Opening Comments: Brian Kelly

7:14 pm in plenaries by kirsty-pitkin

Brian Kelly

Brian looking relaxed prior to his opening presentation

Brian Kelly opened IWMW10 by taking us back in time to 1997, when the new labour government came to power, the mantra was “education, education, education” and the Institutional Web Management Workshop was born. Kelly emphasised that we have seen 13 years of “good times” in higher education since then, with a lot of investment across the public sector and higher education, followed closely by technical innovation. He also noted the move toward the web becoming mission critical for many of our institutions, becoming embedded into the way we do things. Kelly also noted the amount of JISC investment in IT within the sector.

As part of our journey back in time, Kelly demonstrated the Memento plugin, which enables users to browse the web of the past using a slider to move backwards in time. He showed us a University of Sheffield webpage created not long after the first IWMW event, illustrating what we were doing back then, and how far we have moved on since then.

Much of the innovation that we have seen has been supported by funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), which included many of the national services such as Mimas and JISCMail. JISC has been around since 1993, but Kelly challenged us to think about how it might need to be described and justified if it were to be invented today. He highlighted the key language features that would be likely to be included, defining it as “…an example of a centralised shared service which provides economies of scale and is pro-active in promoting and delivering innovation across the higher and further education sector. Kelly emphasised that these are this is the type of language we need to be using to reflect the new political agenda.

Kelly introduced another JISC funded project, the Guide to Web Preservation (#jiscpowr), which was officially launched today. He drew particular attenion to the way that this report is being made available: through PDF, JISCPress (therefore enabling comment) and for purchase via The use of services like interested him, as it shows a possible route for the use of commercial services to compliment our own services as funding gets cut.

Kelly then reminded us of some of the themes IWMW has addressed in previous years, noting that last year was the only year when an appropriate theme was not really clear, following consecutive themes about growth. However, this year the theme was obvious because the times they are a-changing. In particular, the importance of the social web with the focus on the individual has surprised many institutions since those early days and we have only started to explore this issue in the last few years. This has also affected the community surrounding IWMW, with the traditional community sharing and supporting space of JISCMail falling out of popular use. We need to think about where the online community is now to help support each other and share both successes and failures.

Today we are in turbulent times. It is no longer “education, education, education”, it is now “cuts, cuts, cuts”, with concerns about the global recession and climate change impacting what we do. Cabinet ministers have been told to expect 40% cuts in their respective budgets, so Kelly warned us to look at the people around us and question who will still be here next year, and how we are are going to respond to these cuts.

Kelly feels that the key for web managers is to focus on innovation, explaining that IWMW represents a safe area for experimentation and a forum for seeing innovation demonstrated in practice, particularly in the area of the mobile web. He challenged us to tag any #eureka moments we may experience throughout the event to share in each other’s insights. He also outlined some of the mobile web applications that would be use throughout the event – including geo-tagging and a QR code team game devised by Mike Ellis.

Next, Kelly outlined some of the questions he hoped the event would cover. As the government expects shared services, community becomes an important issue. We need to consider this community and how we might work together better. There is also the question of openness: not just of our experiences, but also our data. There will also be questions about digital preservation and the future role of remote and amplified events. Specific to IWMW as an event, Kelly outlined how he and Marieke Guy see this event, but asked what is the future of IWMW? Should the commercial sector take responsibility for professional development? Will new models evolve? He discussed how the role of the IWMW sponsors currently fits into this issue.

Finally, with a slide stating: “There will be no miracles here”, Brian declared IWMW10 open.

Brian Kelly’s slides are available at Slideshare here

A recording of Brian’s presentation is available here.