Digital Oxford

On May 4, 2013 I participated in a day long forum which kicks off the University of Oxford’s campaign to become digital – or at least to have some sort of vision for integrating digital technology into the workings of this very old institution.

The meeting was attended by everyone from Oxford UP reps to museum curators to public relations managers. I assume my interest in strategic communication as a student at the Internet Institute solidified my ticket.

A note I jotted down early on sums up the day in my eyes: “Zero sense of the practical. Great vision and creativity but not applicable soon or simply.”

To be sure, the ideas floated we intriguing – an olfactory Internet, a University of Oxford social network to replace email, and millions of pounds of investment in a strategic plan rolled out over many years.

But digital is already here, and it has been here for quite some time. So we have two problems. First, how do we cope with technology today. We need to ask, what modifications can we make to adapt to an already changed environment? Second, how do we, as an institution, deal with innovation? The problem isn’t a digital world – it is a world that is different from the one in which we are currently most comfortable. Today the shift might be characterized as one from analogue to digital, but tomorrow that could – likely will – change.

While I don’t think the day of chats were adequate to address the later, a few nuggets can be sifted from the mass of dialogue that was #digitaloxford in order to respond to the former.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • A contact sheet. Want your museum event posted on the University Facebook Page? Interested in starting a niche Twitter feed but need advice? Curious about who is using various apps across Oxford? All of these questions could be answered with a list of who is responsible for what – better yet, build that information into the existing profiles connected to emails.
  • Twitter lists. Create lists for all Oxford affiliated Twitter accounts – by faculty or department, colleges, student clubs etc. Link to them on the website.
  • A best practices list and/or sample policy documents on how to use social media or other digital tools.
  • Visual interface connecting academics. Something like Dalhousie University’s “rDmap.” The goal is to easily be able to see who is working on which issues across the university. Existing lists like REF information, profiles, and keywords used in recent publication could assist with the set up. Later, academics would be invited to edit their own profile as appropriate.



One thought on “Digital Oxford

  1. Ian Brown says:

    (1) Tell Oxford Twitter users to put @UniOfOxford in their profile, and you get the Twitter list for free!
    (2) Not sure a visual interface connecting academics is very helpful if they have no incentive to work with each other once they’re connected.

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