national-programmes by fanzhongqing



How Far Have We Come?
From eLib to NOF-digi and Beyond
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    Introduction   Contents
                       • About me
                       • About this talk
                   The National Programmes (provider’s perspective)
                       • The technical standards
                       • The support infrastructure
                   What We Learnt
                       • What succeeded, what failed and what we
                         discovered along the way
                   What Should We Do In The Future
                       • What do we do next?

                   A centre of expertise in digital information management
    Introduction   About This Talk
                   Talk is based on experiences of national programmes:
                      • eLib
                      • NOF-digi
                      • DNER/IE
                      • Michael
                   Common characteristics:
                      • Interoperability through open standards
                      • Managed view of roadmap
                      • Did we get it right?
                      • Are there alternative approaches?

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    The eLib Programme
                                                              eLib Programme:
                                                               • Response to the Follet
                                                                 review, 1993
                                                               • Initial budget of £15m
                                                                 over 3 years
                                                               • 60+ projects funded
                                                              Areas covered:
                                                               • Document Delivery
                                                               • Access To Network
                                                               • Training & Awareness
                                                               • Electronic Journals
                                                               • Digitisation / Images
                                                               • Electronic Short Loan
                                                               • On Demand Publishing
                                                               • Pre-Prints and Grey
    A centre of expertise in digital information management    • Supporting Studies
    eLib Standards Guidelines
                                                              eLib Standards
                                                               • Provides
                                                                 for selection & use
                                                                 of standards
                                                               • Strongly
                                                                 encouraged where
                                                               • Data
                                                               • Data interchange
                                                               • Metadata
                                                               • Search & retrieve
                                                               • Security,
                                                                 authentication &
    A centre of expertise in digital information management      payment services
                                             Editors: Chris Rusbridge
    eLib Standards                           Lorcan Dempsey,& Ann
                                             Mumford (myself as a
    Things we don’t care about (?):          contributor)
         • Email (SMTP, not X.400), …
    Areas we correctly hedged our bets:
         • GIF is OK, keep eye on PNG
    Areas we were evasive about:
         • PostScript & PDF
    Areas we got wrong:
         • “It is anticipated that SGML will be a key standard ...
             Projects are encouraged to .. agree or, where
             necessary, develop document type definitions”
         • “projects should … supply a URL for public services, and
             be prepared to adopt URNs when they are stabilised”
    Standards which seem to have disappeared:
         • CGM
    A centre of expertise in digital information management
    eLib Standards version 2
    eLib Standards version 2
       • Published in 1998 (2 years after v 1)
       • Introduced a template for descriptions
            Relevant standards:
       • Templates on recommended standards
         complemented by technical summaries – and
         speculation e.g.
            “HTTP-NG should support more secure
            authentication and encryption”

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     Beyond The Standards
     Cross-Searching: The Vision
        • whois++ lightweight distributed cross-searching
        • ROADS: Open source software used by most eLib
          subject gateways (e.g. SOSIG)
        • Z39.50: More heavy-weight solution used in library
        • eLib SBIGs/RDN: implementation in a distributed
          environment (with departmental providers)
     Cross-Searching: Today’s Reality
        • Intute: Centralised database, distributed data
          collection. Cross-searching interfaces, but how
          widely used?
    Note dangers of using standards outside of DL programmes –
    JISC Web site in digital information management         
     A centre of expertise upgrade mandated Z39.50 support
    Later, in NOF-digitise
    NOF-Digitise programme:
         • Ran from August 1999 to December 2004
         • £50 million funding to put information that supports
             lifelong learning into digitised form.
         • Brought together wide range of partnerships &
    NOF Technical Advisory Service (NOF TAS) provided:
         • Informed support and advocacy of Technical
             Standards and Guidelines
         • Assistance in achieving standards compliance
         • Detailed and project-specific advice
         • Repository of standard and generic advice
    Provide by UKOLN and AHDS
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     Development Culture
     Different culture to HE digital library development community:
          • Tell us the standards which we must mandate
          • Caused problems:
                “NOF-digi project Web sites must have 24x7 availability” –
                  very expensive! Requirement was availability at weekends!
                Recommended standards weren’t mature (e.g. SMIL)
                  whereas proprietary solutions (Flash) provided compelling
                  user services
          • Providing pragmatic solutions:
                “NOF-digi project Web sites should seek to maximise
                  their uptime”
                Quarterly reporting template provided a get-out clause:
                  “You must (a) describe the areas in which compliance will
                  not be achieved; (b) explain why compliance will not be
                  achieved (including research on appropriate open
                  standards); (c) describe your migration strategies to ensure
                  compliance in the future and (d) how the migration may be
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     Minerva Experience
                                                               Minerva technical
                                                                • EU-funded
                                                                • Built on
                                                                   IE resources
                                                                • Initially edited
                                                                   by UKOLN
                                                               Continued to
                                                               promote plausible:
                                                                • Standards
                                                                • Best practices
                                                               which failed to take
     A centre of expertise in digital information management  
11                                                             off
     Compliance Issues
     What does must mean?
       • You must comply with HTML standards
                 What if I don't?                JISC 5/99 programme
                 What if nobody does?            ~80% of project home
                 What if I use PDF?              pages were not HTML
         • You must clear rights
           on all resources you digitise
         • You must provide properly audited
                 What if I don't?
      There is a need to clarify the meaning of must
      and for an understandable, realistic and reasonable
      compliance regime
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     QA Focus
     QA Focus:
        • JISC-funded project provided by UKOLN and (initially) TASI,
          then AHDS from 2002-2004
        • What QA regime should JISC provide for its development
          programmes? What actions should be taken if standards not
          conformed with?
        • Recommendations:
             Self-assessment, not external validation (projects
              explained complexities of standards-compliance)
             Build on culture of sharing and openness
             Have a pragmatic view of ‘open standards’
             Understand complexities of non-conformance / ‘failure’:
                       The standard failed, not the project
                       The standard may be too expensive to deploy
                       Alternatives may become available
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     Why Open Standards?
     JISC's development programmes:
        • Traditionally based on use of open standards to:
                 Support interoperability
                 Maximise accessibility
                 Avoid vendor lock-in
                 Provide architectural integrity
                 Help ensure long-term preservation
     But (thinking the unthinkable):
        • Do open standards deliver?
        • What happens if open standards fail?
        • What is an open standard?
        • Is the only alternative to open standards use of
           proprietary solutions?
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     … But Don't Always Work 
     There's a need for flexibility:
          • Learning the lesson from OSI networking protocols
          • Is the Web (for example) becoming over-complex
                  "Web service considered harmful"
                  The lowercase semantic web / Microformats
          • Lighter-weight alternatives being developed
          • Responses from the commercial world
     Other key issues
       • What is an open standard?
       • What are the resource implications of using them?
       • Sometimes proprietary solutions work (and users
          like them). Is it politically incorrect to mention this!?
     A centre of expertise in digital information management
     What is An Open Standard?
     Which of the following are open standards today
     (and were open standards in 2006)?
        • XHTML 1         PDF            Flash
        • Java            MS Word        RSS (1.0/2.0)
     UKOLN's "What Are Open Standards?" briefing paper
     refers to characteristics of open standards:
       • Neutral organisation which 'owns' standard &
         responsible for roadmap
       • Open involvement in standards-making process
       • Access to standard freely available
     Note these characteristics do not apply equally to all
     standards bodies e.g. costs of BSI standards; W3C
     membership requirements; …
     A centre of expertise in digital information management
     RSS Example   Is RSS An Open Standard?
                   Is RSS an open standard ("are RSSs open standards")?
                      RSS 1.0 (RDF Site Summary)
                         • XML application using RDF model
                         • Developed by Aaron Schwarz
                      RSS 2.0 (Really Simple Syndication)
                         • XML application using simpler model
                         • Developed by Davey Winer
                   Note that RSS is a widely used and popular application;
                   with usage growing through its role in podcasts

                       • Are these open standards?
                       • Are they reliable and robust enough to build
                         mission-critical services on?
                       • Is there a clear roadmap for the future?
                   A centre of expertise in digital information management
     RSS Example   RSS – Governance Issues
                   Governance Issues:
                    • RSS 1.0 spec maintained by Aaron Schwartz:
                       "Aaron Swartz is a teenage writer, hacker, and
                       activist. He was a finalist for the ArsDigita Prize for
                       excellence in building non-commercial web sites
                       at the age of 13. At 14 he co-authored the RSS
                       1.0 specification, now used by thousands of sites
                       to notify their readers of updates."
                    • RSS 2.0 specification developed by Dave Winer:
                       "Winer is known as one of the more polarizing
                       figures in the blogging community. … However ..
                       there are many people and organizations who
                       seem unable to maintain a good working
                       relationship with Dave."
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     RSS Example   RSS – Summary
                   To summarise :
                      • We thought RSS was a great lightweight
                        syndication technology
                      • It was – but competing alternatives were
                      • No clear winner (RSS 1.0's extensibility & W3C's
                        support versus RSS 2.0's simplicity and take-up
                        in podcasting, iTunes, etc)

                      • Life can be complex, even with simple standards
                      • Technical merit is never enough – market acceptance can
                        change things
                      • RSS can still be useful, and interoperability can be provided by
                        RSS libraries supporting multiple formats
                      • Need for a more sophisticated approach such as model in
                        “A Contextual Framework For Standards”, WWW 2006
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      Contextual Issues   The Context
                          There will be a context to use of standards:
                             • The intended use:
                                 Mainstream                Innovative / research
                                 Key middleware component  Small-scale deliverable
                             • Organisational culture:
                                 HE vs FE                      Teaching vs Research
                                 Service vs Development        …
                             • Available Funding & Resources:
                                 Significant funding & training to use new standards
                                 Minimal funding - current skills should be used
                • …
     An open standards culture is being developed, which is
     supportive of use of open standards, but which recognises
           A centre of expertise in can avoid mistakes
     the complexities anddigital information management made in the past
               The Layered Standards Model
 Owner Quality Assurance
                   External factors: institutional, cultural, legal, …

                                        Context: Policies
                      Prog. n Funding           Research Sector …

     3rd                     Annotated Standards Catalogue
                      Purpose Governance Maturity Risks …

     JISC /                      Context: Compliance
     project          External Self assessment Penalties Learning

               JISC's layered standards model, developed by UKOLN.
               A centre that one size doesn't always
               Note of expertise in digital information management fit all
           The Standards Catalogue
           The information provided aims to be simple and
           succinct (but document will still be large when printed!)
  Standard: Dublin Core                                           Example
  About the Standard: Dublin Core is a metadata standard made up …
  Version: New terms are regularly added to …
  Maturity: Dublin Core has its origins in workshops held …
  Risk Assessment: Dublin Core plays a key role …. It is an important
  standard within the context of JISC development programmes.
  Further Information:
    • DCMI, <>
    •…                                      Note that as the standards
  Author: Pete Johnston, UKOLN              catalogue is intended for
  Contributor:                              wide use the contents will
  Date Created: 04 Oct 2005
  Update History: Initial version.
                                            need to be fairly general
   The Standards Catalogue is deemed important – but there’s a
            A centre of expertise in digital information management
22 still lack of understanding of the contextual model
     What If Web 2.0 Changes Everything?
     “Web 2.0 Changes Everything” – what if this is true?
     The “Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World” report
     suggests that Senior Managers in HE may feel this to
     be the case
        • “Network is the platform” / The Cloud
        • Web infrastructure becomes the infrastructure
          (HE follows, no longer leads)
        • Growing importance of informal learning
        • Growing importance of informal networking
        • Growing reluctance to travel (travelling to CILIP-S
          on par with dodgy MPs’ expenses claims?)
        • …

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     The DNER/IE Diagram
     Web 2.0 in the context
     of Andy Powell’s
     famous IE diagram
     (early version shown)

                                                               ..which later was
                                                               developed further

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              My Take
                                                      My Vision
                                                      In 2001 I suggested that
                                                      application services could
                                                      be provided ‘out there’ (in
                                                      The Cloud).
                                                      I speculated about the
                                                      JISC Spellchecker and
                                                      JISC ‘delicious’ services

     What I Missed!
     What I thought about but failed to articulate (it seemed (a)
     Thatcherite out-sourcing & (b) too complex) was commercial
                     the services & large-scale
     provision of of expertise in digital information managementapps e.g. Google Docs
            A centre                                              
     Services In ‘The Cloud’
                                                               Will Web 2.0
                                                               services in ‘The
                                                               Cloud’ make
                                                               national initiatives
                                                               Or will there be a
                                                               mix of institutional,
                                                               national and global
                                                               providers of
                                                               Or will institutional
                                                               & national services
                                                               make use of
                                                               infrastructure in
                                                               ‘The Cloud’?

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     What About The Developers?
                                                 In the old days:
                                                   • Development was slow and
                                                     required significant levels of
                                                   • Funders and budget
                                                     holders could manage
                                                     development process
                                                   • Web infrastructure more
                                                     mature (standards,
                                                     services, APIs, …)
                                                   • Light-weight is ‘cool’
                                                   • Developers don’t want 3
                                                     year projects (and
                                                     associated bureaucracy) –
                                                     but food & drink are good!
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     What Can Be In A Weekend?

      Tony Hurst’s visualisations of
      MPs expenses claims

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             Community Matters
                                                            Importance of developer
                                                            community now being appreciated:
                                                              • In JISC Circles (cf dev8d week;
                                                                Mashed Library events; Rapid
                                                                Innovation Call)
                                                              • In Museums sector (cf. Mashed
                                                                Museum events)
                                                              • In commercial sector (cf
                                                              • In government circles (cf.
                                                                Government barcamps)                 • …

     Dev8D: Developer Happiness Days event sponsored by
     JISC. See <>
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     Risk Assessment Model (c. 2006)
     SS=f(SB, S, U, En, ..)
     Selection of appropriate standard (SS) is function of:
          Standards Body (SB): Maturity, stability, status,
            openness, responsivity, …
          Standard (S): Functionality, complexity / ease-of-use, …
          Users (U): Appropriateness for, benefits to adoption by …
          Environment (En): Institutional, community, sectoral, …
     Other factors:
        • Market acceptance: do vendors support it (beyond
          proof-of-concept open source examples)
        • Risks (am I betting the company of the standard)
        • Exit options (can I easily change my mind)
        • Advocacy (is the world campaigning for it) and
          threats (is the world criticising for it)
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     Deployment Strategies
     Interested in using Web 2.0 in your organisation?
     Worried about corporate inertia, power struggles, etc?
     There’s a need for a deployment strategy:
          • Addressing business needs
          • Low-hanging fruits
          • Encouraging the enthusiasts
          • Gain experience of the browser tools – and see
              what you’re missing!
          • Staff training & development
          • Impact assessment and measurement
          • Risk and opportunity management strategy
          • Critical Friends and friendly critics
          • Culture of sharing
          • …
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     Strategies   Risk Management
                   JISC infoNet Risk Management infoKit:
                     “In education, as in any other environment, you can’t
                     decide not to take risks: that simply isn’t an option in
                     today’s world. All of us take risks and it’s a question of
                     which risks we take”

                  Examples of people who are likely to be adverse stakeholders:
                        • People .. required to commit resources to the project
                        • People who fear loss of control over a function or
                        • People who will have to do their job in a different way
                        • People who will have to carry out new functions
                        • People who will have to use a new technology
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32                      • ..
            Critical Friends
                                                                      JISC U&I
                                                                      programme is
                                                                      establishment of
                                                                      “Critical Friends”
                                                                      Paul Walk
                                                                      (UKOLN) was
                                                                      described as a
                                                                      ‘critical friend’ of
 See <
 See <>                                   JISC

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              Towards a Framework
     • Critical friends                  Intended
                                                                  • Sharing
     • Application to                    Purpose
       existing                         Benefits                  • Learning from
       services                         (various                    successes
     • Application to                 stakeholders
                                                                    & failures
       in-house                           Risks
                                        (various                  • Tackling biases
     •…                               stakeholders
                                      Missed Opps.
                                        (various                      “Time To Stop Doing and Start
                                      stakeholders                    Thinking: A Framework For
                                      Subjective factors              Exploiting Web 2.0 Services”,
                                                                      Museums & the Web 2009
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           Using The Framework
     Twitter for individuals Organisational Fb Page
         Community               Intended               Marketing
         support                 Purpose                                 Critical friends:
                                                                          • Paul Walk / Brian
          Rapid                                         Large               Kelly blog posts)
          feedback                                      audiences         • MCG discussions
                                  Risks                                  Learning
         Justify ROI            (various                Ownership,        • UKOLN cultural
         Org. brand           stakeholders              privacy, lock-in    heritage guest
                              Missed Opps.                                  blog post
          Community-                                    Marketing
                                (various                                  • Conferences
          building                                      opportunity
                              stakeholders                                • Papers
          Low?                   Costs                                    •…
                                (various                Low?
                                                                     Note personal biases!
           Use of approach in two scenarios: use of Twitter & Facebook
           A centre of expertise in digital information management   
          Using The Framework (2)
     Semantic Web                No standard
                          Purpose                          Critical friends:
                                                            • JISC Advisers
                                                            • Developers
                                                            • International
                            Risks                             community
                          (various                         Learning
                        stakeholders                        • From developers
                        Missed Opps.                        • Conferences
                          (various                          • Papers
                        stakeholders                        •…

          Use of approach with standards: doing nothing (today) might be an
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     The Assumptions
        • Interoperability through open standards
        • Avoidance of proprietary lock-in & other benefits
        • All we need is to identify the correct open
        • This will save us time, money & deliver rich
          functionality and usable & useful services
        • The developers can then simply use the
        • This will also provide seamless evolution to new
     A centre of expertise in digital information management
     Challenging The Assumptions
     Maybe we want:
        • To challenge the unthinking assumptions in national
          development programmes –using evidence rather than
        • The benefits promised (but not necessarily delivered) by
          open standards
        • An understanding that it’s not a binary open standards vs
          proprietary world
        • The world may choose good enough, whilst we want to
          provide the best
        • To develop user-focussed services which the commercial
          sector seems to be better at
        • To recognise the importance of the developers’ perspective

             And we should also challenge these views!
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            Any questions, comments, …?
     Additional Resources:
     Papers published on standards and national programmes:
       • What Does Openness Mean To The Museum Community?, MW 2008
       • Openness in Higher Education: Open Source, Open Standards, Open
         Access, elPub 2008
       • Addressing The Limitations Of Open Standards, MW 2007
       • A Contextual Framework For Standards, WWW 2006
       • A Standards Framework For Digital Library Programmes, ichim05
       • Interoperability Across Digital Library Programmes? We Must Have
         QA!, ECDL 2004
       • Deployment Of Quality Assurance Procedures For Digital Library
         Programmes, IADIS 2003
       • Developing A Quality Culture For Digital Library Programmes, EUNIS
       • Ideology Or Pragmatism? Open Standards And Cultural Heritage Web
         Sites, ichim03
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     See <>

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