UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Posts Tagged ‘cilip2’

Lessons Learnt from the Amplification of the CILIP2 Event

Posted by Brian Kelly on 5 May 2009

Reasons for This Post

At last week’s CILIP2 Open Session both Phil Bradley and myself argued that there was a need for the Library community to actively engage with Web 2.0 tools and even be prepared to make mistakes. Without making mistakes, it will not be possible to innovate, we argued. We also felt that we should be open about our mistakes, in order to learn from them and to help others in the sector from repeating such mistakes.

Such views echo the sentiment expressed by Mia Ridge who, in a blog post about the recent Museums and the Web 2009 conference entitled  “Oh noes, a FAIL! Notes from the unconference session on ‘failure’ at MW2009 ” explained her “motivation in suggesting the [‘Failure’ unconference] session – intelligent, constructive failure is important. Finding ways to create a space for that conversation isn’t something we do well at the moment“.

This post is my attempt at explaining aspects of the ‘amplification’ of the CILIP2 open session which failed or could have been improved, and to identify ways in which the next attempt at amplifying a physical event to a wider remote audience can be improved. (Note the term amplified conference was coined by Lorcan Demsey Dempsey and a summary is provided on Wikipedia).

Things Which Worked

Before describing areas for improvement it is worth summarising the things that worked!

I was pleased that the pre-event publicity of use of Twitter at the event succeeded in attracting large numbers of participants, with some, I think, being willing to subscribe to Twitter and possibly even install a Twitter client in order to participate on the day itself.

The event organisers played their in supporting the amplification of the event. Caroline Moss-Gibbon, who chaired the event, described the live-blogging at the event and asked the participants physically present at the meeting at CILIP Headquarters to regard any comments they made or questions they asked as being in the public domain. The evnt organisers had also arranged for two official bloggers, who would act as public note-keepers at the event, using both a Twitter channel and a CILIP blog post as a means of keeping the remote audience up-to-date with the talks and discussions.

The Twitterfall client which was suggested as a way in which remote participant could keep up-to-date with Twitter posts containing the ‘cilip2’ tag also seemed to prove popular judging from subsequent comments I read of various blog posts. And the goodwill of software developers – in particular Dave Patten – was appreciated by the CILIP community for his transcript of the tweets and his Wordle visualisation of the content of the tweets.

I was also pleased to have recorded a slidecast of a rehearsal of my talk prior to the event. A couple of people commented that they had listened to my talk prior to the event which enabled them to have a feel for the issues I would be raising in my talk.

Areas For Improvement

There are a number of areas in which I felt improvements could have been made. Most of these will not have been apparent to others and so I could feel safe in keeping them to myself. However sharing the experiences with others will remind me to do better next time and will allow others to make additional suggestions.

After the event it was pointed out to me that the description of ‘official’ Twitterers and bloggers at the event could have been interpretted as a way of ensuring that an official party line was documented which censored any criticisms of CILIP.  As Caroline Moss-Gibbons, chair of the CILIP Council, described in her brief report on the session the reporters “had full editorial freedom of course, no ‘party line’ to follow“. Although Caroline made this point in her introduction to the session, the remote audience would not necessarily have picked up on this.
Lesson: next time I feel it would be helpful to provide a Web page about the amplification of the event which explictly clarifies the autonomy of the reporters.

Lack of audio/video recordings:
I recorded a video of Phil Bradley’s talk at the event using my Nokia N95 mobile phone – but despite having deleted old videos from the memory card the previous day, the phone ran out of memory after only two minutes.  I subsequently discovered that the phone was storing the video on its built-in memory rather than using the 2 Gb memory card.
Lesson: check configuration options on mobile phone to ensure recordings are being made to correct storage device.

I also brought along a digital camera which could take video recordings (and isn’t limited to the 10 minutes of video footage which my personal camera has). I also brought along a tripod to avoid camera shakes. As my intention was to record my own talk I needed a helper to start the recording. Unfortunately no recording was made, possibly because the camera had switched itself off.
Lesson: I need to remember that people who I ask to use my digital devices are unlikely to be familiar with them and there will be a need to provide some training.

Lack of streaming audio/video:
I brought along my Asus EE PC and intended to try out Skype in order to its potential for allowing a remote user to listen in to the two opening talks (and also possibly record the talks). I also brought along a Polycom Communciator device and tested that it worked correctly as a microphone and speaker. Unfortunately although the devices worked correctly I couldn’t connect to the two new Skype contacts who had expressed interest in listening to the talks.  This may have been due to user interface problems on my Linux-based Asus EEE.
Lesson: I need to authenticate remote users in advance, on user interfaces which I am more familiar with.

How Else Could the Event Amplification Have Been Improved?

What else could have been done to enhance the amplification of the event to the remote audience and to people who may have wished to hear the talks and discussions but did not have networked access at the time of the event?

I am aware that James Clay, e-learning resource manager at Gloucestershire College, has been using Qik at various conferences for some time. I did wonder whether a streaming video service such as Qik might have been used by members of the CILIP2 audience with a suitable mobile phoneand a contract which allowed for data to be transmitted within incurring significant charges.  However I suspect that this service is still being used by the early adopters, such as James, and hasn’t yet caught the attention of the early mainstream user community. Perhaps there’s an opportunity for its use at a forthcoming CILIP event?

But if members of the audience did not have a device and contarct which could be use for video streaming, I suspect many of them did have mobile phones which culd be used for sound recordings. SHould we have encouraged the audience to record the talks, I wonder?  Rather than a single centralised approach, which has a single point of failure (as I’ve described above!) possibly we should be adopting a LORKSS approach (Lots of Recording Keep Safe and Secure). Should we be encouraging others to take recording in order to minimise the risks of failures?


Posted in Events, Web2.0 | Tagged: | 7 Comments »

CILIP: More Popular Than Swine Flu!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 30 Apr 2009


When Bob McKee, CEO of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) wrote his blog post on “All of a Twitter” we can safely predict that he  wouldn’t have expect to CILIP to be featured as one of the top topics of discussion on Twitter, at one stage, according to one Twitter trending tools, seemingly being more widely discussed than swine flu.

Bob’s post, which was published back in February, looked at the question of CILIP’s involvement with Twitter. Should a professional organisation such as CILIP make use of Twitter? Bob view, which went beyond discussions of Twitter and addressed the wider use of social networking services hosted outside the institution, was unequivocal: “The simple answer, of course, is no. In terms of “official” activity, cyber life is just like real like – if it happens in a CILIP-sanctioned space, it’s official; if it happens down the pub or in someone else’s space, it isn’t.

Phil Bradley responded with a blog post with an unequivocal title “CILIP – Epic FAIL”  although the tone of the post was measured

I like Bob – he’s a nice chap and very personable, but I can’t articulate enough how wrong he is on this issue, though I’ll try. He says ‘There’s some twittering at present about whether CILIP has (or should have) any “official” presence on various lists or micro blog sites. Sorry Bob, but we were discussing this on Twitter two weeks ago. The boat has long since left on this one and we’ve moved onto other things related to CILIP now.

and invited CILIP to engage in a wider and more open discussion about how an organisation such as CILIP should be engaging with a Web 2.0 world.

CILIP2 Open Meeting

Phil was pleased that the CILIP Council responded to his post by arranging an open session on how CILIP could make use of Web 2.0 which was held yesterday afternoon (29 April 2009) after the morning’s Council meeting. I too was invited to speak at the meeting and, like Phil, was delighted to see how the Council had embracing a willingness to make use of Web 2.0 by encouraging live Twittering at the event and publicising it to a wider community who were invited to follow the #cilip2 tag on software such as Twitterfall.

The Twitter Channel

It was particularly pleasing to see the extent to which the wider CILIP community and other interested parties who couldn’t attend the meeting engaged with use of Twitter to get a feel for the talks and discussions at the Council meeting and also to raise a much wider set of issues about the role of CILIP. The popularity of the #cilip2 discussions became apparent as the Twitterfall display (which was displayed following the two presentations by myself and Phil) began to include posts from a number of Twitter-trending services – and the inclusion of a number of Twitter spam posts. Incidentally for me the spam provides an indication of how Twitter is now mainstream – and if you feel a service shouldn’t be used if it can attract spam, I assume you’re not using email!

Incidentally if you wish to see examples of the popularity of the Twitter discussions you can view the trends shown on the hashtags and Twitscoop services – although as the event is now over we have probably lost a record of the popularity of the tag.

The Discussions

Wordle display of Twitter posts tagged with #cilip2 tagDave Pattern, Library systems manager at the University of Huddersfield Library provided a good example of rapid software development when he wrote software to harvest tweets containing the the #cilip2 tag. And not only is a record of the discussions, annotated with the time of posting, now available, a Wordle cloud is also available (and shown below) which provides a visual summary of the topics which were discussed on Twitter.

There have already been a couple of blog posts published about the event which I’ll briefly summarise.

Alison Williams (a remote participant) felt that the Twitter channel wasexcellent in that it was discussing how librarians and specifically CILIP (1) could make use of web 2.0 tools, and it was doing it by…. making use of web 2.o tools! What a good idea!” She also joined in the discussions by “suggest[ing] that CILIP might look to the ALA (American Library Association) as a role model“.

Amelia Luzzi appreciated the Twitter channel in her post “Twitter – better than a conference“. She found it useful to be “able to follow the talks at CILIP 2.0, without an expensive trip down to London“. I also found her observation that ” in case you were wondering why video/audio isn’t a better solution – I can discuss what is said with other participants, also in real time: if an interesting comment comes up, the discussion can start amongst us virtual participants in a way that it simply can’t amongst real-life ones. I’ve heard it said, often, that the best bit of a conference is the bit where you end up talking to other participants in the hallway. Following #cilip2 on Twitter has had the feel of that“. That’s an interesting point – live audio and video simply amplifies the one-dimensional publishing aspect of conference whereas successful conferences often provide an environment for two-way(or rather multiple-way) discussions. She concluded “Today, I think I’ve expanded my professional network by about 25%. And, granted, the ties aren’t all that binding – but I now have a way of keeping an eye on what they’re talking about, and engaging them when I feel I have something to add. It’s a great starting point for building a more solid professional relationship“.

Neil Ford on the Random Letters blog also felt that “it was fascinating for me to attend an event like this on Twitter”. In answer to the question as to whether any concrete decisions were made on the day Neil  felt the he “didn’t pick up on any hard action or proposals. I can’t see that any actual decisions were made by the CILIP top brass“. But rather than this being regarded as a criticism Neil realised that the event “was more about CILIP Council *listening* to it’s members. This is something I’ve never heard of before and I really think CILIP Council deserve a big hats-off for hosting the event”.

Carl on the Sinto blog felt that CILIP  “does appear to have been slow to develop a coherent approach to some of the emerging technologies” but felt there was a need for “the more considered responses that will soon appear in blogs and printed articles“. Carl is concerned that although there are “Web 2 savvy professionals who are part of this debate”  we may find that “there is a larger group of web-sceptics who are excluded“.

Revisiting The Main Themes of the Day

Returning from the remote participants’ views on the day to some of the issues which I (who am not a CILIP members of librarian) picked one on.

CILIP As An Enabler
A view was expressed at the meetingthat , rather than providing a variety of Web 2.0 services on the CILIP Web site, CILIP shouldact as an enabler, perhaps sharing best practices and patterns of usage, aggragating content provided by members (as CILIP already do with CILIP memebr blogs) and providing directories of CILIP member users of various services which can help members to find like-minded collagues more easily on the various social networking services.
The dangers that sections of the CILIP membership ould be marginalised though an ainability to access social networkingservices down to organisational poplicies and firewalls, which Carl referred to, was discussed at the meeting. In my talk I suggested that CILIP should have a role to play in gaining a better understanding of such barriers and to explore ways in which organisational concerns, across the various sectors represented within CILIP, can be addressed. I also pointed out the dangers that CILIP members might feel pressured into using social networking tools in areas which are not appropriate and which do not reflect individual styles of working.

CILIP and Twitter

But what of the question which led to the CILIP2 meeting – should CILIP make use of Twitter? In all of the wider discussions about the role of CILIP we lost sight of that question during the meeting itself. However in the pub afterwards myself, Phil Bradley, Caroline Moss-Gibbon (leader of the CILIP Council) and a few others revisited that question. In my talk I described the risks and opportunities framework which I presented at the recent Museums and the Web 2009 conference. The framework described the need to clarify the purpose of a tool rather than developing policies for the tool itself. I illustrated this point by speculating on whether professional organisations in times gone by debated whether they should use new technologies such as the telephone, with the early adopters pointing out the benefits to the organisations whilst others pointed out the dangers that the technology could be used for social purposes and that employees may use the technology to bring the organisation into disrepute in ways that wouldn’t be possible when the established forms of communications (business letters) has editorial and work flow processes in place to minimise such risks.

My suggestion? CILIP Council should welcome initiatives from CILIP, CILIP branches and CILIP working groups in making use of social networking services such as Twitter in ways in which support their business aims. And rather than developing a policy (it’s too soon, for that, I feel) they should observe patterns of usage which work and share emerging best practices – but also monitor usage patterns which aren’t feel to be working and learn from such experiences.

Posted in Web2.0 | Tagged: | 14 Comments »