UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

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Archive for the ‘Twitter’ Category

Using Twitter to Meet New People on the Way to Conferences

Posted by Brian Kelly on 22 Sep 2014

Travelling to a Project Meeting

Using Twitter on the way to eventsLast week I attended a #LACEproject consortium meeting in Graz, Austria. The LACE project, which is funded by the EU, is “bringing together key European players in the field of learning analytics (LA) and educational data mining (EDM) in order to support the development of communities of practice and share emerging best practice“.

The consortium meeting provided a valuable opportunity for me to meet colleagues in the project, most of whom I had only come across in our regular video-conference calls.

As the leader of the work package which covers communications and dissemination I have an interest in how social media tools can be used both for supporting communications and collaboration across the project partners and also with the wider community of people with interests in learning analytics.

Developing One’s Professional Network

The potential value of use of Twitter at conferences, workshops and seminars is now widely appreciated. However one aspect which is probably not so well-understood is using Twitter while travelling to events.

This occurred to me last week following my tweet at Heathrow Airport:

On my way to Dusseldorf and then Graz for a meeting.

Twenty minutes later I received a response to my tweet from Nick Pearse (@drnickpearce):

@briankelly I’m off to Graz tomorrow for ECTEL workshop, are you off to that? …

As can be seen from the Storify summary of our Twitter discussions we tried to meet during the EC-TEL 2014 conference but since my meeting took place at a different location we were not able to do this. However our brief exchange of tweets motivated me to look at Nick’s Twitter profile:

Sociologist having fun teaching anthropology + sociology! at Durham University’s Foundation Centre. Digital scholar interested in social media + pedagogy

and visit his Digitalscholar blog. His areas of interests overlap with mine, I felt. But unfortunately it looked as though we wouldn’t have an opportunity to meet.

As I was leaving Graz I made use of the free WiFi available at the airport to, indirectly, say that I was leaving:

At Graz airport. Couldn’t connect to Internet. Rebooted tablet; no joy. Started IE; saw click to connect button. Should I make IE default?

Nick was also at the airport on his way home:

@briankelly i’m here too, are you getting the frankfurt flight?

Unfortunately we were on different flights but we managed to have a brief chat before we left. This confirmed our mutual areas of interests and we agree to get in touch after we had returned home.

Twitter as the Interactive Business Card

Back in April 2008, in the early day’s of Twitter usage I wrote a post explaining one of the benefits of Twitter for academics, especially when travelling to conferences: Twitter? It’s An Interactive Business Card.

Since then the online infrastructure has developed significantly. Many people will now own a smartphone which will provide access to networked tools such as Twitter. In addition no longer is WiFi access limited to conference venues and hotels; increasingly WiFi is available. often for free, at airports and railway stations. We can now exchange our virtual business cards whilst travelling!

Trip to LACE meeting announced on FacebookSome people may have concerns about the risks of sharing their location. It’s true that there can be risks in using one’s phone in dodgy areas, but this is not normally the case in airports. And my approach to minimising the risks associated with people knowing that I am not at home is to make sure I’ve locked the doors! I also shared my location when travelling on an extended trip to south east Asia  as a way of ensuring that details of my journey were publicly available in case I had any problems on the trip.

I should also add that I also use Facebook to check in to train stations and airports when I’m travelling. Again I’ve found this useful, for example, when friends suggest places to visit while I’m travelling. However use of Facebook doesn’t provide the serendipity for making new connections which Twitter can provide.

In the past I have also explored the potential for use of dedicated geo-location services such as FourSquare and Gowalla. However I’ve found that these don’t have sufficient take-up to be of value (and Gowalla folded in 2012). I’ll therefore continue to use a combination of Twitter and Facebook when I’m travelling to work-related events.

Do others do likewise? Do you have any stories to share of the benefits of such approaches, or of the risks?

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []


Posted in Social Networking, Twitter | 2 Comments »

The Launch of Twitter’s Analytics Service and Thoughts on Free Alternatives

Posted by Brian Kelly on 1 Sep 2014

The Launch of Twitter’s Analytics Service

It was via a tweet I received last week when I first heard the news about the public launch of Twitter’s analytics service:

Today, opened its analytics platform to the public TLDR: Images get more engagement

This tweet was of particular interest as it not only provided news of the new service and a link to a post in which the service was reviewed but also a brief summary of findings from the analysis of the posters’ use of Twitter with suggestions for best practice: “Images get more engagement“. The longer version explained how:

Finally, what Twitter Media and News staff had already told people who are listening is backed up by what they’re showing me: including pictures, maps and graphics in your tweets will raises your “engagement” numbers, at least as measured by people resharing tweets, favoriting them, @mentioning or @replying to them.

Twitter analytics for briankellyAs illustrated the service provides statistics on tweets (potential impressions, engagement and engagement rate). Additional tabs provide information on followers (changes in the numbers of followers and profiles of their gender, location and interests) and Twitter cards.

If you don’t use Twitter, make small-scale use of the tool or use it purely for social purposes you probably won’t have an interest in what the analytics may tell you about your use of the tool. However increasingly researchers will have an interest in use of alt.metrics measures which provide indications of interest in their research outputs. In additional research support librarians will have an interest in this area in order to support and advice their users. Finally, those involved in digital marketing are likely to be interested in the information provided by this new service.

Other Analytic Tools

There are, of course, a number of other Twitter analytics tools.

TweepsmapI use Tweetstats which, as illustrated, provided a display of the locations of one’s followers. The free version of the tool also provides information on inactive Twitter followers and other profiles of one’s followers, although subscription to the premium service is needed for the full range of services.

I also use Sumall which provides similar information for which ‘payment’ consists of a public tweet about one’s metrics which is published weekly:

My week on twitter: 2 New Followers, 3 Mentions, 3.66K Mention Reach, 6 Replies, 14 Retweets. via

TwtrlandThe other tool I use is Twtrland. I receive a weekly email summary from this service but I’ve not logged in to the dashboard for some time but, as show, the free version does appear to provide a comprehensive set of information.

Finally I should mentioned Social Bro.  I’ve used this tool in the past and found that the free version was useful in providing recommendations on the best time to tweet and in profiling my followers’ community (e.g. I found that people I follow typically tweet on a daily basis, publish between 1 and 5 tweets daily and follow between 100 and 500 Twitter accounts.  This, for me, was a particularly useful insight into ‘normal’ Twitter use patterns and helped confirm my belief that to make effective use of Twitter to support one’s professional interests  you will need to achieve a critical mass for your Twitter community.

Unfortunately the free version of this service is only available in you have a total Twitter community (your followers and the accounts you follow) which is less than 5,000. Since my community exceeds this by a few hundred I am not able to give an update on the information the tool currently provides, but I did find it useful when I first used it.

Your Thoughts

I’d be interested in hearing about other Twitter analytics tools which people find useful, especially free services which are appropriate for researchers who will not be in a position to afford premium accounts which may be used by those who work in marketing departments. And is anyone advising researchers on such tools (including the dangers of reading too much into the information provided!)

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []

Posted in Evidence, Twitter | 5 Comments »

Capturing the Conference Buzz: #LILAC14 as an Example

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 Apr 2014

About the LILAC 2014 Conference

Storify summary of LILAC 2014 conference tweetsLast week I attended the LILAC 2014 conferenceLILAC is the Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference and this years event was held at Sheffield Hallam University.

This was the second time I’ve attended the event. Last year I gave a talk on “When Staff and Researchers Leave Their Host Institution“. This year I provided a poster on “Preparing our users for digital life beyond the institution” which described follow-up work based on a survey on institutional polices on support for Cloud services. However my main activity at the conference took place on the first day when I ran a has-on session on “Getting to Grips with Wikipedia” and helped support LILAC’s first edit-a-thon on “Improving the Information Literacy Entry on Wikipedia“.

What Did People Think of the Conference?

I enjoyed the conference but unfortunately had to leave early on the final day. However since there were enough people at the conference who were using Twitter to share their thoughts on the various sessions I was able to view the summaries on my train journey home.

I have found that Twitter can be a valuable tool for getting feedback when running workshop sessions. For example the tweets which were posted during a Wikipedia Editing Workshop session I facilitated last year at the SpotOn 2013 Conference were particularly useful as this was the first time I had led a Wikipedia editing session. I was able to view a Storify archive of the tweets after the event and, in particular, observe the timings when participants had created their Wikipedia profile page. Without that information I would not have known (or remembered) that participants were able to create their profile in 30 minutes.

In the case of the #LILAC14 tweets it seemed to me that it would be interesting to see the tweets which were posted by conference participants after the conference had finished and they were willing to share their reflections on the event.

I have therefore created a Storify summary of reflective tweets about the LILAC 2014 conference.

It was interesting to observe the comments made by people who had attended their first LILAC conference:

Still buzzing from attending . A great first time experience. Hope it won’t be my last. Copious notes and ideas. Thanks everyone

to see participants sharing the ‘conference buzz’:

Returning to work tomorrow after attending , buzzing with ideas on how to make Harvard referencing fun and improving IL college wide

and to read about the value of the professional networking:

Met some really lovely people at can’t wait to put some suggestions into practice. Looking forward to next year already :)

I would echo these comments and give my thanks to the conference organisers.

Who, if Anyone, Should Archive Event Tweets?

I occasionally here people question the value of event tweeting or archive of event tweets. However if sufficient number of people tweet at an event there can be value in an archive of the tweets, such as the evidence for event organisers in the participants’ thoughts on the event, as illustrated above.

It should also be noted that event tweets may also be read by people who aren’t attending an event but may be interested in attending similar events in the future, as suggested by this tweet:

Catching up on awesome tweets. I’ve been hoping to go to this conference for years. Will make it my mission for next year!

Eventifier archive of LILAC 2013 tweetsHowever it should be acknowledged that archiving event tweets may require an investment of time or money. Some Twitter archiving tools are licensed – for example, Eventifier, which was used for archiving 2,968 tweets and 105 photographs from the #LILAC12 conference, costs from $99 to archive a single event.

Other archiving tools, such as Storify, may be free but will require time to be spent in manually curating tweets (as I did for the Storify archived described above).

Some tools are free and will automatically archive tweets with minimal configuration needed. An example of this is Twubs which was used to archive #LILAC14 tweets.

It therefore seems to me that event organisers should take responsibility for ensuring that there is an automated archive of event tweets. In addition event organisers may find it beneficial to ensure that they keep a manually created archive which can provide feedback on the event itself.

But for events in which there are large numbers of tweets it may not be reasonable to expect busy event organisers to curate all tweets, especially tweets posted about parallel sessions. What can be done in such cases?

Looking at the results of a Google search for “lilac13 tweets” I was interested to note the following Storify archives:

It seems that there were two Storify archives of a session held at last year’s LILAC conference. Perhaps the answer to the question “Who, if Anyone, Should Archive Event Tweets?” should be “Conference organisers will provide an automated archive of all event tweets and will encourage participants to curate an archive of tweets on areas of interest to the participants“.

What do you think?

Note shortly after publishing this post was published I came across two Storify summaries were exemplified my proposal: Ned Potter (@theREALwikiman) (who didn’t attend the LILAC 2014 conference) published a summary of Susan Halfpenny’s talk on “The Contextagon”, a tool for identifying what you might need to consider for a literature review and Clare McCluskey (@librarygirl79) provided a comprehensive summary of the three days of the LILAC 2014 conference.

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []

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

Emerging Best Practices for Using Storify For Archiving Event Tweets

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 Mar 2014

“Embrace open practices which you are comfortable with; share your open practices with others”

In a post entitled Reflections on the #openeducationwk Blog Posts I summarised the guest posts published on this blog during Open Education Week. My post concluded with my thought’s on Sheila MacNeill’s post in which she gave her reasons “Why the Opposite of Open isn’t Necessarily Broken“. I agree with Sheila’s view that “in reality things are more nuanced” than is suggested by the soundbite “the opposite of open is not ‘closed’, the opposite of open is ‘broken’“. My post concluded with the suggestion that you should:

Embrace open practices which you are comfortable with; share your open practices with others and be willing to learn from the open practices used by other. But don’t be dismissive of those who don’t share your beliefs and practices.

 As part of that philosophy in this post I will share the open practices I use to ensure that the ideas and discussions shared at ‘amplified events’ can reach a wide audience, beyond those physically present at the event.

Developing Guidelines for Use of Twitter at Amplified Events

Since January one significant new area of work I have been involved in is leading the Communications, Dissemination and Knowledge Management work package for the EU-funded LACE project, a project which “brings together existing key European players in the field of learning analytics & EDM who are committed to build communities of practice and share emerging best practice“.

The LACE (Learning Analytics Community Exchange) project is funded by the European Union in order to help exploit the opportunities afforded by learning analytics (LA) and educational data mining (EDM). A particularly important aspect of the LACE work will be in making effective use of online tools in order to help to build a community with interests in learning analytics and facilitate discussions, sharing of resources and awareness of the project,

Various guidelines for use of social media and other online tools and services are being developed. Since LAK14, the Learning Analytics and Knowledge conference takes place in Indianapolis next week from 24-28 March this will provide an ideal opportunity to evaluate use of our emerging guidelines for use of social media at events.

Tomorrow morning we will have a LACE project team meeting to discuss our plans for the conference and, in particular, use of social media to support workshops at the conference which LACE team members are involved in: the Second International Workshop on Discourse-Centric Learning Analytics (#dcla14); Computational Approaches to Connecting Levels of Analysis in Networked Learning (#lak14cla); Learning Analytics and Machine Learning (#lak14ml) and the LAK Data Challenge 2014 (#lakdata14).

In order to gain further experience of use of the tools which will be used to support these sessions and to provide examples of the approaches to be taken, earlier today a Storify summary of “What I Know Is: #WIKIsymposium” was created as described below.

Experiences from the #WIKIsymposium

Storify summary of #wikisymposium  tweetsThe WIKIsysmposium was held at the University of Stirling earlier today (19 March 2014). The symposium was part of the Research Seminar Series organised by the Division of Communications, Media and Culture, University of Stirling which was made possible with the generous support of Wikimedia UK.

Since I have an interest in the use of Wikipedia in an educational and research context I had an interest in following the event tweets and possibly developing my Twitter network if I identified relevant new contributors to the Twitter stream for the event.

The Storify summary of “the What I Know Is: #WIKIsymposium” was therefore of personal interest to me as well as in providing an example of the approaches which are proposed for next week’s LAK14 conference.

The Storify summary is intended to be self-documenting. In brief here are the proposed approaches:

  • Create archive(s) of event tweets in advance: In this case a Twubs archive of #WIKIsymposium was created.
  • Create a Lanyrd entry for the event: In this case the Lanyrd entry was created earlier today and speakers, participants and those with an interest in the subject area were invited to register using their Twitter ID in order to be able to easily identify others who attend or follow events of mutual interest.
  • Nominate or encourage live tweeters who will tweet consistently through an event: During today’s event at least two participants ensured that a full coverage of the talks was provided.
  • Identify emerging best practices for live tweeting at events: Useful practices identified at today’s event included:
    • Providing a meaningful summary of the event with appropriate links in advance
    • Announcing participation at the event on the morning of the event in order that interested parties are made aware of the event and the event’s hashtag
    • Providing a timestamp and, ideally, a photograph at the start of each talk
    • Flagging the name of the speaker in Twitter summaries of talk which enable readers to be able to identify reported commentary (e.g.”Murray: Putting content in Wikipedia can challenge the unassailable voice of the academic, but this is no bad thing ” or “RM: Putting content in Wikipedia can challenge the unassailable voice of the academic, but this is no bad thing “).
    • It can be helpful to clearly signal the end of a talk and the event with an appropriate tweet (e.g. thanks speakers at the end of the event).

I hope these examples are useful to others. I’d welcome further suggestions on best practices to help provide meaningful and useful archives of tweets at events.

View Twitter conversations and metrics using: [Topsy] – []


Posted in openness, Twitter | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

“Interesting!” – The Value of Twitter Direct Messages for Researchers

Posted by Brian Kelly on 22 Nov 2013

Responding to a Google Alert

Twitter DM conversationEarlier today I received a Google Scholar Alert informing me that Google had found new papers which cited my research publications.

Of particular interest to me was the alert which informed me of a citation which had been published in a book. The book is entitled Computer Systems Experiences of Users with and Without Disabilities: An Evaluation Guide for Professionals and is available, in part, via Google Books. Although I was not able to see which paper had been published (page 100-268 were not shown in the preview) I explored the table of content and found two chapters which are very relevant to work I am current doing.

What I Learnt From the Alert – and the Tool I Used for the Subsequent Initial Discussion

Table of contentsNext Friday I’ll be giving a talk at the OZeWAI 2013 conference in Australia, although, unfortunately, I’ll be giving this as a remote presentation. I have produced the first draft of the talk and in the script I have written:

I particularly liked the question that was posed which suggested that we may need different perspectives in order that developers can see things differently.

I then go on to highlight a chapter entitled “Disability, Web Standards, and the Majority World” by Sarah Lewthwaite and Henny Swan which is included in a book on “Rhetorical Accessability: At the Intersection of Technical Communication and Disability Studies” published a few months ago.

Yesterday Sarah and I had a chat about our recent work and possible new opportunities to build on our interests and expertise in Web accessibility. This morning when I saw the alert and noticed the section which explained “Why we should be talking about psychotechnology for socialization, not jut websites” I was intrigued and sent Sarah a direct message via Twitter about the book drawing particular attention to the section on psychotechnology. Sarah’s response: “Interesting!” suggests that this may be of interest to both of us (although, of course. she may have just been polite!)

However since Sarah and I first became professionally acquainted using Twitter (the 30 seconds I spent reading Sarah’s Twitter biography before then following a link to her blog and discovering our mutual professional interests subsequently led to an award-winning joint paper) I have an interest in how Twitter use can provide an effective tools for collaboration and sharing for researchers.

In this case I could have used a social bookmarking tool such as Delicious for openly sharing this resource – but I have stopped using Delicious and this action would, I suspect, not have been noticed by Sarah.  What I would not have done would be to send an email message; email is not a tool I use any longer for small-scale sharing of resources which may, or may not, turn out to be of interest.

Is Twitter used significantly by researchers in this way, whether by public tweets or direct messages to one’s fellow collaborators? I’d be interested in hearing examples of such activities.

Meanwhile, what about the suggest that “we should be talking about psychotechnology for socialization, not jut websites“? A stub Wikipedia article provides the following information about psychotechnology:

Psychotechnology (sahy-koh-tek-nol-uh-jees)refers to any application of technology for psychological purposes or to any way of using psychological processes for a desired outcome

Should be talking about psychotechnology for socialization? And should I update my presentation for next week’s talk? I must admit that I haven’t a clue!

Posted in Accessibility, Twitter | Leave a Comment »

Twitter Archives for the #ILI2013 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 Oct 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.


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

Listening to Freshers

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24 Sep 2013

Just over a year ago I sent a message to the website-info-mgt JISCMail list in which I commented how I had noticed that “several unis promoted a Freshers Week Twitter tag.  I came across #HelloKent, #UoNFreshers, #HelloBrum, #sussexfreshers, #bcufeshers and (possibly) #imoxfordbrookes“. In light of my observations I subsequently used the Twubs Twitter archiving service to set up archives of tweets for the hashtags #HelloKent, #UoNFreshers, #HelloBrum, #sussexfreshers and #bcufreshers.

Fast forward a year and yesterday I came across a tweet from @Jayconsulting which informed me that:

Freshers advice offered via Twitter | News | Times Higher Education …

The article in the Times Higher, entitled Freshers advice offered via Twitter describes how “The National Union of Students is hosting its first-ever Twitter question and answer sessions, offering first years advice on a range of topics” and went on to explain how “The Freshers Survival support sessions will run until Friday, tackling a different issue each day, with experts dishing out advice to thousands of new undergraduates”.

The changes in the higher education sector from when I was a student in the 1970s are not just about the technology, however. I suspect in those days if the technology had been available there would have been a more political aspects to the discussions, whereas in the twenty-first century we find that “Founder of the financial advice forum, Martin Lewis, will be on hand to offer tips on budgeting (Thursday), while relationship expert Tracey Cox will advise on social life, sex and relationships (Friday)“!

Twubs archive for '#fresherssurvival' tweetsBut how will this week’s tweet chats develop? Will students actively participate in the discussions about budgeting, sex and relationships? Will commercial companies sport the marketing opportunities which use of this hashtag may provide? Or perhaps evangelical Christians Will use modern technology to provide an opportunity to provide a Christian message about sex and relationships.

A year ago in my message on the website-info-mtg list I went on to say that “I’d be interested in hearing how effective it may have been.  Also whether there were any crossovers with other uses of the tags e.g. did #HelloKent attract tourists visiting the garden of England; did #HelloBrum attract traffic from freshers at the other Birmingham universities; etc?

I’ve noticed that last year’s hashtags still seem to be in use, as can be seen from the archive of the #hellokent hashtag, illustrated below.

Twubs archive for the '#hellokent' hashtagIn order to be able to observe use of the #FreshersSurvival hashtag I have recently set up a Twubs archive for the tag. A snapshot of the archive is also illustrated.

Some questions which analysis of such archives over time may help to answer:

  • Is use of Twitter growing, and will such trends help to inform institutional policy decisions on further use of Twitter?
  • Are there any general issues which sentiment analysis of the tweets might detect which may lead to appropriate actions?
  • What success criteria might be established for such use of Twitter?
  • Will it be possible to justify the investment in providing the infrastructure surrounding such use of Twitter (e.g. the experts who respond to discussions and questions) ?
  • Are students aware hat there tweets may be analysed?
  • Should institutions be willing to analyse such Twitter archives?

Any thoughts on these questions or other issues which such informal use of Twitter by students may raise?

Posted in Twitter | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Twitter Announces Vine. But How Could Higher Education Use 6-second long Videos?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 25 Jan 2013

Sharing Brief Video Clips on Twitter

Yesterday Twitter announced Vine: A new way to share video. As described in a TechCrunch article[Vine] integrates with Twitter in the same way that Instagram does, except that Vine never turned off permissions randomly, meaning that Vine videos can be embedded directly in tweets, showing up in followers’ streams“. An article in the Guardian explains how “Vine clips automatically play when embedded in tweets, although their sound is turned off by default. The clips also play within Twitter’s official mobile app. Users can add locations to their clips – the app draws on Foursquare’s places database for that – with three options for sharing: Vine, Twitter and/or Facebook.” The Guardian article instantly attracted comments on how Vine might be (mis-used):

  • Sexting app
  • Advert app
  • oh no it’s the video equivalent of gifs, twitter is gonna become as annoying as tumblr is with these.

although others provided more thoughtful responses:

As with everything, it’s all about how you leverage the technology. 
Yes, for the most part, this app will feature videos of no importance whatsoever, but there will, as always, be some gems in the dirt.

Leaving that aside, you have to remember that with Twitter, many people end up forming a close circle of people they meet physically in the real world – so Twitter augments that. 
I don’t give a damn about someone I’ve never mets photo of their dog on twitter, but I do care if a friend of mine posts a picture of their dog.

The same applies to tweeting – to most people, the “Did xyz run in xyz area this morning, totally knackered” is completely meaningless and banal. But to this persons friends, it’s likely to promote conversation when they next meet. “Saw your tweet Dave, how was the run down at xyz? Did a run there recently” …

So, before you instantly dismiss tech such as this, perhaps give it a *little* more thought?

I would agree that we should give a little more thought to the implications of new technologies, especially their potential in higher education.

Initial Experiments

Vine appEarlier today I installed the Vine app on by iPod Touch and recorded a number of video clips. I asked what could be said in 6 seconds (partly to get a feel for what could be said in such a brief period. In my second video clip I said “E=MC2 and the DNA is a double helix” to illustrate how important scientific concepts could be described using the Vine app. By then I had gained some familiarity with the app. In my third post I described what I liked about the app: being able to stop and start reshooting by simply removed my finger for the screen. My four post described what I didn’t like – the lack of support for the iPod Touch’s forward-facing camera.

I then started to write this post – and discovered that I couldn’t find the URL for the video clips I had created and uploaded to Vine. I can view the videos using the Vine app and people who follow me on Vine will see the videos in their Vine timeline but it seems as though they are not available via a Web interface; this was confirmed by Giles Turnbull, one of my Twitter followers who is also experimenting with Vine: “only way to find out the URL of your Vine post is to share it somewhere. if you choose not to share, or forget, you can’t find it on the web“.

I therefore created another clip which is available online. However there does not appear to be a Web interface to my Vine profile, so I can’t access my clips via a Web browser in order to change access rights, delete videos, manage Vine followers, etc.

Perhaps it is unfair to be too critical of the limitations of the initial release of the app: these short=-comings may be remedied in a subsequent release. However I thought I would summarise my initial experiments for others who may wish to evaluate the app. And rather than describe possible use cases for 6-second long video clips in higher education I’d welcome suggestions. If you’d rather not describe possible uses, perhaps you may wish to complete the poll on whether you think Vine has a role to play in higher education.

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

Posted in Social Networking, Twitter | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Using Social Media to Publish/Share Ideas/Opinions Which Have Not Been Peer Reviewed

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 Jan 2013

In The Bell, Listening to Fat Man Swings

Fat Man Swings at The Bell

Fat Man Swings at The Bell (I responded to a tweet during the break)

Last night I was in The Bell in Bath listening to Fat Man Swings when I noticed someone had mentioned me in a tweet:

@NSRiazat no but briankelly may be able to help

The message related to a discussion on the #phdchat Tweetchat during which Nasima Riazat (@NSRiazat) asked:

Has anyone used social media to publish/share ideas/opinions which have not been peer reviewed prior to sharing? #phdchat

According to her Twitter biography Nasima Riazat is “#PhDchat moderator. PhD research expertise in capacity building, distributed leadership, leadership sciences, developing middle leaders – Open University UK“. Her question was therefore very relevant for those who participate in the #phdchat discussions, which I have commented on previously.

The question, and its timing, may well horrify those who do not ‘get’ Twitter and are worried about being inundated with tweets during every hour of the day and having to respond during out-of-work hours. However established Twitter users will understand that Twitter provides a steady stream of content which you can dip into when it suits you and @ messages can often be ignored. On this occasion I felt the question was of interest and so I responded during the break to say I would address the question. The interaction, incidentally, including taking and posting a photo of the band probably took less than a minute.

Publishing and Sharing Ideas Which Have Not Been Peer Reviewed

Back in October, during Open Access Week I gave a series of talks on Open Practices for the Connected Researcher at the universities of Exeter, Salford and Bath in which I described the benefits which social media could provide for researchers. The talk was based on personal experiences of use of social media to support my peer-reviewed papers, especially in the area of Web accessibility. I described how social media could be used to develop one’s professional network (with the example of how I met Sarah Lewthwaite (@slewth) on Twitter and subsequently collaborated on a paper which won an award at an international conference). I also described how use of services such as Twitter and Slideshare could be used by one’s co-authors during a conference presentation in order to maximise the numbers of views of the paper and accompanying slides by those who have a particular interest in the conference – those who may subsequently cite the paper in their own research publications or take actions based on the ideas described in the paper.

But although social media has proven value in developing one’s professional network and enhancing access to research publications, the question which was raised addressed a different scenario: Has anyone used social media to publish/share ideas/opinions which have not been peer reviewed prior to sharing?

I suspect the answer to this question will be influenced by the area of research together with personal approaches towards openness and the culture within one’s research group or host institution.

In my case my areas of research are based on the Web (Web accessibility, Social Web, Web preservation, Web standards and institutional repositories). My organisation (and our funders) has always been supportive of open access for the research outputs. In addition I have sought to embrace open practices in my work. I should add that I do not feel that others should adopt similar approaches; as I described in a post on The Social Web and the Belbin Model my preferred roles as a ‘plant’ and ‘resource investigator’ in the Belbin model are well-aligned with use of social media services such as blogs. I am therefore comfortable with the notion of exposing one’s ideas to public view at early stages, with the intention that flaws in the ideas will be identified at an early stage and the value of the ideas will be enhanced by contributions from others.

For me the ideas published in a blog post (or even a tweet) can be subsequently developed and used in a peer-reviewed paper. As an example, in September 2012 I wrote a brief post which asked “John hit the ball”: Should Simple Language Be Mandatory for Web Accessibility? After the post had been published I came across a tweet from @techczech (Dominik Lukes) which commented:

Should Simple Language Be Mandatory for Web Accessibility? < Bad idea for #a11y – ignorant of basic #linguistic facts

I looked at Dominik’s Twitter biography (“Education and technology specialist, linguist, feminist, enemy of prescriptivism, metaphor hacker, educator, (ex)podcaster, Drupal/Wordpress web builder, Czech.“) and followed the link to his blog and read his post on “Why didn’t anyone tell me about this?”: What every learning technologist should know about accessible documents #ALTC2012. I realised that we had similar interest so I decided to follow him on Twitter and then had an interesting phone conversation on Web accessibility and language issues.

I subsequently submitted a brief paper on this topic with Alastair McNaught, JISC TechDis, to the W3C WAI’s online symposium on “Easy to Read” (e2r) language in Web Pages/Applications. As described in a post on ‘Does He Take Sugar?’: The Risks of Standardising Easy-to-read Language the paper was not accepted. However since we were not restricted to the 1.00 word limit imposed by the organisers of the online symposium Alastair and I expanded on our original which were further developed through the contribution provided by Dominik. Our article entitled ‘Does He Take Sugar?’: The Risks of Standardising Easy-to-read Language was published in the Ariadne ejournal just before Christmas.

Although the article was not peer-reviewed we have subsequently realised that the ideas described in the article could provide a new insight into our previous work in developing a framework for making use of accessibility guidelines such as WCAG. We are currently discussing how we can build on these new insights.

To summarise, a brief blog post was commented on in a tweet. This led to an exchange of tweets, a phone call, a joint Skype call and a joint article – with an understanding that we will look for opportunities for further collaboration. Without the blog post and without the tweet, this would not have happened!

View Twitter conversation from: [Topsy] – []

Posted in Accessibility, Social Web, Twitter | Leave a Comment »

Performance Analytics: Twitter, 20Feet and Crowdbooster

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 Dec 2012

CETIS Series of Analytics Briefing Papers

Adam Cooper, CETIS Director, recently published a post in which he tried to answer the question What does “Analytics” Mean? (or is it just another vacuuous buzz word?). In the post Adam asks the question:

But is analytics like cloud computing, is the word itself useful? Can a useful and clear meaning, or even a definition, of analytics be determined?

Adam concludes that “the answer is ‘yes’” and describes how this definition is explained in a CETIS briefing paper on What is Analytics? Definition and Essential Characteristics. Adam’s post also introduces the CETIS series of briefing papers on Analytics which includes papers on Analytics; what is changing and why does it matter?Analytics for the whole institution, Analytics for Learning and TeachingLegal, Risk and Ethical Aspects of Analytics in Higher EducationAnalytics for Understanding Research and A Framework of Characteristics for Analytics.

The What is Analytics? Definition and Essential Characteristics briefing paper provides the following useful pithy definition:

Analytics is the process of developing actionable insights through problem definition and the application of statistical models and analysis against existing and/or simulated future data.

The CETIS work in this area has a focus on learning analytics, which reflects their core area of interest and expertise. However there are other areas of interest which are of relevance to the higher education sector. In addition there are approaches which have been taken to analytics beyond our sector which may provide useful insights.

Beyond Learning Analytics

Adam Cooper’s blog post concludes by encouraging people to focus on the applications of use of analytics, rather than seeking formal definitions:

Rather than say what business analytics, learning analytics, research analytics, etc is, I think we should focus on the applications, the questions and the people who care about these things.

I would agree with this approach. An example of possible dangers in focussing on the terms being used and the associated definitions can be see in the discussions surrounding altmetrics. As highlighted by Jean Liu in a post on Metrics and Beyond @ SpotOn London 2012:

A commonly held assumption about alt-metrics is that they are meant to replace traditional measures of research impact like citation counts. Actually most in the field (us included) think that alt-metrics should complement traditional metrics, not eliminate them altogether.

Although I recently commented on the need to understand the limits of altmetrics in a post on Understanding the Limits of Altmetrics: Slideshare Statistics in this post I want to focus on what I will refer to as performance analytics.

Performance Analytics in Sport and Hobbies

Wikipedia defines permance metrics as “a measure of an organization’s activities and performance. Performance metrics should support a range of stakeholder needs from customers, shareholders to employees“. We can see how such approaches can be applied in areas such as sports from the article published in the Guardian in August 2012 which described how Manchester City to open the archive on player data and statistics.

On a personal level in a post entitled Personal Perspectives on How Metrics Can Influence Practice I described the judge’s marks for last year’s rapper sword dancing competition (in which we came bottom of our group). The evidence of our low marks led to a decision to change our approaches to the dance, to the structure of the team and our weekly practices. The scores provided us with ‘actionable insights‘ into our performance which led to subsequent changes in behaviour.

I have noticed a growing interest in performance analytics across people I follow on Twitter, with a number of people in my network having purchased a Fitbit gadget and, judging my tweets I see in my Twitter stream, the Runkeeper app on their iPhone or Android device. If you’re looking for a Christmas present for a gadget-minded friend who is starting to think about their fitness the Duigital Trends Web site provides suggestions for Eight fitness gadgets that actually work.

Twitter Analytics

If metrics can provide insights into real world activities such as football, sword dancing, running and walking, then their relevance in a digital environment would appear obvious.

But should one care about performance analytics for activities such as use of Twitter?

John Spencer in a post entitled Twitter Isn’t a Tool has explained how he is unhappy with “organizations inquir[ing] about the best ways to maximize Twitter for professional development“. For John “Twitter isn’t a commodity“. Rather “Twitter is where I go when I want to talk to teacher friends … when I want to hang out with some teachers with my same quirky sense of humor [and] where people challenge my groupthink and push me to rethink my practice“.

@mr_brett_clark was in agreement: “I often describe Twiter like a party“. Curt Ress had a similar view: “I often see Twitter as a cocktail party. Lots of people having quick exchanges amidst a lot of noise. But through time, relationships are formed and real learning happens.

But although Twitter may be an informal conversational medium which can enhance informal learning, I feel that others may agree with this characterisation and yet still find value in using analytics to “develop actionable insights”. After all although my hobby, rapper sword dancing, is a fun activity. there is widespread, although my no means universal, agreement that the judging and the competitive nature can improve standards.

And, of course, beyond Twitter’s role in informal learning and social intercourse, the tool is also being used to support formal institutional activities, as can be seen from the survey in August 2012 which showed that there have been almost 50,000 tweets from official Russell Group university Twitter accounts, which have over 300,000 followers.


Crowdbooster: Impressions for Nov 2012The Crowdbooster service allows you to:

Analyze the performance of your individual tweets and posts with an interactive graph and table to quickly understand what’s working. Customize the date range to understand the impact of your campaign. Drill down to view engagement and reach metrics on Facebook and Twitter.

Use of the free version of the service is illustrated in the accompanying screenshot.

As can be seen you can view the potential impact of tweets on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, over all your tweets or for a customised range.

Crowdbooster: Nos. of followers for Nov 2012As an example, I have an interest in seeing how the initial announcement of the date of the IWMW 2013 event has been shared across Twitter.

It seems that there have been 11 retweets of the posts which have the potential to have been seen by 8.3K Twitter users. As Twitter users will know, this potential audience is unlikely to reflect reality. However it does provide an indication of outreach and the 11 retweets (and 2 conversations) are based on reality.


The TwentyFeet Web site describes how:

TwentyFeet is an “egotracking” service that will help you keep track of your own social media activities and monitor your results. We aggregate metrics from different services, thus giving you the full picture of what happens around you on the web – all in one place.

The TwentyFeet service (also known as 20ft) provides a range of graphs which help to visualise one’s Twitter performance over time. These include:
20ft: Reputation for Nov 2012

  • Reputation influence: the numbers of followers gained and lost over a specified period together with the number of Twitter lists you are on.
  • Influence indicators: the number of mentions and retweets.
  • Conversations: including tweets, retweets and @ messages.
  • Followers analyses: the numbers following you, people not following back and the rato of followers to following.
  • List analyses: the numbers of lists you own, the numbers of members of lists you own and the number of subscribers to one’s lists.
  • Additional information: the numbers of tweets you have favourited, the number number of tweets posted, the total number of links posted and the total number of lists followed.

Examples of TwentyFeet graphs for my numbers of followers in November 2012 are illustrated.

Business Models

The basic Crowdbooster service is available for free. As described on the pricing page this can be used to analyse one Twitter and one Facebook account. A Professional account, costing $39/month allows up to 10 accounts to be analysed with the Business account costing $99/month allowing up to 30 accounts to be analysed. No additional functionality is available for the paid-for accounts, apart from access to a live chat and phone support service,

The basic TwentyFeet service is available for free which can be used to analyse a single Twitter and Facebook account. However users of the free service will also find that the service sends a weekly tweet summarising the week’s performance, along the lines:

My week on twitter: 40 retweets received, 1 new listings, 37 new followers, 78 mentions. Via:

Some people find such automated tweets irritating (with the tweet from TwentyFeet perhaps being regarded as boastful). It is possible to buy a subscription service which can be used to disable the public notifications as well as provide various other benefits. Subscriptions costs $12.45 for 5 credits – however it is not clear how long the credits last for.


As mentioned previously many Twitter users may well have no interest in their Twitter metrics. However if you do have an interest, which service should you use? A similar answer would be to sign up for both. However the real decision to be made is probably whether to use the free version of TwentyFeet and accept the weekly automated tweets from one’s account.

Power Twitter users should have no difficulty in filtering tweets which are of no interest if they have a well-formed and consistent string of characters – which is the case for the alert from TwentyFeet as well as service such as (“The foo Daily is out“) and FourSquare (“I’m at foo“). Back in 2009 Mashable published an article entitled Twitter Better: 20 Ways to Filter Your Tweet. More recently posts on How to Filter out Noise from your Twitter Timeline and How to Filter Your Twitter Stream and a question on Quora which asked What tools can one use to filter one’s Twitter stream? highlighted some tools and techniques for Twitter management.

However many users will not wish to use such advanced filtering techniques. Perhaps in response to the public Twitter alerts provided by TwentyFeet, Crowdbooster now provides a private email alert. A few days ago I received s message saying:

You gained 7 followers a day over the past week! (On average, you gain 2) View your follower growth now.

To reach the most people, schedule your tweets for 12PM today, 8PM today and 9PM today.

In light of the developments to Crowdbooster I have just withdrawn permissions for TwentyFeet to post to my Twitter stream. The last tweet from the service was published 30 minutes ago:

My week on twitter: 45 retweets received, 8 new followers, 108 mentions. Via:

For me, Crowdbooster provides the deeper understanding of how I use Twitter. I know know that my second most retweeted post ever was posted two years ago:

A classic for those who like spotting misuse of apostrophe’s – spotted in Bath charity shop.

It seems there are a lot of grammar pedants amongst my Twitter followers!

View Twitter conversation from: [Topsy]

Posted in Evidence, Twitter | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Reflections on Event Amplification and the #SOLO12 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 Nov 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.

View Twitter conversation from: [Topsy]

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

Sharing (or Over-Sharing?) at #ILI2012

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 Nov 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]

Posted in Events, Twitter | Tagged: | 9 Comments »

Which University? The One With Good News or the One Which is Open and Transparent?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 13 Sep 2012

I came across the news first on Twitter from the @timeshighered account:

Which? launches university comparison website, featuring details of 30,000 courses and 262 HEIs: 

This announcement caused some slight concerns on Twitter, perhaps with a feeling that higher education shouldn’t be treated as a consumer good.

But shortly after the announcement on Twitter Alison Kerwin, head of Web Services at the University of Bath, reminded me that she had predicted that we would see such consumer guides to selecting higher education course when she gave a plenary talk on Let the Students do the Talking… at UKOLN’s IWMW 20o7 event:

I don’t want to say I told you so but… Which Guide to Universities? … #iwmw2007

As can be seen from Alison’s slide (which are available on Slideshare) which have her vision of the future, Alison predicted that we would see commercial services such as This service exists and which is not too dissimilar in its aims from the newly launched site.

As one does, the first University to explore on such services is your host institution. As can be seen for the entry for the University of Bath, we see not only the picturesque display of the University campus but also some pleasing words about the University:

Bath University is consistently one of the highest ranked for student satisfaction in the UK. The University has an ideal blend of academia and a thriving campus with many activities to get involved in. With a reputation for exceptionally strong sports we’re national champions in netball, football and women’s tennis – we also have a brand new arts complex on the way.

However the positive view of the university is not surprising when you notice that it has been provided by the Student’s Union.

Another view of the university is given by comments from students with one example of the downside being:

Faith support. We have a chaplaincy where I work part time but it is not advertised as a resource and is kept hidden by its location on campus so most students are unaware of the support offered by it.

Although it was good to read the positive comments:

Library facilities, teaching quality is generally high, communication is excellent.

Really good sports clubs due to the enthusiasm of the students involved.

But for me the most interesting aspect of the Which University Web site was the inclusion of the latest tweet from the institutional Twitter account. In this case this said:

RT @TeamBath The reception is over & the bus prepares to return to the @uniofbath . Thank you Bath.

and highlighted yesterday’s open top bus parade of Olympians and Paralympians in Bath including University of Bath Sports Performance student Michael Jamieson, who won swimming silver at the London Olympics and Paralympic swimmer Stephanie Millward, who won an impressive haul of five meals in the pool at the Games.

Clearly a relevant story for the University. But what if there’s less good news to report? What if the announcement is “Severe delays in getting Bath University today due to Open Day. Car park is full!“. Or, as happened a few year’s ago “University closed due to snow. No traffic allowed up Bathwick Hill” – although that can clearly be described as a good news story :-)

But what we are seeing is that a university’s official Twitter channel will have multiple purposes including keeping current staff and students up-to-date with relevant news as well as providing a marketing channel for potential students. It strikes me that the providers of the official channel may find tensions between the informational and marketing aspects of such work.

It would be interesting to hear if any Universities have published policies on the purpose, content and scope of their official Twitter channel, and how they might use Twitter to communicate important information which could have negative connotations.

But perhaps technology could provide a means of detecting feeds which only publish good news. We are seeing Twitter analytics tools which provide sentiment analysis. Perhaps such tools could be tuned to analyse University feeds too. And if potential students find that 100% of weather-related tweets, especially from a northern university, describe sunny weather they might detect a lack of openness! After all, as we know that many only reviews are fake, digital literacy courses provided for students may give advice on how to spot fake reviews. Let’s ensure that our channels are based on values of openness and transparency and not just the good news. Which is, of course, the point Alison made back in 2007 when she said Let the Students do the Talking….

Twitter conversation from: [Topsy] – [SocialMenton] – [WhosTalkin]

Posted in openness, Twitter | 4 Comments »

Findings of a Survey on Tweetchats

Posted by Brian Kelly on 4 Sep 2012

Survey on Tweetchats

On 21 August 2012 I published a post entitled #uklibchat, #ECRchat, #PhDchat, #Socialchat and Other Tweetchats which provided an introduction to “Tweetchats” and illustrated how researchers and information professionals are using the open realtime discussion environment provided by a simple combination of Twitter and a hashtag to share ideas and discuss topics of comment interest with their peers.

The post included a survey on how people used Tweetchats. In the three weeks since the post was published there have been 18 responses. Since there is a #uklibchat taking place tonight, it seems appropriate to take this opportunity to summarise the responses.

The respondents mentioned eight Tweetchats, with the most popular ones being #uklibchat (9 mentions), #chartership (4), #phdchat (4), #ECRchat (2) and #acwi (2). Seven respondents contributed to Tweetchats regularly and eight occasionally. In addition 2 responses were received from people who have never participated in a Tweetchat. Twelve respondents said they would recommend participation in Tweetchats to others.

I will list the responses received below.

What benefits do you feel Tweetchats have provided, if any?

  • They’ve given me a community and a shared space to explore ideas. They let me know my concerns and problems aren’t just mine – other people experience them too. I get to offer my experience and advice, and to take advantage of other people’s. I expand my horizons about what academia looks like. I meet people I wouldn’t meet any other way.
  • Tips, advice and support from other chartership candidates, and greater understanding of topics and other perspectives for more general discussions.
  • Expanded network, i.e. increase in Twitter followers and more blog hits/comments
  • I don’t feel isolated. Its a good source for informal sharing of support as well as ideas, strategies, resources. Links to articles I would not have come across otherwise. Was a launching pad to conferences I have since attended.
  • A regular opportunity to network with a wide range of people I would not otherwise meet, and to have very interesting and thought-provoking discussions/debates about topics I would not otherwise think about in depth.
  • Convenient & cheap (free), can network with ppl all over the world, get lots of varied info and ideas, exciting!
  • Connects me with fellow LIS professionals who have similar issues in their workplaces.
  • I see it as a form of networking with others in your profession that you may not meet otherwise. I also find it a good way to debate topical issues in the sector and also see things from other people’s point of view as well as learning about things I did not know about before, for example resources or events or even things going on in academic/ public sector libraries etc.
  • Live discussion of issues with other professionals, from various locations, to keep up to date and to exchange views.
  • Get to speak to like-minded people who you’re unlikely to meet any other way; instant responses / ideas / suggestions.
  • Opportunity for me, as a mentor, to find out what is of concern to chartership candidates, to provide encouragement and maybe even pick up useful CPD ideas I can use myself.
  • Being able to enjoy conferences vicariously. Breaking down usual communication barriers, and any hierarchy within academia (the student has the same voice as the professor). Drawing upon numerous different fields of previously inaccessible thought.
  • Contacts.
  • Making contacts on Twitter – means more likely to get a response if you post a query later. Evidence for chartership – engaging in professional issues. Sharing idea’s, building trust among fellow professionals. Creating local contacts – I’ve joined a local chartership group that meets in person as a result of chartership chats on Twitter. Much more motivating to meet up in person with others, but wouldn’t have happened without Twitter

Why have you not participated in a Tweetchat?

  • From July – September I’m usually at the Proms every night, so a “bad” time. Other times? I would if I saw a special topic that interested me. Otherwise, I don’t bring my work home with me.
  • I’d like to learn more, but it’s difficult to get your head around it. There are different platforms and different format. Too many questions! I’d love to get some advice.
  • If I haven’t, it’s been either the time of day (early evening sometimes doing something else) or the subject has not been of interest.
  • Often I am busy at the time they are scheduled for, a great shame, but I am still able to read back through the chat via the hashtag.
  • I am not always able to be available at the right time

Other relevant comment

  • I think using Twitter for synchronous discussions is a really valuable use and something which I think will continue to increase.
  • While the chat is a synchronised one once a week on a surveyed topic. It is also an ongoing chat on any topic during the week as well.
  • I regularly took part in #uklibchat for almost a year, and have now joined the organising team (so I may be biased!)
  • I join #UKLibchat when the topic is something I’m interested in / feel I can contribute to – so not necessarily every fortnight.


It appears that the majority of the respondents valued their participation in Tweetchats and are happy to recommend participation to others. But although some appear to value the opportunity Tweetchat can provide for professional development outside normal working hours others may not welcome this intrusion outside normal working hours.

I feel that it is appropriate to leave the final word with @joeayanne, who is clearly a fan of Tweetchats for supporting professional development in a Library context:

I organise #chartership chat which usually happens once a fortnight – see for blog post about the first chat (which trended in UK!) and for dates, archives and summaries.

I also set up #llrg (Library Leadership Reading Group) tweetchats – see for FAQs and for a summary of the discussion.

For those who may now feel motivated to try out a Tweetchat, tonight’s UKLibchat is on the topic of digitisation and takes place from 18:30 – 20:30.

If, on the other hand, you are a researcher, you may wish to participate in the #ECRchat which, as it has an international audience, takes place on Thursday 6th September at 11:00-12:00 in the UK.

This chat will be hosted by Hazel Ferguson, a postdoc researching the cultural politics of alternative food systems in the Northern Rivers of NSW, Australia. Interested participants can vote for the topic to be discussed, which includes Developing an independent research profile; the fixed-term contract trap; Learning and developing leadership skills and Changing track.

Twitter conversation via Topsy: [View]

Posted in Twitter | Tagged: | 8 Comments »

Dark Nodes and Dodgy Connections; Dealing With Fake Followers

Posted by Brian Kelly on 26 Aug 2012

“It’s About Nodes and Connections”

In a recent post I described how Social Media is About Nodes and Connections and explained “the importance [of] the network effect, with a growth in the number of nodes (the bloggers, the contributors, the Twitter users) leading to a growth in the number of connections (the posts, the comments, the tweets, the retweets) which help in the development of new insights and new ideas“.

But whilst many users of social media, including those working in higher education, are making use of such network effects to support their professional activities in legitimate and ethical ways others are seeking to exploit network effects in ways which may be considered unethical.

Fake and Inactive Connections

An article on such approaches was published on Sunday 26 August 2012 in the Observer. The article asked How many Twitter followers do they really have? and explained that although Lady Gaga has almost 30 million followers on her Twitter account only 29% of these are “good”. The remainder are either fake or inactive accounts. Whilst inactive accounts will be simply those used by people who are lurkers or who may no longer have an interest in using Twitter, a fake account is set up to follow people or send out spam.

The article describes that there is now a market for the sale of Twitter followers. “One kind of software identifies Twitter accounts that include keywords such as football, and “follows” these accounts in the hope they will reciprocate. Other programmes create artificial accounts and sell them by the thousand. On the Fiverr website, 2,000 followers can be bought for $5“. As can be seen and shown in the accompanying image there are clearly several providers of such services.

The Observer article described, “a British start-up company has pledged to root out and expose the phantom, fake and fraudulent followers being used to massage the numbers claimed by celebrities, politicians and the merely insecure within the Twittersphere“. Although at pricing ranging from £25 to £100 per month I can’t imagine there will be many subscribers, I’m pleased that we are seeing public awareness of spam problems and solutions being developed, starting with such auditing tools.

In a research context we are seeing how Scholars Seek Better Ways to Track Impact Online who recognise that “research that used to take months or years to reach readers can now find them almost instantly via blogs and Twitter”. However as Ernesto Priego pointed out on the Guardian’s Higher Education Network’s blog a few days ago for Alt.metrics “‘quality of engagement matters as much as retweets”.

I hope that pressures to maximise ‘impact’ will not lead to researchers buying Twitter followers in the hope that this will increase the numbers of downloads of their papers. But if they do I suspect that this will not be productive – I suspect that we will see developments to alt.metrics tools which will help to identify fake followers. We might also see the development of alt.metrics measures which will provide more sophisticated measures which give high weighting to active engagement on Twitter rather than passive consumption.

What’s a Twitter User To Do?

How should an individual who wishes to use Twitter in an ethical and responsible way respond to the dark side of Twitter?

Clearly one should not buy followers! But what should you do if you see an influx of people who have started to follow you?

Such information is not easily found. On a mobile device the Twitter client now enables you to see not only messages sent to you but also recent actions, which includes tweets you have sent which may have been retweeted or favourited, as well as people who have started following you.

A few nights ago nine people started following me, as illustrated. I have not got into the habit on the bus on the way to work of block the obvious spam followers – in this case @NetEquityLoans and @DrinkTampico.

In order to decide whether Gregg Thorpe was a spam follower or not a trivial amount of further investigation was needed: the Twitter ID @1stplaceranking gave the game away, as did the suspicious Twitter statistics – 2 tweets, 4,681 followers with 5,124 users being followed!

Loreen Deeka also appeared to be a spam account and checking recent tweets confirmed this.

These four accounts were subsequently blocked. As well as applying such approaches regularly I have also used software such as the SocialBro desktop application which gives me a profile of my Twitter environment including suggestions of suspicion followers.

The Observer article made me appreciate that there will be a need for professional users of Twitter, whether individual of corporate, to have a policy on how they deal with misuse of Twitter. I’ve therefore decided to document my current policy (which is liable to change):

  • I will monitor new followers and block obvious spam followers and other followers which I feel are inappropriate.
  • I will use Twitter auditing tools periodically to identify inappropriate followers and block them.

I suspect there will be a need for such policies for institutional Twitter accounts. Are people aware of any which have been published? I’m also interested in the approaches which individuals may take in blocking followers. Or do people chose to take no action?

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

Posted in Twitter | 10 Comments »

#uklibchat, #ECRchat, #PhDchat, #Socialchat and Other Tweetchats

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21 Aug 2012


What is a Tweetchat? What Tweetchats are there to support researchers and information professionals? How widely used are they? Are they useful? These are some of the questions I’ve tried to answer in this post – although the answer to the final question will be reliant on responses provided by participants of Tweetchats.


Yesterday I came across an email on the LIS-Profession JISCMail list about a Twitter discussion which is taking place tonight (Tuesday 21 August 2012):

Next Tuesday from 18:30 – 20:30pm #uklibchat will be discussing:

*Outreach and Inclusion*

One of the ways that libraries prove their worth is by the amount of users that they have and, for public libraries especially, it’s about serving the community. Outreach, by its very name, is about reaching out and engaging with people, inspiring them to make more use of the library!

If you are interested in sharing your experience with doing outreach work, discussing ways that libraries can be more socially inclusive, or what outreach means for different library sectors, or anything else related to the topic, do join us!

Everyone is welcome to add their questions to the open discussion agenda: [link

If you have any questions just e-mail us, or contact us on Twitter @uklibchat

As illustrated #uklibchat has an accompanying web site which provides further information about #uklibchat discussions and archives of previous discussions.


The message which alerted me to the #uklibchat was quite timely as on Sunday I came across an interesting discussion using the #ECRchat Twitter hashhag. As a number of people I follow on Twitter were participating in the discussion I was able to learnt that #ECRChat is a discussion environment for Early Career Researchers. Looking at the #ECRChat Web site I found that this provides a weekly topic for discussion with the topic for Thursday 23 August currently being voted on, with the four topics being Social media use for ECRs: (1) pros and cons, and different types for different purposes; (2) Defining success outside of the traditional academic path; (3) Coping with and getting out of the fixed-term contract trap and (4) Getting recognition for work outside of research.

The group was established on 15 July 2012 with the aim of “providing a global weekly discussion for the early career researcher community via Twitter“.


#PhDChat provides another Twitter hashtag which I encounter occasionally on my Twitter stream. From the #PhDChat Web site I learnt that:

In November 2010, a group of UK based research students began to meet together on Wednesday evenings for an hour using the medium of Twitter in order to share their experiences of the doctoral journey. News of the gatherings quickly spread, and the discussions began to encompass postgraduate researchers from around the globe together with a number of people who have completed their doctoral journeys and a number of academics who are involved in supporting postgraduate research. 

Unlike the #uklibchat and #ECRChat Web sites, which use, this Web site uses the PBWorks Wiki tool. The Wiki provides information about the discussion environment, links to archives of previously discussed topics, links to other useful resources and pages which are in preparation.


I came across #Socialchat last night as one person I follow on twitter regularly participates in the discussions. Unusually, perhaps, #Socialchat has a Facebook presence from which I learnt that “#SocialChat is a weekly TwitterChat on Mondays“.

The Facebook page provides a link to the Socialparle Web site which describes how “#SocialChat is a weekly Twitter Chat where we discuss a variety of topics surrounding Social Media Marketing. Every Monday night we put a featured guest on the hot seat and you get to ask questions and contribute to the conversation“. The Web site provides a link to archives of the discussions which date back to February 2011. Looking at the archive of the discussions on the topic of Social Media ROI which took place on 1 August 2011 it seems that Storify is used to record the discussions.

About Tweetchats

Although I was aware of Tweetchats though the tweets with various hashtags on my stream I wasn’t aware of how popular they were. Looking at the Tweetchat Wiki with List of Tweetchats I found the following useful definition of a Tweetchat:

Tweetchats are virtual meetings held on Twitter. They are typically gatherings of Tweeps who share similar interests. Tweetchats often meet at set days and times during the week. They are identified by a hashtag – a word prepended with a pound sign (#). The pound sign makes it easy to identify the tweetchat members as well as the tweets belonging to the particular chat.

together with a directory of a wide range of Tweetchats grouped by Day of the Week, Subject and alphabetically (A – I and J – Z).

You can participate in a Tweetchat using your favourite Twitter client for posting, using the appropriate hashtag and search for tweets with the hashtag to see others’ contributions. Alternatively you can use a dedicated service such as TweetChat (illustrated being used with #ECRchat).

Another relevant service is As illustrated this service provides analytics for Tweetchats. The statistics for the services mentioned in this post summarised below (statistics collated at 08.20 on Tuesday 21 August 2012).

  • Analysis of ECRChat: 67 tweets generated 48,941 impressions, reaching an audience of 30,338 followers within the past 24 hours
  • Analysis of PhDChat: 279 tweets generated 197,757 impressions, reaching an audience of 101,756 followers within the past 24 hours
  • Analysis of UKLibchat: 7 tweets generated 4,335 impressions, reaching an audience of 1,531 followers within the past 24 hours
  • Analysis of Socialchat: 544 tweets generated 4,517,020 impressions, reaching an audience of 1,350,605 followers within the past 24 hours (illustrated)


Sunday’s #ECRChat discussion moved into discussions about non-users of social media in a research context following the link to a post which asked Who are the offline-academics? The subsequent discussions used the #offlineac tag and Lou Woodley has helpfully provided a Storify summary of the discussions. I suggested that it would be useful to have a better understanding of the benefits which online academics, for example, gain from use of social media in order to develop a model of the different reasons for participation. Rather than a broad areas (such as blogging or Twitter) it seemed to me to be useful to understand how a particular aspect of a social media tool is being used and to hear about the benefits which this may provide. Tweetchats, I felt, could provide a useful focus for such analysis. The following survey has been created. I welcome your participation. A summary of the responses will be provided on this blog.

A survey was open from 21 August to 4 September 2012. The survey asked the following questions:

  • Have you participated in a Tweetchat?
  • Please give the name(s) of the Tweetchats.
  • What benefits do you feel Tweetchats have provided, if any?
  • ‘Why have you not participated in a Tweetchat?
  • Would you recommend participation in a Tweetchat to others?
  • Feel free to add other relevant comments.
  • The findings have been published on this blog.
  • Your contact details (e.g. twitter ID or email) if you would like a reply.

A summary of the findings was published on 4 September 2012.

Twitter conversation via Topsy: [View]

Posted in Twitter | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

“Celebrating 10,000 Followers!”: Social Media is About Nodes and Connections

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 Aug 2012


JISC Celebrates 10,000 Followers

Yesterday a tweet from @jisc announced that their Twitter account had reached 10,000 followers:

NEWS: Celebrating 10,000 followers… and our resources to help engage students through social media: … 

This news provided a useful opportunity for JISC to “showcase some resources that can help you blog, tweet and interact your way to better student retention, marketing and teaching online“. The news item highlighted seven resources which were felt to help institutions in using social media to support their students:

  1. Listen to a podcast (MP3 format) on developing your social media strategy with Steph Gray of Helpful Technology.
  2. Read JISC CETIS’ ideas about using Twitter in the classroom.
  3. Learn how Cardiff Northumbria and Bristol universities use Twitter and Facebook to support international students.
  4. Reflect on how your PhD students are using social media and other new technologies to collaborate and stay up to date using the biggest ever survey of PhD students.
  5. Read a case study on engaging students through blogging.
  6. Download the LSE’s guide to Tweeting for academics.
  7. Compare your university to other universities. Find out which social media networks others are using on the UK Web Focus blog post.

And whilst the @JISC Twitter account provides a valuable channel for JISC to disseminate JISC activities and innovative uses of IT across the higher and further education sector, this is complemented by the work of JISC Programme Managers and other JISC staff who use social media technologies for engaging with the sector in the support of development activities. Remember that the solution which may be described in a glossy PDF report or a polished podcast will be the result of rich interactions, discussions and even disagreements; social media provides an environment for supporting such engagement which, ten years ago, tended to be restricted to mailing lists, meetings and trips to workshops and conferences.

It probably goes without saying that the benefits of social media aren’t restricted to supporting students; LSE’s Impact of Social Sciences blog, for example, regularly provides examples of how social media can support research activities. A good example is Mellisa Terras’s post which asked The verdict: is blogging or tweeting about research papers worth it? and described how “Melissa Terras took all of her academic research, including papers that have been available online for years, to the web and found that her audience responded with a huge leap in interest in her work“.

Nodes and Connections

In a recent post I described how Social Media? It’s About The Numbers! The post reflected on how the popularity of Twitter for talking about the Olympics indicated a mass take-up of the channel which appears to becoming an ’embedded technology’ – a technology which large numbers of familiar with and comfortable in using for a range of activities. The post went on to explain how for many communication channels achieving a critical mass is important in order to maximise awareness, engagement discussion, feedback and marketing opportunities. JISC clearly appreciate the importance of such numbers, and it is very pleasing to see the significant growth in their followers since the account was established on 10 January 2009.

Yesterday Steve Wheeler in a post on Separation and connection reinforced this view when he described how “We are witnessing a time where a mobile world wide web of connections is proliferating, and in which social mores, human relationships and communication conventions have been irrevocably changed“, supporting this view with the evidence that “Facebook boasts over 845 million subscriptions and this statistics grows each month. What is even more remarkable is that these 845 million user accounts have so far generated over 100 billion connections“. Steve concluded with an optimistic view of the role of social media in education: “I believe we have not even started to scratch the surface of the massive potential of social media and mobile technology to disrupt and transform learning. That’s why it’s so exciting to be an educator in the digital age.

But not everyone, I feel, appreciates the importance of ‘nodes’ and ‘connections’ which are at the heart of successful social web services. As I described in a post entitled It’s About Links; It’s About Connectedness! Cameron Neylon’s opening plenary talk at the Open Repositories OR 2012 conference addressed the importance of such connectivity. As reported in the live blog of Cameron’s talk:

Most of you can remember a time without mobile phones. 20 years ago if I’d shown up and wanted to meet for a drink it would have been difficult or impossible. Email wasn’t useful back then either as so few people had it. When you start with nodes and start joining up the network… for a long time little changes. You just let people communicate in the same way you did before… right up until everyone has access to a mobile phone. or everyone has email. You move from a network that is better connected network to a network that can be traversed in new ways. for chemists THIS IS A Cooperative phase transition. Where the network crystalises out from a solution.

Cameron has kindly shared his slides with me (prior to making a more generic version of the slides publicly available) which has helped me to refresh my memories of his talk and reuse some of the images he provided.

Cameron argued that “Networks qualitatively change our capacity” and depicted this ‘phase transition’ as shown: with only 20% of a community being connected only a limited amount of interaction can take place, but this increases drastically as the numbers of connected nodes grows – and imagine the possibilities as the numbers approach 100%!

Cameron provided some examples of such approaches in scientific research including Galaxy Zoo and the Timothy Gower’s experiment in which Professor Gower asked “is massively collaborative mathematics possible?“. The answer was “yes” with a new combinatorial proof to the density version of the Hales–Jewett theorem being found using “blogs and a wiki to organize an open mathematical collaboration attempting to find a new proof ” after only 7 weeks.

The importance is the network effect, with a growth in the number of nodes (the bloggers, the contributors, the Twitter users) leading to a growth in the number of connections (the posts, the comments, the tweets, the retweets) which help in the development of new insights and new ideas.

Let’s Not Kill The Golden Goose!

A concern which needs to be recognised is that the evidence of the benefits of use of social media will lead to organisations seeking to use the social web in inappropriate ways, leading to a failure to provide the benefits based on the network effect. There are dangers that the benefits of the social web are felt to be its ease-of-use and its virality, but that the tools should be used in a corporate way. Seeking to take the individuality away from use of such tools could lead a reduction in the number of nodes and in the connections which often take place between individuals rather than organisations. Such approaches could kill the golden goose and lead to social networks which people abandon due to the lack of openness and transparency and effectiveness.

One barrier which people sometimes mention are concerns of information overload – and this may have been the reaction when I suggested that people should “imagine the possibilities as the numbers approach 100%!“.

Cameron Neylon addressed this as one of the three key issues in his plenary talk at OR 2012. “Filters block” argued Cameron, “Filters cause friction“. And as there’s not a single right filter for everyone (as we all have different needs, with your rubbish being my valuable resources) we should reject inappropriate supply-side filters and focus, instead, on developing and using client-side filters.

Let’s therefore keep on encouraging new nodes to spring up – new Twitter users (many of whom may have started tweeting during the Olympics) and new bloggers – and avoid developing barriers on the creation of new connections – the tweets, the comments and the posts.

But we need to appreciate that those who may be considering the development of top-down approaches to use of social media are probably doing so because they have legitimate concerns. As described in a paper on Moving From Personal to Organisational Use of the Social Web there is a need for “a policy framework which seeks to ensure that authors can exploit Cloud Services to engage with their audiences in a professional and authentic manner whilst addressing the concerns of their host institution“. And note that such policies need not be difficult to write.

Posted in Blog, Social Networking, Twitter | 8 Comments »

Social Analytics for Institutional Twitter Accounts Provided by the 24 Russell Group Universities

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 Aug 2012


In June 2011 a survey was published on Social Analytics for Russell Group University Twitter Accounts. The survey built on a previous survey of Institutional Use of Twitter by Russell Group Universities published in January 2011. That survey provided a snapshot of institutional use of Twitter across the twenty Russell Group Universities based on the statistics provided on Twitter account profile pages (numbers of followers, numbers of tweets, etc.). The survey was warmly received by those involved in managing institutional Twitter accounts or with an interest in activities in this area, with Mario Creatura expressing the view that the survey provided an “excellent gathering of data in an area that quite honestly is chock full of confusing stats“.

In the week which sees the expansion of the Russell Group Universities from 20 to 24 institutions a series of surveys of use of a variety of social networking services by the Russell Group universities is being carried out in order to provide a benchmark of use of the services across the enlarged group, as well as providing an opportunity for reflection and discussion of the relevance of social media analytics to inform decisions on use of such services.

Use of Social Analytic Services

In May 2011 in a post entitled Analysing influence .. the personal reputational hamsterwheel Lorcan Dempsey highlighted three social media analytic services. The post described how it had been suggested that the “Klout score will become a new way of measuring people and their influence online“. In addition to Klout, (which according to Crunchbase ”allows users to track the impact of their opinions, links and recommendations across your social graph“) Lorcan’s post also referenced PeerIndex (which according to Crunchbaseidentifies and ranks experts in business and finance based on their digital footprints“) and Twitalyser (described in a Mashable article“provid[ing] detailed metrics on things like impact, engagement, clout and velocity for individual Twitter accounts“) .

Lorcan’s blog post addressed the relevance of such service for helping to understand personal reputation on Twitter. However these services can also be used to analyse institutional Twitter accounts. I have therefore used the Klout, Peerindex and Twitalyzer social media analytic tools to analyse the 24 Russell Group University Twitter accounts. The table below summarises the findings of the survey which was carried out on Wednesday 1 August 2012. It should also be noted that the table contains live links to the services which will enable the current findings to be displayed (and also for any errors to be easily detected and reported).

Institution /
Twitter Account
No. of
No. of
Klout Peerindex Twitteralyzer
Score Network
Description Score Impact Percentile Type Full
1 University of Birmingham:
3,814 17,373 57 39 11 6K Specialist 97 17.2% 97 Everyday
2 University of Bristol:
2,504 13,195 53 36 17 3K Specialist 90  5.0% 90 Everyday
3 University of Cambridge:
 2,460 37,195 52 34  9 3K Specialist ? 13.1% 96 Everyday
4 Cardiff University:
 1,832 15,919 49 30  7 2K Specialist 58  9.4% 94 Everyday
5 University of Edinburgh:
 2,135 15,077 51 32 10 3K Specialist 54  6.7% 92 Everyday
6 Durham University:
 678   4,205 44 23  6 959 Networker 11 1.8% 72 Everyday
7 University of Exeter:
3,472 11,224 51 33  8 3K Specialist 43 6.6% 92 Everyday
8 University of Glasgow:
1,754 17,990 49 28  6 3K Specialist 43 6.1% 92 Everyday
9 Imperial College:
1,572 14,216 49 30  9 2K Specialist 47 6.1% 92 Everyday
10 King’s College London:
  954   9,299 47 27  8 2K Specialist 34 6.9% 93 Everyday
11 University of Leeds:
2,151 14,284 50 31  7  2K Specialist  42 4.2% 88 Everyday
12 University of Liverpool:
4,105 10,593 48 28  8 2K Specialist 50 4.2% 88 Everyday
13 LSE:
  389   6,177 41 19  6 622 Networker 27 1.5% 69 Everyday
14 University of Manchester:
   33    537 27 10  5 101 Conversation-
27 0.1%   8 Everyday
15 Newcastle University:
  576  2,625 41  19  7 474  Networker  11 2.4% 78  Everyday
16 University of Nottingham:
5,214 12,269 51 57 30 2K Specialist 56 10.3% 95 Everyday
17 University of Oxford:
 1,001 43,975 58 65 37 8K Specialist 49 12.0% 96 Everyday
18 Queen Mary:
 1,668 8,113 49 31 11 2K Thought
23 3.2% 83 Everyday
19 Queen’s University Belfast:
1,222  5,916 41 48 23 779 Specialist 15 2.4% 78 Everyday
20 University of Sheffield:
2,276 17,289 52 34  8 3K Specialist 50 12.9% 96 Everyday
21 University of Southampton:
1,898  8,746 50 32 9 2K Specialist 52  7.3% 93 Everyday
22 University College London:
3,384 10,113 59 30 10 2K Specialist 56 6.4% 92 Everyday
23 University of Warwick:
2,939 15,883 51 32  9 3K Specialist 57 7.1% 93 Everyday
24 University of York:
  946 10,248 49 30  8 2K Specialist 61  4% 87 Everyday
TOTAL 48,977 322,461    

It should be noted that the data provided by PeerIndex has changed since the analysis carried out last year. The values for Activity, Audience and Authority which had been provided previously no longer appear to be available. This information is therefore not available for this survey.

[NOTE: A summary of the meaning of the various rankings was given in the initial survey. Added 3 Aug 2012]

Figure 2: PeerIndex scores for Russell Group universities

Figure 1: Klout scores for new Russell Group universities

The two Klout groups set up last year (Russell Group Universities (1 of 3) and Russell Group Universities (2 of 3) have been renamed and complemented by the Russell Group Universities (3 of 3) group. These groups should enable comparisons to be made across the institutions based on the particular social media analytic service elected. Figure 1 shows the Klout scores for the four new Russell Group universities. Also note that a Russell Group Universities Peerindex group which was set up last year has been updated with details of the institutional Twitter accounts for the four new Russell Group Universities. Figure 2 shows the PeerIndex scores for a selection of the Russell Group universities.


Despite the marketing rhetoric around Twitter analytic tools – with Klout, for example, stating thatKlout is the standard for influence” – as a means of measuring ‘value’ such automated analyses have well-known flaws. As an example, if you prune spam followers from your Twitter account, you apparent influence on Twitter will go down.

In the case of institutional Twitter accounts the numbers of followers, especially for Twitter accounts used to support internal communications, is likely to reflect the size of the institution rather than the influence of the Twitter account.

Despite such caveats Twitter analytic tools can be used if used in conjunction with local knowledge of the aims of the service and the particular approaches taken to using the tool. In addition Twitter analytics may be useful for making comparisons with peer institutions.

It should also be added that since the higher education sector is accustomed to University league tables, with Wikipedia listing the Complete University Guide, the Guardian’s University Guide 2013, and the Sunday Times university league table (accessible by paywall) and the Times Higher Education also providing the World University Rankings, as suggested in a post on Bath is the University of the Year! But What if Online Metrics Were Included? we might expect such university ranking tables in future to include an element related to rankings of a university’s online presence.

The Sunday Times have documented their criteria for their University league tables. Although the details are held behind the Sunday Times Paywall a summary was documented in last year’s blog post and the section categories are given below:

Teaching excellence (250 points); Student satisfaction (+50 to =55 points)Peer assessment (100 points); Research quality (200 points); A-level/Higher points (250 points); Unemployment (200 points); Firsts/2:1s awarded (100) and Dropout rate (+57 to -74 points).

The Klout, PeerIndex and Twitteralyzer services have been developed for analysing personal influence, and the approaches they use may be of interest to those involved in alt.metrics work. As described in a paper on Altmetrics in the Wild: Using Social Media to Explore Scholarly Impact

The online, public nature of [social media tools like blogs, Twitter, and Mendeley] exposes and reifies scholarly processes once hidden and ephemeral. Metrics based on this activities could inform broader, faster measures of impact, complementing traditional citation metrics.

However if the current set of popular Twitter analytics tools are not appropriate for developing a better understanding of use of Twitter for research purposes or in an institutional context, might there be a role for in-house development work?  It was therefore very interesting to read Craig Russell’s post on UK Uni Twitter Data API in which he described how “At the start of the month I began collecting data about UK university twitter accounts” and went on to add that “I’ve made this data available through a simple API“.

Rather than pointing out the limitations of social analytics tools such as Klout, might not the sector benefit from developing its own set of tools to help gain a better understanding of how Twitter is being used? And should we not encourage such work to take place in the open, with the data being made available under an open licence and, as Craig has done, open APIs being provided to encourage reuse by others?

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

Posted in Evidence, Twitter | 6 Comments »

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

Posted by Brian Kelly on 25 Jun 2012

IWMW 2012 Is Over: Long Live IWMW 2012!

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

Key Resources


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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

Other Commercial Twitter Analytics Tools

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

Beyond Commercial Twitter Analysis Tools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily newspaper

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


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

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

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

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

Twitter Analysis: Can #bathopenday Learn from #IWMW12?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21 Jun 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serindipity? It’s Madness!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 12 Jun 2012

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

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

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

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

Wow! Yes. Blast from the past!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Great Masturbator by Salvador Dali

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Accessibility, Twitter | 1 Comment »

How Bottlenose Can Help Turn Twitter into a High Signal Channel

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 May 2012


Reviewing Bottlenose

On Saturday I discovered the Bottlenose service and quickly realised how it can enhance my Twitter, Facebook and other channels to enable me to quickly find content of interest to me. Within a few minutes of using the service I found myself agreeing with Mashable that “Bottlenose is a Game Changer for Social Media Consumption” and ReadWriteWeb that the service is “More intelligent than basic consumer dashboards like TweetDeck and HootSuite“.

I came across Bottlenose from a tweet posted by @suebecks. I found that I had previously registered for the service but hadn’t yet received an activation code. However since Bottleneck have stated that “if you happen to have a Klout score over 30, you can register and gain access straight away ” and my Klout rating is 48 I was able to use the service straight away.

A Web-Based Twitter Client

Figure 1: Display of Tweets

Once you have logged in and registered your Twitter account the display of tweets from your followers, incoming (@) message and direct messages is similar to the interface provided by other Web-based twitter tools such as Hootsuite. The accompanying screeenshot shows the tweets from my Twitter followers, together with my @ messages, including the tweet from @suebecks which alerted me to the service.

The Personalised Newspaper Feature

Selecting the Newspaper option, however, provides functionality which isn’t provided by Hootsuite. As illustrated in Figure 2 the display shows the content of links which have been shared by your Twitter followers.

In February 2011 in a post in which I suggested Who Needs Murdoch – I’ve Got Smartr, My Own Personalised Daily Newspaper! I described the first mobile app I had encountered which provided this functionality. A year later, in February 2012 a post entitled My Trusted Social Librarian explained how an app such as Smartr helps me find useful content from trusted people I follow on Twitter.

I still use Smartr on a regular basis, to download the content of links which have been tweeted which I read on the bus travelling to work. However the Smartr app can no longer be downloaded and the name now refers to an email contact manager app provided by Xobni. In addition since Smarts was only available as an app I was unable to make use of this useful functionality on my desktop PC. It now seems that Bottlenose is providing this functionality, and has integrated this with a Twitter client.

Figure 2: Display of the content of shared links.

The Sonar Feature

As described on the Marketaire blog:

The Bottlenose name was inspired by the dolphin, which is reflected in its primary feature known as Sonar – a visual representation of your online conversation. Bottlenose maps topics and tags throughout your social network, allowing you to see branches of information, also giving you the ability to dive into each one.

The Venturebeat blog agrees: “The tool’s most compelling feature is Sonar, a visual interface that distills stream updates into a clickable trending topic diagram“. The blog goes on to add “People can select the Sonar option to see which topics, hashtags and people are resonating across their networks, and click displayed words to view related content and re-center the diagram around each keyword“.

My use of the Sonar feature is illustrated in Figures 3 and 4. I can use the Sonar interface to view tweets in a variety of ways, including all tweets from my followers and my incoming messages. In addition I can chose a filter which provides an auto-classified display of incoming tweets. Figure 3 illustrates use of the “TechNews” filter and the associated keywords and hashtags associated with this topic. Clicking on the RSS option displays tweets containing this topic from my Twitter follows during the selected period.

The Sonar view can also be used with the service’s search interface. In Figure 4 I have searched for “JISC” and have the ability to select additional keywords. It should be noted that although many of the tweets are relevant for me, there is a name clash with use of the acronym in Japan where it stands for the Japanese Industrial Standards Committee. One enhancement to the service I would find useful would be the ability to filter out content which aren’t in English.

Figure 4: Sonar search for JISC with Tech News filter and RSS keyword

Figure 3: Sonar search for Tech News filter and RSS keyword

Some other features of the service which are work mentioning include:

  • Integration with Facebook and LinkedIn services.
  • Integration with Google Reader which can provide Sonar interface for blogs.

On 9 May 2012, the day version 3 of Bottlenose was launched, TechCrunch announced Social Media Dashboard Bottlenose Gets Smarter, Adds Support For Multiple Accounts, Facebook Pages.

The article pointed out that “in many ways, directly competes with Hootsuite and Tweetdeck … [but] puts a stronger emphasis on filtering your streams, both by implicitly learning about your interest and by giving you a sophisticated set of tools to create your own filters“.


A service which emphasises the importance of filtering capabilities to discover information of interest would appear to be relevant to the library community as well as the early adopters of social web services in the teaching and learning and research communities. I have previously described the value I have found in using Twitter to discover both content relevant to my professional interests and to develop my professional networks as I described in a post on You Have 5 Seconds to Make an Impression! the links which have been established in Twitter led to collaboration on an award-winning paper. My experiences have been echoed by Melissa Terras who documented her experiences in a post entitled Is blogging and tweeting about research papers worth it? The Verdict.

But if such as Bottlenose can provide useful resource discovery functionality, how should a provider of resources ensure that they can be easily discovered by such tools? As described in a paper on “Research Blogs and the Discussion of Scholarly Information” which analysed 135 science blogs “most of the bloggers in our sample had active Twitter accounts connected with their blogs, and at least 90% of these accounts connect to at least one other RB-related Twitter account“. This suggests that scientific bloggers appreciate that Twitter can complement blogging activities. Initially this is likely to have focussed on the conversational aspects of Twitter and for many, including myself, the value of Twitter was first appreciated from use of Twitter at conferences. Such conversational aspects are clearly important and some early adopters of Twitter feel uneasy when Twitter is used for purposes such as marketing and when others services, such as Twitter archiving and analysis tools, become popular. However my view is that Twitter is a tool and there is no single correct way in which it should be used.

So in addition to Twitter being an open conversational medium, I think we are also seeing Twitter being used successfully as an alerting mechanism. Back in 2009 Jeff Nolan asked Is Twitter Killing RSS? I suspect that I am not alone in using Twitter as the tool for reading new content, including blog posts, which my Twitter community has brought to my attention, rather than using my RSS reader as my main channel for keeping up-to-date with developments.

But rather than regarding Twitter as the RSS killer, I feel that we can regard Twitter as the new metadata format for delivering content, with the key metadata element being the link, with the remainder of the tweet being a free text apart from a small number of common conventions, including RTs and the @ and # symbols. So when the questions about the minimum number of metadata fields needed to support resource discovery were being discussed perhaps, in one context, the answer was a single URL field, with the remaining content being left to users to fill in. We now seem to be finding that social discovery, in which one’s professional network support resource discovery, is being complemented by data mining tools.

As I finish this post, on Sunday afternoon on the final day of the football season and shortly after the Formula 1 Grand Prix has finished, I can view my followers’ reactions by using the Sports news filter and a search for “Manchester” provides a wider perspective, as shown below. I think this illustrates how tools such as Bottlenose may be used in s sporting, social, cultural and political context – and it might be work trying it during the next broadcast of BBC’s Question Time. But what I would really like would be the development of a richer set of filter, ideally filters which can be created by the user or would learn from user behaviours, which would enhance social discovery to support professional activities. Although it has been suggested that “Twitter, like blogging, needs an edge, a voice, a riskiness” I suspect this is coming. And I for one will be happy to continue to use tools such as Twitter to support my professional activities, even if they evolve from their initial purpose.

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

Posted in Twitter | 6 Comments »

Curating #KEDAI Tweets Using Storify

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 Mar 2012

Digital Author Identifier Summit

A Digital Author Identifier Summit, organised by Knowledge Exchange, took place in London on 12-13 March 2012. As described on the Knowledge Exchange web site:

Knowledge Exchange organised a summit and brought together various national and international organisations working on Digital Author Identifiers. This summit took place on 13 and 14 March 2012 in London.

The web site went on to describe how:

The objectives were:

  • to share knowledge and experience and to exchange views on desired developments
  • to identify priority issues for technology, service and policy development
  • to explore and stimulate interoperability and common approaches
  • to inform and support future planning – explore the role Knowledge Exchange (KE) can play

I did not attend the event but some of my colleagues were present. In addition a number of people I follow on Twitter were also at the event and participated in the discussions and provided summaries of the talks given by the invited speakers and the conclusions of the breakout sessions.  I therefore became aware of the event via my Twitter stream and soon discovered that the event hashtag was #KEDAI

Curating Tweets from the Digital Author Identifier Summit

In light of UKOLN’s involvement in a variety of work associated with digital identifiers, having spotted the quality of the reporting of the workshop on Twitter, I decided that it would be useful not only to myself and UKOLN colleagues but also the wider research community if I were to keep a record of the significant tweets, or ‘curate’ the tweets to use a term which currently seems fashionable.

I used Storify to keep a record of the #KEDIA tweets and a screenshot of the first six tweets is illustrated.

It was interesting to note that the top aim of the event was:

to share knowledge and experience and to exchange views on desired developments

Nobody said that the sharing had to be restricted to those who physically attended the meeting, so I’m pleased to be able to amplify the notes provided by several attendees at the event, including those shown in the photograph (taken from the Knowledge Exchange Web site).

It should be noted that the tweets hosted on Storify can be embedded on other web sites using an embedded script tag. This requires use of embedding technologies which are not permitted on However I have just noticed that there is an option to publish a Storify story directly on a blog. Unfortunately this did not work, so I have captured the first set of tweets as an image in order to illustrate what you will see if you visit the Storify page.

Reflecting on the Value of Tweeting at the Event

From looking at the tweets we can see evidence of the success of the two-day workshop, with @BasCordewener commenting:

#kedai meeting was a very good one. Vibrant discussions, relevant recommendations, increased knowledge! Led by @atreloar, inspiring chair.

and @atreloa modestly responding:

@BasCordewener You are too kind. I was only part of a team that worked very well to deliver an excellent event #kedai

The value of the tweets was acknowledged by two remote participants with @williamjnixon showing his appreciation for hearing about the event on Twitter

Diping in and out of the non-Indonesian Knowledge Exchange Digital Author Identifiers Workshop #kedai, thanks to @atreloar for heads-up

and @mopennock showing her appreciation to the two people who tweeted about the event initially:

Thanks to @bindonlane & @atreloar for the #kedai tweets, sounds like a fascinating event.

Emerging Best Practices

As described in a post on Resources from Andrew Treloar’s Seminar on Data Management on 1 April 2011 Andrew Treloar (@atreloar) gave a seminar at UKOLN on “Data Management: International Challenges, National Infrastructure and Institutional Responses – an Australian Perspective on Data Management”. As part of our work in maximising impact of such seminars we provided a live video stream of the seminar, with a video recording (taken on a smartphone) subsequently being published.

In the pub later that evening Andrew, my colleague Paul Walk and myself discussed ways in which events, ranging from a  seminar attracting a handful of people to a larger workshop lasting a couple of days, might be ‘amplified’, even if there is no budget available for commissioning professional AV services.  It seems that such approaches were embraced at the workshop earlier this week, based on a handful of people tweeting at the event and the tweets subsequently being curated and publicised to a wider audience. How might we summarise the emerging best practices for organisers of events who wish to maximise engagement opportunities from a wider audience?

About to start moderating/presenting at/taking part in Knowledge Exchange Digital Author Identifier workshop in London #KEDAI

He then went on to point out possible clashes with other uses of the tag:

By the way, apologies to those of you seeing a hashtag collision for #KEDAI. If it’s in Indonesian it probably doesn’t relate to the w’shop

  • Encourage participants to tweet in order to obtain a critical mass (bearing in mind that being a solo person tweeting about an event can be difficult) as illustrated by @atreloar:

Will try and shame others into tweeting so you get more than just my take on it #keda

  • Provide a concluding tweet which helps others (including a third party who may be curating the tweets) to identify when an event is over (although, as in this case, there may be subsequent tweets this may not always happen).  In this example, @atreloar provided a conclusion in echoing the comments made by the final speaker at the event:

In summary, very helpful and he wants to thank (on behalf of US!) the JISC and KE for organising the event #KEDA

But what of the possible risks associated with curation of tweets form an event?  Such issues are being addressed as part of the JISC-funded Greening Events II project which is being led by ILRT, University of Bristol, with UKOLN delivering a workpackage on best practices for event amplification.  In a blog post published yesterday on Assessing the Risks: Twitter Kirsty Pitkin described an initial risk assessment approach which will be included in the Greening Events II report on use of Twitter at events.

In this post, I’ll not repeat the warnings of possible risks (which include event spam and inappropriate tweets). However the initial risk is worth highlighting: the risk of doing nothing or failing to engage. For those who may be averse to taking risks it should be noted that doing nothing may be the biggest risk!

Reading Kirsty’s comments it occurred to me that in addition to inappropriate tweets resulting from the mob mentality i.e. “the audience may engage in a negative critique of the speaker whilst a presentation is ongoing” there may also be tweets which the person tweeting may feel not to be appropriate to be included in a curated record (e.g. jokey asides),  As part of the process for curating tweets I’m thinking that a summary which provides the context, the scoping criteria for including and information about removing inappropriate tweets may be a useful addition to a curated story would be useful.  My suggested approach is given below:

These tweets were curated by Brian Kelly, UKOLN based on tweets with the #KEDAI hashtag.  Duplicate entries (i.e. RTs) have been removed. A summary of the curation of this story has been posted ion the UK Web Focus blog at

If any inappropriate tweets have been included in this story, please contact Brian Kelly (@briankelly). If appropriate such tweets will be removed.

I’d welcome your thoughts.

Posted in Identifiers, Twitter | 2 Comments »

Five Years of Using Twitter – Is It Becoming As Essential as Email?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 Mar 2012


After Five Years of Using Twitter, It Is Now Embedded For Me

Five years ago today, acccording to TWbirthay, I created my Twitter account. And via the MyFirstTweet service I was able to rediscover what I said on that momentous occasion. Rather disappointingly it was:

Filling in my expenses forms, after trip to JISC Conference at Birmingham.

I can’t remember what my first email was about, but I suspect I sent it on a Honeywell Multics mainframe shortly after starting work at Loughborough University of Technology in 1984. I do remember subsequently getting involved in a discussion as to whether undergraduate students should be allowed to use email: I was in favour, but some felt that the service would be used for inappropriate social purposes. A more senior colleague pointed out that we, Computer Services staff, used email to agree on the pub to go to on Friday lunchtimes and as we used email for social purposes, we could hardly block students from doing likewise.

The Computer Services Director at the time did not himself use email, with messages being printed off and delivered to his in-tray. That may sound strange today, but I sometimes wonder whether Twitter today is regarded in a similar fashion as email was almost 30 years ago, with senior managers pointing out that they have important strategic and management decisions to make, whilst others who had chosen not to embrace the new technology would argue that the trivia about going to the pub illustrated the irrelevance of the medium to those who weren’t part of such social activities and wanted to focus on doing their job.

Sounds familiar?

Usage of Twitter over 5 years

As I described in a post entitled 5,000 Tweets On Twitter provides value across a range of my professional activities, and its use is now embedded with, according to Tweetstats, an average of six tweets per day being posted. Indeed, as I mentioned a few days ago, Twitterers Do It In Bed! – and, according to the accompanying poll, find value in the flexibility it provides.

An example of the value of Twitter’s rapid response can be seen from a series of five DMs (Direct Message) which was used to commission a parallel session for the IWMW 2012 event:

[Me]: BTW Are you interested in submitting anything to IWMW 2012?

[M]: was wondering whether people might be interested in hearing from GOVUK guys about agile, open source, inhouse dev & maybe facilitating that?

[Me]: That sound great. Very relevant. Want to say something about learning from others outside HE sector.

[M]: It fits in with a lot of the anti-CMS stuff Mike Nolan talks about as well – I’ll send in a proper proposal – is it in Edinburgh?

[Me]: Edinburgh on 18-20 June. Thanks

While I was having this conversation which led to an agreement for a session at the IWMW 2012 event, I was composing a message to another speaker, which hadn’t been finished by the time the above Twitter conversation had been completed. Twitter can be so much more productive in cases like this, I have found. This is not to say that Twitter has replaced email; rather that in an environment in which digital literacy is important, an ability to make use of a range of tools to support one’s tasks is important for those who are looking for productivity gains.

I’ve haven’t got time for Twitter

People do say “I haven’t got the time for Twitter” or “I don’t get Twitter“. I think the former view seems to demonstrate a lack of understanding of the importance of filtering and the value of Twitter clients beyond the web site. The latter view does, however, provide the suggestion that there is something to ‘get’ beyond the sending of 140 characters in a fashion similar to sending SMS messages.

Back in 2009 in a post on Twitter for idiots Andy Powell was critical of the view that a half-day Twitter course was actually needed, especially for information professions. Perhaps a half-day course is no longer needed. I’d like to summarise my Twitter for Sceptics advice in five bullet points:

  • A Twitter ID can be valuable in itself (you don’t actually have to tweet using it). This is particularly true if you speak at conferences in which a back-channel provides event amplification of the talks, since it can provide an identifier for the speakers.
  • Although having a Twitter community (the people who have chosen to follow you) is valuable in achieving the critical mass which can help support effective discussion and debate on Twitter, if you have no followers you can still contribute by making use of a Twitter hashtag, such as an event hashtag, which will enable your contributions to be seen by others following the hashtag.
  • If you feel passionate about arguments being made on TV programmes such as BBC’s Question Time, you can contribute to the debate by tweeting with the programmes hashtag (#bbcqt).
  • You should not read every tweet from people you follow – Twitter, unlike email, is meant to be a stream of ideas which you can dip into and contribute to.
  • You get a much better appreciation of the subtleties of Twitter if you use a dedicated client such as TweetDeck, rather than the Twitter web site.

Anything I’ve missed?

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

Posted in Twitter | 3 Comments »

The #LODLAM Session at #SXSW Demonstrates Importance of Consistency of Session Hashtags

Posted by Brian Kelly on 13 Mar 2012

What’s Happening at #SXSW?

My former colleagues Adrian Stevenson (@adrianstevenson) and Julie Allinson (@julieallinson) are taking part in a panel session on “Radically Open Cultural Heritage Data on the Web” today at the #SXSW 2012 Interactive, Film and Music festival in Austin, Texas. I should also add that information about #SXSW is also available on Lanyrd, and, is increasingly happens, information on individual sessions, such as the Open Cultural Heritage Data session is also available on Lanyrd.

From Twitter I discovered that there is a SXSW festival app available for several mobile phone platforms which I installed on my iPod Touch to see what could be learnt from the approaches they’ve taken.

As can be seen it provides access to information about the sessions, location details and biographical information for speakers and panelists. In addition there is also a share facility which is populated with session information which can be shared on Twitter, Google+, Facebook or by SMS, again as illustrated.

However, as pointed out in a tweet by @ellielovell:

Just realised that the hashtags advertised for sessions in the pocket guide, are different from the ones on the SXSW Go app. Annoying #sxswi

As can be seen, the event hashtags for the session are #sxsw (the festival’s hashtag) and #LODLAM which, as can be seen from a Twitter search, is a well-established hashtag for discussions about Linked Open Data used in a Libraries, Archives and Museums context (as can be seen from the LOD-LAM Zotero group and Google Group and the web site about the International Linked Open Data in Libraries Archives and Museums Summit held in San Francisco
in June 2011).

The session page on the festival’s web site provides easily found details of the hashtag for the various sessions. In order to see the patterns for the hashtags I have summarised details for sessions which may be of interest to readers of this blog, with links to both the session abstracts and Twitter searches.

Session Hashtag Search
Radically Open Cultural Heritage Data on the Web #LODLAM Search
The Connected Company: An Inventory of the Possible #connected Search
Excessive Enhancement: JavaScript’s Dark Side #excess Search
The Social Network for Computers #SocNetComp Search
Are We Killing Social with Social? #killsoc Search
The New Black? How Digital Ed Is Everything #nwblk Search
Using Big Data Takes Machines & Humans #manmachine Search
The UnCollege: Learning Outside University #uncollege Search
The Trend of Trending #Trending Search
Open APIs: What’s Hot? What’s Not? #apishotnot Search
How Is Internet Helping People Make Their Own Laws #onlinelaw Search
#NoFailWhale: Tweet More, Drop Out Less #NoFWhale Search

Hashtag Strategies for Events

According to Wikipedia Twitter hashtags were invented on 23 August 2007. Their role in events quickly became apparent and by 2009, as referenced in a post about Twitter archiving,  event hashtags were being used at large events such as #ALTC2009 and #IWMW2009. In August 2009 in a post on Hashtags for the ALT-C 2009 Conference I proposed the event organisers should take responsibility for proposing hashtags for individual sessions as well as for the event itself. This proposal did not go down well, with the following comments being made:

  • Sorry Brian, but I do think this scheme is too complicated for the lightweight Twitter approach”
  • I really think this is trying to make Twitter something it isn’t. The very thing that people appreciate about Twitter is its lightweight nature and this is simply over complicating things”
  • When you first started suggesting multiple hashtags, I think I assumed it was a bit of a comedy experiment. Now, it’s becoming clear that The Librarian Is Too Strong In You.”
  • Way too complicated, messy, and just so damn cluttered”
  • I’m in agreement with those that suggest this is over-complicating things – mainly because I struggle to see the problem it’s solving”
  • Sorry Brian, I’m with the others here. Twitter is for catching the ‘buzz’”.

There were six negative comments with only one supporting, although in a somewhat lukewarm fashion, my suggestion:

In the past I’ve generally argued against multiple hashtags – agreeing with the comment that they introduce complexity. However, given the size of ALT-C, and the number of concurrent sessions, I have some sympathy with the issue that Brian raise”

However a year later I asked Are the Benefits of Multiple Event Hashtags Now Accepted?. As can be seen for the SXSW festival, it does seem that session hashtags provide both a useful way of easily referring to a session and to enable others to easily find and join in the discussions.

The challenge is now to establish conventions for agreeing on the session hashtags.  For events I have organised, such as the IWMW series, I use #Pn for the plenary talks and #An, #Bn and #Cn for the three parallel sessions. These tags are advertised on the event web site, as illustrated. In addition the session chair will announce the hashtags at the start of each session.

But, as we have seen from the approaches taken at SXSW, should a more human-friendly naming convention be used? For sessions which are discussing topics which have an established hashtag there can be advantages in this approach. But what if this isn’t the case?  I’d be interested in hearing about the approaches taken by other event organiser. One thing that is clear is the need for consistency. As @ellielovell commented in response to a query about the SXSW app and the session hashtag:

you don’t see them until you use the “Tweet” button and then it puts it in the tweet. They should have advertised it in app

It would, I feel, be unfortunate if valuable Twitter discussions were fragmented across different session hashtags.

Posted in Twitter | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Twitterers Do It In Bed!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10 Mar 2012

This morning I ‘met’ @dboudreau and chatted with him about web accessibility conferences. I also came across a tweet which linked to a blog post from John Foliot about the recent CSUN 12 conference. After reading the post I noticed that his comments about the need for accessibility advocates to be willing to discard the view that HTML pages must conform with HTML standards if this gets in the way of implementing non-conformant approaches (such as use of WAI-ARIA techniques) which enhance accessibility of web resources for people with disabilities. This view was relevant to a discussion I was having yesterday with @mjday so I tweeted the link to him.

I then saw a tweet from @hdzimmermann which had been retweeted by @wowter which linked to a report on The Future of Research Communication (available in PDF format). The report looked very interesting but, at 24 pages, was too long to read on my iPod Touch, so I favourited it so I could read it later. As I was aware that the report would be of interest to others, I also retweeted it. My suspicion that the report would be of interest was confirmed when I noticed that, shortly afterwards, @PlanetClaire and @antoesp themselves favourited my retweet.

Looking at my recent Twitter interactions (a feature which is now standard in the mobile Twitter app) I realised that I did not know who @antoesp, who had favourited my tweet. Looking at her Twitter biography I found that she is:

PhD candidate in the Education and ICT (e-learning) program – UOC, Barcelona. Submitted my MRes thesys on digital scholarship, IoE, University of London.

She also provided a link to her page from which I learnt that her current research activities include:

social media and course design, research ethics in online settings, impact of ICTs in higher education institutions, digital scholars and open faculty, open educational practices and new models of higher education.

Looking at a post of hers on Cloudworks I found we had shared interests relating to open scholarly practices:

Investigating the relationship between emerging digital scholarship and open scholarship in higher education settings.

I sent @antoesp, a DM (Direct Message) asking if she’d be willing to write a guest post on this blog about her interests in open scholarship and was pleased to receive a speedy response agreeing to my request.

I then got out of bed!

Before I got out of bed, however, I reflected on how the world has changed in the past five years.  Until a few years ago the notion that you would engage in engage in online discussions about your work would have been the stuff of dreams – or perhaps nightmares!  Was I alone in such practices, I wondered? And so I asked:

Anyone else willing to confess to sending work-related tweets & emails while in bed from their mobile device #thingsIdidntexpect

It seems I am not alone with people responding:

*puts hands up*

yep, I do that occasionally

I confess.

All the time!

Forgive me Father for I have sinned #manytimes

I find that @DaGooses do it all the time! Me less so #BedWorkTweets

of course!

more often on laptop but pretty much everyday

guilty as charged m’lud

On the other hand a few people gave alternative views :

No absolutely not , you need to get out more Brian !

nope – would be more than my life was worth!

You’re saying there are actually people who tweet re work from bed? To quote Sheldon, For shame! For shame!

The most insightful comment, however, came from Chris Gutteridge who said:

 I do the most productive work for my job before I out of bed, generally. Office full of distractions.

I find that using Twitter in the way described in this post is useful in catching up with background reading (the links which are shared) and hot topics (the discussions which are taking place).  In addition, as I found in my dialogue with @antoesp, Twitter can provide a lightweight tool to carry out business transactions.

Tweeting in bed could, of course cause domestic problems. I should add that at around 9am this morning while I was engaging in discussions with my Twitter stream my girlfriend was reading the Guardian App on her iPad. We are both comfortable with making use of our mobile devices when we’re together – in a way perhaps because the technologies we use are so transparent to us that we don’t regard them as technologies, just as we don’t talk about the television technology, the cinema technology or the newspaper technology (although when it comes to sharing sections of the Guardian on a Saturday morning the print format is superior to the iPad app, especially when I want to read the Sport supplement).

However one comment highlighted addition possible concerns regarding such practices:

Yep, done that. But reading the Google Apps update blog at 3am was a particular work/life balance low.

This is a legitimate concern. But is it anything new? Weren’t work/life balance issues still relevant before technologies became so pervasive, with pressures to take home excessive amounts of reports to read, which may have also been read in bed (although report-writing was probably restricted to the living room or study)? What do you think? Do you tweet in bed?  Do you think this is unhealthy? Or do you feel that this enables you to have the flexibility to adopt working practices which you feel comfortable with?  feel free to leave a comment or, if you’d prefer to leave an anonymous view, respond to the poll.

Posted in Twitter | 5 Comments »

My Trusted Social Librarian

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 Feb 2012

I’ve mentioned recently how I use the Smartr app on  my iPod Touch to view the content of links which have been tweeted.  I have set up a number of Twitter lists, such as my JISC list, which enables me to view the content of links posted from such official accounts but I tend to prefer the serendipity of reading content posted by people I follow generally on Twitter or particular groupings, such as attendee at events.

I tend to download new content in Smartr in the morning while I am waiting for the bus (using a neighbour’s WiFi which I can legitimately access using BTFON). This then provides me with timely content to read on the bus travelling to work.

This morning I noticed that several of the interesting links which were being posted had been tweeted by @aarontay. This may be because Aaron works at the National Library of Singapore so that when I am getting up it is the middle of the afternoon for Aaron. He is therefore more likely to be using Twitter to share resources of interest while colleagues in the UK will be describing what we had for breakfast! However this is only partly the case – I also find that Aaron’s Musings about Librarianship blog is valuable reading.

In light of Aaron’s proven track record in creating useful content and sharing links to content provided by others it occurred to me that it might be useful to create a Twitter list containing just Aaron’s Twitter account so that I would be able to easily see the content of links which Aaron has shared and read then, even when I am offline.

As can be seen from the accompanying image I am now able to view the content using Smartr. It occurred to me that this is an example of how a trusted librarian contact can provide a ‘frictionless’ presence in social media. Tony Hirst wrote about this recently in a post entitled Invisible Library Support – Now You Can’t Afford Not to be Social? which followed up on ideas previously described in a post which asked Could Librarians Be Influential Friends?

In his post Tony wondered:

whether it made sense for librarians and other folk involved with providing support relating to resource discovery and recommendation to start a) creating social network profiles and encouraging their patrons to friend them, and b) start recommending resources using those profiles in order to start influencing the ordering/ranking of results in patrons’ search results based on those personal recommendations“.

Coincidentally earlier today I was looking for blog posts about the VALA 2012 conference which UKOLN Director Liz Lyon had spoken at recently. As illustrated my Google search provided a link which Aaron had recently shared on Friendfeed. My trusted librarian contact is helping me to find resources which may be of interest to me on Google as well as Twitter.

Last year Aaron richly deserved to win a Library Mover and Shaker award. Although I’ve never met Aaron we have spoken on Skype and had discussions on Twitter and via our blogs. I’m pleased that recent technological developments are now enabling me to gain value form the resources which Aaron is ‘frictionlessly’ sharing on services such as Twitter and Friendfeed. Who are the other librarians I should also follow in order to ensure that I can keep up to date with new developments, I wonder? Or to put it another way, I have found one intelligent agent who searches the web and finds content of interest to me. I’d like another one please!

Posted in Social Web, Twitter | 5 Comments »

Favouriting Tweets, Openness and Frictionless Sharing

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6 Feb 2012

Yesterday I favourited (or should I say ‘favorited’) a tweet from @lisaharris which had a link to an article on “Scholars Seek Better Ways to Track Impact Online” published in The Chronicle of Higher Education. An hour or so later I received a direct message (DM) asking me if I was interested in exploring possibilities of joint work in this area.  We exchanged a few messages and agreed to discuss this more using a technology which allows for more in-depth discussions – the telephone :-)

It occurred to me that this is an interesting example of frictionless sharing – I spotted a link to an interesting resource and decided to bookmark it (using Twitter’s ‘favorite’ function) for reading later.  The bookmarking takes place in public (as, for example, I also do when I wish to bookmark web resources using Delicious or Diigo). And as a result of this public action Lisa Harris, who posted the tweet on Sunday morning, got in touch with me.

I have found that being aware of such Twitter favouriting activities has become easier following recent developments to Twitter’s mobile client.  As shown in the accompanying image (on the right if viewing this post in a web browser), such activities are readily accessible via the web site on a desktop PC.  But since, as with increasing numbers of  other Twitter users, a mobile device is now my preferred method of using Twitter, it’s the Interactions tab on my iPod Touch which typically alerts me to similar activities, as shown below.

From this we can see, for example, that @lualnu10 (Marisa Alonso Nunez) favourited and then retweeted my comment:

Great post from @ambrouk on “Why I Blog”. Good to see open reflections based on “vanalytics” & “pimpact” (TM Amber :-)

It should be noted that access to such interactions are not available on all Twitter clients.  A lack of awareness of Twitter’s more subtle aspects is perhaps an example of why people may fail to ‘get” Twitter. As I mentioned in a recent post on Twitter? It’s Better Than The Most Things (According to Sturgeon)  there is a need to understand techniques for filtering Twitter content which are best exploited by using a dedicated Twitter client. In this example, however, we can see that there can be benefits in accessing content (interactions) which may not be available on all clients.

It is appropriate that the screenshot of recent interactions mentions Amber Thomas blog post on “Why I Blog“. In the post Amber explains why she is embracing ‘open practices in her role as a JISC programme manager. She cites Lou McGill’s definition of open practices:

By Open practices I mean a broad range of practices which have an ‘open’ philosophy, intention or approach […] Informal and formal open practice takes place within wider societal contexts which are evolving rapidly. Open practices take place in, and are enabled by, a highly connected socially networked environment”

Amber’s post primarily addresses the open practices within the context of blogging, and covers associated metrics which can demonstrate the ways in which the content is being used and shared.  However as we can see Twitter also provides an example of open practices in which the value lies not just in the content which is shared in the 140 characters or the embedded links but also in simple frictionless sharing actions such as favouriting and retweeting.

Of course there may also be risks in public bookmarking activities: it you favourite a tweet on “how to deal with a difficult boss” you may be sending unintended messages to your manager! But open practices will always entail risks – I suspect the question will be what your personal attitude to risks are. And perhaps if you are an optimist you will see the advantages which can be gained in open practices, as I suggested in a post on “A Tweet Takes Me To Catalonia“.  But if you are at heart a pessimist, you may well worry about how your tweets could be used against you.   I can’t help but think that embracing open practices says a lot about the individual rather than the technology. On reflection, this is an over-simplistic analysis as I know several people I follow on Twitter who enjoy sharing their grumbles on Twitter, particularly related to public transport failures around the south west!

Posted in openness, Social Web, Twitter | 2 Comments »

Twitter? It’s Better Than The Most Things (According to Sturgeon)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 2 Feb 2012

Early this morning I came across a tweet which announced:

Academic study – Most tweets are useless

The tweet provided a link to an article published in MacWorld which described how:

Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have found that even though Twitter users follow who they want to follow on the microblogging service, they say only about a third of tweets are worth reading and that a quarter of them are completely worthless.

My initial reaction was “Wow – a third of tweets are worth reading. What a high percentage!” I was then puzzled by the headline for the article which read “Twitter users: Most tweets are garbage“.

This headline reminded me of the comment made in July 2003 by Sebastian Rahtz, at the time manager of the JISC OSS Watch service, that “Of course 99% of open source software is a pile of donkey cr@p” (and subsequently making the point that “if it was not clear from my post earlier. 99% of commercial software is poor too. obviously“).

Sebastian was, of course, simply citing Sturgeon’s Law.  As described in WikipediaSturgeon’s observation [is] that while science fiction was often derided for its low quality by critics, it could be noted that the majority of examples of works in other fields could equally be seen to be of low quality and that science fiction was thus no different in that regard to other art”.

We can therefore conclude that Twitter is well above Sturgeon’s average!

More seriously, it does seem that the research was based on a flawed understanding of how experienced Twitter users obtain value from their Twitter stream.  The article describes that the researchers:

gathered their findings by first setting up a website called “Who Gives a Tweet,” where, over 19 days in 2010 and 2011, 1,443 visitors rated about 44,000 tweets from roughly 21,000 Twitter users. (Twitter claims more than 200 million tweets are sent per day.) Visitors were incented to rate tweets in exchange for getting some feedback about their tweets.

This seems to assume that Twitter users simply process the raw set of tweets in their stream.  That’s not how I, nor other experiences Twitter users I follow, use Twitter.

In brief the approach I use to gain value from Twitter is to:

  • Follow a sufficiently large number of Twitter users in order to ensure that there is likely to be value in the content of the tweets and the interactions between the users.
  • Group my Twitter followers (in my case Using columns in TweetDeck) into categories which supports how I use Twitter (for example, I have a column for users based around Bath for whom I might gain value from tweets about local issues).
  • Use Tweetdeck’s search facility to identify tweets of particular relevance. This is often for an event hashtag (whilst the event is running) but can also include general topics of interest (e.g. #openscience).
  • Be ruthless in marking tweets as read.

But in addition to these simple techniques for gaining value from Twitter I also use other tools which can aggregate the content of links posted by the people I follow on Twitter. My current favourite app for this purpose is Smartr (which is illustrated).  This morning, while waiting at the bus stop at 07.11 the most recent links tweeted within my Twitter community informed me of @timbuckteeth’s early morning blog post on “Human 2.0“; @dajbelshaw’s post on “Conferences as Catalysts for Educational Innovation and Change” and @malin’s link to an article on  “It Must Be Measured: #Scio12 #Altmetrics“.  By 07.30, as I got off the bus in the town centre I’d read those three articles – all thanks to this information being shared by three of the people I follow on Twitter and the tools I used to help me find the quality resources.

Only about a third of tweets are worth reading”? yes, I’d agree with that. But the time it takes to discard the rest is small whereas it is much more time-consuming to process my email to find useful information. And of course, finding something decent to watch on the TV – well most of the content there is crap. But at least I have my Twitter community to help identify the quality TV programmes – and I have to admit that I watch Wallander and  The Killing following the rave reviews I read on Twitter.  S0 thanks to @timbuckteeth, @dajbelshaw and @malin and the remainder of the 955 people I follow on Twitter for providing such great content!

Posted in Twitter | 3 Comments »

Learning From Shared Twitter Links (Before’s Demise)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 9 Jan 2012

The Forthcoming Demise of

On 19th February 2011 I signed up for the service.  The email I received which confirmed my registration summarised the features of this service:

  • indexes the full web page that all your links point to. Just search and find, no need to worry about tagging or summarizing content.
  • If you #tag content in Twitter, or tag it in Delicious, will create tags for you.
  • also checks your Twitter favorites so you can just favorite content with links without retweeting it if you prefer.

I have to admit that I’d forgotten about until I received an email recently telling me that the service has  been acquired by AVOS (who have recently acquired and that the service will terminate from the end of the week: Friday 13th January.

The email did inform me that I can export the content created by

This tool creates a list of all your bookmarks in a format understandable by most browsers. You can save the generated page (as HTML) and import it into your browser — or anything else that accepts bookmarks in a standard format.

Your tags will be included in the export file even if you don’t see them on the page. This is the limitation of the export file format.

I have exported the content and hosted it on the UKOLN Web site.  However before the service is withdrawn I thought it would be useful to explore what it can tell me about the links I have shared on Twitter.

The service is associated with my main Twitter account (@briankelly) and with the UK Web Focus blog.  Since registering with the service ten months ago it has harvested 4,997 links. I am followed by six other users and follow 13 users.

The service allows me to browse through the links I have created in chronological order as well as the links created by people I follow. As illustrated can summarise the content of the link and, if available, include an embedded image. also allows me to explore the content by any associated tags.

As shown in the accompanying screen image I can see that I used the #altc2011 Twitter hashtag for a number of tweets.  Clicking on the tag enable me to view the three tweets I posted: one which linked to a FriendFeed post in which Seb Schmoller described how  ““Recording can improve a bad lecture! 7… – Seb Schmoller – FriendFeed”; one on ““Battling legal, logistical and technical obstacles to archiving the Web” « UK Web Focus” which summarised one of my blog posts on Twitter archiving and one on “Martin Hamilton’s blog: ALT-C 2011: Cloud Learning with Google Apps” in which I retweeeted Martin Hamilton’s link about a presentation he gave at the ALT-C 2011 conference.

Of more interest, however, is’s search interface.  This enable me to search not only resources which I have shared but also resources shared by the people I follow as well as all users. Examples of the terms contained in links posted by myself and Tony Hirst (@psychemedia) are given below:

User No. of
Search term Domain search
mashup  “RDFa  “jisc  “ukoln   “OU .ukoln .jisc “.open
@briankelly   4,930  40 157 907 832 119 151 35   16
@psychemedia 10,339 558   78 372   68 568   14 31 372

Unsurprisingly we both tweet significant numbers of links back to our host institutional Web site.

It is also possible to search by the resource type which have been shared:

User No. of
No. of
No. of
No. of
@briankelly  74  88 34  30 4,098
@psychemedia 266 271  0 137 8,533


In February 2009 Mike Ellis that, for services such as Twitter and blogs “The person is the point“:

Twitter, like blogging, needs an edge, a voice, a riskiness. As long as institutions can retain this – i.e., do it for a reason – then, IMO, things will get more interesting. If they don’t, we’ll probably all be unfollowing museums as quickly as we can slide down the steep, slippery trough of disillusionment

That may have been the case in Twitter’s early days but now Twitter does not need to have an edge. Twitter can be used for sharing ideas and resources and for discussing the implications of the ideas and commenting on the resources.

The blog has announced that: will be discontinued, and we will immediately start working to integrate our technology and insights to accelerate the link-saving and searching capabilities in Delicious. 

I’m pleased that I still have my Delicious account and will be interested  to see how the service becomes embedded within Delicious. It will also be interesting to see if the resource sharing capabilities provided by Twitter, and the ways in which such sharing can now be analysed will have a role to play in the development of altmetrics. As described in the altmetrics manifesto:

 Articles are increasingly joined by:

  • The sharing of “raw science” like datasets, code, and experimental designs
  • Semantic publishing or “nanopublication,” where the citeable unit is an argument or passage rather than entire article.
  • Widespread self-publishing via blogging, microblogging, and comments or annotations on existing work.

A Google search for “altmetrics twitter” provides a link to a tweet from @jasonpriem:

BIG #altmetrics news: Highly tweeted articles 11x more likely to be highly cited #twitter

The tweet provides a link to a paper on “Can Tweets Predict Citations? Metrics of Social Impact Based on Twitter and Correlation with Traditional Metrics of Scientific Impact” which concludes:

Tweets can predict highly cited articles within the first 3 days of article publication. Social media activity either increases citations or reflects the underlying qualities of the article that also predict citations, but the true use of these metrics is to measure the distinct concept of social impact. Social impact measures based on tweets are proposed to complement traditional citation metrics. The proposed twimpact factor may be a useful and timely metric to measure uptake of research findings and to filter research findings resonating with the public in real time.

These conclusions were based on analysis of all tweets containing links to articles in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR). For a subset of 1,573 tweets about 55 articles published between issues March 2009 and February 2010, different metrics of social media impact were calculated and compared against subsequent citation data from Scopus and Google Scholar 17 to 29 months later. A heuristic to predict the top-cited articles in each issue through tweet metrics was validated.

For those working in the area of medical internet research it would seem that Twitter has an important role to play in increasing citations or helping to identify important papers. Perhaps, after all, Mike Ellis is right: the person is the point. But the person may be the researcher and the point may be the research, rather than the researcher’s edgy voice.

Survey Paradata:  As described in  a post on Paradata for Online Surveys blog posts which contain live links to data will include a summary of the survey environment in order to help ensure that survey findings are reproducible, with information on potentially misleading information being highlighted.  The survey findings described in this post were collected on 30 December 2011 using the Google Chrome browser on a PC running Windows 7.  It was noticed that there were differences between the  two ways of finding the numbers of links which have been harvested: the information provided in the user’s profile (e.g. see my profile page which states that there are 4,997 links)  and the numbers given for a search for the user (see my search results).

Posted in Twitter | Leave a Comment »

Isn’t #Sherlock Great! (TV & a ‘Second Screen’ For the Twitter Generation)

Posted by Brian Kelly on 8 Jan 2012

A Scandal in Belgravia

Wasn’t last week’s episode of Sherlock (“A Scandal in Belgravia“) great! I thought so and when I looked at my Twitter stream last Sunday night it seems that many of the people I follow on Twitter were impressed. too. I then searched Twitter for #sherlock and found the approval of the first in the new series was pretty overwhelming.

As a friend of mine later said, it’s not surprising that Twitter users liked the programme so much as it was written with users who are au fait with Web technologies in mind. Note only did the programme feature @TheWhipHand it also mentioned John Watson’s blog. Both had been created to accompany the programme, and yes people did view the Twitter stream and the blog while they were watching the programme, as can be seen from the accompanying screenshot of the tweets which were posted during the show.

TV’s ‘Second Screen’

The link between a TV programme and a Twitter stream reminded me of the pioneering which Tony Hirst and Martin Hawksey were involved in back in 2009.

As described in the Wikipedia entry for “Twitter subtitling”:

The concept of combining video and twitter feeds for recorded events was first proposed Tom Smith in February 2009[1] after experiencing Graham Linehan’s BadMovieClub[2] in which at 9pm exactly on the 13th February 2009, over 2,000 Twitter users simultaneously pressed ‘Play’ on the film ‘The Happening‘ and continued to ‘tweet’ whilst watching, creating a collective viewing experience.

Smith, in response, proposed that media such as DVDs and YouTube videos could be enhanced by overlaying asynchronous status updates from other Twitter users who had watched the same media [1].

Separately, in March 2009 Tony Hirst (Open University), in consultation with Liam Green-Hughes (Open University), presented a practical solution for creating SubRip (*.srt) subtitle files from the Twitter Search API using Yahoo Pipes. The resulting file was then uploaded to a YouTube video[3] allowing users to replay in realtime audio/video with an overlay of status updates from Twitter. Hirst subsequently revisited his original solution creating the simplified Twitter Subtitle web interface for the original Yahoo Pipe[4]

The concept was revisited on the 16th February 2010 by Martin Hawksey (JISC RSC Scotland North & East) in response to a notification by Hirst made via Twitter during a broadcast of the BBC/OU’s The Virtual Revolution series in which Hirst requested information on replaying the #bbcrevolution hashtag in real-time[5].

Although Tony and Martin’s work initially focussed on providing a mashup of tweets and recordings of a number of BBC TV programmes Martin subsequently developed the iTitle tool which was used to merge event tweets with video recordings taken at a number of events held with the UK higher education sector.

As described in a post on Captioned Videos of IWMW 2010 Talks iTitle was used after UKOLN’s IWMW 2010 event to provide Twitter captions of the discussions which took place during the plenary talks at the event.  One of the developments Martin made to iTitle was to provide a search facility which enable you to jump directly to the video associated with the content of a tweet.  I described this can be used to provide crowd-sourced bookmarking capabilities of live video feeds. As illustrated using an example of the IWMW 2010 conclusions I could search for “good stuff” and find three examples of tweets containing these words.  In the screen shot I seem to be looking at the Twitter Wall at 10:51 on as @PlanetClaire as she tweetsProfessional network grown after this IWMW. Good stuff. #iwmw10″. It’s not only the BBC which can take a post-modernist approach to the blended real world and online environment!

After speaking at the University 2.0: the Extended University Conference held at the UMIP in Sandanter, Spain in 2010 at which a number of the plenary talks were live-streamed it occurred to me that there could be other ways in which iTitle could be used. Professor Alejandro Piscitelli, University of Buenos Aires gave a fascinating talk on Explorando los bordes y contornos de la Universidad 2.0. The talk was given in Spanish and I listened to the English translation. Since the audience were mostly Spanish the tweets were also in Spanish. The talk seemed to be one which Professor Piscitelli had given on a number of occasions. But what aspects of the talk would be of particular interest to the Spanish audience, to an audience in Argentina or in the UK or USA (Professor Piscitelli is a fluent English speaker). I should also add that Martin Hawksey was a remote observer of the conference. Martin processed the tweets posted during Professor Piscitelli’s talk by using Google Translate to translate them into English, Spanish and Catalan. The user could select their preferred language and view a recording of the talk will the translated tweets being displayed in the recording. Note that although this interface is still available it seems that the original video recording is no longer available at the UIMP.

These thoughts came back to me when I saw Sherlock and the accompanying Twitter backchannel.

I am sure the BBC will have been analysing the tweets and interpreting how the audience was responding to the complexities of the plot. But will they be using analyses of live Twitter posts in order to make comparisons between the posts from the UK audience and a US audience when the programme is broadcast over there?

Back in February 2010 Tony Hirst gave his thoughts on Broadcast Support – Thinking About Virtual Revolution:

I watched the broadcast on Saturday, I started wondering about ‘live annotation’ or enrichment of the material as it was broadcast via the backchannel. Although I hadn’t seen a preview of the programme, I have mulled over quite a few of the topics covered by the programme in previous times, so it was easy enough to drop resources in to the twitter feed. So for example, I tweeted a video link to Hal Varian, Google’s Chief Economist, explaining how Google ad auctions work, a tweet that was picked up by one of the production team who was annotating the programme with tweets in real time

Tony concluded by referencing Martin Hawksey:

PS here’s another interesting possibility – caption based annotations to iPlayer replays of the programme via Twitter Powered Subtitles for BBC iPlayer Content c/o the MASHe Blog (also check out the comments…)

The Ideas and Experimentation Become Apps

We are now seeing these ideas being deployed in a commercial context. Just before Christmas I came across the Zeebox app. This is described as “new way to watch television. It’s social, connecting you to your TV-watching friends, so you can chat, share and tweet about whatever’s on” which I have now installed the app on my iPod Touch. Previously I typically used my iPod Touch to view tweets and had a large enough Twitter community to spot hashtags which may emerge or have been minted about a TV programme. However apps such as Zeebox are now managing this process and provide a ‘frictionless’ way of sharing thoughts and opinions.

This is an example of a “Second screen” which is defined in Wikipedia as “A term that refers to the electronic device (tablet, smartphone) that uses a television user, to interact with the content they are consuming“.

It’s good to see ideas which were explored in the higher education sector a few years ago starting to be used by the early adopters in the mainstream community. There’s a danger, though, that such mainstream uses of Twitter will lead to a backlash by those who are uneasy when a technology become used in entertainment. But rather than looked at the trivia which we’re likely to see on the backchannel for Saturday night entertainment programmes, let’s explore how the easy-to-use applications which are now becoming available can be used to support our educational and research interests.

Looking back at the blog posts written by Tony and Martin in 2009 and 2010 might be a useful starting point for seeing what the future may hold :-)

Posted in Twitter | 8 Comments »