Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 30 January 2013
Earlier today the Jisc announced the launch of a report on Sustaining Our Digital Future: Institutional Strategies for Digital Content.
This report, which provides a close look at three institutions (UCL, Imperial War Museums and the National Library of Wales) in the United Kingdom confirms:
- How fragmented the digital landscape is at universities and within other organisations.
- How there are examples of good practice within and outside higher education that all can learn from but that greater co-ordination is required to deliver this at a UK level.
- How little the topic of post-build sustainability comes up at the higher levels of administration.
- How risk is present within the current system, concerning the sustainability of digital content.
The report (which is available in PDF format) is substantial, containing 88 pages. In addition to this main report a second document (also available in PDF format) provides a “Sustainability Health Check Tool for Digital Content Projects“.
This report is very timely arriving at a time in which we are seeing reductions in the levels of funding available across public sector organisations in the UK, which will lead to questions regarding the sustainability of existing online services and digital resources.
The report is based on a study conducted by Ithaka S+R, with funding from the Jisc-led Strategic Content Alliance, which reported on findings of earlier studies showing that both funders and project leaders rely heavily on their host institutions to support and sustain digital content, beyond the end of the grant. But what will happen when the host institutions have significantly reduced levels of funding to continue to maintain and develop such content?
The report describes the need for an “early and honest appraisal of which projects are likely to require .. support post-launch“:
- Digital content, requiring just “maintenance”: These may not require ongoing growth, but certainly do require a clear exit plan to ensure that the content will be smoothly deposited and integrated into some other site, database, or repository. The issue of ongoing investment does not disappear; it just becomes the concern of the larger platform on which this piece of content now lives.
- Digital resources, requiring ongoing growth and investment: These require early sustainability planning, including identifying institutional or other partners and careful consideration of the full range of costs and activities needed to keep the resource vibrant.
The Sustainability Health Check Tool provides a paper-based checklist for those with responsibilities for managing digital content. The tool covers a number of areas including ongoing support; audience, usage and impact assessment together with preservation issues.
A series of video clips have been produced to accompany the launch of this report. It was particularly interesting to hear the comment from Prof David Price, Vice-Provost (Research) at UCL:
“We’re not just worried about things disappearing but about things never appearing! They are hosted all over the place, and not all the projects have a sustainable plan.”
This video clip is available on YouTube and embedded below.
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Posted in preservation | Tagged: jisc | 1 Comment »
Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 23 October 2008
A job advertisement for ICT Programme Managers in JISC begins with the phrase:
No risk…. no innovation…
The advert goes on to say:
To innovate, you have to take risks… well managed ones. By undertaking innovation programmes with universities and colleges we can build a world class ICT infrastructure for UK research and learning. To keep us moving forward, we now need five Programme Managers with excellent people and programme management skills to manage large-scale programmes …
This view of what it means to be a part of today’s IT development environment reflects a comment I made when I was interviewed by Hilary Swain for an article on “Web 2.0: boon or bane for universities“ published in the Education Guardian on 12th May 2008. The article concluded with my comment: “Universities should be risk-taking organisations. Learning is a risky process.“
But its important to note the job advert’s comment on the need to take a ‘well-managed’ approach to risk-taking. The need to identify approaches for managing risks was the main focus on my paper on “Library 2.0: Balancing the Risks and Benefits to Maximise the Dividends” and this is an area in which further work will be needed. And this work will cover not just the JISC sector but also museums, libraries and archives. Roy Clare, the MLA’s Chief Executive, recently called for “radical action on structure, far-sighted leadership vision and more public Private Partnerships“ within this sector and an editorial in the CILIP Update magazine (June 2008, Vol. 7, No. 6) had the byline “In This Climate, You Have To Innovate“.
I think 2009 will be a very interesting time for those involved in the development and support of networked services.
Posted in Web2.0 | Tagged: jisc | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 22 August 2008
I recently noticed a referrer link to this blog coming from the Answers.com Web site. I’ve not visited this site before so I thought I’d visit and use the service to find an answer to a question. The question I thought I’d ask was “What is JISC?” And, as shown below, I found that “The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) supports United Kingdom post-16 and higher education and research by providing leadership in the use of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) in support of learning, teaching, research and administration. JISC is funded by all the UK post-16 and higher education funding councils.“.
This answer is taken from the JISC entry in Wikipedia. Similar results are found by asking questions such as “What is UKOLN?” and “What is Bath University?” as well as for more general questions such as “What is research” although for questions such as “What is education?” the answers are drawn from a variety of sources, with the Wikipedia definition to be found after results from sources such as The American Heritage Dictionary, Roget’s II: The New Thesaurus, Third Edition and the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia.
What are the implications of this? The first, unsurprisingly, is that if information about your organisation or your areas of interest are available in Wikipedia, then the Creative Commons licence which is assigned to the material will help to ensure that this information is surfaced in multiple locations.
And perhaps more subtly, if you don’t use Wikiepdia, or you require that your students don’t use Wikipedia, you may find that you are inadvertently using information held by Wikipedia and made available via others services such as Wikipedia. In the search for JISC the top entry was clearly labelled as coming from Wikipedia, but in the example of “What is education?” the first set of references came from more traditional sources of information, and if you scroll down you may miss the citation details for the entry from Wikipedia.
My view is that providing information about your organisation of the topics you care about in Wikipedia will help to maximise awareness of and an interest such information. And failing to provide such information on the grounds that people shouldn’t use Wikipedia is mistaken. But if you do make use of Wikipedia you should be careful to provide an objective and encylopedia-like definition and avoid the trap of the entry sounding like an advertisement:
Posted in Web2.0, Wikipedia | Tagged: jisc | 7 Comments »