For better or worse, I do a bit of everything. I research, communicate, design, even code a little. I’m an MSc student in Capacity Development and Extension at the University of Guelph, a social sciences program with a big focus on knowledge translation, transfer and mobilization. I’m mostly interested in civic-minded applications of technology, from open data to ICT4D. As a sort of jack of all trades, I thought this post might be the simplest way to share some of my recent work. If you’d like to review my resume, you can find it on my LinkedIn profile.
Civic tech, community engagement and research
Last year I worked as a research assistant on a project in Sri Lanka exploring the use of turnkey ICT solutions like FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi for knowledge sharing within and between agricultural communities. My role was to oversee the creation of training videos, conduct field interviews and co-facilitate demonstrations and consultations with a range of stakeholder groups across Sri Lanka. A blog for the project, mostly written by our local partners, can be found here.
This past winter, I was on the organizing committee of Open Data Day 2014 in Toronto. The event brought together government, developers, technologists and open data advocates in order to share experiences and build community. Another outcome was a number of issue-specific groups working with open data, including the Toronto Community Housing group that I have been participating in since February.
Most of my writing over the past two years has been academic. I’ll share a link to my thesis when it’s completed, but for now you’ll find a few samples of my academic writing and presentations listed below:
- Research paper assessing offerings on the federal government’s open data portal [PDF]
- Evaluation of supporter ‘welcome cycle’ at Greenpeace Canada [PDF]
- Presentation on ethical considerations when conducting online research
Prior to returning to school, I was a Digital Marketing Campaigner for a major Canadian environmental organization (March 2010-September 2012). I was writing for a different kind of audience then, with the goal of informing Canadians of the organization’s work and urging supporters to contribute to our campaigns through online activities, volunteering and donations. Here are a few examples:
- Annual Review 2011 [PDF] (copy, editing and design)
- Biannual Magazine [PDF] (copy, editing)
- Email on activities in Vancouver [PDF]* (copy, design)
- Email newsletter [PDF]* (copy, design)
*Unfortunately the email’s layout is fragmented. The email management system does not keep cached copies of emails older than 18 months, so PDFs had to be printed from my own email account.
This work also meant that I was the steward of our email database. I segmented our lists and used triggered messaging mechanisms for timely communication with supporters on the topics they were interested in. I sought insight from the email marketing system’s analytics dashboards and the results of A/B tests to improve the performance of our campaigns.
During this time I also worked with campaigners to author content for blogs and social media, editing their content for the web and teaching them to use the organization’s custom content management system.
I was also responsible for the organization’s English social media presence, directly interacting with the organization’s supporters and strengthening relationships with stakeholders relevant to our work. During the two years I was there, I was able to grow both the organization’s Facebook and Twitter followings by about 200% without any budget for advertising or promoted posts. (They have since introduced such measures with great success). I returned to the organization in the spring of 2014 to fill in for a co-worker on leave. Below are some sample Facebook and Twitter posts from that time:
- Facebook: A day in the life of a campaigner (copy)
- Facebook: A thank you to those taking a stand for forests (copy)
- Twitter: Choose Your Own Adventure game (implementation, promotion and post-activity analysis)
I don’t post with great frequency on my own Twitter account, but it definitely reflects what I’m interested in these days.
Recent web work
Last year I acted as a liaison between the University of Guelph’s School of Environmental Design and Rural Development and its central Computing and Communications Service to create a new Drupal-based website that complied with the university’s latest standards. I developed the initial content and layout, presented progress to faculty at regular intervals and integrated their feedback into future iterations. I trained the long-term stewards of the site in the use of the content management system and assisted faculty in creating their online profiles.
I haven’t designed many sites recently, but you can find some samples of my older web design work on this portfolio site [Flash] (last updated in 2010).