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March 18, 2007

JISC Conference 2007

I spent Tuesday at the JISC Conference in Birmingham, on balance quite a pleasant day and certainly an excellent opportunity for networking and meeting up with old friends ('old' as in 'long term' you understand!).

I went to an hour long session about the JISC e-Framework, SOA and Enterprise Architecture in the morning.  I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed by the lack of any mention of Web 2.0.  Err... hello!.  Also by the 30 minute presentation about the Open Group which, I'm afraid to say, struck me as rather inappropriate.

I presented in the afternoon alongside Ed Zedlewski, as part of the Eduserv special session.  Between us we tried to cover the way in which the access and identity management landscape is changing and how Eduserv is responding to that with the new OpenAthens product.  I've put our slides up on SlideShare for those that are interested.

The general thrust of my bit was that end-user needs will push us down a user-centric identity management road, the way academic collaborations are going (for both learning and research) means that institutions will need to operate across multiple access management federations and the technology around this area is in a constant state of change.  All of this, I argued, means that institutions would do well to consider outsourced access and identity management solutions rather than developing solutions in-house.  There are, of course, also good reasons for doing stuff in-house, so there's a certain amount of horses for courses here - but outsourcing should definitely be on the agenda for discussion.

The day ended with an excellent closing keynote by Tom Loosemore from the BBC.  Tom presented 15 key principles of Web design, a relatively simple concept but one that was ultimately quite powerful. Tom's principles were very much in the spirit of Web 2.0 and just the kinds of things that Brian Kelly and others have been banging on about for ages, but it was nice to hear the same messages coming from outside the community.

The 15 principles were as follows:

  1. focus on the needs of the end-user
  2. less is more
  3. do not attempt to do everything yourself
  4. fall forwards fast: try lots of things, kill failures quickly
  5. treat the entire Web as a creative canvas
  6. the Web is a conversation: join as a peer and admit mistakes when necessary
  7. any Web site is only as good as its worst page
  8. make sure that all your content can be linked to forever: the link is the heart of the Web
  9. remember that your granny won't ever use Second Life
  10. maximise routes to content: optimise to rank high in Google
  11. consistent design and navigation doesn't mean that one size fits all
  12. accessibility is not an optional extra
  13. let people paste your content on the walls of their virtual homes
  14. link to discussions on the Web, don't host them
  15. personalisation should be unobtrusive, elegant and transparent

Apologies to Tom if I've mis-quoted any of these.  Each was illustrated with some nice case studies taken from the BBC and elsewhere.

If I disagree with anything it's with the ordering.  As you might expect from previous postings to this blog, I'd put number 8 much higher up the list.  But overall, I think these are a good set of principles that people would do well to take note of.

15 principles too many for you?  Try 5...  Web sites should be:

  • straightforward
  • functional
  • gregarious
  • open
  • evolving.

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