UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Posts Tagged ‘iwmw10’

Twitter Captioned Videos Gets Even Better

Posted by Brian Kelly on 28 Jul 2010

A recent post described the Captioned Videos of IWMW 2010 Talks which made use of Martin Hawksey’s iTitle service to synchonise a video with an accompanying Twitter stream.

I was not along in being impressed by this service – but since it made use of HTML 5 and the videos were encoded in MP4 format the video display would only work in a limited number of browsers, including Google Chrome.  Many users who do not have access to such browsers will not be able to see how this service works and try out for themselves features such as searching the Twitter stream and having the video jump directly to the appropriate point.

Captioned video of Paul Boag's talk at IWMW 2010However Martin has updated the service to provide a Flash-based solution for viewing the captioned video, thus enhancing access  to a much wider audience.

So if you use Opera or Internet Explorer you can, for example, visit the page about Paul Boag’s talk and search for what he had to say about ‘legacy’ Web sites.

The rapid development we have seen with Martin’s service illustrates the benefits of  a ‘just-in-time’ approach to accessibility which myself, Sarah Lewthwaite and David Sloan described in a paper on “Developing countries; developing experiences: approaches to accessibility for the Real World“.  If the videos had not been made available due to concerns regarding the costs of providing captioning in order to conform with WCAG accessibility guidelines we would not have been in a position to exploit the rapid developments we are currently seeing across the Web development community, including this example of exploiting the Twitter stream – which, again, we needed to archive in order to provide the content for this just-in-time solution.

Posted in Accessibility | Tagged: | 9 Comments »

Captioned Videos of IWMW 2010 Talks

Posted by Brian Kelly on 23 Jul 2010

Twitter Captioning

As part of our support for the remote audience at UKOLN’s recent IWMW 2010 event we provided a live video stream of the plenary talks.  The videos have now been uploaded to the Vimeo video streaming service.  In addition we have made use of the Twitter captioning tool developed by Martin Hawksey based on an idea originally suggested by Tony Hirst.

Since  it was launched there have been a number of developments to the Twitter captioning service, which, incidentally, is described in Wikipedia.  I was particularly pleased at the developments Martin implemented which we could use during the IWMW 2010 event.  At the event Owen Stephens processed the video of the welcome talk I made on the opening and from its original file format and uploaded it to Vimeo. Right at the very end of the closing session Owen demonstrated how the talk had been captioned using the tweets with the event hastag.   Owen also demonstrated the search capability which Martin had developed, which allows the user to search the Twitter stream. Once a search term has been selected the video will jump directly to the appropriate point in the video.  This provides us with an example of a mashup of a Twitter stream and a video with a crowd-sourced bookmaking capability. I think this is very impressive!

Twitter Captioning of IWMW 2010 Talks

Twitter captioning for video of talk on HTML5Most of the other plenary talks have now been processed in a similar fashion. This technology prototype does require a HTML5 browser which can display MP4 videos (such as Safari, Chrome or IE with the Chrome Frame).  If you do not have access to such browsers the accompanying image illustrates how the service works.  The Twitter stream is synchronised with the video and displayed as a caption overlaying the video, as shown.  The full Twitter stream for the period is displayed beneath the video. A search box allows the user to search the Twitter stream. In the image shown I have searching for “validation” and the hits are immediately displayed. Clicking on one of the hits will display the appropriate point in the video.

If you have access to one of these browsers you can gain a better understanding of the capabilities of the service by viewing the following captioned videos:

Note that in the session on “Doing the day job” the talk on “Replacement CMS – Getting it right and getting the buy-in” has a captioned video and a very brief captioned video of the talk on “StudentNET Portal” is also available but due to technical problems a video of the talk was not  produced.

Building on Twapper Keeper

The Twitter captioning service processes the Twitter archive provided by the Twapper Keeper twitter archiving service.  Recently developments to Twapper Keeper have been funded by the JISC (and I am the project manager for this work).  I was particularly pleased with this example which illustrates the benefits that can be gained by providing APIs to a service (such as Twapper Keeper) which can then be exploited by other applications (such as the Twitter captioning service).  This approach allows John O’Brien, the TwapperKeeper developer to focus on backend developments (e.g. migrating the authentication to OAuth)  whilst Martin Hawksey, developer of Twitter captioning service, can focus on enhancements to the end user service (such as the search function).

Advice to Others

If you are thinking of doing something similar for your event here are some suggestions.

Creating the Twitter Stream

  • Create a Twapper Keeper archive for your event hashtag.
  • Consider providing an official event Twitterer who can ensure that the key points in the talks are recorded.
  • Provide clear ways of identifying the start and end of the talks. For example we used the hashtag #P1 for the first plenary talk.  Tweeting “#P1 #start of talk by Chris Sexton” and “#P1 #end of talk by Chris Sexton” enables the start and end of the talks to be easily identified, and this syntax is also understandable by people reading the Twitter stream.

Synchronising the Video and the Twitter Stream

  • The service uses GMT so if BST is in operation (as was the case during the IWMW 2010 event) you will need to bear this in mind when providing the time of the start and finish of the talks.
  • You can fine-tune the time to ensure that you include the official tweets which provide the time stamps.

What Next?

In a recent blog post on “The Backchannel” Chris Sexton described how she valued the way in which twitter could be used to provide feedback when she gives talks at events such as IWMW 2010. Chris added that “You do wonder sometimes, what you’ve said to provoke this, halfway through the talk:  ‘Odd feeling. In one moment inspired. Then, deflated’ “.  Chris need wonder no longer: she can simply search for “Odd feeling” and then skip back to see what she said which perhaps provoked that remark (although, of course, the remark may have been made in response to another tweet, a comment received  via email or even a real world event).

But what else could be done to make this service even better? Some suggestions from me:

  • Search across a group of related captionsed videos (e.g. all videos from IWMW 2010).
  • A RESTful interface, so I can provide a URL for the portion in the video when a user tweeted “Odd feeling“.
  • Support for legacy browsers, so that captioned videos with search capabilities can be provided in a much greater range of videos (although I recognise that this problem is due to the complexities of video codexes and browser support and can’t be fixed by the Twitter captioning service!) .

I wonder how achievable these suggestions are?And do others have additional suggestions?

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

Further Reflections on IWMW 2010: Innovation and Sustainability

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 Jul 2010

I’d like to followup on my “Initial Reflections on IWMW 2010” with some further thoughts, focussing this time on the innovative aspects of the event and the sustainability challenges.

Supporting Innovation

One of the aims of the IWMW series of events is to “ensure that institutions are well-positioned to exploit innovative developments which can enhance their services“. We seek to achieve this goal by (a) providing a forum for JISC-funded development activities to describe their activities and receive feedback from a key stake-holder community; (b) providing updates on significant new technical developments which will have an impact on institutional Web services and (c)  encouraging innovative developments centred around the event itself.

Damian Steer’s plenary talk on “Mobile Web and Campus Assistant” provided a good example of how the visibility of, in this case, a six month project  funded by the JISC at part of its Rapid Innovation programme, can be raised across the sector.

In addition there were a number of workshop sessions based on JISC-funded work which provided an opportunity for more in-depth discussions, including sessions on RDFa from Theory to Practice, Location Based Services Without the Cocoa, Mobile Apps vs Mobile Web, WordPress beyond Blogging, Course advertising and XCRI and Engagement, Impact, Value: Measuring and Maximising Impact Using the Social Web.

Geo-located tweets for the #iwmw10 tagAs well as the talks various examples of innovation were demonstrated at the event itself.  The JISC-funded developments to the Twapper Keeper Twitter archiving service have resulted in a number of developments to the service, the most recent of which have been developments to the RSS feeds from the service such as the inclusion of geo-location information. As described previously the Summarizr service, developed by Andy Powell at Eduserv, has exploited these recent developments and you can see how Twitter users had configured their clients to provide geo-location information for approximately 9% of the tweets.

Another example of a Twitter application which illustrates rapid development which took place around the event was the Twitter Buzzword Bingo application developed by Rich Pitkin.  This succeeded in its intention of providing some fun for the final session, with a tune being played whenever one of the event buzzwords was mentioned in a tweet. In order to add some level of interest to the game we negotiated a small prize (initially £10 for the person tweeting the final buzzword, to which Headscape and Statistics into Decisions agreed, during the game, to also donate an additional £20 to a charity).  As we had expected the 16 buzzwords (which myself, Marieke Guy and Kirsty Pitkin had selected) were spotted during normal Twittering activity in the final session – until only two buzzwords remained.  This triggered a flurry of random tweets containing a whole range of words associated with the event.  In order to ensure we had a winner before the event finished I initially gave a clue (“something to do with money”) and finally had to reveal the final buzzword (“economy’) which Adrian Tribe was quickest to retweet. Many thanks to Rich Pitkin for developing the game and to Headscape and Statistics into Decisions for their sponsorship.

Another game which was developed for the event was the QR quiz. As described by Mike Ellis, the developer, in the final session the PullTag game provided an opportunity for participants to gain a better understanding  of how QR codes work and make use of QR scanning software on their mobile phones in a fun and collaborative way.  It was appropriate that the team which won (the NERCs) very much worked in a collaborative fashion. Amazon vouchers will be sent to members of the winning team.

Information about Sheffield University and IWMW eventsThe final example of innovative development came from Thom Bunting, a colleague of mine at UKOLN.  Thom had taken the RSS feeds of the structured information (speaker biographies and session abstracts) for the 14 years of IWMW events and made this available as a Linked Data resource.  A particular feature of this demonstrator was the use of DBpedia to extract information about the host institution for the speakers and facilitators over the 14 years.  From DBpedia we could find, for example, groups which institutions were members of  (e.g. Association of Commonwealth Universities, Russell Group, etc.), information about students numbers, etc.  Linking this information with details of speakers and workshop facilitators can help to provide a valuable understanding of institutional involvement in the IWMW events and could potentially be used if an FOI request were to be submitted.

Addressing Sustainability Challenges

Maximising the Benefits of the Learning

How do we ensure that institutional Web teams are best-positioned to support their institutional objectives at a time of cuts?  The need to ensure that members of Web teams are aware of new developments which can enrich their services in a cost-effective way will be critical and a well-established national event such as IWMW should have an important role in supporting such objectives.

The event amplification also helps to ensure that such benefits can be gained not only by those physically present at the events but also those who are participating remotely.  These benefits are enhanced not only by the streaming videos of the talks and the Twitter back channel but also by the availability of slides on the IWMW 2010 Slideshare group. In addition the blog posts about the talks and the interviews with a number of the speakers and facilitators on the IWMW 2010 blog also helps participants to gain a deeper understanding of the contents of the sessions.

Maximise benefits of the event by the event amplification (described previously) and ensuring the resources can be accessed after the event. This includes summaries of the talks and workshop sessions on the blog, videos interviews with speakers and facilitators and provision of access to the slides provided by the speakers and workshop facilitators.

Providing a Cost-Effective Solution For the Sector

Does the event provide a cost-effective solution for building capacity across the sector? It is interesting to make comparisons with similar events in other parts of the public sector. The Building Perfect Council Websites ’10 event, for example, costs £225+VAT for a one-day event in comparison with the £350 for the 3-day IWMW 2010 event which included 2 night’s accommodation.

Meanwhile over in the US the HigherEdWeb conference, “the national conference for all higher education Web professionals—from programmers to marketers to designers to all team members in-between—who want to explore the unique Web issues facing colleges and universities”  costs $650 (although an early bird discount is also available). This main conference runs over three days although, unlike recent IWMW events, it includes the morning session of the first day. There is also a day of workshops which are held on the opening day – a Sunday! – which cost an additional $120 for one workshop or $200 for two.  Also note that the fee does not cover the accommodation, with discounted accommodation currently available at $119 per night.

The 2010 Eduweb Conference, which takes place in Chicago on 26-28 July, has a similar pricing structure – $695 registration fee (though down to $550 or $595 for early subscribers) though again with an additional fee of $250 for attendance at workshop sessions. Once again the event runs for 3 days with the workshops being held on the opening morning. Again one should note that the fee does not cover accommodation, with a rate or $179 + tax per night being quoted.

Engaging With the Commercial Sector

For a number of years the IWMW event has benefitted from sponsorship from commercial suppliers who have helped to support the costs of running the event. This year, once again Jadu and TerminalFour helped to support the infrastructure costs, with their sponsorship covering the costs of the  conference drinks reception and bags and badges and lanyards respectively. Statistics into Decisions (SiD) are a new sponsor for the event and they supported the costs of the sponsored places for five participants who did not have institutional funding to attend. Eduserv, a not-for-profit organisation based in Bath once again provided support for the event through their sponsorship of the pre-dinner drinks. Finally I should thank Site Confidence, a web performance testing company donated a prize of use of their software which was won by Helen Sargan of the University of Cambridge.

Final Words

Interview with Martin HamiltonI think it would be appropriate to leave the final words of my reflections on IWMW 2010 to Martin Hamilton, a first-time at an IWMW 2010.  As he describes in a video interviewI’ve gotten tens of thousands of pounds worth of free consultancy” from various discussions during his 3 days in Sheffield.

It would be fascinating to explore the financial benefits to the sector which have been gained by the event if Martin’s experiences are shared by others! I wonder how one would determine the return on investment the sector gains from the event?

Do you have any comments to make on the sustainability aspects of the event or suggestions as to how to measure the ROI?

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Call for Speakers at IWMW 2010: The Web in Turbulent Times

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 Jan 2010

Call For Submissions to IWMW 2010

We have recently announced the call for speakers and workshop facilitators at UKOLN’s annual Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW).  This year’s event, IWMW 2010, which is the fourteenth in the series of events aimed at members of institutional Web management teams across UK higher educational institutions and related organisations, will be held at the University of Sheffield on 12-14 July 2010.

This Year’s Theme

The theme of this year’s event is “The Web in Turbulent Times“. Unlike previous years, in which the community has tended to be optimistic about the potential of the Web to support a wide variety of institutional objectives, this year we are likely to see a focus on managing and maintaining institutional Web services against the background of decreases in funding and possible reductions in staffing levels :-(

Might we be seeing a greater move towards Cloud Services to provide and deliver institutional services, I wonder? And if so, in what areas and what approaches might be taken to address the variety of associated risks?

Related to this, will there be an increased interest in marketing and outreach activities?  This is clearly an area in which the Social Web appears to have much to offer but, as described in a recent JISC-funded Shared Infrastructure Services Landscape Study on the use of Web 2.0 tools and services in UK Higher Education (PDF format),  “active use of Web 2.0 appears to still be largely centred on early adopters” and there do not yet appear to be well-established patterns of best practices for institutional use of such services.

If we do see interest in greater institutional exploitation of the Social Web there is likely to be a need to ensure that the benefits can be measured – so perhaps there’s an opportunity for a session on tools and approaches for measuring (and maximising) impact in use of the Social Web.

We might also ask whether we should be expecting institutions to make a greater commitment to openness on the basis that this can help stimulate the economy and avoid unnecessary replication of activities within the sector – or, on the other hand, institutions will seek to protect what they may perceive as their crown jewels or potential for income generation.

Alternatively we could see a consolidation in the services provided and an avoidance of anything new which might be considered too risky for current climes? Or perhaps the challenges of providing institutional services at a time when both main political parties are warning of significant cuts to funding for high education provide the motivation for innovation and risk-taking?

If we do start to see a move towards consolidation of services, requiring little-used or expensive services being withdrawn from service, perhaps there might be an interest in ways of managing such activities – so perhaps there may be a renewed interest in digital preservation activities for the decommissioning or mothballing of networked services, such as those addressed by the JISC PoWR (Preservation of We Resources) project.

These are some of the broad areas which might be addressed at the event – but we are also inviting a broad range of submissions on topics of interest to those involved in providing institutional Web services.

Why Submit a Proposal?

At a difficult time for those of us working in the higher education what is the motivation for submitting a proposal?

Perhaps now is the ideal time for submitting a proposal. Over the 13 years the event has been held many members of the community have contributed to the event.  The accompanying image shows the host institution of plenary speakers from the University sector. Note that a visualisation of the data is available with access to a more complete range of data about the IWMW series of events available on the IWMW Web site (and a map of the workshop facilitators for IWMW 2007-2009 is also available).

Those who have given a plenary talk at the IWMW events, or the much larger numbers who have facilitated a workshop session, should have gained benefits from their participation.  In addition to having something tangible to include on a CV (or a LinkedIn profile) the speakers and facilitators should have gained personal benefits from raising their profile across the community and from the experiences of speaking to large numbers of their peers or facilitating discussions and debates with a supportive audience who are familiar with the challenges involved in providing and supporting institutional Web services.

Giving a talk or running a session also provides a valuable opportunity to receive feedback on your ideas and plans.  It’s far better to have flaws in your plans for future work identified by your peers prior to the deployment or development of a service.  And in workshop sessions you can also get the participants to identify problem areas and work on the development of solutions!  I know this is an approach I often take.

So please visit the call for proposals and get in touch with myself or my colleague Marieke Guy, who is chair of the event, with your proposals – or tentative ideas. We’d love to hear from you.

Posted in Events | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »