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A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk A Contextual Framework For Standards Brian Kelly UKOLN University of Bath Bath,

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Presentation on theme: "A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk A Contextual Framework For Standards Brian Kelly UKOLN University of Bath Bath,"— Presentation transcript:

1 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk A Contextual Framework For Standards Brian Kelly UKOLN University of Bath Bath, UK UKOLN is supported by: Co-Authors Alastair Dunning, AHDS Lawrie Phipps, JISC Sebastian Rahtz, OSS Watch Paul Hollins, CETIS Co-Authors Alastair Dunning, AHDS Lawrie Phipps, JISC Sebastian Rahtz, OSS Watch Paul Hollins, CETIS This work is licensed under a Attribution- NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 licence (but note caveat) The authors are all active in JISC-funded work and in providing advice on best practices at a national level

2 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 2 Contents About the speaker Open standards are great … but don't always work Addressing the tensions – a contextual approach Using the model Extending the model Risk assessment approach Conclusions

3 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 3 About The Speaker Brian Kelly: UK Web Focus – an advisory post to advise UK's HE/FE and cultural heritage sectors on Web standards & best practices Based at UKOLN, a national; centre of expertise for digital information management Located at the University of Bath, UK Funded by JISC and MLA Key work areas: Use of standards in JISC's development programmes Advice on accessibility … Background

4 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 4 Open Standards Are Great … 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 History in UK HE development work: eLib Standards document (v1 – 1996, v2 – 1998) DNER Standards document (2001) which influenced: NOF-digi Technical Standards.. Open Standards

5 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 5 … But Don't Always Work There's a need for flexibility: Learning the lesson from OSI networking protocols Today: 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 Open Standards 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!? 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!?

6 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 6 What is An Open Standard? Which of the following are open standards? 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; … Open Standards

7 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 7 Compliance Issues What does must mean? You must comply with HTML standards What if I don't? What if nobody does? What if I use PDF? You must clear rights on all resources you digitise You must provide properly audited accounts What if I don't? There is a need to clarify the meaning of must and for an understandable, realistic and reasonable compliance regime Compliance JISC 5/99 programme ~80% of project home pages were not HTML compliant

8 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 8 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 key role in Podcasts Issues: Are these open standards? Are they reliable and robust enough to build mission-critical services on? Is there a clear roadmap for the future? Issues: Are these open standards? Are they reliable and robust enough to build mission-critical services on? Is there a clear roadmap for the future? RSS Example

9 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 9 RSS – Governance Issues Governance Issues: RSS 1.0 specification 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." RSS Example

10 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 10 RSS 1.0 – Roadmap Issues But it is no longer being developed: Draft technically good (addressed ambiguities & interoperability flaws) but political reaction apathetic RSS 2.0 has (a) better acronym and (b) momentum (through Podcasting) And RSS 2.0 sounds newer RSS 3.0 (joke?) proposal has caused confusion and arguments on Slashdot and elsewhere RSS 1.1: In Jan 2005 RSS 1.1 draft released: "[we] expressed our mutual frustrations with 1.0 …, we decided that rather than lauch (sic)... another … diatribe against the quality of the RSS 1.0 spec, … [we would] simply write a new specification ourselves. " RSS Example

11 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 11 RSS 2.0 – Roadmap Issues RSS 2.0: Spec published by Harvard Law School with a Creative Commons licence RSS-Board YahooGroups used for governance body Many arguments (most recently on proposal to expand board in April 2006): Note Wikipedia has useful links to the history and politics of RSS "Winer has now decided that the board doesn't exist and never had authority over the RSS specification, even though it has published six revisions from July 2003 to the present. I don't agree, but now that the board's fully public, we're in a position to make his wish a reality." "Winer has now decided that the board doesn't exist and never had authority over the RSS specification, even though it has published six revisions from July 2003 to the present. I don't agree, but now that the board's fully public, we're in a position to make his wish a reality." RSS Example

12 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 12 RSS – Summary What can be learnt: We thought RSS was a great lightweight syndication technology It was – but competing alternatives were developed No clear winner (RSS 1.0's extensibility & W3C's support versus RSS 2.0's simplicity and take-up in Podcasting, iTunes, etc) Conclusions 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 Conclusions 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 RSS Example

13 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 13 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 … Contextual Issues An open standards culture is being developed, which is supportive of use of open standards, but which recognises the complexities and can avoid mistakes made in the past

14 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 14 Quality Assurance External factors: institutional, cultural, legal, … The Layered Standards Model JISC JISC / project 3 rd Parties Owner Annotated Standards Catalogue PurposeGovernance MaturityRisks … Prog. nFundingResearchSector… Context: Policies ExternalSelf assessmentPenaltiesLearning Context: Compliance JISC's layered standards model, developed by UKOLN. Note that one size doesn't always fit all

15 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 15 Implementation How might this approach be used in practice? Programme XX Call / Contract Committees Advisers Programme Team Proposals must comply with XYZ standard Proposals should seek to comply with XYZ Proposals should describe approach to XYZ Projects audited to ensure compliance with … Projects should develop self-assessment QA procedures and submit findings to JISC Projects should submit proposed approach for approval/information Development Programme JISC Manager Report Contract Report must be in MS Word / … and use JISC template … Contextual Model

16 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 16 Note recent feedback has identified the need for heading on usage in other programmes (i.e. political acceptance) The Standards Catalogue The information provided aims to be simple and succinct (but document will still be large when printed!) Standard: Dublin Core 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, … Author: Pete Johnston, UKOLN Contributor: Date Created: 04 Oct 2005 Update History: Initial version. Example Note that as the standards catalogue is intended for wide use the contents will need to be fairly general

17 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 17 Standards Catalogue Process There's a need for developing and enhancing the standards catalogue in order to: Update with new standards Learn from feedback and experiences Review Policies Context Compliance Support Infrastructure QA Framework User Experiences Funder's Experiences Standards … E-Framework Feedback

18 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 18 Sustainability How do we Sustain, maintain & grow the standards catalogue? Develop a sustainable support infrastructure? Suggestions: More resources for support infrastructure Extend model to related areas to gain buy-in, etc Exploit learning gained by projects, reuse experiences, encourage sharing, etc.: Build on QA Focus approach (briefing docs and case studies) Contractual requirement for projects to produce end-user deliverables and deliverables related to development process Sustainability

19 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 19 Extending The Model Joint UKOLN / TechDis / OSS Watch work has extended the layered model to other related areas * … Context: Policies SectorFundingCultureResources… External Self assessmentLearning… Context: Compliance StandardsSoftwareAccessibility Annotated Catalogues This model aims to provide a consistent & understandable model: For use by the funders and for use by projects Applicable to the diversity to be found in the sector Applicable to the technical complexity and diversity Potentially applicable outside UK sector * Application to accessibility described at W4A 2006

20 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 20 Support Infrastructure (1) Opportunity to exploit deliverables from JISC-funded QA Focus project: 90+ briefing documents & 30+ case studies Licensed (where possible) under Creative Commons UKOLN are continuing to publish new documents (documents on Folksonomies, AJAX, Podcasting, Wikis, etc. published recently) Case Study Template About the Project Area covered Approach taken Lessons Learnt / Things We'd Do Differently … Case studies: Opportunity to describe experiences in specific areas Standard template to ensure consistency & provide focus Allows UKOLN to promote projects' work Project get better Google rating Support

21 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 21 Support Infrastructure (2) Why? Others (e.g. me) can cite your work Use of a CC licence enables you, your work, your organisation, … to become known in other sectors – you can benefit from this You will be seen to be good Web citizens You may get the 'feel good' factor – it's not just open source software developers who can share their work You can benefit from our work.. so it would be good if we can benefit from yours Why? Others (e.g. me) can cite your work Use of a CC licence enables you, your work, your organisation, … to become known in other sectors – you can benefit from this You will be seen to be good Web citizens You may get the 'feel good' factor – it's not just open source software developers who can share their work You can benefit from our work.. so it would be good if we can benefit from yours Support How others can contribute (projects & third parties) Case Studies On way home use template to summarise one aspect of your development work and send to me Briefing Documents Write a (brief!) briefing paper on area not currently covered and send to me

22 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 22 Support Infrastructure (3) How do we integrate the standards catalogue with implementation experiences, etc. Linking to related information in Wikipedia (the world can help the updating) Uploading information to Wikipedia – the wider community can help to update and maintain it Making information available with CC licences – so others can use it, update it – and hopefully give feedback on enhancements Use of syndication technologies (RSS & OPML) Support Note this is a Web 2.0 approach: Uses Web 2.0 syndication technologies Trusts users and benefits from a wide user base Contributes to Web 2.0 services Note this is a Web 2.0 approach: Uses Web 2.0 syndication technologies Trusts users and benefits from a wide user base Contributes to Web 2.0 services

23 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 23 Syndicating Content Note importance of: (a) RSS and OPML (b) modular approach and (c) Creative Commons licence to maximise use & reuse of 90+ briefing documents

24 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 24 Risk Assessment Model 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) Future Work

25 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 25 Using Risk Assessment Model Using model, what conclusions would you arrive at for: GIF vs PNG? Former has patented algorithm; latter is open and better – but does inertia rule (and limitations in browser support for PNG? PDF vs HTML/CSS? Latter is open and better for reuse but publishing processes prefer control provided by latter (cf this workshop) PowerPoint vs HTML/CSS (e.g. S5) or SMIL? Former is ubiquitous; easier for authors and gives better handouts Semantic Web vs semantic web vs status quo? Promises much, but complex vs simpler approach using existing technologies vs people may be happy with status quo and organisation reluctant to take risks Future Work

26 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 26 Conclusions To conclude: Open standards is important and use should be encouraged, esp, in public sectors Because of importance, there is a need for a pragmatic approach and not hide behind dogma The contextual approach: Allows scope to address complexities of technologies; deployment environments; etc. Best deployed within a supportive open standards culture Can be extended to other relevant areas We can use Creative Commons for open access to standards information; support materials; etc. which can help sustainability A risk assessment approach can help avoid mistakes in adopting risky open standards Conclusions

27 A centre of expertise in digital information managementwww.ukoln.ac.uk 27 Questions Any questions? Note resources cited in the talk & accompanying paper are bookmarked in del.icio.us using tag '' e-government-2006-kelly "


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