Microformats, eh?

14 February 2007

I seem to be spending quite a bit of time ‘outside my comfort zone’ as Common Purpose would put it. Last night was a return to some geek heritage with the SkillSwap event on Microformats. Video should be online soon.

Thanks to Knowledge West (an innovation between the 6 Higher Education Institutes in the area) for the room and to ChinWag for the beer!

Tim Beadle from IoP was the expert explaining and navigating us through microformats and a live demo of how they could be used. In the event there was plenty of expertise within the audience and several times the demo became a joint editing and learning exercise.

Whenever there is a ‘standard’ or meta-code proposed (I remember some of the early work that was going on in the late 90’s on the Semantic Web) the experts rarely agree on the tags. This seems to have emerged from a defacto standard around iCards and iCal. There are a whole bunch of other microformats (including ones for social networks) which is good to see. This more pragmatic approach, plus obvious user benefits of easy(ish) capturing of contact and event info for your personal calendar etc looks like a winner. The inclusion of social networking demonstrates that the formats are being driven by the consumer and web2.0 agenda (which isn’t to say that’s a bad thing).

It will be interesting to watch and see if emerging formats develop for education2.0


Clive Carter – OFCOM
Availability & demand
Seems to be peaking @ 6MB access – no need for more?
Demand uncertainty – people don’t know what to do with the extra bandwidth.
Market led outcome better than policy led? OFCOM thinks so.
Policy can be used to ‘correct’ digital divide where it exists (does the service exist elsewhere, does it matter?)
Danger of public policy led development, at least in UK, seems to work in Far East (Japan, South Korea, etc)

Lizzie Beesley – BT
2MB sufficient for digital TV so everything OK.
Problem is with demand side.
All down to society & connecting pieces – likes ACTNOW.

Julian Wright – Exeter Uni – straight forward sales pitch
X-AT – online collaborative working – share desktop & documents?
x-fora proprietary and closed ? SMEs not ready, Digital Challenge as evangelical sales?
Virtual laboratory – possible link to FL international projects?

Thomas Rawlings & Ana Kronschnabl – Fluffy Logic
TR – good speaker
Use the young to educate parents & families – Open Source education project – UWE, UoB, KnowledgeWest, Fluffy Logic, others )

Evidence of impact – lots of good news: lots of and increasing use of Interactive Whiteboards; use of mobile technologies increasing. Flash stats (all from 2005 data):

  • 69% of Primary and 42% of Secondary schools using IW (up from 11% and 12% respectively in 2004)– assumed to be a good thing, some scepticism in audience over validity and value of measure
  • 38% of Primary and 21% of Secondary schools using internet resources in teaching (up from 14% & 10%)
  • 52% Secondary schools have a ‘learning platform’ (VLE)
  • 56% Primary schools don’t have a ‘learning platform’

A popular choice for those learning platforms are Open Source solutions – quickly followed by ‘but there’s no judgement, just an observation’…

There was an observation that there was some good quality resources being produced (perhaps driven or facilitated by eLCs) – but that there was no innovation, so perhaps an unusual definition of ‘good’.

Unfortunately I had to leave before the event was completed.

Part of the Futurelab Industry Members event series.

Focus on Free Libre and Open Source Software; check out www.schoolsforge.com

Apologies to the other speakers, I only took notes on Anthony Lilley’s thoughts on 4th phase of copyright – dislocation of content (what is a film? Viewed on phone, tv , etc not edited or produced on film)

Audience as creater – non professional expression of content & conversation content (4docs – channel 4)

iComms – international version of creative commons Using CC to develop content & architecture for business profit?