Data Visualisation at IWMW12

I’ve just returned from my favourite conference of the year – the Institutional Web Management Workshop 2012. It was even better this year as I wasn’t involved in the organisation!! Though I did help sessions and chairing.

A quick aside about the event amplification…

As usual the event was streamed, and Kirsty and Rich Pitkin (the event amplifiers of TConsult) did a great job.

They used an ad-free licence version of Watershed, the premium version of Ustream.TV. The maximum numbers of users was capped to reduce costs so they advised people to close the window if no longer viewing. Kirsty has used Storify to summarise day two and day three.

Ann Priestly (who has written on this blog before) gave a useful sum up of the ‘remote attendee experience’ also using storify.

Hmm as previously experienced my reaction to watching a video stream is that it is the least of it – audio is enough, plus scanning tweets. Following an event remotely is a new – innovative? – experience, a kind of mashup. Video creates a sense of occasion, is all.

And on to data visualisation…

Interesting that Ann also touched on the different ways we can ‘see’ a presentation. One of the best things about this year’s event was the amazing sketches created by Kevin Mears from the University of Glamorgan. Kevin took visual notes of the sessions and talks he attended and then shared them with everyone. His sketches offer a very different and very personal perspective.

Kevin Mears Sketch 1 of my parallel session

As a remote attendee Ann saw them as another resource which can add to the remote experience. So you have the video and audio content (of a speaker speaking), slides, notes from the session and a visual picture. All offer new ways of looking at talks.

And big and small Web data…

All this leads nicely into the parallel session I ran on Big and Small Web data. My slides are available from Slideshare and embedded below.

The session sort of ended up being a brain dump of all the areas I think institutional Web managers may find data entering their lives. I began with an overview of the current ‘flavours of data’: Big data, DIY data, consumer data, activity data, crowd Sourced data, linked data, Web of data, semantic Web and open data. I then moved on to discussing how Web managers could possibly be using data: through organization of structure, analysis of metrics, and by looking at patterns/data mining/analytics. Data visualization is one of the most exciting areas for me and it was great to hear a plenary talk on it on day 2.

Kevin Mears Sketch 2 of my parallel session

I think the session went well, though the attendees may have left with their heads spinning as its still an evolving area and I wanted to share all the possible areas of interest! Ranjit Sidhu (Sid) managed to live blog my session. His notes show some of the key areas for concern that came out in the discussion session: openness of data, dealing with dirty data, resourcing, the data scientist role. Data was very much a key theme of the conference which suited me down to the ground as I’m now working for the DCC helping institutions look at their data management.

I think Sharon Steeples summed it up nicely with the following tweet:


Will the Police be able to Hear Your Calls?

I read in the paper yesterday that the Home Secretary (Jacqui Smith) has outlined plans for a huge expansion of the Government’s capability to access data held by Interent services, including social networking sites like Bebo and Facebook.

At the moment the police can demand to see telephone and email traffic but online calls using software such as Skype are a bigger problem. They need this ‘communications data’ to secure convictions of terrorists and other serious criminals. One of the possible options is the creation of a huge database of this data. More in Data powers behind the times.

It’s all starting to sound a bit like ID cards…

So will this have any impact on us remote workers? If we are law abiding citizens maybe it won’t make any difference?

I can see that a certain amount of surveillance is necessary but this sort of stuff gives me goose bumps. The more data they have on us, the greater the scope for holding incorrect information and for that information to fall into the wrong hands…