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Blogging practices to support project work

Slides for a talk on "Blogging practices to support project work" given by Brian Kelly, UKOLN at the JISC MRD Launch Meeting held in Nottingham on 1-2 December 2011.


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Blogging practices to support project work

  1. 1. Brian Kelly UKOLN University of Bath Bath, UK Blogging Practices To Support Project Work UKOLN is supported by: Acceptable Use Policy Recording this talk, taking photos, discussing the content using Twitter, blogs, etc. is permitted providing distractions to others is minimised. Twitter: Email: [email_address] Blogs: Twitter: #jiscmrd This work is licensed under a Creative Commons attribution 2.0 licence (but note caveat)
  2. 2. You are free to: copy, share, adapt or re-mix; photograph, film or broadcast; blog, live-blog or post video of this presentation provided that: You attribute the work to its author and respect the rights and licences associated with its components. Idea from Cameron Neylon Slide Concept by Cameron Neylon, who has waived all copyright and related or neighbouring rights. This slide only CCZero . Social Media Icons adapted with permission from originals by Christopher Ross. Original images are available under GPL at:
  3. 3. About the UK Web Focus Blog <ul><li>Launched in Nov 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>1,000 posts, 4,684 comments & over 385K views </li></ul><ul><li>Runner-up in IT Professional Blogger of the Year Award </li></ul>Introduction
  4. 4. About You <ul><li>How many are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Regular bloggers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Occasional bloggers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-bloggers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Your interests: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What would you like to see addressed in this session? </li></ul></ul>Introduction Your opportunity to shape the agenda
  5. 5. About This Session <ul><li>Why have a blog? </li></ul><ul><li>What’s the purpose of your blog? </li></ul><ul><li>Who contributes? </li></ul><ul><li>What can go wrong? </li></ul><ul><li>How can you measure the blog’s success ? </li></ul><ul><li>What technical issues should I care about? </li></ul><ul><li>Howe do I ensure the content is usable? </li></ul><ul><li>How to maximise impact of the blog </li></ul><ul><li>What additional functionality can we exploit? </li></ul><ul><li>Managing the blog when the project is over </li></ul>Introduction
  6. 6. Why Have a Blog? <ul><li>Group Exercise: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>List ~10 reasons why your project should have a blog </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Report back: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Each group to share three reasons for having a blog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Please do not repeat reasons already provided! </li></ul></ul>Why Blog?
  7. 7. Projects Must Blog!? <ul><li>Twitter/blog discussion in Feb 2009: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Projects may blog due to peer pressure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If not done for right reasons may be counter-productive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Projects should be open (wider than blogging) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to develop productive blogging culture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No, project must blog! </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Why Have a Blog? <ul><li>Possible Reasons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We have to – it’s in the contact! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To disseminate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To speculate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To challenge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To encourage discussion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To use as a CMS for content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To ensure content can be viewed easily on mobile devices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To produce RSS to facilitate reuse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To act as a CV </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To provide a sandbox for experimentation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… . </li></ul></ul>Why Blog?
  9. 9. Why Have a Blog? <ul><li>Tip No. 1: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensure you (and your project team) know the reasons why you are providing a blog. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Note </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This should be done for members of the project team and the funders </li></ul></ul>Why Blog?
  10. 10. What’s the Purpose of Your Blog? <ul><li>The need to publish the blog’s purpose: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To help user’s understand what your blog is about </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To ensure blog authors (possibly distributed) have a shared understanding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So your funders understand the purpose </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So future evaluators /markers understand the purpose </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To help in the management of your blog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To measure the blog’s effectiveness in achieving its intended purpose </li></ul></ul>What is Your Blog For?
  11. 11. What’s the Purpose of Your Blog? <ul><li>Summary: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Brief summary of top left corner of UK Web Focus blog (visible from every page) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Detailed description: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Detailed summary on page linked to from navigation bar </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Covers: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Purpose </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Policies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul>What is Your Blog For?
  12. 12. What’s the Purpose of Your Blog? <ul><li>Things to consider: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is the About page about the blog or the project? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does the summary change about the project is over? </li></ul></ul>The About page for the JISC PoWR project was updated last week as the blog may have been regarded as the project.
  13. 13. What’s the Purpose of Your Blog? <ul><li>Tip No. 2: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Publish an About page for your blog which is: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Easily found </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Clarifies whether the information is about the blog or the project </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Makes sense after the project is over </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Note </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This should be done for readers of your blog </li></ul></ul>What is Your Blog For?
  14. 14. Who Contributes to Your Blog? <ul><li>Email is for everyone and we (should) understand the context and the risks. </li></ul><ul><li>But blogs are a different environment </li></ul>Who Contributes?
  15. 15. Who Contributes to Your Blog? <ul><li>Starting a blog can be an intimidating experience … </li></ul>Who Contributes?
  16. 16. Who Contributes to Your Blog? <ul><li>… but so can writing a peer-reviewed paper </li></ul>Who Contributes?
  17. 17. Who Contributes to Your Blog? <ul><li>Some people are better at writing code </li></ul>Who Contributes?
  18. 18. Who Contributes to Your Blog? <ul><li>Whereas other can communicate complex ideas in visual ways </li></ul>Who Contributes? Visualisations produced by Tony Hirst
  19. 19. Who Contributes to Your Blog? <ul><li>Which channels do you prefer? (choose 1) </li></ul><ul><li>[ Research papers ] – [synthesis reports] – [ blogs ] – [briefing papers] – [marketing materials] – [ code ] – [visualisations] </li></ul><ul><li>Which communication channels are you happy to use? (choose all that apply) </li></ul><ul><li>Which communication channels do you try to avoid? (choose all that apply) </li></ul>
  20. 20. The Belbin Model <ul><li>Blogging and the Belbin Model </li></ul>
  21. 21. Who Contributes to Your Blog? <ul><li>Group Exercise: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide one (or two) statements describing who will publish posts on your project blog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are the strengthens & weaknesses of your blog contributor policy? </li></ul></ul>Who Contributes?
  22. 22. Who Contributes to Your Blog? <ul><li>Tip No. 3: </li></ul><ul><li>Since not everyone should blog but every project must have a blog … </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Identify the good, keen bloggers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Provide opportunities for reluctant bloggers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Consider inviting guest bloggers to add variety </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Provide blog profiles to be able to differentiate different ‘voices’ </li></ul></ul></ul>Who Contributes?
  23. 23. <ul><li>Group Exercise: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What can go wrong with your blog? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Feel free to include: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Technical issues </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Content issues </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>People issues </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Resourcing issues </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul></ul>When Things Go Wrong When Things Go Wrong
  24. 24. When Blogs Break Fatal error : Call to undefined method Arras_Widget_Tag_Cloud::WP_Widget_Tag_Cloud() in  /opt/wordpress/wp-content/themes/arras-theme/library/widgets.php  on line  328 <ul><li>Problem </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Spam comments spotted in blog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But blog not available?! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Solution </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Arras theme incompatible with upgraded PHP library </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blog viewed on mobile device, with mobile theme enabled </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Updated version of theme installed </li></ul></ul>When Things Go Wrong
  25. 25. Spam <ul><li>Blog comments can attract spam: </li></ul><ul><li>Comment moderation is a barrier to people </li></ul><ul><li>You’ll need a spam filter </li></ul><ul><li>I try to delete spam daily </li></ul>10 days of spam
  26. 26. Managing Spam Comments <ul><li>~0.5M spam comments in ~ 4 years (~4K legitimate comments) </li></ul><ul><li>Some legitimate comments may be trapped (& possibly retrieved). </li></ul>
  27. 27. When Things Go Wrong <ul><li>Tip No. 4: </li></ul><ul><li>Things can go wrong, but planning can minimise problems </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Spam filters </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Spam management policies </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Managing switch-off of your blog after project ends </li></ul></ul></ul>When Things Go Wrong
  28. 28. <ul><li>Group Exercise: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How should we measure the success of a blog? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Why do we need to measure the success of a blog?) </li></ul></ul>Measuring Success Measuring Success
  29. 29. Measuring Success <ul><li>Is this blog unsuccessful? </li></ul>The purpose of the blog was informal note-keeping using a familiar, easy-to-use tool. Should usage stats matter?
  30. 30. <ul><li>There are needs to identify indications of success </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstrate value to funders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify & learn from effective & flawed strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul>Measuring Success Measuring Success <ul><li>According to Technorati Tony Hirst’s blog is in: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Top 3% of all blogs it has indexed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Top 13% of Technology blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>based on index of > 1M blogs </li></ul>Top 3% of all blogs Top 13% of technology blogs
  31. 31. Comparison With Peers <ul><li>Search Technorati for ‘jisc’ helps to spot blogs with high ranking: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What can we learn from these? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can we help ensure JISC (outreach) blogs are highly ranked </li></ul></ul>Authority measures blog's standing & influence on scale of 0-1000 (high good). Ranking given for Technorati Authority of all sites (low good)
  32. 32. Wikio <ul><li>Wikio also provides metrics for (registered) blogs </li></ul><ul><li>List of top technology blogs shown </li></ul>Together with display of trends for ranking, nos. of posts, links and backlinks, OUseful had peak at #18 in Nov 2008 What happened from Jun-Sep 2010?
  33. 33. Measuring Success <ul><li>Tip No. 5: </li></ul><ul><li>Think about (easy) ways for measuring success of you blog </li></ul><ul><li>Note registering blog with Technorati & Wikio </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is trivial to do </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>May provide evidence of successful strategies </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The value may be in the aggregation of JISC blogs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Funders understand that these don’t provide league tables </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You’ll need to understand risks of not doing this (which may be a legitimate decision) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Interoperability Issues <ul><li>BK “ What technical advice should I give? ” </li></ul><ul><li>TB “ Don’t truncate RSS feeds! ” </li></ul><ul><li>Context (for end users): </li></ul><ul><li>On the bus, catching up with RSS feeds on iPod Touch. </li></ul><ul><li>If text truncated I normally don’t see full post (and am likely to unsubscribe from such blogs) </li></ul>Thanks to Amber Thomas for granting permission to share this example – she has updated her blog settings!
  35. 35. Interoperability Issues <ul><li>UKOLN’s Web Team Blog aggregator: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Harvests posts for Web team blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Allows them to understand their community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Allows us to observe </li></ul></ul>Note that searches, auto-categorisation, etc. is based on RSS feed content. Restricted feed content = limited value.
  36. 36. Interoperability Issues <ul><li>Tip No. 6: </li></ul><ul><li>Provide a full RSS feed for your blog </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It’s trivial to do </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If you don’t: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Humans may not see full post, especially if they use offline devices </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Software will not be able to harvest full post </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>Technical Issues
  37. 37. Which Platform? <ul><li>Which blogging platform should you use? </li></ul><ul><ul><li> : My choice. Limited range of plugins. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> : Install locally; can install wide range of plugins. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> : </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What else do people use? </li></ul>Platform Issues
  38. 38. Platform Issues <ul><li>Tip No. 7: </li></ul><ul><li>Several safe options available </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> or if no in-house options available </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> if </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Wish to use wider range of plugins </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Technical expertise available </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Wish to consider use of WP as a technology platform (see later) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>May be advantages in using same platform as your peers </li></ul></ul></ul>Platform Issues
  39. 39. Usability Issues <ul><li>Who normally reads blog posts: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>On a mobile device </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>On desktop PC </li></ul></ul>My morning’s reading: posts viewed in mobile RSS client Less clutter than Web browser view But some features don’t work (Java, Flash, ..)
  40. 40. <ul><li>Interoperability can be achieved by writing style and links, with no technology needed  </li></ul>
  41. 41. <ul><li>In a mobile world: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Which posts stands out? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Note: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Growing importance of personalised newspapers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to stand out form the crowd </li></ul></ul>
  42. 42. Usability <ul><li>Tip No. 9: </li></ul><ul><li>You can’t ignore mobile devices </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Even if you don’t read blogs on a mobile device, your readers might </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile usage will grow </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>There are some simple techniques you can use to enhance experiences on mobile device </li></ul></ul></ul>Usability
  43. 43. What About Twitter? <ul><li>Is Twitter: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Trivial & time-wasting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Valuable for rapid discussions with peers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Useful for marketing </li></ul></ul>
  44. 44. Twitter Evidence (1) <ul><li>URL foo + gives usage stats </li></ul>
  45. 45. Twitter Evidence (2) <ul><li>What happened in June 2011 which caused spike for peer-reviewed paper on “ Openness in Higher Education: Open Source, Open Standards, Open Access ” </li></ul><ul><li>Probably: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A tweet on 17 June </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A marketing opportunity (Promote #UniWekk campaign on Twitter day) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use of popular hashtags </li></ul></ul>&quot;Openness in HE: Open Source, Open Standards, Open Access&quot; paper on ways of exploiting openness: #UniWeek #UniofBath
  46. 46. What About Twitter? <ul><li>Tip No. 10: </li></ul><ul><li>You can’t ignore Twitter </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Build up your community (100-500 followers to ensure critical mass) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Engage in relevant discussions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Tweet about things you care about </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Tweet links you feel are useful </li></ul></ul></ul>Twitter
  47. 47. Commenting & Linking <ul><li>Many blogs publish automated links to their posts </li></ul><ul><li>This illustrates benefits of citing posts </li></ul>
  48. 48. Commenting & Linking <ul><li>Comments can be indicative of community building (but may be difficult on project blog) </li></ul><ul><li>You may prefer to be notified of comments: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>By email </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In your RSS reader </li></ul></ul><ul><li>You may also wish to have comments to blogs of interest in this way </li></ul>
  49. 49. Comment on Other’s Blogs <ul><li>Comment in response to post on Google Scholar Citations (& question on proactive use of service) </li></ul>
  50. 50. Email Matters <ul><li>What if your users: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are not into blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t use RSS readers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Encourage them to sign up to an RSS to email subscription service e.g. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Feedburner (93 subscribers to all posts) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WordPress (85 subscribers) </li></ul></ul>
  51. 51. Comments, Links and Email <ul><li>Tip No. 11: </li></ul><ul><li>Comments, links and email matter </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>You can encourage comments by your writing style (e.g. open questions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Providing links to relevant resources helps users in following ideas </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Providing links to blog posts can generate traffic back to you blog </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Posts can be delivered by email (but you’ll have to make it obvious how to do this) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  52. 52. You Are Not Alone! <ul><li>Work collaboratively: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You are not alone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You gain benefits by sharing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research360@Bath MRD blog plans covers: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content for static pages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content for blog posts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul>
  53. 53. You Are Not Alone! <ul><li>Research360@Bath MRD blog plans covers: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Content for sidebar </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Target audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Provided under a Creative Commons (CC-BY) licence  </li></ul>
  54. 54. Searching Across the Community <ul><li>A Google Custom Search Engine (GCSE) searches across (current) JISC MRD blogs </li></ul>GCSE can be embedded in Web pages Note should have OPML feeds to add blogs to RSS aggregators
  55. 55. Browsing Across the Community <ul><li>JISC RDM blogs added to Google Reader </li></ul><ul><li>Google Reader allows: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Browsing (shown) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Export of OPML file for import to other RSS tools </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Compare this with the silos of conventional Web sites! </li></ul>Produced by Jez Cope, [email_address]
  56. 56. You Are Part of a Community <ul><li>Tip No. 12: </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t reinvent the wheel! </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Learn from what others are doing </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Share what you’re doing </li></ul></ul></ul>Why not write a post about how you’ve implemented your blog? Other may find this useful, and they may be motivated to give you suggestions on enhancements
  57. 57. Advanced Blogging <ul><li>Blogs can provide: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy-to-use content management system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tool for creating mobile-friendly content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mechanism for getting feedback </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But in addition: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can manage semantic content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content can be created by automated processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… </li></ul></ul>
  58. 58. <ul><li>Example from Southampton University </li></ul>
  59. 59. Annotum <ul><li>Annotums’s objectives are to develop: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A simple, robust, easy-to-use authoring system to create and edit scholarly articles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An editorial review and publishing system that can be used to submit, review, and publish scholarly articles </li></ul></ul>
  60. 60. <ul><li>Joss Winn’s session on WordPress at IWMW 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>If you’ve 6 mins to spare see the video: </li></ul>
  61. 61. Blog Engine as a Platform <ul><li>Tip No. 13: </li></ul><ul><li>A blog engine can be a powerful technology platform </li></ul>
  62. 62. It’s All Over Now! <ul><li>The projects over – and was a great success  </li></ul><ul><li>But the blog: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is full of spam </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Has out-of-date content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Has stopped working </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Used as indicator of poor dissemination for next call </li></ul></ul>
  63. 63. <ul><li>IWMW 2011 blog </li></ul>Calendar removed Is this risky?
  64. 64. A Blog Isn’t Just For Xmas! <ul><li>Tip No. 14: </li></ul><ul><li>Your project blog will still be relevant after the project is complete: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It can undermine future work if closure isn’t managed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It can demonstrate the value of previous work </li></ul></ul>See &quot; Approaches To Archiving Professional Blogs Hosted In The Cloud “, iPres 2010, Kelly, B & Guy, M. <>
  65. 65. Conclusions <ul><li>You should </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Document blog’s purpose </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide an About page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop plans for content providers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have a spam management policy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consider ways of gathering metrics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide a full RSS feed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensure posts are usable on mobile devices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Encourage comments – and comment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Work collaboratively </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand additional opportunities for blog platform </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Manage the closure of your blog </li></ul></ul>
  66. 66. Questions