UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

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Archive for the ‘mw2007’ Category

Postings about the Museums and the Web 2007 conference.

Blogging At The MW 2007 Conference

Posted by Brian Kelly on 27 Apr 2007

The Museums and the Web 2007 conference was the first time I’ve use a blog to record and share my thoughts on the sessions. I found that it did require more concentration than I’d expected – and on a couple of occasions I missed sessions in order to do some further reading (of the papers presented, for example) and to compose my postings. However I felt it would be useful to do this, partly to inform a wider sector, especially members of the museum’s community, of the key issues which were being discussed at the conference, and also to familiarise myself with the process of conference blogging, in order to do things better at future events and also to share my thoughts on this with others.

I was therefore pleased with the feedback from Martin Mackain-Bremner: “thank you for such a fantastic job in recording the proceedings of MW2007. There is a huge quantity of ’stuff’ to be absorbed here“. Martin went on to add “I would really value a meeting at some time to discuss some of the issues you have raised/spoken on/commented on“. Making new contacts was an additional benefit of blogging – and, in Martin’s case, this will be a face-to-face meeting as we both live in Bath.

And at a meeting in London a couple of days ago Paul Mayes, University of Teesside, told me that he’d used a posting about a paper Mike Ellis presented at the conference during a staff development event he was running for a group of archivists. As he describedwe used the paper by Mike Ellis and yourself on organisational barriers to Web2.0 in museums at a recent archive staff development event. The delegates were asked to compare your very useful structure of barriers with possible barriers in archives. The session was very successful.

I’m planning on doing more of this in the future – but given the mental effort it takes, I’ll try and share this responsibility with others at UKOLN’s forthcoming Institutional Web Management Workshop.

I’ll also, I think, need to document best practices for blogging at events. I didn’t, for example, describe the social events at the conference. Would this have helped provide a better feeling for the events, or would it have distracted from the content?

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This Blog Is Worth ….

Posted by Brian Kelly on 25 Apr 2007

The Business Opportunities blog contains a post on How much is your blog worth? The answer for this blog is given below:

My blog is worth $34,436.94.
How much is your blog worth?

Another gimmick, similar to the Are You an A-List Bloglebrity? tool described in the Metrics For Measuring The Effectiveness Of Blogs posting? Or a valuable service which may be able to identify whether an organisation is getting a satisfactory return on investment (ROI) on its commitment to providing a blogging service?

I would suggest that this tool may be useful in thinking about metrics which may be useful in measuring ROI, subject to all the useful caveats. This services states that it is based on an applet which “computes and displays your blog’s worth using the same link to dollar ratio as the AOL-Weblogs Inc deal.

From this we can speculate that the worth of a blog could be indicated by how much the blogging service would be worth if it was taken over by another company, subject to a weighting based, perhaps, on the numbers of in-bound links, numbers of postings, etc.

Another approach might be to simply host advertisements on the blog and if the income generated was in excess of the costs taken to deliver the service, then the service could be regarded as providing a satisfactory ROI.

And, thinking about my recent posting about using Dapper to screen scrape Technorati in order to give a graphical visualisation of Technorati rating trends, it also occurs to me that Dapper could also be used to screen scrape the ‘How much is your blog worth?’ figure, and possibly fed into other Web 2.0 services, such as Google Spreadsheets, in order to deliver a spreadsheet into the inbox of one’s funder! Could this approach be applied to the blogs listed on the Museums Web site, I wonder?

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Accessibility of MW 2007 Papers

Posted by Brian Kelly on 24 Apr 2007

Papers from the Museums and the Web 2007 conference are available online on the MW 2007 Web site. That’s great – but are the papers accessible, one might ask. And are they available in a variety of formats, to suit the end users preferences – including, perhaps, as a MP3 file?

The papers may comply with Web accessibility guidelines, but in general the answer to this question will be ‘no’ – and for perfectly understandable reasons: there is a cost associated with converting documents into a variety of formats, and there is probably no great demand for this.

But what if such conversion could be done easily, including conversion to MP3 format? And what if the he effort in doing this was devolved to the authors, rather than expecting the conference organisers to take responsibility for yet another task?

I’ve been looking at this recently, and have been evaluating the Scribd document repository service. As an experiment I have uploaded my papers on Addressing the Limitations of Open Standards and How to Stop Thinking and Start Doing: Addressing Organisational Barriers to Scribd. What this provides is a nice interface to the document in a variety of formats including MS Word, PDF, plain text, HTML and even MP3. The service also provides n annotation services and various statistics for me, as the author. The paper can also be embedded in third party resources, thus helping to maximise the impact of the ideas in the paper by simply embedding the following HTML code into a page:

<object width=”450″ height=”500″><param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”SameDomain” /><param name=”movie” value=”; /><embed width=”450″ height=”500″ src=”; type=”application/x-shockwave-flash”></embed> </object>

And although some may have reservations over the use of Flash as an interface to the resource, it should be noted that the MS Word, PDF and MP3 files can all be accessed directly.
All good stuff, I think.

So wouldn’t it be great if, at the MW 2008 conference, successful authors were invited to upload their paper to Scribd and to use the ‘MW2008’ tag to allow all papers to be easily found? It could be suggested that this process could be the responsibility of the conference organisers (and they might benefit from being able to include MP3 versions of papers to enrich the accessibility of the conference). But I feel that encouraging the authors to do this may help to embed an understanding of Web 2.0 technologies and the ease of use of such services more widely.

What do you think – potential authors of papers for MW 2008 conference, and perhaps the ichim07 conference? And, perhaps more importantly, what are the views of the conference organisers?

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Blotter And Museum Blogs

Posted by Brian Kelly on 23 Apr 2007

As described by Nate Schroedr the session at the Museums and the Web 2007 conference on Radical Trust: The state of the museum blogosphere by Sebastian Chan and Jim Spadaccini, was “One of the most anticipated sessions of the conference for me — and more than a few others, judging by the size of the crowd!“. And you can include me in that sentiment.

In the session the facilitators spent some time discussing Technorati ratings for blogs, and how to build and sustain one’s rating. This was based on the observations of museum blogs and manual analysis of their ratings and monitoring of trends.

As I subsequently suggested to Seb, wouldn’t it be useful to make use of Web 2.0 services to support this process of monitoring the state of the museum blogosphere. I suggested that Blotter could have a role to play – a service I’ve commented on previously.

So I thought I’d demonstrate this tool, applying to to the blogs which have impressed by at the conference: the New Media Initiatives blog at the Walker Art Centre, the Museums service, the Ideum blog, the Brooklyn Museum Dig Diary, the Smithsonian’s Eye Level blog and the Fresh and New blog at the Powerhouse museum.

I’ve included the rolling 7-day graphical representation of the Technorati ranking of these blogs with, as a comparison, the details for this UK Web Focus blog:

UK Web Focus blog (Technorati ranking of 69,782 on 21 April 2007):

Walker Art Center New Media blog (Technorati ranking of 98,648 on 21 April 2007):

Museum (Technorati ranking of 74,158 on 21 April 2007):

Ideum blog (Technorati ranking of 89,517 on 24 April 2007):

Brooklyn Museum’s Dig Diary blog: (Technorati ranking of 474,425 on 21 April 2007)

Smithsonian’s Eye Level blog (Technorati ranking of 51,006 on 21 April 2007):

Powerhouse Museum’s blog (Technorati ranking of 75,598 on 21 April 2007):

Now it is trivial to do this for your own blog, as described on the Blotter Web site. And I would recommend this to blog authors as it can provide a useful visualisation of trends (it has helped me to spot sudden jumps in my Technorati ranking).

But what, I think, would be more interesting would be to explore how Dapper, the application which drives Blotter, could be used across a community of blogs, such as the museum blogosphere.

Perhaps next year’s paper on the state of the museum blogosphere could be based on use of an application such as Dapper. And, as Dapper seems to be a lightweight application, perhaps this is an example of work which can be carried out by an enthusiast working in a small museum. An opportunity for someone, I think.

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Radical Trust? We’re Doing It!

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 Apr 2007

I mentioned recently that one of the sessions at the Museums and the Web 2007 conference I found very useful was entitled”Radical Trust: State of the Museum Blogosphere“. I have to admit that when I decided to attend the session, I was rather confused by the title: I realised that the speakers would be likely to review developments with blogs in a museums’ context, but what did ‘radical trust’ mean?

I was told that this term had been coined to describe how the commercial sector was starting to engage more actively with its user community. I subsequently found the Radical Trust blog which states that:

For years, marketers have been asking consumers for trust in making informed purchase decisions. The trick to conventional marketing is knowing what to say, and what not to say to create and influence the largest possible persuasion in purchase decisions.

Today, however, the consumer can become a segment expert overnight and can own and control the key brand information independent of the manufacturer. The tide has turned and now marketers must radically trust the consumer to build the brand based on the information that is most relevant to them.

It strikes we that this radical approach may be needed by the commercial sector (they advertise on broadcast media such as the TV and radio and expect consumers to ring premium rate numbers when the goods or services we’ve purchased don’t work).

But within the educational and cultural heritage sectors, surely user engagement is what we’re about. We may need to think through the implications of moving from a Web 1.0 to a Web 2.0 environment, and assess the risks in making use of new services. But the principle of user engagement is deeply ingrained within many aspects of our organisational culture, I would suggest.

And the term ‘radical trust’ could well endanger moves towards greater use of services such as blogging: we should be arguing that such technologies can support our core mission – s, indeed, the two speakers from the Brooklyn Museum did, with the Powerhouse blog describing the impact of the talk aseveryone was floored by the efforts of the Brooklyn Museum who have managed to build a strong user community around their online presence“.

In addition, I feel that the term ‘radical trust’ could be interpretted as being somewhat elitist – “We’re cool; we’re into radical trust! You’re not – you must be dull and boring”.

So I’m afraid I would disagree with Michael Casey’s LibraryCrunch article and the visually appealing but misleading photograph on Darlene Fischer’s Blog the Side posting.

Radical trust? Let’s encourage the commercial sector to engage more with their consumers – but let the education and cultural heritage sectors extend their engagement with their users beyond the real world and do even more in the networked environment.

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UK Museums and the Semantic Web Thinktank

Posted by Brian Kelly on 18 Apr 2007


The Arts and Humanities Research Council funded a Thinktank with the remit to engage with a variety of experts on the potential for making use of the Semantic Web in a museum’s context. I attended the launch meeting and the final meeting of the group. One suggestion I (supported by Paul Shabajee) made at the initial meeting was that the group should set up a blog rather than a mailing list as a mechanism for discussion and dissemination. We were therefore very pleased when we found the UK Museums and the Semantic Web blog. This blog provides a very valuable summary of the six meetings held with a variety of experts and the various discussions and shared resources.


Initially I suspect that there was a feeling that various Semantic Web experts would describe the role of Semantic Web standards and technologies such as RDF and OWL. In reality discussions on the difficulties and complexities of Semantic Web technologies were surfaced, and there were debates on its applicability, especially for the smaller museums, and the timeliness of the debate, especially in light of the wider interests in Web 2.0 in a cultural heritage (and wider) context.

My feeling is that museums should be experimenting with and debating the issues associated with use blogs and wikis, opening up access to their data and making use of popular services such as YouTube, Flickr and iTunes for maximising access to their resources, in parallel with discussion about legal issues, sustainability of services, etc. Whilst development programmes to provide services based on Semantic Web technologies should be left to the research community until the benefits of this approach have been proven and the technologies and standards have matured.

Further Thoughts

Ross Parry and Jon Pratty gave an update on the Semantic Web Thinktank at the Museums and The Web 2007 conference. Jacco van Ossenbruggen (CWI, Amsterdam) provided some fresh insight into the work of the Thinktank – and something that emerged from the discussions was the different areas of interests of the members of the Thinktank. The focus of my interests is in the provision of services to the end user community; others, however, were more interested in developments to the internal processes within museums, including enhancements to systems used to manage museum documentation. It then dawned on me that a Semantic Web approach may be relevant in updating the systems used to manage documentation of museums collections from an architecture based on early database principles to a Semantic Web environment. An advantage in this context is the widespread usage across the sector of the SPECTRUM standard, so there is not the competition of a variety of different approaches that we find in services targetted directly at end users of museum services.

The meeting at the Museums and the Web 2007 conference was therefore useful in developing my thinking in this area – and many thanks to Jacco for his contributions to the discussion. There will still, however, be a need to manage expectations and to develop the risk assessment and risk management approaches which will be needed in any new areas which are likely to require significant investment in resources.

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Museums and the Web 2007 Conference: Day 3

Posted by Brian Kelly on 16 Apr 2007

Saturday 14 April 2007

The final day of the Museums and the Web 2007 Conference – and it’s a Saturday with, again sessions starting at 08.00 (I don’t think this would happen in similar conferences held in the UK).

Bookmarking Session

This morning I chaired the session on “Bookmarking”. David Bearman, the conference co-chair, described this as the ‘Brits Session’ when he invited me to chair the session, as the main authors of the two talks, on Visitor-constructed Personalized Learning Trails and Bookmarking in Museums: Extending the museum experience beyond the visit?, were based in the UK. When I met the two speakers, however, I found that the speakers, although working in London, were from the US and Italy (and Jonathon Bowen, who was supposed to speak, unfortunately could not attend the conference).

Despite only having two talks (most of the sessions had three) this was a content-rich session, and I had to draw questions to a close at the end of the 90 minutes. I have to confess that I was initially puzzled by the theme of the session, as bookmarking to me meant either recording my favourite Web pages in my browser or, in the context of social bookmarking, on a service such as

Kevin Walker‘s talk described what was meant by bookmarking in a museum’s context. It seems that the term refers to the ability for users to record details of their visit to a museum Web site (or, indeed, the museum itself) for subsequent use. This is often achieved not, as I assumed from the term, by recording details on a Web browser within a museum, but by sending the information to the user in their home environment. The information may be recorded in a variety of ways (recorded as a personalised trail, on a PC, by recording the visitors physical location using Bluetooth, by recording their aural comments as they view exhibits, etc.) And the information may also be delivered to the visitor in a variety of ways, including email, SMS messages, etc. Kevin also explained why such bookmarking can be beneficial, particularly in terms of enriching the learning experiences of a visit to a museum.

Following Kevin’s broad overview, Silvia Filippini-Fantoni questioned the success, or not, of bookmarking services in libraries. It seems that bookmarking services are not very widely used. This, in part, is due to the low visibility of such services and also the confusing terminology. Such issues can clearly be addressed – and there is a feeling that bookmarking is not necessarily for everyone (and is likely to be of particular benefit to repeat visitors to a museum).

Small Museums

In the afternoon I attended a session on Small Museums which was chaired by Ian Edelman, Hampshire County Council. Joy Suliman gave the opening talk on Facilitating Access: Empowering small museums in which she described the centrally-provided content management system and hosting service provided by the Collections Australia Network (CAN) which is proving very popular for many small museums in Australia.

The second talk on A Family of Solutions for a Small Museum: The case of the Archaeological Museum in Milan described an open source tool which can be used for developing multimedia stories about exhibits in a museum, which can be accessed either using a Web browser or as a Flash application.

The final talk by Peter Gray, East Lothian Museum has the title Who are you calling cheap?. This was a great talk, describing how a consortium in Scotland had been successful in developing a variety of services without needed significant resources to support the development environment. This approach very much reflects my views on the approaches I think are currently applicable in a variety of areas.

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Museums and the Web 2007 Conference: Day 2

Posted by Brian Kelly on 14 Apr 2007


Day 2 of the Museums and the Web 2007 Conference (Friday 13 April, I need to remind myself) began with Birds-of-a-feather sessions which started at 08.00. I didn’t attend any of these session, partly as I’m not staying at the conference hotel, but more importantly Stephen Brown and I needed to sort out the final details for our Professional Forum on “Accessibility 2.0: A holistic and user-centred approach to Web accessibility“. And as this was the most challenging day for me (facilitating workshops can be much more mentally draining that giving talks, I find) I even missed out on a meal with fellow delegates last night, returning to my hotel at 9 pm last night and in bed soon afterwards.

Professional Forum: Accessibility 2.0

I’m pleased to say that the Professional Forum seemed to go down very well. About 50 people attended the session and they participated fully in the breakout groups, in which we asked them to discuss how the approaches they are taking to Web accessibility, the difficulties they are experiencing and any successes they have. Stephen facilitated the report back, while I kept notes in a wiki. Stephen did well in pulling about the various approaches which are being taken, from use of automated testing tools, provision of accessible HTML and CSS fragments for reuse across a web site through to user testing, including involvement by people with disabilities. During the feedback the issues of the rich content museums hold, the interactive services they are seeking to provide, the use of user-generated content and the limited resources smaller museums may have were raised. This provided an opportunity to describe the approaches to e-learning accessibility I have been involved in, with a focus on the accessibility of the learning outcomes, and not necessarily the e-learning resources – an approach which we have described as ‘blended accessibility’. We then described how we are seeking to build on this user-centred approach within a broader cultural heritage context, and also within an international context. An example I gave of the difficulties of addressing accessibility within a cultural context was of a Salvador Dali painting. This example was particularly appreciated by several people in the audience, who are faced with similar challenges, within a legal framework which is felt to mandate compliance with WCAG guidelines. However shortly before the workshop started I spoke to several attendees, and found that most were from the US, Canada, UK and the Netherlands, with one person from China. Stephen quickly found the legal requirements across a number of these countries, and found that in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK the legislations requires organisations to take reasonable measures. This is great, as the approach we have been developing is based on use of WCAG guidelines when they work, but a willingness to take alternative approaches when the guidelines either don’t work or compliance would require unreasonable measures to be taken.

We concluded by described the Accessibility Summit II and the manifesto we are developing. Several people expressed their willingness to become engaged in developing this manifesto further – and I’d extend an invitation to readers of this blog. Either add a comment to the blog, or send me an email.

Also note that my friends on the New Media Initiative blog have given their thoughts on the session and Majawat concluded that MW2007: Accessibility ain’t so hard.

Radical Trust: State of the Museum Blogosphere

After the Professional Forum I attended the session on “Radical Trust: State of the Museum Blogosphere”. This was a very popular session, illustrating the clear interests in the provision of blogs within a museums context. Again I’ll point to the New Media Initiatives blog entry for their thoughts on the session (there’s a team contributing to their blog, and they won’t be jet-lacked, I should add!)

The discussions on approaches to deploying blogs and ways of measuring, maximising and sustaining the impact of blogs reflect a number of the postings on this blog. And it was very interesting when one person commented that the museum community was way behind the library sector in making use of blogs – with one person responding by pointing out that the library sector is much larger than the museum sector.

So I would hope that the issues discussed on this blog will be of interest to the museum community – and I’ll try and contribute to blogs such as the Walker Arts Center’s Off Center museum blog (which has the wonderful byline “outside ideas from inside the walker”).

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Museums and the Web 2007 Conference: Day 1

Posted by Brian Kelly on 13 Apr 2007

The opening plenary talk at the Museums and the Web 2007 Conference was given by Brewster Kahle if the Internet Archive. Brewster spoke on “Universal Access to Human Knowledge (Or Public Access to Digital Materials)“. This was a great inspirational opening to the conference, with Brewster arguing that “universal access to global knowledge is within our grasp”. He argued that the costs of the digitisation and storage of text, sound and video resources was achievable – and that society had a responsibility for rising to these challenges.

After coffee there were three parallel sessions. I attended the session on “Web 2.0” where Mike Ellis presented our joint paper on “Web 2.0: How to stop thinking and start doing: Addressing organisational barrier“. As I was on stage during the talks it was difficult for me to make notes of the session. Fortunately I’ve managed to find a post on the session on the New Media Initiatives blog. As described in this report, the first speaker in the session described a managed approach to the use of blogs within a museum, with a formal workflow process for identifying topics for blog postings with editorial processes to ensure posting complied with institutional policies on the scope, writing style, etc.

The second talk, by Shelley Bernstein and Nicole Caruth (Brooklyn Museum), in contrast, described how the museum was encouraging use of third party services such as Flickr and MySpace in areas related to the interests of the museum, such as public grafitti. This approach was very much based on the museum’s mission, which emphasises the importance of engagement with the user community.

Mike’s talk, which closed the session, went down very well, with Nate Schroeder commenting on the New Media Initiatives blog “Really good ideas, another one I want to chat with over a beer later“. The other interesting comment made on this blog was “[Mike] touched into a lot of the phobias many people have about technology and change in general. I can understand concerns people have in this regard, but Mike is right in that if many of us don’t adapt and move past them, we’ll be left behind and become largely irrelevant. Technology moves too fast for us to sit on our hands“.

Unfortunately further comments on the day’s events were hindered by problems with the WiFi network. As the the New Media Initiatives blog commented “Advance apologies – this post sort of fell apart as I went. Internet access at the conference has been spotty at best, it seems like DNS lookups are failing or being blocked upstream. Very frustrating. If I get a chance I’ll clean it up in a bit, but for now I want to keep the “liveblogging” thing going so it’s time to hit post!“. As I spoke in the afternoon session it was not possible for me to keep a record of the afternoon sessions. And as I’m co-facilitating a Professional Forum tomorrow morning, I’ll be having an early night tonight. So I’ll give another pointer to the New Media Initiatives blog for their views on the Alternative Realities session which I attended. One comment I would add is that the talk on Second Life (which generated most of the interest) featured two examples from the UK – Andy Powell’s ArtsPlace work (including a comment on use of Library of Congress exhibits as their licence permitted such reuse) and Talis’s Cyberia Second Life presence.

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Model For Making Use Of Third Party Web Services

Posted by Brian Kelly on 12 Apr 2007

When I spoke recently at the AoC Nilta conference, I attended a session given by Randy Metcalfe of the JISC-funded OSS Watch service on “Comparison Shopping Evaluating Open Source Wikis and VLEs“. One interesting aspect of the session was the brief description Randy gave of the Business Readiness Rating approach to assessing the appropriateness of open source software for use in the enterprise. OSS Watch have published a discussion paper on this topic. This paper mentions the OBRR Web site which states that “Business Readiness Rating™ (BRR) is being proposed as a new standard model for rating open source software. It is intended to enable the entire community (enterprise adopters and developers) to rate software in an open and standardized way.

It struck me that this approach might be applicable when wishing to select Web 2.0 services for use in the enterprise.

On this subject I am a co-author of a paper on “Web 2.0: How to Stop Thinking and Start Doing: Addressing Organisational Barriers” which has been accepted at the Museums and the Web 2007 conference. Mike Ellis, the lead author, will be presenting the paper on 12th April 2007 (and I have uploaded a draft copy of his slides to Slideshare).

The paper argues that it is now timely for museums to start deploying Web 2.0 technologies and makes a number of suggestions for addressing various barriers, including understanding organisational barriers, encouraging enthusiasts, identifying ‘low-hanging fruit’, developing a risk assessment and risk management strategies, etc.

My work in supporting take-up of Web 2.0 has included publication of a number of briefing papers, including one on “Risk Assessment For Use Of Third Party Web 2.0 Services“. It does occur to me that the suggestions given in this document, and the ideas outlined in our paper, could be used in the development of a Web 2.0 Business Readiness Rating.

To provide a context for this, imagine you are considering deploying a blog service, but don’t have the technical expertise to install software in-house. You have heard about the WordPress blogging service, which hosts this service. You’ve also heard some positive comments about the Elgg software and the (recently renamed) Eduspaces hosting service.

What factors do you think need to be considered if you wish to decide which, if either, of these services is ‘Business Ready’ for your library, museum or educational service?

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Posted in Blog, mw2007, Web2.0 | 2 Comments »

Museums and the Web 2007: Day 0

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11 Apr 2007

I am currently in San Francisco, for the Museums and Web 20007 conference. I was pleased to be invited to be a member of the Program Committee last year, as I am seeking greater involvement with the museums sector. It was therefore appropriate for me to make a number of submissions to the conference – and I was pleased that all four submissions were accepted, although the proposal for a half day workshop was cancelled due to only a small number of bookings for the workshop. I’ll describe my other contributions to the conference in other postings.

I have just registered for the conference, on the day before the conference officially starts. Various half day and full day workshops are being held today – and I find it very interesting that so many are addressing Web 2.0 issues e.g. “Beyond Blogging: Is it a Community Yet?“, “Museum Mashups“, “Planning Social Media for Museums“, “Power To the Pod People: Design Your Own Podcast“, “Leveraging The Internet Video Book in a Museum Context“, “Web 2.0: Technologies and Design Strategies for Robust Online Applications“, “Real Science 2.0: Interacting with Scientific Imagery and Live Data“, “Remixing Museum Education through Online Participatory Learning“, “Exploring RSS in a Cultural Content“, “Creating Interactive Content and Community in Second Life” and “Vodcasting: 5 Easy Steps to Film an Interview and get it Online in a Day!“.

It seems that eleven of the twelve half-day workshops cover Web 2.0 technologies or user-created content and only the three full day workshops cover traditional Web topic areas (CMSs, online learning and usability testing). Perhaps this might explain the lack of interest in our half-day workshop on accessibility – all of the workshop participants want to learn more about Web 2.0 (indeed all of the morning sessions were fully subscribed when I registered this morning.

I’ll be very interested in the talks on use of Web 2.0 within a museums context over the next few days.

I’ll try and give a daily report from the conference – although the WiFi network in my hotel is very flaky.

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Accessibility 2.0: A Holistic and User-centred Approach to Web Accessibility

Posted by Brian Kelly on 10 Apr 2007

Web accessibility, just like open standards may be regarded (like motherhood and apple pie) as concepts which one could not possibly argue against. But what if the traditional approach to Web accessibility, based on ensuring Web resources comply with WCAG 1.0 guidelines, doesn’t work? And perhaps one interpretation of the poor levels of conformance is the case with the SiteMorse automated survey of compliance with accessibility guidelines for various disability support bodies in the UK. SiteMorse’s news article, entitled How can everyone else be expected to achieve website accessibility, if the experts can’t?, focusses on the findings of an automated test and fails to acknowledge that accessibility may be more complex than that. As myself and colleagues at the JISC TechDis service pointed out in a response to SiteMorse’s news item, a more holistic approach to accessibility is needed which focusses on the importance of satisfying user needs rather than simply following a checklist.

In November 2006 UKOLN and TechDis organised the Accessibility Summit II meeting (which followed on from the first Accessibility Summit held in 2005). As described in a report on the meeting the participants called for the development of a holistic approach to the development of Web services which addresses the broad set of issues which need to be addressed in order to provide quality Web services, including factors such as usability, the purpose of the Web site, interoperability, cultural and resource issues, as well as accessibility. The meeting also called for an evidence-based approach to demonstrating viable approaches for providing accessible Web services and for a clear recognition of the need to take into account various contextual factors.

Our work in this area continues and on 13th April 2007 myself and Professor Stephen Brown from De Montfort University will be facilitating a professional forum on “Accessibility 2.0: A Holistic and User-centred Approach to Web Accessibility” at the Museums and the Web 2007 conference. The abstract for this session, a briefing document and the slides to be used in this forum are available online.

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Addressing The Limitations Of Open Standards

Posted by Brian Kelly on 5 Apr 2007

Open standards are great – they can provide machine- and application-independence, thus avoiding vendor lock-in and they can help to ensure services are interoperable and are widely accessible. Unfortunately open standards don’t always work – they can be too ambitious, fail to gain market acceptance, may be too costly to implement or be superceded by alternatives. So how do development programmes ensure they make use of open standards which will be successful and avoid making costly mistakes when selecting standards? This is the theme of a paper on “Addressing The Limitations Of Open Standards” by myself, my colleague Marieke Guy and Alastair Dunning, AHDS which will be given at the Museums and the Web 2007 Conference on 12 April.

The paper and accompanying slides are available. Your comments are welcome.

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