Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Editorial Introduction to Issue 49: Technology Is Only Part of the Story

Richard Waller introduces Ariadne issue 49.

It was rather pleasantly brought to my attention a little while back that Ariadne has made its own small contribution to the various discussions in respect of institutional repositories when I noticed a very kind acknowledgement of the Magazine from the authors of The Institutional Repository as I set about organising its review. Indeed those readers who have seen the review will have noted the references to related articles, some indeed by the very same authors. But it may be worth remarking that while the discussions have revolved around the technical advantages of one system over another, (equally there has been much discussion about mandating of content and other issues) we are also now interested in the whole strategy of encouraging people to use them. Over part of that period I have been in regular correspondence with Shigeki SUGITA of Hokkaido University Library about the use of Ariadne articles in this area and I have been delighted to learn that they have been translated and of benefit to him and his colleagues. It was more than apparent when he and Masako SUZUKI visited UKOLN at the University of Bath recently that he and his colleagues had been extremely busy, and successful, promoting the usefulness of Hokaido University's own repository. Indeed we already had the evidence before us since Masako SUZUKI and Shigeki SUGITA had described Hokkaido University's efforts to populate its institutional repository with journal articles in From Nought to a Thousand: The HUSCAP Project. What strikes one is that the key to their strategy lies in their industrious face-to-face awareness programme and the constant contact with their target audience - all very human. It is also clear that the HUSCAP Project did not achieve momentum without a degree of flexibility and the application of some sensible basic psychology.

Despite its basis in a very sophisticated and scientific marketing approach, Heleen Gierveld's article Considering a Marketing and Communications Approach for an Institutional Repository appears to identify the problems and the solutions to populating a repository in some of the same terms. It is interesting to note that she too mentions the Sherpa/Romeo database, and the University of Rochester while, like our colleagues at Hokkaido, recognising that the researchers themselves are central to the success of any campaign to encourage take-up of an institutional repository. Furthermore Heleen writes, 'To summarise the marketing challenge of the IR somewhat controversially: Scientists need to act in order to make the IR 'product' successful, yet it is a product which they did not ask for in the first place.' Here she has of course identified the conundrum which, in their own way, the Hokkaido librarians recognised: the success of the repository is far more about human involvement than the fact that it works and that, rationally speaking, it is a Good Thing. It is only when the perception of researchers and scientists alters such that the existing barriers cease to be important that progress will be made. Heleen demonstrates in her own way that getting to know properly the group you need to convince is an essential element in her strategy: 'The IR is a novel, complex product, still under development and subject to overall changes in the scholarly communication process. For this reason it is also important to consult scientists and if possible, involve them in the development of an IR. After all, only scientists can actually tell what constitutes a real asset to them.'

In asking Creative Commons Licences in Higher and Further Education: Do We Care?, Naomi Korn and Charles Oppenheim discuss the history and merits of using Creative Commons licences which seem to be empowering rights holders with the knowledge and tools to decide under what terms they will permit third parties to use their work. The authors point however to the fact that there are critics of Creative Commons licences despite their apparent popularity, critics who point to issues surrounding the ethics, legality and politics of their use. They point to how the validity of using Creative Commons within teaching, learning and research has been subject to re-examination and consider Creative Commons and their use in Higher and Further Education. They look into the circumstances in which Creative Commons licences may be considered fit for purpose, or otherwise, looking at instances that may encourage Higher and Further Education institutions to reconsider using Creative Commons licences.

I am exceedingly grateful to Brian Whalley who has picked up the baton of e-books from my former colleague Penny Garrod and outlines in his article e-Books for the Future: Here But Hiding? some developments in e-book technologies and links them to existing ways of presenting textbook information. In what I would describe as a telling tour d'horizon, Brian takes us round issues such as the latest hardware for the purposes of reading e-books but also covers books, magazines and scholarly monographs together with reusable educational objects, digital asset repositories and management systems. He also points to the emergence and potential of PLEs (Personal Learning Environments) and examines Wikipedia, 'portal wikis' and wiki-books. Brian also gives his views on the current position of publishers and their textbooks, all which prompts him to speculate about the likely nature of future e-textbooks and express the hope that their integration with other elements into a more diverse and user-friendly system 'offers a better student experience than 'chalk, talk and a textbook'.

Moreover readers who will have been interested in Brian's remarks on wikis will doubtless be drawn to the article by Marieke Guy who asks Wiki or Won't He? A Tale of Public Sector Wikis in response to recent sightings in the press of the emergence of the public service wiki. Marieke takes a dispassionate view of these claims and goes on to consider the wider issues of the barriers to participation in this collaborative tool while also pointing to the potential that wikis truly represent, albeit as yet not entirely understood.

In her article on RDA: A New International Standard, Ann Chapman gives the background to cataloguing rules in general but also points out that something more than just a third edition of the AACR (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules) rules is being generally recognised as necessary, and hence the planned move to RDA (Resource Description and Access). A 1998 IFLA study on Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) produced a conceptual model of entities, relationships and attributes that are independent of communications formats or data structure. The latter point is at the base of the drive to revise the current rules. Ann points out that the challenge of incorporating this model and its concepts into the new cataloguing rules was a contributory factor in the decision to create RDA in preference to a revision of AACR2.

In GROW: Building a High-quality Civil Engineering Learning Object Repository and Portal Yan Han provides a general overview of the Geotechnical, Rock and Water Digital Library and demonstrates GROW's role as a learning object repository while covering metadata standards, related authority control, and learning objects using Flash technology. The author describes the design philosophy with regard to learning objects and the associated hierarchical structure of granularity. I am indebted to Roddy MacLeod for his good offices in commissioning this contribution.

As long-standing readers of Ariadne will have noticed, the Magazine no longer carries a discrete section for the decidedly technical articles on new technologies and the nitty gritty of how they are installed, configured or used. However, as editors will know, there are few editorial fates worse than a regular section that you cannot easily fill, since for editors commissioning is the invisible part of the iceberg. Nonetheless I am very happy to point out here and now that Ariadne will continue to seek and accept articles on the use of new tools and technologies whenever we can persuade our technical colleagues to pick up the figurative pen and put it to virtual paper. There is no distinction in my mind between these more technical contributions and the majority of our main articles, hence my decision to amalgamate the two. In this issue Greg Tourte and Emma Tonkin describe in Video Streaming of Events the set-up and use of video streaming technology at the recent IWMW 2006 event. Working to a budget and mindful of a plethora of constraints including licensing, the type of filming involved and a host of other matters, the authors came up with a solution for readers' consideration together with some background to the technologies involved. It is hoped this article will engender interest and contributions from other colleagues with an eye on this field.

In his article on the latest developments from the search giant, Phil Bradley asks Is Google Building on Shaky Foundations? and proceeds to investigate the most recent offerings from Google while comparing them against many of the products and services that he has covered in his columns for Ariadne over the years. Phil rightly points out the high degree to which Google has penetrated the search engine market and the degree to which users make use of its search services. However he may be wisely seen, and no disrespect here, as the slave, according to Tertullian, who follows the Roman Emperor and ever and anon whispered in the ear of the Imperator the warning words "Respice post te, hominem memento te" [1]; the 'post te' being most apposite given Phil's identification of the services coming up behind.

As usual, we offer our At the Event section, as well as reviews on essential law for information professionals, ambient findability (which the author says 'describes a fast emerging world where we can find anyone or anything from anywhere at anytime.') and an instructor's guide to developing and running successful distance learning classes. In addition of course we provide our section of news and events.

I hope you will enjoy Issue 49.


  1. 'Look behind you, remember you are human.' From 'Triumphus', article by William Ramsay, M.A., Professor of Humanity, University of Glasgow, on pp1163-7 of William Smith, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, 1875, London, John Murray http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMIGRA*/Triumphus.html

Author Details

Richard Waller
Ariadne Editor

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

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