Author Archives: elizahowlett

Bonus thing: Crowdsourcing

I very much enjoyed Stuart Dunn’s blog on crowdsourcing at, particularly the section on ‘supercontributors’ and the reasons why they get involved in crowdsourcing projects: “[I have a] desire to be useful, I suppose, and sometimes a wish to see from farther in (if not precisely the inner circle!) how a project has been organized and to learn more about the content”; […] “Appreciation for the democratic approach”. I suspect that these are much the same things that people get out of more traditional volunteering, but I’ve not seen it set out so expressively before and it certainly made me think. It’s also an important reminder of how much people value a democratic approach, and this may be especially important somewhere like Oxford, which is commonly perceived as a very elite and therefore closed organisation.


Thing 14

This week I have to say I’ve been really impressed by Wikipedia. I enjoyed the comments on dinosaur images that are anatomically inaccurate, not so much because they were dinosaurs but because it seemed a wonderful way to get peer review on a developing piece of work, much like the crits at art school. The Public Library of Science’s ‘Ten Simple Rules for Editing Wikipedia’ and Wikipedia’s markup cheat sheet were both very useful, and I loved the idea of an ‘editathon’, as described by Liz McCarthy & Kate Lindsay in Wikipedia in higher educuation as an example of community action. I wish it could be called something different, though – ‘editathon’ is such an ugly word. Wikistream was a quite a revelation – a live stream of additions and edits to Wikipedia pages all over the world which gives you an idea of just how much power there is to harness. Next step is to register an account and do a bit of editing myself.


Thing 9

The thing that really caught my attention this week was a slide from Liz McCarthy’s presentation on  ‘Facebook Pages That Work’ in which she suggested that Facebook could be used as a place to ask questions and to answer questions. This immediately reminded me of something I read about Twitter under Thing 6: “It’s a conversation, not a lecture” ( I’m not sure how true this is of Twitter, but I can really see how it would work on Facebook, and that seems like a really exciting prospect. For me, it’s the difference between just reading a book, and reading it and then talking about it in a book group – there are always new angles on things, and details you hadn’t even noticed. I wonder if we should think about having an institutional Facebook page as well as a website to tap into this wonderful responsiveness.


Thing 6

I follow a couple of people on Twitter but I don’t really like it – it just doesn’t capture my imagination. Today I read a blog post by Psylina Psays about effective storytelling, about building up a picture at the outset to engage the audience’s emotions, and it struck me that this is exactly what seems to be missing from Twitter. A striking image helps, but what I really like is a story.

Thing 4

Searching for my name on Google shows that I do have an online presence, but it’s really just the bare bones and definitely needs some fleshing out.

As a start, I have added a photo to my LinkedIn account so that people can actually see who they are connecting to. This feels much better than hiding behind an anonymous avatar – I don’t know why I haven’t done it sooner. I’ve added some new skills as well. In life, things are constantly moving on, and this should be reflected in what I present to the world.

Having looked at other people’s websites, I also feel much more motivated to blog about my work so that I start to build up a picture online of the things that interest me and that others might like to share. It makes me realise that things posted on an institutional site can also be individual, and that is part of what makes them interesting.

Thing 3

Having started on 23 Things, I’ve been thinking about the value of social networking.

Yesterday I read a Guardian article by Zoe Williams about an interview she’d done with Julia Hobsbawm (

What particularly struck me was the last paragraph:

She’s interested in the moment that happens between two people, “the minute someone looks you in the eye and engages you and your cortisol levels drop, and you feel OK” […] “People have been so obsessed with social networks that they really haven’t noticed the human side, the non-algorithm side, is still where it’s at.” “

I wonder how this works with online networks.