UK Web Focus

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End of the Line for UKOLN and CETIS?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2012/12/21

Two vaguely worded announcements appeared today on the UKOLN and CETIS websites. As cited by Brian Kelly, "In response to the Wilson review of Jisc, the organisation has confirmed that it will only provide core funding to the UKOLN Innovation Support Centre, up to July 2013 but not beyond." Same deal for CETIC. (Note that I changed Kelly's headline, contrary to my usual practice, because the phrase "looking ahead" seems to deliberately obfuscate the content of the messages.) I know it's another country and all that, but let me be clear that to my mind UKOLN and CETIS have been two of the most important organizations in the world of online learning, period, and that should their funding be discontinued it would be a significant loss to the field.

Today: Total:4155 [Comment] [Direct Link]
“John hit the ball”: Should Simple Language Be Mandatory for Web Accessibility?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2012/09/18

My diffiulty with proposals such as the one described here - which recommends a set of writing standards to ensure that web content is accessible to all - is that what they understand to be "simple" are not simple at all. "For example," say the guidelines, "the simplest sentence-form for English consists of Subject-Verb-Object, as in John hit the ball or The Web site conforms to WCAG 2.0." Really? How about this? "First, he went to the pub. Then he ate dinner at the restaurant. Finally, John hit the ball." Simple? Hardly. Clear writing has very little to do with sentence structure. Otherwise the absolutely opaque "The Web site conforms to WCAG 2.0" would be understood by everyone. Clear writing have everything to do with setting context and developing ideas in a logical manner. The most common mistake in web writing, I think, is assuming your readers see things from the same perspective you do. That's a very common flaw in web and internet technology help documents.

Today: Total:1912 [Comment] [Direct Link]
How Bottlenose Can Help Turn Twitter into a High Signal Channel
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2012/05/14

Bottlenose is an application that will convert Twitter into a personalized dashboard and newspaper. "The Bottlenose name was inspired by the dolphin, which is reflected in its primary feature known as Sonar – a visual representation of your online conversation." To be sure, more and more people are using such services to aggregated the news - as Brian Kelly says, who needs Rupert Murdoch? On the other hand, it's better to get some perspective and comment on your forwarded link (as in this newsletter), isn't it? "it has been suggested that 'Twitter, like blogging, needs an edge, a voice, a riskiness'" - that's my feeling, and why the automated systems I think will in the end prove less than satisfactory.

Today: Total:1649 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Have You Got Your Free Google Drive, Skydrive & Dropbox Accounts?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2012/04/25

Let's see. I have a Google Drive, which offers 5 gigs free and 25 gig for $2.50 a month. There are numerous bases for comparison, but I notice most of the article miss what is most salient to me: speed. I gave up on MobileMe because it was slooooooow, way too slow to use to sync my stuff. The other big concern is the temrs of use, which gets the treatment in this post by Brian Kelly - inevitably someone says "Google owns everything on google drive" which of course is nowhere near true as "the rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones." But will your Google Drive contents begin influencing your search results? You have to begin to think so... Today: Total:1752 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Being Openly Selfish and Making 'OER' Work for You
James Burke UK Web Focus 2012/04/02

Interesting post looking at some of the ambiguities behind the idea of open educational resources (OERs) including how to attribute the logo, how to create machine-readable attribution, rights filtering and academic usage. For my own part, the major weakness of OER is the raft of legalism it has created in its wake. In my world (increasingly the minority view) the default is open, licensing is something only commercial users need to worry about, and common sense prevails. An icon, for example, actually loses its usefulness if you have to attach "'OER Logo' © 2012 Jonathas Mello, used under a Creative Commons license: BY-ND" to every use of it. You may as well just use the words 'OER'. To me, the best reference is still a link to the original, perhaps behind an attribution-free legalese-free OER logo. Like this: OER (which, btw, is a public domain image that would make a much better OER logo). Today: Total:2052 [Comment] [Direct Link]

How Researchers Can Use Inbound Linking Strategies to Enhance Access to Their Papers
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2012/03/07

Brian Kelly makes a challenging argument: "I believe that adding information about one’s research publications to services such as Academia.edu, ResearchGate, Microsoft Academic Search and Google Scholar citations can increase the visibility of the papers to Google, as well as to users of the services, which may then lead to increased numbers of downloads, citations and take-up of the ideas described in the papers." More on this here. The problem is, this sort of pandering is exactly the sort of think SEO spammers use. And the challenge is whether we should be emulating their strategies, or undermining them. I have no doubt that sending content to the paper mills produces more hits and citations. What I question is whether this is a good thing. Because it seems to me that if we can game the number of citations we can get, it devalues citation count as an index of quality. Today: Total:1668 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Are Attitudes Towards Privacy Changing?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2012/02/29

I admin that I'm in the big purple mass of people who would do a genome analysis, and share my data, if asked. By 'share' though I do not mean 'give to some corporation that will make the data its private property'. Would I buy a genome kit for $99? Probably not - I don't need to know that badly. Maybe if I could get a 'home gene splicing kit' along with it, so I could try to give myself a tail. The point of this post is to suggest that people's attitudes toward privacy are changing. I don't think they are; I think that the calculation is the same as it has always been: if I can share without being harmed, and without harming others, and maybe get a little something for myself, I will. Today: Total:1736 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Need for an Evidence-based Approach to Demonstrating Value
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2011/12/29

More on the question of evidence for decision-making. "What does 'evidence-gathering' entail? There is a real danger that selective evidence-gathering is used in order to justify a particular position. This is a approach which has been discredited when governments in the UK and US sought evidence to demonstrate Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction." A higher standard, says Kelly, is quite rightly demanded. "We do need to continue to gather evidence of the value of services, and not just library services. But we need to understand that the evidence will not necessarily justify a continuation of established approaches to providing services. And if evidence is found which supports the view that libraries will be extinct by 2020 (PDF format) then the implications need to be openly and widely discussed." People like Rudolf Carnap used to talk about 'the requirement of total evidence' and the 'principle of indifference'. These are as valid today as when they wrote it. Today: Total:1530 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The (Technology) Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present and Christmas Yet To Come
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2011/12/23

Brian Kelly ponders the death of email and I respond with observations of my own. "Currently, email is by far and away the most common way people contact me. I'll get maybe two or three phone calls in a day, zero instant messages or texts, and about 200 emails. Granted, 150 of those are not useful emails. But the remainder still dwarfs what's left." Today: Total:1458 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Final Reports from UKOLN’s Evidence, Impact, Metrics Work
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2011/12/21

Too much to comprehend in the short time available or summarize in a short post, but probably too important to skip. The UKOLN’s Evidence, Impact, metrics work "was to identify best practices for gathering quantitive evidence and supporting metrics on the use of networked services to support institutional and project activities." The final report on this work has been published. Brian Kelly writes, "As can be seen from the altmetrics manifesto the research community has strong interests in developing metrics which can help to identify evidence of value related to various aspects of research activities. The manifesto highlights the changes in ways in which research activities is being carried out and points out that 'as many as a third of scholars are on Twitter, and a growing number tend scholarly blogs'." Today: Total:1451 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Beyond Blogging as an Open Practice, What About Associated Open Usage Data?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2011/12/14

I've advocated open usage data in the past - in the form, say, of sharable RSS feeds - and had exactly zero take-up on the idea. I haven't seen anyone who is interested. Meanwhile, I'll continue to set an example of stats and hit counts, even though it severely compromises the marketability and monetization of my website. But, you know, understanding my impact isn't a matter of understanding my stats. Those are pretty irrelevant. It's a matter of understanding the impact of my ideas. Ah - but that's a lot harder to measure, first, to establish provenance, and second, to assess impact. Because, you know, by the time it shows up on a TED video, all original authorship has been pretty much expunged. Today: Total:5047 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Things We Can Learn From Facebook
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2011/10/05

Every time I go into Facebook there's more and more unwanted stuff in it, including what now appears to be an arbitrary news stream composed of posts written by people I don't know and haven't linked to. What can we learn from this? Brian Kelly first responds to a couple of prevailing threads, first calling the view that "you are Facebook's product" an "elitist" point of view, and second refuting the continuing belief that Facebook tracks its users even when their logged out (Facebook no longer does that, he says). So (in an effort to "move the discussion on from the Twitter echo chamber"), what can we learn, he asks. He proposes:
- “Seamless sharing” could be an appealing concept
- We want to understand and respond to user interactions
- Walled gardens can provide a nurturing environment
- Users understand the need for sustainable business models
Today: Total:2568 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Numbers Matter: Let's Provide Open Access to Usage Data and Not Just Research Papers
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2011/06/09

Because colleges and universities are not distributing usage data, the sector "is failing to demonstrate how collectively we are making use of innovative IT developments " - whether in the area of social media, institutional repositories or in other areas " - to support its teaching and learning and research activities." So argues Brian Kelly, suggesting that the failure to support its position with data leaves the sector vulnerable to attacks like "Universities spending millions on websites which students rate as inadequate," which Kelly described last year. " "Let's open up access to our usage data," he argues, "so that the value of use of IT across the higher education sector can be demonstrated." Today: Total:1526 [Comment] [Direct Link]

How Should UK Universities Respond to EU Cookie Legislation?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2011/05/26

The EU's Privacy and Communications Directive comes into force today with one of the major directives concerning cookies. As Brian Kelly notes, "This requires user's consent before using cookies – the text files which are used for various purposes including storing browsing information." Many sites - and pretty much every institutional site - uses cookies routinely. This leads to a problem implementing the law: "One problem sites are wrestling with if the ICO insists on enforcement is a catch-22 where if people choose not to accept cookies, then sites will have to keep asking them if they want to accept cookies – because they will not be able to set a cookie indicating their preference."

On this website I face no such contradiction. The software assumes that each visitor is an anonymous entity - Anymouse - and unless directed otherwise loads the personal profile for that entity. No cookie required. Cookies will be set only if a person registers, and are reset only if they log in again. The registration page links to a privacy page that outlines, among other things, our use of cookies. I think the presumption of anonymity is important and have always supported the right to post anonymous comments on this website. So I'm pretty sure I comply with the EU regulations, but if I don't, I'm sure the EU will take the time to tell me. Today: Total:1829 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The BO.LT Page Sharing Service and OERs
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2011/04/22

Brian Kelly links to a TechCrunch article on the bo.lt page editing service. Bo.lt, "as the TechCrunch article announced 'lets you copy, edit and share any page. As the first comment to the article put it: I can just see it…this will make it easier for 1) people to create fake bank statements, 2) awesome mocking of news headlines, 3) derivative web designs.'" Well, yeah, but as Kelly notes, "Might a service such as Bo.lt have a role to play in enabling such resources to be reused,I wonder? Will Bo.lt turn out to be a threat to our institutions (allowing, for examples, disgruntled students unhappy at having to pay £9,000 to go to University to create parodies of corporate Web pages) or a useful tool to allow learners to be creative without having to master complex authoring tools?" With luck, both. Today: Total:1668 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Amplified Events, Seminars, Conferences, …: What? Why? How?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2011/03/14

What's wrong with the opening slide, as suggested above, is the supposition it contains that the presenter has in some way the authority to prevent you from blogging or tweeting the presentation. I'm also leery about the supposition that you can demand that you not be photographed, recorded or videoed while giving a public presentation. I know people will disagree with me on this. But it's not about stealing someone's presentation, it's about having a record of exactly what was said. And I think that the main objection to recording is that a lot of people do not want what they say even in public fora to see the light of day. Just saying. Today: Total:3175 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Feedback Invited on Briefing Paper on Holistic Approaches to Web Accessibility
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2011/02/17

People interested in web accessibility issues will appreciate the set of papers offered in this post, and may as well want to participate in the call for comments on a briefing paper on "Holistic Approaches to Web Accessibility" intended to provide a summary to these audiences. Sorry about the Scribd version, which won't actually allow you to download a copy of the paper until you input your email address into their spam-machine. I don't know what value see in Scribd; I certainly don't see it. Today: Total:1728 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Open Source, Open Standards, Open Access – A Problem For Higher Education?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2011/02/11

You have to consider this to me something like a warning shot: "JISC's promotion of the open agenda (open access, open resources, open source and open standards) is more controversial. This area alone is addressed by 24 programmes, 119 projects and five services. [7] A number of institutions are enthusiastic about this, but perceive an anti-publisher bias and note the importance of working in partnership with the successful UK publishing industry. Publishers find the JISC stance problematic." Today: Total:2103 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Scridb Seems to be Successful in Enhancing Access to Papers
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2011/01/11

Brian Kelly reports that Scribd is enhancing access to his papers, this on the basis of comparative hit counts between Scribd and his own website. He admits, " I can't help but think that the usage statistics are flawed," as do I, and while there is not any direct evidence of this, there are some good explanations - hosting sites like Scribed are polled by search engines more frequently, spam services and bots are more likely to hit a hosting service, hits on pages with embeds may be reported as hits, even though the visit to the page is incidental. It is certainly not because Scribd provides a better reading experience - papers hosted on Scribd are almost unreadable, probably deliberately so as Scribd forces you to give them personal information if you want to download a copy. Today: Total:1704 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Is It Too Late To Exploit RSS In Repositories?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2010/12/22

Brian Kelly writes, "RSS does not seem to have been given the opportunity to see how it can be used to provide value-added services to institutional repositories," and asks, "Is it too late?" Of course it's not too late, but it would be helpful if repositories made more useful feeds - including, for example, the ability to retrieve a listing of the total contents, so new users can catch up, and some better client applications. See also this response from Tony Hirst. Today: Total:1478 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Moves Away From XML to JSON?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2010/11/26

The debate between JSON and XML boils down to this: "XML is more complex than necessary for Web Services. By default, XML requires you to use complex features that many Web Services do not need to be successful." That doesn't mean JSON for everything - for example, I don't see a JSON-RSS in the immediate future (but hey, I could be wrong). But "for important use cases JSON is dramatically better than XML. In particular, JSON shines as a programming language-independent representation of typical programming language data structures. This is an incredibly important use case and it would be hard to overstate how appallingly bad XML is for this." As someone who has actually programmed these, I can attest to the truth of that statement. Anyhow, just for fun, I've created a JSON version of OLDaily. Today: Total:1571 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Dazed and Confused After #CETIS10
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2010/11/19

Brian Kelly writes, "I suspect that, in part, my unease may reflect personal experiences (first in the family, from the working class town of Bootle, to go to University, which provided me with new opportunities) ; political disagreements with the notion that what may be good for self-motivated students (such as those who have benefitted from attendance at fee-paying public schools) will be forced on those who will benefit from learning provided by traditional institutions (whether such learning is mediated by technology or not) and professional concerns regarding the questioning of the benefits of technology (again, I'm not saying that such questions shouldn't be asked)." I don't equate lack of motivation with the lower classes; quite the opposite - to survive at all, the poor must be motivated every day. It is the rich who can coast and have other people write their essays for them. Today: Total:1558 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Developments to the Lanyrd Service
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2010/11/03

The Lanyard conference scheduling service is looking better and better. It supports a social network around conferences and, as described by Zeldman, "You can add and track events, and soon you'll be able to export your events as iCal or into your Google calendar (the site is powered by microformats). Soon, too, you'll be able to add sessions, slides, and videos." The only login I can find is through Twitter, which actually delayed my registering on the site by a couple months (I do not want all my separate activities rolled up under my Twitter, Facebook, or Google accounts) but I decided - as Brian Kelly did - that I wanted "to monitor how this service develops and to claim my preferred username on the service." Especially the latter. Today: Total:1673 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Amplifying a Talk on "Event Amplification Using Social Media"
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2010/10/27

I really don't like the term 'amplifying a talk' to apply to the use of net technologies to provide webcasts and other interfaces to what would otherwise be in-person events. 'Amplificatoon' treats the talk as though it were a broadcast. But I've never had any experience of 'amplification' where the real value was in mere redistribution of live content; what has made these possible is that it always extended the discussion. There's a reason why UStream and Elluminate and the like have chat channels. I think we should be talking about "event extension", not "event amplification". After all, why build a misapplication of a concept right into the name of it? Still, all of that said, be sure to have a look at this column, which discusses the use of social media to extend an event using Authorstream's option to present live and Banbuser's video streaming service.. Today: Total:1991 [Comment] [Direct Link]

iTunes U: an Institutional Perspective
Jeremy Speller UK Web Focus 2010/10/27

Jeremy Speller believes that Apple's iTunes U has a positive contribution to make to higher education. Though iTunes is a closed system, he writes, universities can also engage other channels of distribution. The cost to produce multimedia content would be undertaken to support other projects in any case. It may be PR fluff, but it is a route to producing genuinely educational assets. But again, all of this depends on iTunes being only one of several distribution channels, and not the only channel. Today: Total:2550 [Comment] [Direct Link]

How is the UK HE Sector Using YouTube?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2010/10/18

This is a good overview, with concrete statistical backing, of UK higher education institutions' use of YouTube. For a wider look, you may also want to look at the YouTibe directory of university channels (the full list may take a few seconds to show up; click on 'most subscribed' if you're impatient (like me)). "The institution with the largest number of upload views is Cambridge University with 1,189,778 views and Coventry University with 1,039,817 views. Note that such statistics will be skewed in institutions make use of a single institutional YouTube channel or use several (as the Open University does). It should be noted that the Coventry University account, which has the second largest number of downloads, is provided by students." Today: Total:1435 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Approaches To Archiving Professional Blogs Hosted In The Cloud
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2010/09/17

The list of blogs at the top of this post is the appetizer. The main course is the link to this paper by Marieke Guy discussing UKOLN's policies regarding preserving professional blogs hosted by third-party (or 'cloud') services. It's a good paper, though I think it's interesting that it approaches the issue very much from the institutional point of view, rather than the blog author's point of view. That said, the list of best practices (part 7, at the end of the paper) is well worth reading. And there's a set of slides, also by Marieke Guy.
Approaches to Archiving Professional Blogs Hosted in the Cloud
View more presentations from Marieke Guy. Today: Total:2069 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Should Event Web Sites Be The First To Be Outsourced?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus 2010/08/19

Brian Kelly looks at the ways people are trying to reduce the cost of events - and comes up with event site outsourcing. "In addition to thinking of ways of reducing costs of accommodation and entertainment Nicole described how she has 'always been against event management companies'. Although Nicole is not in favour of outsourcing events management she has decided to outsource the IT infrastructure for the event: 'we will do all the event management in-house … using Google for booking forms, document management, presentation publication and event information'." Today: Total:1646 [Comment] [Direct Link]

If Social Discovery Is Beating Traditional Search, Then What?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus


I think I'd want independent verification of the figures, but it`s interesting even to ponder the question of whether social network referrals are outperforming search. "If traffic is increasingly being driven by recommendation rather than metadata and clever algorithms, what are the implications for service providers?" Today: Total:2668 [Comment] [Direct Link]

RSS Feeds For Structured Information About Events
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

More on the elusive goal of syndicated event feeds (I need to get back to that soon). "We have RSS feeds containing providing information on the plenary talks and workshop sessions for IWMW 2000-2010 together with biographical details for the plenary speakers and workshop facilitators since the event was started." Also see the comments for a useful reference to Upcoming (owned by Yahoo!), which encodes events in xCal. Today: Total:1777 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Experiments With RDFa
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

Some people have asked about the harvesting I talked about yesterday - this sort of thing makes it work. It's RDFa, and it allows content to be encoded in web pages in a systematic way. Content, for example, like event listings - or, if we want, pairings of content with curricular requirements. There will never be One Aggregator To Rule Them All, but we can get close to what we want with simple specifications that anyone can create. See also Linked data and lessons from the past. Today: Total:1810 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Microformats and RDFa: Adding Richer Structure To Your HTML Pages
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

I have some stuff on this coming soon, so I've been reading microformating documents. A good example is this event microformatting. I don't think that microformats do everything I want, and I know iCal doesn't, but they have a role to play, and the latter, at least, is widely supported. More soon, Monday maybe. Today: Total:1989 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Response To My Linked Data Challenge
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus


There's a lot of data online, in different (and linked) repositories - but can we query it? The answer, at least to a certain degree, is a tentative 'yes'. Brian Kelly asked, "tell me which town or city in the UK has the largest proportion of students," and Alejandra Garcia Rojas mined the data to provide the response. But what a response! And what a mine of data! And there's this: "A more general concern which this exercise has alerted me to is the dangers of assuming that the answer to a Linked Data query will necessarily be correct. In this case it was clear that the results were wrong. But what if the results had only been slightly wrong? And what if you weren't in a position to make a judgment on the validity of the answers?" Today: Total:2108 [Comment] [Direct Link]

H.264 Format Free To End Users Until (At Least) 2016
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

Maybe some of the bad press had an impact on the MPEG Licensing Authority, which announced royalty-free H.264 until the end of 2015. They may, as Christopher Blizzard suggests, have learned the lesson from .GIF - "As a direct result of this threat to open use of the Web the W3C coordinated development of the PNG (Portable network Graphic) file format, which provide a royalty-free alternative to GIF which was also had richer functionality." Will that clear up the HTML5 video logjam? Well, no. But it might help, a bit. Today: Total:1799 [Comment] [Direct Link]

iPad, Flash, HTML 5 and Standards
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

Good post describing the mess that is web video. "Although HTML5 defines a standard way to embed video in a Web page, using the element. FireFox currently supports the Ogg Theora, Ogg Vorbis and WAV formats – but not the widely used H.264 format (codex)." The problem is that while H.264 is usable, its license terms could change at any time, and indications are that with use it will get very expensive, something Firefox simply can't support. Companies like Spple, though, like it because ti can be easily decoded, making video faster and lighter. Today: Total:1905 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Reflections on CETIS's "Future of Interoperability Standards" Meeting
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

As standards bodies rush to formalize interoperability, experts question whether it's all to quick. "Interoperability standards in the Learning, Education and Training domain have failed miserably (and in other domains, as I pointed out recently in the context of W3C standards). And we have seen a huge range of technological innovations which are being adopted enthusiastically by many in the user community where there hasn't been a significant focus placed in the development of new standards." Today: Total:3489 [Comment] [Direct Link]

How I Use Creative Commons For My Presentations
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

Brian Kelly describes how he uses Creative Commons material in his presentations. I employ much the same approach, but less explicitly. For example, like him, I provide a link to a resource (say, an image) that I've used. But I don't assert explicitly that the image may have different rights associated with it than my presentation. I don't assert it because this should be obvious, and it is only a lawyer's trick to assume that everything in my presentation would be licensed under the same terms as the presentation itself. That said, if you use my presentation under the license I provide (SA) then you will be safe using all its contents, because I was. But it doesn't follow that any restriction I apply to my content (eg., NC) applies to any of the resources I've used. Finally, I don't worry about criticizing a resource in my presentation. Now all of that said, if you are a publisher and you want to actually publish anything I've done, it falls under the National Research Council publication policy, and you need a license. That's why (well, one reason, at least) I use the NC clause in my license. Today: Total:1759 [Comment] [Direct Link]

A Twitter Feed For This Blog
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

Brian Kelly describes how his blog Twitter feed evolved, along with my own. Recounting the conversation we had after his Can Your Blog Survive Without Twitter post, he writes that he has "used the Twitterfeed.com service so that new posts on this blog are automatically announced via the Twitter account. He also added a feed describing his upcoming events. We both separate the blog Twitter feed from our personal feeds. But there are two major differences between Kelly's Twitterfeed service, and my own, which was hand-rolled. First, his restates the title of the piece as the Twitter message. I wanted a more conversational style, and so select the first 100 or so characters of my post itself. Second, he uses the bit.ly URL-shortening service. I use the slightly longer downes.ca URLs in order to preserve the integrity of the link. I think these small changes result in a very different flavour of Twitter feed - though of course that is for the reader to decide. Today: Total:1632 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Can Your Blog Survive Without Twitter?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

One of the things I do - and I do it very deliberately - is to separate the streams of my content. So I have this newsletter, in web, email and RSS format, in Daily and Weekly, along with various other blogs and websites. Tweetmeme doesn't really work for me because there's no one thing that is 'my blog' for Tweetmeme to count. Because, for me, it's not about amassing an audience but rather forming connections. So, my blog could 'survive' without Twitter because there is no particular entity that needs to 'survive' (it's sort of like asking me, "could your email survive without Twitter?" - which is, on the face of it, a meaningless question). People who focus on size of audience, impact via Tweetmeme, or similarly mass-based metrics, are working with an old-media paradigm, which is about broadcast rather that network. They see their influence as measured by echo or repetition - things like retweets, for example - rather than through participation in things that are genuinely larger (and more important) than themselves. Related: Rethinking blogging. Today: Total:5412 [Comment] [Direct Link]

If It's Not All About The Technology Then What Else Is It Not About?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

Oh, this is a great argument. Brian Kelly asks, what are the implications of saying "it's not all about the technology?" He responds that it's like saying, "A computer's a computer, just like a fax machine is a fax machine – only nerds care about what goes on underneath the bonnet." Then the kicker: "But if this is true, what are the implications for accepting that we are in a postdigital age? Don't we then accept that our IT environment will be owned by the mega-corporations – Google and Microsoft... It strikes me that the postdigital agenda is a conservative one, in which we are asked to accept that we (in our institutions and in our working environment) cannot shape our digital environment." Today: Total:1634 [Comment] [Direct Link]

We Need Evidence - But What If We Don't Like The Findings?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

I think the point is well made, that we need to be attentive to the hard realities our research sometimes unveils. Should institutions be developing iPhone applications, for exmple? Applets for the Apple may make good press, but one questions their point when confronted with statistics like this: "MS Windows (93.51%), Apple Macintosh (5.05%), Linux (0.67%), iPhone (0.34%), Symbian (012%) and iPod (0.11%)" And what are we to say about the Linux and even Apple numbers? Brian Kelly asks, "And at a time when, if the predictions are correct, we may see a reduction in staffing levels, do these figures suggest that the time and effort in testing Web sites on the Linux platform may not be justified?" Today: Total:1406 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Live Video Streaming Of IWMW 2009
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

IWMW stands for "Institutional Web Management Workshop" (I had to look at quite a few pages before I was able tyo find that out!). This post not only links to the video streams of the event, it looks at the live video srtreaming statistics. But it would be interesting to see how often the talks are viewed in the future. These event videos create a rich resource, and people will mine it for gems for a long time. Here's the event timetable with links to specific talks. Enjoy. Today: Total:1615 [Comment] [Direct Link]

A World Where No-One Visits Our Web Sites
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

Brian Kelly links to slides used by Mike Ellis in a session on Digging into data: text and data mining at the recent JISC Digital Content Conference. Good content, nice bridge between geek and non-geek. "At some point you'll want to do 'something else' with your content. Right now, you have no idea whatsoever what that thing is. These techniques allow you to make an investment in a future no-one can know." (ironically, I had to type this by hand, as the Flash format is impervious to machine-enabled copy and paste). Today: Total:1658 [Comment] [Direct Link]

How Is HE Embracing Web 2.0? How Is Web 2.0 Changing HE?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

I think that this post suffers from the inevitable consequence of looking at new technologies from the perspective of higher education (HE): new technologies are viewed from the perspective of HE institutions. If the question had been worded from the perspective of 'learning' the outcome would have been different. That said, I agree with this: "universities should be pro-active in developing and implementing new media literacy strategies for members of their institutions, including members of staff." Because it's not clear they understand new media now. Today: Total:10469 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Lessons From Slidesharegate
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

Brian Kelly wrote, in a post he later deleted, "You know what it's like. You've been together for some time. And you get on well together. And then something goes wrong. So you start looking for something new." The 'something new' he referred to is SlideBoom which he uses here. So it appears that Slideshare has avoided its Ratner Moment. But it's not all gravy - I have complained to Slideshare numerous times about the pulsating arrow over my slide shows, and received no joy whatsoever. I didn't care at all about the misfiring April Fools joke - which I quickly deleted. I do care about the placement of animation on my web site - animation I very much do not want. Oh, and I am wondering why Kelly deleted his Slideboom post. Today: Total:2835 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Pupils to Study Twitter and Blogs in Primary Shake-Up
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

A few people have mentioned this Guardian article and it was mentioned in our conversation yesterday. The gist is that "Children will no longer have to study the Victorians or the second world war... the draft plans will require children to master Twitter and Wikipedia and give teachers far more freedom to decide what youngsters should be concentrating on in classes." The negative reaction is not surprising (though misguided); Brian Kelly takes a stand for the positive side. Today: Total:1864 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Should Projects Be Required To Have Blogs?
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

I started the post thinking "yes" but ended it thinking "no" - favoring, instead, a mandate that 'projects ought to be open'. That is, people working on a publicly funded project should not do this work in secret, but should publicly document the development process as it occurs. This, though, can be done on an individual basis, through personal blogs, postings and websites, and not at all necessarily on a group blog. This allows (with a nod to Paul Walk) some researchers to stay in the background, if that's what they prefer, but still achieves the objective of making public work public. And it also avoids the need for policy and management around an 'official' project blog. Today: Total:1659 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Revisiting Web Server Usage Statistics
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

"Web 2.0 will die," wrote Peter Schwartz back at the beginning of December. "The universal social networks that are its public face cannot survive because they cannot propagate a sustainable user base willing to pay for its services." Sure, but the interesting question is when? What prompts this look is a post from Brian Kelly on server statistics. I still question the sharp rise of the Microsoft server, but looking at this chart prompts a more intriguing question: "Wait a minute. Google has a web server?" Oh, wait, it's just an Apache server. And the name change accounts for the entire decline in Apache server use (see especially the last diagram). Today: Total:1813 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Facebook Saves Lives
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

"Not all Facebook applications allow data to be exported. But need this be a overriding reason why Facebook should be avoided?" To Brian Kelly's question I replied, semi-seriously, "Yes." Ah, writes Kelly, but I was wrong. Why? "Facebook users are coming to the aid of children who need life-saving transplants." This is a ridiculous response. You don't need Facebook to send out appeals; it is merely one more channel in a universe full of channels. And while "Facebook does not assert any ownership over your User Content" it is nonetheless a violation of Facebook's terms of service to harvest that content. There is only one context in which Facebook should not be avoided: the current one, in which there is no decent alternative. Today: Total:1897 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Experiments With Video Blogging To Support Presentations
Brian Kelly UK Web Focus

brian kelly - who has been writing a string of good posts recently - looks at using video to support presentations. for my own part, I rarely use a video during a presentation (because I never know what to do while it's playing, I just stand there and fidget). But I often record presentations and use video to support my work generally. In this case, Kelly responds to a suggestion from Andy Powell that amateur video production is so bad that video "is a nice gimmick (in this case) but no more." Kelly Responds, "But should we leave video production to the experts? I don't think so, but your view may differ." To me, what we are seeing reminds me of the early days of HTML, when some web pages were just awful. We rarely see that any mare - not because people became better HTML programmers, but because the tools made HTML programming unnecessary. The same will be true of video. Today: Total:2080 [Comment] [Direct Link]

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(Still working on this)