professional reflections

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Last week I posted a remark on Twitter:

Can't help thinking that the idea that Google Wave will replace email rather misses the point….

The first response to this echoed my view on this suggesting that the real nature of Wave is rather harder to explain or understand, and implying that people fall back on a frame of reference with which they are comfortable. It certainly looks as though Google have anticipated this and offered some easily digested marketing messages. However, I also saw responses which suggested that some people still seem to be missing the point. One response insisted...

Manchester City FC Ground I have just spent an interesting and inspiring 24 hours at the JISC Rapid Innovation Programme meeting, which was organised by UKOLN (disclaimer: I work for UKOLN), and funded through the JISC-funded IE Demonstrator project. The venue chosen for the event was certainly an unusual one - the City of Manchester Stadium, home of Manchester City Football Club. I thought the venue worked very well for this event and would recommend it. The event was primarily aimed at developers from the JISC Rapid Innovation projects, but with a significant number of others delegates drawn from JISC programme management...

Over the years I've found the ' Semantic Web' to be an interesting though, at times, faintly worrying concept. It has never much impacted on my work directly, despite my having been embroiled in Web development since, well pretty much, Web development began. Of late I've tried to follow the earnest discussions about how the Semantic Web went all wrong because it was hijacked by the AI enthusiasts, and how it is going to be alright now because a more pragmatic paradigm has gained the upper-hand, that of Linked Data.

This post is my tuppence worth provoked by an interesting debate on Twitter...

LandRun.jpeg Facebook rolled out its ' usernames' function today. This is a new feature at Facebook which allows a user to claim their little bit of the Facebook namespace, along the lines of:

http://www.facebook.com/[preferred_name]/

The process started at 05:00 am UK local time - on a Saturday morning - yet several people in my social and professional networks got up early to claim their personalised Facebook URL. Not all were successful despite this determination, and some ended up having to settle for some variation on their preferred username.

As for me, I enjoyed a rare lie-in :-)

So, why...

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Some time ago, Suw Charman-Anderson introduced the idea of an Ada Lovelace Day, to celebrate the achievements of women in technology. As part of this effort, Suw also created a 'pledge' on MySociety's excellent and innovative PledgeBank service, which stated:

I will publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire but only if 1,000 other people will do the same.

In her blog post, Suw says:

Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. […] Recent research by psychologist Penelope...

Brian Kelly posted Twitter Can Pimp Up Your Stuff - But Should It? a while ago. This post has caused me to think about courtesy and good practice. The aspect I want to talk about is Brian's reporting of a conversation which took place on Twitter. I'm writing this to make a general point, not as a personal criticism of Brian who has well-established credentials as an experimenter with these technologies and who I know, from talking to him directly, is interested in these issues.

The point is this: I tend to think that the quoting of Twitter exchanges in blog posts is something to be done sparingly...

Update: Karen's presentation has now been made available.

Yesterday, despite the best efforts of Worst Great Western, I travelled to the British Library in London to hear Karen Calhoun, Vice President WorldCat and Metadata Services at OCLC presenting on Working collectively – the way forward in an academic environment (not available online as far as I can tell).

While Karen's presentation was interesting it was, inevitably, mainly a sales-pitch for WorldCat, OCLC's global-scale union catalogue of bibliographic records. Based on a fee-paying, membership business model, WorldCat provides value...

There has been something of a furore over a recent change to Facebook's terms of service (ToS). The Consumerist reported this as Facebook's New Terms Of Service: "We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever.".

The change in question was the removal of a clause stating:

You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.

[my emphasis]

So, even if I delete my account, any content I have...

Since I joined UKOLN two years ago, I have frequently claimed that we ( JISC, the sector, our community) don't do enough to support and listen to developers. Well, I'm just back from The Developers Happiness Days (dev8D) in London and I can certainly no longer say this. A solid week of developer happiness! A week of ideas generated, geeks networking with users, competitive and yet collaborative development, knowledge being exchanged…. followed by fun and, yes, a bit of drinking.

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The brain-child of David Flanders and Ben O'Steen, with support and ideas from several others and funding from...

In his Science in the Open blog Cameron Neylon has written an interesting post, A Specialist OpenID Service to Provide Unique Researcher IDs? in which he asks:

Good citation practice lies at the core of good science. The value of research data is not so much in the data itself but its context, its connection with other data and ideas. How then is it that we have no way of citing a person?

Cameron suggests that OpenID might offer a solution to this.

I have been very interested in OpenID for some time. I like the relatively agile way in the which the standard has evolved. I like the fact...

I just read a really good post from Martin Weller on Ed Techie called Ownership ain't what it used to be. Talking about web-based music sharing services such as LastFM, and having just signed up to Spotify, Martin says:

It brought back to me some considerations I'd had about the nature of ownership. My generation will have a distinctly different concept of ownership to that of my daughter's generation. For my generation you partly constructed your identity around what you owned - your bookshelf, record collection and DVD archive were important aspects of who you were (as anyone who has read...

Are you a developer of software? Could you be happier? If so, come along to the JISC Developer Happiness Days event!

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From the website:

Over four intensive days we're bringing together the cream of the crop of educational software developers along with coders from other sectors, users, and technological tinkerers in an exciting new forum. Share your skills and knowledge with the coding community in a stimulating and fun environment and come away with new skills, fresh contacts – and you might even win a prize. The top ideas generated at the event will be documented, publicised and made...

A brief comment, as I hop across the North Sea back to Bristol.

With the news that arXiv will now accept deposits from institutional repositories, Dorothea Salo continues her theme about a deposit flow which goes from author, to institutional repository, to subject/discipline repository. Dorothea offers some scenarios, including:

Achaea University adopts a Harvard-style open-access mandate. If she wants her articles in arXiv as well, Dr. Troia must rather annoyingly dual-deposit… unless Achaea’s IR implements a deposit pipeline to arXiv, in which case the most she has to do is tick a ticky...

Tim Bray talks about the compelling nature of the fast hibernation feature of Mac laptops:

I remember like yesterday, sometime in early 2002, watching Rohit Khare at a conference, popping open his Mac every little while to take a note, then shutting it again. I was still a Windows victim at that point, and I was flabbergasted; that was the single feature that weighed most heavily in my decision to switch.

This resonates with me. When I bought my first Mac laptop, a 12" G4 iBook in 2004/5 it was because I wanted a unix-based machine with a decent user-interface and some good productivity...

Warning: highly subjective opinion-piece and a plea for enlightenment follows: no useful information imparted here….

A little while ago, my blog got nominated for an award. A single nomination was enough to put it onto a shortlist, made available for public voting. I have been thinking about what this means…. or doesn't mean. At the same time, I've been thinking about those lists of 'must read' blogs which I come across from time to time - (inevitably, a more recent trend is for lists of 'Twitterers you should follow'). I would also include 'blogrolls' in this category. I think all of these...

I just got around to reading the press release issued after the collapse of Europeana (previously the more easily pronounced 'European Digital Library') following its launch a couple of weeks ago. If you go to the site now, you are greeted with the following message:

The Europeana site is temporarily not accessible due to overwhelming interest after its launch (10 million hits per hour). We are doing our utmost to reopen Europeana in a more robust version as soon as possible. We will be back by mid-December.

(my emphases) The press release explains what happened. Or rather, it explains...

Yesterday I went along to Mashed Library UK 2008 in London. Quickly abbreviated to 'mashlib', the event was the brain-child of Owen Stephens. Owen did most of the organising, aided by David Flanders who provided the space at BirkBeck college, and our excellent events team at UKOLN. The event was sponsored by UKOLN, using funding from the JISC.

I thought the balance of activities on the day was excellent - a healthy mixture of short presentations, demonstrations and a good amount of hands-on hacking. The group was comprised of commercial vendors ( Talis, ExLibris, OCLC), academic-library folk...

I was recently invited to join the JISC Resource Discovery Infrastructure Taskforce - the first meeting was yesterday. We had been given some background material, and a couple of people ( Owen Stephens and Paul Miller) were asked to present ideas around this general area, but the main order of the day was to establish terms of reference and some guiding principles. I had fondly imagined that this would be a fairly rapid exercise - more or less a bureaucratic process before we got down to the nitty-gritty of what problems we needed to solve and how we were going to solve them.

I couldn't have...

In my previous post about QR codes I made a couple of points which, after receiving some interesting comments, I'd like to expand on.

I see them [QR codes] occasionally on blogs/web-pages but I just don’t much see the point of that

Shortly after making this point, I suggested on a UKOLN internal mailing list that it might make more sense to include a QR code in a cascading style sheet provided for printing, rather than viewing on the screen. If I want to link my blog/post/webpage to some other web resource, I include a hyperlink (which might be displayed as a title, rather than the raw...

I spent half an hour this morning experimenting with QR barcodes, prompted by Andy Ramsden who is running a small test/survey. I used various iPhone clients to try to decode and make use of three QR codes printed on a sheet of paper. Each of the three codes encoded different information - a URL, a simple string of text, and an SMS message with mobile number respectively.

It transpires that the iPhone does not make a first-class QR decoder. There may be several factors involved here, but the main one seems to be the rather poor camera which often lets the iPhone down. Having tried several (free...


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