Thursday 31 March 2011

LJMU Tweetup

For a while now (since last May to be exact) I've been thinking about the value of tweetups (read Twitter meetups) in the local community, and how I might transfer that to my work setting.

With 3000 staff across 50 buildings, and 25000 students Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) has a community all of its own.

As a new member of staff last year, I found it incredibly difficult to meet colleagues outside of my range of 'normal' business, and having come from a campus based University I struggled with the nature of the multi-site beast.

Tweetups are an opportunity for people who are interested in, or engaged with Twitter to get together and have a chat. They are very informal events, some have entertainment and a bar, some don't. Some happen over a picnic, others in coffee shops - they are driven by the twitter community, for the twitter community (or those interested in getting involved). There is a very real value in taking virtual conversations into the real life world, and connections made online are strengthened by meeting face to face. There is no agenda.

I've noticed in the past year that there are many LJMU twitter accounts sprouting up, some personal, some professional, some used in teaching, some for marketing, and I've tried to follow anyone with LJMU in their bio so I can learn more about our place of work.

At a recent twitter training event run by Alex Spiers (@alextronic), there was a genuine feeling among participants that they wanted to know more from people who were already doing it, add that to the disparate nature of staff all over the City and I think we've got a demand.

So - LJMU Tweetup 1 (#LJMUTWUP) is born:

Where: Parr St Studio 2

When: Thursday April 7th, 4pm onwards

Who: Anyone who wants to come.
If you're on Twitter, great. If you're not, great.

RSVP here:

Come and have a chat, meet like-minded souls and leave better connected.

I'll be there, will you?

Mandy AKA @m8nd1

Open Letter - Liverpool's digital community

write this letter to you, if you have ever attended, participated, contributed, organised or re-tweeted about any of the events that make up Liverpool's digital 'scene'.

I have thoroughly enjoyed being an active participant in our community and have taken on several roles during the last two years, leading, assisting and just plain turning up to a wide range of events. Those I haven't made it to physically I've championed and watched as they have grown and developed.
(Twestivals, tweet ups, ignite, social media cafe, TedX, mashed libraries, dev days, hacks and hackers, cathedral valley, oggcamps, how-why-diy, fabcamp, maker nights/hackspace, howduino, barcamp, geekup, Liverpool Wordpress Interest Group, Linux user group,  have I missed any?)

Lately I've been thinking about where it's all going. Yeah, it's great that we get together often, drink coffee/beer and have amazing social events on where we also learn stuff but I've begin to wonder about the future and I find I'm asking myself a few questions;

What are we trying to do?
Have we got a goal?
How can we sustain this activity going forward?
Do we want to?

Given that I don't have all the answers I felt it would be timely to write my thoughts down and ask what you think.

I feel that as a community we have huge potential, that we can (and are already) doing great things - but with an agreed vision that gives clarity to us, and to our audiences we can achieve much more.

So - what can you do to help?

We (the collective organisers of said events) would like you to tell us what you think. We don't make you fill out evaluation forms every time we meet, and therefore we're working on a premise that you like what we're doing, but that may be a huge assumption. Huge.

If you could reply to this blog post (or any others that are saying the same thing) or tweet @livdigcom with answers to the following, we'd be very grateful:

1. What are we doing well that you'd like to see us continue with?

2. What should we stop doing, and why?

3. What should we start to do, and why?

4. How do you want to be involved? (Are you happy to turn up, speak, volunteer, lead?)

If you're responding about the general list of activities, great - if you're being a bit more specific about certain events, please let us know which ones. 

This information will help us to consider the BIG questions up above, and think about where we go from here.

Thanks for listening,
Mandy Phillips @m8nd1 | Neil Morrin @defnetmedia |  Adrian McEwen @amcewen  | Dan Lynch @methoddan

Ella Wredenfors @runpaintrunrun  | Andy Goodwin @franticuk  | Andy Freeney @technofreen

Stu Robarts @sturobarts  | John McKerrell @mcknut

Replies to @livdigcom if you're a person of not many words!

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Local Benefits

Wordle: Ignite Liverpool

Not sure how this little wordle will resolve in this post but wanted to capture it - it's one of 20 slides that I'll be presenting against at this weeks Ignite Liverpool on Thursday night, 6-8pm at Static Gallery.

Find out more here:

Saturday 15 May 2010

Liver and Mash - Top tips for organisers

On Friday 14th May, there was a Mashed Libraries event in Liverpool. It was preceded by the first UK OCLC mashathon.

The event is well documented at the Liver and Mash blog, and through many tweets surrounding the event using the #mashliv hashtag. I'm not going to write here about 'what' happened, more 'how' it came about, things that I took away (from an organisers perspective) and what's likely to happen next. 

I attended the Mash Oop North mashed libraries event in Huddersfield less than a year ago, and had followed Owen Stephen's journey through developing Mashed Libraries, in fact I think I was one of the first to put my name to the ning site but couldn't attend the inaugural event at Birkbeck, or Middlemash (first day of a new job).

There had been some conversations about having a North West mash up whilst I was still in post at Edge Hill, and it was something I was keen to do, however, moving jobs, moving house and other things made me put it to one side for a while.

The idea was raised again earlier this year by David Clay at Liverpool Uni who was keen to attend a mashup, and I felt the time was right to get something going.Taking Owen's idea as a starting point, and keen to do something with a bit of a twist, Liver and Mash started to come to fruition.

I've blogged before about 'doing things' as opposed to just 'talking about thing's', and putting this event together is a prime example. Being new in post gave me a bit of freedom in terms of starting to sell this idea to my peers and manager, who were happy for me to progress it. 

So, an event with no name, no budget, no venue, as yet no delegates but a seed of an idea, and a date.
Where do you go from there? Here's my step by step guide:

1. Find the good people:

You already know the people you work with who know what you're talking about, the ones who get passionate with you and let you rant and talk to them about the event and what you're trying to do. Don't necessarily limit the good people to those that work in your immediate circle, consider ex-colleagues, people you talk to on Twitter, people in your organisation who make an impact, friends who 'get it', local and regional networks and basically anyone who shows a real interest including your suppliers.

2. Be cheeky.

Once you've worked out what it is you're going to try and do, then be cheeky, push the boundaries, if you think you can get something, ask for double or even triple, drag your colleagues in to talk, use every contact you have available to you. If you're passionate about it, it becomes contagious. If you're enthused, so will they be.

3. Be specific.

What do you want? What kind of event should it be? What do you want people to get from it? What opportunities will you give people to get involved in organising/presenting/helping out? Putting on an unconference is a bit of a contradiction in terms. There is a 'lot' of organisation to make things happen as you want them to! In addition, don't settle for second best. If the venue isn't working for you, get somewhere else. You're the customer here!

4. Have fun.

If it ain't fun, then why are you doing it? Sure, there will be other outputs and benefits as an organiser. Your profile will be raised in the mashup community, in your own organisation and in the networks you use, you might write something up on it and share it with the wider profession. Leading an event certainly will not do your career any harm.

Leading an event will test many skills, problem solving, creativity, resilience, administration, multi-tasking, marketing, negotiation and presenting (even if it's just MC'ing the day). Everyone will look to you for guidance, before the event and on the day itself. Get plenty of sleep!

The OCLC collaboration presented itself as an opportunity which was too good to miss in terms of getting that level of expertise to the UK, but also added an extra element of working out communication methods across two time zones.

I was lucky in that I had a good network in Liverpool, primarily outside the University that I was able to call on to assist, but also that I had found a few good people on the inside. 

The two day event would not have taken place with the support of Dave Pattern (who I harassed regularly using Twitter) and have only met in real life a handful of times, Owen Stephens who contributed ideas around potential sponsors, Andy Goodwin from LJMU's OpenLab who backed me completely, and was my right hand man for the whole event and Allison Cordner and Jason Taylor, also from OpenLab who looked after the administrative side of things. 

I feel it went well, the feedback is extremely positive and there was a definite buzz around the events. The one downside of organising these things is that you don't get to speak to everyone that you want to, so if I missed you, sorry!

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Settling in

Starting a new job, or starting out on your own, is a bit like opening a box of chocolates. You dive in, sometimes with the help of a map/menu (or an induction) and choose which bits to pick up first. 

It might be that you go for the old favourites, the comfy slippers that you know and love, or in my case, the ones you've never tasted before.

The major reason for me taking my new job (see previous post) was that I wanted a challenge, and that is certainly what I've got.

So, who am I and what am I all about? A question I often ask myself.

By day, Liverpool John Moores University have my attention and loyalty. Every other minute of the day I move between mum (and other family roles), techie, organiser and  chief schmoozer. 

Taking on Twestival for it's first two iterations put me in touch with a great gang of Liverpool tweeps, who are incredibly supportive, welcoming and friendly and I try to put into the community what I get out.

I'm interested in doing things better (in all ways), it was called business process re-engineering when I studied. I really like doing that. I also like mashing stuff up, and playing with new toys and gadgets. I haven't programmed for a while, but know that I still could if I wanted to, and prefer human interaction than purely technical.

I love parties, socials, get togethers, getting people talking and thinking and creating original ideas. I don't like boundaries, so the fact that I work in a particular environment won't stop me from talking to any other area of the University, the City or the World!

I write this after a significant time away from blogging, twitter has become my first love for sharing and collaborating but sometimes you need a little more than 140. Just now and then.

Things that are going on for me right now include organising Mashed Libraries Liverpool (which needs a much more inventive name!), and the OCLC mashathon which is likely to precede it in May. I'm supporting a friend in organising Liverpool Twestival for the first time ( and considering getting involved with the geekup community.

So, all in all, life is good.

Projects that I'll be writing about soon will be (note to self):

  • RFID - how to use it to battle stock management problems
  • Mobile apps 
  • Process review and culture change
  • Supplier relationships
  • Re-modelling higher ed websites (for support services)
  • Using social media to enhance professional relationships
  • Mashups and Mashathons
  • Going car-less
  • Setting up a digitisation suite and finding partners to work with
  • Organising events with no time and no budget

I love getting the train to work. Merseyrail is fab! (you can quote me).

Where to find more about me:





Sunday 8 November 2009

The final countdown

In just about three weeks, I take up a new post at Liverpool John Moores University.

A real mix of emotions, thoughts and feelings are going on.

I'm very excited about the new job, and this role is a big step up for me so is going to be the challenge I've been looking for. I'm also a bit sad about leaving Edge Hill University and Learning Services, as I will have been there for nine years, in a variety of different roles and studied there too so it's a real home-from-home.

Edge Hill has seen massive change in the last few years, the growth has been phenomenal in terms of students numbers, but also facilities and resources. The campus is virtually unrecognisable with a new build every 12 months since I started. It's a beautiful campus and it has been a real pleasure to work there.

Many colleagues have become friends so despite moving on, I know it won't be long before I'm hearing all about the place again!

I'm looking forward to taking on management of some service areas that I haven't had before, working on the leadership team and of course, working in the lovely city of Liverpool. (amongst other things!).

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Feeling mellow..

Logo of the University of SheffieldImage via Wikipedia

Yesterday was a great day.

I got to see two Universities in South Yorkshire, one because I'd tweeted with someone (@nethergreen) and one because I was offered an interview.

The contrast was pretty startling. Hallam was buzzing and vibrant, and the Adsetts Centre looked like it was doing a perfect job of welcoming students and getting them to behave whilst in there. A great mix of 'social learning' spaces, bookstock and technology.

University of Sheffield was also buzzing and vibrant with RAG week in full progress, with the Western Bank library being a completely different kettle of fish. Still very busy, but a 1950's grade 2 listed building that couldn't have been more traditional if it tried.

The interview went very well, much better than I'd anticipated really, and I really enjoyed it. People often think I'm quite strange when I talk about enjoying normally stressful situations, but an interview is just like a bit of a big chat, and people are asking questions, like they're interested (even if they're not) so that's all good, right? They did a great job of giving me context about the role, what would be expected in the short term and longer term, and what the key priorities where before the interview started which was really good (and not often done).

I didn't get the job 'on this occasion' but did get some excellent feedback which was gratefully received, and I did make the panel think, which is always in my plan somewhere.

This was my first external interview in 10 years - wow. 10 years at Edge Hill College of Higher Education/University this year, blimey.

4 restructures, 3 name changes, 8 or 9 different roles in different teams and a library management system implementation.

Think it's time to do something different.

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