UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Archive for November 6th, 2008

Openness In HE, But Not Elsewhere

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6 November 2008

Approaches To Openness in UK Higher Education

I commented recently on Andy Powell’s decision to live blog at the conferences he attends, so that his thoughts, opinions and comments can be shared with a wider community and his views discussed openly. This approach to openness reflects a culture which we can see increasingly in the high education sector, which is now will to make its research publications available though open access repositories, its data available under Science Commons licences and documentation and other resources available under Creative Commons licences.

Such approaches to openness in general aren’t being taken on ideological stances, but rather a belief that the benefits of education and research are best served by providing open access to the resources for use by others.

Approaches To Openness in the Wider Public Sector

It seems, though, that such approaches are not necessarily being taken in other public sector organisations, This struck be recently following one of posts on “Government Web Sites MUST Be WCAG AA Compliant!“.  In response to my concerns Adam Bailin of the Central Office of Information suggested that I give my comments on the Digital People – Accessibility forum.

In order to contribute to this forum it seems you need to fill in a cumbersome registration form, with a string of attached conditions. And, much worse, you even need to register in order to read the discussions on the forum. It’s therefore hardly surprising that there is hardly any discussion taking place on the forum.

Now the terms and conditions are much worse than I realised when I signed up. As can be seen to read the terms and conditions you need to scroll horizontally and vertically, although no scroll bars are displayed (so much for accessibility!). Of course when I registered I never read the terms and conditions, but I though it would be interesting to see the terms and conditions which the UK Government requires people to agree to in order to discuss UK government policies.  So the full details follow – but please mote they are very long.

Feel free to give your thoughts on these terms and conditions. One particular condition which struck me was:

You acknowledge that reserves the right to charge for the Community of Practice and to change its fees from time to time in its discretion.

Now why do I feel that such terms and conditions provided on services such as Facebook would be used to condemn the service, but the Government seems to be able to get away with it?

Note that as the terms and conditions are so long, I have included a More tag in this blog post, so that you will have to follow the link in order to view the full list of terms and conditions. Read the rest of this entry »

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