Friday, 30 March 2012

Social media: A tool for research and collaboration

the research cycle - from the Research Information Network's
 'Social media: a guide for researchers'
I had a great day at Edinburgh University last Friday (23 March) as the guest of the Scottish branch of the CILIP Universities, Colleges and Research Group, who'd put on a event entitled 'Social Media: tools for research and collaboration'. I'd been asked to present by the lovely Sheila Williams, Liaison Services Manager  at Queen Margaret University (aka @Budsmam). I first met Sheila some years back, on a Webquests (whatever happened to them?!) training course and she feels like an old friend (old in a good way!). Although, as she reminded me on the day, we've only actually met on three occasions!

I kicked off the event with a fairly general intro to social media as a tool for research and collaboration (pinching lots of stuff from the rather excellent Research Information Network's 'Social Media: A guide for researchers') - identifying some examples of social media being used at all points of the research cycle. I also talked a bit about online identity. My presentation is available on Slideshare. And I've put together a list of relevant resources on Diigo.

Helen Muir, Research Support Librarian at Queen Margaret University (@HMuir), then spoke in a bit more detail about why researchers really need to get on board with social media (the Research Excellence Framework (REF) is beginning to have a big impact) and highlighted some tools that may be of particular use for researchers. Helen's rather super presentation is on Prezi. I was a bit concerned when Helen said she'd used Prezi - they generally give me a headache - but Helen's presentation makes great use of Prezi's features. Helen's presentation has prompted me to take another look at, a sort of Linkedin for academics, that allows you to share your papers and to follow the work of other researchers.

Perhaps the biggest revelation of the day for me came in Helen's presentation. I cannot believe that I've not come across Bright Club before. Researchers doing stand up! Or as the website puts it: 'researchers become comedians for just one night'. How brilliant is that?!

After lunch, Phil Bradley (internet search expert extraordinaire, current CILIP President, all round nice chap and @PhilBradley on Twitter) took us on a tour of the impact that social media is having on search. Phil's presentation is also available on Slideshare. We were in a computer lab for Phil's session, so could play around a bit with some of the tools covered in his presentation. I had a look at - which promises spam free search (by only crawling 3 billion pages, focusing on 'quality websites'). Blekko also has a tool called a slashtag that organizes websites around specific topics and improves search results for those topics. It's worth a look if you want an alternative to the 'tyranny of Google'.

There was some great tweeting on the #UCRSocMed hashtag throughout the day. Particularly from Sheila (we even had the odd tweet from Sheila's dog @Budthepuppy :)). And I've had fun putting everything (presentations, resources and tweets) into Storify. It's a bit back to front...but hey, it was my first time :)

Monday, 19 March 2012

Amazing things are happening in Scotland: Part 2

gratuitous shot of the Firth of Forth

1. I failed miserably to talk, eat and tweet concurrently (I know, I know, I let the sisterhood down...) at #tartantm, but the event was a great success, with public sector types tweeting from all corners of the country! James Coltham has a nice write up (and some nifty time lapse photography) from the Edinburgh event on his blog. So successful was the whole shindig, that there's already a second load of tweetups planned for 28 March, when the topic will be 'social media and the future of journalism'.

2. Sally Kerr, Web Manager at Edinburgh City Council, has kindly let me help out with rebooting the Scottish Webteams Forum. The Forum was created by Sally way back in 2004 to provide a Scotland-wide platform for public sector webteams to discuss issues and developments, share knowledge and consider partnership working opportunities.

We've decided to try a hybrid traditional conference/unconference format for the relaunch event. The morning session at the City Chambers will include formal presentations on:  

  • Direct Scot's prototype findings
  • Aberdeen's experience of implementing an open data approach
  • the key role that customer experience played in delivering Edinburgh's 4 Star SOCITM site for 2011
  • some exciting social media stuff happening in Edinburgh

The event is sponsored by web solutions company Squiz, and we'll decant to their lovely offices just up the road for an afternoon of 'user generated content'! Rather than try to guess what folk want to hear about, we thought it'd be nice to give attendees the opportunity to set the agenda - in true GovCamp stylee :). Anyone can suggest any topic (within reason!) for discussion sessions. There will be opportunities to suggest session topics in the run up, and also on the day itself. Suggestions so far include:

  • social media and records management
  • the EU Cookie Directive
  • social media policies
[NB. We also decided to update the group's name - so the 'Webteams Forum' is now the Scottish Public Sector Digital Group (SPSDG) to reflect a slightly enhanced remit.]

We're literally down to a handful of places left - so if you haven't booked, then do so soon! Or if you can't make it in person, follow the #spsdg Twitter hashtag on 29 March. Or read the write ups on the new SPSDG blog.

3. Oh, and just to confirm that good things do come in threes, it looks like the eagerly anticipated IslandGovCamp is a goer!