This is going to cover more than just web – as it is the whole picture which is important.
Victoria University of Manchester merged with UMIST to form the new ‘University of Manchester’. Obviously a huge project, and extremely expensive.
Information services is central to the university – but much of the infrastructure etc is hidden from the university – and the technology is obviously subject to continual change. So far, all pretty straightforward – general IT and UK HE context stuff – Lifelong learning, Globalisation, etc.
A question for the new institution was ‘what is world class’. One aspect of this is ‘smart’ IT systems. Also facing the ‘virtual challenge’ – dealing with the ‘virtual university’ phenomenon. This is an interesting area because everyone is aware of the potential, but realising that potential is obviously extremely difficult – as few, or no, institutions have managed this.
Speaker is racing through this – finding it difficult to keep up.
Manchester were looking at providing a ‘Gateway’ to information – basically a portal (although the speaker doesn’t like this term, as he feels it is ambiguous)
For the web – the web has become the vehicle which facilitates access. In 5 years the speaker is predicting that:
everyone will be working with a ‘A5-ish’ (sized) device/PDA
Simple interfaces (keyboard/mouse paradigm)
Scribble pad/voice command recognising
He suggests that 5 years is the limit on realistic predictions. This is interesting, as I’m not convinced by these predictions – everything he describes is feasible in terms of technology and cost – but will people use it? I’m not completely convinced that we are going to see a move from the small mobile phone/pda type device to a larger type of device that he is suggesting.
Now he has moved onto ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) – about integrating key business and management processes. Meant to solve the problem of integrating best of breed systems. The challenge of ERP is that it usually means reworking the business processes – which means changing peoples jobs – which is difficult.
ERP takes 1-3 years to apply in the corporate sector – but this is likely to be much longer (3-5 years?) in the HE environment, as they are very different in terms of management structure.
This is all very interesting, but the speed of delivery and the jumping from one thing to another is making it a bit hard to follow.
The speaker is suggesting that portal technology is changing very rapidly, so those institutions with ‘portal’ technology will be going through constant change.
Some stuff about the ‘information society’ – nothing out of the ordinary – born digital stuff, cost of information, finding information.
Some stuff about semantic web and metatdata. MS adopting xml as a standard for Office documents.
Mentioning ‘blinkx’ – desktop knowledge management
Back to Manchester context:
Web is too expensive and too ‘static’ – needs to be driven from data and information systems, must be knowledge enabled, must deliver to the user expectations.
A quote from the speaker – “The web is an enabler and must be owned strategically by the Institution”
Is this realistic? Or even sensible? I accept that institutions have to ‘own’ their publications – but this seems to be independent of the medium? I can’t see that you are going to stop individuals publishing in the web medium. In fact, based on the Warwick experience you can leverage the fact that this is going to happen. On reflection, perhaps this is part of the ‘ownership’ – by providing systems that work and are easy to use, you gain some level of control? No one will do it the hard way if the easy way is easy enough?