Working in 3-Dee

JISC have decided to approach alot of their communication/marketing activities in a less ‘programme’ specific manner – instead the focus will be on wider topics that can act as an umbrella for lots of development and service activity in a manner that a few more people can understand than the usual audience.

While at HEFCE I took a day out and spent it brainstorming with the JISC Communication team specifically about using a whole suite of web tools to support the more traditional outputs and how to make the whole process much more two-way and engaged with the community than usual.  This turned in to a good day and we covered alot of ground and came up with a plan that I was pretty pleased with and one that I think will surprise a few people by its open nature (not least some people within JISC!)

Anyway originally these pieces of work were being termed ‘campaigns’ but there was a feeling that the term was misleading, even internally, and while discussions are ongoing about what the term should be I have settled on the idea of a ‘distributed debate’ as a way of thinking about things – with my element of it being digital it makes a ‘distributed digital debate’ (3D!).  Its not exactly a shiny new idea but it something more ambitious than we have tried before – that is having alot of loosely joined content in press, publications, at events, on the JISC website, on blogs, wikis, video – anywhere that the conversation/debate can be advanced – much less about control and messaging (though lets be honest there will still be some!) but much more about community, conversation and engagement.  Hopefully a combination of tagging, search and good old word of mouth will enable us to track the discussions in whatever direction they take and to remain an active contributor rather than just an instigator.

Alot of work has taken place in the last few months to support this – a handful of JISC blogs have sprung up on the Involve platform that was my last major project at JISC, the JISC podcasts have been getting better and better these last six months and have been a bit of a sleeper hit, internally JISC staff have been making extensive use of a wiki environment as an intranet and a couple of quite cool little web apps have been built to help add value to some of this work, changes to the back-end of the JISC website have increased its flexibility as far as handling some of this content and a general cultural shift towards believing in the worth of these social web tools has kicked in.

At the moment the extent of my role in this is still up for discussion (I will no longer be at JISC or HEFCE when it starts in earnest) but I am happy with the work I’ve put into it so far and have every confidence it will be a success.  If I was to remain involved I think the one thing I’d really like to do would be to get a series of guest-contributors involved at various stages – including those with very different views from the JISC line – its not really a debate unless there is a dispute in there somewhere and while the JISC community isn’t short of a squabble (see the recent Athens/Shibboleth stuff for proof) actually everyone is much closer in principal than it sometimes appears so an outside perspective would be interesting.