UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Archive for April, 2012

Terms and Conditions for Online Services

Posted by Brian Kelly on 27 April 2012

As described in the post on Have You Got Your Free Google Drive, Skydrive & Dropbox Accounts? the announcement of the release of Google Drive generated much discussion, a fair amount of which was due to misinformation about Google’s alleged claims of ownership for content uploaded to Google Drive. However although statements that “Google claim ownership of content uploaded to their service” are clearly wrong, concerns that the terms and conditions can give service providers control over your content and your use of the service in ways you do no approve of do have some validity.

In order to gain a better understanding of possible concerns, but also the reasons why service providers may use such clauses, I have documented some of the terms and conditions of services I use in the table below.

No.  Terms and Conditions
1 Statement: We may update these Terms (including our Privacy Statement) from time to time. Changes will have immediate effect from the date of posting on this Site and you should therefore review these Terms regularly. Your continued use of this Site after changes have been made will be taken to indicate that you accept that you are bound by the updated Terms.How they will justify the statement: We may need to change the terms and conditions in light of changing circumstances.

What they could mean: Once we’ve got you hooked, we’ll claim your first born!

2 Statement: [We] reserve the right to amend the Acceptable Use Policy at any time without notice. If the policy is amended then all list owners will be informed and they may distribute the information to list members.How they will justify the statement: We may need to change the terms and conditions in light of changing circumstances.

What they could mean: Once we’ve got you hooked, we’ll claim your first born – but unlike the other service, we’ll tell you about it.

3 Statement: Unacceptable use: … Creation or transmission of material such that this infringes the copyright of another person.How they will justify the statement: We want to ensure that we aren’t sued for copyright infringement.

What they could mean: If we don’t like what you’re doing we can use copyright clause to get rid of you.

4 Statement: You must not use … computing services for the creation, collection, storage, downloading or displaying of any offensive, obscene, indecent or menacing images, data or material capable of being resolved into such.How they will justify the statement: This is self-evident.

What they could mean: Our lawyers tell us we can use the “material capable of being resolved into such” to scare people.

What are your thoughts on these terms and conditions?

I should add that a Verge article which asks Is Google Drive worse for privacy than iCloud, Skydrive, and Dropbox? carried out a more details comparison of the terms and conditions for Google Drive, Skydrive, Dropbox and iCloud services and concludes:

in order to run a massive online service that handles tons of user data, you need a lot of permissions from those users. Those permissions are fairly standardized, since the underlying copyright law itself is static — companies like Microsoft and Google need permission to copy and distribute your content to servers around the world to make services like Drive and SkyDrive work well. There’s also a tension between friendly language and legal precision — drawing in sharp lines often requires aggressive wording, while there’s real comfort in vagaries.

In the end, though, the actual wording of these documents doesn’t reveal much — they all set out to do the same thing, and they all accomplish their goals. What’s most important is how much trust you’re willing to give companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Dropbox as more and more of your data moves to the cloud. Contracts are meaningful and important, but even the most noble promises can easily be broken. It’s actions and history that have consequences, and companies that deal with user data on the web need to start building a history of squeaky-clean behavior before any of us can feel totally comfortable living in the cloud.

I suspect the recent flurry of tweets about the Google Drive terms and conditions wasn’t really about the terms and conditions themselves (which apply to all Google services) but were really a statement from people who don’t trust Google.

Posted in Legal | Leave a Comment »

Preparing a Response to the UK Government’s Open Standards: Open Opportunities Document

Posted by Brian Kelly on 26 April 2012


The UK Government’s Open Standards Consultation

The UK Government is currently seeking comments for its Open Standards Consultation for the Open Standards: Open Opportunities – Flexibility and efficiency in Government IT document (a 30 page document available in PDF format). I am currently formulating my responses to the consultation process. In light of the interests in open standards by many developers, managers and policy makers in the higher and further education sector I would encourage participation form those with interests in this area – it should be noted, however, that the consultation closes on 1 May!

Update 27 June 2012: The deadline has now been extended to Monday, 4th June 2012.

The Open Standards Survey 2011

As described in two posts entitled UK Government Survey on Open Standards: But What is an ‘Open Standard’? and “UK Government Will Impose Compulsory Open Standards” published a year ago I responded to the initial survey and gave my thoughts on the definitions of an open standard. I also commented on the flaws in the survey process which made it difficult to provide meaningful feedback.

My response was one of 970 received – and it was interesting to read in the Summary of lessons learned from the UK Government Open Standards Survey, 2011 (pdf, 246kb) that the majority came from the private sector. Looking at the pie chart given in the report I would estimate that about 200-300 responses came from the public sector (excluding central government). How many of these are from the UK higher and further education sector I do not know.

It should also be noted that although “the policy resulting from this consultation will apply to all central government departments, their agencies, non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) and any other bodies for which they are responsible” the document goes on to add that “Local government and wider public sector bodies will be encouraged to adopt the policy to deliver wider interoperability benefits“. There is therefore an opportunity to influence government policy in an area which make affect IT development policies in the future.

Reflections on 20 years Involvement in Open Standards in UK Higher Education

Although I had serious reservations about last year’s survey in many respects I feel that the Open Standards: Open Opportunities – Flexibility and Efficiency in Government IT consultation document has its merits.

The feedback I gave in last year’s survey were based on work related to policies on use of open standards in higher education which I have been involved with since the launch of the eLib national digital library programme back in the mid 1990s. Back then those of us who were involved in contributing to the eLib Programme Technical Standards document had, in retrospect, a very naive view on open standards, with the document suggesting that standards such as VRML and whois++ could have a role to play for eLib projects. Some projects may have used these standards (I know that for a period the who++ was felt to be important for the eLib Subject Based Information Gateways) but in retrospect we were over-enthusiastic in encouragement take-up of what at the time seemed to be potentially significant standards.

The dangers of promoting (or, worse, mandating) use of emerging open standards which are being actively promoted by their supporters (and by standards bodies themselves) became apparent when we realised that W3C standards such as SMIL and SVG were not significantly challenging proprietary solutions such as Flash. In addition in 2005 a panel session entitled Web Services Considered Harmful argued that a series of overly complex open standards (several thousand pages when printed out!) was proving costly to implement and that use of ‘grassroots’ approaches, including RSS and REST, would provide more cost-effective approaches to development.

In the UK higher education sector we are aware of the dangers of mandating inappropriate open standards, with universities being mandated to support OSI networking protocols, with Coloured Book software providing a transition to this environment. Then the Internet came along and universities were initially permitted to access Internet services by a TCP/IP tunnel across JANET before the clear benefits provided by the Internet eventually became apparent to policy-makers and the sector made native use of TCP/IP.

Our understanding of the benefits which can be gained by use of open standards together with the risks of a naive and uncritical acceptance of the realities of use of open standards led to a series of papers which sought solutions to this minefield being written by myself, my colleague Marieke Guy and Rosemary Russell, my former colleague Pete Johnston, Paul Hollins and Scott Wilson (JISC CETIS), Alastair Dunning (at the time of AHDS), Sebastian Rahtz and Randy Metcalfe (then of JISC OSS Watch) and Lawrie Phipps (then of JISC TechDis):

In addition to these papers, a position paper on “An Opportunities and Risks Framework For Standards” was presented at the “Future of Interoperability Standards Meeting 2010” organised by CETIS in February 2010. The paper described how the experiences of the past led to the need for a risk management approach to use of open standards, especially emerging open standards which may not yet have achieved critical mass.

Open Standards: Open Opportunities – Flexibility and Efficiency in Government IT

In light of this background, what feedback am I planning to give to the report? I have highlighted a number of comments in the report which I intend to comment on.

Report Comment
Information technology across the government estate is expensive. (p. 4) The opening foreword highlights that the aims of the policy are cost-savings. There will be a need to ensure that the policy supports this key goal.
The Government ICT Strategy … has already committed the Government to creating a common and secure IT infrastructure based on a suite of compulsory open standards, adopting appropriate open standards wherever possible. [my emphasis] p. 5). The challenge will be in identifying what is compulsory and what the criteria are for defining “wherever possible”. The compulsory aspects could mandate specific technical standards or could mandate specific processes (e.g. an open summary of the decision-making processes).
The mandation of specific open standards will
• make IT solutions fully interoperable to allow for reuse, sharing and scalability across organisational boundaries and delivery chains;
• help the Government to avoid lengthy vendor lock-in, allowing transfer of services or suppliers without excessive transition costs, loss of data or functionality. (p. 8)
If the main goal of the open standards policies is to achieve cost savings, should this be mentioned here?
The European Commission’s EIF version 2.0 does not provide a definition of open standard, but instead describes ‘openness’ … (p. 11) This approach, which seeks to characterise open approaches, provides the flexibility to allow use of cost effective standards such as RSS (which have not been ratified by an open standards body) as well as use of design approaches (such as RESTful design) rather than over-complex open standards (such as the WS- series).
For the purpose of UK Government software interoperability, data and document formats, the definition of open standards is those standards which fulfil the following criteria: … (p. 12) It is unclear whether there should be an ‘and’ or an ‘or’ linking the five criteria.
When specifying IT requirements for software interoperability, data and document formats, government departments should request that open standards adhering to the UK Government definition are adopted, unless there are clear business reasons why this is inappropriate, in order to … (p. 13) This process-driven approach relates closely to the approaches developed in the UK HE sector and described in a paper on “Openness in Higher Education: Open Source, Open Standards, Open Access“.
Standards for software interoperability, data and document formats that do not comply with the UK Government definition of an open standard may be considered for use in government IT procurement specifications if … (p. 13) This flexibility is to be welcomed in light of the complexities related to open standards. However there will be a need to ensure that such flexibility does not allow inappropriate proprietary solutions to continue to be used.
Any standard specified that is not an open standard must be selected as a result of a pragmatic and informed decision, taking the consequences into account. The reasons should be fully documented and published, in line with the Government’s transparency agenda. (p.13) This clause is welcomed.

I welcome your comments on my views on the consultation document. More importantly, however, I’d encourage you to give your views on the consultation web site – as that is the place where your views can influence government policy decisions. Note that if you would like to see responses which have already been submitted, I suggest you visit Jenni Tennison’s post on UK Open Standards Consultation.

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

Posted in standards | 5 Comments »

Have You Got Your Free Google Drive, Skydrive & Dropbox Accounts?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24 April 2012

A few hours ago I visited Microsoft’s Skydrive Web site in order to see if I was entitled to the free upgrade from 7Gb to 25 Gb of storage. As an existing Skydrive users it seems that I was so I’m pleased that I have additional storage space which I can use for transferring files between my mobile devices (iPod Touch and Android phone) and desktop computers. As I describe in a recent post on Paper Accepted for #W4A2012 Conference Skydrive has proved particularly useful for working with my co-authors of the final versions of a peer-reviewed paper which was produced using MS Word.

Whilst installing the Skydrive tool on my PC I noticed a tweet which announced that Google Drive had been released. Google Drive, like Skydrive and Dropbox (the utility I normally use for shipping files between various devices) provide cloud storage – and, as described in a BBC News article, Google Drive offers up to 16TB of storage with 5Gb for free – not as much as Microsoft’s offering but, to be fair, I’m getting that deal as an early adopter.

Shortly after the initial tweet I encountered the scepticism with a tweet from @sydlawrence saying:

Holy crap. Google owns everything on google drive. Tell me a business that will use it… … 

which linked to the following screenshot of the Google Drive terms and conditions:

There is clearly a discrepancy between the tweet and the terms and conditions: how is “Google owns everything on google drive” reconciled with “You retain ownership of any intellectual property that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours“?

But if we ignore such hyperbole, what should we make of the terms and conditions page which states:

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

Although it was truncated in the screenshot I should add that the terms and conditions went on to say that:

 The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. 

Indeed, as I asked on Twitter in a different context though related to terms and conditions for social media service, what should we make of terms and conditions which state:

We may update these Terms (including our Privacy Statement) from time to time. Changes will have immediate effect from the date of posting on this Site and you should therefore review these Terms regularly. Your continued use of this Site after changes have been made will be taken to indicate that you accept that you are bound by the updated Terms.

My view is that I will use these three Cloud storage services for both personal and work-related activities. I’m pleased that Google have been open about the fact that they may modify my content as this will include compressing my files – a Cloud storage service which did not do this would be guilty of using energy unnecessarily: something which should not be done in light of global warming concerns.

I’m also happy if Google decide to explore ways in which they can monetise my attention data, just as Facebook do when they observe my interests in beer and sport and present me with a personalised ad.

But what if they use the terms and conditions to take a copy of my content and sell it on? I don’t think this is likely, but I do accept that it is risk. I will therefore assess such risks when I make use of the service – and would advise others to take a similar approach if they store content on the service. But I’m also aware of the missed opportunity costs if I don’t use such services.

So I’ll use Google Drive, once I’ve been given access to the service. What about you?

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

Posted in Legal, Web2.0 | 15 Comments »

The Content is Dead Debate – in Cartoons

Posted by Brian Kelly on 23 April 2012

The ‘Content is King’ / ‘Content is Dead’ Debate

Last month Steve Wheeler on his Learning With E’s blog published a couple of posts which explored the development of the “Content is King” meme and the variations on the “Content is Dead” ripostes.

Steve began by suggesting that “Content is a tyrant…” – a lengthy and well-written post which generated 79 tweets and 14 likes on Facebook.

The following day Steve published his own riposte: “…context is king” which he introduced by providing the context to his initial post:

In yesterday’s post I made the statement that the internet is better as a creative space than it is as a repository.

and went on to conclude that:

As I argued yesterday however, content is no longer the driving force of the web, and should not be viewed in isolation. The context within which the content is situated should also be focused upon as an important component of any analysis of web based learning activity.

I contributed to the discussion in a comment on the post:

I’ve previously suggested that “Communications is king” (if the network goes down people say “I can’t access my email” and not “I can’t access the VLE or the OPAC“.

I then realised that “Community is king” – communication channels are no use if you’ve no-one to chat with“.

Although some people are dismissive of use of such soundbites I find that it can be helpful to be able to crystallise a viewpoint in a few brief words, whilst acknowledging that the true picture will be more complex.

Communicating Succinctly

I was reflecting on ways in which one may communicate an “elevator pitch” if, for example, you are in the lift with a senior manager and have a brief opportunity to explain the value of one’s professional activities. As described in a post on How Twitter Expertise Helps Your Writing and Dissemination  Twitter is a valuable tool for developing the skills in being able to communicate succinctly.

As an aside I should also add how funny I find many of the @guardianstyle tweets, which demonstrate that if you have skills in writing headlines you can include an initial comment and a witty reply is 140 characters. As an example the following tweets were posted while I was writing this post:

RT @caffyrelf: RT @suzanne_moore: The past, present and future walked into a bar. It was tense. [source]

Having walked into a bar, the barman served a dangling participle. [source]

Into the bar, a man walked and bought a drink – what linguists call thematic ordering. #grammar #language [source]

So this zeugma came into a bar and some money … [source]

I have to admit that I didn’t know what zeugma meant (did you) but was sufficiently motivated to Google it and then understood that last tweet – and have expanded my vocabulary:-)

The Guardian is renowned for its headlines. As described in the Guardian style guide:

In the 1970s and 80s the Guardian suffered from a reputation for excruciating puns; today, we want to be known for clever, original and witty headlines.

In addition the Guardian is also famous for its cartoon’s especially those made by Steve Bell. An example of how a political point can be made in a single image is illustrated in this cartoon from the Steve Bell: Bell Époque – in pictures article published in the Guardian (25 May 2011). If you are a Guardian reader of a particular age this cartoon of Margaret Thatcher, Geoffrey Howe and Michael Hesletine published in 1990 will still, 22 years on (!) still bring back strong memories of those Thatcherite times.

Communicating Visually

As I do not have any drawing skills I also felt that being able to communicate using cartoon was not foe me. However I was recently introduced to Pixton and decided to give this cartoon creation tool a try.

The aim of the cartoon was to explain succinctly and visually the origin of the term “Content is king” and how it was challenged by the notion that “Communications is king“; how communication channels are of little value unless there is a significant community of users and how such a community may leave an established and thriving service if alternatives are provided and adopted. In light of such complexities, rather than seeking to identify a single best environment, there is a need to acknowledge that that a variety of tools will be used to reflect different user preferences, functionality and, indeed trends and fashions. Or to put it briefly: “Context is king“.

Cartoon 1: [source] (35 words)

Cartoon 2: [source] (46 words)

Cartoon 3: [source] (37 words)

Cartoon 4: [source] (44 words)

This came to a total of 162 words. But what Steve Wheeler actually said, in 183 words, was:

In essence, Kozma and McLuhan both believed that context (i.e. the tools, the media), were at least as important as the content they delivered, whilst Clark agreed with Gates that the content was king. Increasingly, in today’s digital age, many of us are following Clark’s perspective, focusing on content, without paying much attention to the tools we use to make sense of it. In some ways, this is a natural progression, because tools and technologies are becoming more transparent and easy to use without too much thought. Yet in focusing on the content, as McLuhan warned, we may miss the entire message. Highly digitally literate individuals are able to communicate effectively across several platforms without loss of power or nuance. This is known as ‘transliteracy’, a sophisticated grasp of the affordances of the media and technologies that is becoming the passport to success for today’s digital learner and scholar. Transliteracy goes beyond content, and exploits the power and potential of many different tools and services, giving the user an edge over content, enabling them to connect, communicate, consume, create and collaborate more effectively.

Of course both approaches can be equally valid – after all, context is king.

The question I am now asking myself is whether I should continue to make use of Pixton? This post contains the first four cartoons I created. I am conscious of the stereotypes in the characters) bearded professor advising bright young (white) female student. I wonder how easy it is to edit the characters and the scenes in Pixton. Hmm, it seems it’s very easy:

Note: the cartoons as well as the text in this blog post is provided under a Creative Commons licence. The image from The Guardian has been used to illustrate the power of a cartoon. A link has been provided to the source material. It is not felt that use of this cartoon will deprive the Guardian or the cartoonist of funding or undermine their status. However the cartoon will be removed if the copyright holder requests this.

Posted in General | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

A Challenge to Web Accessibility Metrics and Guidelines: Enhancing Access to Slides

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 April 2012

On Monday 16 April 2012 David Sloan presented our paper on A Challenge to Web Accessibility Metrics and Guidelines: Putting People and Processes First at the W4A 2012 conference.

The slides David used were uploaded to Slideshare in advance of his talk, so that the remote audience watching the live video stream would be able to have a better view of the slides that would be the case if only the video stream was available. Such an approach can clearly help to enhance access to the resource by those who were not present at the conference. In addition this can mean that the slides can also be viewed on a mobile device by conference attendees who might have difficulties in viewing the screen display.

Use of Slideshare would therefore appear to be very relevant for a conference such as W4A 2012, the 9th International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility, which seeks to understand innovative ways of enhancing access to web resources for people with disabilities. However in my experience such process-driven solutions tend not to be overlooked, especially by those who regard conformance with WAI’s WCAG guidelines as the definitive solution for enhancing web accessibility.

Our paper challenged such views by arguing that “web accessibility is not an intrinsic characteristic of a digital resource but is determined by complex political, social and other contextual factors, as well as technical aspects which are the focus of WAI standardisation activities. It can therefore be inappropriate to develop legislation or focus on metrics only associated with properties of the resource.” In addition to legislation and metrics we could well have added policies, not only for institutions but also for event organisers.

The paper (which is available in MS Word, PDF and HTML formats) proposed that BS 8878 provides an relevant standard for ensuring that appropriate processes are being addressed and provided a case study from the Open University which illustrated how learning analytics can be used to help identify problems being experienced by students with learning difficulties (which might include difficulties experienced which are due to problems beyond conformance with WCAG guidelines) and suggest appropriate interventions.

How might such approaches be applied in the context of conferences and other events which seek to minimise barriers for people with disabilities? Might not a reasonable policy for event organisers be:

We will seek to ensure that slides used by speakers in presentations will be made available on Slideshare (or equivalent service) so that the slides can be viewed by delegates on popular mobile devices (including Apple iPhone/iPad and Android devices) . This will help participants who may have difficulties in viewing the screen display provided at the event.

This suggestion, which focusses on the processes needed which can provide clear benefits to an identified user community, is itself an example of the ideas described in the paper which argue that WCAG conformance is simply one part of a much wider set of issues which need to be considered when addressing accessibility issues. Unfortunately, as we mention in the presentation “If organisational policy focuses exclusively on technical guideline conformance, there [is] a risk accessibility efforts can be mis-focused“.

It should be noted that the “seek to ensure” wording is used as it is appreciated that this may not also be possible: speakers may not use a desktop presentation software such as PowerPoint or may be presenting confidential or sensitive information which would not be appropriate t0 publish openly.

The slides are available in Slideshare and embedded below.

I should also add that by the end of the third day of the conference there had been over 2,000 views of the slides. Note bad for a presentation given to an audience of about 60 and an example of how the potential benefits provided to remote users and local users may also help in raising awareness of the ideas outlined in the paper. These figures also illustrate the benefits of uploading the slides in advance with, at the time of writing, only two other slideshows have been uploaded (although two additional slideshow have been tagged with the w4a2012 tag). These were uploaded after David’s and have been viewed 5 and 316 times, perhaps because the buzz generated by the #w4a12 tweets had dissipated after delegates went home after the event.

Posted in Accessibility | 1 Comment »

Is Blekko’s Traffic Really Going Through The Roof? Will It Challenge Google?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 April 2012

A tweet from @philbradley alerted me to an article on which announced Blekko’s Traffic Is Up Almost 400 Percent; Here Are The CEO’s Five Reasons Why. Phil was enthusiastic in his tweet: #Blekko traffic goes through the roof – for good reason. Try it out! 

The reason for the’s headline seems self-evidence from an image showing the growth in traffic for since January which, to provide a comparison, is contrasted with traffic for the search engine. As described in the article:

According to comScore’s numbers, Blekko is now getting about triple the traffic of fellow underdog search engine DuckDuckGo

Blekko’s CEO seems to have provided a significant contribution to the article, and is quoted as including the following reasons for Blekko’s popularity:

  1. Improved index quality.
  2. Dissatisfaction with Google.

Are we seeing an example of weak signals of a significant change in the search engine marketplace? And if this is the case, should institutions be making plans for changes in working practices?

Using Alexa to compare the daily traffic for Blekko, Duckduckgo and Google we see a different picture: or perhaps it is difficult to see the story, because the traffic for Blekko and Duckduckgo fails to move above the x-axis, with a percentage traffic close to zero. It order to see a comparison of the traffic rank, there is a need to display this information on a logarithmic scale, as shown below.

Although there is a need to monitor indications of new developments, there is also a need to avoid over-hyping something new. I think there was a similar over-reaction when Yahoo sold the social bookmarking service, with some of the teething problems encountered in the migration of the service to new ownership leading to people migrating, perhaps prematurely, to new services. Perhaps a more appropriate headline for the article (which appears to have been based on a press release) would be “One Little Used Search Engine Used More Than A Rival“.

However one interesting aspect of the story was the suggestion of user dissatisfaction with Google. Yesterday the BBC featured an article which described how Google tackles temporary Gmail access failure which began “Google says it is looking into why thousands of users have been unable to access their Gmail accounts“. The thousands of Gmail users were apparently less than 2% of Gmail’s user base. But closer to home, yesterday Tony Hirst tweeted about how his blog had seemingly disappeared from Google, and he was no longer receiving the large amount of traffic which Google sends to him blog. As a prolific blogger (who has an entry in Wikipedia) Tony described his experiences in a post entitled So Google is No Longer’s Friend…? Use instead… But today a Google search for “Tony Hirst blog” now seems to be working. Another minor glitch, it seems, which is quickly fixed.

I can’t help but feel that the more significant issues surrounding Google aren’t to do with performance and reliability issues: after all we have no evidence that Bing, Blekko or Duckduckgo will provide a reliable service if they had the volume of traffic which Google has and, as described last year in a post which asked Time to Move to GMail? local email service can also be unreliable. For me the more significant stories which we have seen in the past few days which may have an impact on Google’ longer-term relevance are to do with legal disputes with the BBC News describing:

and Google’s battles with Facebook and Apple being highlighted in the Guardian:

Posted in Evidence, jiscobs | 4 Comments »

How is the Higher Education Sector Responding to the Forthcoming Cookie Legislation?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 April 2012

A post published in February recommended Next Steps In Addressing Forthcoming Cookie Legislation and described how the sector can benefit by sharing approaches on how institutions are responding to the cookie legislation, which comes into force on 26 May.

In order to help identify the ways in which institutions are advising visitors to their web sites on institutional policies on cookie usage a summary of interesting highlights from privacy policies provided by Russell Group Universities (which were surveyed in a post on Privacy Settings For UK Russell Group University Home Pages published in May 2011) together with a number of other universities who provided institutional details to a Google Spreadsheet on UK HEI Privacy Policies is given in the following table.

Note that the information provided in this table given below was collected on 13-16 April 2012.

Ref. No. Institution Privacy Policy Linked from
Home page?
1 University of Aberdeen Privacy statement Y Introduced by stating “This policy explains what information is gathered from web clients visiting the University of Aberdeen’s central web server, and how that information is used.
2 University of Aberystwyth Cookie Policy Via link to Terms and Conditions Explains cookies in plain language and describes use of cookies for “(1) To retain the language choice and user type as defined on the Preferences page and (2) To collect detailed web site usage data
3 University of Bath Privacy statement  Y Covers collection of personal data and use of email and online forms as well as use of cookies.
4 Bath Spa University Website terms and conditions of use  Y Provides detailed information on specific cookies. Explains why Google Analytics is used and how users can opt out.
5 University of Birmingham Privacy Y Has sections on What information is collected? and What we do with the information?
6 University of Bristol Privacy and cookie policy Y Has sections on Information that we collect from you and your use of this website; How we use your information; How we handle the data submitted by you; Links to external web sites and How to contact us. with additional link to Use of cookies on the University’s website page.
7 University of Cambridge Privacy policies for services  Y Provides links to privacy policy for specific services.
8 Cardiff University Privacy policy Y Explains how “Cookies are also used to compile general (not personal) site usage statistics. Cookies are not used to capture or store personal information for any other purpose.” and explains that “Other pages that are linked to from the main Cardiff University sites may have a separate privacy policy, including some Academic School, Research Centre and project-orientated websites“.
9 Cranfield University Privacy Via Legal link Explains how “The “Cookie” allows us to track visitors through the website but does not include any personally identifiable information. With most Internet Browsers, you can erase “Cookies” from your computer hard drive, block all “Cookies”, or receive a warning before a “Cookie” is stored.“.
10 Edge Hill University Privacy statement  Y Address data protection issues rather than use of cookies.
11 University of Edinburgh Website privacy policy  Y Has sections on Information that we collect from you; Use of your information; Storage of your information; Disclosure of your information and IP addresses and cookies.
12 University of Glasgow  Privacy statement  Via link to  Disclaimer Provides an explanation of cookies and describes how they are used with Google Analytics.  Describes how Google may use the information collected and explains how cookie can be disabled.
13 Imperial College  –  N  –
14 King’s College London Privacy statement Via link to Terms and Conditions of Use Has sections on How do we collect information?; What information do we collect?; How do we use this information?; Do we use ‘Cookies’?; How do we protect personal information?; Will we disclose the information we collect to outside parties? and Your Consent. Has link to detailed page on Cookie use at King’s College London.
15 University of Leeds Privacy statement Y Has sections on Purpose of this statement; Automated collection of personal information; Non-automated collection; Third-party access; Cookies; Google Analytics and Changes to this statement.
16 University of Liverpool  Personal information on the web  Via link to Legal, Risk & Compliance Has sections on What information is collected, and how is it used?; Cookies (including link to All About Cookies); Security and Requests for Access.
17 London School of Economics Terms of use  Y Section on cookies explains what they are; describes how the “Website does not use cookies to store personal data. Cookies are used to store a unique reference number for each visitor to the Website, which allows one visitor to be distinguished from another“; provides links to All About Cookies and, and states that “if a User sets up his or her browser to reject the cookie, he or she may still use the Website, although functionality may be impaired“.
18 University of Manchester  Privacy  Y States that “Some parts of The University of Manchester website use cookies for security purposes (eg to save the user from having to re-enter their details for every page in a section of the site). Cookies are not used to capture or store personal information for any other purpose, and all cookies are deleted as soon as a session is ended. You may choose to refuse cookies by disabling them using your web browser.
19 Newcastle University  – N  –
20 University of Nottingham Privacy  Y Has sections on Information we collect; How we may use the information; Cookies; Security Access Requests and Security.
21 University of Oxford  Privacy Policy  N Has sections on Information collected and How the information collected is used.
22 Queen’s University Belfast N  –
23 University of Sheffield Privacy Policy Y Has sections on Information we collect as you browse our web site; About Cookies; About Spotlight tags; Use of optional information; Future developments and Security.
24 Sheffield Hallam University  Privacy Policy Y Has sections on Use of information provided by visitors; Security; Cookies and Inaccurate data.
25 Staffordshire University  Protecting Privacy on Data Transmission over the Internet Via link to Legal Has sections on What information is collected and What do we do with the information?
26 University of Southampton Privacy Policy  Via link to Terms and conditions Has sections on Information the University May Collect From You; IP Addresses and Cookies (including link to All About Cookies ); Storing your Personal Data; Uses made of the Information; Disclosure of your Information and Access to Information
27 University College London  Privacy  Y Has links to Data Protection but not use of cookies.
28 University of Warwick Website terms and conditions Y The privacy statement explains “what types of personal information will be gathered when you visit the University of Warwick’s web site and how this information will be used. Please note that although Warwick’s web site provides links to other web sites, this policy only applies to the University’s web pages (ie. those ending in
29 University of West of England Legal Statements
Y Has information on What are cookies?; Which type of cookie does UWE use?; UWE cookies and personal information; Blackboard; Web metrics; Can I turn off UWE cookies? and What happens if I switch off UWE cookies?.
30 University of York Legal Statements Y The Privacy section describes use of cookies with Google Analytics.

Moves Towards Pragmatism

The approaches which are being taken appear to reflect the pragmatic guidance which has been provided recently.

The post on The Half Term Report on Cookie Compliance drew attention to the ICO’s Guidelines on the Rules on use of Cookies and Similar Technologies (available in PDF format) which seemed to appreciate the difficulties which institutions may face in implementing policies and practices which conform with legal requirements (“The Information Commissioner will take a practical and proportionate approach to enforcing the rules on cookies. He has to enforce the law, but he does have some discretion in how he exercises his formal enforcement powers“). The guidelines made clear the importance of making web site visitors aware of reasons why personal information is being gathered and used: “A key point here is ensuring that the information you provide is not just clear and comprehensive but also readily available“.

The emphasis on providing appropriate information rather than implementing technical solutions was highlighted last week in a post on Enforcement of cookie consent rules for analytics not a priority, ICO says published on, a Web site which provides legal news and guidance from Pinsent Masons, an international law firm. This article began:

The UK’s data protection watchdog is not likely to take action against the users of data analytics cookies on websites even if they fall foul of new EU rules on cookie consent, it has said. 

A statement from the ICO said:

… it is highly unlikely that priority for any formal action would be given to focusing on uses of cookies where there is a low level of intrusiveness and risk of harm to individuals.

It should also be noted that the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) UK has issued new guidance (15-page / 296KB PDF) on cookies. The guidance, which has been welcomed by the ICO, contains information on the different categories of cookies that website operators use and when consent to those cookies will be required to be obtained. From this document I learnt that:

The Government and the ICO have said that browsers will be an important part of giving users the increased access

It seems that the government does have an understanding of the need for technical privacy standards such as the W3C’s Tracking Protection Working Group which aims to “improve user privacy and user control by defining mechanisms for expressing user preferences around Web tracking and for blocking or allowing Web tracking elements“.

The ICC’s guidance document also helpfully defines four categories of cookies:

  1. strictly necessary cookies
  2. performance cookies
  3. functionality cookies
  4. targeting cookies or advertising cookies

The document adds that “we are keen to ensure that these categories do not become entrenched but rather evolve as industry discovers cookies that need more accurate categorisation” which again emphasis the realistic approaches which are being taken.

I might add that I suspect that concerns regarding privacy issues and c0okies will primarily focus on targeting cookies and advertising cookies, with cookies which are

  • strictly necessary “in order to enable you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website“;
  • performance cookies which “collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages” and
  • functionality cookies which “allow the website to remember choices you make (such as your user name, language or the region you are in) and provide enhanced, more personal features

will not be the prime area of concern for the ICO (although I should add that IANAL) .


Note click for enlarged view of University of Sheffield’s Privacy Policy

When I started writing this post I was intending to comment on the patterns which we can see starting to develop. These include:

  • The ways of addressing privacy policies in a very distributed environment, as can be seen in the approach taken at the University of Cambridge.
  • The detailed technical information about specific cookies which is being provided at institutions such as Bath Spa and King’s College London.
  • The commonly used sections provided in Privacy policy pages such as the Privacy Policy at the University of Sheffield, which is illustrated.
  • The ways in which use of Google Analytics is documented, such as can be seen at Bath Spa and the University of Leeds.
  • The ways in which users are advised to disable Google Analytics, such as can be seen at the University of Glasgow.
  • The popularity of the All About Cookies service for further information about cookies.

However in light of ICC’s guidance document and its endorsement by the ICO it does occur to me that it would be useful for institutional privacy policies to make use of the language provided in this document. This suggestion might be particularly relevant for those institutions which do not appear to provide a privacy policy which can be easily found from the institution’s home page!

At the IWMW 2012 event, to be held at the University of Edinburgh on 18-20 June, Claire Gibbons (University of Bradford) and John Kelly (JISC Legal) will be running a 90 minute session on Responding to the Cookie Monster. I wonder if the cookie monster will turn out to be not as scary as we first feared?

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

Posted in Legal | 10 Comments »

Are You a Marxist in Your Approaches to Research?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 13 April 2012

The Point Is To Change The World

Hitherto, philosophers have sought to understand the world; the point, however, is to change it” Karl Marx famously argued. But in the twenty-first century it is researchers rather than philosophers who have a higher public profile in seeking to understand the world. The question then is “is it the role of researchers to also change the world?

From my point of view I have been involved in various aspects of research for which the purpose of the research is to identify and develop best practices – and the purpose of this work is for such best practices to be embedded by practitioners. If the research output is seldom downloaded from an institutional repository (or, worse, is hidden behind publisher’s paywalls) it will be difficult for the work to achieve the goal of developing understanding and informing practice. Promoting the research is therefore, for me, an essential aspect of a researcher’s activities.

In a review of How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism by Eric Hobsbawm published in The Guardian suggested that “Marx’s celebrated over-statement attempted to build what might now be called an ‘impact requirement’“. This suggests that Marx’s quote may continue to be applicable in today’s research environment in which society expects to see evidence of the benefits of work which society (the tax-payer or the student fee-payer) pays.

But if, like me, you feel that researchers have some responsibility in seeing ideas produced through research processes, how might this be done?

Helping To Enhance Impact

Last month a post on this blog described a Paper Accepted for #W4A2012 Conference. The paper, on  “A Challenge to Web Accessibility Metrics and Guidelines: Putting People and Processes First” has been accepted for the W4A 2012 conference, the 9th International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility which takes place in Lyon on 16-17  April 2012. The paper is the latest in a series of peer-reviewed papers on Web accessibility based on work led by myself and David Sloan, an accessibility researcher based at the University of Dundee.

This paper is co-authored with Martyn Cooper (the lead author, who is based at the Open University), Sarah Lewthwaite (based at King’s College London who was a co-author of our award-winning paper on Developing Countries; Developing Experiences: Approaches to Accessibility for the Real World presented at the W4A 2010 conference) together with David Sloan.

In order to help to maximise the impact of the paper we have made it available from Opus, the University of Bath’s institutional repository.

Whilst providing open access to a research paper is a desirable goal, it is still a passive approach which does not necessarily help in seeing the ideas provided in a paper being widely adopted.

As part of a pro-active approach to sharing our ideas, myself and my co-authors have agreed to raise awareness of our paper across our professional networks through use of our preferred social media channels. In addition to this post Martyn Cooper has published a post on his contribution to the paper and Sarah Lewthwaite has mentioned the paper on her Slewth Press blog. We can also expect @martyncooper, @sloandr and @slewth talking about the paper on Twitter.

In addition to such blogging activities I have produced a 90 second video summary of my contribution to the paper, which, to allow the video to be easily embedded elsewhere, has been published on YouTube and is embedded below.

In addition to raising awareness of the paper we are also providing opportunities for the ideas described in the paper, including adoption of the BS 8878 Code of Practice For Web Accessibility, to become better understood by practitioners. EA Draffan, who was a co-author of one of our earlier W4A papers on “One World, One Web … But Great Diversity” will give a plenary talk on Beyond WCAG: Experiences in Implementing BS 8878at UKOLN’s forthcoming IWMW 2012 event. At the same event David Sloan will facilitate a 90 minute workshop session on Managing the Process of Providing an Inclusive Institutional Web Presence.

We also hope that the delivery of the paper at the W4A 2012 event on Monday 16 April will help to raise the visibility of our ideas, not only for the event participants but also by using Slideshare and, we hope, recording the presentation itself.

Your Thoughts

In a recent post on Marketing for Scientists Martin Fenner described how:

Scientists may feel uncomfortable about marketing their work, but we all are doing it already. We know that giving a presentation at a key meeting can be a boost for our career, and we know about the importance of maintaining an academic homepage listing our research interests and publications. And people reading this blog will understand that a science blog can be a powerful marketing tool.

I would be interested in other researchers’ views on approaches to maximising the impact of their work. Is this something which you feel is a fundamental aspect of research activities; is it something to be done, out somewhat reluctantly, perhaps due to departmental REF-related pressures or, alternatively, should researchers have a disinterested view of take-up of their ideas in order, say, to maintain one’s objectivity and detachment?  Comments are welcome. Alternatively feel free to complete the accompanying brief survey.

Posted in Accessibility | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Are There Too Many Male Speakers at Events?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 12 April 2012

Are Conferences Dominated By Male Speakers?

Yesterday I announced that UKOLN’s annual IWMW 2012 event is now open for bookings. But is the event, aimed at those responsible for managing institutional Web services, dominated by male speakers? In a recent Twitter discussion Nicole Harris revisited this topic which she has commented on previously:

… more lack of female presenters i moan about. % of female speakers at UKSG plenaries even, not just tech

As we run many events at UKOLN I wondered whether we too tended to fail to give female speakers an opportunity to talk. In order to base subsequent discussion on evidence I looked at the numbers of male and female plenary speakers at IWMW events and also included the figures for the forthcoming IWMW 2012 event. The figures are summarised in the following table.

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Total Total %
Male 7  9  11 10 9 7 11 8 6 10  7 7 9 9 7 9  135 86.5%
Female  1 1 1  1 0 2  2 1 0   1 1 3 0 2 1 4    21 13.5%
Link  Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link  Link

It seems then that there have been only 13.5% female plenary speakers at the 16 IWMW events, with the IWMW 2005 and IWMW 2009 events held at Manchester and Essex seemingly being men-only events from a speaker’s perspective. A post about a Gendered Conference Campaign on the Feminist Philosophers blog”aims to raise awareness of the prevalence of all-male conferences … of the harm that they do“. Is the IWMW event guilty of “All-male events and volumes help to perpetuate the stereotyping of [web technologies] as male” as is highlighted on the blog in the field of philosophy?

Although the IWMW event hosts a number of plenary talks, the main focus is on the parallel workshop sessions which aim to provide a more interactive and participative approach to learning and staff development.  What are the gender balances for the workshop facilitators? The figures are given in the following table.

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Total Total %
Male  8 6  8 18 17 13 15 15 23  24 17  16  21 12  14  219 74.5%
Female  1 1  0   7  9 14   8   6   6    4   3    6   3   3    4    75 25.5%
Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link  Link


  • A record of the facilitators of the sessions held at the first IWMW event was not kept.
  • The numbers given in the two tables may contain small inaccuracies due to people running multiple sessions, late replacements, etc.

From these figures we can see that there are almost twice proportionately as many female facilitators as plenary speakers. We can conclude that the event is not based on only men leading talks and sessions, although we are far from parity. But does this simply reflect the gender disparity across the institutional web management community? One way of finding an answer to this would be to look at the gender split across the participants at IWMW events.

Since we do not record gender information we made use of the Status field (Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms). This approach does mean that the gender of attendees who are Doctors or Professors may be mis-recorded but for the IWMW event, these numbers are likely to be small. The figures for recent years are given below.

2009 2010 2011 Total Total %
Male 113 132 116 361 71.5%
Female   60  37   47 144 28.5%

We can thus conclude that the overall numbers for plenary speakers and facilitators (354 males and 96 females or 78% and 21%) are not significantly different from the overall gender split at the event.

Do We Need to Gather Gender Statistics?

Dr Chris Sexton

In order to be able to analyse gender information for both participant as well as speakers at future events we have started to have a discussion as to whether we should explicitly ask for such information on registration forms. We had to manually identify whether participants were male or female and are aware that in some circumstances, such as ambiguous or unfamiliar first names, such as Dr Chris Sexton, mistakes may we made.

When we raised this question on Twitter, the responses were mixed. Some people felt that it was inappropriate, perhaps because we should be minimising personal questions which are asked but also, it seems, because of a feeling that gender issues aren’t a simple binary split. But others felt that it would be appropriate to ask such questions, especially if the purpose of asking the question was provided.

This specific issue does raise a more general question regarding gathering of information. Some people feel that information on booking forms should only be used if the information will be used in some concrete fashion. For the IWMW 2012 event we ask about the mobile devices which people are likely bring to the event partly to be able to ensure that any technologies we intend to use at the event can be used on popular devices, but also so that we can identify trends in the numbers of devices people are taking to the IWMW events and the types of devices themselves. We are unlikely to make use of gender information in any specific ways, but we are wondering whether the information about the speakers and facilitators should inform our policies for future events. Should we, for example, actively solicit more contributions from women? On the other hand, if the number of female speakers correlates with the numbers of female attendees, might the imbalance be a larger societal issue for which we, as event organisations, are not in a position to address? Or maybe you feel that such suggesting there should be some form of quotas for female speakers is ‘political correctness gone mad’?

We have now opened up bookings for IWMW 2012, without asking for gender information. In addition Sally Kerr, EA Draffan, Dawn Ellis and Helen Sargan will be giving plenary talks, with Katherine Pickles and Marieke Guy chairing sessions and Claire Gibbons, Sheila MacNeill and Marie Salter, together with Marieke Guy facilitating workshop sessions.

But what about other UKOLN events? And what about other events held across the sector? How does the gender split for participants and speakers at IWMW events compare with, say, ALT-C, UCISA and JISC conferences? And do such organisations have policies which seek to ensure appropriate levels of representation from women? Alternatively, if you run a library event with female participants in the majority, do you face these issues in reverse?

I should add that after the first few years of running successful IWMW event the programme committee pro-actively sought female speakers and workshop facilitators, which resulted in 28% of the workshop facilitators in 2001 and 2002 and 52% in 2003 being female. However in subsequent years gender issues seem to have been forgotten about, with no plenary speakers giving talks in 2005 and 2009.

Your views would be welcome. Feel free to leave a comment on this post. Alternatively you may wish to resp0nd to the survey forms which ask for your views on asking for gender information on event booking forms and policies on seeking larger numbers of female speakers.


Posted in Events | 13 Comments »

IWMW 2012 Open For Bookings

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11 April 2012


IWMW 2012, University of Edinburgh, 18-20 June

I’m pleased to announce that bookings are now open for IWMW 2012, the sixteenth annual Institutional Web Management Workshop. This year’s event will be held at the University of Edinburgh on 18-20 June. We have reverted back to the three-day format for this year’s event, and since we’ll be starting on the opening morning (rather than after lunch) we are able to provide a fuller programme than usual, with 11 plenary talks and 20 parallel sessions.

A summary of the content of the IWMW 2012 event is given below.

Embedding Innovation

The theme for this year’s event is “Embedding Innovation” . The event will provide an opportunity for those with responsibilities for providing institutional Web services to hear about and discuss ways in which news ways of working are being embedded to reflect technological developments and the changing funding and political environment.

Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski

I am particularly pleased that this year’s event sees the first plenary talk by a Vice-Chancellor. Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, the Principal and Vice-Chancellor at Robert Gordon University who, in addition to being a regular blogger and Twitter user, is also featured in Wikipedia. Professor von Prondzynski will contribute to the event’s theme in asking the question “Going Online – Do Universities really Understand the Internet?“. Having come across Professor von Prondzynski’s blog post on Institutional tweets in January 2011 which began “Do universities that maintain Twitter pages know what they are doing, or why they are doing it?” I am particularly looking forward to this talk which will, perhaps, invite delegates to rethink their approaches to use of online services – after all, if we are looking to embed innovation we should probably rethink the approaches we have traditionally taken in the provision of our services. Earlier this year in a post on “Learning, unlearning and relearning” Steve Wheeler, Associate Professor of Learning Technology in the Faculty of Health, Education and Society at Plymouth University, made this point when he suggested that “there are times when unlearning just has to be done“.

The need to rethink established approaches to the development of Web sites will be continued in EA Draffan’s talk on “Beyond WCAG: Experiences in Implementing BS 8878“. In the talk she will suggest that a resource-based standard such as WCAG may need to be used within the context of a process-based standards and, within the UK, we are now in a position to make use of the BS 8878 Web Accessibility Code of Practice. But are universities, after over ten years of suggesting that conformance to WCAG would bring out universal accessibility, ready to acknowledge that, beyond the simple provision of informational resources, universal accessibility – whilst a laudable goal – may not be achievable?

The final plenary talk on the theme of “Embedding Innovation” will address ways in which institutions should be preparing for the Mobile Web. In a talk entitled “Do I Need an App for That?” Rob Borley will point out that although last year saw the 15 billionth download from the Apple app store and there are now over 500,000 different apps available to consumers, in developing a mobile strategy there is still a legitimate need to ask: “Do I need an app for that?“.

Data: the New Content

The second theme for the plenary talks at IWMW 2012 is “Data: the New Content“. The talks in this session will highlight the opportunities provided for those involved in providing institutional Web services in moving beyond the management of content (often text, images and multimedia resources) into the management of and access to data.

This session will provide an opportunity to hear from open data developments beyond our sector, with Sally Kerr, corporate Project Manager at the City of Edinburgh Council, describing “Open Data Development in the City of Edinburgh Council“.

But once you have open data, what can your (and other) developers do with it? In a talk entitled “Data Visualisation: A Taster” Tony Hirst and Martin Hawksey will illustrate how open data can be gathered, processed and visualised – and they hope that this taster presentation will encourage participants to sign up for their 90 minute “Data Visualisation Kitchen” workshop session (although I should add that participants will need to sign up for the parallel sessions in advance!).

We will not, however, focus only on the interests of policy makers and developers. In a talk entitled “Design Work for Key Information Sets” Stuart Church will outline the user-centred design (UCD) process that was used to design the Key Information Sets (KIS) and discusses some of the design challenges that were faced. In addition, he will consider some of the design approaches that can be used to make online ‘infographics’ more effective. For those who are unfamiliar with KIS, are part of a HEFCE initiative to provide comparable sets of standardised information about undergraduate courses. From September 2012, universities and colleges will be expected to publish these information sets on their web sites.

Institutional Case Studies

In a time of cuts, those who work in institutional Web teams should welcome the new opportunities which will be highlighted in the two strands summarised above. But in addition there will be a continued requirement to manage and develop existing institutional Web services. The third strand on “Institutional case Studies” provides an opportunity to hear from practitioners on the approaches they are taking to their mainstream work activities.

In this session we will hear from Dawn Ellis who will provide answers to the question “What Do You Really Want?, Keith Doyle and Paddy Callaghan who will address the challenges in having to “Serve Two Masters: Creating Large-Scale Responsive Websites“, Helen Sargan on “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Two Years of Running a Content Management Service” and Stephen Emmott who will give the final plenary talk on “Measuring Impact“.

The Parallel Workshop Sessions

Although the plenary talks aim to provide shared experiences for participants, with the opportunity to hear about changes, developments and working practices, the importance of active participation at the event has always been emphasised.

This year there will are currently twenty parallel sessions, which last for 90 minutes, which aim to provide opportunities for active participation.

Topics to be covered in these parallel sessions include addressing the legal implications of cookie legislation, development of mobile services, user centred design techniques, agile development, developing large-scale responsive web site, evaluation of conferencing tools, mobilising WordPress, data visualisation techniques, identifying and responding to emerging technologies, addressing digital literacy challenges and more.

More detailed information about the parallel sessions is available. It should be noted that IWMW 2012 participants will be able to three sessions. In addition, we have kept two sessions free to enable anyone who wishes to organise a session at the last minute can do so.

Booking for the Event

Our Dynamic Earth, venue for the IWMW 2012 reception

The online booking form is now available. The cost is £350 per person with two night’s ensuite accommodation or £300 per person with no accommodation. This will include the meals listed on the booking form and refreshments.

In addition to the main event meal on Monday, on Tuesday there will be a wine reception which will be held at Our Dynamic Earth. As described in WikipediaOur Dynamic Earth is a science centre in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is a prominent visitors attraction in the city [which] sits in the Holyrood area, beside the Scottish Parliament building and at the foot of Arthur’s Seat“.

When you book for the event you will be able to select your parallel sessions. Please note that since places on the parallel sessions are provided on a first-come first served basis, we advise early booking if you wish to guarantee a place on a preferred session.

Posted in Events | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Openness in One Country

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10 April 2012

Reflections on the Openness Guest Blog Posts

A series of guest posts have been published on this blog over the past week or so. As described in the Announcement of a Series of Openness Guest Blog Posts the posts were published following a series of articles about openness which were published in the latest issue of JISC Inform. The guest posts were:

For me these posts, and the articles in JISC Inform, explored the benefits which could be gained through adoption of a variety of open practices, ranging from open access for research papers, development of open educational resources (OERs), making content available on Wikipedia, consuming content provided by Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) to support personal staff development and embracing openness by supporting ‘amplified events‘ as well as exploring ways in which Creative Commons licences may be used to support such goals.

“Openness in Higher Education: Open Source, Open Standards, Open Access”

Openness was regarded as a means to an end, and not as a goal in itself. Such approaches reflect the ideas described in a paper on Openness in Higher Education: Open Source, Open Standards, Open Access by myself, Scott Wilson (JISC CETIS) and Randy Metcalf (JISC OSSWatch) in which we provided the following abstract:

For national advisory services in the UK (UKOLN, CETIS, and OSS Watch), varieties of openness (open source software, open standards, and open access to research publications and data) present an interesting challenge. Higher education is often keen to embrace openness, including new tools such as blogs and wikis for students and staff. For advisory services, the goal is to achieve the best solution for any individual institution’s needs, balancing its enthusiasm with its own internal constraints and long term commitments. For example, open standards are a genuine good, but they may fail to gain market acceptance. Rushing headlong to standardize on open standards may not be the best approach. Instead a healthy dose of pragmatism is required. Similarly, open source software is an excellent choice when it best meets the needs of an institution, but not perhaps without reference to those needs. Providing open access to data owned by museums sounds like the right thing to do, but progress towards open access needs to also consider the sustainability plan for the service. Regrettably institutional policies and practices may not be in step with the possibilities that present themselves. Often a period of reflection on the implications of such activity is what is needed. Advisory services can help to provide this reflective moment. UKOLN, for example, has developed of a Quality Assurance (QA) model for making use of open standards. Originally developed to support the Joint Information Systems Committee’s (JISC) digital library development programmes, it has subsequently been extended across other programmes areas. Another example is provided by OSS Watch’s contribution to the development of JISC’s own policy on open source software for its projects and services. The JISC policy does not mandate the use of open source, but instead guides development projects through a series of steps dealing with IPR issues, code management, and community development, which serve to enhance any JISC-funded project that takes up an open source development methodology. CETIS has provided a range of services to support community awareness and capability to make effective decisions about open standards in e-learning, and has informed the JISC policy and practices in relation to open standards in e-learning development. Again, rather than a mandate, the policy requires development projects to become involved in a community of practice relevant to their domain where there is a contextualised understanding of open standards.

Although the paper was written in 2007 such pragmatic approaches appear particularly relevant for today’s changed environment in which institutions need to make policy decisions which take into account not only the a continually changing technical environment, but also reduced levels of funding and changing expectations from the user communities, including students who will be paying significant sums of money to attend university and research councils who will be facing pressures to demonstrate the value of investment in research activities.

As described in the Enabling Open Scholarship blog:

The UK’s Research Councils have proposed a revised policy on Open Access (PDF format) which further clarifies RCUK’s definition of OA and strengthens some of the criteria that must be satisfied. In particular, the policy commits to libre Open Access as the agreed RCUK definition, and permits an embargo of not longer than 6 months except for research funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.

I welcome this policy, which was featured in yesterday’s Guardian in an article which described how the “Wellcome Trust joins ‘academic spring’ to open up science“. However I do acknowledge that some people, such as Tom Olijhoek, have expressed objections:

I do have strong objections to the acceptance of delayed open access as a valid form of open access. This may be a compromise so that (certain) publishers will accept the policy, however there are enough open access publishers that do not impose an embargo and I don’t see why we (scientists) should give in to the wishes of a specific group of publishers. 

The Hard Line Perspective

Others, such as Glyn Moody, have expressed similar strong objections to a perceived failure to mandate another form of openness – open standards – with Glyn Moody, in January 2012, making his views clear in an article published in Computer Weekly: UK Government Betrayal of Open Standards Confirmed. Glyn Moody’s post, which suggested that “The British government withdrew its open standards policy after lobbying from Microsoft, it has been revealed in a Cabinet Office brief leaked to Computer Weekly“, was based on a posts by Mark Ballard published in January 2012 who initially argued that Microsoft hustled UK retreat on open standards, says leaked report but then went on to suggest that Hope shines through crack in lid of open standards coffin. This latter post described how “An informal public consultation [PDF format] meanwhile came out resoundingly in favour of open standards – giving the Cabinet Office a second mandate for its policy“.

 I commented on the Government’s informal consultation in a post entitled “UK Government Will Impose Compulsory Open Standards”. In that post I described how fundamentally flawed the survey was: for example as can be seen in a question on proposed Web service request delivery standards, SOAP v1.1 and v 1.2 were given as options but despite the form inviting alternatives, it was only possible to add a few words. As I concluded in the post

sadly I see nothing to indicate that the government has an understanding of the implications of any decisions that may be taken as a result of this flawed information-gathering exercise.

The report on the survey acknowledged the survey’s many deficiencies with “Around a quarter of the additional comments were critical of the survey, especially the content and its structure, ease of handling and the time it took to complete“. In its analysis of 970 responses (which include responses to the various sections from me) the report (in a page which, strangely, seems to be scanned and therefore can’t be copied as text) states that “issues were raised regarding the difficulties in implementing an open standards approach … A please was also made for Government not to impose regulatory constraints or red tape that would make it difficult for suppliers to comply, in particular smaller SMEs“. The so-called UK Government betrayal of open standards seems hardly to be due to lobbying by Microsoft but a recognition of the fundamentally flawed survey methodology which, ironically, seemed to regard Microsoft’s RTF format as an open standard but has no place for RSS (in any of its guises) which, whilst not recognised by a formal standards body (unlike Atom) is not a proprietary standard and is widely used on a global basis.

Openness in One Country?

Is it desirable to mandate a particular ideology (a set of ideas that constitute one’s goals, expectations and actions), such as an open standards ideology? Back in 2003 myself, Alastair Dunning, Marieke Guy and Lawrie Phipps wrote a paper entitled Ideology Or Pragmatism? Open Standards And Cultural Heritage Web Sites in which we highlighted risks of a top-down imposition of standards, particularly at a time of innovation. We developed these ideas further in papers on “A Standards Framework For Digital Library Programmes” , “A Contextual Framework For Standards“, “Addressing The Limitations Of Open Standards” and “What Does Openness Mean To The Museum Community?“.

In January 2010 JISC CETIS organised a “Future of Interoperability Standards” meeting. The reports on the meeting included the following comments:

  • The second day attracted more people than expected: the good news is that quite a few people seem to care about the future of interoperability standards. The bad news is that the day was organized because of the feeling of dissatisfaction with how standardization of learning technologies is taking place. … the standardization process is far from optimal: it is slow, doesn’t always lead to results, or at least not always to results that matter to folks outside of these meetings” Published on Erik Duval’s blog.
  • .. it is generally agreed that the development and adoption of specifications and standards is not a simple and straightforward process …” Meeting report by Li Yuan [PDF format].
In addition, in his position paper Tore Hoel argued that:

… the interoperability standards in the LET domain failed miserably. Second, the ICT developed more to the benefit of Learning, Education and Training than anybody could dream of. All of sudden, anybody (well, so we claim) can do almost anything with technology to support what they want in learning, e.g., finding information, expressing views from different perspectives, building communities, etc. Who asks any more for standards? Well, the enduser shouldn’t anyway, but then the ones that should ask for LET standards are not very enthusiastic either!

It seems that whilst journalists and policy makers may welcome the certainties provided by commitments to open standards, experts in the field continue to have reservations. Experts who are well-versed in the history of mandating standards within the higher education sector may recall the difficulties this caused when OSI networking standards were mandated, and Coloured Book software was developed to provide a migration path to full use of the OSI network stack. However an alternative set of standards, not developed by ISO, a formal international standards body, but by an organisation called IETF which developed RFCs (Requests for Comments) started to become popular and eventually user pressure led to an embarrassing (and no doubt costly) move away from OSI standards and an adoption of TCP/IP standards. There is clearly a need to avoid repeating such mistakes!

And yet whilst I continue to warn against premature mandation of open standards, the value of ‘standards’ (such as RSS) which may not be endorsed by an open standards body and the benefits which can be gained by use of design principles (such as REST) rather than open standards (such as the Web Services stack) I have previously given by support for research council’s mandates for open access. Is there not an inconsistency in these views?

For me, the difference is in prioritising the users’ perspectives. Open access can facilitate ease of access to resources by end users. As Ross Mounce pointed out in his guest blog post on Open Access to Science for Everyone:

it is not just academics who benefit from access to scientific literature … There are a huge number and variety of people that would benefit from legally unrestricted, free, Open Access to scientific publications e.g. patients, translators, artists, journalists, teachers and retired academics“.

But the withdrawal of open standards, such as RSS, which are not endorsed by an open standards or open standards, such as the MP3 audio format, which are encumbered by patent which makes it difficult for them to be used in an open source environment, will cause problems for the end user.

Another difference is that policies on open access are primarily about business models for institutions, publishers and funders, rather than technical issues. In contrast policies on open standards will be influenced by marketplace considerations across a variety of sectors (e.g. software vendors, hardware vendors, mobile phone vendors, media companies, etc.) and will affects a much wider group of stakeholders, including academics, researchers and students as consumers and individuals as well as within their place of work or study.

We can benefit from open practices. But when Engels asked “”Will it be possible for this revolution to take place in one country alone?” we saw from Stalin’s doctrine of Socialism in One Country of the dangers of such approaches. If we want the government to support open standards across our country, we need to ensure that the accompanying policies our flexible enough to embrace user needs and the complexities of the market place. And if this means that users will want to listen to podcasts produced by central and local government and other public sector bodies on their iPods, we should allow them to do so, even if this means continued support for RSS and MP3.

Posted in openness | 2 Comments »

Personal Perspectives on How Metrics Can Influence Practice

Posted by Brian Kelly on 9 April 2012

A few days ago I favourited the following tweets from @lesleywprice:

RT @LnDDave: Too many people focus on the metric instead of the impact < and its impact that matters otherwise what is the point#trainchat [source]

RT @LnDDave: Too much of ROI is sterile data; use the data to help tell a better story < I like story telling makes it real #trainchat  [source]

Interestingly, Lesley noticed that I had favourited her tweets and provided some additional contextual information:

@briankelly…tks for faving tweets. I have taken part in a couple of really good tweetchats this week worth a look #trainchat swchat

This made me realise how the simple act of favouring a tweet is an action which can provide an identification of interest and lead to a subsequent dialogue – a good example, I feel, of frictionless sharing in action. Having been given the context to those two tweets I was able to find a post on “#TrainChat: Recap of our Twitter Chat with David Kelly“. This summary, incidentally described how “For the sake of clarity, we’ve condensed Kelly’s various tweets into a single response, and in places cleaned up a little bit of Twitter grammar” – an interesting example of an emerging practice for the curation of tweets.

Although this online Twitter chat covered “Three Essential Tips for New Online Trainers” the discussions about metrics for learning resonated with me in another context – our rapper sword dancing team’s performance in the annual DERT 2012 competition. We had a great time dancing in pubs in Soho and felt that our dances reflected the dedication we had shown in practices coming up to the competition, although we were conscious of the mistake we made in one of the competition spots. However it wasn’t until we saw how the other teams did that we realised how disappointed we felt – we were in bottom place :-( Even worse, not in the bottom place in the Premier Class, but the Olympic Class, the second division. I’ll not comment on the fact that in this traditional male dance we were beaten by three women’s team and two mixed teams, but being beaten by a morris team was embarrassing!

In the debriefing which took place on the first practice evening after the competition we agreed that our standard of dance had failed to keep up with our peers in recent years. We acknowledged that the judges’ comments were fair and that even though the marking system had its flaws, the scores were a valid reflection of the standard of our dance compared with the other teams (we should add that with scores for the comic characters from one judge of 10 and 12 out of a maximum of 10, the aberrations in the marking sometimes worked to our advantage!)

At the debriefing we agree that we should set a goal of being in the top three at next year’s event, for the dance team, musicians and characters. We also agreed that we needed to develop a new dance, in keeping with the current expectations and standards which have been raised over recent years. We also agreed that to achieve these new team goals we needed to have a more coherent approach to our weekly dance practices and regular dances in pubs around the area and at folk festivals.

How does this relate to the comments about ROI and learning analytics? For me it is clear that in this context:

  • It is easy to be self-deluded about the quality of one’s performance.
  • It is also easy to be self-deluded when reading scores and interpretting the feedback.
  • Being able to have evidence on one’s ranking with one’s peers can provide a better understanding of the perceived value of the performance.
  • Such evidence can inform subsequent goals for improvement.

But the interesting aspect was that the stories, the comments from the judges which said, for example “Good strong beat and nice changes” could be misleading. In our case the value was to be found in the numeric scores, but the scores in comparison with others and not in isolation.

Of course, whilst such considerations may be important in the context of rapper sword dancing, it would be inappropriate to apply such views to, say, learning analytics. After all, rapper dancing is important, whereas learning is supposed to be about fun, isn’t it.

Finally, we were pleased with the performance after our first dance. The judges gave us the following scores:

Stepping  Sword
Presentation Buzz
Tommy Betty
Scores out of 15 Scores out of 10
Judge 1  11 10 11  6  6
Judge 2  9  9  10  7  4  4

What do you think – perhaps of our dance, but also on the value of metrics for such cultural activities? A video of the dance is available on YouTube and embedded below.

Posted in Evidence | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Syndicated Post: The Commons Touch

Posted by Brian Kelly on 7 April 2012

As part of a series of guest posts on the broad theme of openness it seems appropriate to publish this blog post, on The Commons Touch, which has been published by Steve Wheeler, Associate Professor of learning technology in the Faculty of Health, Education and Society at Plymouth University, under a Creative Commons licence on his Learning with ‘E’s blog.

Steve’s post provides an useful introduction to Creative Commons and the benefits which Creative Commons can provide across the sector and concludes by suggesting that Creative Commons is “going to be very big news indeed for all web users in the near future“.

I agree, but how should one reuse resources published under a Creative Commons licence, as I’m doing here, and what are the associated risks?

The licence allows me to reuse the content for non-commercial purposes provided a give acknowledgements to the rights owner (as I have done) and I make my post available under the same licence conditions (and I have included the rights statement and Creative Commons logo from the source post).

Although I am under no legal obligation to inform Steve of my reuse of his post I have chosen to do so so that he is not surprised if he sees the republished post.

I did point out that replicated web content may (slightly) undermine the Google ranking for the resource, as Google can treat replicated content as an attempt to spam Google’s index. However, as Steve is aware and has commented in his post, the value of providing an additional access path for such content will outweigh this slight concern.

Reusing content provided under a Creative Commons licence can also lead to the question regarding what the content actually is. In this case I have chosen to reuse the words, images and links, although the underlying HTML representation may have changed since we use different blog platforms. Since Steve has not applied a No-derivative clause in the licence I could, however, have chosen to edit the content which might have included not including the image and links provided in the source material. It should also be noted that in a comment made to the blog post Joscelyn pointed out a minor error in the original post – the post stated that “Much of the content on Wikipedia for example is licensed under Wikimedia Commons – a version of CC” but in fact “Wikipedia text is licensed with Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike (CC BY SA) licence not a version of a CC licence“]. I could have edited the original post but chose to include an editor’s note.

The final comment I would make is that the licence which applies by default to content published on this blog is CC-BY; a more liberal Creative Common licence which does not restrict reuse to non-commercial purposes or require reuse to apply the same licence. The blog now contains resources with a variety of licences which, ideally, would be described in a machine-understandable form through use of tools such as the WordPress Creative Commons License Manager or the Open Attribute plugins. The latter describes how:

OpenAttribute allows you to add licensing information to your WordPress site and individual blogs. It places information into posts and RSS feeds as well as other user friendly features. This plugin is an part of the OpenAttribute project which is part of Mozilla Drumbeat.

However these plugins are not available on the platform, so it does not seen currently to be possible to describe the rights for blog posts and embedded content in a machine-readable fashion. But since this is the case for many digital resources, this is not of great concern to me.

I am still in agreement with Steve that Creative Commons is “going to be very big news indeed for all web users in the near future” and we should all develop (and share) practices for consuming other people’s content which they have provided using such licences. I’d also welcome suggestions as to who should be described as the author of this post as, unlike other guest posts I’ve published this week, this contains significant intellectual content from me. I think this will have to be described as a post with joint authors.

The Commons Touch

Many people assume that because the web is open, any and all content is open for copying and reuse. It is not. Use some content and you could well be breaking copyright law. Many sites host copyrighted material, and many people are confused about what they can reuse or copy. My advice is this – assume that all content is copyrighted unless otherwise indicated. In the last few years, the introduction of Creative Commons licensing has ensured that a lot of web based content is now open for reuse, repurposing and even commercial use. The Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig is one of the prime movers behind this initiative. Essentially, Creative Commons has established a set of licences that enables content creators to waive their right to receive any royalties or other payment for their work. Many are sharing their content for free, in the hope that if others find it useful, they will feel free to take it and use it. Creative Commons is a significant part of the Copyleft movement, which seeks to use aspects of international copyright law to offer the right to distribute copies and modified versions of a work for free, as long as it is attributed to the creator. Any subsequent reiterations of the work must also be made available under identical conditions. In keeping with similar open access agreements, Copyleft promotes four freedoms:

Freedom 0 – the freedom to use the work,
Freedom 1 – the freedom to study the work,
Freedom 2 – the freedom to copy and share the work with others,
Freedom 3 – the freedom to modify the work, and the freedom to distribute modified and therefore derivative works.

Finding free for use images on the web is now fairly easy. Normal search will unearth lots of images. But these are not necessarily free images. Many will have copyright restrictions. To find the free stuff go to Google and click on the cog icon at the top right of the screen. Select the Advanced Search option. Next, scroll down the screen until you find the drop down box labelled ‘usage rights’. You will be presented with four options:

  1. Free to use or share
  2. Free to use or share, even commercially
  3. Free to use, share or modify
  4. Free to use, share or modify, even commercially

Whatever option you choose, you will be presented with a reduced collection of images that still meet the requirements of the search, but under the conditions of that specific licence. Now you have a collection of images you can use under the agreements of Creative Commons. Use them for free under these agreements and you are complying with international copyright law. Don’t forget the attribute the source!

So why would people wish to give away their content for nothing? I have previously written about my own personal and professional reasons for doing so in ‘Giving it all away‘, but just for the record, I will summarise:

Giving away your content for free under a CC licence ensures that anyone who is interested in your work does not have to pay for it or worry about whether they are licenced under copyright law to use your content. In today’s economic uncertain climate, it makes sense to be equitable and to give content away that others have a need to see and can make good use of. It also means that users will do some of your dissemination for you. Your ideas will be spread farther if you give them away for free, than they necessarily will if you ask people to pay a copyright fee or royalty. If you allow repurposing of your content, the rewards can be even greater. Some of my slideshows have been translated into other languages. Having your content translated into Spanish for example, opens up a huge new audience not only in Spain, but also most of the continent of South America. Many are now licensing their work under CC because they know it makes sense. Much of the content on Wikipedia for example is licensed under Wikimedia Commons – a version of CC [Note that in a comment on Steve Wheeler’s post Joscelyn has pointed out that “Wikipedia text is licensed with Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike (CC BY SA) licence not a version of a CC licence“]. So look out for Creative Commons licensing – it’s going to be very big news indeed for all web users in the near future.

Image source

Creative Commons Licence
The Commons touch by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Posted in Guest-post, openness | 6 Comments »

Guest Post: Openly Commercial

Posted by ukwebfocusguest on 6 April 2012

Creative Commons has an important role to play in providing a legal framework which permits reuse of resources. But as Joscelyn Upendran describes in this guest blog post, how the Creative Commons NC (non-commercial) licence are interpretted can cause confusion. Will CC+ provide an answer?

Openly Commercial

The Non-commercial component of the Creative Commons (CC) licences has occasionally given rise to some uncertainty and debate amongst those interested in copyright licensing. (See About the Licences for a reminder of the different CC licences.)

The CC licences which contain the NC component refers to commercial use, as used:

in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation.

So what does that cover exactly?

CC guidance below and from @mollyali is very useful, but as with many things of a legal nature, they do not provide absolute certainty, as there are usually a number of factors at play. As described in the FAQ which asks ‘Does my use violate the NonCommercial clause of the licenses?‘ on the Creative Commons wiki:

In CC’s experience, whether a use is permitted is usually pretty clear, and known conflicts are relatively few considering the popularity of the NC licenses. However, there will always be uses that are challenging to categorize as commercial or noncommercial. CC cannot advise you on what is and is not commercial use. If you are unsure, you should either contact the creator or rightsholder for clarification, or search for works that permit commercial uses. Please note that CC’s definition does not turn on the type of user: if you are a non profit or charitable organization, your use of an NC-licensed work could run afoul of the NC restriction; and if you are a for-profit entity, your use of an NC-licensed work does not necessarily mean you have violated the term.

A CC commissioned study on “how people understand ‘noncommercial use’” was published in 2009. @plagiarismtoday provides a good potted summary of the report. Notwithstanding the 2009 report and “known conflicts” relating to the NC licensed being “relatively few” the NC component of the CC licence still generates much deliberation and debate.

Some objections to the NC licences relate to a viewpoint that they are not truly ‘open’ as they block licence interoperability and frictionless remix and reuse of content. The NC licence remains popular, however, and some CC adopters may well experiment initially by using a NC licence before choosing more permissive licences in due course.

The CC BY NC SA licence is a popular choice of licence amongst Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs). The Open University’s OpenLearn, MIT Open Courseware (MITOCW) and Open Yale Courses (OYC) all use a Creative Commons (CC) BY NC SA licence for their open educational resources (OER).

The JORUM Final Report published in 2011, indicates that the majority of the resources deposited within the JORUM repository are from the Academy/JISC OER Programme and a high percentage is from HEIs and licensed with a CC BY NC SA licence.

Although OpenLearn, MITOCW & OYC, all use a CC BY NC SA licence, all three institutions provide additional ‘”guidelines intended to help users determine whether or not their use of OCW materials would be permitted”

There are differences between the guidelines provided by the three institutions in the degree of permissiveness. For example OpenLearn permits “educational institutions, commercial companies or individuals to use the CC licensed content” and permits use of the “content as part of a course for which you charge an admission fee” and permits the charging of “a fee for any value added services you add in producing or teaching based around the content providing that the content itself is not licensed to generate a separate, profitable income” This would therefore appear to permit a commercial training company to reuse OpenLearn CC BY NC SA licensed content as part of a fee paying training course as long as the licensed content itself is not monetised.

OYC, by contrast, does not permit sites, that “provides and/or promotes services for which the user will be charged a fee (e.g., tutor services)” to use the CC licensed content.

MITOCW, whilst stating that “A corporation may use OCW materials for internal professional development and training purposes“also states “A commercial education or training business may not offer courses based on OCW materials if students pay a fee for those courses and the business intends to profit as a result“. So a commercial organisation can carry out staff development using MITOCW CC BY NC SA licensed content but they may not provide chargeable external training.

Does it matter that even though MIT, Yale and the Open University all use the CC BY NC SA licence yet they intend and permit different uses of their licensed content?

Some of the benefits of CC licenses include the ease of use, and the familiarity of the symbols and the speed in understanding the human-readable Commons Deed. This enables the user of the licensed content to glean quite easily and quickly what their rights and obligations are in respect of the content. The provision of additional guidelines in the above examples may undermine some of these benefits and place an unnecessary burden on the user. It also contributes to uncertainty and detracts from any possibility of  consensus on the use and understanding of a NC licence.

The reason many institutions choose the NC licence may be to control the potential or perceived potential commercialisation of the licensed content. There is quite a compelling argument that content arising from state funded programme should be licensed with the most permissive terms. For example the US Department of Labour is funding $2 billion over four years to create OER materials for career training programs in community colleges. Where new learning materials are created using the grant funds, those materials must be made available under CC Attribution licence (CC BY).

I imagine it would not be easy in UK universities and colleges to demarcate “sate funded content” from the University’s “privately funded content” . Many HEIs and FEIs have a revenue generating ‘business arm’. What is state-funded and what is the commercial arm of the institution may be quite blurred.

To achieve the widest possible access and participation in global education the most appropriate CC licence for ‘open’ educational resources is the CC BY licence. But it doesn’t appear to be always such an easy procedural or cultural step for organisations to take.

If an institution decides that a CC licence with a NC component is the most appropriate licence for its needs, the CC+ Protocol may be worth exploring  for example by universities who may be making moves towards becoming private.

Creative Commons developed its free licences to enable people to share their works as they choose. Using the CC+ protocol permits copyright owners to easily accommodate acceptable non-commercial uses while directing commercial traffic to their own fee-based agreement.

What is CC+?

CC+ is a Creative Commons license plus another agreement, for example:

A copyright owner may pair a CC Attribution-Non-Commercial license [that is the CC] with a non-exclusive commercial agreement [that is the +] enabling a copyright owner to license the work commercially for a fee.

The [+] is a means to provide a simple click through to rights or opportunities beyond those offered in the CC licence. The creator is able to leverage the expanded exposure that results from otherwise freely distributed content.

CC+ is not another CC licence; rather it is a means to point users toward the copyright owner’s own “extension” of rights that may be additional to the existing CC license. The copyright owner is responsible for constructing the license that expresses those additional terms and conditions.

CC+ has many uses and advantages for both commercial and non-commercial users, for example:

  • A copyright owner of content may choose to use a CC Attribution Non-Commercial (CC BY NC) Licence to make content available on the web so they can be shared easily and freely on a non-commercial basis providing attribution is given
  • The copyright owner in this example may pair this CC BY NC licence with a + click-through to non-exclusive rights beyond those permitted under the CC licence such as allowing commercial use in return for a fee.

Other additional permissions beyond those provided in CC licences may include: permission to reuse without providing attribution (paired with any of the six CC licences); or permission to use without having to share alike (paired with CC BY SA or CC BY NC SA licences) or permission to create derivative works (paired with the CC BY ND or CC BY NC ND licences).

CC+ is another means by which copyright owners are able to exercise their copyright as they choose, on their own terms. Using the CC licence enables the free, easy and legal means of sharing on the web whilst the “extension” of permissions provided by the + has the benefit of clear “signposting” to commercial terms for additional uses of the copyrighted works.

This is a guest post by Joscelyn Upendran (@Joscelyn on Twitter). Any views expressed are personal views and not that of any organisation or employer, and not intended to be legal advice nor should they be relied upon as such.

Posted in Guest-post, openness | 3 Comments »

Guest Post: Opening Up Events – The GEII Event Amplification Toolkit

Posted by ukwebfocusguest on 5 April 2012

In today’s guest blog post on openness Kirsty Pitkin introduces the JISC-funded Greening Event II projectand describes her involvement in developing an event amplification toolkit which aims to document best practices for opening access to conferences which, as touched on recently in a post on Adventures in Space, Place and Time by my colleague Marieke Guy, have traditionally been “trapped in space and time”. It is particularly appropriate that this post is published today, the day after the Amplified Conferences Wikipedia entry has been reinstated.

Opening Up Events

Workshops, seminars, conferences: just some of the learning opportunities that are often closed, with any knowledge or resources contained therein accessible only to those who are able to physically attend a fixed point in time and space where the event takes place. Yet these are some of the key ways we can disseminate and share knowledge in a really interactive, practical way.

UKOLN has a well-established role at the forefront of what have become termed “amplified” or open events. These are events where the event materials and discussions are amplified out via the local audience to their own professional networks using online social networking tools. Such activities overlap neatly with the emergence of hybrid events, which are specially designed to allow a remote audience to participate in an event simultaneously with the local audience. Amplified events can often be used as a stepping stone for organisers who are consciously looking to move into hybrid events, or organisers who are just looking to increase their audience without substantially increasing the carbon impact of their event.

The JISC GEII Event Amplification Toolkit

Event amplification at IWMW 2012

I have been working with UKOLN in this area to help develop an Event Amplification Toolkit, as part of the JISC Greening Events II project. The toolkit is designed to help event organisers decide what type of event is most appropriate for their needs (a traditional, hybrid or a fully virtual event) and provides tools to help organisers approach the task of amplifying their event.

The toolkit has been developed using lessons drawn from a series case study events, including Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW 2011), UKOLN’s Metrics and Social Web Services workshop, and most recently the 7th International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC11). These lessons have been condensed into a number of simple templates and two-page best practice briefings, which can be mixed and matched according to the event organisers’ requirements. As new online services are emerging all the time, whilst others wane in popularity, these best practice briefings focus on general amplification activities, rather than specific third party tools. The toolkit covers approaches to live video streaming, live commentary, discussion, and curation tools, providing examples of existing services, business models, resourcing requirements and risks which need to be considered. The templates provide models for assessing risk and structuring an amplified event to achieve specific outcomes.

Open Approaches vs Open Tools

Whilst an event may be considered open by virtue of being amplified, many of the individual tools and services used to achieve this are third party commercial services, which may vary in their degree of openness and accessibility (depending how you define open, of course!). This means that organising an open event can become a pragmatic exercise – using open platforms where available and offering alternative options where necessary to help make the event accessible to the widest range of users.

Copyright Shutterstick. Used under licence. prime example of this is the most popular tool for use at amplified events: Twitter. Whilst Twitter is considered to be one of the more open social media platforms, participants must have an account with the service in order to take an active part in an event discussion. If you don’t have an account, you can only watch the discussion unfold, you cannot contribute. Opening up an event to the widest possible audience means you must consider those people who do not want to have a direct relationship with a service provider, like Twitter, by establishing an account with the service, no matter how little personal information is required in the process. Tools like CoverItLive and ScribbleLive can provide the option for remote participants to offer comments and questions publicly without a registered account and without having to part with any information about their identity. The role of an event amplifier would then involve integrating these comments into the wider discussion beyond in a sensitive manner, particularly if that discussion is taking place prominently on Twitter.

As this example demonstrates, an amplified event may need to provide a mix of access points to open up all aspects of the event. This means that, in many ways, openness in an events context is less about the specific technologies employed and more about the attitude of the organisers and the way they blend a selection of tools to provide open access. An open attitude when running an event could be summarised as:

  • A commitment to the online audience as first class citizens, providing the same opportunities to access and interact within the live event as those physically in attendance.
  • A commitment to sharing resources in multiple contexts as an aid to future discovery and reuse.
  • A commitment to linking between resources so the audience has a clear path to guide them to other event resources or the same resources in alternative formats.
  • A commitment to the use of creative commons licences, with respect to the speaker or copyright holder.

Looking Forward

We intend to amplify the toolkit itself according to these same principles and using the same techniques detailed in the report.  Our hope is that these resources will help others to approach the problem of opening up their events and reduce the carbon impact of their event by facilitating more people engaging from afar.

Kirsty Pitkin is a professional event amplifier. This is a newly emerging role, which involves working with conference organisers to help deliver an online dimension to traditional events by leveraging social media and other online tools to expand the audience for the event. She explores current research and best practice associated with amplified and hybrid events in her blog. Kirsty holds a Masters in Creative Writing and New Media from De Montfort University.

Twitter: @eventamplifier

Posted in Guest-post, openness | 4 Comments »

Guest Post: Professional Development Using Open Content

Posted by ukwebfocusguest on 4 April 2012

As described recently, a series of guest blog posts on open practices are being published this week on the UK Web Focus blog which build on ideas published in latest issue of JISC Inform. Having explored what openness may mean in the context of researcheducation and libraries, in today’s guest post my colleague Marieke Guy explores “Professional Development Using Open Content“.

As a home worker Marieke takes a pro-active approach to her professional development as can be seen from her posts on her Ramblings of a Remote worker blog. In this post Marieke describes her participation in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).

Professional Development

For me professional development has always been about being proactive. Patience is not one of my virtues. I’m not the sort of person who would sit and wait for my team leader to send me on a course, though I’m always open to suggestions.

Professional development according to Wikipedia refers to “skills and knowledge attained for both personal development and career advancement“. The way I see it, there are areas that I need to know more about to make me better at my job, and then there are areas that I want to know more about to give my job context and meaning. The goal is to balance the two and also to fit them alongside my day job.

I work from home (see my Ramblings of a Remote worker blog) and already travel a reasonable amount so any activities I can do from the comfort of my own swivel chair suit me fine. Over the last few years online professional development has really taken off, in a similar way to online learning. Although many courses cost there is now a plethora of open content out there that can be used in any way you chose.



Massive Open Online Course crib sheet. This crib sheet was created for a workshop being presented at ISTE 2011 on using a MOOC model for professional development by Jeannette Shaffer

One recent addition is the Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs. The courses are free, open to all and comprise of open content. They tend to be hosted by Higher Education institutes and often students from that particular institution are encouraged to register. Often there is no credit for the course (though some use the Mozilla open badge system or similar approaches) and no feedback for participants from the course leaders. The approach taken is a fluid one where participants are encouraged to blog about what they learn and interact with other participants by commenting on their posts.

As described in “7 things you should know about MOOCs” (PDF format):

For the independent, lifelong learner, the MOOC presents a new opportunity to be part of a learning community, often led by key voices in education. It proves that learning happens beyond traditional school-age years and in a specific kind of room … Certainly as MOOCs develop, the scale on which these courses can be taught and the diversity of students they serve will offer institutions new territory to explore in opening their content to a wider audience and extending their reach into the community.

The Massive Open Online Course crib sheet which is illustrated was created by Jeannette Shaffer and is available from Flickr.

Openness in Education

My first MOOC learning endeavour has been the Introduction to Openness in Education course (see the #ioe12 tweets) co-ordinated by David Wiley, associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham Young University, US. This was an open course about openness in education – a little postmodern?! I came across the course via a colleague’s Twitter feed and after registering discovered that a couple of other colleagues were also giving MOOCs a go. We ended up meeting for coffee (See my post on #ioe12 Coffee Breaks with a Little Open Licensing Thrown In) to discuss how things had gone so far. Always good to have some support.

I’ve found the course a challenge, mainly due to time constraints, but also because the concept of ‘open’ is complex one. What does being ‘open’ truly mean? Some of the more orthodox advocates of the open movement could offer up a checklist of criteria to help us decide if a license, piece of software, resource, data set, policy, … (add whatever takes your fancy) is strictly open. For them openness is an ideology and a goal. However much of what is out there falls into the spaces in-between and often for good reason.

I’d agree that the movement towards openness is a good thing, though I am still unsure on how I feel about many aspects of it. Openness is not always possible or desirable and it brings with it responsibilities. My current work activities take me into the area of Research Data Management where FOI has a big impact. Requests for data sets (such as the recent Philip Morris smoking research request) are becoming more frequent and are not always for just reasons. A colleague of mine recently pointed me in the direction of a paper written back in 2000 by Martin Strathern entitled The Tyranny of Transparency. To summarise: transparency measures often have paradoxical outcomes like eroding trust and turning knowledge into information rather than information into knowledge. Openness, like free speech, is a double edged sword and we’d do well to ensure that we use the tool appropriately.


All my posts relating to my experiences of MOOCs and learning from open content are available from my blog. There’s no doubt that use of online courses and open content will significantly contribute to my professional development in the future. Learning in this way gives me the flexibility that my job and lifestyle require, however I know that I need to be disciplined and keep motivated if I want to make the most of these opportunities. As Oscar Wilde, a man who held a fairly cynical view of formal education, once said: “Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught“. Maybe a pro-active approach using MOOCs would have been more up his street!

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Guest Post: Librarians meet Wikipedians: collaboration not competition!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 April 2012

As part of the series of guest blog posts which describe how the higher education sector is engaging with various aspects of openness Simon Bains, the Head of Research and Learning Support and Deputy Librarian, The John Rylands University Library at University of Manchester, describes how the university library is engaging with Wikipedia.

It isn’t really news to say that the world libraries inhabit has changed almost beyond recognition in less than 20 years. Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight it will be possible to make sense of the rapid technological change and resulting shift in behaviours which combine to challenge the collections, services and perhaps the very existence of libraries. Whilst we continue to live through this information revolution, we seek to make educated guesses at the next trend, respond as we can to the very different expectations of our user communities, and develop strategies to ensure we remain relevant and sustainable in challenging times.

Several trends in particular seem to me to have made a marked contribution to the seismic landscape disruption which has followed the invention of the Web:

  1. Transition to online from print – published content, particularly journals, being made available online and becoming, fairly quickly, the dominant delivery channel.
  2. Challenges to traditional models of publishing – the rise of the open access agenda, and a general trend towards widespread support for openness, not just for published material but for underlying data, with a view to fostering sharing, reuse and linking.
  3. The Social Web – interaction and conversation, sharing, tagging, developing personal networks for both social and business purposes. Publication is no longer primarily about dissemination, but about sharing, reuse and conversation.
  4. The development of large scale global public and commercial content hubs which have grown to dominate the ways in which information is published, discovered, and shared.

These, of course, aren’t entirely independent developments, and can instead be seen as components of an evolutionary (if not revolutionary) process which has brought us to today’s information landscape. Equally, it is clear that change continues, and recent challenges to traditional scholarly publishing models serve to underline that.

The creation of one of these ‘hubs’ is the focus of this blog post. In just a few years we have seen the very rapid ascendency of Wikipedia as the preferred starting point for the sort of reference enquiry that would once have been directed to a traditionally published encyclopaedia, or a library reference desk. Despite scepticism, it has become a hugely popular resource, with evidence to support the reliability of crowd-sourced factual information, as a result of strict editing policies and zealous, perhaps over-zealous, editors.

In 2007, whilst Digital Library Manager at the National Library of Scotland I was interested to read of a project to use it to make library collections more widely known, and this encouraged me to initiate work at to do likewise. Unfortunately, the timing was not good, as concern about the credentials of editors, and allegations about attempts to influence Wikipedia entries had resulted in very careful vetting, and an aversion to anything which even hinted at advertising, even from the cultural sector. Some forays into relevant Wikipedia entries in fact resulted in my web developer’s account being shut down, almost immediately. Somewhat discouraged, we directed our effort at the more welcoming global networks, such as Flickr and YouTube.

Since then, Wikipedia seems to have adopted a more mature stance, still managing entries very carefully, but recognising that partnership with organisations with information which enriches its entries is to be welcomed rather than resisted (although a recent verbal exchange with a Wikipedia editor makes me think that this is still somewhat dependent on the outlook of individual editors). I was very interested to see the creation of the concept of the ‘Wikipedian in Residence’ at the British Museum, although my move from the National Library back into HE required a focus on other priorities.

Advertisements for the Wikipedia Lounge in the John Rylands University Library

An interior shot of the John Rylands Library in central Manchester

My move to The John Ryland University Library at the University of Manchester coincided with contact from Wikimedia UK, who were now actively seeking partnerships with education institutions, recognising the mutual benefit of working with students, academics and libraries to foster more effective use of Wikipedia as a resource, to encourage content creation and editing by experts, and to link entries to relevant resources. As a Library at a major research intensive institution, with the additional responsibility of steward of an internationally important special collections Library, we were identified as a particularly valuable pilot partner. For our part, influenced very much by the sort of strategic thinking coming from organisations like OCLC, which encouraged libraries to collaborate with large information hubs, we were very enthusiastic about a partnership which would help us connect to a global network level hub, and also address the digital literacy agenda.

We have begun the engagement process, which we hope will develop into a substantial project which includes a ‘Wikipedian in Residence’. To date, we have hosted a ‘Wikipedia Lounge’, which saw academics and students meet Wikipedians to learn more about getting involved and creating content. This event attracted academics, students and librarians, and we have plans to repeat it. We are now in discussions with Wikimedia UK about setting up a 12 month pilot project which would see a Wikipedian in Residence based at the John Rylands Library, working with our curators, students and academics to expose our collections, encourage further research and learning, develop a network of Wikipedians at Manchester (we already have some), and place Wikipedia within our digital literacy strategy as a powerful tool which when used effectively can play an important part in University teaching and research. There are already a number of references to our collections in Wikipedia entries, biographical pages such as that of the author Alison Uttley, which serve to demonstrate the very great untapped potential. Perhaps the best entry which focuses on a specific item on our collections is for the Rylands Library Papyrus P52, also known as the St John’s fragment (illustrated) which ranks as the earliest known fragment of the New Testament in any language.

Fragment of St John’s Gospel: recto

Of course there are concerns about Wikipedia: it may not be reliable; it can be used as an easy substitute for comprehensive research and study; it can be difficult to change erroneous content, etc. But to ignore it or dissuade students from its use reminds me of the approach that was sometimes taken in the face of the rapid rise of Google in the late 1990s. It is a battle we are unlikely to win, and so much more could be achieved by working with, not against, the new information providers, especially when so much of what we are about has synergy: open access, collaboration, no profit motive, etc.

It is early days for us in this engagement at the moment, but I have high hopes. And I’m sure that when we introduce our Wikimedia UK contacts to the wonders of the John Rylands Library, they will find it impossible not to see the obvious potential!

Simon Bains is Head of Research and Learning Support and Deputy Librarian, The John Rylands University Library, University of Manchester. You can see his Library Website staff page or follow him on Twitter: @simonjbains

Posted in Guest-post, openness, Wikipedia | 8 Comments »

Guest Post: Being Openly Selfish and Making “OER” Work for You

Posted by ukwebfocusguest on 2 April 2012

This is the second guest post on the theme of openness which, as described last week, explores various aspects of openness which have been addressed in the current issue of the JISC Inform newsletter.

In this guest post James Burke (@deburca) explores what the term OER currently means to him, although he admits the “I’m sure that it will mean something different to me 12 months from now…“.

What is/are OER?

Even though OER has a new global logo it is one of those terms that appears to have no formally agreed definition and people’s use of and reference to the term OER changes over time.

The term OER is broad and still under discussion” and over the past few years OER has been used as a “supply-side term” and remained “largely invisible in the academy”. Metaphors (“Open Education and OER is like…?) have been used to take a light hearted look at potential issues and tensions such as those between “Big OER and Little OER” and all in-between. On the definition front Stephen Downes has written a useful “Half an Hour” essay: “Open Educational Resources: A Definition” and David Wiley (Open Content and the 4Rs) recently put forward: “2017: RIP for OER?” (or not…)

The FAQ page for Open Education Week (held on 5-10 March 2012) provides a useful, current overview of OER and Open Education.

One of the “core attributes” of OER is that access to the “content is liberally licensed for re-use in educational activities, favourably free from restrictions to modify, combine and repurpose the content; consequently, that the content should ideally be designed for easy re-use in that open content standards and formats are being employed”. So, now that I have re-used the new and “liberally licensed” OER global logo in this post I have a number of options and queries regarding adherence to the licence and provision of any requested attribution such as “how do I properly attribute a work offered under a Creative Commons license?” leading me to “what are the best practices for marking content with Creative Commons licenses?”.

I’ll settle with using: “OER Logo” © 2012 Jonathas Mello, used under a Creative Commons license: BY-ND

…but maybe I should have included this attribution directly beneath the image to be less ambiguous to the human reader?, or maybe I should have associated the licence and attribution more “semantically” and unambiguously with the image for the “machine reader”?, or maybe I should have just have made my life simple and just used “Kevin” to add attribution directly to the image to cater for both human and machine readers?, and what is this “machine” anyway…?

Machine readable, but what “machine”?

The Creative Commons license-choosing tool provides you with a snippet of RDFa that you can embed in your web-based content with the idea that this “machine readable” metadata can be automatically identified and extracted by “machines” such as search engines and made available via their search, e.g. Google Advanced Search. This “machine readable” licence can also be used to facilitate accurate attribution via browser and CMS plugin “machines” such as Open Attribute as well as being used for automated cataloguing, depositing etc..

Creative Commons is not the only “machine readable” licence, many countries have their own “interoperable” Public Sector Information/Open Government Licences such as the UK Government Licensing Framework , and many “vanity licenses” for content in both the public and private sectors have also emerged but Creative Commons remains the most widely used technically & legally interoperable licensing framework.

The Google Advanced search help refers to their usage rights filter but states that this filter is used to show “pages that are either labeled with a Creative Commons license or labeled as being in the public domain”. Bing does not have an equivalent usage rights filter but their “advanced operators” can be used to derive the similar results, e.g. inbody: “search term” loc:gb can be used to find UK content that likely has a Creative Commons licence deed link in the metadata or in the HTML body.

The implementation of Creative Commons licences into content can be quite variable ranging from using a Creative Commons icon in a PDF file that contains no link to the license deed through to a complete snippet of RDFa containing the full works title together with attribution, source and more permissions URLs.

Mainstream Web Applications such as Flickr, Soundcloud, Vimeo, Scribd and SlideShare all allow the association of a Creative Commons licence with uploaded image, audio, video or “Office” document content that is then publicly visible and searchable via Google and Bing et al with the site: operator and a usage rights filter. Oddly, for most of these Web Applications Google and Bing provide the best search results and usage rights filters within the Web Applications can be a rare find.

So, to me, the “machine” that is “reading” OER is really any Web application that can consume openly licensed content accessible via the Web and for convenience the best way of me finding this “stuff” is via the mainstream search engines, even if I do have to use a usage rights filter…

Openly licensed resources and “stuff” is readily available on the Web

Arguably, the Internet and the Web would not be where it is today without being “open” and built upon a “stack” of standards and simplification that specifically lack patents and their associated licences that need to be paid for. The Web has significantly lowered the cost of software and content collaboration, creation and publishing and encouraged the embracing of serendipity.

Most of the Internet is run by volunteers who do not get paid, most of the Internet is run by amateurs”. – (video: Innovation in Open Networks) Joi Ito, Thinking Digital May 2010 (@joi)

Joi Ito speaking at #TDC10 from Codeworks Ltd on Vimeo.

One of “open’s” main advantages over proprietary digital content has been the lowering of cost and the cost of failure. The main source of friction in the production of digital content used to be primarily at the content layer in the stack (see prezi and video above) but as this eased the highest cost and restriction causing the most friction to be present whilst consuming and publishing content has shifted towards the legal domain. With the introduction of open licensing frameworks such as Creative Commons that offer worldwide legal interoperability this legal friction is being eased.

More and more educational content is going through a “rights clearance” process and being published by Institutions with more permissive open licenses “openly” to the Web and by “openly” I mean visible to search engines and not behind authentication “walls” such as learning platforms. Quite often this Web published content is a copy with attribution back to the Institution and Institutionally held source and copied to more than one location – if you have a PowerPoint presentation why not upload to Scribd and SlideShare?

This content can now be readily discovered and shared, promoted or “amplified” via Social Networks and usage via metrics, metadata and paradata from various sources is readily and, in a lot of cases, openly available. Properly attributed derivative works should contains links back to the source and if not there are various methods of monitoring and obtaining duplicate content “openly” via Web Applications such as Blekko. This content being consumed can also surface people that are consuming it that can subsequently be used to discover how the re-used work is being used whether that be in a different context to the original, different language etc.

Derivative works are often created by “consumers” who are individuals and not Institutions or organisations and attribution is made to them personally so why not include attribution to the “authors” within the original Creative Commons license?, e.g. Copyright is held by the Institution but why not add acknowledgement to the people (with links to their preferred Social Graph “node”) that created the works so that they get their “whuffie” and be “openly selfish”?

I tend to follow people rather than organisations and to me the attribution to a person tends to be more important than attribution to the copyright owner as it tends to be the person that provides the most context in how the content is being used and from them I tend to “serendipitously” discover new content. This is nothing new and fundamental to the emerging MOOCs.

What OER means to me at the moment

For me, at the moment, the most important aspect of OER is the availability of openly licensed content accessible via the Web, that has a clear provenance of all assets used with attribution to the people that created it as well as to the copyright owner, kind of “OeR”.

This “OeR” includes all “non academic institution” content such as that from Khan Academy, Peer 2 Peer University and Flat World Knowledge and ideally this “OeR” has more permissive Creative Commons licenses and avoids the NoDerivs and NonCommercial conditions that restrict my usage rights as per the “4Rs Framework”.

..but is this OER and can this type of OER use that new global logo?

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]

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