The Institutional Web Management Workshop takes place July 28-30, 2009 at the University of Essex in Colchester.

The program has been announced and it looks like a great event, and I’m not just saying that because yours truly is crossing the pond to speak.

Brian Kelly, one of the organizers, blogged this last week about the conference:

Although the event is well-established, having been launched in 1997, the event continues to develop in response to the ever-changing Web environment and the needs and expectations of the Web management community. We will continue to have a number of plenary talks which will provide a shared context for all workshop participants. However this year, in response to feedback we’ve received from previous events, we are splitting the talks (and related workshop sessions) on the second afternoon into two strands: a ‘front-end’ strand which focusses on the services as perceived by the end user and a ‘back-end’ strand which addresses the ‘behind-the-scenes’ activities which are needed in order to deliver the user services.

If you’re attending the event, and I hope the fair number of visitors to this blog from the UK will, I hope you’ll come to my session on Wednesday, July 29. I’ll be doing a hands-on session using Amazon Web Services. We’ll check out S3, Amazon’s storage system and EC2, their servers-on-demand product. It’s going to be a bit to cram into under 2 hours, but I think I can do it.

Registrations for the event are now open and are £350, which includes 2 night accomodations, the program, a bunch of meals, materials and social events.

I’m really looking forward to the conference. The program looks great and I’m really excited to get a new perspective and share some best practices with colleagues from different institutions.

p.s. is it way too nerdy to say I’m also kind of excited to go to the Doctor Who exhibition in Cardiff?

A couple of weeks ago Gary Vaynerchuk posted a video where he brazenly called Twitter’s search ability the most important site on the Internet.

If you haven’t used Twitter’s search tool, you should start doing it now. You can also set up searches in most of the Twitter clients like TweetDeck, Nambu, Seesmic and more.

Is Twitter’s search the most important site on the planet? For fun, I’m going to agree and say yes, it is. Here’s why.

Twitter search does something that not even the mighty Google can do – giving you results that are happening right that instant. Sure, Google indexes quickly, but Twitter gives you results up to the second – and even tells you there are more results that have come in since your initial search, which means even more people are talking about a topic.

To stick with my hockey example from earlier in the week, a few weeks ago Fox Sports Pittsburgh went out on my cable system during a playoff hockey game. My first thought was that our cable company has an outage. I turned to Twitter’s search and typed in FSN.

I quickly found a few people in my area that were having an outage, and after a few minutes, tweets began pouring in from all over the east coast, saying that FSN was out for them as well. After, seriously, 5 minutes, this tweet appeared, saying the source of the problem was a lightning strike.

In the old days (pre-Twitter), if FSN went down, I’d maybe call the cable company and I could guarantee the CSR would have no idea there was even a game on let alone it was out. Now, in five minutes, I had an exact answer, even a link to someone streaming the game on uStream.

Searching Twitter gives you up-to-the-second news, trends and allows you to tap into the world-wide zeitgeist like no other technology before has.

So what can Twitter do for you? It can easily tell you what people are saying about your institution. If you haven’t yet setup a search in a client or grabbed an RSS feed from Twitter’s search results pages, stop reading this and go and do it now.

It allows you to keep up on happenings and trends, and if appropriate, respond quickly and effectively.

Do you think it’s the most important site on the internet?

Twitter is great, but its especially great when its mobile. Whether you update via text message or use a client for your phone, being able to update the world with what you’re doing anywhere in the world anytime is pretty crazy.

My friend and occasional hotel room crasher Brad Ward wrote a post last fall about Twitter and its been stuck in my mind ever since.

In it, he talks about a way to market your Twitter accounts to students. He recommends using Twitter’s text messaging powers to accomplish this. He says:

Twitter was essentially designed and built around SMS, but seems to veered away from that. Let’s not forget about this powerful feature.

In essence, you can get certain audiences, especially students, to use Twitter without ever knowing they are using Twitter.

Here’s how.

Once you have a Twitter account, and you’re feeding it content using a service like TwitterFeed or by posting at, you advertise to students that if they text follow youraccountname to 40404, they will get updates on their phone. That’s it. Not once have you mentioned you are using Twitter to send updates.

We started doing this last fall at my institution for people to get athletics updates on their phones and a decent number of people signed up. Now, when a new story is posted by our athletics staff, followers of that account get a text message with a headline or the score of a contest. The people getting the SMS messages don’t need to know what Twitter is or how it works, they just get the updates as regular texts. Don’t forget – after all that setup – you still have a regular Twitter feed you can promote and people can follow. It’s a win-win.

We’re rolling this out over the summer to incoming students as part of our orientation program. We’ve set up a Twitter account (@alleghenyorient) for our orientation team and we’ve trained them in how to post updates from the web as well as from their phones as they’re out and about around campus during the program.

Now that we’ve set up the team and the account, it’s time to start telling the students about it. We’ve posted on our Orientation site with a link to our regular Twitter page as well as how they text a follow message to 40404. We’re also going to start promoting it in our Class of 2013 pages.


We just finished a postcard being mailed to all students giving them some dates and instructions, and we included the text messaging instructions on the printed piece. Here is a close-up of the Twitter information:


That mailing is dropping any day now to students, and I’m interested to see how many people sign up for it. I’ll post updates here over the summer.