The Day Job

Been a while since I actually wrote anything about what I’m actually up to at work – probably since I stopped doing the ‘weeknotes’ so probably nothing much about the (not so) new job.

I’ve been working for the MRC eight months now and am finally starting to feel settled and as such am considering dusting off the ‘weeknotes’ as I miss the discipline of getting at least one post out per week but also I found it helpful getting my thoughts in order and a useful way of outsourcing my work memory!

Amongst the day to day content management stuff (we are only a web team of two at the moment with next to zero distributed publishing) and various meetings and other commitments a middle manager in the public sector picks up I am mainly focused on the following projects;

Wikimedia Academy – quite proud of this one. Inspired by the collaboration of Cancer Research UK and WikiMedia UK I reached out to Martin and Steve at WikiMedia UK and have helped put together a one day workshop for MRC funded scientists to learn more about Wikipedia and how to contribute to improving the accuracy of scientific articles. I think this has the potential to make a real difference & also genuinely fulfill the MRC remit for ‘public engagement’.

Social Media Code of Practice – upon joining the MRC I suggested that some Social Media Guidelines were probably a smart idea. Social media activity with a work leaning isn’t rife within the organisation but it is out there and while I remain convinced that the best way forward is to trust and support your staff increasingly that seems naive. I used a variation on the Guidelines I’ve used before but feedback has suggested I need to look at them again – not to take a harder line but to give additional clarity on some new-ish issues and also to align them better with existing policies.

WordPress as CMS – I’ve been evangelising somewhat on the power of WordPress to act as a CMS – especially for slightly smaller sites. I’ve been working with some ‘child’ organisations of ours to in some cases build them new WP powered sites and in other cases just give them an idea of what can be done. I’ve been using the Canvas theme from Woothemes and taking the advice of Mike about what standard plug-ins to use . I’ve also learned alot (but nowhere near enough) about the intricacies of hosting/DNS and bloody .htaccess files🙂

The combination of the cost savings I’ve been able to offer and the leap in functionality has certainly got a few people interested.

Humanising Twitter – this is a recent one. I decided to practice what I preach and shut down the auto feed on our Twitter stream and move to a 100% person generated stream. Thankfully a couple of other members of our Comms team are enthusiastic and knowledgeable so between us it seems like it might just work.

We have started to use CoTweet to manage the process and are better using the bit.ly links to monitor whether we are having any kind of impact.

Corporate Content Management – the first task I set myself on taking this job was to get the main corporate website moved to a new CMS as soon as possible – just to give us a chance of doing some interesting work in the future as the system I inherited seems designed to prevent innovation or experimentation. This battle seems to be won now and it is a case of when and not if. Certainly I have a date in mind that seems doable I just need to make some final decisions about the scope of the project.

Unfortunately the solution will not be open source despite my hopes. I’m hoping the fact I’m encouraging the use of WordPress elsewhere balances out my ‘open web’ credibility!

Digital Product Strategy – at some point I really need to make time/space to sit down write my over arching Digital Strategy (or is it a Vision..or a Proposition..who knows). Currently it only exists as a series of sketches & notes in various notebooks and occasionally in my fevered dreams🙂

Things for the future;

– content strategy
– user testing around a couple of big conceptions I have
– plan for open data
– adding more ‘rich’ content to the site

For the record this remains the happiest I’ve been in a job for years and while there is a fair amount of the mundane there are some real opportunities to do interesting work – and yes I realise I am a lucky git!

2 thoughts on “The Day Job

  1. Interesting directions Matt. Particularly like the sound of the Wikimedia Academy.

    Do you host WordPress internally or use some kind of cloud hosting arrangement? I’m impressed you’ve managed to convince your organisation to take on WordPress and change the corporate CMS so soon. You must have good powers of persuasion!

  2. Matt says:

    For WP we use a run of the mill commercial hosting company – but I’m looking to move to a new environment soon as it looks like it is going to need to scale faster than I thought!

    I was lucky that when I joined there was already a real desire to change things & so I was able to take advantage of that – plus I was able to show I could save money🙂

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