Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Editorial Introduction to Issue 36: This Time the Cavalry Showed Up

Richard Waller introduces Ariadne issue 36.

Welcome to the July 2003 issue of Ariadne.

I have to confess to an interest in preservation issues and so I feel a timely lesson comes to us all in the shape of the rescue of the BBC Domesday Project videodiscs. Jeffrey Darlington, Andy Finney and Adrian Pearce have put together their compelling account of how all the data gathered by the Domesday Project in the mid-1980s was rescued at the last moment. The near loss of a country-wide collection of information, not even twenty years old, as compared with the preservation of the original Domesday Book, is an irony which has not been lost on the national press [1]. Inevitably it leads one to wonder what else has been lost simply because material becomes trapped in a format which turns out to be unpopular, uncommercial or unmigrated. Indeed this is also a major problem even for large and busy organisations with control over their material but which have significant archives that have to be protected [2]. However the conclusions of Domesday Redux: The rescue of the BBC Domesday Project videodiscs are perhaps a telling and useful reminder that a preservation strategy, even once devised, is not a policy cast in stone but a device that must itself be maintained and ready to migrate.

Liz Lyon looks at the trend in research to generate ever-increasing amounts of primary data and the cyclical manner in which the latter produces secondary information such as data sub-sets, aggregations, annotations, etc. which may itself be reused. In her article eBank UK she investigates the impact of Grid technologies and Grid-enabled applications upon the future of research, scholarly communication and ultimately learning itself and identifies the challenges involved.

Kelvin Hai, David Palmer and Chris Dunlop have contributed a technical description of the challenges faced by the MARTINI Project and the solution it devised to meet them. The Project’s aim was to identify the generic and transferable aspect of the 799 projects. Pursuing this aim, MARTINI has identified the IMS Enterprise Object Model as a standard for the representation of student information but also the obstacles associated with this standard. In An IMS Generator for the Masses they describe the architecture and operation of the Project-developed IMS Generator and show how its flexibility allows it to handle the diverse nature of data held by institutions.

The aim of the JISC Information Environment to provide users of electronic resources in higher and further education in the UK with easy access to high quality information and learning resources. Andy Powell in his article Mapping the JISC IE service landscape provides us with a graphical representation of how various services, projects and software applications fit within the JISC Information Environment technical architecture.

Verity Brack and Amanda Closier describe the role of the JISC Information Environment Service Registry in providing better access to the JISC’s numerous resources as part of the Information Environment’s middleware or shared services. The Project aims to form a catalogue of the electronic resources available and so enable portals and other services to determine on behalf of their users which resources are available and appropriate for their needs, and to supply information about how these resources are accessed through a machine-to-machine interface. In their article Developing the JISC Information Environment Service Registry, they describe recent work and what is planned for the coming months.

Julia Chruszcz takes a look at the world a decade ago when MIMAS became a JISC-designated national data centre and in particular at MIMAS Ten Years On.

Meanwhile in the field of electronic learning, Paul Browning gives a review of six of the 14 MLEs that were developed under the JISC-funded programme ‘Building Managed Learning Environments in HE’ Programme. In Six MLEs - more similar than different he considers the technical aspects of the six reviewed and how best their strengths can be taken forward.

The development of portals will be a topic for some time to come I am sure and following upon Geoff Butters’ and Liz Pearce’s articles in issue 35, I have been pleased to be able to persuade Liz Pearce and Ruth Martin once more to turn the spotlight on another aspect of institutional portals. They ask whether external content in portals is Just a Distraction?

This issue also takes a look at the area of intellectual property rights through the eyes of the RoMEO Project which is investigating all IPR issues related to the archiving of research papers via institutional repositories. For Elizabeth Gadd, Charles Oppenheim and Steve Probets one key issue is how best to protect research papers and their attendant metadata in an open access environment. Their article on The RoMEO Project is very usefully supported by John MacColl’s at-the-event report on the one-day workshop Schemas and Ontologies: Building a Semantic Infrastructure for the GRID and Digital Libraries and which he calls Metadata Wanted for the Evanescent Library.

There are of course our usual regular columns and we welcome the return of News from BIOME to add to our strength in that section of the Magazine. The reviews in this issue have all come from colleagues in UKOLN and I am particularly grateful to respondents on the lis-elib list [3] for their offers to write reviews for forthcoming issues of Ariadne. As with issue 35, I am grateful to Shirley Keane for her advice and support in the production of Ariadne.

In addition to Philip Hunter’s review of a CD-ROM of a Blake work Songs of Innocence and of Experience, I am indebted to him for his advice and in particular the ‘corporate knowledge’ that he holds on the Magazine. As Editor for five and a half years he has presided over a long tract of history in Internet terms and I trust I will be able to call upon my predecessor to continue his contributions to, and recall of, the Ariadne story.

In conclusion I would like to thank all contributors to this issue for their time and effort, not only in the writing of their article, but also in the support they have kindly extended in the editing and production process. I trust you will find this issue of interest and that the changes that appear will do as intended and assist readers to navigate more easily round the Magazine.


  1. Digital Domesday Book lasts 15 years not 1000. The Observer, Sunday March 3, 2002, p.12.
  2. Wright, R. “Preserving Europe’s Memory”, Cultivate Interactive, issue 7, 11 July 2002,
  3. lis-elib Mailing List, http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/services/elib/mailing-lists/lis-elib.html

Author Details

Richard Waller
Ariadne Editor

Email: ariadne@ukoln.ac.uk
Web site: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/

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Editorial: “Editorial Introduction to Ariadne Issue 36: This Time the Cavalry Showed Up”
Author: Richard Waller
Publication Date: 30-July-2003
Publication: Ariadne Issue 36
Originating URL: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue36/editorial/