Saturday, February 27, 2016

Working on the OpenMinTeD dissemination & training activities

OpenMinTeD is having a user meeting between 24-25/2/2016, hosted at the premises of Athena Research Innovation Center. Partners involved in the dissemination and training Work Packages (WP2 & WP3 respectively) had the opportunity to work collaboratively on the joint activities to be undertaken within the next months in the context of these two WPs on the day before - 23/2/2016. Partners from Athena RC (hosts of the meeting and coordinators of the project), LIBER (the WP2 leader), Open University (WP3 leader) and Agroknow attended this pre-meeting.

The discussions focused mainly on the dissemination tools that are already used (such as the project website, Twitter account and blog, for the time being) as well as the envisaged one for the next months (such as a potential Facebook page and the under-preparation project newsletter); the events and workshops that can be considered for dissemination purposes. Potential revisions and ideas for improvement were discussed, mostly on the OpenMinTeD website and blog (powered by Wordpress). This is where our experience with Wordpress, based on the Agroknow blog, was considered useful and may provide some quick fixes for open issues.

Events were also discussed in details, mostly LREC 2016 Conference and the RDA 7th plenary meeting. The project will be represented in both events, while additional ones will also be considered

As regards the training activities (WP3), they will focus on the OpenMinTeD platform and the services provided by the project. In addition, training sessions on more generic topics (introductory sessions on the TDM methodologies, advantages for various types of stakeholders, legal and interoperability aspects etc.) will also be considered, especially when training communities that are not exactly familiar with text mining and what it can do for them. In this context, I am excited that Agroknow (and therefore me personally, as I am representing Agroknow in these two WPs) is going to work on a report that will aim to provide the basics of the work to take place within the next months, such as the mapping of the communities to be trained, the curriculum for the trainings (e.g. thematic areas to be covered; it's been quite a long time since I was last involved in something like that but it would be great to apply my past experience in a new context), means to be used for the delivery of the trainings and other parts.

This work will take into consideration the work that has already taken place by Agroknow in WP4, in terms of the analysis of the research communities within the project and will feed the next steps of the Training WP. The deadline for this task is the end of March so I'd better stop blogging and start working on the report!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Social media for agricultural extension and advisory services

I am passionate about social media; it is the way that they can be used as a mean for sharing information and knowledge with friends, colleagues and customers - the way that a message can be shared, re-shared and reach a wide variety of recipients that you probably don't know but still they are interested in it. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to contribute to the Agroknow social media to an extend and I believe that the use of social media by an agri-food data powered SME like Agroknow makes a difference - it allows us not only to share/promote all these interesting things that we work on as a company but also to share information about news and updates of interest to us. This allow our followers to create a better view of Agroknow, seeing what we consider interesting in our ecosystem of services, content and solutions in the agri-food research (and not only) sector.

I recently came across two interesting publications by GFRAS - the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services:

1. Social media policy guidelines for agricultural extension and advisory services (PDF): This is a really short document providing some well-though and useful guidelines for the selection and use of social media on behalf of an organization,

The Honeycomb of Social Media Kietzmann, J.H., Hermkens, K., McCarthy, I.P., Silvestre, B.S., 2011. Social media? Get seri...

2. Social media: Shaping the future of agricultural extension and advisory services (PDF). This is a 38-page study that discusses the role of social media in the context of agricultural extension and advisory services. By defining the context, the authors are able to provide useful insights on the use of social media in information and knowledge sharing in the agri-food sector.

As I am using social media for various purposes - not only for my own professional purposes but also on behalf of an SME like Agroknow, I found both publications to be really useful for anyone working with social media in the agrifood sector - and not only. What makes them so useful is the fact that they do not address marketing and business-related challenges that social media aim to address; there are plenty of publications providing this perspective - instead, they focus on the use of social media for serving information and knowledge sharing purposes, which is the scope of the extension and advisory services.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Aggregating content from multiple sources - and how to manage information overload

I had the pleasure to attend a webinar titled "How to read updates from hundreds of websites and blogs, fast and easily?", organized by GFAR and facilitated by Peter Casier, the GFAR Social Media Coordinator. Despite the fact that I am no longer working as a Marketing & Networks manager for Agroknow, I still have a personal interest for social media and the way that they are used for information and knowledge sharing - this interest is then applied in my daily work and transformed into tweets, blog posts and other means of sharing. On top of that, I am still contributing to Agroknow's social media presence in various ways.

Peter has a really long experience in social media and he managed to deliver the webinar in a really casual way, engaging participants, making jokes and being really friendly (as opposed to typical, serious webinars where the presenter remains strict and focused throughout the webinar). Questions were posed through the chat box and Peter responded on the fly with the help from Tania Jordan who was moderating the webinar.

The webinar focused on how to manage and read news from multiple sources, using the Feedly service as the main tool; even though I was already aware of Feedly (and in fact heavily using it on a daily basis), I still learned some things that I didn't know and also got some nice new ideas like the Feed Informer. I was glad to see Agrifeeds used as an example of agrifood news feed aggregator; we use Agrifeeds with the Agroknow blog for sharing RSS feeds of interest to the blog's readers - at the same time, we have registered the blog's RSS feed through AgriFeeds, so it is available to anyone browsing through the numerous feeds included.

To make a long story short, Feedly allows users to collect RSS feeds of their interest and organize them in categories through an easy to use interface. At the same time, it provides a feed of its own, which can be used by RSS readers. This allows its users to create a custom list of RSS feeds, organize them and have them delivered in their RSS feed reader.

I was also affected by this information management overload as I wanted to peek news and updates from numerous online sources, such as blogs, websites and portals. My personal workflow is the following:

  1. Add my favorite feeds in my Feedly account.
  2. Organize them in categories (e.g. social media, information management, tech/gadgets, science etc.).
  3. Use Flux, a user-friendly RSS reader, on my Lumia 735 mobile phone to connect with Feedly
  4. As I do not currently use a mobile data plan, I download all new RSS feeds through Flux (actually refreshing the feeds) to my Lumia before I leave home in the morning and before I leave office in the afternoon.
  5. While commuting to the office/back home, I have all the news items I need in my mobile phone and can browse through them very quickly and effectively.
  6. If I find an article that I want to read on a full screen, including images (that are not displayed when offline) or share with friends and colleagues, I just use the share functionality embedded in Flux and I send the article through email; when I connect to a wifi network, emails are automatically sent to their recipients. Each email consists of the article's title (as the email's subect) and a link to the actual article.
  7. Bonus: When I want to share one of these articles through social media when I reach office, I just send an email to myself from another email account (always using my mobile phone) so that I get this link in my Agroknow email inbox when I arrive at the office :-) 
This workflow allows me to get up-to-date with what I would like to check out and get some fresh material to share through my personal and Agroknow set of social media without spending too much time online.

So, big thanks to Peter Casier and everyone involved in the design and implementation of the webinar; I am already looking forward to the next one, titled "How to define and measure your social media performance?"; an issue that has already concerned me in the past.