UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Archive for the ‘mashups’ Category

Guest Post: Opening up University Space online using Google Street View

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6 Mar 2013

The UK Web Focus blog invites occasional guest posts which cover topics which are likely to be of interest to readers of this blog. In this guest post Edward Miller, a graduate from the University of Sheffield, describes ways of opening up University space online using Google Street View. This post is based on his work for the Sheffield University.


Sheffield Information Commons Street View
Google Street View inside Sheffield University Information Commons

Last month, Sheffield University became the first University to have Google Street View inside one of their buildings. So far, the ground and first floor of the university’s flagship learning space, the Information Commons has been mapped out, with more buildings on their way.

To see the imagery, just drag the little man into the building or you can go directly to it. Don’t forget to explore both floors by going up or down the stairs.

Once more buildings have been made live on Street View, each building will be embedded into the university’s website, along with integration into the University’s Facebook page.

Shooting Google Streetview-in the Information Commons
Edward Photographing Street View inside Sheffield University Information Commons

Google started to roll out Google Street View inside buildings about a year and a half ago, initially just in the United States and now have a roster of “Google-Trusted photographers” across several countries who are able to photograph the Street View imagery.

In addition to photographing Street View imagery, photographers also take still photos around each venue for use in any offline and online marketing and are uploaded to your Google Place Page to help improve a building or businesses’ web presence and SEO.

After what began with a few streets in the States 5 years ago, Street View has now expanded to 5 million miles of road across 48 countries with 96% coverage of all roads in the UK. We can travel from the Rainforest to the Grand Canyon; from caves in Japan to a hut in the Antarctic in a matter of seconds. It allows us to visit places halfway across the globe that are inaccessible, either because of time, money or practicality.

For universities, this means prospective students who are unable to visit a university in person are able to gauge a feeling for the environment from the comfort of their homes on their computer or mobile device. For international students particularly, this could be an invaluable resource. In a world becoming increasingly digital, Street View allows universities to celebrate, promote and attract people to their physical home, online.


Edward Miller, a graduate from the University of Sheffield, started a business producing interactive photography in his third year of University whilst reading Philosophy and Psychology. He specializes in large scale ‘gigapixel’ photos that can be tagged through Facebook and is trusted by Google to produce Street View imagery. Since leaving university, he as built a client list including The Mail, ESPN, Press Association and Vogue.

Contact Details

Website: www.reaxive.com
Email: edward@reaxive.com
Telephone: +44 (0)20 3397 7989


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Posted in Guest-post, mashups | 1 Comment »

Enthusiastic Amateurs and Overcoming Institutional Inertia

Posted by Brian Kelly on 6 Jul 2009

I was very pleased but also slightly embarrassed when Dave Pattern invited me to speak at the Mashed Library UK 2009 event (also known as ‘Mash Oop North‘). Pleased because this event, which is building on the success of the  first event which took place at Birkbeck College in November 2008, reflects the interests I have in this area and will provide an opportunity to learn from some of the people (such as Tony Hirst, Mike Ellis and Dave Pattern) who are actively engaged in significant development activities. But embarrassed because I’ve been asked to speak to an audience who would, I suspect, prefer to listen to and talk to the gurus of mashup developments!

Dave convinced me, however, that as there appear to be a significant number of participants at the event who don’t regard themselves as mainstream developers, but rather as ‘enthusiastic amateurs’ that there is a role to play in exploring how the learning which will take place at the event can be exploited.

So I will be giving a talk and inviting discussion on the topic of “Enthusiastic Amateurs and Overcoming Institutional Inertia“.  This session will take place on Tuesday 7 July 2009. My slides are embedded below (and are also available on Slideshare). If you have any thoughts on this subject, especially if you regard yourself as an ‘enthusiastic amateur’ yourself I’d welcome your comments. Of you may wish to participate in the Twitter back channel, using the hastag “#mashlib09”.

Posted in Events, mashups | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

The Mashed Museum Event

Posted by Brian Kelly on 30 Jun 2008

I recently attended the Mashed Museum event, organised by Mike Ellis (Eduserv) which was held on the day prior to the UK Museums and the Web 2008 conference. Further information on the event is available on the MashedMuseum wiki. Frankie Roberto has already written a blog post on his use of Freebase (for providing structured access to collections data from the Science Museum) and the Simile timeline service for visualising the data. However the most comprehensive summary of the day I’ve found is available on the Findus.org.uk blog which gives an excellent overview of several of the developments, together with a more in depth summary of a development which made use of Twitter, Google Maps, Google earth.

My effort was much simpler – it involved use of the PicLens tool to produce a 3D visualisation of museum objects along similar lines to the 3D visualisation of the history of the University of Bath home page. However rather than focussing on technical development (not a strength of mine) my main interest was in ways in which development activities which take place at mashup events can be shared with a wider community and become embedded within the organisation. And so my visualisation included details of why such a service would be valuable to an organisation (a 3D visualisation may be more engaging than a static 2D Web page and could help to engage new audiences), business models to help to ensure the sustainability of such services (you could have occasional advertisements including in the 3D gallery) and concluded by summarising possible barriers (e.g. accessibility issues) and how those barriers may be addressed. In addition brief technical details were provided for those who might want to know how to implement this type of interface for their own service.

I did wonder, though, whether such supporting materials would be needed – aren’t software developers typically self-reliant and capable of working out for themselves how to make use of the lightweight development environments which were used during the event? I was therefore reassured when Michael Twidale raised the issue of the difficulties which can be encountered when using tools such as Yahoo Pipes, which aren’t well-documented and fail to provide much assistance if the software fails to work. And several other people at the event agreed with Michael’s thoughts, which I recorded as a video clip.

Shouldn’t we encourage software developers to record screencasts of their development work, I wonder, explaining why they make decisions which may not be obvious to others, and perhaps even swearing when things go wrong – after all, learning from the mistakes made by other can be a particular valuable way of avoiding making similar mistakes ourselves.

And haven written the above post, I’ve just received an email from Mike Ellis announcing a 12 minute video clip which summarises the day’s event including snippets from many of the developers at the event. Not only has he edited the various clips he took during the day, he’s also added music which he’d composed – very impressive stuff!

Posted in mashups | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

My Facebook Friends Do My Work For Me

Posted by Brian Kelly on 17 Oct 2007

Last week I wrote about my preparation for a talk on What Can Mashups Offer?  I was preparing for the JISC RSC 3.0 annual conference and invited readers to provide examples. I was pleased to receive a response from James Clay about the use of Yahoo Pipes at the ALT-C conference and, via the JISC Emerge manifestation of the blog post, further comments from Paul Mayes.

My Facebook StatusOn Sunday I was finalising my slides, and updated my Facebook status, inviting my Facebook friends to provide examples which I could use.

I received several examples later that evening, and by Monday lunchtime I had included examples in my slides from Jane Stevenson (showing how the Archives Hub uses Google Maps to show the locations of contributors to the Archives Hub service), Paul Hollins, CETIS (on mashups in Second Life), Mike McConnell (on outreach services to potential students at Aberdeen University) and several examples from Tony Hirst, Open University. In addition Mark Van Harmelin suggested Scott Wilson’s XCRI mashup examples, but I didn’t have a URI to hand when I finished producing my slides. And, for the sake of completeness, I should add that Sebastian Rahtz, University of Oxford, also provided – via email – a number of examples of the prize-winning mashups he developed for the IWMW 2007 innovation competition.

The various examples I used in the talk are bookmarked in del.icio.usand, thanks to another tool provided by Tony Hirst, a slideshow of these mashups is also available (as Tony described, a mashup of the mashups).

So thanks to my Facebook friends for providing these examples.  And for me, I’ve realised what a potentially valuable tool  the Facebook status can be – a simple request can result in useful feedback, without the intrusive aspect often suffered by those who complain of email overload. And unlike more open communications tools, I’m inviting feedback from a selected group of my friends, colleagues and contacts on Facebook.  Perhaps, in some cases, the most effective social network isn’t the open network but the trusted network?

And, as promised in my previous post about my mashups talk, my slides are available, with a Creative Commons licence.

Posted in Facebook, mashups | 5 Comments »

What Can Mashups Offer?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 3 Oct 2007

I have been invited to give a talk on mashups at the annual conference for JISC Regional Support Centres (RSCs).  To support my talk I have written a briefing document giving An Introduction To Mashups.  I would welcome feedback on this document (the master copy of which is an A5 printed document, which provides a mechanism for keeping the content brief and to the point).  Also note that a Creative Commons licence is available for this document, so feel free to reuse the content (and I hope anyone who may wish to use this document will be motivated to provide feedback).

In addition to the document I am also interested in examples of mashups, primarily in educational contexts to help RSCs  to succeed in their mission: to stimulate and support innovation in learning. 

I will, of course, make the materials I produce available under a Creative Commons licence.

Posted in mashups | 4 Comments »