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  • Updated On : Standards Panel: Reflections on 10+ Years of Standards Work. About This Talk This talk gives a brief summary of Brian Kelly’s involvement in standards work since the mid 1990s and reflections on these experiences.

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Standards Panel: Reflections on 10+ Years of Standards Work

About This Talk

This talk gives a brief summary of Brian Kelly’s involvement in standards work since the mid 1990s and reflections on these experiences.

Brian Kelly


University of Bath

Bath, BA2 7AY


[email protected]

Resources bookmarked using ‘sca-home-nation-tour-2008' tag

UKOLN is supported by:

This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 licence (but note caveat)

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About Me and About UKOLN

  • Brian Kelly:

    • UK Web Focus: a Web advisory post based at UKOLN

    • Funded by JISC and MLA to advise HE/FE and cultural heritage sectors

    • Web developer since Jan 1993

    • Involved with JISC Standards work since 1995

  • UKOLN:

    • National centre of expertise in digital information management

    • Located at the University of Bath

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The eLib Years

  • eLib Programme

    • Large-scale JISC-funded programme

    • Ran from 1996-2000?

  • Standards for eLib projects documented:

    • V 1.0 published in Feb 1995 / V 2.0 in Oct 1998

    • See <>

  • Document refers to:

    • CGM • SGML

    • IAFA/whois++ • Z39.50

    • URLs and URNs • VRML

“eLib projects are expected to provide a URL for public services, and a URN when these become stable“

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NOF-Digi Experiences

  • NOF-Digi:

    • Lottery money to digitise and provide access to cultural resources

    • Technical Advisory Service provided by UKOLN & AHDS

  • Standards document:

    • Based on eLib/DNER Standards document

    • No longer available on People’s Network Site 

  • Experiences:

    • Valuable learning experience for cultural heritage orgs

    • Standards sometimes too theoretical so ‘escape clause’ (migration strategy) developed – documented reasons for non-conformance & plans for migration to open standards needed in project reports

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Developing A QA Framework

  • QA Focus:

    • JISC-funded project

    • Provided by UKOLN and TASI/AHDS

  • Aim:

    • Develop QA framework for JISC development projects

    • Provide recommendations on compliance regime for standards i.e. what does must mean?

  • Findings:

    • Uncertainty as to what is meant by an ‘open standard’

    • Diversity of deliverables, approaches, expertise, effort, …

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  • What is an open standard?

    • RSS (1.0/2.0) • PDF

    • MS Word

  • What are the alternatives to open standards?

    • Do nothing?

    • Use something that’s not (yet) an open standard but isn’t owned by a company (‘my standard’)

    • Invent an open standard

    • Something else?

  • What about adopting popular patterns of use:

    • Web Services standards vs REST architectural approach (nb criticisms of WS* complexities & popularity of latter in Amazon)

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Characteristics Of Open Standards

  • EMII-DCF characteristics of open standard:

    • Open access (to the standard itself and to documents produced during its development)

    • Open use (implementing the standard incurs no or little cost for IPR, through licensing, for example)

    • Ongoing support driven by requirements of the user not the interests of the standard provider

  • EU definition:

    • The standard is adopted and will be maintained by a not-for-profit organization

    • The standard specification document is available either freely or at a nominal charge

    • The intellectual property of the standard is made irrevocably available on a royalty free basis

    • No constraints on the re-use of the standard

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What Do We Really Want?

  • Do we want:

    • Open standards?

    • The benefits promised by open standards: application- and device- independence, freedom from vendor pressures, …?

  • Do we want:

    • The cost savings promised by vendor-independent standards?

    • The costs associated with deploying new standards?

  • How do we reconcile:

    • A user-centred approach to IT development?

    • A developer-led approach to IT development?

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Changing Environment

  • Experiences from mid-1990s:

    • Identification of relevant standards

    • Engagement of standards-development

    • Consensus building; reflecting wide range of stake-holders

  • Recent experiences:

    • Web 2.0

    • Using existing, well-established standards

    • Commercial provision of (often popular) services

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Quality Assurance

External factors: institutional, cultural, legal, …

Context: Policies

Prog. n




Annotated Standards Catalogue





Responding To Change

  • Contextual model developed for JISC by UKOLN’s QA Focus project

Context: Compliance


Self assessment



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  • Issues which need to be addressed:

    • Does the evidence demonstrate the success of current approaches to use of standards?

    • Have we learnt from mistakes of the past (cf Coloured Book software)?

    • Does the contextual model provide the flexibility needed?

    • Is this an approach which can be used across a range of sectors?