April 24, 2003



In case anyone's still out there, work at U of T, particularly SARS-related work, has been what's keeping me busy... setting up and organizing online resources such as this. What's interesting about this has been the degree to which blog-type scripts are proving useful in the current SARS situation, and based on our experience with this likely will have in any future online crisis communications affecting the university. The page linked there isn't a blog, per se, but it's driven in large part by custom ASP scripting that allows distributed posting from multiple sources through a web interface. Rather than sending info to a central web shop for coding, or learning HTML, people with direct responsibility for communicating with the public can amend their sections of the online information in real time, and simultaneously email their amended text to a mailing list, as well. It's also set up to be reconfigured rapidly into a proper blog in the case of real rapid-fire news developments here (The SARS thing isn't that intense... this is more my own planning for a future hypothetical, more rapidly changing university communications problem.)

A lot of the problems I spend my time looking at in universities relating to crisis communications can actually be partially solved with blog-type scripts, it turns out. The simultaneous email/web update is a big help in fast dissemination of info. Also useful is the web posting interface, which could really come in handy if certain offices or key posters were incapacitated or forced to work from new locations. But the big improvement is the potential for cutting the time between someone in charge deciding something needs to be communicated, and it actually getting out to the public. A lot of people have been looking for the institutional uses for blogs... we seem here to have found yet another one, and seem to be a step ahead of other higher education institutions, at least in this country, in doing so. I'll be posting more on this as we learn more here from the experience. Feedback appreciated, too, as always.

UPDATE: First person to get the obscure Canadian pop reference in the title gets a pint. Trouble is, you have to defy the World Health Organization and travel to Toronto to get it. It's my little bit to encourage hotzone tourism...

Posted by BruceR at 11:23 AM