UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

A World Where No-One Visits Our Web Sites

Posted by Brian Kelly on 31 Jul 2009

In a blog post entitled Pushing MRD out from under the geek rock Mike Ellis provides access to the slides he used in a session on “Digging into data: text and data mining” at the recent JISC Digital Content Conference.

Mike’s blog post goes on to explain his views which he helpfully summarises “I think that MRD (That’s Machine Readable Data – I couldn’t seem to find a better term..) is probably about as important as it gets“. Mike goes on to ask us to:

… be prepared for a world in which no-one visits our websites any more, instead picking, choosing and mixing our content from externally syndicated channels.

This world in which people don’t visit Web sites to read content as the content appears in their preferred environment is one in which I live. The content I have an interest in reading appears on my iPod Touch ready for me to read on the bus travelling to work in the morning. I seldom visit Mike’s Electronic Museum blog site or the other blogs (such as the eFoundations, OUseful, The Ed Techie,  and From a Distance blogs which are on my must-read list) – these appear automatically in my RSS reader.

Of course I still visit Web sites – and increasingly I am finding that the new Web sites I visit are those I am alerted to by the people I follow on Twitter. But the more traditional marketing campaigns for new Web sites or redesigned Web sites tends to have little impact on my browsing habits.  Unless the content can be accessed without having to visit the Web site I am unlike to be a regular visitor, no matter how useful the content may be.

Now we still do need Web sites – the content needs to be held somewhere. And not everyone makes use of an RSS reader. But we are finding that Web sites are sucking in content held elsewhere, perhaps using RSS. And of course the growth in popularity of mobile devices is likely to see a renewed interest in ways in which content can be accessed without having to visit Web sites and navigate the Web sites on small screens.

Mike Ellis suggests we need to rethink our approach to Web site development: “Don’t Think Websites, think data” he argues. His slides are available on Slideshare and are embedded below. Well worth reading.

One Response to “A World Where No-One Visits Our Web Sites”

  1. Mike said

    Brian – cheers for this.

    I think you’ve covered _one_ of the two main points (distributed content is a Good Thing). The other one is about how we move the considerable existing buy-in for these approaches within the tech community into the non-tech community. This is about finding ways of articulating *why* distributed content / MRD is good, how we might deal with issues around IPR, re-distribution of value, etc. For these approaches to work, the managers, stakeholders and copyright people need to be somewhere on board early on.

    Either that or we J*DI – my preferred approach, but I know not everyones.. :-)

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