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Panel Session:Optimising Technology in Libraries

The Sceptics View Of New Technologies

About This Talk

Panel sessions sometimes fail to be interactive and simply give mini-presentations which fail to engage the audience.

In this talk Brian Kelly challenges consensus views and invites rebuttals.

Brian Kelly


University of Bath



[email protected]

UKOLN is supported by:

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The Areas


RSS and News Feeds

Areas OfConsensus



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XHTML – Where We Should Be

  • XHTML:

    • Latest version of HTML

    • W3C Recommendation

    • Provides formal grammar which makes reuse easier

    • Use of XHTML Strict encouraged as a migration path to XHTML 2.0 and true happiness

XHTML is HTML expressed in an XML format. This promises the advantages of XML through simple changes to the well-used HTML grammar (e.g. tags in lower case, quoted attributes, etc.)

XHTML 1.0 will be followed by XHTML 2.0 – a redesigned markup language based on best practices and lessons learnt (and is not backwards compatible)

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XHTML – Where We Should Be?

  • But:

    • Invalid XML pages should not be processed (unlike HTML where the spec expects browsers to attempt to render them)

    • Most Web pages are still invalid

    • Widespread use of XHTML will result in mostly blank pages in Web browsers!

    • 94% of browsers don’t support XHTML correctly

    • Tweak in XHTML spec which allows for deviations for non-compliant browsers is ambiguous

    • Is it likely that a non-backwards-compatible XHTML 2.0 will ever take off?

Conclusions: XHTML is not a standard which should be deployed lightly

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RSS And News Feeds - Cool

  • RSS:

    • A lightweight format for syndication

    • Support provided for free in many Blogs

    • Widely used (e.g. BBC, …)

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RSS And News Feeds – Cool?

  • But:

    • Embedding newsfeeds from 3rd parties on your Web site allows them to write to your Web site without further checking – this could be dangerous

    • Even if the news is accurate the content could be embarrassing (e.g. THES news of University league table with your University bottom)

    • Which RSS – 0.9, 1.0, 2.0 or Atom?

    • Do we have mature QA for news feeds yet (e.g. invalid characters such as &, © and £ can cause feeds to break)

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Blogs – Too Good To be True

  • Blogs:

    • Allows individuals to publish content easily

    • Often standards based – e.g. RSS feeds

    • Blog companies provide professional looking templates

    • Democratising :

      • Blog community responses to misleading statements in US election

      • The Baghdad Blogger

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Blogs – Too Good To be True?

  • Blogs:

    • Vanity publishing

    • I don’t want to read about every thing you did today

    • Often not maintained (remember the diary you received as a child?)

    • The potentially valuable stuff may be stored by third parties

      • Will it still be there next year?

      • Who owns it?

      • Organisational memory can be diffused

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Wikis – One To Watch

  • Wikis:

    • The Web as originally envisaged - everyone can author

    • Easy to use

    • Wikipedia is a proven success

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Wikis – One To Watch?

  • Wikis:

    • Can we trust everyone?

    • Dangers of automated Wiki spam: Wikipedia may be able to manage this, but can we?

    • “A colleague has created a page in a Wiki. I disagree with the content, but it’s his page. If he sent it by email I would have given my views in my reply”

    • Can we trust the content ?

    • Traditional Web authoring (content author -> Web editor) may lead to bottlenecks but ensures quality

    • Lack of standards for the Wiki markup

    • Too much Wiki software –which is the best?

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  • Any questions, comments, disagreements, …?