Igeneric Thoughts

Igeneric Thoughts is a public weblog for discussion of issues surrounding the concept of a Common Information Environment.

UK Government tackles the Digital Divide

April 1, 2018

The UK's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and the Secretary of State for Trade & Industry, Patricia Hewitt, today launched a seven-point plan to tackle the Digital Divide.

Connecting the UK: the Digital Strategy [PDF download] is a joint publication from the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit and the DTI which seeks to tackle inequalities in confidence with and access to digital content and services across the country.

Quoting from the Press Release, the plan includes:

“A 'digital challenge' prize to be awarded to a local authority and its partners to give universal on line access to local public services. The winner will have the opportunity to demonstrate the ability to transform service delivery through a by using technology to deliver modern services for modern citizens;
A commitment to give all students the opportunity ... to access ICT at home through a low cost national laptop and home PC leasing scheme. Ensuring that ICT is embedded in education to improve the quality of learning for all and equip children with skills increasingly essential in the workplace. All learners will have their own virtual learning space where they can store and access their work;
Working with the IT industry to create the safest possible on line environment, backed by the police, charities, and the industry. The Home Office is announcing today the establishment of a multi agency national internet safety centre to deter criminals targeting children for internet crime and reassure parents. And we will work with the banking industry to make that sector a market leader in terms of online authentication;
Further steps towards closing the digital divide by building on the network of UK Online centres and other communal access points giving adult learners the support, incentives and skills they need to make the most of ICT;
Creating the right environment to stimulate broadband content, particularly in public procurement. This will set out guidance on broadband content procurement by the public sector;
A cross government focus on public service delivery transformed by modern technology and a strategy for achieving that. As part of that strategy, the Government will consider how it moves its business to a wholly digital environment where it is appropriate and cost effective;
Asking Ofcom to include in their regulatory strategy for the broadband market a forward look on the prospects for home broadband take up, with a particular focus on uptake amongst the more disadvantaged.”

Providing access to computers for those still at school (presumably mainly the additional funding to the e-Learning Foundation announced in the Budget?) and enhancing the Home Computing Initiative both sound positive. However, we also need to look at tackling the 'lapsed users' that our MORI survey discovered. If there is really a dip in usage as people leave education or enter the workplace, what can we do to ensure that they remain engaged and connected?

It's also interesting to note the emphasis given to UK Online Centres as ways of reaching out to those without access at home. Looking again at our MORI data, UK Online Centres hardly registered in the consciousness of the 2,004 adults surveyed. Public Libraries on the other hand (some of which are also UK Online Centres) were identified by users and non-users alike as places they could go to get online. Maybe Government is backing the wrong brand?

The digital challenge prize sounds interesting, and I'm sure there is a lot that the Igeneric and its partners could be doing with councils there.

The report itself contains a lot more detail, and it will be interesting to see how this takes shape over the next few months in the lead-up to the publication of the e-Government Strategy.

Information from a Wired-GOV release.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 16:29 | Make or Read Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Creative Commons project in Scotland gets formal launch from Lessig tomorrow

April 1, 2018

Work to translate the Creative Commons licences to Scots law is now well underway, and Lawrence Lessig will be launching their activity during a lecture in Edinburgh tomorrow.

Cyberlaw: who controls access to ideas on the net? is part of this year's Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 14:47 | Make or Read Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

QUATRO project asks for opinions on web-based Trust marks

March 23, 2018

The QUATRO project proposes an interesting solution to the proliferation of 'Trust' marks online, and recognises the need to engage with search engine providers in order to explore ways in which definably 'trustworthy' content can be made visible in search results.

The project is currently running a set of short surveys to assess the views and requirements of various stakeholders with respect to trust marks and quality labels of various kinds.

Anyone reading this blog falls into one of their categories, and it would be great to see them getting a good set of responses...

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 16:16 | Make or Read Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Creative Commons licences in England & Wales...

March 16, 2018

(Near?) final versions of the Creative Commons licences for England and Wales are now available online, and their availability is being celebrated at the October Gallery in London. Silicon.com's Sylvia Carr also reports on the development of the licences...

Many congratulations to all concerned in what's been a long process.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 19:49 | Make or Read Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Amazon's Jeff Bezos announces OpenSearch; a next step in search syndication?

March 16, 2018

JupiterResearch's Gary Stein draws my attention to an interesting addition to Amazon's A9 search engine, pointing to an article in eWeek yesterday.

The addition is called OpenSearch, and is described as

“a collection of technologies, all built on top of popular open standards, to allow content providers to publish their search results in a format suitable for syndication. You can see how this works on A9.com.

Many sites today return search results as an tightly integrated part of the website itself. Unfortunately, those search results can't be easily reused or made available elsewhere, as they are usually wrapped in HTML and don't follow any one convention. OpenSearch offers an alternative: an open format that will enable those search results to be displayed anywhere, anytime. Rather than introduce yet another proprietary or closed protocol, OpenSearch is a straightforward and backward-compatible extension of RSS 2.0, the widely adopted XML-based format for content syndication.

Any site that has content—and a search box—can choose to return results in OpenSearch RSS. This includes travel sites, classifieds, encyclopedias…. If you can provide search results for something, it probably can fit into the OpenSearch model. Returning OpenSearch results is easy—the format is the standard set of XML elements, plus three additional elements designed to support navigation between pages.”

Getting your search functions off your site and visible where your users actually are is an area of ongoing interest to the Igeneric. We already have library system vendors offering assorted cross-search solutions within their products (and bodies like NISO trying to harmonise this). We also have more lightweight solutions, such as the excellent Remote Search Interface from the ADS that I've written about before.

Looking at the list of 'columns' already available to A9, organisations like the British Library are already listed. How might this move forward, and is there value in aggressively pushing organisations to register here...?

Ever-reliable, Talis have taken a look, liked it, and done something with OpenSearch...

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 14:14 | Make or Read Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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