed.

For the organisers of the MOOC I would give the following comments:

Many thanks for organising a successful MOOC. I found the MOOC assignments very helpful in focussing my attention on ways of planning the development of my online personal learning network and for writing a proposal to senior management on making use of one aspect of open practices which is particularly relevant to librarians: making use of Wikipedia. I do, however, feel that the MOOC failed to adequately address areas of concerns related to use of social media services and embracing open practices. I would suggest that the module on Transparency & Privacy would benefut from being rewritten, with the concerns being addressed more thoroughly.

But if you were to ask me if I would recommend participation on the MOOC to others, my answer would be “Yes!

View Twitter conversation from: [Topsy]

Posted in Events, openness | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

Accessibility is Primarily About People and Processes, Not Digital Resources!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 29 November 2013

Earlier today I gave the closing talk at the OZeWAI 2013 conference, which was held in La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia. However as I was in bed in Bath at the time, I pre-recorded my presentation. I had intended to answer questions using Skype or via Twitter but as I was asleep after having arrived home after a brief holiday in Marrakesh a few hours before the talk was delivered I was unable to do this.

The title of my talk is “Accessibility is Primarily About People and Processes, Not Digital Resources!“. In the talk I review approaches developed by accessibility researchers and practitioners in the UK (with some input from Australian colleagues) since 2005 and complementary standardisation work which resulted in the BS 8878 Code of Practice for Web Accessibility.

The slides, with accompanying audio, are available on Slideshare and embedded below.

Posted in Accessibility, Events | 2 Comments »

Facilitating a Wikipedia Editing Session; the #solo13 Experience

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11 November 2013

The Wikipedia Editing Workshop Session at the SpotOn 2013 Conference

@pixievondust tweet on the Wikipedia workshopThis has been my second extended week of conferences since I started work at Innovation Advocate at Cetis. As described in a post on my Reflections on the EduWiki 2013 Conference on Friday and Saturday, 1 and 2 November 2013, I attended the EduWiki 2013 Conference. On last Friday and Saturday, 8 and 9 November I attended SpotOn 2013, the Science, Policy, Outreach and Tools Online conference. The conference provided a further opportunity to engage with use of Wikipedia, but this time as a facilitator of an hour-long Wikipedia editing workshop session. The conference organisers had asked me to ensure that the session was a hands-on session, with participants having the opportunity to create Wikipedia resources rather than listening to speakers talk about the potential of Wikipedia. The workshop session therefore provided me with an opportunity to facilitate a Wikipedia session for the first time. Earlier this year I attended the Queen Victoria’s Journals University of Oxford editing day which provided an initial opportunity to familiarise myself with the format of an editing workshop. This was followed by participation in a Sphingonet Wiki workshop, which provided my with initial experience in working with other Wikimedia experts. This time, however, I led the workshop and developed the accompanying materials, but I was fortunate to be supported by Toni Sant, the Education Organiser for Wikimedia UK as well as the Director of Research at the University of Hull’s School of Arts and New Media in Scarborough. I have an interest in expanding the community of Wikipedia editors. There will therefore be a need to expand the community of those who can train others in using Wikipedia. Therefore in this post I will share my experiences of facilitating a workshop.

Reflections on Facilitating the Workshop

The Eliot room used for the Wikipedia workshopOn the Friday I visited the Eliot Room, which we would use for the workshop. As can be seen from the accompanying photograph, the room layout was less than ideal for a hands-on session, in which Toni and myself would wish to mingle with the participants, helping them out with any problems they had. The layout also meant that it would be difficult for participants to share what they were doing with others. Fortunately during the lunch session when I was installing my slides on the room’s PC I met the two facilitators of the #solo13lego session on Making Research Useful: The Consequences of (Bad) Communication. The abstract for this session described how “In this workshop, we’ll be getting hands-on with Lego to explore how good and bad communication can impact on research utility and impact“. The facilitators were happy for the room layout so be changed with chairs being arranged in three circles so that the participants could more easily share what they were doing. As illustrated below. participants were able to follow the slides during the initial presentation but work collaboratively when they signed up for a Wikipedia account and created their user profile.

Wikipedia editing session

Photo by Toni Sant and available under a CC BY-SA licence.

As can be seen from the slides (which are available on Slideshare), only one slide provided reasons why researchers may wish to make use of Wikipedia; as Cameron Neylon had said in the “Wikimedia UK Annual Review 2012-13” (PDF format):

If you’re serious about ensuring public engagement in your research then you need to make damn sure your work can be incorporated into Wikipedia. Wikipedia is the most important engagement channel for your research.

After this, and the introductions for the facilitators and hearing about the level of Wikipedia expertise of the participants we then provided details of the task to be attempted during the session:

You will:

  • Create a Wikipedia account (go to and register!)
  • Create a user profile & add personal details (e.g. name, organisation, interests, …)
  • Add hyperlinks to (a) external Web sites (e.g. your organisation) and (b) Wikipedia articles (e.g. areas of interest)
  • Add simple formatting

We provided the following examples of user profile and suggested that participants could view the source of these profiles and copy markup of interest:

After just over half an hour into the session we found that most of the participants had created their use profile. I have created a Storify summary of the session which provides links to a number of the profiles which had been created:

David Freeborn's user profile

The accompanying screenshot illustrates a user profile which a relatively new Wikipedia user can create in about 30 minutes. The use of Twitter during the session was useful in providing useful feedback on the users’ experiences. In particular @pixievondust commented that:

This is a genuinely useful hands on session, thanks @briankelly! Lets see more unis running workshops like this!

with similar sentiments being echoed by @FunSizeSuze:

This session has done exactly what I hoped it would do – I now have increased confidence in getting involved in all things Wiki.

After we realised that everyone who had attempted to create a user profile had successfully done so the session concluded with discussions on strategies for creating new articles, the fundamental Wikipedia principles and details of other Wikimedia projects beyond the Wikipedia service. The slides used in the session are available on Slideshare and embedded below. In addition a recording of the live stream of the session is available on YouTube and also embedded below. I hope these resources and this description of how the resources were used will be of interest to others, especially those who may wish to train others on how to contribute to Wikipedia.

YouTube video:

Note: The Wikimedia UK web site has a page on the SpotOn London 2013 Wikipedia editing workshop which provides additional information about the workshop session. The following information has been included in this post for the sake of completeness 23 SpotOn conference delegates (10 female and 13 male) attended this session. We were also able to observe that there were 14 postgraduate students, while the rest were academics, researchers, or other non-students. The following attendees created new Wikipedia user accounts during the workshop:

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

Posted in Events, Wikipedia | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Reflections on the EduWiki 2013 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 5 November 2013

My First Event as Innovation Advocate at Cetis

EduWiki 2013 conference badgeOn Friday and Saturday, 1 and 2 November 2013, I attended the EduWiki 2013 Conference. This was the second EduWiki conference organised by Wikimedia UK; EduWiki 2012 was held at the University of Leicester in September 2012.

This was also my first event in my new role as Innovation Advocate at Cetis. As I mentioned in a previous post I only started at Cetis on Monday, so I had little time to become acclimatised to my new role! It was pleasing to receive messages of congratulations st the conference from a number of people at the event who had seen the announcement either on this blog, on my Facebook page or from my LinkedIn profile (incidentally footnote provides some speculation on the metrics for the numbers of responses to the announcement) . It does seem to me that Wikipedia could be of interest to Cetis, as an emerging technological resource which appears to be relevant to teaching and learning. Did the two days I spent at the conference confirm such views?

Thoughts on the EduWiki 2013 Conference

The first day of the Wikipedia conference began with the welcome to the conference being provided by Toni Sant (Wikimedia UK’s Education Organiser) , with the opening remarks on the conference given by Martin Poulter, the Jisc Wikimedia Ambassador in a talk entitled “Where’s the Edit Button on this Textbook?“.

Welsh and Other Minority Language Wikipedia Sites

After the introductions, Robin Owain, the Wales Manager for Wikimedia UK gave a talk in Welsh with instant translation for English speakers via headsets. Robin’s talk provided the political and cultural context for the following keynote talk and made the links with Wicipedia, the Welsh language version of Wikipedia. “Wales is a small country. That’s our greatness. “Do the small things” is our motto” explained Robin, who went on to inform the audience that “Wales is the land of open content“. Such approaches to openness and doing small things, but doing them well has led to Wicipedia being the most popular web site in the Welsh language.

Welsh language Wikipedia:  usage statisticsit was pleasing to see that many of the speakers at the conference backed up their assertions with evidence. In Robin’s case we heard about the usage statistics for Wicipedia, as illustrated.

Robin Owain’s talk focussed on Wicipedia, which is unsurprising for the Wales Manager for Wikimedia UK. A wider context was provided by Gareth Morlain (@melynmelyn), the Digital Media Specialist for the Welsh Government. in his keynote talk on “Getting More Welsh Content Online” which highlighted how a public pressure resulted in Amazon changing their policy on providing Welsh language access to Kindle ebooks.

I was fascinated to learn about use of minority languages, such as Catalan, Basque, Galician, Welsh, Breton, Irish, Gaelic and Cornish, on the Web. I was particularly interested to note that Catalan appears to be punching above its weight. Since I have professional contacts in Catalonia I sent a tweet to Miquel Duran, a professor at Girona University, about this. It seems that his son is president of @amicalwikimedia which promotes Catalan Wikipedia. This suggests that small-scale advocacy can have a significant effect on the creation of articles on minority language Wikipedia sites. Since we heard how the number of Wicipedia articles need to grow by 400% for Google to take Welsh language seriously as a search language I hope that Robin Owain and others involved in encouraging take-up of Wicipedia are successful in their advocacy work.

Wikipedia in Higher Education

Although the first morning at the conference provided me with new insights into less well-known aspects of Wikipedia, it was use of Wikipedia in higher education which was of most interest to me. This was the subject of the session after lunch. Of particular interest to me was the talk by Humphrey Southall on “Introducing Students to Independent Research Through Editing Wikipedia Articles in English Villages“. Humphrey, a Reader in Geography at the University of Portsmouth and Director of the Great Britain Historical GIS, explained the approaches taken in a first year geography course which introduces the students to editing articles on Wikipedia. Rather than focussing on the IT aspects of using Wikipedia, Humphrey explained how the course requirements addressed both the needs to enhance students’ research skills and the need to respect Wikipedia’s culture of neutrality. The abstract for the talk describes how:

Each student on a large first year human geography course at the University of Portsmouth is assigned a different Wikipedia stub article, unedited for at least a year, about an English village. They are required to extend it “to provide a rounded description of the place and … an account of its historical development”. All villages are far from Portsmouth and students are banned from visiting them, so we emphasize that this is an exercise in finding, evaluating, interpreting and citing sources created by others, mainly online. All the villages are Civil Parishes, meaning that modern census data is available for them on the government’s Neighbourhood Statistics site, and historical census data are available on our own site A Vision of Britain through Time. Marks are given for the inclusion of required systematic information (completing the infobox); effective use of sources to create a sense of place; originality in use of sources; quality of layout and illustration; quality of referencing (do hyperlinks work?); engagement with other Wikipedia users (responding to comments!); and adherence to Wikipedia guidelines.

The second day of the conference provided another two interesting talks related to use of Wikipedia in higher education: Lisa Anderson & Nancy Graham provided a librarian’s perspective in a talk on “Safe use of Wikipedia in the transition from school to University” and Darren Stephens facilitated a workshop session on “Exploring the Education Program/Courses Extension for UK HEIs“.

Lisa & Nancy’s talk provided a rebuttal of Dave White’s talk which asked “What’s left to teach now that Wikipedia has done everyone’s homework?“. In this talk, which concluded the first day, Dave White proposed a variant on the first rule of the Fight Club. The first rule of Wikipedia in education is: “You don’t talk about Wikipedia and the learning black market“. The reason for this was based on Dave’s research which showed that although students feel that their lecturers don’t approve of use of Wikipedia, in reality they do use Wikipedia and use references obtained for Wikipedia articles – although they don’t necessarily read the references. There is therefore a learning black market based on content from Wikipedia which lectures must not be made aware of!

Lisa & Nancy’s talk described how librarians at Birmingham University appreciate that students will use Wikipedia, and therefore sought to ensure that students are made aware of best practices for using Wikipedia. They ensure their students are made aware of the history pages for Wikipedia articles; how easy it is to edit articles, which includes vandalising articles or adding errors, mistakes or deliberately incorrect or misleading content but also how such changes are normally spotted by Wikipedia volunteers which can remove such content.

I found this a useful talk on how a group of librarians are understanding how their users use Web resources and respond by engaging withe such realities. But Dave White’s evidence of student belief that use of Wikipedia is frowned upon by academics and librarians shows that further work needs to be done. One tweet summarised the talk: “Librarians’ attitudes to Wikipedia are changing @msnancygraham ”. But to what extent does this reflect the reality of how university librarians are informing their students (and staff) of the relevance of Wikipedia, I wonder? As I suggested to Nancy after her talk, perhaps gathering evidence across the sector would be useful for a paper at next year’s LILAC 2014 information literacy conference.

The final session I’ll comment on in this post is Darren Stephens workshop on “Exploring the Education Program/Courses Extension for UK HEIs“. Darren explained that the education extension installed on Wikipedia has had minimal take-up in the UK, with only two universities in England making use of it in the academic year 2012/13. The Education Program extension for MediaWiki adds features to Wikipedia to support classes of students editing articles, including structured Institution and Course pages and feeds of recent activity by students. However as we learnt during the workshop session, the extension is poorly documented and the software has a poor user interface. Comments that the software enabled staff to monitor how their students made use of Wikipedia to complete assignments also led to concerns regarding the privacy implications’ even if the software provides a dashboard which gives a window on publicly available information, there will still be issues regarding potential concerns that students have been required to make information publicly available and also that institutions may have policies which require student activities to be analysed prior to assessment.

Rod Dunican, Director of Global Education at the Wikipedia Foundation had opened the second day with a plenary talk on “Wikipedia in Education: Adventures in Learning“. I was fortunate to spend some time over lunch talking to Rod and hearing more about the Wikipedia Foundation and the Wikipedia Education Program. In my opening remarks in this posts I wondered whether the conference would confirm my feelings of the relevance of Wikipedia for the higher and further education sectors. I’m now convinced of the importance of Wikipedia in open educational practices. There will be a need to be able to provide further evidence of the value of Wikipedia (beyond the usage statistics which several speakers provided) and learn from the successes (and failures) of the early adopters.

I’ll conclude with a few tweets made during the conference.

Kate Fisher showed her enthusiasm for the conference and shared the actions she’ll be taking when she returns to work:

Thanks to @wikimedia for a great conference. Even more motivated to start a monthly Wiki Wednesday met up on our campus

but Terry McAndrew reminded us that there is still much work to do:

Very impressed with all the wikimedia available at but disappointed that HE makes too little use of it for developing

Finally Judith Scammell’s tweet makes me regret having to leave the conference before the final talk:

Thank you Wikimedia UK & spkrs 4 really interesting day fri. Sorry to miss today + musical ending!

I hope a video of the song which concluded the conference will be published!

Appendix: Archives of the Event

Storify summary of the Eduwiki conferenceanyone archiving #eduwiki tweets? Would that be a good idea?asked Simon Knight on the opening day of the conference. Although the question was directed at @wikimediauk I saw the tweet and immediately created a Twubs archive of the #eduwiki tweets. “That’s the power of the crowd – fixed in two minutes flat! #eduwiki” responded @wikimediauk . I agree, one shouldn’t have to wait for employees or officers of an organisation to carry out work which interests bystanders can do. That’ after all, can be regarded as the ‘Wikipedia way’.

In addition to the Twubs archive, I also created Storify archives of the tweets posted on day 1 and day 2 of the conference.

I should add that although I normally use Storify to curate an edited summary of event tweets published in chronological order, with tweets omitted if I feel they are of little value and annotations provided, such as links to speakers slides, in this case due to lack of time I published the full set of tweets in reverse chronological order. I did this shortly after the event was over so that an archive was available in a timely fashion, especially for others who may be wishing to publish a report on the conference. I would also add that the full archive may be of value to others who may wish to create an annotated story (e.g. of talks of particular interest). Again the process of publishing something incomplete which can be enhanced can be regarded as the Wikipedia way.

I was interested to see that I had received 94 ‘likes’ and 43 comments for the Facebook status update, 33 ‘likes’ and 12 comments on a LinkedIn update for my new job but only 16 comments to the original blog post.Might this suggest that Facebook and then LinkedIn are more effective than blog posts in alerting people to information such as a change of job, I wonder?

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

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Twitter Archives for the #ILI2013 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 October 2013

The Value of Twitter Archives for Event Hashtags

Storify summary of the Futures workshop at the ILI 2013 conferenceYesterday I summarised the workshop on Future Technologies which Tony Hirst and myself facilitated at the ILI 2013 conference. But although the post provided details of the talks we gave and the exercises we set, we didn’t provide much information about the discussions which took place. Some of these discussions would have been general, with all 21 participants and 2 facilitators able to listen in and, if desired, participate. However other discussions will have taken place in the small groups and only the summary reports would be shared with the other participants. But in addition other discussions will have taken place virtually, with remote participants involved.

Twitter is the main tool used to support such discussions at conferences. And since such discussions normally take place in an open environment it is then possible to archive the discussions which can help to ensure that interesting issues are not forgotten.

I have therefore created a Storify summary of the discussions which took place during (and after) the workshop. As can be seen from the screenshot when you use Storify to curate tweets, tweets which contain links to an image will have the image embedded within the story. This can hep to provide richer context than would be possible using just the textual content of the tweets.

Looking at the archive I notice than one of the first tweets, in which Tony Hirst asked “does Summon limit access by IP range? Any way to open up offsite access? [Qn from -ws-future ]”  came from a question one of the participants raised during the introductory session. Since neither Tony nor myself knew the answer to this question I suggested that the questions was asked across our professional network. This illustrated the potential value of having an extensive network and the potential value of use of Twitter during an event. I should add that I say ‘potential’ since I don’t think we got an answer to the question!

During the morning session we discussed trends which we may have noticed. I asked for a show of hands for people who had made use of a ‘second screen’ – i.e. using a mobile phone or tablet to discuss a TV programme while watching the programme on the TV.  Following this show of hands @Krolofsson tweeted “Only a third of the workshop crowd do “The second screen” while, f.e. watching TV . I certainly do.”  Although I had asked for the show of hands, I had forgotten the numbers responding. This event tweeting therefore helped in providing a record of evidence gathered during the workshop. This was particularly useful at our workshop as, as described in the summary of the session, the participants “were from no fewer than eleven countries (UK, Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, South Africa, Australia, India, Trinidad and Tobago and Qatar) and six continents (Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Australasia and Asia)“: this example provided a vivid example of the diversity of experiences and practices.

Reviewing the archive of the tweets can be useful in helping to identify the aspects of the workshop which people found useful. It was therefore useful to see comments such as “About inventions/improvements/innovations: what’s the difference? And how to measure success or failure? Nice roundup by @briankelly ” and “Another nice quote by @psychemedia at : “The future’s already here – it’s just not evenly distributed” (William Gibson)“.

But perhaps the must useful aspect of this particular archive was the record of the discussions (which involved several people including a number who weren’t physically present at the workshop) which arose from my summary of a observation made by Tony Hirst: “Since a smart phone can act as a scanner/photocopier do we need photocopiers in libraries asks @psychemedia at “. The background to this was an observation Tony made when he was working as part of a Cambridge University Library Arcadia Project Fellowship on “Rapid Innovation in the Library”.  As Tony described in a report on his work (PDF format):

Whilst trying to photograph UL signage for inclusion in this report, I was taken to charge for using a camera (that is, my phone) within the Library. For users of current generation smartphones, an increasing number of camera related applications are now available. From barcode scanners that capture book details and call up bibliographic information or full text search tools using Google Books, to “personal photocopying” and optical character recognition (personal text scanning), maintaining a policy that bars the use of cameras within the UL is likely to act as a brake on patron delivered library innovation (No Cameras in the Library…). Note also that the act of copying is not universally ruled against within the UL – a self-service scanning/photocopier service is already provided, albeit for a fee. The provision of the photocopier service might also be reconsidered in the light of the increasing availability of digital content. For example, if a patron scanned the barcode of an item before copying it, an advisory system might be able to direct the user to a digital version of the resource (this would also help track those items that were being copied).

Tony had discussed this topic in a blog post on “No Cameras in the Library…” which described (n December 2009) how:

One of the things that has got me in trouble a couple of times during my stint as Arcadia Fellow is using my phone as a camera within the confines of University Library (cameras, along with bags, are most definately not allowed inside the Library). As the Library rules puts it:

18. Overcoats, raincoats, and other kinds of outdoor clothing, umbrellas, bags, cases, cameras, photocopying devices, and similar personal belongings shall normally be deposited in the locker-room adjacent to the entrance hall during each visit to the Library.

Which is not to say that photocopying, per se is not allowed in the University Library, because it is… either using self-service machines or via Imaging Services (UL: Photocopying). So the problem is presumably guarding against Library users photographing/photocopying works that they shouldn’t? But from what I can tell, those works are accessible only in the Reading Rooms, so presumably a ban on photograph/copying works in those areas would suffice? (If the books that may not be copied can be taken out of those rooms, then they can easily be copied in the photopcopier room…)

The discussion this story generated, both in the workshop and online, illustrated that there are still diverse views as to whether use of smartphones should be banned from libraries (as they may be used to infringe copyright or, if photos of people are taken, privacy) or encouraged.  It was interesting to see how this discussion continued on Twitter which Owen Stephens described how:

[At] one library I worked an academic came in with 35mm SLR digital camera and tripod to take pictures of an item …
[The] item in question was on loan from BL but could only be used in library with no p/c allowed …
whether this was to do with rights or fragility of item I’m not sure

I would like to revisit the question of acceptable practices covering use of phones in libraries at a later date. The Twitter archive, and the contributions made by participants and the remote users, will be a useful resource for me.

Archives of #ILI2013 Conference Tweets

Storify archive for #ILI2013 tweetsI curated the tweets for the workshop session. This meant I inspected the archives, tried to add them to the archive in a logical structure, included relevant tweets which may not have contained the #ili2013 hashtag and omitted tweets which I felt didn’t any value.

In addition to the archive of the workshop tweets I also used Storify to create a complete archive of the #ILI2013 tweets. Due to the time it can take to curate a large event archive this time I simply accepted all tweets containing the hashtag and published them in reverse chronological order, as illustrated.

I hope this will provide a useful resource for other ILI 2013 speakers, organisers, participants or other interested parties who would like to see the discussions which took place on Twitter.

I should also add that I have also used the Twubs service to create a complementary archive of the tweets, which may provide a useful comparison of the two services.


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ILI 2013: The Future Technologies and Their Applications Workshop

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 October 2013

ILI – My Favourite Library Conference

I am now back home after spending a hugely enjoyable and stimulating three days at the ILI 2013 conference. This was the fifteenth in the annual Internet Librarian International conference series, As I have attended fourteen of the conferences (I had been invited to speak at a conference in the National Library of Singapore for the ILI conference I missed) it’s clear that I am a great fan of the event. This is for a number of reasons; in particular the international flavour of the event provides an opportunity to hear about developments in the library and online information world from a wide sector. It is also a very friendly event, which provides a valuable opportunity to develop and cultivate one’s professional network – as ever, the numbers of people I follow on Twitter has grown over the past few days; who needs business cards when swapping Twitter IDs can provide an ‘interactive business card’ – a suggestion I made back in 2008 which now seems to have become a mainstream approach.

The Future Technologies and Their Applications Workshop

The conference itself took place over two days. However on Monday three full-day workshops took place, on search, Libraries and MOOCs and future technologies. Myself and Tony Hirst facilitated the workshop on “Future Technologies and Their Applications“. As described in the abstract the workshop set out to ensure that participants were made aware of methodologies which could be used to detect new developments and gather evidence which could be used to justify investment n exploring the technologies in more detail and implementing the technologies:

Despite the uncertainties faced by librarians and information professionals, technology continues to develop at breakneck speed, offering many new opportunities for the sector. At the same time, technological developments can be distracting and may result in wasted time and effort (remember the excitement provided by Second Life?!).

This workshop session will help participants identify potentially relevant technological developments by learning about and making use of ‘Delphic’ processes. The workshop also provides insight into processes for spotting ‘weak signals’ which may indicate early use of technologies which could be important in the future.

But having identified potentially important technological developments, organisations need to decide how to respond. What will be the impact on existing technologies? What are the strategic implications and what are the implications for staff within the organisation?

The interactive workshop session will provide opportunities to address the challenges in understanding the implications of technological developments and making appropriate organisational interventions.

We highlighted Second Life as a technology which failed to live up to its expectations and demonstrated the need for more systematic approaches for detecting new technologies which could be embedded, However we also described the need for libraries to be willing to take risks and provided a risks and opportunities framework which could be used to assess risks and minimise or, perhaps, accept such risks. Part of this framework was to assess the risks of doing nothing, and the missed opportunities this could entail.

A total of 21 participants booked for the workshop. They were from no fewer than eleven countries (UK, Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, South Africa, Australia, India, Trinidad and Tobago and Qatar) and six continents (Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Australasia and Asia). This provided some challenges but also opportunities in learning from the differing experiences and challenges which the participants faced.

The Content

In the workshop we made use of processes which I described in a paper on What Next for Libraries? Making Sense of the Future which I presented at the EMTACL (Emerging Technologies in Academic Libraries ) conference held in Trondheim a year ago and a paper by myself and Paul Hollins (CETIS) on Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow which I presented at the Umbrella 2013 conference earlier this year. The Delphic processes described in the papers had been previously used by UKOLN and CETIS in our work for the JISC Observatory which, prior to the cessation of its funding was an “initiative to systematise the way in which the JISC anticipates and responds to projected future trends and scenarios in the context of the use of technology in Higher & Further Education in the UK“.

Following use of the Delphic process to identify and prioritise new developments we also used the risks and opportunities framework which has been described in papers on “Library 2.0: Balancing the Risks and Benefits to Maximise the Dividends” and “Empowering Users and Institutions: A Risks and Opportunities Framework for Exploiting the Social Web“.

Tony Hirst also provided some techniques which could be used to identify developments which may be taking place. “What have you noticed around you which may indicate changes which may be significant?” he asked, which made we reflect on how WiFi in conferences is now starting to “just work”. In addition I subsequently told Tony how I had purchased a discounted copy of The Guardian using an electronic voucher Another technique which Tony suggested was to provide a question for which the answer might be “At the library”. For example during his talk in the Data Librarian session at the ILI conference itself Tony suggested that there could be opportunities for librarians to provide training and support for their users in developing skills in SQL and use of regular expressions. Could “At the library” be an answer to the question a researcher is asked by a colleague: “Where did you learn how to take the data from diverse sources and manipulate them prior to data visualisation?” for someone working in an institution in which library staff are developing new skills and moving into new areas?

The final part of the framework used in the workshop during which participants made a business case for exploring new technologies was an approach I have learnt recently from my participation in the Hyperlinked Library MOOC organized by Michael Stephens and Kyle Jones.

In the second assignment on the MOOC participants were asked to make plans for the deployment of emerging technologies using a planning checklist which included completion of the following statement:

Convince ______ that by _______ they will ________ which will ________ because _______.

Have identified key technological developments using the Delphic process the participants, working in three groups, where asked to provide a business case for their area which included the methodology from the Hyperlinked Library MOOC.


How did the workshop go? Unfortunately I missed the final afternoon of the ILI 2013 conference but Alison McNab tweeted this summary from the final session:

The @Philbradley session on Privacy, #LibraryCamp inspiration & @briankelly workshop on new technology all mentioned as highlights

The evaluation forms provided some useful feedback. We asked participants to summarise things which they would do as a result of the workshop when they return to work. The responses included:

  • Discuss Delphi with our IT development Team
  • Use the Delphic process and Action Brief Model to plan new tech projects as I brainstorm them
  • Discuss within the library if the hierarchy must be kept up for the use of social media and cannot everyone, in the name of the library, use social media with our users
  • Look at the [IFLA and NMC Horizon] Trend reports and Gartner report

We asked participants to List suggestions and recommendations you will make to your colleagues. The responses included:

  • Risk assess new technologies
  • Approaching potential new technologies and looking at evidence, case studies & asking about its application in a library context.
  • Take more risks, share disaster experience
  • The “have you asked the Library?” is quite an eye-opener. It forces one to rethink what they think they are doing.
  • Rethink the role of librarianship, current and future

We asked participants to What aspects of the workshop did you find most useful? The responses included:

  • Discussions and networking. Tony’s “Did you try the Library?” Horizon project Top 10.
  • The Scenario Planning process. Template for proposing tech/service. Loved the two morning presentations.
  • Share disaster experiences within library community, Take risks with new technologies.
  • Discussions with other people. Useful ‘recipes’.
  • The 3 short term and medium term technologies to look for. The Delphic process.
  • The discussions and group sessions. Overview of reports.
  • The international diversity of the participants.
  • I found it most useful to discuss library issues with fellow librarians/participants
  • The personal experience stories from librarians. Planning of new proposals for library.

We asked participants to Summarise aspects of the workshop which could be improved. The responses included:

  • Furniture layout in advance of the workshop
  • Would have liked more focus on emerging technologies (specific ones)
  • Warm up the room :-)
  • I would have preferred more practical examples relevant to the library even if they end up being Second Life.
  • Cooperative parts, participation parts.
  • Less talking, more doing.
  • It would be nice if new technologies had been presented. The only ones mentioned were Google, Wikipedia and Amazon. I already knew about them and did not need to hear about them again.

The general comments included:

  • Well done for working with such a mixed group
  • Loved the interactive Doc notes idea – very helpful for attendees and makes it easier for me to share this info with my colleagues back home.
  • Well-organized. Group work was a but difficult because the group was too international, that means the problems in the different countries are too different.
  • I really enjoyed it!
  • Good workshop! Thanks
  • Liked it a lot!
  • I think it would have been useful if the presenters, at least one, was a librarian. The two presenters did not seem to know about the legal issues concerning library technologies. Several things they said were illegal.


This was the fist time Tony and I had ran this workshop. We were pleased with the workshop and the active participation from the participants. We had said that the structure of the workshop may change in light of the feedback form the participants. This meant that three presentations, on digital badges, amplified events for professional development and hyperlinked libraries, were not given. Instead we responded to requests from a couple of the participants to address the broader issues of the future of libraries. However these slides, together with all of the resources used in this workshop, have been made available and use of a Creative Commons CC-BY licence means that they can be reused by the participants (and others) in their own institution.

One of the discussion groups commented that the six participants were from six different countries. I suspect that wouldn’t have been the case for workshop sessions at the Internet Librarian conference which is held in the US and attracts primarily a North American audience. Despite the concerns Tony and I had when we first heard of the global diversity of the participants at the session we are pleased with the feedback we received. In retrospect, however, the title of the workshop did not correctly reflect the abstract. Rather than “Future Technologies and Their Applications” we should have called the workshop “Predicting Future Technologies”.


The slides used in the workshop are available below. Note that the slides hosted on Slideshare are the latest version. The Authorstream versions are provided as a backup copy.

Code Title Slides
A1 Workshop Introduction [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
B1 Predicting Technology Trends: a Methodology [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
CO Future Doodles [Slideshare]
C1 Amplified Events [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
C2 Digital Badges [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
C3 The Hyperlinked Library [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
D1 Gathering Interests [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
D2 Group Exercises [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
E1 Scenario Planning For Libraries [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]
F1 Review and Next Steps [Slideshare] – [Authorstream]


A1: Workshop Introduction B1: Predicting Technology Trends: a Methodology CO: Future Doodles
C1: Amplified Events (not used) C2: Digital Badges (not used)  C3: The Hyperlinked Library (not used)
D1: Gathering Interests D2: Group Exercises
E1: Scenario Planning For Libraries F1: Review and Next Steps

NOTEJeroen de Boer has just published a report on the workshop (and a number of other events). Google Translate has been used to provide an English translation. This describes how “we opted for the development of mobile. Because my group were mainly employed by university and research libraries was their focus very focused on issues relating to the accessibility of private collections and therefore problems of copyright etc. I said that it is right to look at how external sources very interesting for us including academic, can link to library collections“.

The group included the following summary. They would:

Convince management that by implementing mobile they will exploit Linked Open Data collections which will optimize the library collection in order to attract new and current users because they will keep our library relevant anywhere anytime.

I was pleased to see this approach, developed by Michael Stephens and Kyle Jones, being used by others.


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Supporting Open Data and Open Content

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 August 2013

Following on from a couple of posts last week which summarised reasons why I may be  and an explanation of What is Open Data, Why the Interest and What Are the Barriers? in today’s post I summarise some of the ways in which I have made use of open content and encouraged others to do likewise.

IWMW event and open dataDuring my 16 years at UKOLN I have given over 400 talks throughout the UK and Europe, as well as in North America, Australia and Asia. I have made many of the slides available with Creative Commons licences as well as using services such as Slideshare which permit reuse, downloading, modifications and embedding.

But in addition to a personal commitment to openness I have also sought to ensure that others in the higher education sector are aware of the potential benefits of open practices.

The annual Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW) series has provided an opportunity to make use of open practices and ensure that those with responsibilities for managing institutional Web services in UK universities are aware of moves towards openness.

The IWMW 2013 event, for example, opened with a keynote talk on “Open Education: The Business & Policy Case for OER” which was given by Cable Green, Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons. This was followed by Doug Belshaw’s talk on “Mozilla, Open Badges and a Learning Standard for Web Literacy“. In addition to such keynote talks, workshop sessions on “Open Up: Open Data in the Public Sector” and “Save Money and Make Things Better with Linked Open Data” provided an opportunity for participants to explore issues about data and openness in more detail.

iwmw speaker mapBut in addition to the talks and workshop sessions which address various aspects of openness, information about the 17 years of IWMW events has been made available as open data, This has included information on the location of the IWMW events, details of the plenary talks and workshop sessions and biographical details of the speakers and facilitators.

This information has been provided in RSS format, a lightweight and extensible syndication format which has proved suitable for this task.

The extensibility of RSS has enabled geo-located information to be provided.  In addition to the location of the IWMW events themselves, the biographical information includes the location of the host institution of the speakers and workshop facilitators.

Use of open data in this way has enabled maps to be provided, as illustrated, showing the extent of active participation at 17 years of events from across the sector. It should be noted that this work focussed on the creation of the data and associated data modelling, rather than the use of an application. The initial applications which provided location maps of the data have subsequently been superceded by Google Maps which provides a more robust service. The data could potentially be used for other purposes, such as providing estimates of the carbon costs of speakers and facilitators in travelling from their host institution to the IWMW event.

The data modelling led to an awareness of the importance of definition of the data items and the need for documentation – it was decided to provide geo-location information for the speakers’ host institution (and not, for example, where they live) and this information was primarily provided only for people who were based in universities and not for consultants of those  working for the commercial sector.

It does seem to me that given the importance of events as a channel for sharing ideas there would be benefits from providing open data associated with events themselves, which can build on access access to the talks given at events. The Lanyrd service can be used to provide information about speakers at events, as can be seen from my Lanyrd profile. I’d be interested to hear of further examples of the ways in which open event data is being used, especially examples of the aggregation of event data.

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Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 July 2013

The Umbrella 2013 Conference

Plenary talk at Umbrella 2013Yesterday I attended the first day of the Umbrella 2013 conference. The opening day of the two-day conference was full of fascinating talks and interesting discussions – the highlight of which was the closing plenary talk which asked “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s a librarian?“. But no ordinary librarian – Victoria Treadway, Clinical Library at the Wirral Hospital Teaching Hospital Trust, in an engrossing double act with Doctor Girendra Sadera described how, by going beyond one’s comfort zone and working closely with others in a team working in the hospital’s Critical Care Unit, librarians could literally save lives.

We’re All Information Professionals Now!

Umbrella tweetIf this was the highlight of the first day, there was also an undercurrent related to the uncertainties of the future of the library profession and CILIP, the professional organisation for librarians and information professionals. Perhaps it would appear strange for librarians and information professionals to be uncertain of their future in an information-rich society. But as Annie Mauger (CLIP CEO) tweeted during the opening plenary earlier today: “We’re all information professionals“. But if we all all information professionals (Channel 4 news journalists, researchers and, indeed, ordinary people many of whom will now have to curate increasingly large volumes pf digital resources) what differentiates information professionals who choose – or choose not – to belong to a professional organisation?

Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow

My contribution to the conference was to present a paper on “Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow” which argues that librarians need to adopt evidence-based approaches to planning for the implications of technological developments. The paper summarised the approaches which have been taken by the JISC Observatory and argued that, in light of the imminent demise of the JISC Observatory following the cessation of the core funding for UKOLN and CETIS, institutions may wish to adopt the methodology developed by the JISC Observatory team.

Since the presentation only lasted for 20 minutes it was possibly to give an overview of the JISC Observatory team work. However I would hope that the paper (for which Paul Hollins, Director of CETIS, was a co-author) will be published shortly. In addition an extended version of the slides are available on Slideshare and are embedded below.

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IWMW 2013: Web Managers In A Double Bind

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 July 2013

Reflections on the Plenary Talks at IWMW 2013

Summary of Dai Griffiths' talk at IWMW 2013

Sketch note of Dai Griffith’s talk by Kevin Mears (@mearso)

In a recent post I described how “The Job’s Not Over Till The Paperwork’s Complete” and summarised the ways in which the digital resources associated with last week’s IWMW 2013 event are being aggregated. As well as the curation of event tweets which is currently being carried out using Storify (e.g. see the Storify summary of the first day) the Lanyrd entry for IWMW 2013 is also being used to provide links to speakers’ slides, curated session tweets and, where possible, notes provided by event participants.

The first trip report we came across was written by the City University London Web Team; a report which began: “there are a lot memories and a lot to describe to my fellow colleagues and those who couldn’t attend“. Indeed, many memories and lots of interesting content which will be of relevant to many working in institutional Web teams. We would therefore encourage anyone who has written a report about the event to ensure that it is made publicly available and to provide a link to the report from the Lanyrd page (you can add links from the bottom of the Lanyrd Coverage page).

The Open Agenda on the Opening Day

Rather than attempt to summarise all of the talks I intend to reflect on some of the significant themes which were discussed at the event.

The opening plenary talk was given by Cable Green, Director of Global Leaning at Creative Commons. In the talk on “Open Education: The Business & Policy Case for OER” Cable explained how Creative Commons licences can provide a stable legal framework for permitting reuse of content and the importance of such licences in helping to support the aim of global leaning for everyone.

In the second talk, on “Mozilla, Open Badges and a Learning Standard for Web Literacy“, Doug Belshaw introduced the idea of open badges to, gauging from the comments on Twitter, an audience which is intrigued by open badges and their potential relevance for both personal use and to support departmental activities.

The IWMW 2013 event opened with talks which promoted the benefits of open practices. On the final day of the event several of the speakers responded to issues which had been raised earlier (which highlighted the benefits of having a flexible approach to processing speakers’ slides). For me the two most inspirational talks were “The University in a Bind” by Dai Griffiths and “The Delicious Discomfort Of Not Knowing: How to Lead Effectively Through Uncertainty” by Neil Denny.

Dai Griffiths, Professor at the Institute for Educational Cybernetics at the University of Bolton described how the institutional Web is situated at the “not-so-calm centre of a hurricane”. Within current economic uncertainties institutions are also in a “double bind” – described in Wikipedia as “an emotionally distressing dilemma in communication in which an individual (or group) receives two or more conflicting messages, in which one message negates the other“. Dai provided a number of examples of this ‘double bind’ such as the pressures on researchers in the run-up to the REF to publish in high impact journals whilst also expecting researchers to ensure that their research publications are available in open access journals.

This reminded me of the double-bind which institutional Web managers found themselves in just over a year ago after the ‘cookie’ law came into being: institutions must (a) conform with the law and ensure that visitors to institutional Web sites opt-in to use of cookie or (b) providing clean and simple user interfaces to resources which minimise barriers to use of services (especially if accessed on a range of devices).

Sidhu's KIS statisticsAnother example of an institutional double bind relates to a plenary talk given at IWMW 2012. At last year’s event Andrew Oakley, Head of Software Development at the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) spoke about Key Information Set Data, information which the government requires institutions to provide. But this year Ranjit Sidhu, towards the end of his talk entitled “9am, 16th August, 2012: ‘What the fcuk just happened then?’” informed the audience that “Less than 1 visitor per university per day click the UniStats [KIS] widget“. Again the tension if between (a) implementing systems which are legally required and (b) ensuring that we allocate scarce resources in a cost-effective way.

Or as Bart Simpson put it: “You’re damned if you do; you’re damned if you don’t“.

double bindHow are we to respond to having to implement incompatible goals, with decreasing resources? In the final talk at the event Neil Denny spoke about “The Delicious Discomfort Of Not Knowing: How to Lead Effectively Through Uncertainty“. Neil was another speaker who updated his slides in response to the issues which had been raised during the event. It occurred to me that Neil could have updated the title of his talk so that it explained “How To Lead Effectively Through Insanity” as suggested by Dai Griffiths is the slide illustrated.

I will conclude this post by using the summary of Neil’s talk which my colleague Marieke Guy has just posted with the title “The Delicious Discomfort of IWMW13“:

His message was about how we need to be comfortable with uncertainty and find strategies for surviving at the edge of our comfort zone. We can survive by listening to others and adopting the attitude of an artisan (trying new things). His talk really touched a nerve. All of us from UKOLN are going through big change, but change is good, if you don’t change…you stand still. I have to admit I actually love that point when change can happen and I’ve actively strived towards it. It’s at that point that all possibilities still exist.

I agree – survival will require being able to listen to others and being receptive to change. The challenge for me will be to explore sustainability options for future IWMW events. In a future post I will summarise plans to do this.

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IWMW 2013: The Resources

Posted by Brian Kelly on 1 July 2013

The Job’s Not Over Till The Paperwork’s Complete

Storify summary of first day at IWMW 2012IWMW 2013, the seventeenth Institutional Web Management Workshop, is now over. Or perhaps I should say that the event is over for the speakers and participants. For the event organisers we still have to process payments, analyse the event evaluation forms and send feedback to the speakers.

But in addition to the post-event work which all event organisers will need to carry out, since we have always prided ourselves on the event amplification of IWMW events, we need to process various digital resources in order to maximise the readership of resources used at the event and provide additional ways in which the discussions can be accessed. An event no longer has to finish when the organiser announces the physical event is over!

Providing Access to an Event’s Digital Resources

A Storify summary of the first day has already been published, as illustrated. In addition a summary of the closing session, entitled IWMW 2013: What The Users Thought, which includes Twitter comments made by participants after they had left the event is also available. The comments included:

  • thanks for the last 3 days, lots of work, lots of fun and many new friends, it’s been great hope this isn’t the end!
  • Great to hear how important IWMW is in inspiring us to work together and found communities of practice
  • Themes I will take away from this year’s #iwmw13:  silos, change, big data, Agile, openness, and “to MOOC, or not to MOOC?”
  • Feeling inspired by our speakers, change is inevitable, work with it not against it!
  • Be comfortable with uncertainty, listen, adopt the attitude of an artisan, be creative, read, be curious – an inspiring ending to #iwmw13
  • Leaving Bath inspired & impressed after my first #iwmw13 An amazing community which will no doubt keep going in the future.
  • My first time at IWMW. Also first conference I’ve been to that ended with Monty Python on YouTube. Delightful!

Lanyrd page for Doug Belshaw's talkIn addition to the Storify summaries the slides used in the plenary talks and a number of the workshop sessions have been uploaded to the IWMW 2013 and to Slideshare. The Slideshare repository is probably the more important, as slides hosted on Slideshare can be embedded elsewhere. This includes the IWMW 2013 Lanyrd site, for which pages for each of the sessions contain not only the abstract and speaker details but also slides which are available from Slideshare as well as user-generated content including blog posts about the sessions and, of particular interest to me, links to Kevin Mears’ sketches which give a graphical depiction of his reflctions on the key messages of several of the plenary talks and the two parallel sessions he attended.

An example of a Lanyrd page, for Doug Belshaw’s plenary talk on “Mozilla, Open Badges and a Learning Standard for Web Literacy” is illustrated.

But in addition to the resources produced by the speakers and the tweets posted by the audience the other valuable resource created at the event are the sketches produced by Kevin Mears. What a great way of summarising a talk and highlighting the key aspects in what I feel is a particularly memorable way.

Sketch by Kevin Mears

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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.

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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.


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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!

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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] – []

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This Year’s Experiment at #IWMW13 – the Bizzabo Mobile Event App

Posted by Brian Kelly on 30 May 2013

Experiments With Online Technologies at IWMW Events

Bizzabo mobile app

The mobile app for the IWMW 2013 event

A video summary entitled Use of Social Media at IWMW Events is available on YouTube. The brief video (which lasts for just over one minute) explains how since 2005 we have tried to make use of a new online technologies at UKOLN’s IWMW (Institutional Web Management Workshop) events. The video clip describes how the availability of a WiFi network at the University of Manchester, the venue for the IWMW 2005 event, provided our first opportunity to explore the benefits which use of communications technologies could provide at an event. Back then we were using IRC, which was available to a small number of people (about 18) who had brought along a laptop with WiFi capabilities.

I was one of those 18 people, and was therefore one of the first to hear the news of the London bombings. It was a strange experience to be aware of the news, but not the full extent of the news, whilst most people in the audience were listening to the speaker. I waited until the speaker had finished before announcing the news, with many of the London based participants then using the coffee break to ring home.

The incident brought home to me the importance of online communications at events, not only for significant incidents but also for more mundane occurrences such as missing keys, speakers delays and problems with public transport.

In addition to the need for event organisers to be able to communicate with speakers and delegates, the experiments a few years ago demonstrated the value of peer-to-peer communications using popular technologies such as Twitter for enriching the experience of events by allowing open discussions and questions to take place.

This Year’s Experiment: The Bizzabo Mobile App

Since mobile technologies are now mainstream, especially amongst Web professionals, this key we are experimenting with Bizzabo, a mobile app we are using to provide access to the IWMW 2013 timetable together with the event’s Twitter stream, as well as providing a communication channel for IWMW 2013 participants and other interested parties.

As can be seen from the screenshot, the opening page for the event shows its name and location, people who have signed up to the community, and recent tweets with the event hashtag.

The agenda for the three-day event is also available and you can bookmark your favourite sessions and add details to your mobile device.

One limitation I have found with the Bizzabo app is that the number of parallel sessions if limited to ten. As the IWMW 2013 event has eleven parallel sessions on Wednesday 26 June and ten on Thursday 27 June this causes a slight problem as one of the slots has to be allocated to the main plenary sessions.

Timetable shown in Bizzabo

The IWMW 2013 timetable for day 2 shown in Bizzabo

However this isn’t an insurmountable problems, and won’t be relevant for events which have fewer parallel sessions.

For me the success of apps such as this is whether they will be actively used by sufficient numbers of people. As described on the Bizzabo blog:

The community is the most important part of Bizzabo and what we’re all about. Once you join the community, you’ll be able to see all other members, go through their profiles, discover mutual connections and interact with the people you want to connect with. 

Note that the Bizzabo app is available for the iPhone and Android environments. The event organiser’s interface is available using a Web browser, which enables the event organiser to provide details about the event (name, location, programmes, times, etc.) as well as information about the speakers. It should be noted that speaker profiles can include details of the speaker’s Web site, blog, Twitter account and LinkedIn profile.

The programme for the IWMW 2013 event is also available on Lanyrd, which also provides a mobile interface. It will be interesting to see how Bizzabo compares with Lanyrd. The latter, to be fair, is more of a social directory for events, allowing you to see participants at events via their Twitter ID. However it will also be interesting to make a comparison between a responsive Web site (Lanyrd) and a dedicated mobile app (Bizzabo). From a provider’s perspective it can be advantageous to provide a single source of information which is available for both desktop and mobile browsers. However might users prefer a solution which could exploit a mobile phone’s characteristics more effectively and, arguably, is more easily found via the phone providers’ app store?

Bizzabo provides a simple way of ensuring that an event programme is available in a format suitable for viewing on a mobile device for free. However for me the important thing is whether the community aspect of Bizzabo takes off. I’m willing to give it a go. If you are attending the IWMW 2013 event, or are simply interested in the event, why not download the app and give it a go. Your feedback would be welcomed, including comments on the mobile app versus mobile web approach to providing information about events.

As mentioned above a brief video summary of the history of use of social media tools at IWMW events is available on YouTube and embedded below.

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

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Promoting IWMW 2013: the Video Summary

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 May 2013

Back in the late 1990s publicising an event was quite simple – the main activity was simply sending messages to relevant email lists. A message I sent to the web-support JISCMail list on Wednesday, 2 September 1998 illustrates this (and I’m pleased that the JISCMail service has continued to provide an archive of messages over this period of time).

Nowadays, of course, there are many more communications channels available, and many users (in the case of events, potential participants) will expect to receive information of relevance to them in their preferred environment. Indeed, to use the visitors and residents metaphor, if they are ‘residents’ of the online environment they will expect the modern equivalent of the town cryer to make the announcements close to their residence, whereas ‘visitors’ may well expect to receive information only if they track down relevant information kiosks.

In addition to using tweets, blog posts, RSS feeds and LinkedIn announcements it is now possible to use video sharing tools, such as YouTube. Such popular services, which will be readily available on mobile devices, may be particularly useful in reaching out to people on the move, who may find it easier to view a brief video clip rather than read text on a small screen.

For this reason I have created a brief video clip, lasting just over 2 minutes, which summarises the IWMW 2013 event, which will be held at the University of Bath on 26-28 June. The video clip is available on YouTube and is embedded below. I should add that the questions were asked by Kirsty Pitkin and the video was taken by Rich Pitkin, who also edited the video. Kirsty and Rich are running a session on Creating a Multimedia CV or Project Summary at the IWMW 2013 event, so if you would like a brief video made about yourself or some aspect of your work, feel free to sign up for the session! Remember that the 3-day event costs only £350, which includes 2 nights’ accommodation.

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

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Students Complain of ‘poor value’ Courses! How Should we Respond?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 15 May 2013

Students Complain of ‘poor value’ Courses

@Students complain' item on BBC NewsEarlier this morning I came across a news item on the BBC News which summarised a report commissioned by Which and the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) on how “Students complain of ‘poor value for money’ courses“.

The opening paragraph provided a blunt summary:

Almost one in three first year students at UK universities say their courses are not good value, suggests a study.

The report was based on a large-scale survey of over 17,000 students, with 29% feeling that their courses were not good value for money, compared with only 16% when the study was carried out in 2006 (when the fees were only £1,oo0 per year).

What Is To Be Done?

What is to be done? The government response focussed on the presentational aspects:

A spokesman for the Department of Business Innovation and Skills agreed that “people must be able to make informed decisions about what and where to study.

“Institutions should explain to prospective students how their course will be delivered in order to help them make the right decisions.”

Yes, it seems the official response is to provide prospective students with a combination of factual information about the courses together with feedback from student satisfaction surveys. The good universities will, it seems, appeal to prospective students but those with poor rating will, presumably, simply fade away. This is how the market economy is now being applied to the higher education sector!

The Importance of the Online and Networked Environment

Other Relevant Factors Besides Contact Time

The news items focuses on a single aspect of the student experience, face-to-face contact time: “Students who received less contact time with tutors in the form of lectures, seminars and tutorials were three times more likely to say they did not think their course was value for money“.

I wonder, though, whether this emphasis is based on the experiences of those who commissioned the report and interpretted the findings. Looking at the Executive Summary of the report (PDF format) I can find no mention of the IT infrastructure which is used to enrich student learning experiences. Perhaps an awareness of the importance of e-learning was not appreciated by those who commissioned this report. And perhaps the student discontent isn’t primarily due to the changes in face-to-face contact time (perhaps students are happy to be able to develop their skills in using IT) but is based on other factors – such as the increase in student fees from £1,000 to £9.000 per annum!

Improving the Online and Networked Environment

The Institutional Web Management Workshop series, IWMW, was launched in 1997 to provide an environment for those with responsibilities for managing large-scale institutional Web services to share best practices and to develop their services in light of, initially, the rapidly changing technical environment and, over the past few years, the changing political and economic environment. This year’s event, IWMW 2013, will be held at the University of Bath on 26-28 June. The theme of this year’s event, “What next?” was chosen to provide an opportunity to hear about how institutions are responding to these uncertain times:

There are the ‘known knowns’ (such as, for example, the student fees which are now being levied and the growth in use of mobile devices), the ‘known unknowns’ (the implications of the increases in student fees and the implications of the patent wars taking place between vendors of mobile devices) and the ‘unknown unknowns’ which, by definition, are difficult to illustrate!

It would therefore be timely to summarise how the sector is making use of the online and networked environment in order to enhance the student experience and other key institutional activities.

Marketing and Communications

The news item emphasises the importance of student awareness of the University environment. I would agree that this is important. This is a reason why we invited Tim Kaner, Director of Marketing & Communications at the University of Bath to give a plenary talk on “Marketing 2.0” at the event. Another angle on such issues will be given by Dai Griffiths, Professor at the Institute for Educational Cybernetics at the University of Bolton. In his talk on “The University in a Bind” Professor Griffiths will describe how Universities are finding themselves subject to increasing financial, regulatory and marketplace pressures which are pushing them in a number of different directions. Consequently institutions are constrained in their ability to adapt or reinvent their identity. Dai will explore these contradictions at multiple levels and discusses the practical implications for the future of universities, and particularly for those with the profile of the Million+ Group.

At the IWMW 2012 event, held at the University of Edinburgh, Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Robert Gordon University gave a controversial talk in which he asked “Do Universities Really Understand the Internet?“. In the talk Professor von Prondzynski argued that many University home pages were dull and unappealing to potential students, and even went on to name and shame a number of guilty institutions (a video recording of the talk is available for those who would like to find out more!). This talk generated much discussion, with an acknowledgement by some of the truth of these remarks, but the defence being that senior managers and conservative policy groups were responsible for barriers to the development of more engaging institutional Web sites. At this year’s event Paul Boag, co-founder of the digital agency Headscape, will be developing this discussion in a talk entitled “Institutional Culture Is Crippling Your Web Strategy!“. As described in the abstract:

Most internal web teams in higher education agree their web strategy is being held back by the culture and organisation of the institution. Internal politics, devolved leadership and committee structures are incompatible with the fast moving nature of the web.

Unfortunately most web teams feel unable to bring about change. They feel like a small cog in a very big machine. In this talk Paul will challenge those pre-conceptions and point out that if you don’t change things nobody else will.

In another provocative talk, Ranjit Sidhu, founder of statistics into Decisions (SiD) will reflect on “9am, 16th August, 2012: ‘What the fcuk just happened then?‘”. The talk describes how universities around the country got a shock on the morning of 16th August 2012 when the A level results came out. “The education market in the UK had significantly changed in nature and purpose” argues Ranjit, and he will explain the important of the Web in this changed environment.

It should be noted that the IWMW 2013 event isn’t just a series of plenary talks: amongst approximately 20 parallel workshop sessions there will be one on “Institutional Use of Social Media Services” which will provide an opportunity for Web managers to discuss how social media can be used to engage with students, share best practices and address the challenges posed by use of the Web as a communications channel.

The Changing Learning Environment

Beyond use of online technologies to enhance institutional marketing and communications activities and the need for appropriate institutional strategies to support their use, other talks at the IWMW 2013 will address developments which are particularly relevant for the learning experience.

In the opening plenary talk on “Open Education: The Business & Policy Case for OER” Cable Green, Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons will provide examples where institution, provinces / states and nations have built effective business cases for OERs (Open Educational Resources). He will explore how to build effective teams for institution / system-wide OER projects in a way that both builds high quality OER and takes institutions through the cultural shift to open.

In a talk entitled “Et tu MOOC? Massive Online Considerations” Kyriaki Anagnostopoulou, Head of e-Learning at the University of Bath, will explore some of the opportunities and challenges MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) pose to educational institutions wanting to partake in such developments.

What Else?

I have highlighted five of the 13 plenary talks which will be given at IWMW 2013 and one of the 19 parallel sessions. Beyond the talks related to teaching and learning there are talks on use of the Web to support and enhance research activitiesthe User Experiencethe Changing Technical Landscape and What Does the Future Hold?

The event costs just £350 which includes two night’s accommodation, lunch and a conference dinner and a wine reception at the Roman Baths. Bookings are open. I hope to see you in Bath next month where you can learn how to respond to accusations that higher education is failing to provide value for money!

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

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IWMW 2013: Open For Booking

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 April 2013

IWMW 2013

IWMW 2013 programme

IWMW 2013 programme

Bookings are now open for this year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2013. This year’s event takes place at the University of Bath on 26-28 June. Due to the number of submissions we received we decided to extend the programme so that this year will, I think, have the largest number of plenary talks in the 17 years the event has been running. In addition to the 13 plenary talks there are also 17 parallel workshop sessions each of which lasts for 90 minutes and provides an opportunity for delegates to address a particular topic in depth.

Since we appreciate the pressures which those who have responsibilities for providing institutional Web services face, this year we are providing opportunities for participants to enhance their skills and knowledge across a range of areas relevant for those who support online services.

Day 1, 26 June 2013

The opening session has the theme Opportunities and Openness. I’m pleased to announce that the opening talk will be given by Cable Green, Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons who will talk on Open Education: The Business & Policy Case for OER,

The theme of the new opportunities which can be provided by embracing open practices is further developed by Doug Belshaw, formerly of JISC infoNet and now working for the non-profit Mozilla Foundation who will talk about Mozilla, Open Badges and a Learning Standard for Web Literacy.

The importance of the Web in Supporting Key Institutional Drivers will be addressed in the session on the afternoon of the first day of the event. The need for people with a variety of skills in the provision, support and development of online services will underpin the talks on E tu MOOC? Massive Online Considerations by Kyriaki Anagnostopoulou, head of the e-leaning team at the University of Bath and Amber Thomas manages the academic technologies team at the University of Warwick who will describe how her team is Turning our Attention to Supporting Research.

Day 2, 27 June 2013

The second day of the event begins by hearing about The User Experience. Jonathan Hassell, lead author of the BS 8878, the British Web Accessibility Standard that help organisations to embed accessibility competence within their workforce, culture and business-as-usual processes will describe how those involved in providing institutional Web service should Stop Trying to Avoid Losing & Start Winning: How BS 8878 Reframes the Accessibility Question. This talk is followed by David Cornforth, Jisc infoNet who will describe his experience in Adapting to Responsive Web Design.

The Changing Technical Landscape is the focus of the next strand with Martin Hamilton, Head of Internet Services at Loughborough University, explaining the move to being “open by default” in what might be described as The Inside-Out University. My colleague Paul Walk, in a talk entitled Working With Developers, argues that “If institutional web managers are to stay on top of their game, they need to be able get the most out of the software and systems they rely on” and to do this there is a need “to learn how to work well with the developers who build and maintain them“.

Judging by the titles of the talks in the session on The View From Outside the two speakers from commercial companies are likely to stimulate lively discussion and debate. Ranjit Sidhu, founder of Statistics into Decisions, will ask 9am, 16th August, 2012: “What the fcuk just happened then?”. This is followed by Paul Boag, co-founder of Headscape who feels that Institutional Culture Is Crippling Your Web Strategy!

After this busy day, delegates will have the opportunity to unwind at the wine reception which will be held at the Roman Baths.

Day 3, 28 June 2013

The final day begins with two Institutional Case Studies. Tim Kaner, Director of Marketing & Communications at the University of Bath, will discuss the implications of a changing marketing model for HE institutions and reflect on the challenges and opportunities ahead in a talk entitled Marketing 2.0. Dai Griffiths, Professor at the Institute for Educational Cybernetics, University of Bolton, in a talk on The University in a Bind, will argue that as Universities are finding themselves subject to increasing financial, regulatory and marketplace pressures which are pushing them in a number of different directions, institutions are constrained in their ability to adapt or reinvent their identity. Dai will explore these contradictions at multiple levels, and discuss the practical implications for the future of universities.

Finally in a session which asks What Does The Future Hold? Neil Denny will describe The Delicious Discomfort Of Not Knowing: How to Lead Effectively Through Uncertainty. The abstract for this talk describes how:

These are times of rampant uncertainty heralded by technological, financial and social pressures. Occupying such a space can feel disorientating. We might be bewildered, afraid, excited or overwhelmed. What will it take to enable you to continue to move forward when you are no longer even sure which way you are facing?

This talk will be followed by the Conclusions from IWMW 2013, which will reflect on the issues raised during the 3 days and explore ways in which the institutional Web management community can develop in the future. Uncertain times, certainly, but also times of new opportunities.

I hope to see you in Bath in June. The three-day event costs only £360 which includes two nights’ accommodation. Can you afford to miss it?

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Reflections on the UKSG 2013 Conference (#uksglive)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11 April 2013

About the #uksglive Conference

I’m now back from an enjoyable and informative 3 days in Bournemouth where I attended the UKSG 2013 conference. I have spoken at this annual conference organised by the UK Serials Group on two previous occasions: in 2005 I ran a briefing session on “Providing And Using News Feeds: How RSS Can Help” and in 2001 I gave a talk on The Latest Web Developments both of which took place at Heriot-Watt University.

funfairThis year’s event, the 36th in the series, was the largest, attracting over 900 participants. I’d like to give my thanks to Ross MacIntyre, Karen Sadler, Alison Whitehorn and colleagues for successfully rising to the challenge of providing a programme of plenary talks, breakout sessions, lightning talks and various other meetings, as well as ensuring that the participants’ social needs were also addressed – and yes, there really was a funfair inside the conference venue!

In addition to successful organising such a large event I should also say how pleasing it was to see the speakers’ slides and video recording of the talks being uploaded to Slideshare and YouTube within about 24 hours of the talks being delivered. At the time of writing there are over 50 slides from talks given at the conference available on Slideshare and 25 videos available on YouTube.

Conference Highlights

For me the highlights were:

  • Phil Sykes opening keynote talk on “Open Access Gets Tough” – see video and slides.
  • Jenny Delasalle’s talk on “Research Evaluation: Why is it Relevant to Librarians?” – see video and slides.
  • Laurel Haak’s talk on “Connecting Research and Researchers: ORCID” – see video and slides.
  • Lynn Silipigni Connaway’s talk on “The new digital students, or, “I don’t think I have ever picked up a book out of the library to do any research — all I have used is my computer”” – see video and slides.
  • Joshua James Harding’s talk on “The student-information relationship:>a perspective of its evolution” – see video and slides.
  • The breakout session on “Altmetrics: Understanding New Ways to Measure Academic Impact using the Web” – see video and slides by Mark Taylor and Paul Groth.

I should add that I left early on the third day and so did not attend any of the sessions. However from the feedback on Twitter (using the #uksglive event hashtag) it seems that I should watch the video of the talk on “The Twenty-year Butterflies: Which Web Cookies Have Stuck to the Internet’s Pan? as this plenary talk on the final morning was highly regarded.

The altmetrics Breakout Session

Storify summary of UKSG summary altmetrics sessionThe altmetrics breakout session (which was held on Monday and repeated the following day) was the one most closely aligned with my interests. But in addition to the content delivered by the speakers (i.e. the slides on “altmetrics and the Publisher” and “altmetrics: What Are They Good For?“) I was also interested in the reactions to the points made and the people in the audience who had similar interests.

Since access to a free WiFi network was available at the conference and large numbers of people had a mobile device I was able to engage in see the thoughts and comments made during the session. Since the session was of particular interest to me I have curated the tweets using Storify, since I am sure that this will be of interest to others besides myself.

It was pleasing to note that the two session speakers both encouraged tweets at the start of the session (this, incidentally, provided a useful bookmark which helped me identify the start of the tweets associated with the session). Some of the comments which summarised points beiung made by the speakers included:

In addition we saw some examples of those on Twitter responding to questions such as:Twitter

for which the following response was given:

Thoughts on Best Practices for Event Amplification

Although the event appeared to be a successful for the 950 participants, no longer need the talks and associated resources given at such conferences be restricted to the live audience. The event organisers did a great job in ensuring that video recordings of many of the talks were made publicly available, together with their slides. I’ve some suggestions on how this might be enhanced for next year’s event. But responsibilities for enhancing the sharing of ideas presented at conferences is not solely the remit of event organisers. Here are some suggestions for ways in which speakers and participants as well as event organisers can enhance the amplification of talks at events

Slideshare use for uksg2013For large events with parallel sessions, provide a session Twitter hashtag which can be useful in diffentiating tweets posted about parallel sessions (I’ve used the format #A1 to #A9 and #B1 to #B9 for the two parallel sessions for events I have organised (this should be included together with the main event hashtag).

Participants at sessions, especially parallel sessions, can help to signify their interest in an area by simply tweeting that they are attending the session (e.g. Here we go: Mike Taylor from Elsevier Labs on #altmetrics#uksglive)

The subsequent cuartion of tweets from a session can be carried out by participants who have a particular interest in the session (as I did for the altmetrics session).

The archive of slides and videos on services such as Slideshare and YouTube needs to be carefully labelled to ensure that others can easily correctly find and reuse appropriate resources.

Slides and videos should be tagged so they can be referenced as a collection of event-related resources. Note that although the #uksglive hashtag was used on Twitter (to avoid a clash with another event which was using the #uksg13 tag) the resources held on YouTube and Slideshare should include the year in any tag so they can be distinguished from resources from other years.

Note in order to illustrate how curated resources from a conference can be reused, the slides and video recording from the session on “Altmetrics: Understanding New Ways to Measure Academic Impact using the Web” are given below.

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Announcing IWMW 2013

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 November 2012

I’m pleased to announce that next year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2013, will be held at the University of Bath on 26-28 June 2013.

The Roman Baths. From Wikipedia:

The annual IWMW event has taken place in Bath previously: IWMW 2000 and IWMW 2006. We know that participants welcome the opportunity to visit our beautiful city, which has been a World Heritage Site since 1987. The combination of Georgian architecture and Roman remains make Bath a city well-worth revisiting. We have already booked the Roman Baths for the IWMW 2013 reception which promises to provide a memorable occasion for all participants.

The theme of IWMW 2013 is “What next?“. This will provide participants with an opportunity to consider the challenges facing the higher education sector in light of the economic downturn, and also the opportunities provided by the continuing technical developments we see in our online networked environment. The final session at the event will provide an opportunity to reflect on the challenges which lie ahead and strategies for addressing those challenges.

The call for submissions is now open. We welcome proposals for plenary talks, workshop sessions and other ideas you may have (for example, it might be timely to revisit the debates which took place in 2002, 2003 and 2006).

If you are unfamiliar with the IWMW event and the format, it would be useful to visit the IWMW 2012 Web site to see the timetable and view the abstracts for the plenary talks and workshop sessions.

If you would like to discuss ideas for a proposal, feel free to contact me, the IWMW 2013 chair. In addition I would welcome the opportunity to make contact with potential sponsors for the event.

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Disappearing Conference Web Sites: Learning From the EUNIS Experience

Posted by Brian Kelly on 27 November 2012

EUNIS Conference Resources

Back in June 2005 I presented peer-reviewed papers on Let’s Free IT Support Materials!, IT Services – Help Or Hindrance To National IT Development Programmes? and Using Networked Technologies to Support Conferences. I also, I’ve just noticed, facilitated a half-day workshop session on Supporting Technology-Facilitated Learning In The Conference Environment – this was, I think, the first time I gave a workshop on what subsequently became better known as ‘amplified events’.

But what of the context of this work? The papers were presented at the EUNIS 2005 conference, with the workshop being one of several pre-conference sessions. The conference was held at the EUNIS 2005 conference at the University of Manchester on 20-25 June 2005. But recently I noticed that the conference Web site, which was hosted at, was no longer available.

Does this matter? The conference, which is organised annually by the European University Information Systems Organization, took place over 7 years ago. Might it not be argued that the sharing of best practices and innovation across IT support services departments across Europe does not need a record of best practices dating back to the mid 1990s?

EUNIS does provide information about its previous conferences, as illustrated. This shows that conferences were held in Düsseldorf in 1995 and Manchester in 1996. However the EUNIS 1997 conference, held in Grenoble, is the oldest EUNIS event for which Web resources are still available.

From the list of papers presented at EUNIS 1997 (which is hosted on the main EUNIS Web site) I discovered a paper on Information Services – the Convergence Agenda by M Clark, IT Services Director at the University of Salford, about mergers at Salford University.

The other papers with authors from UK institutions were Preservation of the Electronic Assets of a University by Alex Reid, University of Oxford; “Applying Risk Analysis Methods to University Systems” by W R Chisnall, University of Manchester; Managing Information for Management by John Townsend, Edge Hill University College and Information Strategy – a Tool for Institutional Change by Andrew Rothery, Worcester College of Higher Education and Ann Hughes, University of Nottingham.

Ironically all of these papers have some relevance to the disappearance of the EUNIS 2005 Web site. The conference took place shortly after a merger of the University of Manchester and UMIST, which led to the integration of the IT Service departments from both of these institutions, with subsequent changes in staffing, departmental names and responsibilities. It seems that Manchester Computing no longer exists, with the URL now being redirected to Research Computing at

It would appear that there is still a need for the sector to be able to develop strategic responses and use of risk analysis methods to held ensure the preservation of digital resources arising from mergers. It would seem that all of the papers from the EUNIS 1997 conference still have some relevance!

Preserving Conference Resources

If, as had been suggested, old conference Web sites have value, how should one respond to the disappearance of sites such as the EUNIS 2005 Web site?

For me the first port of call is the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. It seems that the EUNIS 2005 Web site has been crawled 52 times, going all the way back to November 19, 2004.

The earliest archive contains a record of the call for papers and therefore does not contain any of the papers. It is therefore the latest archive, which was carried out on 5 May 2008, which should be of the most relevance. However in order to ensure that this archive contained relevant information I ensured that it contained a copy of the final programme. As illustrated, the final programme is available in the archive, but I noticed that this page had been archived on 8 October 2007; there had been 14 captures of this paper between 3 March 2006 and 8 October 2007.

I also found that my papers on Using Networked Technologies To Support ConferencesLet’s Free IT Support Materials! and IT Services – Help Or Hindrance To National IT Development Programmes? were also available in the archive. It was interesting to note that the archive included the PDF versions of the papers as well as the HTML resources for the conference Web site.

The Internet Archive appears to have been successful in keeping a copy of the key resources on the conference Web site. However when I followed a link to “Photographs from the Conference: (registration staffsessionsconference dinner)” I found that the archive appeared to simply contain a copy of an error message, as shown below.

This may have been a failing by the Internet Archive’s software but, looking at the path name, I suspect the crawler simply captured an error message generated by the EUNIS 2005 Web server software.

Next Steps

When I noticed that the EUNIS 2005 Web site had vanished I informed the EUNIS organisers and suggested that they may wish to provide a link to the Internet Archive’s copy. This has now been done. I have also updated the links to the conference Web site from my list of papers and presentations.

There are clearly operational decisions which need to be take in order to minimise the risk of loss of content (and context) when intellectual content is deposited on conference Web sites. But what are the implications as we look to the future? For my content, I had previously ensured that the papers were deposited in the University of Bath repository so, for me, it was the loss of context which had the greatest significance. But what is likely to be the more sustainable resource in the future: the conference Web site hosted on an established, viable and trusted University Web site or the Internet Archive? I can’t help but feel that I should be looking to ensure that the Internet Archive contains a working copy of content currently hosted on areas of institutional Web sites which may not be sustained in light of policy or organisational changes. And what of EUNIS? Might they find it useful to provide links to the copies of previous EUNIS conferences held on Internet Archive, in addition to the existing conference Web sites?

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Reflections on Event Amplification and the #SOLO12 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 November 2012

About the #SOLO12 Conference

On Monday evening I returned home, tired but feeling exhilarated after a great #SOLO12 (Spot On 2012) conference. This two-day conference, formerly known as Science Online, is part of “a series of community events for the discussion of how science is carried out and communicated online“. After the two opening plenary talks delegates could then attend one of three parallel sessions covering (1) science communication and outreach; (2) online tools and digital publishing or (3) science policy. In total there were 27 parallel sessions, with participants being able to attend up to 9 sessions, in any of the three tracks.

In reality we could also eavesdrop on sessions we weren’t attending as participants made extensive use of Twitter over the two days which helped the participants renew old connections, establish new ones, share resources and engage in discussions. I have been informed that there are were 6,900 distinct tweets for the event (and over 10,000 if you include retweets). The conference organisers will shortly be providing access to the archive of tweets, together with a range of visualisations.

Since I have an interest in archiving and analysis of tweets, especially at events, I made use of a couple of freely available tools in order to illustrate approaches which others may find useful.

I set up an Epilogger archive of the conference tweets on the afternoon of the second day of the conference and therefore this does not provide complete coverage. However, as shown below, that there have been 1,977 tweets to date posted using one of the ~28 conference hashtags (the #solo12 hashtags was for the conference in general, with separate hashtags, such as #solo12open, being used for the parallel sessions.

Epilogger statistics for Twitter usage at the Spot On 12 conference (10-14 Nov 2012)

It should be noted I set up the Epilogger archive halfway though the conference after realising that it could be used to provided an aggregation of the session hashtags. This was a feature of Epilogger I was previously unaware of. The service is one I would recommend to others, particularly if they wish to make use of multiple hashtags at an event.

Using Social Media at Conferences and Other Events (#solo12SMC)


In addition to participating in the workshop sessions, Tony Hirst (@psychemedia) and myself facilitated a session on Using Social Media at Conferences and Other Events: Backchannel, Amplification, Remote Participation and Legacy.

This was a very relevant topic for Tony and I to facilitate: back in 2005 I was the lead author of a paper on “Using Networked Technologies to Support Conferences” which described approaches to exploiting what later became known as ‘Amplified conferences’ – and after Lorcan Dempsey coined this phrase I set up the corresponding Wikipedia entry. Since 2005 UKOLN’s annual IWMW (Institutional Web Management Workshop) has been amplified, through video-streaming of plenary talks and support for discussions, initially using IRC and later Twitter. Our experiences in providing amplified events, and advising others on best practices, led to joint work with ILRT, University of Bristol for the JISC-funded Greening Events II project. Our key deliverable (illustrated) was the Greening Events II: Event Amplification Report (available in PDF and MS Word formats). The report, which provided case studies from a number of amplified events organised by UKOLN, was written by Kirsty Pitkin, who runs the Event Amplifier blog, together with Paul Shabajee, ILRT, University of Bristol.

Tony Hirst has been active in analysing and visualising Twitter discussions on events, as well as providing broader observations on the relevance of technologies to support events, which he has described on his OUseful blog. This has included posts on So What Do Simple Hashtag Community Visualisations Tell Us?Structural Differences in Hashtag Communities: Highly Interconnected or Not?Small World? A Snapshot of How My Twitter “Friends” Follow Each Other…, Visualising Twitter User Timeline Activity in RBlogging Academic LecturesTwitter Powered Subtitles for Conference Audio/Videos on Youtube and Searching the Backchannel – Martin Bean, OU VC, Twitter Captioned at JISC10.

Reflections on the Session

I had produced some slides and uploaded them to Slideshare in advance of the workshop but, since the conference organisers had asked the workshop facilitators to keep the presentations to a minimum, I didn’t make significant use of the slides. Instead I asked the participants to address the questions “What is an Event?“, “What are the main purposes of an event?” and “How can technologies enhance these purposes?“.

As the session was being live-streamed we were able to engage a remote audience in these discussions. And since there was a local and remote audience we encouraged people to ensure that discussions taking place in the room were also shared on Twitter.

I had previously set up an Epilogger archive for the #solo12smc tweets. The service reports that there were 384 tweets, with 80 links and 4 photographs shared. In addition to the Epilogger archive, as a backup I also created a Twubs archive. Shortly after the workshop was over I manually curated the tweets using Storify. I also manually curated the tweets using Chirpstory in order to be able to compare these two manual curation Twitter tools.

Reading the archive of the tweets posted during the session was very valuable in being able to have a broader view of the discussions than was possible through participation in the smaller discussion groups. The resource is also useful not just for the workshop participants but also others with an interest in the evolving best practices for the provision of amplified events.

I will therefore summarise some of the key points made in the Twitter discussion and give my thoughts.

Key Points

At the start of the workshop Tony Hirst tweeted “If you’re in the #solo12smc session, please send a tweet using the tag.” There was a purpose for this request: to provide an identifier (the Twitter user’s ID) which, used in conjunction with the session hashtag, will enable Twitter analysis tools to identify those who participated. It should be added that such ‘checking in’ will also be helpful for others who see the tweet as this can be useful in building new connections or restablishing existing ones (along the lines of “Are you in the same room? We’ve only met on Twuitter – fancy coffee later?“).

I have found that having people summarised what I have said can provide useful insights which may not have occurred to me previously. I therefore found the following observation from @nailest useful:

@BrianKelly in #solo12smc trying to get away from idea of “one to many” plenary talk and get us all sharing opinions & expertise. 

It was also useful to get feedback on the decision to move away from the planned structure for the session and let the participants help set the agenda:

“I had planned a structure but decided to throw it away” Yay!! #solo12smc

I then asked people to describe why they were attending the session and what they hoped to gain. The responses included:

#solo12smc here to find out how to optimise @SfAMtweets effectiveness online at conferences – how to get critical mass “talking”

In the #solo12smc session to find out how to boost the SM activities of @britsciassociat and it’s various events and programmes

#solo12SMC Social media use creates a parallel, virtual conference which frees content to the world. How do you measure conference impact?

Why are we at #solo12SMC ? I want to understand best practice to help when planning/attending future conferences #solo12

I find it interesting why some conference have a lot of twitter activity and others none. I wonder why this is. #solo12SMC
As an occasional conference organiser, I’d like to know how to maximise social media use and my responsibilities re archiving. #solo12smc

We also received comments from remote participants:

Watching @briankelly talk about soc media and conferences at #solo12SMC ‘Tis lovely to feel involved from my bathroom.

which led to some discussion in the room which was relayed to Twitter:

Are people who listen to events on twitter freeloading by virtually lurking? #solo12SMC

A number of other concerns about event amplification were raised:

#solo12SMC Is using twitter at conferences more alienating than helpful? Not everyone has a device to tweet from!

If you have gone to the trouble to get everyone in one place at one time, they should talk to each other, not tweet in isolation #solo12SMC

I have to admit that since I was the session facilitator, I was not able to engage with this Twitter discussion at the time. The use of Twitter seems to provide a higher bandwidth at such events, in which discussions would normally have to be mediated by the facilitator or speaker. An advantage of having an archive of tweets, rather than regarding tweets as disposal and not to be viewed after they have been posted, is being able to see the issues raised, reflect on them and respond to them.

Responding to the Issues

The amplified event ‘free-loaders’

Are those who participate in amplified events ‘free-loaders’? Does the time and energy spent in setting up an amplified event environment detract from effort which could be spent in supporting the local audience, especially if the local participants have had to pay to attend? This topic was addressed earlier this year in a post entitled Streaming of IWMW 2012 Plenary Talks – But Who Pays?

The post gave an example of how one former attendee at IWMW events was unable to attend last year’s event as she was away on maternity leave. However since a live video stream was available she was able to keep up-to-date with developments and engage in discussions on Twitter whilst, as shown, still holding her baby. Rather than free-loading, this provides an example of how amplification of an event can help members of the community to maintain their links with the community. This example was for someone on maternity leave, but it could equally apply for those may may be too ill to attend or even those who do not have the finances to pay the event fee or the associated travel

Equality of access?

Is using Twitter at conferences more alienating than helpful, since not everyone has a device to tweet from? I suspect this may have been a rhetorical response to my request for examples of possible barriers to event amplification. Should we ban people using laptops at conferences as not everyone will have a laptop?

Lack of Engagement?

A more relevant concern relates to the dangers that participants at an event will fail to engage with others if they spend their time looking at the screen of the mobile devices. This issue was commented on by @MCeeP in his Notes on my brief time at SpotOn 12:

At one sessions (Assessing social media impact) I was standing right at the back, because it was so popular, and I could see the entire audience (and their many screens) throughout. At a conservative estimate I would say that around 75% of the audience were simultaneously tweeting/facebooking and at one point 2/3 of the presenters were tweeting as well! Now I am all for social interaction and communication but I did think that it was a little bizarre, presenting anything to a room full of people staring at screens is not the best experience and I am not convinced that they were all discussing/live tweeting the actual talk.

As can be seen from the accompanying photograph (taken from a IWMW event), this does provide an accurate description of technology-focussed events which take place in the sector.

This was a topic addressed in a recent post on Sharing (or Over-Sharing?) at #ILI2012 under the heading Does Sharing on Mobile Devices Hinder Real World Discussions? The sentiment expressed in the comments reflects my feelings – tweeting at events can help develop and strengthen connections. And just because people are looking at their screens or typing comments doesn’t mean they aren’t concentrating.

Perhaps the differing views simply reflect differences in our personal styles of working. I’ve expressed my thoughts in this post. However I’d be very interested in the opinions of others, as such feedback may help shape the plans for future Spot On events.

NOTE: Shortly after publishing this post I noticed that a video-recording of the session has been published on the Spot On 2012 Conference Web site. The video is also available on YouTube and is embedded below.

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Using Social Media at Conferences and Other Events: Backchannel, Amplification, Remote Participation and Legacy

Posted by Brian Kelly on 9 November 2012

The #solo12SMC at the SpotOn London (SOLO) Conference

On Monday 12 November 2012 Tony Hirst and myself are facilitating an hour-long session on “Using Social Media at Conferences and Other Events: Backchannel, Amplification, Remote Participation and Legacy” at the SpotOn 2012 London conference (formerly known as Science Online London).

The guidelines for session organisers encourage “community-led discussion sessions. The aim of these sessions is to create an engaging forum for open and dynamic conversation“. We are also encouraged to blog about the session in advance, encourage use of the session hashtag (#solo12SMC) to make it easier to create an archive of the discussions using tools such as Storify as well as exploring ways of crowd-sourcing ideas and sharing of relevant resources.

We has also been asked to avoid use of PowerPoint in order to maximise the contributions form the participants. However since our session is about event amplification we may have the need to have an online resource which describes the session, the structure and the objectives available for a remote audience to access.

“The notepad is a silo”

The workshop session is very timely since it follows on from a talk I gave at the University of Dundee on Wednesday on “Being a ‘connected educator': the Role of Social Media in Facilitating Collaboration and Enhancing Impact“.

During the talk I encouraged participants to make use of the seminar’s hashtag and suggested that “the notepad is a silo“. After the event I used Storify to keep a record of the tweets posted about the talk. As can be seen this suggestion resonated for a couple of the participants at least.

After I had given the talk I had a number of useful conversations. Normally this would result in an exchange of business cards but (dare I admit this?) shortly after the event I would have forgotten the details of such chats. Nowadays, however, rather than exchanging business cards after talking to people with similar interests I tend to follow them on Twitter, so our discussions can continue in an lightweight fashion. For example, when I arrived at Edinburgh airport on my way home I noticed the tweet:

would you mind reminding me the title of the London conference you mentioned earlier at #inspired12? :)

and was able to give the response:

@nlafferty @AnnalisaManca @notanna1 It’s the Future of Academic Impacts conference –… #inspired12

Email, I feel, would have felt too heavy-weight for asking such questions.

Amplification of WWW 2003

My first experience of what we now refer to as ‘event amplification’ occurred at the WWW 2003 conference. As described in an article entitled ‘Hot’ or Not? Welcome to real-time peer review written by Paul Shabajee, ILRT, University of Bristol we saw an example of how the experience at a research conference was enhanced by what Paul referred to as ‘real-time peer-reviewing’. The article highlighted some of the concerns the audience may have when experiencing use of networked technologies at a conference:

about 10 per cent of the audience had laptops – one person was heard to say that the noise of tapping keyboards drowned the speaker out at the back of the room. … it can be very distracting having someone typing quickly and reading beside you, rather than watching the speaker

 and concerns for the speaker:

It is probable that the speakers will find it hardest to adjust. It may be disconcerting to know that members of your audience are, as you speak, using the web to look at your CV, past work and checking any data that seems a bit dubious

But Paul concluded on an optimistic note (emphasis added):

The added possibilities for collective learning and analysis, comprehensive notes with insights and links, often far more extensive than the speaker might have, are advantages previously unimaginable.

Perhaps the richest potential lies in the interaction between members of the audience, particularly if you believe that learning and the generation of knowledge are active, engaging and social processes.

Paul’s article showed great insight. I felt, into ways in which the amplification of events would start to transform conferences.

Plans for our #soloSMC Session

Tony and I plans for the session are based on the following structure:

  • Exploring what is meant by an ‘event’ and what the purposes of an ‘event’ are.
  • Discussing how technologies can enhance the purposes.
  • Understanding how data analysis can provide a richer understanding of the effectiveness of use of technologies.
  • Discussing potential barriers to the provision of amplified events and how such barriers can be addressed.

However since we wish the session to be responsive to the interests of the participants, we may not follow this plan! But in order to make the most effective use of the sixty minutes we have for the session we’ll be inviting participants to summary their interest in the session and what they hope to gain from the session on the Google Document which has been created (with the URL Since the workshop itself will be amplified we welcome comments from people who may not be physically present.

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Understanding the Limits of Altmetrics: Slideshare Statistics

Posted by Brian Kelly on 8 November 2012

About AltMetrics

Cricketers like statistics, as we know from the long-standing popularity of Wisden, the cricketing almanack which was first published in 1854. Researchers have similar interests with, in many cases, their profession reputation being strongly influenced by statistics. For researchers the importance of citation data is now being complemented by a new range of metrics which are felt to be more relevant to today’s fat-moving digital environment, which are know as altmetrics. The altmetrics manifesto explains how:

Peer-review has served scholarship well, but is beginning to show its age. It is slow, encourages conventionality, and fails to hold reviewers accountable. 

and goes on to describe how:

Altmetrics expand our view of what impact looks like, but also of what’s making the impact. 

However the manifesto concludes with a note of caution:

Researchers must ask if altmetrics really reflect impact, or just empty buzz. Work should correlate between altmetrics and existing measures, predict citations from altmetrics, and compare altmetrics with expert evaluation. Application designers should continue to build systems to display altmetrics,  develop methods to detect and repair gaming, and create metrics for use and reuse of data. Ultimately, our tools should use the rich semantic data from altmetrics to ask “how and why?” as well as “how many?”

Altmetrics are in their early stages; many questions are unanswered. But given the crisis facing existing filters and the rapid evolution of scholarly communication, the speed, richness, and breadth of altmetrics make them worth investing in.

As I described in a post on “What Can Web Accessibility Metrics Learn From Alt.Metrics?” there can be a danger in uncritical acceptance of metrics. I therefore welcome this recognition of the need to explore the approaches which are currently being developed. In particular I am looking forward to the sessions on Altmetrics beyond the Numbers and Assessing social media impact which will be held at the Spot On London 2012 conference to be held in London on 11-12 November.  In a blog post entitled Altmetrics everywhere – but what are we missing? #solo12impact Alan Cann touches on the strengths and weaknesses of some of the well-known social analytics tools:

It astounds me that Klout continues to attract so much attention when it has been so thoroughly discredited – Gink is a more useful tool in my opinion ;-)

The best of this bunch is probably Kred, which at least has a transparent public algorithm. In reality, the only tool in this class I use is CrowdBooster, which has a number of useful functions.

But beyond Twitter analytics, what of metrics associated with the delivery of talks about one’s research activities? This is an area of interest to the Altmetrics community as can be seen from the development of the Impactstory service which “aggregates altmetrics: diverse impacts from your articles, datasets, blog posts, and more“. As described in the FAQ:

The system aggregates impact data from many sources and displays it in a single report, which is given a permaurl for dissemination and can be updated any time.

The service is intended for:

  • researchers who want to know how many times their work has been downloaded, bookmarked, and blogged
  • research groups who want to look at the broad impact of their work and see what has demonstrated interest
  • funders who want to see what sort of impact they may be missing when only considering citations to papers
  • repositories who want to report on how their research artifacts are being discussed
  • all of us who believe that people should be rewarded when their work (no matter what the format) makes a positive impact (no matter what the venue). Aggregating evidence of impact will facilitate appropriate rewards, thereby encouraging additional openness of useful forms of research output.

In addition to analysis of published articles, datasets, Web sites and software the service also aggregates slides hosted on Slideshare.

Metrics for Slideshare

Metrics for Slide Usage at Events

In May 2011 a post entitled Evidence of Slideshare’s Impact summarised use of slides hosted on Slideshare for talks which have been presented at UKOLN’s IWMW events from IWMW 2006 to IWMW 2010.

A year later, following a tweet in which @MattMay asked “Why does everybody ask for slides during/after a presentation? What do you do with them? I’m genuinely curious” I published an updated post on Trends in Slideshare Views for IWMW Events. In the post I suggested the following reasons for why speakers and event organisers may wish to host slides on Slideshare:

  • To enable a remote audience to view slides for a presentation they may be watching on a live video stream, on an audio stream or even simply listening to the tweets (and a provide a slide number on the slides to make it easier for people tweeting to identify the slide being used.
  • To enable the slides to be viewed in conjunction with a video recording of the presentation.
  • To enable my slides to be embedded elsewhere, so that the content can be reused in a blog post or on a web page.
  • To enable the content of the slides to be reused, if it is felt to be useful to others. Note that I provide a Creative Commons licence for the text of my slide, try to provide links to screenshots and give the origin of images which I may have obtained from others.
  • To enable slides to be viewed easily on a mobile device.
  • To provide a commentable facility for the slides.
  • To enable my slides to be related, via tags, to related slideshows.

The usage statistics for talks given at IWMW events in order to demonstrate the interest and accessing such slides in order to encourage speakers and workshop facilitators to make their slides available.  But beyond the motivations for event organisers, what of the individual speaker?

Metrics for Individuals

My interest in metrics for Slideshare date back to December 2010 when I published a post which asked What’s the Value of Using Slideshare? In August 2010  Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth) tweeted that:

Ironically there were 15 people in my audience for this Web 3.0 slideshow but >12,000 people have since viewed it

As can be seen, there have now been over 58,000 views of Steve’s slides on Web 3.0: The Way Forward?

In light of Steve’s experiences and the growing relevance of metrics for Slideshare suggested by the development of the Impactstory service, where a paper by myself, Martyn Cooper, David Sloan and Sarah Lewthwaite on “A Challenge to Web Accessibility Metrics and Guidelines: Putting People and Processes First” was accepted for the W4A 2012 conference earlier this year the co-authors agreed to ensure that our professional networks were made aware of the paper and the accompanying slides in order to maximise the numbers of downloads which, we hoped, would increase the numbers of citations in the future,  but also facilitate discussion around the ideas presented in the paper.

We monitored usage statistics for the slides and found that during the week of the conference there had been 1,391 views, compared with 3 and 351 views for other slides which used the #W4A2012 conference hashtag.  To date, as illustrated, there have been 7,603 views.

I used this example in a talk on Using Social Media to Promote ‘Good News’  which I gave at a one-day event organised by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) which took place at the same time as the W4A 2012 conference. I was therefore able to observe how interest in the slides developed, which included use of the Topsy service. This service highlighted the following tweets:

stcaccess STC AccessAbilitySIG Influential
Enjoyed “Challenge to Web Accessibility Metrics & Guidelines” slides from @sloandr & Co. #w4a12 #a11y #metrics
04/17/2012 Reply Retweet Favorite 7 similar tweets
nethermind Elle Waters
We need more of this = #W4A slides by @martyncooper @briankelly @sloandr @slewth – Learner analytics & #a11y metrics:
04/19/2012 Reply Retweet Favorite 2 similar tweets
crpdisabilities Bill Shackleton Influential
A Challenge to Web #Accessibility Metrics & Guidelines: Putting People & Processes First #A11y #Presentation
04/16/2012 Reply Retweet Favorite 2 similar tweets

I’ve used this example to illustrate how analysis of use of Twitter at conferences can help to see how people are engaging with talks. In this example the Twitter IDs STCAccess and CRPDisabilities indicated that those working in accessibility were engaging without paper and spreading the ideas across their networks.

Do the Numbers Add Up?

In a series of talks given during Open Access 2012 week I described the importance of social media in raising the visibility of research papers, including papers hosted on institutional repositories. However when I examined the statistics in more detail I realised that the numbers didn’t add up. According to Slideshare there have been 2,881 views of the slides from the post on A Challenge to Web Accessibility Metrics and Guidelines: Enhancing Access to Slides in which they had been embedded.However, as shown, there have only been 472 views of the blog post itself. Strange!

I subsequently realised that a Slideshare view will be recorded when the post is accessed, even if the individual slides are not viewed. And since the blog post will continue to be shown on the blog’s home page ( until 30 subsequent posts have been published, each time someone visited the home page between the 19 April (when the post was published) and 5 July 2012 (30 posts later) this would have seemingly have registered as a view of the slides- even though most users will not have scrolled down and seen even the title slide!
What, then, do Slideshare usage statistics tell us? Clearly if the slides have been embedded in a blog they don’t tell us how many people have viewed the slides – although if slides are not embedded elsewhere or have been embedded in a static Web page they may provide more indicative statistics. If the slides have been embedded in blog posts or other curated environments this might give an indication of the popularity of the containing blog or similar environment. In Steve Wheeler’s case the popularity of his slides provide evidence of the popularity of Steve’s Learning with E’s’ blog, the Damn Digital Chinese language blog, the Building e-Capability blog and the and curation services – together with a spam farm.

Lies, Damned Lies and Altmetrics?

Where does this leave services such as Impactstory? Looking at the Impactstory findings for my resources I can see that the slides for on a paper on “Accessibility 2.0: People, Policies and Processes” seem to be the most highly-ranked, with 73 downloads and 2,989 views.

But how many of those views were views of the slides, rather than the containing resources? And how many views way have taken as the result of views from a spam farm?

I don’t have answers to these questions or the bigger question of “Will the value of Altmetrics be undermined by the complex ways in which resources may be reused, misused or the systems gamed?

This is a question I hope will be addressed at the Spot On London 2012 conference.

View Twitter conversation from: [Topsy]

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Sharing (or Over-Sharing?) at #ILI2012

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 November 2012

Sharing and Online Discussions at ILI 2012

On Tuesday and Wednesday I had a stimulating 2 days at ILI 2012, the Internet Librarian International conference. The 14th in the series got off to a great start with the invited plenary talk on “Stop Lending and Start Sharing” by R. David Lankes, Syracuse University School of Information Studies Director, Information Institute of Syracuse. Although David Lankes was not able to be physically present at the event due to ill health, his pre-recorded video, inm which he argued that the future of libraries is not in our collections or a building, but in our relationships with those we serve, provided a stimulating start to the conference.

David argued that librarians should start sharing. But to a great extent that call simply describes what many librarians who attended the ILI 2012 event are  already doing. It was possible to see the importance placed on such sharing activities at the event by looking at how the event’s hashtag, #ILI2012, was used to support sharing activities.

The Epilogger service currently shows that 106 photographs and 825 links were shared on the conference hashtag in over 4,000 links.

Another Twitter archiving and analysis service, Eventifier, provides similar statistics: the service informs us that to date there have been 100 photographs and 10 videos shared in 4,248 links provided by 548 contributors.

In addition to these two services Martin Hawksey’s TAGS (Twitter Archiving Google Spreadsheet) service and the accompanying TAGSExplorer tool also provide fascinating analyses of use of twitter at the event. The TAGS service tells us that there were 4,041 tweets containing 782 links, with @infointuitive and @AlisonMcNab posting the largest number of tweets by a significant margin: with 288 and 269 tweets respectively. The visualisation of the network connections provided by TAGSExplorer, together with the top conversationalists, is shown below.

It should also be noted that the TAGS search interface also enables the tweets posted by individuals to be examined. The example below shows all tweets posted by @infointuitive during the period of the ILI 2012 event.


I should also add that in addition to the discussions and sharing which took place on Twitter, additional sharing of resources was also provided by many of the speakers who made their slides available on Slideshare or provided links to their slides and related resources on the event’s Lanyrd page.

Does Sharing on Mobile Devices Hinder Real World Discussions?

But did too much sharing take place at the event? Were the ILI 2012 participants spending so much time on their mobile devices that they failed to talk to each other over coffee and at the lunch break?  A suggestion along these lines was made during the concluding session at ILI 2012 in which people were asked “What horrified you?”. Funnily enough I had made a similar, although tongue-in-cheek, suggestion when I tweeted the following which contained the accompanying photograph:

#ILi2012 – it’s all about meeting new people: 

I should add that I asked permission to publish the photograph, having explained that I wanted to make a joke about participants at the conference seemingly not being willing to talk to others, according to the evidence of the photograph.

In reality, I would argue that use of Twitter at conferences helps to develop new links and strengthen existing connections.  As an example, having noticed, via a tweet, that @MSPhelps (Bianca Kramer) had given “an impromptu presentation on @UniUtrechtLib Twitterbot at#ili2012 workshop” I put her in touch with Gary Green (@ggnewed), who was giving a talk on use of IFTTT:

@MsPhelps Have you met @ggnewed ? Your use of IFTTT seems similar to things Gary has been doing? 

They subsequently exchanged tweets and met.

I have also made use of Twitter whilst giving a presentation. During the talk on “What Does The Evidence Tell Us About Institutional Repositories?” given by myself and Jenny Delasalle I noticed, while Jenny was talking, a tweet from @archelina (Rachel P) which commented:

Struggling here as still have @jamiefreeman‘s Ignite talk about SEO being as effective as homeopathy in my mind… @briankelly #ili2012

I immediately responded:

@archelina let’s chat about that later

and, after the talk was over, we met and I provided further examples of the benefits of ‘white hat SEO’ for raising the visibility of research publications.

On the train home from the conference I saw a tweet from @archelina in which she provided a link to her reflections on the ILI 2012 conference and, in particular, her thoughts on tweeting at conferences. I’ll leave the last significant comment to her:

Speaking of Twitter, there was an interesting comment in the closing plenary today about the fact that so many of us were glued to our mobile devices, even in breaks, rather than interacting with those around us. I agreed with the commenter that sitting in silence round a lunch table all absorbed in our separate online worlds is not exactly healthy, but at the same time I can’t imagine a conference without Twitter. It’s partly the way it extends the reach of the conference itself by letting people follow without attending in person. It’s partly the lively backchannel that it provides in parallel to (and sometimes in opposition to, or spiralling out from) the live conference. But it’s mainly because I’m shy, and Twitter is like a sandbox for social/professional interaction that lets me build relationships (whether based around gin, dresses, The Archers, repositories, cataloguing or all of the above) before actually taking the plunge and introducing myself to someone in real life. In other words, I’m more likely to speak to people at conferences if I’ve ‘met’ them online already, and my professional life is much better now I have this option. (I’d probably never have take the step of actually *presenting* at a conference if it wasn’t for Twitter and my connections and support there.) It works the other way too, with real life events and networking enriching my Twitter life; by the end of today I had a dozen new followers who’d been at the conference. So yes, I’ll still be packing my trusty tablet next time I go to an event. But no ‘tweating’ (tweeting with one hand while having lunch with other), I promise…

These views were echoed by others:

#ili2012 Someone suggest that social interaction in the conference was inhibited by mobile devices. I don’t agree- the networking was great.

although one person suggested that perhaps a compromise could be reached:

Our message to david – we are sharing and building through twitter and online but maybe next year we say no tweeting over dinner? #ili2012

I’d be interested in thoughts from others on this issue.

View Twitter conversation from: [Topsy]

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“Making Sense of the Future” – A Talk at #ILI2012

Posted by Brian Kelly on 30 October 2012

Later today I’ll be giving a talk entitled “Making Sense of the Future” at the ILI 2012 (Internet Librarian International) conference which takes place in Olympia, London.

The talk is based on the work of the JISC Observatory and a paper entitled “What Next for Libraries? Making Sense of the Future” (available in PDF and MS Word formats)” which was presented recently at the EMTCAL12 (Emerging Technologies in Academic Libraries) conference held in Trondheim, Norway.

The talk highlights dangers that our expectations of future developments might be based on views of the importance of our profession. In reality technological developments may challenge the profession, as those work work in the music industry are aware. We therefore need to have an evidence-based approach for detecting ‘weak signals’ of developments, and complement this with an open discussion for validating the evidence-gathering methodologies, interpreting the implications of such signals and making plans for appropriate actions.

The slides are available on Slideshare and embedded below. In addition if you’d prefer a visual summary of the presentation, the context is provided above and the conclusions below.

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Librarians, Change or be Irrelevant!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 October 2012

“Change or be Irrelevant!”

Change or be Irrelevant” was the title of Lukas Koster’s blog post in which he gave his reflections on the EMTACL12 (Emerging Technologies in Academic Libraries) conference which was held recently in Trondheim.

The need to be able to adapt to the requirements of the rapidly changing technical and economic contexts faced by those working in higher education was highlighted by Karen Coyle in her invited plenary talk entitled “Think ‘Different’“. Lukas provided a useful summary of the talk:

Think “different”’ is what Karen Coyle told us, using the famous Steve Jobs quote. And yes, the quotes around “different” are there for a reason, it’s not the grammatically correct “think differently”, because that’s too easy.  What is meant here is: you have to have the term “different” in your mind all the time. Karen Coyle confronted us with a number of ingrained obsolete practices in libraries.

But what are the technological developments which may have an impact on the academic library sector? In the closing talk at the conference I presented a paper on “What Next for Libraries? Making Sense of the Future” (available in PDF and MS Word formats) in which I described the evidence-based methodology used by the JISC Observatory team which aims to help organisations wishing to identify signals of technological developments which may have a significant impact on working practices.

In my talk (which is available on Slideshare) I reminded the audience of the inventions from the days of our youth which failed to live up to our expectations, including the monorail (which we’d use to travel to work, lunar bases (where we’d go for our holidays) and the jetpack. Patrick Hochstenbach picked up on my suggestion of the relevance of jetpacks for librarians in a cartoon in which he depicted a “super shush librarian” who makes sure that patrons aren’t making unnecessary noises in a distributed library environment :-)

Although some may be critical of the stereotype, I felt this provided a useful depiction of the way in which we expect inventions to simple automate existing practices, rather than transform such practices. This, therefore, illustrated the point I made about space travel: we may have expected the lunar landing which took place in 1969 to lead to further space exploration, including bases on the moon and possible Mars. In reality, however, manned space exploration ceased with the last manned mission to the moon taking place as long ago as December 1972. Rather than the manned space exploration we may have expected, we sent unmanned rockets to Mars, the moon and around the solar system (indeed last week we heard the news that the deep space probe Voyager 1 had left the solar system).

Preparing For Change; Preparing to be Relevant

Recently the JISC Observatory has published a report on Preparing for Data-driven Infrastructure and the final version of a report on Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of eBooks in Education, is due to be published in a few weeks time. These are two of the areas which JISC Observatory team members have identified as likely to be significant for the higher education sector. I would also add that these are areas which will be relevant for those working in academic libraries. There should be no need to mention the importance of the Mobile Web which was another area addressed in a JISC Observatory report on Delivering Web to Mobile.

The theme of preparing for change and preparing to be relevant is also being addressed at ILI 2012, the Internet Librarian International conference which takes place in London on 30-31 October. This year the event has the byline “Re-imagine, Renew, Reboot: Innovating for Success“. I’ll be giving a talk on “Making Sense of the Future” which will explore the ideas described in this post and the paper presented at the EMTACL12 conference. For those who can’t attend, I’ve summarised the presentation in the following cartoon :-)

Twitter conversation from: [Topsy]

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What Next for Libraries? Making Sense of the Future

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 October 2012

Tomorrow I’ll be giving an invited talk on “What Next for Libraries? Making Sense of the Future” at the Emerging Technologies in Academic Libraries 2012 Conference (emtacl12) which is being held at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology University Library in Trondheim, Norway.

The slides for the talk are available on Slideshare and are embedded below. In addition an accompanying paper is available on Opus, the University of Bath repository, in MS Word and PDF formats.

Twitter conversation from: [Topsy]

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Further Reflections on IWMW 2012

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21 September 2012

Networking at Our Dynamic Earth at the IWMW 2012 event.

We are currently in the process of finalising a venue for UKOLN’s IWMW 2013 event. Next year’s event will be the 17th in the series of annual events which, as described in the newcomer’s session at IWMW 2012, aims to “keep web managers up-to-date with developments and best practices in order that institutions can exploit the Web to its full potential“.

But before becoming too immersed in the detailed planning it would be useful to look back at the IWMW 2012 event which took place in June at the University of Edinburgh. I have previously summarised the participants’ feedback from the event. When I received an email from the Scottish Web Folk mailing list about a regional meeting taking place which would review the IWMW 2012 event I realised that this would provide an opportunity for further feedback. After the meeting the following summary was sent to the list:

All agreed that it was a great conference.

  • All happy with the range of subjects covered. Many felt that the quality and relevance of talks were excellent. Trends around responsive websites and content as data and data as content appealed.
  • Some were pleasantly surprised that there was little on social media.
  • XCRI-CAP information very useful and all agreed that it would be important to monitor progress on this in England to prepare for impact on Scotland

Some ideas for next year’s conference:

More on content strategy, responsive design, multi-platform strategies.

We also agreed that it might be interesting to consider trying to get a big international name from the Web industry to provide a keynote and possibly controversial talk.

It was very pleasing to hear how well the event was received by Web managers across Scottish Universities. It was also good to see that the two main content areas – addressing the challenges of supporting mobile devices and understanding the opportunities provided by the growth in importance of data – were relevant to the sector.

In addition to the feedback provided from a meeting of Scottish Web Folk during the event itself we asked a small number of participants for their thoughts on the event. This feedback was provided as brief video interviews. There were a total of nine interviews, each of which lasted from 1.5 to 3 minutes. Four of the interviews, from Marieke Guy, David Sloan, John Kelly and Claire Gibbons, were given by workshop facilitators and typically summarised their sessions. The other five interviews were given by participants, three of whom were attending an IWMW event for the first time. These five interviews are available below.

Tracey Milnes
In this interview, lasting 2 minutes, Tracey Milnes, Website Officer at York St John University explains the reasons why she decided to attend an IWMW event for the first time. Tracey works for a small university with a small team Web team. Her main interest is content management and she was looking forward to meeting other people with similar interests – this was the most valuable aspect of the event. She has a particular interest in designing a responsive web site suitable for access to mobile devices. Tracey concluded by telling the interviewer that she’ll be looking forward to attending further IWMW events.
Jess Hobbs
In this interview, lasting 1 minute 55 seconds, Jess Hobbs, Content Manager at the Quality Assurance Agency, summarises her reasons for attending IWMW 2012 for the first time and describes how she learnt about the importance of data, the importance of openness and the importance of applying policies and processes to enhance web accessibility. Every talk and workshop has provided Jess with useful links and resources to investigate when she returns to work.
Sarah Williams
In this interview, lasting 1 minute 50 seconds, Sarah Williams, University of Exeter describes her reasons for attending IWMW 2012 for the first time. Her colleagues had attended previous IWMW event and had said how valuable the event was. She described it as “inspiring”, especially for learning from others and appreciated the willingness of her peers to share their approaches and solutions. She was particularly inspired by the session on Web accessibility and will be looking to apply the approaches used at the University of Southampton at her institution.
Kevin Mears
In this interview, lasting 1 minute 55 seconds, Kevin Mears, Web developer at the University of Glamorgan, describes his doodling activities at the IWMW 2012 event which he shared with other delegates. He highlighted Responsive Design and Data as the two key topics areas of interest and described his intentions to make use of Google Refine for data cleaning purposes.
Tom Knight-Markiegi
In this interview, lasting 1 minute 34 seconds, Tom Knight-Markiegi, Sheffield Hallam University, describes the importance of the networking opportunities provided by the IWMW 2012 event. He has a particular interest in the mobile sessions at the IWMW 2012 event. He has picked up lots of useful resources and tips at the event. He will be suggesting approaches to use of the mobile web to his colleagues and will be sharing details of resources he found, especially a number of relevant JISC resources.

What are the key messages from these interviews? It seems clear that networking opportunities provided at the event is particularly important as is the willingness of participants to share their experiences and share tips and resources. It was also interesting to note how the event can inspire participants. In recent years we have sought to invite inspirational speakers in order to provide such inspiration. Judging by the feedback received for IWMW 2010 and IWMW 2011, Paul Boag and Ranjit Sidhu successfully fulfilled this role in recent years. In light of the suggestion from the Scottish Web Folk that we should “consider trying to get a big international name from the Web industry to provide a keynote and possibly controversial talk” it seems that we should be looking to find an inspirational speaker for next year’s event. Whether the speaker should be encouraged to be controversial is an interesting question; Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski in his talk which asked “Going Online – Do Universities Really Understand the Internet?” was certainly controversial in his views of the limitations of the home page design for a number of prestigious UK Universities. The reaction to the talk was very mixed with feedback ranging from:

  • “I didn’t agree with everything he said but it was by far the most entertaining and lively talk we saw. Controversy is good“,
  • “He was excellent, even though most of what he said was complete rubbish! Very entertaining.
  • Very useful to get the executive perspective – really helped to understand why the execs don’t get it.

through to:

  • Really shouldn’t have been let in. Waste of a session. Ill informed at best. I can point to user research that contradicts some of his ‘facts’.
  • Abysmal, and to think the day was 30mins longer because of this…

Beyond the style of presenting to the content itself, it seemed that the decision to address the mobile environment and data in a number of sessions was appropriate. It was also pleasing that two of the video interviews highlighted the value of the plenary talk and workshop session on Web accessibility. These sessions, which highlighted the BS 8878 Code of Practice and its relevance in higher education, reflected work I have been involved with over the years with the two speakers, EA Draffan and David Sloan. It does seem that the sector is interested in hearing more about approaches to Web accessibility which go beyond advocacy for WCAG guidelines.

Finally it was interesting to note the value which was given in a number of the video interviews to sharing resources. We have encouraged workshop facilitators to make their slides available on Slideshare using the IWMW12 tag so that the slides can be more easily found by others and the IWMW 2012 Slideshare Presentation Pack currently contains 20 slideshows, including those given in plenary talks and workshop sessions. But beyond the slides we should look at additional approaches we can take to facilitate such sharing of resources. Since one of the interviews mentioned the value of JISC resources to support institutional Web development activities it will, I think, be useful to explore ways in which the range of resources developed through JISC funding can be highlighted across this community. The Scottish Web Folk report also pointed out that the “XCRI-CAP information very useful“. Since the session on “The Xcri-cap Files” given by Claire Gibbons and Rob Englebright was based on the JISC Coursedata programme it would appear desirable to ensure that relevant JISC-funded projects make use of engagement and dissemination opportunities at future IWMW events.

In brief, therefore, these reflections have led me to conclude:

  • IWMW attendees place great importance on the networking and sharing opportunities provided at the event. We should therefore ensure that presentation time (e.g. the plenary talks) does not intrude on networking events. In addition since live video streaming of plenary talks does not encourage such networking opportunities, we should not be concerned that live streaming will significantly reduce the numbers of attendees at the event.
  • We should ensure that relevant JISC programmes and projects are made aware of the opportunities for engagement and dissemination which IWMW events can provide.
  • We should explore additional ways in which resources can be shared.

I’d welcome comments on these reflections.

Acknowledgement: Photograph of Networking at Our Dynamic Earth at the IWMW 2012 event taken by Sharon Steeples and available on Flickr under a CC BY-NC-SA licence.

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