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March 03, 2009

What became of the JISC IE?

Having just done an impromptu, and very brief, 1:1 staff development session about Z39.50 and OpenURL for a colleague here at Eduserv, I was minded to take a quick look at the JISC Information Environment Technical Standards document. (I strongly suspect that the reason he was asking me about these standards, before going to a meeting with a potential client, was driven by the JISC IE work.)

As far as I can tell, the standards document hasn't been updated since I left UKOLN (more than 3 years ago). On that basis, one is tempted to conclude that the JISC IE has no relevance, at least in terms of laying out an appropriate framework of technical standards. Surely stuff must have changed significantly in the intervening years? There is no mention of Atom, REST, the Semantic Web, SWORD, OpenSocial, OpenID, OAuth, Google Sitemaps, OpenSearch, ... to name but a few.

Of course, I accept that this document could simply now be seen as irrelevant?  But, if so, why isn't it flagged as such?  It's sitting there with my name on it as though I'd checked it yesterday and the JISC-hosted Information Environment pages still link to that area as though it remains up to date.  This is somewhat frustrating, both for me as an individual and, more importantly, for people in the community trying to make sense of the available information.

Odd... what is the current status of the JISC IE, as a framework of technical standards?


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UKOLN have been asked to carry out a technical review of the Information Environment, and the planning stage is due to be completed this week.
This will, in the first instance, be comprised of a detailed review of the last several years particularly in terms of how the original aspirations of the IE and it's technical architecture have panned out in reality.

The usefulness of having a document such as the one you point to will also be subject to review. The question you raise "...what is the current status of the JISC IE, as a framework of technical standards?" is a question that we might well recompose and posit to the community as "is this sort of framework of technical standards a valuable resource to the community and, if so, what form should it take?"

One potential weaknesses we have identified with this sort of framework is that it is prone to becoming out-dated (as has clearly happened here) without some sort of surrounding process or framework to sustain it. In the plan for the IE Technical Review, due to start very shortly, we have identified an entire workpackage dedicated to this issue.

I hope you will be willing and able to engage with this process to some extent - we will certainly be inviting you!


Thanks Paul. I'm happy to be involved and it's good to know things are moving forward.

Would it be worth adding a short version of your reply to the top of the current standards page? Just a thought...


The results of a somewhat broader review of the Information Environment and Integrated Information Environment conducted by Paul Walk and I can be found here. A web version is being readied, I understand ..



Thanks. Unfortunately, JISC have broken the old http://www.jisc.ac.uk/ie/ URL (though it wouldn't surprise me if we had done that for them!). The UKOLN pages themselves don't seem to link to http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/jisc-ie/ (only to http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/distributed-systems/jisc-ie/), e.g. from the A-Z list - so that particular resource is not easy to find??

Might be worth getting jisc to link to http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/jisc-ie/ from their pages?

Goodness knows why the IE link has broken again. It might be to do with some web revision work that going on or ?? I will report it.

And yes there should be a link to the newer UKOLN IE page. Thanks.

The report that Ian refers to will help inform the technical review that Paul is taking forward. Changes have been happening and taken forward e.g. moves to REST etc but the review Paul is planning will give a more public face to this.

Ah no http://www.jisc.ac.uk/ie/ seems well and truly broken:-(

I think that this is the type of discussion that makes sense on a mailing list given that it lines up reasonably well with a particular community of interest. That said, as Andy may have remarked some time ago, there does not seem to be an active ac.uk list which is a good candidate for such discussion.

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