The importance of being open
Chicken trussing aside, it is hard not to be tempted to make simplistic comparisons between JORUM and Slideshare and the other social tools - all of which seem to gather momentum at frightening speed. I know I'm not comparing like with like and I know I'm being unfair in a way - but I wonder how the 1200 resources deposited into JORUM over the last 11 or so months compare with the rate of presentations being deposited into Slideshare currently (even while it is still in beta)? I briefly tried looking for some statistics about the rate of takeup of Slideshare and failed - but looking at the turnover of new presentations on the homepage indicates a pretty healthy pattern of usage.
So, what are we doing wrong? If anything?
I was preparing my slides for the CETIS Metadata SIG meeting about Item Banks earlier today, which caused me to stop and think a little about the similarities and differences between the JISC Information Environment and Web 2.0. It seems to me that we got a lot right with the JISC IE (and when I say we, I really mean Lorcan Dempsey and Robin Murray and various others who did a lot of the early thinking before I got involved). I spent a lot of time around the turn of the century evangelising the importance of machine to machine interfaces and being able to glue things together across the network - at a time when many people were only really interested in getting everyone to visit their Web site or portal.
The JISC IE encouraged an open approach but, looking again at the Web 2.0 Meme Map, what it failed to do was successfully encourage participation in the way that Web 2.0 social tools manage to do. Why? I don't know. Perhaps I simply didn't do a very good job, or perhaps the world wasn't ready for that way of thinking? Paul Miller does a great job of talking up Library 2.0 (and Library 2.0 is the logical conclusion of where the JISC IE was going I think) but I don't really know if it is having a real impact on your average library service even now?
To a certain extent I think we fell foul of being too rigid in the use of a particular set of standards - some of which are not very RESTful in their approach. I end my Item Bank talk with two slides. The first giving my view of how Item Banks should be delivered in terms of the JISC IE technical architecture. The second in terms of Web 2.0 (or my interpretation of it). There are some similarities, but also some differences. I wonder what, if anything, we should learn from that?
More generally, I also wonder if we don't always 'trust our users' and value their 'right to remix' - both of which it seems to me are key principles in what makes Web 2.0 a success. Does JORUM's current registration process indicate a trust in the end-user? Slideshare warns me not to upload copyright material, but leaves it at that - perhaps they've got better lawyers than JORUM!?
Image: slide taken from How to tell the Birds from the Flowers by Robert Williams Wood.