UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

When the Martians Come (in the Guise of Coalition Forces)!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 15 Oct 2010

Back in November 2007 I gave talk on What If Web 2.0 Really Does Change Everything? at a meeting for  Intute staff.  My contribution was summarised by Alun Edwards in a post on Motivations for participation. However for me the most memorable aspect of the event was the breakout session in which a facilitator invited Intute staff to imagine that “The Martians have landed and taken away the services you run“. She (I think it was  a female facilitator)  then invited the participants to “Decide what the key aspects of your service are which you should try and retrieve and what aspects you are happy for them to have”.

I can only remember one of the responses to this question. One group suggested that “The Martians can have the Intute Web site. The most important part of our service is our metadata and the community which creates and maintains the metadata” (I hope I have remembered the details correctly).

I felt this was a very perceptive suggestion coming, as it did, at a time before Cloud Computing became mainstream thinking.

Sadly for Intute the Martians have already arrived, as Angela Joyce, Linda Kerr, Tim Machin, Paul Meehan and Caroline Williams  recently described in an Ariadne article in their reflections of the history and achievements of Intute, which informed readers that “Intute [is] begin[ing] to wind down the service in its current form“.

And although the first set of Martians may have already captured Intute the main fleet is still to arrive with the battleship “Comprehensive Spending Review” due to arrive in London in about a few day’s time.

Early reports inform us that the Martians are equipped with ray guns which are capable of reducing budgets by up to 40%!  And although we have been producing our “Impact Statements” which are said to minimise the impact of the budget-reduction rays we know that, as another species has put it, “resistance is useless” since the Martians have formed a coalition with their former foes.

It is therefore timely to revisit the suggestions made at the Intute meeting in what now seems like another era. Which services should we let the Martians have and which are worth fighting for?  I have previously suggested that event Web sites might be the first to go.  I’d welcome other suggestions.

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