UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

What Is JISC?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 22 Aug 2008

I recently noticed a referrer link to this blog coming from the 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.“.

What is JISC?

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:

JISC entry in Wikipedia

7 Responses to “What Is JISC?”

  1. […] Joint Information Systems Committee’s mission is to provide world class leadership in the innovative use of Information and […]

  2. For what it’s worth, even after reading the answer and skimming the buzzword-heavy wikipedia entry, I still don’t really know what JISC does except run a mailing list and give money to people (of course, if that’s what they *do* do, that’s what the entry should say!).

  3. Ben Whitehouse said

    I agree with your post, Brian: that Wikipedia is a good tool for maximising awareness, and the tone of the description is important (keeping it factual and encyclopaedia-like).

    We at JISC were very careful to write an objective description of the work we do. We thought the ‘advertisement’ flag was unfair and have been trying for months to get the Wikipedia Alert removed from our JISC page. Finally (maybe prompted by your post – if so, thank you!), now a moderator/administrator has removed it.

    There is a lesson for others here. It seems that anyone with a free Wikipedia login can flag a page as an “advertisement” and create an “advertisment alert” in seconds, but it takes a moderator/administrator to browse through and remove one, which can take a long time (and reflect badly on your organisation).

  4. Hi Ben Looking at the recent changes to the JISC page on Wikipedia it seerms that Stephen Downes removed the advertsiment flag. I suspect this will have been after he read my post. If this is the case, I’m pleased that my post helped to prompt this change :-)

  5. Ben, the advert seems to have been removed by Stephen Downes. Hardly impartial.

  6. Just to set the record straight – the wording at the head of the current wikipedia page was lifted directly from this brochure dated March 2005 – curiously it took until May 2007 for “Pothen” (whoever that is) to do this…

    Fascinating digging back through the revisions.

    So erm… What is JISC then?

  7. […] belief that JISC should make greater use of Wikipedia, as illustrated by a post entitled What Is JISC?  which I published in August […]

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