Sunday, 11 October 2009

Reasons to be Cheerful..

By Keith

Trying to get Public Figures to answer questions from our users can often be a difficult task - we still haven't succeeded in getting any answers from Gordon Brown for example.

Whenever we get some answers, we see it as an achievement, but occasionally there is extra cause for satisfaction such as when the answers are particularly thoughtful or insightful as were these answers from Mathew Taylor, or when we manage to obtain answers for people who would not normally have a chance to get their voices heard. See this question (the asker of the question is no relation btw) posted to James Purnell and these questions posted from Jordanian citizens and answered by David Miliband.

In the interview which Jonathan Walker conducted with Siôn Simon last week (blogged here earlier) one of the questions came from Alison Smith aka Pesky People who is an ardent campaigner for the rights of disabled and deaf people to have full access to the Web, and after having her question answered, Alison told us this:

'Asking this question means that we are on Siôn's radar and he has been in touch to meet with us. This will enable us to influence, campaign, demand and highlight the digital injustice and discrimination we face. Digital Britain doesn't include Disabled or Deaf people and the discussion of digital inclusion is very tokenistic.'

Having met Alison, I know that she is a determined person and am sure that her persistence is the main reason that she has secured this meeting with Siôn but it's good to know that maybe Yoosk has helped in a small way.

If you would like to know more about Alison's campaign, you can visit her blog here. Nobody could argue against the justice of her cause.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

New Features and a New Look on Yoosk .

by Tim

We've just made some quite significant updates to the Yoosk platform and we would like your feedback.

First a quick explanation of how the changes fit into the scheme of things. This is really only an interim upgrade which we wanted to do before we get started on a thorough overhaul of Yoosk, which we plan to complete by early 2010. This rebuild will happen in stages and will include the implementation of the development work funded by 4IP, which was announced here.

What you see at the moment is not related to this forthcoming rebuild but is rather an interim fix to address some quite pressing priorities we have identified over the last 6 months.

1. League Table and widget.

This aggregates all the positive scores that public figures receive when they answer. It has been widgetised and can be easily embedded on blogs. Each Yoosk channel (Parliament, Birmingham, FCO etc) has its own league table, so as we grow the number of local Yoosks and Yoosk channels for different organisations, the public figures who appear there will be able to keep track of how users rate their interview performance.

We know that this is a challenging proposition to sell to some public figures and we welcome feedback on how best to position this.

2. Key Page redesign

You'll see we have tried to make a clearer user journey- we have some way to go yet we know, but we hope you'll agree that it is an improvement. Above all, we've attempted to make it more obvious what Yoosk is for and how users can get involved.

Examples of this are:
-embed code for the two widgets up there on the front page
-Clearer links to Yoosk channels
-A simpler question box making it obvious that users must ask a named individual

3. Learn More site guide.

In order to give greater clarity on exactly how Yoosk can be used by different individuals and organisations, we have created a Learn More section.

We look forward to getting your feedback and hope you enjoy the new site.

Friday, 2 October 2009

You the Interviewer.

By Keith

Last week marked something of a 'first' for Yoosk. Birmingham Post journalist Jonathan Walker arranged an interview with the Minister for Creative Industries, Siôn Simon and used the Yoosk platform to gather the questions from the general public which he would ask in the interview.

It worked like this. First Jonathan was registered as a 'reporter' on Yoosk which allowed him limited access to the Yoosk CMS, he then wrote an article in the Birmingham Post explaining that he was going to interview Siôn Simon and inviting questions from his readers and directing them to post the questions on Siôn's page on Yoosk.

Jonathan caught up with Siôn at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton and, camera in hand, asked him the questions gathered from Yoosk.He uploaded the answers to his personal Youtube channel and published them in the Post and also on Yoosk.

This is not the first occasion when journalists have used the Yoosk platform, (City University students have conducted several 'Yoosk' interviews) but it was the first occasion when the complete process from gathering the questions to posting the answers on the Yoosk site had been managed by an independent journalist.

The exercise went without a hitch which was good from a technical viewpoint, and seven questions were posted for, and answered by Siôn. Many Thanks are due to Jonathan, Siôn and our 'question posters' for their cooperation and support.

If you would like to conduct your own Yoosk interview (you don't need to be a recognised journalist), contact us via our 'Contact' page, and we will be happy to work with you on your idea.