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.


Calendar thoughts

Having been allocated the shared calendars subgroup of the Gateway Project I would appreciate thoughts on the shared-calendars project from my colleagues in the network. As you may have guessed, it was a surprise to both me and Rob that we were given overlapping projects but not put in touch with each other at the outset. I expect we will be able to clarify our combined approach at the Awayday in December.

So far I have been impressed at what we can get out of Mozilla Sunbird and how it will be a very useful tool to browse across all the network events. However, I am disappointed at the lack of enthusiasm for iCal from some corners. Anyhow, we have a small budget for enthusing our network contacts.

My view is that we should require all SC network sites to a) issue an iCal feed and b) redisplay their calendar using the same iCal feed on their site – Google Calendar is one solution that springs to mind, but if the same db that generates the iCal also generates a dynamic page of events then that should be quite sufficient. So far, we have Gateway project agreement to declare iCal as the standard feed.

CalDAV seems to be the next avenue to explore so if anyone knows of a suitable CalDAV we could publish to, then by all means post it on this thread. We do not need a CalDAV, but it would be useful.

Eduserv Symposium 2008

This event took place in London on 8th May and its theme was “What do current Web trends tell us about the future of ICT provision for learners and researchers?”

My colleague Ale Fernandez has already blogged at length about the symposium. I disagree with his downbeat assessment of the Guardian and BBC speakers, and also with his (poetically expressed) negative assessment of the live use of electronic discussion. I was also interested to read some reflections by Mary Burslem at Intute. Here are the points that stuck out in my mind from the event.
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Web 2.0 in student activism

Those of us who work as educational technologists dream of combining online services and participatory sites in order to enthuse students to research a topic, work together and present results to each other. To my amazement, I’m seeing this happen right now and it’s nothing to do with the curriculum.

In response to Scientology’s attacks on the Internet, especially the recent deletion of YouTube clips of an internal video, thousands of people are gathering under the name “Anonymous” to attack the organisation in a variety of ways.

They are using a full range of online tools. Here for example is a mashup using Google Maps to show the location of Scientology properties and protest events. Wikis and Facebook groups are being used to organise a forthcoming London street protest (and similar protests around the world). Bittorrent and file-sharing services are being used to distribute leaked Scientology documents (the “secretdox”). YouTube is being used for sharing opinions, parodies and spreading film of real-life activism. Digg is being used to promote anti-Scientology links (at one point 9 of the top 10 Digg links were Scientology-related). Some of these activists are students (see the article in the Imperial College newspaper). The planning is very decentralised, but there are clearly people involved who are technically savvy and informed about the issues.

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Wiki-isation of a static web site

From a presentation at HE Academy Technical Away Day, Newcastle, 7 February 2007

Most of our site content is in databases or in dedicated applications such as a blog or wiki. However, we still have a lot of content in static XHTML pages. We occasionally need to make corrections to this archive material, but I can’t justify the effort of slurping it all into a CMS, with attendant information architecture/URL design issues. This page describes a small project to allow authorised people to edit that content in a wiki-like way.


  • Make changes immediately from the browser
  • Restrict editing only to the page content, not the other things on the page like breadcrumb trail, Server Side Includes etc.
  • Word-processor-style editing, but with option to edit source directly
  • Ability to paste from Word
  • Minimal effect on source formatting
  • Live spell-check
  • Multiple users with logging of their activity
  • Deployable on multiple sites
  • Secure
  • No money- must use only free software
  • Relatively small amount of new code: this is primarily supposed to be a time-saving exercise Read the rest of this entry »

Resource Sharing in Academic Support

Slides from a talk I gave this week about how an academic support “site” is increasingly a content provider using multiple external services, both commercial and academic (e.g. Google Video, SlideShare, Amazon, Intute).

I had been asked to talk about what will happen with resource sharing technology over the next five years, and there’s a little bit of technical stuff, but I thought the main point to get across was that resource sharing is central to what we do, and that we need to engage with the current environment of web services and embeddable content. This embedded presentation has active links:

The original presentation had ten slides, nine of which I used in the talk. Some explanatory text slides have been added. The lack of the “Web2.0” buzzword is deliberate.

Students’ expectations about technology

Following on from the earlier post about what students use the internet for, I’m grateful to Lisa Whistlecroft for drawing my attention to a survey conducted by Ipsos MORI for the JISC on school-leavers’ expectations of ICT at university. The report confirms the ubiquity of social networking:

Only 5% of the online sample claimed never to use this and 65% said that they used it regularly – with females more likely to use it regularly than males (71% against 59% respectively). Three-fifths (62%) use wikis, blogs or online networks, which can also be used as a tool of social networking.

Many of the sample saw themselves as having “graduated” from MySpace to Facebook:

“Facebook is more about identity, and communication, whereas MySpace is where you get stuff… about poems and crying” Read the rest of this entry »