MIRIADONLINE – Academic Year 2014-15 Report

Introduction

A brief overview of development undertaken by Lewis Sykes in the role of MIRIADONLINE Co-ordinator over the past 2014-15 academic year.

General Statistics

The latest ‘Site Stats’ for news.miriadonline.info (attached as a PDF) show the trend of an increase in visitors since its launch in March 2014 – ~4,700 (unique) visitors in 2014 & currently ~3,800 visitors by end of June 2015 – with average visits per day up from 13 in 2014 to 21 in 2015.

Individual posts show a wide range of number of views – from ~50 up to ~3,200 – though this was for a fairly contentious ‘Opinion’ piece ‘Looking North: The Arts Ecology in Manchester’ written by David Gledhill. Typically other most popular posts include the ‘Selfie Citizenship Workshop’ with ~900 views.

The MIRIADONLINE Tumblog – ‘a collation of local and regional calls for papers, exhibitions, upcoming events, news, information and opportunities of interest for Manchester School of Art postgraduates and staff’ – now has 600 posts and 37 followers – most from beyond the MIRIAD community. This effectively replaces the ‘MIRIAD News & Digest’ sent out by the Research Administrator, Art & Design.

The MIRIADONLINE Twitter account now features ~750 tweets, ~250 followers and is following ~200. New posts to the MIRIADONLINE Tumblog are forwarded automatically to Twitter.

MIRIADONLINE on Vimeo now features 194 videos within 9 albums. In the past year this content realised 1,291 plays with 5,630 loads from the United Kingdom.

MIRIADONLINE on Scribd now features 37 PDFs with total reads in excess of 5,000.

Content

news.miriadonline.info has matured since its inception in 2014 into a ‘Noticeboard’ of latest developments and opportunities for the Research Centre of the Manchester School of Art.

Main ‘Categories’ now include postings within: ‘Announcements’, ‘Events’, ‘Exhibition’, ‘Publication/Project’, ‘Talks’ and ‘Opinion’ but the site has expanded to also include ‘Resources’, MIRIAD ‘Newsletters’ and an ‘Of Interest’ section – embedding the MIRIADONLINE Tumblog above but now also including a ‘To Read Later’ page – ‘favourite’ posts selected by PGR Sara Davis collated from a growing list of active postgraduate and staff research and practice blogs within the Research Centre.

The ‘Postgraduates’ section now features ‘Profiles’ of 39 current or recently completed MIRIAD PGRs.

The ‘Staff’ section now duplicates the ‘Research News’ email distributed by Prof. Steve Hawley.

Training and Support

The ‘Web 101’ lunchtime workshop which ran from October 29th 2014 until the end of the Autumn term proved a successful ‘informal’ gathering for new PGRs interested in setting up their own online research journals and practice blogs, attracting a regular group of ~8. Subsequently PGRs Joseph Travis, Richard Halliday, Paul Proctor, Sara Davies, Lin Charleston, Ruth White, Roa Hass and staff Alice Kettle have set up a personal research journal on either the MIRIADONLINE WordPress network or using their own domain hosted on the MIRIADONLINE Web hosting. Of the April ’15 intake Gary Spicer, Alex Pearl, Chris Hamer and Jo Phillips have set up research journals on the MIRIADONLINE WordPress network. Richard Halliday’s recent email informing us that the Graduate School are interested in using content from his blog on Twitter and Facebook and in making it available for all PGRs in MMU is an example of how this strategy can have positive wider implications.

The ‘Web 121’ sessions – a Web ‘surgery’ – bookable, one-hour, personal ‘Web 121′ sessions run from October 29th 2014 also proved reasonably popular across the academic year with 23 sessions requested by total of 13 different PGRs and staff.

Future Development

The Researcher Development Programme (and it’s earlier iterations) has traditionally had its own website on the MIRIADONLINE WordPress network. But with news.miriadonline.info increasingly becoming the first point of entry for MIRIAD PGRs and staff it makes sense to integrate the 2015-16 programme within the main news site under a new ‘Training’ section.

The ‘To Read Later’ page should become more prominent (although it requires some additional development of the third-party plugin used to list this content so that it also includes images and original author details) – not just as a way to highlight the growing number of research blogs and journals within the Centre but also to capitalise on this material as a significant source of interesting and relevant content for the MIRIAD and wider Art & Design communities. news.miriadonline.info could become more dynamic and relevant by drawing on the online outputs of its own PGR community – and this may well encourage others to journal their own research.

news.miriadonline.info is effectively a platform for ‘narrowcasting’ – a ‘Noticeboard’ of MIRIAD related activity aimed at the MIRIAD research community. Yet recent meetings of the MIRIADONLINE Group (MOG) have highlighted the desire to see it become a platform for comment and exchange – a place where ideas, opinions and perspectives are shared and discussed by the community. Making this transition effectively, in small but significant ways, will be an important theme for future planning and rollout.

The MIRIADONLINE WordPress network was recently hacked. This is partly due to a general increase in hacking on the popular WordPress platform – but also the consequence of too little time available to effectively manage and maintain the sprawling and organic network of sites on the MIRIADONLINE hosting. While most network sites have now been cleaned and protected the underlying problem still persists – although it is being effectively ‘treated’. General consensus is to wipe it clean, salt the earth and start again – which will certainly allow for a consolidation of the network but will also require time, effort and resources to realise. The coming summer months would be a good time to prioritise this if possible.

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