Archive for the ‘Web 2’ Category

Twitter picture from ALT-C

September 19, 2012

Sandra Partington, who was one of the co-authors of our ALT-C contribution last week, has appropriately used Twitter to post a photo from the session.  Here’s her shot of me with Mo Pamplin in front of one slide from our Pecha Kucha session – I’m on the left of the photo in the light coloured shirt.

RSS as glue

September 12, 2012

I’m in a workshop right now at ALT-C run by Guy Saward from Hertfordshire, who is bravely doing a live demo and editing some material on his university’s long-establihsed Studynet system (their own learning enviroment built on top of Lotus notes) in front of an audience.  He’s looking at the connection between universities’ own systems, such as the one he’s using, and the social networks, notably Facebook, that students use, and raising the question of how they can be linked and indeed in which type of place academics should be most active.

He’s using RSS feeds – a technology that many of our students have heard of but fewer know how to use – to build links between the different sorts of system.  RSS isn’t a new technology but in the educational setting it’s one that may be set to become more familiar than it has been so far.

Slightly unexpectedly, at the table where I was sitting, we got into a fairly involved conversation about how RSS feeds and Facebook content works.  It turns out that material delivered to Facebook through an automated feed doesn’t necessarily get posted in the way that automated material does.  Arguably this challenges the tacit assumption that different online tools can be linked together and content from one tool can be embedded in another at will.  But it’s also a nice illustration of a case where understanding the technical policies used by an organisation can affect educational approaches.

The retro social network

March 27, 2012

Friends Reunited was one of the first social networks on the Internet, started by a couple of entrepreneurs in 2000, and sold to ITV for millions of pounds a few years later.  But it suffered the fate of many pioneers, and its success was transient.  Now it’s been relaunched in a new form with a focus on memories, and not just the memory of what websites looked like 12 years ago, which sadly has been my reaction when I’ve looked at their home page in the last few years.

Reading the comments on the BBC website, I’m struck both by the persistence of Friends Reunited’s original concept, a way to get in touch with people who you were at school with, and by the current owners’ determination to distance themselves from that.  Certainly one reason that I never signed up for Friends Reunited is that I didn’t have any desire to reconnect with schoolfriends (in the unlikely event that you are reading this and you went to school with me, please don’t take that personally).  But at least that gave the site a focus, as distinct from a more general theme of nostalgia which they seem to be pursuing now.

Leading or lagging

March 20, 2012

One insight into the use of email, and social networks, in business and in people’s personal lives has come up in discussion with some of my students.  Email in particular, and other first-generation web tools used for communication, started as tools which people working in IT or in academic environments used at work, and then developed into tools used be people to organise their personal and social lives.  So this was a case of use of the technology at work leading the use of the same technology at leisure.  But with social networking it’s the other way roung: employers are looking at how they can change the way that people communicate and collaborate at work, to take advantage of the sort of approaches that people are already using in their home lives.  So this time professional use of technology is lagging personal use.

Why?  A lot of it’s down to cost and ubiquity of equipment.  Email started when the sort of connectivity that we now take for granted, through a broadband network, was only available at the desk of somebody working for a big and/or technically sophisticated employer.  Now the tools that give us access to the most advanced and complex social networks are consumer goods, and we carry them in our pockets.

Banking in the cloud

January 12, 2012

The BBC has also been reporting this major deal for the Spanish bank BBV to use Google’s services.  It’s notable that their account of the deal stresses the division between internal communication, where mobility is important and security of customer data less so, and the systems that support core banking activities and that do store customer data, and suggests that Google’s responsibility is for the former type of system.

Storytelling the Web 2 way

November 25, 2011

50+ ways to tell a story is a great resource covering different web 2.0 tools for building up ideas.  I first encountered it after reading this paper on educational use of storytelling, and discovered that one of its authors, Alan Levine, had created 50 ways.  It’s worth watching the video on the front page, which conveys very effectively the potential for telling the same story in different ways, and for combining tools to create something new and powerful.  And if you need to know more about the significance of the title, just ask a baby boomer.

Open source scholarship

October 20, 2011

Today’s cover story in Times Higher Education is about the concept of the ‘citizen scientist’ – a term which consciously parallels the emergence of the ‘citizen journalist’ .  The implication, then, is that just as those working for the mainstream press need to collaborate with citizen journalists, in an increasingly connected world academic researchers will need to collaborate with citizen scientists.  Interestingly, the article doesn’t mention open-source concepts, and it does make much of examples which have been around for many years longer than the Internet, but nevertheless there is an issue of how scientific research could be changing to adapt to an environment where many different people can participate as peers

Why 403?

May 17, 2011

WordPress provides blog owners, such as myself, with a neat ‘dashboard’ that includes a convenient bar chart showing how many views I’ve had over the last few days (partial screen dump to the right).  Just recently, I’ve found that if I try to view the dashboard from most places except my desk at work, the bar chart doesn’t appear, and instead I get a simple ‘403’ message implying that I’m not allowed to view the chart.

So far I haven’t been able to find much on the Internet about what could cause this, except that the dashboard might possibly object to the IP address that my computer is connected to.  But I get this with my laptop whether I’m at home, or at the university where I work, or in the British Library, and the computer will be assigned a different IP address in each of these cases – which is a bit of a mystery

Augmenting reality

May 3, 2011

Augmented reality is a term that’s frequently used when talking about possible IT applications for the future, so it’s interesting to see the BBC telling us about the use of augmented reality in advertising.

Of course this example raises some questions: how can the advertising agency be certain that the augmented reality stunt made a significant contribution to the success of the deodorant that they were promoting?  Come to that, why should an angel conveniently choose to fall to earth in a busy commuter spot during the peak hour?

Still, it’s nice to see an indication of what the technology can actually do

Analytics and advertising

April 21, 2011

WordPress offers some simple analytic tools which I can use to find out which posts people have been reading, and I’ve been a bit surprised to find that my post from November 2009 on a sustaining technology (the washing machine) attracts a steady stream of ‘hits’.

Maybe these readers know something that I didn’t, because our 18-month-old washing machine has developed a leak in the door.  Fortunately this looks to be a guarantee claim, since John Lewis sells washing machines with a two-year guarantee.  But it’s very striking that, since clicking on the John Lewis site a couple of times yesterday to find out about how to claim, several other sites have displayed prominent banner advertising for John Lewis whenever I browse them from my laptop.  I know that analytic tools are used by websites to place targeted advertising – I just assumed that usually their use would be a bit more subtle than it has been on this occasion.