UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

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The Live Video Streaming Of IWMW 2009

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 Aug 2009

This year, once again, we provided a live video stream of the plenary talks at IWMW 2009, something we have been doing since IWMW 2006.

But how many people watched the live stream? Last year 160 remote viewers watched the final plenary talk given by Ewan McIntosh. The statistics provided by the University of Essex are not directly comparable, but indicate that there were about 50 viewers for Derek Law’s opening plenary talk with slightly larger numbers for the opening plenary talks on the second day of the event.

Location map of IWMW2009 video streaming viewersAs can be seen, a location map of the viewers has also been provided by the University of Essex. And clicking on the icons will provide further details on the numbers of viewers at the IP address together with the total time spent viewing the streaming video.

A good example of the global impact of the event? On an initial view of the map this would seem to be the case. But on further examination we can see that some of the views were only for a few seconds. For example the information for the viewer in Africa tells us that:

Kinshasa, Kinshasa, Congo, The Democratic Republic of the
1 hits (1 unique IPs), 0d0h0m12s total.

The 8 hits from Finland, which lasted for over 4 hours, appear to indicate a commitment to watching several of the talks (assuming the video wasn’t simply left on over lunch). But is there a viable business model for providing live video-streaming for such events? As the event was fully subscribed (as it has been for a number of years) we can argue that the live stream helps to maximise access and the impact of the talks, especially to the core target audience in the UK.  And the (apparent) popularity of the video stream in North America help to enhance the UK’s activities to a wider audience.

But perhaps the most important aspect of the video streaming have been the experiences we have gained in the delivery of ‘amplified events’.  The four years’ of video streaming of IWMW events have helped us to gain a better understanding of the best practices. And we have tried to summarise our experiences in a briefing paper on “Using Video at Events“.

Posted in Events, iwmw2009 | 2 Comments »

Are University Web Teams Too Large?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 7 Aug 2009

Mike Richwalski was very busy at IWMW 2009 (and beyond). Mike, Assistant Director of Public Affairs at Allegheny College, submitted a proposal to run a workshop session on “Using Amazon Web Services (AWS)” which we were happy to accept. In subsequent discussions with Mike I discovered that he was not only a techie who knew about managing Amazon services but had recently presented a webinar on Facebook & Twitter Recruitment Tools to Engage Prospective Students.

This was a topic which was directly related to a series of workshops I was involved with on behalf of the SCA (Strategic Content Alliance). When I discovered that Mike was arriving in London on the day of the workshop in London (they day before the start of IWMW 2009) I tentatively asked if he’d like to give a brief talk at the SCA workshop (I have to admit that I was particularly interested in any cultural differences between educational institutions in the US and the UK in a willingness to make use of Social Web environments such as Facebook and Twitter). Mike not only agree to take part, he was also able to participate in the workshop in Cardiff, as he was returning to the US from Cardiff airport. And Mike also gave a bar camp at IWMW 2009 in which he summarised the ways in which Allegney College is using Social Web services.

In the IWMW 2009 bar camp Mike described his college’s use of Facebook, Twitter (for general use, admissions, student orientation and sports) and YouTube. Amazon Web Services (AWS) also powers many areas of their Web site, such as their multimedia fund-raising activities.

Following Mike’s overviews of these services, I asked others in the bar camp whether UK higher educational institutions were taking similar approaches in exploiting such Web 2.0 services. The answer, it seems, is not yet.

But why, I wonder? What are the barriers? Is it because we are seeking perfection? Do we hide behind phrases such as ‘creepy tree-houses’ and ‘walled gardens’ when the evidence seems to suggest that institutions feel that they gain benefits from use of such services? And, secretly, are members of Web teams feeling threatened? Is there a view that if we don’t develop the services in-house, we’re not doing our jobs properly? And is it significant that members of UK institutional Web management teams  are leaning from the approaches taken by a small US college with 1 Web team, of 1.5 FTEs?

I recently suggested that The Recession Has Still To Hit the Public Sector! And I’ve heard rumours of layoffs and early retirements in University Web teams.  So it strikes me that it is now very timely to make use of the global infrastructure which various Web 2.0 services can provide to support our institutional activities. I was therefore pleased that Barry Cornelius, for example, ran a workshop session at IWMW 2009 on “Time for iTunes U“.

But will this provide an opportunity for the bean-counters in the institutions to ‘right-size’ the Web team? Possibly, but I also feel there is so much more that could be done to make in exploiting the potential of the Web to support our institutional objectives. Why waste effort in attempting to replicate in-house what is already working on a global scale?

Posted in iwmw2009, Web2.0 | 6 Comments »

Evidence on Use of Twitter for Live Blogging

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4 Aug 2009

When we encouraged use of Twitter at the IWMW 2009 event we ensured that tweets containing the event’s #iwmw2009 tag were archived using a variety of services including Backupmytweets, Twapperkeeper service, wthashtag and Tweetdoc.

A page on the IWMW 2009 event’s Web site provides links to the various archives of the tweets, allowing the different approaches taken by the services to be compared. But the most interesting feature was provided by the wthashtag which provides a record of tweets over a user-definable date range in HTML and RSS formats. But even more interestingly, it provides a range of statistics on usage of the selected hashtag.

iwmw2009 Twitter statisticsAs well as the histogram of usage of the tag which is illustrated, I also discover that over the past seven days the top contributors have been:

  1. @iwmwlive – 255
  2. @spellerlive – 60
  3. @mecb – 58
  4. @bensteeples – 54
  5. @MikeNolanLive – 45
  6. @catmachine – 41
  7. @PlanetClaire – 36
  8. @kammer – 35
  9. @webpackets – 34
  10. @m1ke_ellis – 32

Unsurprisingly the official @iwmwlive Twitter account was in top place (this belonged to the event’s live blogger who had a remit to keep a record of the plenary talks). Two of the other top contributors, @spellerlive and @MikeNolanLive also contains the ‘live’ suffix, indicating regular Twitter users who have chosen to create a second account to be used for live blogging at events. The numbers of tweets from @mecb is perhaps surprising as the user has previously been an infrequent blogger, although, as described in a video interview, Miles Banbery has discovered a new found enthusiasm for Twitter

In addition there have been:

  • 1,530 tweets
  • 170 contributors
  • 218.6 tweets per day
  • 42.5% come from “The Top 10”
  • 4.4% are retweets
  • 20.0% are mentions
  • 34.5% have multiple hashtags

I am particularly interested in the statistics of usage of multiple hashtags. As described in a post on Use of Twitter at IWMW 2009 published a few days before the event began we suggested that “if you wish to refer to a specific plenary talk or workshop session [in your tweets], we have defined a hashtag for each of the plenary talks (#p1 to #p9) and workshop session (#a1-#a9, #b1-#b4 and #c1 top #c5“.

Mike Ellis responded to this suggestion: “I’ll be interested to see what take-up is for your #complexhashtagsuggestion. Personally (as you know!) I think it’s an error of complexity over usability.

I feel the evidence indicates that many of the participants were willing to use multiple hashtags when their use was appropriate (hashtags were not suggested for the bar camp sessions or for social events, so we wouldn’t expect 100% of the event tweets to have multiple hashtags.

Hashtags used to find tweets about #iwmw2009 and #p3We can now, after the event, exploit the  multiple hashtags to more easily find what people were saying about particular sessions. Use of #iwmw2009 and #p3 in a Twitter search, for example, enables us to quickly discover what was being said about Paul Boag’s talk on Making your killer applications… killer!. Why might we want to do this? Well towards the end of the talks we invited participants to post a single tweet summarising what they felt they had gained from the session. This may be useful information to reflect on after the event.

And it should be noted that some of the comments were made after the talk had been given – without the additional hashtag it would have been difficult to relate a comment to a particular session (in the example illustrated the reference to Paul Boag’s plenary talk #P3 was made in the final summing-up session).

An approach to be recommended for future events?

Posted in iwmw2009, Twitter | 7 Comments »

Event Amplification at IWMW 2009

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 Aug 2009

IWMW 2009

This year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2009, is now over. Despite being the 13th in the series on annual events aimed at members of institutional Web management teams, the event was not unlucky! The largest event audience for an IWMW event (200 registered delegates) arrived at the University of Essex campus which began on Tuesday 28 July with the opening plenary talk on “Headlights on Dark Roads” given by Professor Derek Law. And despite a rail dispute on Thursday (the final day of the event) there was still a large audience for the final talk on “How the BBC make Web sites“, an entertaining session on the importance of developers by the two Mikes (Ellis and Nolan) and my closing summary.

Amplification of the IWMW 2009 Event

I’ll not attempt to summarise everything that took place at IWMW 2009 in this blog. However there were a number of issues which were raised during the event which will be worth exploring in future posts. But for now I thought I’d summarise three aspects of the event organisation (rather than the content) which I feel are particularly noteworthy.

The IWMW 2009 Blog

Last year we provided a Ning social network for use by the workshop participants. This year. inspired by the approaches taken at the Dev8D and Mashed Library Oop North events, we decided to set up a IWMW 2009 blog. The aim was to provide a less formal environment than the main event Web site, for  both published information about the event and about the workshop participants, including their interests, recollections of previous IWMW events from those who have attended previous event and reasons why newcomers at the event have decided to travel to Essex in the last week of July.  The blog proved very successful. We will be continuing to encourage some further posts to the blog before the participants disappear off for their summer holiday.

Video Streaming

For the third year running we provided a live video stream of the plenary talks. I understand that there were about 50 people viewing the opening plenary talk. It will be interesting to see the viewing statistics for the second and third days.

In order to provide a richer experience for the remote audience we ensured that the slides for the plenary speakers who used PowerPoint were available on Slideshare (and note that many of the slideshows used in the parallel sessions are also available) .

Live Blogging

In addition an official live blogger used the iwmwlive Twitter account to provide a running commentary of the plenary talks. Kirsty McGill, who provided the live blogging service, also used these notes as the basis of a summary of the talks which was posted to the blog shortly afterwards.

We made a conscious effort to treat the remote audience as ‘first class citizens’. As well as the technologies listed above, we also tried to ensure that everyone used a microphone so that the remote audience could hear not only the speakers, but also the session chair and any questions posed by the live audience.

Twitter Channel

As well as the official use of Twitter for recording plenary talks and an IWMW Twitter account for administrative use (I’m pleased the missing phone reported on Twitter was found) we also encouraged participants to use the #iwmw2009 tag when tweeting about the event.

Links with the US

Thus year, for the first time, we worked with Higher Ed Experts who provide professional development and social networking online opportunities to higher education professionals working in Web, marketing, PR and admissions offices in the USA. Two of the parallel sessions,  Where’s the University? Building an institutional geolocation service by Janet McKnight and Sebastian Rahtz (Oxford University Computing Services) and Using Amazon Web Services by Mike Richwalsky (Allegheny College) had been pre-recorded in advance of IWMW 2009 and were provided as free Webinars on the Higher Ed Experts Web site.

Reflections on the Event Amplification

None of the aspects of IWMW 2009  I have described is significantly new. We have made use of wikis (at IWMW 2007) and social networks at previous events; the use of communication technologies to facilitate discussions during plenary talks dates back to IWMW 2005 when we made use of IRC (as you can see from the archive of the IRC discussions)  and we have been video streaming the plenary talks since 2007.

In previous years use of these technologies to ‘amplify’ the ideas and thinking beyond the physical event and enhance the discussions and debate at the event has been experimental. This year we have attempted to provide this as a service. The local participants have expectations of reasonable levels of service for the food and accommodation at the event. But now we can expect remote participants to have similar expectations regarding access to the content and the discussions and debate.

Did we provide a satisfactory level of service? Please let us know.

Posted in Events, iwmw2009 | 6 Comments »

The IWMW 2009 Blog

Posted by Brian Kelly on 23 Jul 2009

This year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW 2009) takes place at the University of Essex on 28-30th July.  In order to support the institutional Web management community we have made use of social networking environments over the past few years. Last year we made use of Ning but this year, inspired by the approaches taken at the Dev8D and the recent Mashed Library Oop North events, we have decided to make use of a blog to support the workshop.

The blog was created on 26th June but was officially launched on 10 July. Since them the blog has published introductions from UKOLN’s organisers (Marieke Guy, Natasha Bishop and Michelle Smith and myself), provided a multimedia record of last year’s event, explained the barcamps and barpicnics,  summarised the plenary talks from Derek Law, Paul Boag and David Harrison and Joe Nicholls and, perhaps most importantly, provided an opportunity for the workshop participants to introduce themselves.

Additional posts will be published which are likely to be of interest to the participants who will be physically present at the event. But if you can’t attend, please note that IWMW 2009 will, once again, be an amplified event. You’ll be able to join in the discussions using the #iwmw2009 hashtag on Twitter and we also intend to provide a video stream of the plenary talks.

Posted in iwmw2009 | Leave a Comment »

Openness and IWMW 2009

Posted by Brian Kelly on 23 Jun 2009

IWMW 2009 Fully Subscribed

Bookings are now closed for this year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW 2009), with the event again fully subscribed with 190 participants (the limit imposed by the numbers of bedrooms available and the size of the venue for the reception).

Amplification of IWMW 2009

If you haven’t booked a place but do have an interest in the range of plenary talks which will be given, don’t worry – the event will be ‘amplified’.

This reflects our commitment to openness which I argued the higher educational community should embrace more fully in a recent post on Respect Copyright (and Subvert It!).  In that post I also suggested that we need to be more open about the risks and the approaches taken to managing the risks. So here is a summary of the various approaches we are taken to encouraging openness for the event.

Maximising the Impact of the Plenary Talks

The plenary talks at IWMW 2007 and IWMW 2008 were streamed live and we will be doing the same again this year.

We hope to have an official ‘live-blogger’ who will take responsibility for providing a live summary of the plenary talks. This will be available using the event hashtag #iwmw2009 and may also be aggregated in another environment (such as Coveritlive, use of which has described in a Review of Web2.0 amplification at CILIPS Conference) to allow people to contribute to the discussions if they don’t have a Twitter account.

Due to logistical reasons (only one screen display in the lecture theatre)  we will not be providing a live display of tweets during the talks (which means we aren’t addressing the issue of whether a live display would be valuable or distracting). However we intend to make use of a live Twitter display (a ‘Twitterwall’) during the opening of the event and at other times in order to allow participants to say hello to each other if they are not sat in adjacent seats, an approach I felt worked well at the Museums and the Web 2009 conference.

We will also try to ensure that the speaker’s slides are available on Slideshare so that the remote audience is able to view the slides and the talk simultaneously. We know that speakers sometimes change the slides at the last moment – we’ll try and keep the versions in synch, but can’t guarantee this.

Note we’ll need speaker’s permissions for this – and will respect their (e.g. if their organisation doesn’t allow this; they want the freedom to be more open; etc.).

The Risks

I’ve described what we are planning on doing. But what about the risks of embracing openness more fully at an event?

We will be seeking permission from the speakers for the live streaming of their talks. And we do appreciate that there may be reasons why such permission may not be given (the speaker wishes to be able to speak freely or the speaker’s organisation may not allow this). We also intend to have a Creative Commons notice on the lectern (as we did last year) so that a rights  statement will be embedded in the video. We will allow the speaker to change their mind about making a recording of the talk available after the event (we will clarify this immediately after the talk, so that we do not have to write off time which may be spend on post-processing the video).

We will be providing a ‘quiet zone’ in the lecture theatre for participants who wish to avoid possible distractions caused by live-blogging and who do not wish to be photographed or videoed.  We will also ask other participants to respect the guidelines for this area.

We will, of course, be evaluating the event, including the innovative aspects as well as the mainstream aspects.  As we would like to share the user feedback more widely the evaluation form will state that anonymised comments may be published openly.

We appreciate that amplified conferences are still in their infancy, and there may be a diverse range of expectations from the audience, both local and remote. We are interested in learning from related events, such as Dev8DMashed Library UK 2009 ‘Mash Oop North’, Amplifiedat Nlab 09 day and the Eduserv Symposium.

We’d welcome feedback and suggestions. But, please no suggestions that will take too much time and effort – there’s not much time left!

Posted in Events, iwmw2009 | 1 Comment »

Crowd-sourcing Ideas for IWMW 2009

Posted by Brian Kelly on 25 Feb 2009

In a trip report on the Institutional Web Managers Workshop 2008 Andy Stewart was full of praise for the event: “it was absolutely fantastic“. Andy went on to say that although “The plenaries, parallel sessions, discussion groups and social events are all extremely useful in their own right” for him “it’s the inspiration and sense of belonging that one feels during and after the conference I think makes the difference“.

We’re currently inviting proposals for this year’s event, IWMW 2009, which will be held at the University of Essex on 28-30th July 2009. Last year we providing an innovation competition and encouraged developers to make use of the data provided by the university of Aberdeen, Bath and Edge Hill University. This encouragement for openness within the community was welcomed by Andy:

One theme which stuck out above all, to me, was that of transparency through initiatives to open up our information allowing others to do what they feel with it“.

We are looking to build on this culture of openness. So this year rather than simply inviting submissions for talks and workshop sessions to be sent to the chair of the event (my colleague Marieke Guy) we are using the Ideascale service in order to crowd-source suggestions for content at the workshop.
We’re doing this to allow potential participants and other interested parties to provide suggestions on topics they’ve like to see covered at the address (as well as provide other more general suggests for the event – such as what type of social event we should provide). Doing this in this open fashion, as illustrated below, enables participants to become more active participants in the processes of putting together the programme for the event.

Ideascale ideas for IWMW 2009

Now we have to be honest and admit that we can’t guarantee that the most popular options will necessarily be provided or that seemingly unpopular topics won’t be covered. But at least everybody will have had the opportunity to participate in this process. And this is also a learning process for ourselves – in retrospect we realise that the suggested titles should have been neutral in tone, rather than the provocative title which could be suited for a session itself (we don’t know if people are voting on the sentiment expressed in the title or on whether the topic should be addressed at the workshop).

Use of Ideascale or IWMW 2009And I’m not sure what the usage statistics are meant to be saying. It doesn’t seem likely that 16 users have cast 1018 votes!

But if you have views on topics which members of institutional Web management teams should be discussing feel free to provude your suggestion. Now this won’t be regarded as a submission to the event, but if you would like to give a talk or run a session at this year’s event details of how to submit proposals are available on the IWMW 2009 Web site.

Posted in iwmw2008, iwmw2009 | 1 Comment »