#edDDI: Digital Day of Ideas 2015

2016 update: #DigScholEd was liveblogged by Nicola Osborne. Keynotes from literary historian Ted Underwood on Predicting the past, a distant reading type approach to digital libraries, Lorna Hughes on Content, co-curation and innovation: digital humanities and cultural heritage collaboration, and Karen Gregory on Conceptualizing digital sociology.

Bumped/rewritten post – see below for brief mentions of #edDDI in 2014 and 2013 and other #digitalhss doings.

From the #digitalhss stable came Digital Day of Ideas 2015 (#EdDDI | TAGSExplorer – see graph) on 26 May, livetweeted, blogged and Storified by Lorna Campbell (@LornaMCampbell), with recordings of the talks to come.

Speakers and outputs:

Other #edDDIs:

#digitalhss in four keys: medicine, law, bibliography and crime, workshop on 12 November 2013, liveblogged by Nicola Osborne:

  • Digital articulations in medicine (Alison Crockford) – ah, the Surgeons’ Hall…seeks to illuminate the relationship between literature and medicine in Edinburgh through the development of a digital reader,  joining together not only the literary and medical spheres but also the rapidly expanding field of the digital and the medical humanities; interesting points on the nature of digihum and public engagement issues, see Dissecting Edinburgh for more
  • Rethinking property: copyright law and digital humanities research (Zhu Chen Wei) – the entrenched idea of copyright as an exclusive property regime is ill suited for understanding digihum research activities; how might copyright law respond to the challenges posed by digital humanities research, in particular the legality of mass digitisation of scholarly materials and the possible copyright exemption for text and data mining
  • Building and rebuilding a digital catalogue for modern Chinese Buddhism (Gregory Scott) – the Digital Catalogue of Chinese Buddhism is a collection of data on over 2300 published items with a web based, online interface for searching and filtering its content; can the methods and implications of working with a large number of itemised records, bibliographic or otherwise, be applied to other projects?; channelling Borges’ library of Babel 
  • Digitally mapping crime in Edinburgh, 1900-1939 (Louise Settle) – specifically an historical geography of prostitution in Edinburgh; used Edinburgh Map Builder, developed as part of the Visualising Urban Geographies project, which allows you to use National Library of Scotland maps, Google Maps and your own data; viz helps you spot trends and patterns you may not have noticed before;  for locations elsewhere in UK Digimap includes both contemporary and historical maps; Historypin uses historical photography to create maps, (EH4, plus come in #kierkegaard); see also the Edinburgh Atlas

See also the workshop on data mining on 19 November 2013.

Mapping a community: a SNA case study

(Post copied from Danegeld blog, 4 Feb 2015.)

Update, July 2015: see Hazel Hall on DREaM Again (again), investigating the long term impact of the project. Splendid! May 2016: not much on #sna lately, apart from a snippet on R4’s Digital Human: Are you more likely to find what you’ve lost using online social networks? Are we as connected as we think we are? Or does it make more sense to step out of the digital world and search with the help of physical social networks? A larger network of weaker/looser ties is more effective in finding something lost – these ties have information you don’t have. Other factors also come into play, eg how navigable is the network? The same processes go on IRL, with the Lost and Found Office now also online.

Over the last couple of years I followed the work of the DREaM project, aimed at building a community of LIS researchers in the UK. Effective event amplification provided me with an introduction to social network analysis (SNA; nearly two years ago now!) and a host of other research methods.

The DReAM project SNA’d themselves, specifically a cadre of 33 individuals who attended all the f2f events and created the network ‘core’. In the first workshop the participants provided data on (1) individuals’ awareness of the research expertise and knowledge of other participants, and (2) social/ interactional links across the network, data which was collected again at the final workshop. The hypothesis was that analysis of the two sets of data would reveal changes in levels of integration among the DREaM cadre and network density among the group as a whole over the series of workshops – ie that integration and network density would increase.

Initial findings were presented at the final DREaM event and a paper finally published in the Journal of Documentation in October – see  Hazel Hall’s post for full details and to download the manuscript. The paper offers a potential model for nurturing and assessing network and community (of practice) development, specifically a developing, or emergent, network based on spontaneously formed ties, which could also be applied to NSMNSS , the legal education community, Danish literary translators, walking types, etc. As well as a useful overview of the development of SNA from the 1930s it provides a model for moving forward from the presentation of network diagrams, discussing features of network articulation and measurement, relational ties and network roles.

Methodology and findings:

  • data were input manually into Ucinet v.6 and visualised network diagrams (sociograms) were produced using Netdraw; measures of density and degree centrality were calculated using Ucinet
  • the sociograms highlighted the centrality of position of certain participants, prompting speculation as to their identity and the reasons behind this centralisation as well as discussion on the meaning behind some of the more isolated positions occupied by some of the outliers
  • the findings from the first round of data collection demonstrated that the participant networks were not very highly connected, and heavily centralised around a small number of actors from one role
  • analysis of data collected in the course of the final workshop reveals a demonstrable increase in network density, indicating a much more closely linked and robust network; more evenly linked, with less dependence on two or three very densely networked actors, when analysed by role several categories had moved to a more central position, one category had formed a clique and one category seemed particularly adept at network building, with most members moving towards the centre of the network
  • not all the key players were those one might have expected to play such roles; a small number of relatively novice researchers proved to be particularly strong networkers and were central to the network structure (this was not explored further due to ethical concerns)
  • greater change in the density of the network with regard to expertise awareness than for interaction, suggesting that even if participants had not had one-to-one interaction with another participant they were still more likely to know of their area of research expertise – ie who knows what, typical of a work related rather than ‘social’ network
  • note of caution: in an information sharing network, for example, an actor with a high degree of betweenness centrality may be playing the role of either broker or a bottleneck – for most network patterns multiple interpretations are possible, and it is therefore appropriate to follow up such analysis with qualitative research that seeks to explore likely explanations (data from other sources included a ‘before and after’ audit of skills and feedback on face to face events)


  • the results suggest that network density and integration can be increased by structured and informal social and work based interaction; a model of combining workshops with social events and the use of social media reduces the isolation often experienced by the researcher, in particular the solitary, novice or practitioner researcher
  • increased network density and integration reduces the dependence of the network on a couple of actors, making the sustainability of the network more likely and increasing network capital – more likely that participants will be able to leverage potential benefits
  • potential drawbacks – a higher density of network structure and the formation of cliques may pose a barrier to incomers and increased homogenisation – homophily; it is critical to ensure that barriers to entry to the network remain low with a network of loose ties; individuals should be encouraged to play an active role in boundary spanning, ensuring innovation, opportunity and diversity of viewpoint
  • the challenge is to maintain the existing links and further develop the network so that it evolves into a self sustaining and continuously developing supportive community

Specific interventions used to increase and strengthen network ties over the course of the project included pre-event social meetups, a Twitter list, curation over the full event lifecycle, a Spruz community, participant led sessions, event reporters.

The role of event amplification in particular is interesting, an issue which keeps popping up and perhaps has potential in proving its ROI. Effective event coverage can in fact change the nature of an event, ensuring that participants can make the most of f2f interaction and are better able to reflect after the event. Alan Cann touches on this issue too in his recent post on the way forward for #solo13 – the conference as aggregator, building an online community of mutual support. The same goes for MOOCs, but the role of aggregation and curation is often overlooked.

Some #sna bits n bobs picked up from the paper:

Commonly measured network features:

  • size – at the actor level: the number of linkages an actor has; at network level: the total number of linkages in the network
  • reachability – the accessibility of points of the network based on a notion of path, ie the connected sequence of linkages by which it is possible to move from one point to another in the network; a point is reachable when there is a path between points
  • density – the degree to which actors are linked to one another; parts of a path are dense if each of its points is reachable from every other
  • centrality – the degree to an individual actor is near others in the network and the extent to which the person lies on the shortest path between others and thus has potential for control over their communication

Examples of relational ties:

  • evaluation of one person by another – friendship, liking, respect
  • transfer of material resources – business transaction, lending, borrowing
  • association/affiliation – jointly attending the same social event, belonging to the same club
  • behavioural interaction – talking together, sending messages
  • movement between places or statuses – migration, social or physical mobility
  • physical connection – co-location at work
  • formal relations – authority
  • biological relations – kinship, descent
  • communication relations – sharing of publications, discussion of ideas

Example of network diagrams from Martin Hawksey:

network diagrams from Martin Hawksey:

In class: engaging a community

(Post copied from Danegeld blog, 7 Feb 2015.)

@RichMillington, author of the FeverBee blog and a community management expert, offered a free one week masterclass on community engagement from 7-10 May. The class was run in Lore (formerly Coursekit), a free online course platform/learning management system (LMS) geared at social learning, with daily webinars held in GoTo Webinar. Nearly 350 people signed up.

This is my reflective diary on participating in the course as a time shifted anti-social participant.


  • reading (24 page PDF file) available on Lore
  • webinar on converting newcomers to regulars – recording here

As the webinars are being held at 6pm CPH time (not ideal) I didn’t catch up with this one until Tuesday morning, when I largely listened while getting on with other things. The sole components were slides and a tiny question box, no talking head. The slides are not being made available, which is OK as I suspect most of them are in the PDF file.

First impressions are that the target group is those already running largish communities. I still need a definition of community in this context – versus a network say, but also versus a community of practice. It’s probably all on the FeverBee blog somewhere…found it! And, like buses, another one popped up handily this week to help clarify the issues.

Much stress was put on the use of data (buzzword of the year?) to back up community development. Which is great if you’ve got a community producing data, but can seem like making a lot out of a little sometimes. The softer stuff around interventions etc seemed pretty self evident.

So in the end a bit of a strange mix. But I did pick up on the notion of a community designed for lurkers  – ie where members aim to fulfill their information rather than social needs.

Use of the Twitter hashtag #cmgr was recommended rather than the question facility in GoToWebinar,  but as this is a general tag after several hours it’s not easy to pinpoint relevant tweets.


  • open clinic, “an hour talking about online communities and answering any questions you might have”

The session was uploaded to Lore as an mp4 file, but an mp3 would have been fine as there were no visuals, not even a talking head – is that the norm with GoToWebinar? I sat down to listen/watch, but with one speaker and no visuals it’s not very engaging. Really really needed a transcript – there may well be some pearls in the mixed bag of questions, but as it is this knowledge is pretty much lost.

Three ways of participating available – via #cmgr, via the question box on GoToWebinar, and outside class via chat on Lore. The first two would have benefited from curation, while the third is apparently buggy.


  • reading (35 page PDF file) available on Lore
  • webinar on moderation – recording here

Sat in on around 30 minutes of the moderation webinar. Usual issues – felt faintly ridiculous waiting for the start, then slow to get going, difficult to twin screen on a netbook, teeny tiny window for questions (one way – couldn’t see what other people were contributing), couldn’t see who was logged in, chat over on Twitter.

Some polls were used this time to engage – good idea, especially with closed questions. My brain closed down when requested to define engagement in 30 seconds, but apparently 25 people gave it a go, either via Twitter or in the questions box (couldn’t see those ones).

One hour has to be the maximum in terms of concentration IMO. This session was stuffed with information and over-ran by 40 minutes, which must have been completely exhausting for all concerned!

I left Tweetchat running throughout the session and favourited the content heavy tweets. On Thursday morning I hurled these into Storify for a closer look – see Everything in moderation.


  • webinar by guest speaker Elisabeth Joyce (recording not available due to technical problems)
  • two articles (PDF files) by Elisabeth available on Lore

I was not able to attend the webinar, so no notes today!

The Lore platform 

The people behind Lore chose the name as it means “knowledge shared between people”, and according to an article in Poynter its innovation is the stream, making it like “Facebook for academia”.

Lore screenshot

My reactions:

  • the stream _is_ useful and it’s easy to post something, with a range of options including notes, questions or blogs
  • individual items, for example in the calendar and stream, open in a separate window on the right, easy to miss
  • don’t really get the browse options – probably need more content to be meaningful
  • the various parts of the page are weird – some scroll and some don’t, and it’s not obvious which
  • the resources section grew throughout the week and includes files, links and books in a long list – needs another look to be usable

It always takes a wee while to work out how a new platform fits together and it’s the first time I’ve used an LMS, but Lore certainly has potential.


What was striking throughout the week was how much information management is needed to ensure a class hangs together. The same issues come up as with event amplification, for example the need for curation to ensure the useful stuff is most visible, how to cater for people who aren’t able to attend an event live, or don’t have equal access to tools.

The class was offered as a taster for the full Pillar Summit and also as an opportunity to try out Lore (the course is currently offered using BuddyPress). As a free class there was a lot of content on offer, and there were a couple of indications that it was too dense – maybe not suited to the webinar format? Webinars and social learning are In, but you still need to put in the  individual effort, for example to do justice to the reading files. Perhaps a flipped classroom model would be more successful in terms of generating interaction between the participants.

Webinars can be presented as a lecture, a seminar or in a flipped classroom scenario, with the last of these equating most to the aims of social learning. It is perhaps instructive to compare the GoToWebinar experience with a recording of a recent webinar held in Collaborate on digital literacy in the EU. A range of formats are offered so the time shifted participant can shape their own experience – on this occasion I fired up Collaborate to recreate the live experience as closely as possible, and the selection of material on offer, including synchronised chat, made for a more complete experience:

Collaborate webinar console

No doubt Rich is taking his own medicine – Feverbee posts during the week included How to optimise an online community platform, lots of tips there, and Identifying and articulating the benefit of the community, highlighting the dangers of content driven strategies. I’d like to thank him and his team for sharing their knowledge and also giving me the opportunity to try out the Lore platform.