Personal Engagement with Repositories through Social Networking Applications

Archive for the ‘PERSoNA’ Category

Browser plug-ins/extensions

Posted by Nick on January 15, 2009

Browser plug-ins and extensions aren’t really something I’ve explored in any great depth – apart from – we’ve been thinking more about widgets. Could we perhaps think about how plug-ins/extensions could be used either as an alternative or to complement some of our other tools?

Not sure yet if there is a social networking component to Zotero…if not could it be developed? And what skills does one need to develop plug-ins?


Posted in PERSoNA | 2 Comments »

Leeds Met Repository Blog

Posted by Nick on November 11, 2008

We have now implemented an early version of a Blog supporting access to various repository tools for Leeds Met:

The intent is to include key information and tools including:

  • a link to the Leeds Met Repository
  • web based search for the repository
  • web based one click deposit to the repository (via SWORD)
  • SHERPA/RoMEO widget
  • making visible RSS feeds for internal collections
  • access to social bookmarking and citation related sites such as, Connotea and CiteULike
  • access to social networking sites such as facebook
  • other tools as they become usable (eg. Streamline’s auto-metadata generator tool)

We hope that a blog will provide a suitable environment for users to interact with the tools and add blog comments to reflect their experiences and thoughts and that this will contribute to some of the major aims of PERSoNA:

  • Stakeholders commenting on the various processes around the use of the repository, and encouraging each other in the deposit of materials.
  • Onward signposting and bookmarking of resources elsewhere to promote use of both in-house and other materials.
  • Members of the project team engaging with users both in guiding them in use of the system, and in observing user behaviour and comment on the use of the materials in the repository to feed this into improvements in the system.

Posted in Leeds Met Repository Blog, PERSoNA, Web habits | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Staff Development Festival

Posted by Nick on August 29, 2008

Well, I’ve set my stall.  Almost.  A couple of Innovation North tablecloths, posters, leaflets and my brand new recoil stand.  Adjacent to the University Research Office for synergy.  It’s missing something though, je ne sais qua…it needs someone with a bit more artistic flair than I…

One activity that I intend to carry out during the Festival is ad hoc interviews with a cross section of colleagues about their understanding and use of web 2.0.  I plan to be relatively informal – grab a digital recorder and wander around with my mic like John Sargeant – then I can edit the results and post on here as a podcast; though I will also try to apply the principles of IPA and extract some meaningful data that we can then use as a springboard for more detailed exploration.

Posted in PERSoNA, Staff Development Festival, Web habits | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Repository Developments.

Posted by johnrg on August 27, 2008

In the last 6 weeks or so the open source IRISS SRU interface for the Intralibrary Repository has been made available. We have been able to create a modified version of this interface that connects to the LeedsMet Repository, searches for a given term, and extracts and displays matching entries. So far so good. The next phases for this project intend to extend this interface to include an interactive tree like representation of the internal structure of the repository and to investigate the incorporation of the interface within a personalisable interface supporting access to both work related and socially oriented tools. Hopefully prototypes of these will be available for demonstration during the Staff Development Festival in early September.

Given the Leedsmet partnership with Google early investigation of personalisable interfaces will focus on igoogle, a customisable personal portal available with the suite of tools and applications comprising the google interface. By creating google gadgets encapsulating the project tools we will make available to staff a range of facilities that will enable staff to build an igoogle page containing a range of work related and social networking tools that reflect their needs and interests.

Once we have tools and interfaces for staff to engage with we will be looking for staff who are willing to use both and provide feedback on their usefulness, usability and customisability.

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Moving forward…

Posted by Nick on July 10, 2008

On the back of the Emerge presentation, and as an earlier adjunct to the Streamline meeting, a group of us sat down on Tuesday to review PERSoNA and think about precisely what tools the project needs to deliver.

A question:

Should we be looking at a web tool that facilitates appropriate social networking and resource sharing that sits outside the repository rather than embed tools within intraLibrary itself?

John began by sketching a very rough outline of the repository projects; I have taken this diagram and tried to flesh it out to more fully represent my own conception of what we are aiming at with our interlinked projects:

This approach to PERSoNA would allow intraLibrary to be configured simply as a repository that we can annexe to our web tool – whatever that may be.

Note: Might a potential problem with this approach be integration with the Web 2.0 technologies and personalisation tools already present in intraLibrary 3.0 (RSS, rating system, user comments, add to favourites)?

Anyway, if this should be the approach that we follow, the crucial questions are perhaps:

  • What sort of tool or tools would be useful enough so that people would naturally engage with them?
  • How could the use of such a tool or tools promote use of the repository?

One idea is to somehow embed the repository and its peripheral infrastructure (i.e. the PERSoNA tool) into the scholarly workflow such that deposit/discovery/sharing of resources is fully integrated into the process of writing and publishing a research paper or producing/repurposing a learning object.

Note: Other projects are exploring similar themes: The EMBED project at Cranfield University aims “to increase understanding of how repositories can be used to support research and learning, integrating them fully into academic processes.”

Dawn suggested a WIKI as a possible solution: it allows collaboration – often essential in research – and could in theory be used to write a research paper which could then automatically be deposited to the repository at the appropriate point in the workflow. Janet, however, was quick to point out that a while a WIKI may be useful to collaborate on research, it is not, in fact, an appropriate technology for writing a research paper citing lack of adequate version control as a major drawback.

Creative suggestions notwithstanding, I’m acutely aware that we really need more user input – what do academics actually want? I still think there is mileage in assessing individual web habits and other factors that contribute to workflow inertia – by interview perhaps?

Janet referred to a post-graduate project that might provide us with a useful opportunity; as I understand, a group of postgraduates hope to produce their own research journal and utilise a sort of informal peer review process to assess quality. Perhaps we can collaborate with the project; a potential user-group to help us develop a useful and usable virtual, social environment that facilitates easy deposit of appropriate material into the repository which is then made available as an e-journal.

Posted in PERSoNA, Web habits | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Presentation to the EMERGE community – after the fact

Posted by Nick on June 30, 2008

First of all, sincere apologies that I was unable to present along with John last Monday. I am reliably informed that, technical problems notwithstanding, a lively discussion ensued and I intend to listen to the recording as soon as I can find it! I shall post again after that but in the meantime here is a short summary from John:

“Just finished presenting the Persona project stuff at this on-line conference in the absence of Nick who unfortunately was unable to be there. I’ve only just joined this project and my knowledge of many of the open access issues surrounding repositories is developing. I think the basis of the project struck a chord with most of the participants so we were talking to the converted as it were. My thanks to those who stuck with us in spite of my bumbling.

There was some slight confusion at the end of the presentation when Janet Finlay stepped in to answer a question and her mike stopped working – I could hear her perfectly well because I was in the same physical room as her however there must have been a thunderous silence in the Elluminate room. We fixed this by getting Janet to use my machine and mike and hence Janet and John swapped identities as took over her machine. How many people learned to read with the Janet and John books – wouldn’t it have been a surprise if Janet and John and switched identities in the books!

What we would like to do is to encourage everyone to tell us their stories regarding how they interact with research and/or learning object repositories, and also how they interact with those social networking facilities that they have adopted. In particular can you identify specific things that promote the use of research repositories for you, is there a work flow for you that encourage you to use a repository?”

Posted in Get involved, PERSoNA, Web habits | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

What are YOUR Web habits?

Posted by Nick on June 20, 2008

As part of the session on Monday (16:00-16:45) I would like to ask participants to feed back their own stories of their personal Web habits/work flow.

Some unstructured questions:

  • What is your home page and why?
  • Which particular social networking tools do you use?
  • What sort of information are you most interested in?
  • How do you manage your path through that information?
  • Do you differentiate between user generated content and “authorative” material on the web?
  • Do you use a Web 2.0 “repository” – SlideShare; Flickr; YouTube?
  • Do you use a more “formal” repository – institutional; subject based?
  • What factors encourage you to use a “repository” (or not)?

These are just off the top of my head so my final question is “What other questions could I ask?”


Posted in Get involved, PERSoNA, Web habits | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

What are social networking services?

Posted by Nick on June 11, 2008

As part of Denizen’s Young People and Social Networking Services report Josie Fraser provides a useful and succinct (as it can be) summary of definitions of Social networking Services which “splits services up into six main categories: Profile-based services (eg Bebo, Facebook, MySpace); Content-focused services (eg Flickr, YouTube); White-label networks (although I could have written a book about these); Multi-User Virtual Environments (although some of these aren’t necessarily social networks – particularly those designed for younger children); Mobile services; and Microblogging/Presence update services (Social Search engines & Lifestream aps also get a mention as adjunct services).”

Josie’s full social-networking-overview may well be a useful resource for PERSoNA

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Web 2.0, jargon and user engagement

Posted by Nick on May 29, 2008

As referred to in Repository News I am currently formulating questions to gather preliminary user information for PERSoNA and am finding that the process, though difficult, certainly focusses the mind. The cardinal rule for questionnaire building is first to decide precisely what information one wishes to capture. At this time my brief is to select “a representative set of social networking applications” and ensure that “key stakeholders [are] in agreement with [the] set of applications to be used? Are they familiar with them? Do they use them in other environments on a regular basis?” (from our evaluation plan)

My initial attempt at a questionnaire was far too generic, referring to social networks; blogs; wikis. Dawn was quick to point out that, generally speaking, people respond better to specifics than generics; ask someone if they use butter or margarine they may not be sure but give them a list of brand names and the task suddenly becomes much easier.

So, do you use Web 2.0 technologies? Surely a question with vastly more heterogenous implications than butter or marge; your answer will depend on what precisely you understand by Web 2.0 (which it has been persuasively argued is little more than a buzzword in any case.) And, anyway, what is the definition of “use”? You may read blogs but does this constitute “use”? You may even comment occasionally but is this fundamentally any different from sending a letter to the editor of your local newspaper? You may of course keep your own blog but perhaps even this is not unambiguous use of Web 2.0 and depends on what the blog is for, what your individual perspective is on Web 2.0/web based communication, the access level of your blog, your skill as a writer…even your character. Is the blog your platform to communicate to the world or just a relatively private space for you and a few enthusiasts?

Moreover, different individuals will access blogs, news – information – on the web in different ways, via different routes and ultimately, are probably not that interested in the media-frenzy kicked up around Web 2.0 and social networking – they simply want to access information and connect with friends, family, colleagues and like-minded strangers in the most convenient way they can and for many this happens to be the web and associated technologies. For example I use iGoogle and Google reader for RSS feeds from the various blogs I like to keep an eye on and will tend to read the posts within Google reader and not actually visit the individual blogs at all – unless I want to leave a comment. If I follow a link to another blog I like the look of I will paste the feed URL back into Google reader and may never actually visit the site again. Other people will use entirely different applications and approaches to follow their own information path but surely the beauty of Web 2.0 – whatever it is – is it’s endless possibilities for personalisation and individuality. (I also read the newspaper though I have never written a letter to the editor; I still might; I am after all still relatively new to blogging!)

With any nascent technology (or established technology for that matter) there is the problem of the terminology developed and used by devotees and how this may be (mis)understood by the end user. I have found myself, for example, using the term “collaborative tool” which could include forums and messageboards – boring old Web 1.0 technology many might argue. Perhaps the wiki is the new forum, editable by anyone and unlike a forum not based on a flat file structure and allowing for tagging and none-linear navigation. Once again there is the problem of defining “use” – ask the end-user if they “use” a wiki and many may not be certain what the term even means or associate it exclusively with Wikipedia – and a wiki, after all, is just a HTML file that can be read like any other web-page or, well, a newspaper. Does this constitute use?

Rather than bombarding the end user with jargon and esoteric concepts perhaps our emphasis should be on how we, as devotees, use the technology ourselves to facilitate communication and collaboration amongst those end users. Sounds obvious put like that but the trick is also to engage the end user in the development process in a meaningful way without expecting them also to become devotees.

All of which gets me only a little closer to putting together a set of questions that will help me to identify “a representative set of social networking applications” that can then be user tested in a novel context within LeedsMet repository.

Posted in PERSoNA, Questionnaire | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Input needed

Posted by Nick on May 8, 2008

The PERSoNA project needs to identify a pilot group of stakeholders to consult on their current use of social networking applications. Ideally such a group will be made up from a wide cross section of the university community including both those who are unfamiliar with Web 2.0 technologies (disclaimer: wikipedia is not gospel!) as well as those who regularly use Facebook,, blogs and wikis as part of their professional life.

Input from the pilot group will be used to identify a representative set of collaborative tools that will then be adapted for use/embedded within Leeds Met’s Institutional Repository with the goal of encouraging use and exploitation of the repository.

A collaborative google document is being collectively drafted in the first instance; if you would like to become a contributor please email me.

Posted in Get involved, PERSoNA | Tagged: | 1 Comment »