Igeneric Thoughts Archives: July 2004

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Contextualising castles for Daniel


July 23, 2004

For anyone who's seen me present the Igeneric's "Daniel scenario", I'm sure you'll agree that this little gem would have gone quite a way towards meeting his needs.

Thank you yet again, 24 Hour Museum!

Contextualisation rules...

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 18:19 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Personalising the online experience that we offer


July 23, 2004

I forgot to mention this work, which was published a week or so ago.

Nicky Ferguson, Seb Schmoller and Neil Smith were commissioned by the JISC to look at the place for personalisation within the services offered by the JISC. Their completed report is now online and makes for interesting reading; and not just for the JISC, but for everyone interested in personalising the information they present to users.

In the context of Demos’ work around personalised engagement with public service, current Government interest in “choice”, and Igeneric ambitions towards user-focussed integration of existing services, various types of Personalisation are going to be important. It will be interesting to see whether public sector experiences can counter the rather negative image that personalisation now has in the private sector (with the notable exception of Amazon, of course).

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 13:11 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (1)

House of Commons report on the dissemination of scientific knowledge...


July 20, 2004

Scientific Publications: Free for All? was published today by the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee.

This report details the findings of the committee, following a wide-ranging exploration of issues around the dissemination of scholarly material.

One of the concerns raised by university-based researchers was the pricing model applied by the publishers of scientific journals, many of which are filled with papers freely submitted or refereed by university researchers whose institutions then have to pay in order to stock the journal in their library. A recommendation here is that universities be funded to set up institutional repositories of the electronic texts written and submitted by their members. This clearly builds upon a number of JISC-funded projects under the current FAIR Programme.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 13:49 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

UK transport information...


July 19, 2004

During a meeting today, a colleague from the BBC drew my attention to the fact that the long-awaited Transport Direct has been quietly launched.

The site is meant to offer information on transport options for UK journeys, including cars and various forms of public transport. Part of the aim is to make it easier for people to plan 'complex' journeys on public transport, encouraging them to leave the car at home.

The site is a trial, and not all of the information is there yet, but it's worth a look. I especially like the maps showing road congestion...!

There's even some information on points of interest, schools, etc, that can be displayed on the trip maps.

Annoyingly, though, every attempt I make to travel any distance from my home postcode seems to involve - according to the site - making the whole journey by car. That's not right. What happened to getting the bus to my nearest railway station or doing what I actually do, and driving to my nearest railway station and then going on the train? That's quicker, easier, and more environmentally friendly (which was meant to be the point) than the epic car journey the site tries to persuade me to embark upon!

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 17:45 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Authority online


July 15, 2004

"On the Internet, everyone's a dog."

OK, maybe not quite, but the point that it is very easy to appear to be something you're not is well made.

This is a topic that Seth Godin picks up in two recent posts on his Blog, here and here.

Also, Jon Udell raises a different facet of the problem, highlighting the ability of 'trusted' tools like Google to perpetuate inaccuracies and misconceptions.

Whilst the Internet has undeniably been powerful in allowing small organisations and individuals a voice, we must surely also find ways to reflect the authority that certain organisations carry, and to allow 'truth' to be more evident than it is at present.

How we do this in a world where truth is far from global and authority may be subject to challenge is an open question!

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 13:15 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Older people excluded by e-Government?


July 12, 2004

The current eGov monitor weekly mailing draws my attention to a recent report (also available as PDF) by the House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee.

This report highlights the need to engage with older people, or those with disabilities, in planning eGovernment services, and to consider their perspectives when deploying access points such as information kiosks in preference to face-to-face contact.

The report also highlights the importance of providing non-threatening environments in which older people can become comfortable with ICT; their local public library, perhaps?

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 21:52 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Free Access to University Museums...


July 12, 2004

Today's Spending Review includes a measure to extend the Government's current free access policy (covering National museums and galleries) to include university museums.

The existing policy of waiving admission charges to our National museums and galleries has resulted in a 75% increase in attendance, with the loss of revenue to the museums (through no longer charging admission) recouped in part by the Treasury allowing them to reclaim the VAT (17.5%) on their running costs...

Information from a Treasury press release on Wired-GOV.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 16:58 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (1)

A different response to the BBC review


July 8, 2004

Most of the commentary I've seen on the Graf report has tended to push for the BBC's online activity being reined back still further.

In that light, this piece from DM Europe is refreshing.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 21:22 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

DfES Five Year Strategy - Personalised learning and choice


July 8, 2004

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has just published its five year strategy for children and learners.

As with other bits of current government thinking, choice, personalisation, and a focus on the learner rather than the institution features highly.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 16:03 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (1)

Review of the BBC... again


July 5, 2004

A press release has just popped up on Wired-Gov, covering DCMS’ publication of the Graf review. As well as the report itself, which I provided a BBC link to earlier, the DCMS page provides access to a number of extremely interesting background documents, including an assessment of future trends in technology, BBC’s use of technology, and an audience consultation exercise.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 11:54 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Independent review of BBC online activities


July 5, 2004

The long-awaited review of the BBC’s online services has just been published (Adobe PDF file).


Quoted on the BBC News site the governors said “Philip Graf has produced a thorough and insightful review of the BBC’s online service.”

According to the piece, the BBC is to increase outsourcing of content provision to 25% by 2006, and should prioritise coverage of news, current affairs and education.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 10:57 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Understanding Search...


July 4, 2004

I've just found this fascinating piece, A Day in the Life of BBCi Search, written by Martin Belam at the BBC, who should know.

There are a number of interesting pieces of evidence in the article. The one I found hardest to believe was that only one in twelve searches have incorrect spelling. Really? Does this say something about the users of BBC online services, or about my lack of faith in users' ability to spell?

The follow-up piece, How Search can help you understand your audience is also good, taking a look at how services might be improved.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 21:54 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Irish treasures online


July 3, 2004

Like David, I was in Dublin last week for a very interesting cultural heritage event as part of Ireland's presidency of the EU.

I gave a paper there, and bemoaned the fact that I couldn't get hold of any high quality images of Irish artefacts from Irish sources (I had to use the British Museum's COMPASS).

After the event, Anthony Edwards at Clare County Library got in touch, and told me about Riches of Clare. An excellent resource, and one I shall definitely turn to next time I get invited to talk about things Irish... Thank you Anthony, and I'm happy to put the record straight here.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 00:21 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (2)

ICT in local communities


July 1, 2004

Will Davies over at the Work Foundation is plugging a new one of their iSociety reports, due out at the end of July.

The report will be launched at a debate on the evening of 29 July, in London. I can't go, but the topic is fascinating and highly relevant to a host of issues around encouraging and facilitating take-up of useful and empowering ICT across society.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 15:11 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Report on using the built environment in education


July 1, 2004

Opening Doors: Learning in the Historic Built Environment reports on three years of research and consultation into the value of historic buildings and sites in education. It includes case studies of current successes and recommendations for the future.

The work was funded by The Attingham Trust, DfES, and a number of charitable foundations, and drawn to my attention by Mike Heyworth at the CBA.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 14:04 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (1)


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