Monday, 23 August 2010

Presenting yourself

Interesting post in the Time Higher ED about how university staff members are increasingly turning to web agencies to produce personal web sites, like those done for authors, journalists and the like outside of the official university profile page.

The article argues that this, in part, is a response to the increasing control exercised by universities' marketing and communication departments to ensure that web pages are all in the official style and have the officially approved content.

This is interesting as one of the ideas out of the respository is to take the data from the CRIS and the identity management system and mash it together to generate a page for every researcher as in here's their photo, here's their contact details, here's their five most recent/most cited papers, etc

That way we would ensure that everyone has at least one web page, which is probably a good thing, but that this one size fits all approach may not work.

One idea might be to be like blogger, and provide default content and allow people to add from a range of gadgets to personalise their page - perhaps add a field trip blog or twitter feed. Interestingly, this seems to be what Harvard are working towards by deploying the Open Scholar drupal framework. Clicking around the Harvard scholar website shows that they seem to be using a couple of fairly standard templates and no one (yet) has done anything that's particularly gee-whiz.

Combine with some standard gadgets to pull data out of the CRIS and perhaps the LMS about courses taught might well solve things for about 90% of academics, who are probably not that fussed about fitting in with marketing's style sheets providing they can do some limited customisation on content.

And the other thing is to recognise that there will always be these academics that don't fit in for whatever reason - because they teach in two institutions, they have a second career as a tv historian, literary critic or political analyst, and that they need a site for these activities outside of the corporate framework, but yet the two need to interlink easily - perhaps my allowing them a 'my career as as a ...' button on the corporate provided web page ...

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