Events are Primarily About Content and Networking
The IWMW 2013 event is rapidly approaching. In recent posts I’ve highlighted the key content areas which will be covered at the event. I have also described how we have responded to feedback from previous events which have highlighted the importance of the networking opportunities which the event provides – this year, for example, in addition to the opportunities to network during the conference dinner and reception at the Roman Baths we are encouraging participants to explore the potential of mobile applications which can support such networking activities.
Additional Benefits of Events
But what of the hidden benefits which such an event can provide? The IWMW 2013 illustrates a couple of such benefits which may not be obvious: the opportunity to evaluate tools which may be of interest for institutional use and the opportunity for participants to organise and discuss surveys addressing relevant areas of interest. These two examples are summarised below.
Evaluation of Event Networking Tools
A recent post in This Year’s Experiment at #IWMW13 – the Bizzabo Mobile Event App described how the Bizzabo mobile app (available on Apple and Android mobile devices) is being used to provide access to the event timetable, speaker biographies as well as biographical details and links to Twitter and LinkedIn profiles provided by participants who choose to sign up and provide such information. In addition the app provides a communications infrastructure which enable participants to communicate with ones – and I have already received a message from one participants who would like to know if there is a recommended meeting place for those who will arrive on the Tuesday evening, the night before the event starts.
Although such an app can be particularly useful for event organisers (e.g. getting in touch with people directly if we have found lost property) knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of such tools may also be of interest to those working in institutional Web teams who may be asked to recommend an application available for use on mobile devices to support events in their local institution.
One of the issues which Web managers will be aware are the tensions between mobile apps (which typically need to be developed for a range of platforms such as Apple and Android devices) and mobile Web interfaces to such services, which should be platform neutral. But although there would appear to be significant benefits in recommended a mobile Web solution, the benefits of services which require take-up by a critical mass of users to be effective will not materialise if users choose not to make use of a mobile Web solution, for whatever reason.
In order to provide a comparison of such alternative approaches, at IWMW 2013 we are providing the event details on the Lanyrd Web service, which also has a mobile interface.
In addition to the main architectural differences, these two services have slightly different functions: Lanyrd was set up (by two Computer Science graduates from the University of Bath, incidentally) as a social directory of events (you can see the events which your Twitter followers attend) whereas Bizzabo is focussed on supporting communications at a specific event.
I mentioned how Lanyrd can provide information on events one’s Twitter community have attended, spoken at or organised. In addition, as Lanyrd takes a wiki-style approach to the addition of event-related information, this morning I received an email alert of new addition to the IWMW 2013 Lanyrd entry: as illustrated Nick Sheppard had added a link to a survey on institutional approaches to the provision of institutional repositories.
The blog post which is referenced in the coverage describes how the survey:
is designed to provide a snapshot of opinion on how successful institutional websites are at disseminating research information, outputs and data.
This illustrates the second hidden benefit of events such as IWMW 2013: it provides an opportunity to survey usage patterns, opinions and concerns across a group of professionals with shared interests and enables the responses to be discussed in a structured environment – in this case during the 90 minute workshop session on “The Institutional Web Site and the Institutional Repository: Addressing Challenges of Integration“.
What Can You Do?
If you have an interest in evaluating services to support networking at events, feel free to install the Bizzabo app and join the IWMW 2013 event or to sign up for the IWMW 2013 Lanyrd entry. In both cases, it should be noted, that there is no need to be physically attending the event, although Lanyrd does allow you to ‘track’ an event rather than register as a speaker, organiser or participants.
If you have an interest in giving your views on the success(or not) of your institutional website in disseminating research information, outputs and data feel free to complete the survey.
If you’d like to attend the workshop session in which the findings will be discussed, or, indeed, sign up for the IWMW 2013 itself, you will need to register quickly as we have been informed that the university accommodation requirements need to be finalised.