Dipity Breaks – And Is Then Fixed
Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 17 December 2008
Back in August 2008 I wrote about problems with the Squirl.info service – and despite the “It works!” message I’m currently receiving it seems that the service is now no more, it’s an ex-service, it’s gone to meet its maker.
In light of the credit crunch we might expect to hear of more Web 2.0 failures (although, of course, it may be that it’s the more heavyweight traditional IT companies which fail to respond to changing market conditions). And when I went to my Dipity timeline for my involvement in Web accessibility work and discovered that no data was being displayed I wondered if the Dipity service was starting to break.
But rather than curse technology for failing to work I filled in the Feedback form on the Dipity Web site. And within a couple of hours I received the following response from Zack Steinkamp:
Hi Brian –
There seemed to be a small glitch in our rendering system. I’ve cleared it out, and your timeline is whole again.
Now I’ve encountered many small glitches in services provided locally. And I have to admit that they aren’t all resolved so quickly (these days the speedy response will tend to come from an automated fault reporting system). So my thanks to Zack for responding so quickly. And not only that – I now have more faith in Dipity as I know that they’re not only providing the service but also have an effective fault reporting and fixing service.
But this, of course, doesn’t guarantee that the service will survive the economic crunch. So what should I do about the data hosted by the service?
It may be that I don’t need to worry about the long term sustainability of the data. The reason I created the timeline was to support a paper myself and David Sloan were writing on “Reflections on the Development of a Holistic Approach to Web Accessibility”. The visualisation of our work, which I described in a blog post on ” Over Ten Years Of Accessibility Work“, helped me to identify a number of distinct phases in my activities related to Web accessibility work, from a period of naivety (when I felt that the WAI model would provide universal accessibility), to a period of doubt (when I was doing littler work in this area), followed by a meeting of minds when I discovered others with timilar reservation which then led to our first paper on “Developing A Holistic Approach For E-Learning Accessibility“. This then led to a period in which the holistic approach was further developed and extended to other areas, followed by a period of promoting this approach to various user communities, the most recent event having been described in a post on “Designing for Disability Seminar“.
So for that example the timeline was used as part of the process of reflecting on my work and the paper (and accompanying blog post) were the main outcomes of my use of the timeline. And just as I have thrown away the various scraps of paper I used when I was working on the paper and have forgotten the various discussions I had with my co-author, so I could regard the timeline as having fulfilled its main purpose. But I’ve left it (and have recently updated it) because I feel it may have some additional worth. And if I wish to manage the underlying data I can simply export the data as an RSS feed and host this elsewhere.
I’m pleased that the rich functionality provided by the Dipity service is based on the simplicity of this data:
<item> <title><![CDATA[Holistic Approaches To Web Accessibility]]></title> <description><![CDATA[Brian Kelly gave a talk on "Holistic Approaches To Web Accessibility" at the "Designing for Disability" seminar held at the British Museum, London on 5th December 2008.]]></description> <link>http://www.dipity.com/briankelly/Web_Accessibility_Timeline_For_ Brian_Kelly?eid=a5b0837020c5cef0</link> <guid isPermaLink="false" >a5b0837020c5cef0</guid> <pubDate>Fri, 5 Dec 2008 12:00:00 GMT</pubDate> </item>
But if I do wish to (or am forced to) move to another service, having the data isn’t sufficient. What alternative service can I use? And how easy would it me to import the data and have an equivalent service up and running?