Intute advent calendar blog

This December, Intute is once again running an “Advent Calendar” on its blog, with the theme of user-created content. It started on Tuesday with a post about the independent film Born of Hope, set in Tolkein’s Middle Earth. My own post, “Voluntary work for an obscure educational charity”, discusses contributing academic material to Wikipedia. Paul Meehan’s post today discusses augmenting a human-maintained web catalogue with Google Custom Search Engine. There’s more to come through the month on web2.0/community themes, and as usual the Intute blog has that bit more depth than the rest.

IWMW reflections/ Hug a Developer

This year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop 2009 was, as last year, a very friendly, useful, forward-looking conference. I suspect that some organisations didn’t send people this year because of the economic climate, which is a pity because the mindset of the conference was very focused on coping with future changes. There was, as last year, a lot of discussion of what the commercial sector can provide, and whether Google will conquer all. A phrase that got some use was “80/20 solutions”, i.e. 80% of the functionality at 20% of the effort.

For me the most interesting contribution was Prof. Derek Law’s opening keynote. He warned that the HE library sector may be too focused on responding to changing economic conditions, when the cultural changes happening now are arguably more significant. Read the rest of this entry »

Javascript rises to a whole new level

These don’t work in all browsers yet, and they work faster in Google Chrome than other browsers, but the Chrome Experiments show how far Javascript has come thanks to things like the canvas tag and powerful libraries. Witness a faithful recreation of the Amiga operating system and desktop, including the command line manager; a replication of the MilkDrop music visualisation plugin;  games; 3D effects and a version of cartoon physics.

Designing for Big Data

This 20-minute talk by Jeff Veen, formerly of Google, is worth blogging not just for the reflections on user interaction with data, but a quick look at how far technology has come in the last 25 years. Show it to the non-ancient geeks and tell them what it was like!

Examopedia

One of my favourite jobs each year is evaluating innovative practice in engineering education for the Engineering Subject Centre’s Teaching Award. This year one of the innovations I am evaluating is “Examopedia” where students can work collaboratively on a wiki to solve past exam questions. Examopedia is the work of Manish Malik and his students at the University of Portsmouth. It uses a University of Portsmouth installation of twiki as a platform, where Manish puts the questions from a past exam; students then put their answers to these questions onto the wiki, suggesting alternatives or amendments if an answer has already been posted. Manish can intervene to point out if the answer is being developed has any problems, or to confirm that it is OK.
Read the rest of this entry »

Dreamweaver is dying

From an opinion blog post on PC Pro, an attack not on Dreamweaver software but the static-content mentality that says that creating web sites is a matter of having the right kind of editor.

In the relatively near future every website will be a dynamically-generated web application and all of today’s sites built on multiple static pages will be ripped out and replaced. The good news of course is that this is actually a huge opportunity – think Klondike gold-rush – for the web designer who can adapt. But how?

The offered solutions – Drupal and Joomla – are hardly surprising, but it sells these approaches on the grounds that users’ basic expectations of sites will demand more interaction and less old-fashioned broadcast publishing.

VChecks: Form checkboxes as they really should be

I quite like this little jQuery plugin that someone has written to make checkboxes look nicer. Just some included files and a line of Javascript: it’s a practically instant improvement. It seems like it would degrade gracefully. The only oddness is that the state doesn’t change when I click directly on the image.

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