Before the Christmas break, I discovered http://academic-networking.blogspot.com/ which is an informal blog about another JISC project looking at academic social networking. I really enjoyed reading it, it gives an insight into the process of user centric design on a academic social media project. And it appears to have quite a few parallels to the project I’m working on. Handy! With the Linksphere project, there are two separate sites (Linksphere.org and a currently University of Reading only Social Network style site) which should hopefully both aggregate this post from my blog to those separate sites if I have tagged it correctly, which is great! However, is it appropriate for the usability side of the project (aka UCL) to set up a stand alone blog about the user evaluation that’s going on? In the same vein that the Research team at Cambridge have done at academic-networking? Or is that spreading everything just too thin? Should everything be all kept in one place? One of my fears with the Linksphere sites is that my writing style is just a wee bit informal and not at all technical, but perhaps that is a concern that the users of Linksphere are also/or will experience, therefore it’s interesting idea to try and address.
I thought it was probably about time that I explained a bit about what I do in my job…
I’m the research assistant on project LinkSphere, which is a joint research project with the University of Reading and UCL, funded by the JISC Virtual Research Environment 3 programme. The project is aiming to develop a virtual research environment (VRE) which will allow cross-repository searching across various digital collections and archives (including (just to name a few) the Silchester IADB, Film Collection, Film, Television and Theatre archive, the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology collections, The Museum of English Rural Life collections and the Cole Museum of Zoology collections) producing a useful user interface to various disparate digital collections.
My role is to focus on the way that social networking technologies are used by academics and how they might be integrated into a VRE and how they work with the museum and archive collections. I am also in essence the audience advocate, making sure that the user needs are met. The UCL team are on board to ensure that the project is a fully user driven design process, and that all user requirements are fed directly into the development of the project.
Development of the VRE will be undertaken at the University of Reading, with user analysis and usability from us at UCL.
All in all it’s a pretty cool job, I’m getting into the swing of things now (I’ve been here a couple of months). I’ve been doing some fun things with Twitter backchannels as well as asking questions to repository managers about the use of digital resources within repositories and how they want this project to work for them.
so thats my day job, by night I’m a tea drinking, chocolate eating, museum geeking, amusement making superhero type thing (not much of a power compared to xray vision, or telekinesis but i like it).
NB: The views expressed on my blog are completely my own rather than those of my employer.