ILRI / ILRIComms / Knowledge and Information / Social media

ILRI 2.0: Update on ILRI web communications

Early in October you may have noticed some changes to the ILRI website – the front page mainly, but also a few other pages. In case you forgot the URL, it is www.ilri.org!

We are also introducing a lot of other new ways to share and communicate our knowledge.

If you don’t have time to read all of this update on ILRI web communications:

Here are 3 new things you can do today to get yourself current with ILRI 2.0:

  1. Download this ILRI toolbar into your web browser – http://ilri.ourtoolbar.com/
  2. Subscribe to ILRI web feeds – http://www.ilri.org/NewsFeeds
  3. Enjoy the ride!

Here are 3 new ILRI web pages you will want to use today:

  1. Go to Flickr for images of livestock and ILRI – www.flickr.com/photos/ilri
  2. Go to Slideshare for ILRI presentations and posters- www.slideshare.net/ilri
  3. Go to DSpace or Google for ILRI publications – http://mahider.ilri.org

ILRI website screen shot, December 2009


If you have a little more time:

Apart from some design changes, the biggest change is the way we use dynamic content from different sources to build up these web pages. So, the News and Clippings updates (on the ILRInet as well) come directly from 2 blogs. The list of latest outputs comes from our institutional repository.

This dynamic combining of different content streams is part of what many people call ‘web 2.0’ or the ‘social web’. It is a fundamentally different approach to publishing, sharing and communicating on the Internet. It helps us make all kinds of information and knowledge more accessible. It allows us to ‘decentralize’ the creation and sharing of our information.

We will be making much more use of such tools and approaches as we move towards a new website in the first quarter of 2010.

We are also introducing a lot of other ways to share and communicate our knowledge, including:

  1. RSS Newsfeeds. You will begin to see some small orange icons with the word ‘subscribe’ on our website (and across the web generally). If you click on these buttons, you can sign up to receive automatic alerts each time the service is updated. These alerts can be through email or an newsreader like google or bloglines. This link on our website takes you to some newsfeeds that you can subscribe to: www.ilri.org/NewsFeeds.  We recommend that you follow the ILRI News and ILRI Clippings to stay updated each time the ILRI Public Awareness team produces something new. You can also see some other types of outputs we produce. We will add more options in the near future.
  2. Photos. There is a constant demand for good photos, many of us also take photos of events, projects, trips etc. All across ILRI, I am sure there are valuable photos we can re-use. Until recently, we tried to capture a lot of these in an internal database – that was rather underused.  To try and make the photos more visible – and to help us re-use them – we have set up an ILRI account at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ilri/sets/. Our idea is to share as many good photos on this site, organizing them into sets and with tags so we can easily find them again. The front pages of our website and intranet currently show an automatic feed from Flickr. We plan to follow this approach on the new website, and on any other sites you need. If you have photos to share, please contact Liya Dejene in Addis.
  3. Presentations. One of the most used, and often most difficult to retrieve output from our work is the powerpoint presentation. Hundreds are created and delivered each year, they usually remain on our laptops or usb sticks. We have started to collect and share some of these at www.slideshare.net/ilri – using the possibilities of this specialized tool. In time, we hope to publish all our powerpoints – and posters – here.
  4. Video and audio. We traditionally publish a lot of text, enlivened perhaps with photos. We also made some video and film and recorded audio, but it was costly and technically difficult to share this online. This has all changed and we have many more ways to communicate and publish using online video and audio. You can see some ILRI video at https://www.youtube.com/user/ILRIFILM; we have also started to produce some audio podcasts at http://ilri.podomatic.com/. We hope ILRI projects will make more use of these tools, publishing them through these channels.
  5. Publications and reports. We have begun work on a state of the art repository of institutional outputs, using Dspace: http://mahider.ilri.org/. In line with institutional and donor requirements that we have a complete inventory of our various research outputs, we aim to index and collect them all in our repository – named Mahider. The strength of the Dspace system is that it allows us not just to collect and index outputs, we can also publish alerts and RSS feeds for use on our other websites and the content is automatically harvested by AGRIS, Google, CABI, etc. We are in a much better position to make multiple uses of this content. If we can capture information on a Theme’s outputs, this can be automatically re-used on that Theme’s web pages (instead of manually updating multiple pages as now). The repository is not yet complete. We aim to be complete for 2009 in early January, we will migrate records for older outputs in 2010.
  6. Google Books. For older documents and books, we are working with Google Books to make full text versions of all our reports and publications available. Search the 500 plus online books at http://books.google.com/books.
  7. ILRI ‘Toolbar’. It is sometimes difficult to remember all the weblinks used by ILRI. We have set up a toolbar that opens on your browser (explorer, firefox, or safari) that provides quick access to many of these. It links to all the web communication services we are using. Visit http://ilri.ourtoolbar.com/ to try it out. Make sure to use the right version for your browser.

A fundamental benefit from using these tools is their openness. Anything we put into them is normally open for all to view. Anything we put in can normally be re-used and embedded back on other web sites. So our photos on Flickr or presentations on slideshare can be part of a blog story or used on a Theme or project web site. This overcomes one of our current problems: that most of the content we have is in closed systems that can’t easily be shared on other systems. The principle we aim to follow is ‘create once, re-use often.’

These efforts are still in early stages and we are working on guidelines to help us all make the most of this new web-based toolkit. We also have some policy issues to think through, such as copyright and licensing and more. It is ‘work in progress’ that we hope you will also share with us!

The end result should be that we – and our partners – can all publish, share, access, and re-use  a wider range of information and knowledge ‘outputs’ from ILRI, in much easier ways than in the past. We will also have a much better insight into how they are being used, and who by.

This work is a joint effort by staff in KMIS (infocentre, webteam, publications and graphics) as well as Public Awareness; we benefit from strong support from the IT team.

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