Notes from Our Digital Future event (part 2)

Continuing my notes from the Our Digital Future event, below the cut are my bullet points from a presentation by Paul Vetch on Web 2.0 and content management on a budget.

How to manage your content and engage with Web 2 technologies on a budget: Paul Vetch, CCH

Part 1: Content Management Systems (CMS)

  • Get your core website up to scratch before thinking about Web 2 – great if you’re responsible for choosing your own CMS, but sadly my library isn’t in that situation!
  • CMS options:
    • Typepad/Wordpress hosted solutions are cheap/free but basic (WordPress better)
    • Open source (e.g. Drupal) worth considering if you have in-house expertise
  • Already got a CMS? Critique your own web presence.
  • Things cultural heritage organisations want from CMS (in 2008):
    • Scalability – accommodates growth
    • Integration – e.g. links with ticketing service, document management
    • Capability for UGC (user generated content)
    • Metrics – allows you to see how people use the website, e.g. what searches they make; whether they watch your videos through to the end!
    • Mobile versioning – easily accessible on the move through mobile devices e.g. iPhone.

Part 2: Web 2.0

  • Nutshell definition of web 2.0: interaction (user of sites adding content); interconnection; interoperability (exchanging info between websites/applications at low level)
  • Ways we (as users) interact with websites and how we feel about them is changing – trust and credibility are now extremely important
  • In theory, this means (for us as website creators):
    • more freedom – less predetermined/standardised experience
    • more engagement – users are thinking more actively and get more involved
    • more time – users may make an investment of their time on your site
  • In practice, this means (for us as website creators):
    • Users have higher standards
    • Still boundaries between users and institutions; they’ve just shifted – e.g. it’s ok to be in Facebook but not to be too pushy in it!
    • Passive users are still the norm – can’t rely on participation
  • Content for Web 2.0:
  • How to engage users:
    • Regular updates – content is key
    • Make users feel involved, not ignored
    • carrots? (tangible incentives)
  • Implementing Web 2.0: preparation and pre-requisites:
    • As previously said, web 2.0 doesn’t replace the core website. Don’t do it for the sake of it!
    • Best web 2.0 implementations are either tightly integrated with the core website or linked to a clear initiative/event
    • Require an ongoing time commitment
  • Define objectives – what you want to get out of 2.0 involvement:
    • increased exposure
    • diversified audience
    • learning about your audience
    • increasing attendance at events etc.
  • Popular Web 2.0 application trends *now* (2008):
    • Social media (e.g. Flickr, Youtube), Facebook and Second Life trending upwards;
    • Blogs stable
    • Myspace becoming less popular
    • [Where’s Twitter??]
  • Why use existing technologies?
    • Makes use of work others have already done
    • Flexibility – where will the users be next year? Allows you to add and drop features as required.
    • Increases exposure – presence on multiple websites = multiple opportunities
    • Engaging with users on their terms, using tools they’re familiar with
    • Interoperable – web 2.0 services are designed to work in this way
  • Facebook and RSS
    • RSS has a low takeup of individual users subscribing to feeds
    • However it’s very useful to distribute your content in multiple places
    • Vital technology to repurpose content you have to create anyway with minimum effort
    • A Facebook page gives institutions an authoritative presence, and can almost entirely be populated using RSS and other ways of pulling in data from elsewhere
    • Facebook has massive user uptake and momentum
    • If you haven’t set your own page up, you may already be there without realising! (e.g. Tate Modern)
  • Flickr
    • Again large user uptake and popular service
    • Introduces users to idea of classification
    • Can be used to drive your own website i.e. use your content in different contexts, e.g. Flickr pictures are integrated into http://www.pictureaustralia.org/
  • Custom application development
  • Starting points
    • Try out technologies yourself
    • Start with small projects
    • Have objectives
    • Be prepared to measure and analyse usage statistics
  • With User Generated Content there’s a trade-off between making it easy for people to contribute, and quality control – e.g. can require user registration, or moderate every submission, but doing either will put people off contributing.
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