The Spirit of Web 2.0

Writing about

Banging my head against a brick wall

I went to rather a depressing conference last Wednesday.  And it left me feeling like this <=

To cut a long story short I had not chosen wisely.  Whilst the topic seemed relevant and appropriate the audience at which it was pitched did not really include me.

The other attendees and the presenters were almost exclusively members of IT departments in universities.  They were concerned about things like being able to ‘market’ themselves to the rest of the institution and whether or not they should be allowed to use an internally-facing sub-brand.  They were also interested in proving value to customers and management stakeholders and setting up good basic internal communications.

This was interesting up to a point – since arriving at my current institution I’ve noticed a queue of people coming to me for internal ‘marketing’ advice.  They of course mean, and need, nothing of the sort – but it takes a while to persuade them of that.

But, while I was sat with half an ear on the presenters, and partly to stop myself picking a fight with an obnoxious chap sat in front (who, amongst other things, turned round to tell my colleague that the sound of his typing was irritating – hello?!  new technology conference!), I made a few notes about what I’d hoped the conference would be.

  1. What do technologists need to know about communications?
  2. What should communicators learn about technologies?
  3. Where does editorial responsibility/content ownership lie?
  4. Can communication be managed within interactive (web 2.0) channels?  If so, how?  In a top-down way or in a self-governing way?
  5. How do Facebook/Bebo/blogs/social bookmarking fit into a communications mix?  (The peer-to-peer benefits are clear, the organisation to member/customer dynamic is less clear…)

Prentiss McCabeMalcolm TuckerBasically, what I need to work out, and what I’d hoped to have the opportunity to discuss, is what do I do with the following list of tools?  Is there a clever way of piggybacking on them or using them that I am missing?  How on earth does crisis management work in these fora?  In fact how do you manage communications through them without looking like you are donning your Nazi jackboots and behaving in a completely inappropriate way?

(Of course, I do realise that most of the point of web 2.0 is the socialist, egalitarian, utilitarian vibe and that by seeking to manage things or use these tools I am proving myself to be a potential member of Prentiss McCabe or worse still Malcom Tucker…)

  • Blogs
  • Facebook/Bebo/MySpace
  • YouTube/ Google Video
  • Flash Meetings
  • Instant Messenging
  • Social bookmarking
  • Flickr
  • E-portfolios
  • VLEs/Moodle
  • Podcasts/ Videocasts
  • Digital mapping/ Mind Mapping etc.
  • Texts/ SMS
  • SecondLife
  • Wikis
  • Web forums
  • Email – are we really using it well enough?
  • PDA/ Blackberry – web for phones?  Still necessary now we have the iPhone?
  • Tiny URLS/ go redirects
  • RSS Feeds & Readers

I appreciate that some of these are in no way web 2.0 – but I thought I’d throw the lot into the mix.

So, that’s what’s bothering me at the moment.  How are you?

5 Responses to “The Spirit of Web 2.0”
  1. Hi Casey
    Sorry your found the event so depressing 😦
    I’ve a real interest in the Web 2.0 topics you’ve raised – and you may be interested to know that I uploaded a couple of video clips of the event to YouTube:

    I spotted your blog as I’m writing a talk on Web site preservation issues, and I’ve previously blogged about the migration of your blog from Warwick:
    I assume you never managed to get the full content of your older posts?

    Brian kelly

  2. caseyleaver says:

    Thanks for dropping by Brian.

    The conference was I think not at fault, I should have paid more attention to the likely audience when making my choice.

    I did enjoy your session – and was, of course, tickled to see WarwickBlogs get a mention.

    I was also interested to see the Edgehill presentation as I remember demo-ing WarwickBlogs and Warwick Forums to them!

    On the migration issue, the process of exporting the content of my Warwick blog took quite a long time (several hours). And although I tried it twice the process only collected entries up to a certain date (it is possible that I was just too prolific a blogger!).

    So, I am missing about 3-6 months of the beginning of my blog.

    I am also missing the pictures – this is because I never bothered to export them from where they were hosted on

    The reason that I didn’t bother is that whereas at Warwick Blogs I had more or less unlimited storage space (with a simple upload function), with WordPress the storage space is so limited that I’d have to store the images on Flickr and then redo all the references.

    The reward didn’t seem worth the effort.

  3. Chris May says:

    Hi Casey,

    Sorry to hear that you didn’t manage to get all your WB content migrated; I don’t know why that didn’t work (unfortunately, your blog has been gone too long now, so I can’t try exporting it again to see if I can get the whole lot)

    Anyway, I was curious about this:

    “Since arriving at my current institution I’ve noticed a queue of people coming to me for internal ‘marketing’ advice. They of course mean, and need, nothing of the sort – but it takes a while to persuade them of that.”

    Do they all mean (and need) the same kind of thing? If so, what is it? And what causes them to come (mistakenly) to you looking for it?

  4. caseyleaver says:

    No probs Chris. If I were patient, and if I had asked about it at the time, I know I would have been rewarded with helpful advice and all my entries.

    Sometimes, I lack patience (although I will deny this if anyone mentions it!).

    On the internal “marketing”:

    Of course not everybody means exactly the same thing, but the pattern is broadly that:

    individuals or teams who provide a service to the rest of, or other members of, the organisation, want help in getting more take-up of their service
    individuals or teams with a bad reputation want to be thought better of within the institution

    They are not mistaken in coming to talk to me – because a lot of the time I can help them achieve their objectives through advising them on how to communicate in a targetted and effective way.

    But they are mistaken in thinking that having an internal logo or creating 10,000 posters to spread all over campus is going to be the solution to their problems.

    When people arrive requesting support with “marketing” I know two things: firstly, they haven’t thought through precisely what they want to achieve, and secondly, they have not thought about who to target their communications at or what the best way to reach these people is.

    And I’m not pretending that the processes that I go through with them are clever, but they do make them stop and think, and what we come up with is more likely to achieve their ends than a mass broadcast or advert-style communication.

    Rather, they usually make them stop an think….

    But there will always be some people who think that the way to get people to attend their idiosyncratic training course for researchers in particle physics is to send all-staff emails out every week for four weeks with their seminar logo attached!

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