If you are interesting in integrating social media into your work practices then a useful place to look for information is the recent Social Media conference held at the CRASSH centre at the University of Cambridge. The conference was the final part of the SMKE (Social Media Knowledge Exchange) programme. It included talks by the SMKE scholars on various social media projects that they have been working on, and other presentations about copyright and ethics, networking, and much else besides.
Last week I presented the Blogging for Historians project to the Social Media Knowledge Exchange (SMKE) conference. I was the first one up on the second day (the only thing keeping the audience and myself from the coffee). A video from this will be made available soon from SMKE, but in the meantime I thought I would share with you a few items from the talk.
1. Slide Show and video
Some of these slides won’t mean much without the context. I’d rather not upload the text from my talk here, simply because it is not yet in a format that is legible to anyone but myself, however I would like to talk you through some of it.
Slide two shows the History SPOT blog (my first ever blog). I began my talk with this blog as I wanted to point out the problems that can occur and stay with a blog if it is not carefully planned from the very beginning. To this day the url and the name of the blog (at least on a superficial level) remain generic and unexciting (see the arrows). This was in part because I didn’t know at the time exactly what the blog would be about or what the name of the project would eventually become. The History SPOT blog has been a success, but the legacy of not knowing the importance of the name, especially for the url, remains with it.
The third slide shows a screenshot of this blog (Blogging for Historians) – an example – I hope – of how far I’ve come in choosing good names (or at least adequate ones). Slide four shows the outputs for this project followed by slide five in which I have outlined the principal types of blogs that I have found being used by academics and practitioners in the History profession.
Slide six is where I introduced all of the blogs and bloggers who were interviewed for the project. Here I broke them down into the categories mentioned in the previous slide. I explained that my selection of bloggers was based on trying to get a wide range of types so that I would get a good understanding from each person I interviewed of best practice, positives and negatives of blogging, and a range of reasons why a blog has been setup in the first place.
The slides that follow highlight two aspects of the interviews:
1) why was the blog set up (it’s reason for existence)
2) how is the blog managed
I went through each in some detail then (as you can see in slide 13) summarised some of the other questions and answers. I then showed a video that is a rough cut taken from the interviews on the question of what makes a good blog post. You can watch this here:
I really enjoyed making this video, although I am the first to admit that it is a little rough around the edges. I think it’s useful. Each of the interviews are 20-30 minutes long – not many people will listen all the way through, if at all I suspect. This video is only a few minutes in length and focuses on just one aspect of blogging but from various different views. I’m hoping to make up more of these in the future from the interviews already conducted (perhaps adding some more illuminating video aspects along the way).
Back to the slide show – slide 15 through to 18. In the talk I now moved on to one part of the project that I felt didn’t work very well – the online survey. I would like to thank all of you who did take part in the survey. Your views were very valuable and useful. However, I only received a little over 120 responses; not enough to truly gain a clear understanding of peoples views and opinions. This is certainly part of the project that I will need to think about more carefully in the future.
The final slides take a look at the upcoming toolkit or guide to blogging, that forms the final part of this phase of the Blogging for Historians project. Here I have just outlined the principal parts of the guide and given an example from the section looking at blog platforms. There will be more about this (and the toolkit itself) on this blog very soon.
I finished my talk by looking toward the future. I’m hoping to conduct more interviews, although for now these will most likely be e-mail based. I’m also hoping to create more videos by breaking up the interview audio into smaller chunks. I will also, of course, continue to add to the Blogging for Historians blog and build up a stronger and hopefully useful resource for anyone considering blogging for the first time (or indeed anyone wishing to learn more about blogs who already has one).
2. Twitter feed
Throughout all the presentations over the two day conference many people in the room twittered online. In this regard I’m still in the pen and paper age, but I might well give it a go at a future conference as the result (which has been stored by SMKE on Storify) is quite interesting and represents well the outline of the two days.
3. Six responses to the Social Media Knowledge Exchange conference
As a light epilogue to the two day event a few of us were asked to comment on the conference and projects which has now been made up on a short video on youtube. Just bare in mind that this was recorded over lunch and we had only a few seconds to compose something in our head before finding ourselves in front of the camera.