Learn about Social Media

The Social Media has had a major social impact by changing the way we interact by using different forms of online communication, including Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, microblogging, wikis, podcasts. We share what happens to us in real time in Twitter or Facebook, publish our photos on Flickr, Twitpic, see videos on YouTube and subscribe to multiple pages to use RSS feeds rather than searching the internet for information.

Let’s take a look at the following videos to see how social media has become the new form of conversation between individuals, institutions, brands and companies, how it affects communication, and the importance of online conversations through social choices.

What the HELL is Social Media?
This is an interesting way to explain how Social Media marketing has gained enormous popularity and why more companies are adopting it as a part of their marketing strategy.

The effect of Social Media in Europe
There are millions of Facebook users in Europe that spend hours updating their profiles, uploading photos or interacting with friends “Social Media is changing the Communication Industry,” brands such as Nutella, Axe and Adidas, started advertising using Facebook achieving and excellent response by earning millions of followers.

Social Media Revolution
“Social Media is not a fashion”. Surprisingly, the number of users of YouTube, Facebook or Twitter have reached higher numbers for the amount of the population in some countries. Consider the effect of Social Media in figures and percentages:

Social Media Did You Know?
While Social Media increases exponentially, traditional media such as radio, television and print media decline each year. In 25 years the print media have fallen in an amount of 7 million readers, while online readers have increased by 30 million over 5 years.

Social Media Marketing
Jody Underhill and Eric Kurita of Upside Down Iceberg tells us four steps to the success of Social Media and its benefits to become what they call “Top Of Mind”

How Obama used Social Media during his presidential candidacy
James Burnes explains how Obama became president of the United States, showing that their technique was to have a clear goal, implementing strategies, integrating the Internet to all and offer a credible change, not to talk about change, be the change.

Social Media Blues song

After a series of videos about Social Media, its effect on society, how users of traditional media have become social media users as we see a Blues song dedicated to Facebook, YouTube and Linkedln, Twitter.

Social Media will continue to develop and evolve. Who knows… what’s after Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube?

No more kissing under the mistletoe!!

I have heard this warning before in the last few years from conservationists but it appears now to be a more serious issue; the future supply of traditional English mistletoe is under threat. Why I hear you say; mistletoe thrives in established apple orchards and if you follow conservation then you will know that our apple orchards have been in serious decline for the past 60 years, this has great impact on our traditional mistletoe.

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows attached to and within the branches of a tree or shrub, mainly apple trees but it will also grow within birch, hawthorn, lime and poplar. If left the mistletoe will eventually kill its host so it has to be managed, regular cutting will protect the host tree as well as ensuring a crop of mistletoe each Christmas time. Most mistletoe seeds are spread by birds; they eat the seeds and then spread them throughout the tree branches in their droppings. Mistletoe was often considered a pest that killed trees and devalued natural habitats, but was recently acknowledged as an ecological keystone species, an organism that has an excessively persistent influence over its community. A broad array of animals depend on mistletoe for food, consuming the leaves and young shoots, transferring pollen between plants, and dispersing the sticky seeds.

All is not lost however, The National Trust want you to help by buying home-grown mistletoe in the run-up to Christmas, which means asking where the mistletoe is sourced from when you buy it. Allot of our traditions we have lost over the years and it would be a crying shame if mistletoe disappeared as well.

There is so much more to mistletoe than its “romantic role”, buying mistletoe helps traditional British cider apple orchards thrive by removing mistletoe from the trees, so you are doing 2 things, helping a tradition to continue which in turn helps apple trees to flourish and let’s not forget it keeps us kissing!!

The Computer’s First Christmas Card

number 11
It’s a Friday afternoon, I’m as busy as a bee, and I need to write my advent blog post in five minutes. I need a theme: think Christmas, think technology…….think poetry???


Proustian memory time

It’s the 1970s when school boys wore Clarks sandals and had dirty faces; we sit crossed legged on a shiny cork floor, and our teacher reads us a poem.

Picture an avuncular man in a kipper tie, imparting verse in the style of a Dalek!

You need to know that the final line is delivered with a self-satisfied robotic squawk; which brings about an outbreak of childish laughter.

The Computer’s First Christmas Card

By Edwin Morgan (1968)

jollymerry
hollyberry
jollyberry
merryholly
happyholly
jollyjelly
jellybelly
bellymerry
hollyheppy
jollyMerry
marryJerry
merryHarry
hoppyBarry
heppyJarry
bobbyheppy
berryjorry
jorryjolly
moppyjelly
Mullymerry
Jerryjolly
bellyboppy
jorryhoppy
hollymoppy
Barrymerry
Jarryhappy
happyboppy
boppyjolly
jollymerry
merrymerry
merrymerry
merryChris
ammerryasa
Chrismerry
asMERRYCHR
YSANTHEMUM

Developing using jQuery, Firefox and Firebug

10Its becoming more important to know jQuery. If you haven’t heard of jQuery, its one of the most commonly used javascript libraries used on the web. We use it for the corporate site, Hi, and GO. If your not a frequent developer in javaScript it can be an ordeal either re-learning what you’ve forgotten (I’m at that age) or having to learn something new for the first time.

As Douglas Adams would have said..

There are some really nice tools to get you started. If you don’t already, using Firefox as your development browser means that you can take advantage of a whole bunch of development tools, so if you haven’t already fire up this post in Firefox. One of the most famous developer tools for Firefox is Firebug. If you develop, you should use Firebug, get it and install it.

You don’t even need a site with jQuery already installed. BBC famously uses its own javaScript library (Glow), not jQuery, so go to the BBC homepage and fire up FireBug (F12) if you haven’t already done so.

If you’re new to FireBug, you may want a few minutes to explore and play (you’ll feel a little bit like the Scorcerer’s Apprentice). When you’ve finished playing; On the menu bar of Firebug you should see “Console”. Click “Console” to open it. In the bottom left hand corner enter :jQuery at the >>> prompt. As the BBC doesn’t use jQuery you should get an error telling you that jQuery isn’t defined.

John Reisig, the man behind jQuery, has created a bookmarklet called jQuerify. The bookmarklet loads jQuery to sites that don’t have jQuery (but only for your browser session). To use it just drag the jQuerify link into your browser toolbar and whilst on the BBC homepage, click it.

Now when you type jQuery at the Console, you should have access to the jQuery library. Now you can start to play with the jQuery library. For example, at the console type: jQuery(‘h2’) which gets all h2 elements on the page. Clicking the returned Object item takes you into the Document Object Model, giving access to all sorts of information about those page elements.

OK, lets do something freaky. Lets get rid of all the BBC’s h2 elements. Make sure you’re on the BBC home page, jQuerify has been clicked and go back to the console in Firebug and enter: jQuery(‘h2’).hide(2000)

This will hide all of the h2 elements on the page, but will be animated over 2 seconds so you can see them slide away. Don’t panic (you only did it in your browser)! You can re-display the elements by submitting: jQuery(‘h2’).show() You could also just refresh the browser, but you would have to re-click your jQuerify bookmarklet to continue experimenting with jQuery.

Now you can experiment with the entire jQuery library to learn many of the methods, documented on the site, just by entering code in the firebug console.

Dashboards

Colorful house number, two
In my previous post I talked about Wallboards. As an aside, I’ve just started experimenting with using some old O2 Joggler’s as miniature information radiators in my new home. But that’s another blog post for another blog! This time round I’m covering dashboards!

Dashboards are beautiful things that seem to be getting slung haphazardly into all sorts of applications these days.. “view this on your dashboard” “view that on your dashboard” “configure it from your dashboard”.. blah blah blah. Dashboards can be a Good Thing™.

Here at Edge Hill University we run the our GO portal, we’ve written about GO many times so I won’t go into detail here, suffice to say it’s a portal that gives you tabs – your Home tab is effectively your “dashboard”. On my GO Home tab I’ve got some useful information shown to me – it stops me hunting around various places, all of it is Edge Hill specific.

GO home tab

On there I’ve got mail, Edge Hill rss feeds, staff directory, GO news, the forum – all bits of information I regularly check. The dashboard pulls it all together so I can access it at a glance. Saving me a lot of time.

I do the same with JIRA and Fisheye as you can see below:

JIRA dashboard

All my development information needs at my fingertips…

Do you pool information you want on dashboards of some sort of other? I know I’m missing the all important personal non worky dashboard for Facebook, Picassa, Flickr and other news feeds.. but I’m at work – I get distracted easily enough as it is without all that!

How many dashboards do you have? What’s on them?

Next up is home tabs..

Ste Daniels

Go Success

Go was launched roughly three years ago and the overall aim was to make everything more accessible and easier for students. Specifically access to their Mail, File Storage, Discussion, Community, Library and Blackboard.

I would say over all Go has been a fabulous success, we have developed it a great deal over the past three years, improving it in ways more specific to certain groups of students. For example Health, Business School and Performing Arts students can all log into Go and see a taylor made area that allows them to submit assignments, get module updates and notifications about their course. Who’d of thought from this very first version we’d end up with something so dynamic.

The ‘news‘ area is split into four sections: general, support, learning and social. It serves to inform both staff and students of up and coming events; serious and fun alike and health and safety issues. It’s regulary updated to keep interest and to get out as much information as possible, too as many users as possible.

There are ‘panels‘ that can be moved around the page or removed completley, it’s up to you! In particular the ‘student learning‘ panel and the ‘student support‘ panel, they provide important information such as Term Dates and Exam Timetables.

Learning Services have created a video called ‘Learning Services 2010: Introduction to the Go Portal‘, it takes you through Go step by step: http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/study/accommodation/video/learning-services-2010-introduction-to-the-go-portal. It’s a very useful way to introduce you to Go, so if you are a student or a member of staff and you haven’t used Go, what are you waiting for!

Edit your videos online!

The production of video has become very fashionable on our Corporate site and there are a lot preparation, recording and technical aspects to consider before creating and publishing the videos.

So I invite you to discover a series of free services to create online videos, editing in different formats or develop through images and sound. Free video editing software is an easy and convenient way to edit your videos, and is great for beginners.

Be aware that most of the free video editing programs have limited editing features, but it is good to know that at least there are some alternatives on the web and they are useful for people that do not have video editing tools to work.

Youtube Video Editor:

YouTube Editor
YouTube Editor

YouTube Video Editor is a free tool in your YouTube Account which allows you to edit, combine various clips and produce an entirely new, edited video without worrying about file formats.

The editor that offers YouTube is in an area called TestTube. This requires users to use the tools and share their options about the service. Take a look at the tutorial here.

JayCut

JayCut

JayCut is an excellent free online video editing tool that people can use to make their own movies and video clips without investing in expensive software and equipment. It offers a number of features, though overall it’s a pretty basic editing platform. But what it does, it does really well, making it simple to edit and share your online videos. The program gives editors multiple tracks to work with and various effects, titles and transitions.

For aspiring filmmakers and businesses alike, JayCut offers all the tools necessary to take those edited videos and create powerful campaigns aimed at engaging audiences and promoting new services.
Cons:

  • Uploading uncompressed video footage can take a long time.
  • Jaycut offers only a very limited selection of video effects.

Movie Masher

Moviemasher
Movie Masher

Allows you to sequence and trim clips, add effects, transitions, titles. The Movie Masher is a free open source online video editor that provides advanced multi-track audio and video editing for your web site, with custom transitions, titling, effects and filters. It offers a wide-range of video editing tools, flash tools, XML code snippets that will help you to remix and reshuffle videos for your website. It is simple to use, all you have to do is just drag and drop the video bits and the tools do it all.

Movie Masher allows you to design and customise videos to suit your taste and gives full control in editing videos via its tools. There is no doubt that this website with its innovative set of tools and widgets, takes desktop video editing to the internet platform.

Photobucket

photobucket

Photobucket allows you to upload, manipulate, share photos and videos for free. You can access the service from mobile phones (iPhone, Android and Blackberry) and it is a service that lets you organise your photo albums, edit and create videos. Also you can keep track of statistics of your material created and shared across the services. Photobucket is easy to use, popular and provides a good sense of community.

Avidemux:

avidemux

Avidemux is a free option and open source for basic video editing, it supports formats: avi, mpeg, mp4 and asf. It is available to install on Linux, Windows, Mac OSX. In the tool room will find a Wiki with documentation and a forum where you can participate with the community by sharing your experience with the tool and doubts.

Despite not being the most powerful video-editing software available, Avidemux does have its share of features. It works comfortably with most video formats, handles subtitles and audio editing, converts between different video formats – and all this from a graphical interface. One of its highlights is that a whole project – including all options, preferences, and everything else – can be saved into one project file – pretty neat.

Most of the free video editing programs have limited editing features, so after a while you may want to look at the mid-level digital video software or the top professional video editing programs. I hope these free tools for creating online video bring something to your productivity and work quality. Do not forget to share your experience with them and if you know similar tools do not hesitate to share in the comments.

Was 2010 the year of Open Data?

sometimes you throw a sixIn a little-read post published last Christmas Eve as part of our previous 25 days project I suggested 2010 might be the year open data became important:

I don’t like to predict the future – usually because I’m wrong – but I’m going to put my neck out on one point for the coming year. 2010 will be the year that data becomes important.

So let’s look at what’s happened over the last year.

  • Ordnance Survey Code-Point® Open data containing the location of every postcode in the country. With this people have been able to build some nice cool services like a wrapper API to give you XML/CSV/JSON/RDF as well as a hackable URL: http://www.uk-postcodes.com/postcode/L394QP (that’s Edge Hill, by the way)
  • The OS also released a bunch of other data from road atlases in raster format through to vector contour data.  Of particular interest is OS VectorMap in vector and raster format – that’s the same scale as their paper Landranger maps and while it doesn’t have quite as much data, they’re beautifully rendered and suitable for many uses, but sadly not for walking.

OS VectorMap of Ormskirk. Crown copyright and database rights 2010 Ordnance Survey.

  • Manchester has taken a very positive step in releasing transport data (their site is down as I type) – is it too much to hope that Merseytravel will follow suit?
  • London has gone one step further with the London Datastore.
  • data.gov.uk now has over 4600 datasets.  Some of them are probably useful.

In May I gave a talk at Liver and Mash expanding on some ideas about data.ac.uk. Since then lots of other people have been discussing in far more detail than I, including the prolific Tony Hirst from the Open University who have become (I believe) the first data.foo.ac.uk with the release of data.open.ac.uk.

So things are starting to move in the Higher Education open data world. I think things will move further with the HEFCE consultation on providing information to prospective students and maybe XCRI’s time has come!

Maybe 2011 will be the year people start to do data without even thinking about it?

Team Twitter

Twitter

Clock number 5Nearly everyone in Web Services has a Twitter account.
MikeNolanJanetHowarthstedanielstraffordtigerpiddyzedzdead

Many of the team have a Delicious account for storing all our bookmarks there’s even a team one.

We needed  a way to comunicate useful information from the team without it getting lost in the clutter of our personal posts.  We needed a team identity on Twitter.

Delicious

Most people have heard of twitter (its so mainstream, even the BBC now offer a #hashtag at the beginning of some of their programmes if you want to get in on the discussion) but if you haven’t heard of Delicious, it’s a social bookmarking site. It saves your bookmarks to a website, so as long as you have a connection to the web, you’ll have access to your bookmarks no matter what browser or device you’re working from. It’s social, because you can network with other users and push links to those who you might think would be interested them.

We push links to the ehu.webteam account that we think the team might find interesting or useful. Pushing a link is easy (in this case I’m using the Firefox plugin):

FireFox plugin

RSS

The link will be stored in the inbox of the ehu.webteam delicious account. Everything in delicious has an rss feed, including inboxes, so we can pull that feed into anything we like, even a twitter account. Pulling an rss feed into a twitter account is easy too. Just create an account at TwitterFeed.com and add your feeds:

TwitterFeed

Twitter Feed

As we also blog, so it made a lot of sense to add the feed from that too.

Finally we created our twitter account under the rocking title of @EHUWebServices. We’re using a HAL9000 image for our avatar, but we’ll change that if you have a better idea.

Christmas question: Why was the computer in 2001 a Space Odyssey called HAL?  Google Caesar cipher for a clue if you don’t want to go straight to the answer!

So now we have a twitter account for Web Services which automatically displays any worthy links spotted by team members and all of our blog posts. Follow us its good stuff!

A Brief Look at Tomorrow

the number 4

Over the next year we will be looking at ways to improve the corporate website; including a hard look at the design and structure.

We are currently focussing on our top-end homepages, and approaching them independently; rather than applying a uniform concept to all of them – like with our current grid. This is so we can focus on the client, and identify their narrative as a user. In plain English this means: look at what you want; send you to where you want to go; and show you some interesting stuff on the way.

About Interesting Stuff

It’s been long established that online users don’t sit and studiously read long pages of text; they intuitively fix upon interesting content, and ignore the peripherals.

The key is to have enough types of content to engage each user at whatever point in the story they’re at: for example it could be someone seeking a virtual tour of the campus, or a committed applicant making a decision on a course combination.

We intend to mix authoritative writing and strong imagery with relevant news and events, videos, student profiles, blog posts, and galleries. We want to combine formal and informal voices with contrasting media, to appeal to different needs and tastes.

What I’m doing as part of the process

Following on from initial conversations, I’ve been putting together a series of monochrome wireframes, so we have something visual to refer to in forthcoming meetings. We hope these will lead to healthy debate, and help decision making.

We will continue with a group approach when addressing navigation and design concepts. I’m expecting a lot of creative input from our team and corporate marketing, and I’m feeling very positive about the project.

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