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Monthly Archives: May 2010

One of my regular, though thankfully infrequent, tasks is fixing broken links on our website. Fortunately, I can request a list be generated so I don’t have to check hundreds of links manually or wait around for complaints to help me locate problems.

Because we tend to archive everything, broken links to long past events and old news items tend to occur over time. Similarly, when other sites undergo an update, pages and resources get moved and, sometimes, removed.

However there are other broken links which really surprise me; these are the ones to website home pages. Whereas I understand that these sometimes need to be changed, for instance, to reflect changes in an organisation’s name, it seems incredible that the owners of the website don’t always consider it important enough to use a redirect.

Looking through recent statistics for our site I can see a significant number of visitors reach our site via  a redirection. Our site changed name over three years ago, and we advertise it widely, yet many people must be reaching us though a URL they made a favourite years ago. We even have visitors using the URL from an even earlier incarnation!

So if you are going to change the name of your site or have recently done so, consider how many visitors you could be losing by not using redirection or taking it away too quickly (a quick check of the web statistics will tell you if visitors are still using the old address.) You may also be loosing links to your site from other sites (like ours) albeit temporarily until someone likes me fixes them; again, web statistics will tell you how valuable these are to your site.

Though this was mostly an informal networking event, we were given a presentation on the STEM Ambassadors programme from STEMNET. This scheme puts those working within STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines, or with a passion for technology in general, in touch with local schools. Here they can find themselves helping to enthuse pupils about STEM, giving them a new perspective and perhaps an idea about what careers STEM subjects could take them into.

Anyone who is interested in becoming a STEM Ambassador should visit the website for more details and the chance to register.

 

HEY! Girl Geek Dinners are held on a regular basis in locations in Hull and East Yorkshire. Everyone who shares the group philosophy is welcome to attend. Further details are available on their Facebook page and by following them on Twitter at @HEYGGD.

Phil Barker (CETIS) opened the day, mentioning the ‘dark web’, that part of the web which is inaccessible to search engines (‘The Invisible Web – Sherman and Price, 2001) and not adding your work to it inadvertently by choosing the wrong repository. Different repositories were contrasted, ones that manage resources instead of managing access (eg MIT OpenCourseware) and ones that manage different types of content (eg work in progress, finished work.) Ben Goldacre’s request for information on the content of a homeopathy course, though initially refused by the institution, was eventually granted after a court ruled that this was legally public information. Do we think of course material this way?

David Davis (Warwick) took us through his survey on searching for resources, conducted for the OOER project. This was full of interesting and somewhat counter intuitive insights into how users searched and how they assessed resources when they found them: an excellent read (see link below.)

David Millard (Southampton) compared sharing through repositories and Web 2.0 sites. He pointed out that those that shared did so for a reason (backing up our research in Skills for Scientists) and so it was important that the repository/site fulfilled those needs.

Joss Winn (Lincoln) expressed the view that a repository needed to concentrate on storing resources and nothing more, providing ”food for Google” rather than trying to provide social web functions which other sites already did so well and could be taken advantage of.

Patrick Lockley (Nottingham) spoke about the challenges of harvesting a multitude of RSS feeds; should be easy but it isn’t!

Lisa Rogers (Heriot-Watt) gave details of her work on two Subject OER projects, CORE for Materials and the Engineering Pilot Project. CORE involved experimenting with uploading to JorumOpen using RSS feeds (since manual upload of so many resources was unfeasible) whereas the engineering project had authors upload material themselves to make the process more sustainable.

Roger Greenhalgh (Harper-Adams) took us on a tour of repositories, including the Virtual Carrot Museum (everything you wanted to know about carrots ….and some) and his own OpenFields: a repository for land based studies.

Sarah Currier outlined a repository built by a community of practice based on Diigo and Netvibes.

Links to all the position papers can be found here: http://wiki.cetis.ac.uk/Repositories_and_the_Open_Web

Tweets (tagged #cetisrow) can  be found here: http://www.twapperkeeper.com/hashtag/cetisrow