UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Archive for May 13th, 2011

Ariadne Is Getting Smartr

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 13 May 2011

UKOLN’s Ariadne ejournal has been running since it was launched under the JISC’s eLib programme way back in January 1996. The ejournal continues to provide a dissemination channel for project work, innovation and service developments across the UK’s higher and further education sector and the wider community.

It is true to say, however, that there is a need to develop Ariadne further in to exploit the variety of ways in which Web resources can now be accessed (including access on mobile devices) as well as introducing new functionality in response to users’ requests. A recent survey of Ariadne authors and readers has helped us to identify ways in which we can enhance Ariadne. We are currently working on developments to the Ariadne technical architecture and user interface. However we are aware that not all developments need to be done in-house since there are a variety of services which can be exploited in order to improve one’s own services.

Twitter provides a good example of a service which can be used as an alerting mechanisms for the publication of new issues. We are using the ariadne_ukoln account to publish information when a new issue is published and to provide links to the main articles. If you wish to be alerted in this way we suggest you follow the ariadne_ukoln account.

In addition to this Twitter channel itself we are also exploring other services which have been developed around Twitter which can further enhance access to Ariadne articles. In particular we have recently been evaluating the Smartr service. As described previously Smartr can be regarded as a news reader for Twitter on the iPhone (and iPod Touch). I’ve been using Smartr for a month or so on my iPod Touch and use it to access resources which have been linked to in tweets from various JISC services. If the resources are of particular interest I can then save the article on my mobile device to read later, whether on the device or on a desktop PC.

It occurred to me that this could be a useful tool for reading Ariadne articles on a mobile device, which could be implemented prior to the Ariadne redesign and implementation of mobile style sheets. Indeed such an approach might also be helpful in gaining experiences of the user interface which can help to inform the design of the style sheets.

In order to explore Smartr’s potential I set up a Twitter list which just contained the ariadne_ukoln feed. As can be seen, this provides access to tweets from the account. Viewing my Twitter list using Smartr enables me to view the contents of the links which had been included in the tweets, again as illustrated. Also note that in order to ensure that this service delivered relevant content we updated the policy on use of Twitter which now states that the Twitter channel will “concentrate on disseminating edited snippets about newly published articles with occasional further posts on trailing upcoming articles, seeking reviewers, developments to the Ariadne service, etc“.

In response to my post “Who Needs Murdoch – I’ve Got Smartr, My Own Personalised Daily Newspaper!” Anthony Leonard suggested that “Flipboard is the future” and went on to add “Personalised newspapers / magazine apps embedded around (university) websites may [be ] the missing link to bringing the long tail of news to those who can’t be bothered with RSS readers or Twitter“. I think he is right to highlight the importance of personalised newspapers but what has intrigued me is how an existing Web environment, such as Ariadne, can be made available to mobile devices through use of Twitter tools.

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