Friday, 15 January 2010

The Democratic Web...

I was down in London yesterday with David Sparkes (our Webmaster) at a breakfast seminar run by Precedent, a company we have used previously for a review of our external website. The topic was 'The Democratic Web' and was based around the idea that as a company we longer own our brand or content. Now, this is not an idea we haven't heard before but it does raise some interesting questions! Essentially, we're all looking for the holy grail of mixing social media with our corporate offering and allowing our clients/customers/students the ability to contribute to our offerings. However, how do we approach this whilst keeping the core values of the business safe and is that actually possible?

We've been slowly moving our more visual content out of our CMS and into external hosting options, our videos come from YouTube, our images are being moved into Flickr and we're looking at the use of Twitter as an information tool and Facebook as a tool for prospective students to meet up prior to arriving. These all seem to be relatively successful and our content is being shared with sites other than ours, a good marketing tool! But, should we take it a step further and has anyone else started to do it?

Wikipedia could be viewed as the ultimate example of a democratic web, anyone can change anything they want at any time. But, has this ultimately lead to a more accurate source of information or has it simply watered down the legitimacy of the source?

Would wiki pages work on a University website and could allowing our current students edit content for us? Should we allow the population of Luton & Bedford to edit our town information? In theory the idea of opening it up is fantastic, but who will be brave enough to be the first to try it?!