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June 02, 2009

JISCMail and social bookmarking

JISCMail have announced that they will offer support for social bookmarking services from June 9th:

From Tuesday 9th June, every list homepage (https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/yourlistname) and every posting stored on the JISCMail online archives will include a bookmark/share button which will have links to a selection of social bookmarking/sharing sites.

Social Bookmarking allows you to share, store, organise, search, tag and manage webpages you would like to be able to revisit in the future, or share with others. For example if a posting is made to a JISCMail list that you know will be of interest to someone else you can email a link to that person using our button. Alternatively you can choose one of the social networking sites you are registered with, e.g. Twitter or Facebook, to share the link with a group of people. You might use the sharing button to bookmark a link to your list homepage or a particular posting on a list that you can revisit at a later date on a site such as Delicious.

I suppose this is progress, though one might argue that it is about 2 or 3 years too late (I had to go back and double-check that I wasn't reading an old announcement from a few years ago)? But, hey, with this new realisation that people might actually want to more easily share, cite and re-use JISCMail discussions on the Web, perhaps they'll offer half-decent 'cool' URIs and allow Google in to index the contents of individual messages?

Or perhaps we've all forgotten about mailing lists as a forum for discussion anyway and it's completely irrelevant what JISCMail does?


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From the JISC Monitoring Unit report: "[JISCmail] distributed 43.6 million messages to list subscribers this quarter [that is 1 November 2008 - 31 January 2009], 10% more than the number sent in 2007/08 Q2 and the volume of data sent rose by 87% to 1,129 GB over the same period."

JISCmail is probably the most highly used JISC Service. Yes, the interface is probably in serious need of a refresh but then how often do any users go anywhere near the interface - most interactions are from your own inbox.

I'd suggest that mailing lists are still essential fora for most people...but agree that developing better URIs would be a good development in preference to enhancements at the JISCmail interface.

To be honest, if I want to share something received from a mailing list with other people I erm, e-mail it on. How terribly old fashioned of me :-)

Lol... yes, I agree. Don't get me wrong... the numbers are very impressive. My final comment was intended to be vaguely tongue in cheek because I'm conscious that some of us perceive that the conversation has moved elsewhere but that certainly isn't the case for everyone.

That said, the vast majority of JISCMail lists that I'm on are now almost exclusively for 'dissemination' rather than for 'discussion'. As far as I can tell this is either because of over-"moderation" (i.e. people feeling unable to have an open debate) or because discussion has moved elsewhere - or perhaps there simply isn't much debate anymore?

I agree that the bulk of interaction with JISCMail happens in the mail client (mind you, when you have to use an email client as bad as Outlook that's nothing to get excited about!) and that a lot of 'social' activity happens thru that client rather than thru the Web site. Hardly surprising when the Web site is *so* poor?

We have experimented... no, more than experimented, we have seriously tried using various social networking services, including the bulletin-board-based DCC Forum and various blogs. We also use a couple of email lists. It is very noticeable that if we take a comment from, say, the DCC Forum, and inject it into one of our external email lists, we get at least 10 times the volume of responses. They do tend to meander off into the distance, and I have found it useful (if very time-expensive) to summarise parts of the discussion back on the Forum and/or a blog. But somehow email STILL does something for many people that the other things don't achieve.

Chris, you are probably right.

I think there is a danger that we try to mimic old style (email) discussion in new media fora and fail. The 'discussion' that happens round a blog is not the same as a mailing list discussion. Twitter is different to both. I think!?

But, yes, the bottom line is that there is still a place for mailing lists and I wish I'd never made the final comment in the original post! :-)

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