Igeneric Thoughts Archives: August 2004

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Opening up information


August 26, 2004

One of the issues often raised in the context of the Common Information Environment is that of allowing access to information and resources through multiple channels, and in ways suited to the user and their needs rather than to the providing organisation(s).

I was in Edinburgh earlier this week, and spent some time with SCRAN. Amongst a range of interesting activities with which they are engaged, they offer some examples of exactly what I mean.

Their content, largely the result of some £10,000,000 of public funding through the Millennium Commission, is available on their own web site. There, users can search for items and group them in different and interesting ways as ‘albums’. These albums can be disclosed to others so, for example, a class teacher could prepare albums of relevant material for their class.

The SCRAN database also exists as a Z39.50 target. This means that it’s available for searching alongside resources from related organisations, as demonstrated by HEIRNET’s HEIRPORT system.

Content from the SCRAN database is also offered up via services branded and delivered by a range of other agencies involved in heritage, tourism, and related areas.

Finally (for this post, anyway), the ability to search SCRAN’s database can be dropped into almost any web site, anywhere, thanks to a small snippet of code.



send detailsclear details

With their new web site coming, and a range of activities that seem wholly in line with the Igeneric vision, I look forward to seeing much more from this excellent resource, which really seems to have grasped the idea that the end user should not need to know that SCRAN - or their website - exists in order to make use of quality SCRAN-managed content.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 17:04 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Blogging in schools


August 20, 2004

Yesterday’s New York Times has an interesting piece on the use of weblogs in a US Second Grade class.

The piece discusses a few examples of use, and some of the pros and cons. According to the article, one school district in Cincinnati plans to require teachers to maintain blogs after they complete a course of training.

Is anyone aware of examples from British Primary schools?

Item picked up a few places, including Stephen Downes’ OLDaily.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 08:54 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Pay per Use taken to a possible (and unwelcome) extreme


August 13, 2004

United States Congressman Rick Boucher, writing on Larry Lessig's blog, offers the following worrying thought...


"Whenever I speak with librarians about fair use or the Copyright Act more generally, I inevitably hear them express concerns that we run the risk of becoming a pay per use society, one in which content is available only for a fee. I am concerned that the bookmobiles we all grew up with and their modern day equivalents will go the way of the eight track and the reel-to-reel, replaced by a world in which access to information will depend on the ability to pay and, worse, a world in which a payment gets you only a license to view or listen to something, not to actually own it. But I know it is said by some technologists and economists that this is the way it should be, if only because it is the most efficient means of allocating something in a market economy.

In thinking about the future of my information availability in our society, am I right to be concerned about the emergence of pay per use as the norm?"


Will it go that far? What do we do now to prevent this becoming the 'obvious' next step from (the very useful) iTunes Music Store et al?

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 17:41 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Search engines good enough?


August 12, 2004

"Some 87% of search engine users say they find the information they want most of the time when they use search engines."

So says a memo on search engine usage in the USA from the Pew, on the basis of a phone survey of 1,399 Internet users earlier this year.

I do, too. Doesn't mean I don't want the results to be better though.

Information from the Pew Internet and American Life Project's RSS feed.

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

British Library website 'confusing'


August 11, 2004

A recent report from the UK's National Audit Office (NAO) commends the British Library on the quality of much of the content on its website, visited by over 2,000,000 people per year. However, the report picks up on a perception that the site can be difficult to navigate, and that it overly reflects the organisation of the institution rather than the needs of a visitor.

Hardly a criticism only for the BL, as it seems a depressingly common problem.

Item read in 6 August's e-Government Bulletin

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 21:57 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (2)


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