Lanyrd: a Conference Directory Website

I’m a fan of Lanyrd, which is described in Wikipedia as “a conference directory website created by Simon Willison and Natalie Downe and launched in 2010“. The article goes on to add that “The site compiles blog posts, photos and other coverage from events and keeps it organised by session and speaker. Users on the site are identified through the Twitter API and events are shown to users based on their contacts on Twitter“.

Lanyrd was released in September 2010 and I started to make use of it shortly after its launch and have been a fan ever since.

The IWMW 2012 Lanyrd Entry

Speakers at IWMW 2012

We have set up a Lanyrd entry for UKOLN’s forthcoming IWMW 2012 event. This provides a calendar view of the programme (which can be exported in various calendar formats), But perhaps of most interest is the social dimension to the service. As can be seen you can view the speakers at the event. Since the speakers are identified by their Twitter ID, once you have signed in to the service you can quickly see the speakers who you follow on Twitter or, if you aren’t currently following them, you can choose to extend your professional network by following them.

The service isn’t just for speakers, facilitators and organisers at an event, however. If you are attending an event you can register as a participant. If you are merely interested in the event you can also register your interest in the event by tracking the event.

Lanyrd has developed since its launch, and there are now dedicated Lanyrd apps available for the iPhone/iPad and Android devices. In addition there is also a mobile interface to the web site available which can be used if you haven’t installed an app or an app is not available for your mobile device.

Reflecting on Previous Events

But in addition to Lanyrd’s potential for forthcoming events, it can also help to provide a better understanding of an event over the years, including the speakers, participants and the content.

A Lanyrd guide (a collection of related events) has been set up called IWMW which provides details of all 16 IWMW events since its launch in 1997. The entries for the early years (currently) provide details of the title of the event, the location and the dates. But in addition, the abstracts for plenary talks and workshop sessions together with speaker details for events held since 2006 are also available.

Speakers at IWMW 2006

As can be seen we have buy topamax online usa provided speaker details going back to IWMW 2006, which, as you will see if you view the list of sessions held on Lanyrd, was the start of interest in Web 2.0 across the UK higher and further education sector.

We also made use of Slideshare for many of the plenary talks given at the IWMW 206 event (although these may have been uploaded after the event was held). And since Lanyrd supports embedded objects includes slides and videos, we have been any to facilitate access to the slides (and, in one cases, accompanying videos) for the plenary talks.

What benefits might this provide? I would suggest that use of Lanyrd in this way can:

  • Provide a better understanding of the speakers and facilitators who have contributed to the event over the years.
  • Help to raise the profile of the speakers and facilitators.
  • Enhance participants’ memories of the events.
  • Decoupling the content from the host Web site (which provides primarily a HTML view of the content).
  • Avoiding the need for local development.

But what else might use of Lanyrd provide? A question on Lanyrd’s FAQ asks I want to play with your data. Will there be an API? and we find a positive response:

Yes, an API is in the pipeline. If you are interested in receiving announcements and updates about the API, you can join our API discussion mailing list.

As a conference organiser I’ve an interest in developing the APIs for Lanyrd guides. For the 16 IWMW events it would be useful to be able to display information on the numbers of speakers across all events, the numbers of times they have spoken. In light of the recent post which asked Are There Too Many Male Speakers at Events? it might also be useful to be able to provide statistics on gender balances, although I appreciate there are sensitivities with such questions.

But perhaps the most useful aspect of Lanyrd would be gained if participants at previous events used Lanyrd to list the events they have attended. This would help to give an understanding of the participation at events, beyond the speakers. Such information is clearly personal and would be covered by Data Protection Legislation. But if individuals were to provide such information for themselves that would overcome privacy concerns.

We tend to focus on using technologies to enhance forthcoming events. I wonder whether there may be value to be gained in data-mining the wide range of events held in the higher education sector over, say, the past ten years. Any thoughts?

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]