The 10th Institutional Web Management Workshop (IWMW 2006)  returned to its spiritual home in Bath this year, headquarters of the workshop organisers UKOLN  and the venue of the fourth IWMW workshop held in 2000. It was the first workshop to be chaired by Marieke Guy following nine years with Brian Kelly at the helm from its inception in 1997.
This year the workshop theme was 'Quality Matters', reflecting the fact that institutional Web sites have been around for over ten years and are now taken as a given. Our students are sophisticated Web-savvy users with high expectations and we, as Web service providers have to be able to deliver a quality service. Another unofficial theme this was the hot topic of the moment, Web 2.0 . More on this below.
Chris Scott, Headscape: Real World Emerging Technologies
After Marieke's brief introduction kicked the workshop off, Chris Scott was the first main speaker, talking about current trends in Web design and technology. His focus was the 17-25 year old age group, the 'cynical and astute iPod generation'. Chris identified four main themes that he feels are important: language, design, technology and culture. The language used on Web sites now tends to be chatty and informal, such as MySpace  and Flickr . Fashion in Web design matters, currently large type and rounded corners. Younger users increasingly expect desktop-like speed from Web applications. There is also a culture of openness and sharing, with users more likely to trust peer recommendations than any institutional message. We have to get comfortable with not controlling the message. Warwick Blogs  was highlighted as leading the way by providing blogging facilities for all its students, and has now added Flickr style photo sharing. This has proved very popular and can really help sell the University to prospective students. A word of warning was sounded in that Warwick have found moderating the blog a labour-intensive exercise.
Michael Webb, University of Wales: A Strategy for Web 2.0
Michael began by explaining how he felt that the University of Wales had reached a crossroads with their VLE system in 2003 and decided to go it alone, building a system based on what their users actually needed. The outcome was myLearning Essentials, a portal used to distribute course materials, provide discussion, news and a 'for sale' board. As part of the ongoing development process for the portal they came to the conclusion that Web 2.0 technologies could be useful and strategically important, contributing to the strategic IT goal of improving the overall student experience. They updated the IT strategy to include support for two Web 2.0 technologies, blogs and wikis. Michael then went on to talk about what our 'Digital Native'  current and future students are doing. This included the use of social networking Web sites such as Bebo , a service relating to Universities. Students are already using freely available Web applications like Bebo to create their own communities, even if institutions may feel uncomfortable about this. A myLearning Essentials poll interestingly revealed that SMS  text messaging was the most requested technology (64%) followed by Instant Messaging (45%), with personal Web space barely registering. Michael concluded that we can no longer expect to be in full control of the university's Web presence. Students are going ahead and doing this for us using Web 2.0 technologies. This has its risks for us but is a fact of life in the Web 2.0 world.
John Gilbey, Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research: Delivering a Quality-Assured Web Environment
After giving us a brief history of quality, John argued that we need to take quality seriously and consider standards like the ISO 9000 quality management standard . The ISO standard defines quality as 'The totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied need'. In John's case adopting the standard was part of the funding requirements of the 'Joint Code of Practice for Research', government-funded research now having to meet these quality standards. John briefly explained that the ISO 9000 standard is a generic standard for managing organisations based on a number of core principles: customer focus, leadership, involvement of people, process approach, a systems approach to management, continual improvement, a factual approach to decision making and supplier relations. John made the point that many of the documents required for the quality assurance exercise were, surprisingly, not being held by the Senate or other central institutional departments and could only be found on their intranet. The relevant documents did need a little tweaking to meet the ISO standard but this wasn't too onerous a task. He suggested that if the process is getting too bureaucratic then it isn't being done correctly. He also suggested that quality assurance has to be done internally and strongly advised against employing external consultants.
Kate Forbes-Pitt, London School of Economics: Document Versus Content - Getting Quality Information Across
Kate opened her talk questioning why users like documents and what this has to do with quality. Why do users still continually ask for documents? She suggested this is because they trust the familiarity of documents. She illustrated this point with a quote from Seely Brown and Duguid:
"Getting ideas across can be a tricky process. Human inventiveness draws on all resources - down to the look, the feel, and even the smell coming off a document." 
Kate then posed a somewhat controversial definition of a document as being 'a piece of paper with writing on it' , arguing that the content is only one of several layers of information in a document. When you put a document on the Web you can't reproduce all the layers of information in the original document. The old accepted social rules of reading a document are masked by the new rules of the online environment and the social context of a document can't be reproduced online. The social knowledge required by the paper document is not the same as for the Web and it is impossible to write the social rules down or 'automate' them for the Web. Kate referred to two modes of access to documents: pragmatic access, for example reading a poster you pass in the street, and normative access. The computer environment has its own set of rules of engagement and thereby destroys any pragmatic access.
Randy Metcalfe, OSS Watch and Brian Kelly, UKOLN: What Does Openness Mean to the Web Manager?
The core of Randy's session was telling us about the OSS Watch  open source advisory service, indicating that it mainly targets strategic IT decision makers. OSS Watch doesn't 'sell' open source software but is more of an awareness-raising outfit. He outlined some of the various open source licensing models and some of the characteristics of open source, such as free distribution and the availability of the source code. Open source is essentially about freedom: freedom to run and study the program, freedom to redistribute and freedom to improve the program and release the improvements back to the community so everyone benefits. Randy asked how many people in the room were aware the UK government had an open source policy . In fact only four people were aware of the policy, myself included, having given a number of talks on the e-Government Interoperability Framework (e-GIF) . The open source policy states that the UK Government will consider open source software alongside proprietary solutions and will seek to avoid vendor lock-in. The Moodle course management software  was highlighted as a great success story of the open source community, having now been adopted by many educational institutions. In the short time between late 2003 and March 2006 Moodle usage has gone from zero to being adopted by 56% of Further Education colleges.
Brian's talk was about open standards, which he informed us are a good thing, although they don't always work. There is a need to recognise that adopting open standards can be problematic and it can be difficult to mandate standards. Even now the majority of Web pages don't meet W3C standards. RSS  and microformats  were cited as real world pragmatic solutions where complex solutions such as the semantic web have arguably failed us. Making resources available via Creative Commons  was mentioned as being important for openness. Brian suggested that a wiki could be set up for the IWMW community to contribute to in order to create a great open resource. Web 2.0 technologies were also cited as being part of the openness story, such as the use of Google maps mashups ,  on institutional Web sites. The University of Northumberland was cited as leading the way here. Risk management was mentioned as being an important issue when adopting Web 2.0 technologies and it is probably still important for the institution to own and control its mission-critical IT services. We were warned to beware of the IT Fundamentalist whether they are open standards fundamentalists, open source fundamentalists or indeed vendor, accessibility, legal or any other fundamentalists. Brian concluded with a slide on 'Why Openness?' explaining that it reflects our educational goals as well as, for many of us, our cultural and personal beliefs.
Ranjit Sidhu, Nedstat: Sector Statistics
Ranjit works for Nedstat, a Web analytics company that co-sponsored IWMW this year. His talk was about benchmarking the education sector against other sectors delivering services through the Web. The analysis was based on contributions from 22 institutions using data from one week in March and all of May this year, the intention being to repeat this exercise every six months. Ranjit mentioned the difficulty of deciding what we need to measure and what data is actually relevant given the wide-ranging client base of institutions. He mentioned that Nedstat use a combination of single pixel graphic, IP address database and visitor cookies to gather their data. Ranjit outlined a number of trends highlighted by the data. 56% of users enter institutional Web sites directly, 29% find the site using search engines and 20% arrive from external referrers. 77% of our users are from the UK, 4% from the USA and 1% from India. Ranjit went on to outline a number of other trends, details of which can be found in his presentation posted on the IWMW Web site.
Andy Powell, Eduserv: Reflections on 10 years of the Institutional Web
Andy began by talking about some of the difficulties he faced preparing his slides. He explained that much of our Web management history, having only ever existed in digital form, has now been lost due to a lack of digital record keeping. Andy's talk was a reflection on the institutional Web via his own history at the University of Bath and UKOLN, giving us some of his personal and anecdotal observations. He talked us through his Webmaster's timeline dating back to 1969 when the first ARPANET link was established. Andy suggested that Brian Kelly wrote what became the UK institutional Web Bible 'Running a WWW Service'  in 1994, the same year as the first WWW conference  and the first mailbase Web support mail list being set up. The first Institutional Web Management Workshop followed in 1997 . RSS was invented in 2001 and the term 'blog' was coined in 2002. RSS re-emerged, becoming popular around 2003, along with AJAX  and the newly coined 'Web 2.0' term appearing 2004-5. Andy then related an amusing story of personal embarrassment from 1993 when he was asked to set up a username on a UKOLN machine for someone called Tim Berners-Lee so he could install something called a 'WWW server' - probably an early version of the CERN server . Andy, being a Gopher  man at the time hadn't heard of a WWW server but duly set up the account, exchanging a few emails about how and where the code should be installed. Not long after this the NCSA, whose graphical browser was attracting attention at the time, released their popular server . Andy promptly deleted the Tim Berners-Lee installed server, his account and all email correspondence exchanged, having no idea who Tim Berners-Lee was. As good an example as any of digital history lost forever to the unsentimental and impassive indifference of the Unix command line.
Andy demonstrated how much the Web has grown, noting that in 1993 it was possible to list the numbers of Web servers available and literally browse the whole Web in a few hours. The general trend from static HTML to XML, managed content and dynamic interfaces was outlined. He noted that the quality of HTML and XHTML code has generally improved, largely driven by the need to make content more accessible. Another trend identified was the increased pressure for ownership and control of content. As the Web became more popular there was an increasing awareness of its marketing possibilities and importance to the University brand. Concerns about data protection and intellectual property rights also began to appear. There is a sense that this has eased with the rise of blogging.
Andy felt that another pivotal moment was the release of the 'Follett' report  in 1993, which has subsequently had a huge impact on the JISC development strategy. The report stated that a 'sea change' was required in the way institutions provide for the information needs of students and researchers as information was now available in many different media and all manner of locations. No single library could contain the information requirements of an institution. Andy also touched upon recent developments such as the e-Framework for Education and Research , the E-learning Framework  and the current vogue for a service-oriented (SOA)  approach to building e-learning systems. This is a major activity for JISC, building on the JISC Information Environment  of which Andy was the principal technical architect. Andy made the point that has occurred to me many times - there appears to be little talk or apparent interest from the Web management community in e-learning or e-research. This seems surprising given that these activities are the core business of our universities. Andy highlighted 'search' and 'content management' as two areas that continue to attract much interest within the IWMW community. However, these are essentially generic Web issues perhaps best served by other sectors and not solutions to learning or research problems. The importance of the m-word (metadata) and the semantic web were mentioned as two areas that have not really taken off within our community. It's true that Google showed the library community where it was going wrong to some extent by highlighting the power of automated processes, but Andy still believes that even Google Scholar  still fails in its ability to search scholarly publications in a way that is appropriate for educational and research purposes. He acknowledged that the Web management community is genuinely focussed on real world issues and if standards don't work they rapidly fall by the wayside. He concluded by reiterating that more link-up with the e-learning and e-research areas of JISC activity ought to be mutually beneficial and noted that some effort should be put into ensuring that we don't lose our digital records which show what the IWMW community has achieved.
Paul Miller began by challenging some of our misconceptions about libraries - despite reports of their demise, 96% of people say they have visited a library in the last year according to a recent OCLC report  and 89% of people say they trust libraries more than any other institution according to a MORI report. Paul stated that Library 2.0 is all about opening the library up. He gave a number of examples of recent Web 2.0 style developments, such as the Plymouth State University library catalogue that has a blog over the online library catalogue allowing for tagging and commenting. The University of Huddersfield has developed a greasemonkey  plug-in that shows the 'due back' date when viewing a book on Amazon. Also demonstrated was a plug-in that shows the holdings of books in a number of libraries when searching Amazon, providing the library is listed in the Talis directory . To encourage more of this type of library mashup innovation, Paul announced a £1000 competition sponsored by Talis.
Next up was Scott with a learning and teaching viewpoint on Web 2.0. Scott told us that 'e-Learning 2.0' is about being more personalised and at the same time being more global, i.e. it relates to individuals, but on a global scale. He talked about the development of the two-way read/write Web evidenced by services such as blogs and wikis. In the context of learning, Web 2.0 is about combining formal learning with informal learning. Mashups allow for the combination of learning resources aggregated from disparate services. The formal learning provided by the institution is combined with self discovered learning from such resources as Yahoo discussion groups, 43 Things  and mecanbe . People can use these resources to share their learning goals and forge a social identity. This style of learning is an example of the concept of the Long Tail  which in this context suggests that there will be at least a few people out there on the Web with the same learning goals as you. Aggregation is the key to this, combining self-discovered informal learning with formal learning such as that delivered by the XCRI format  which Scott described as 'RSS for prospectuses'. Learners in the future (and now) will already be part of a learning network before starting a course and have a pre-existing network of peers. Learning is becoming much more about collecting, remixing, sharing, tagging and re-publishing using a host of Web 2.0 technologies including RSS, OPML  and Web 2.0 services such as Flickr and del.icio.us . The problem with existing VLE software is that it makes all learning 'teacher-designed', an example being the VLE discussion group that inhibits the learner's self-organised activities. Learners need to be able to organise themselves and define themselves outside the constraints of a VLE course. In fact they are already doing so. Scott's concluding challenge was that we need to be able to deal with this situation since students and teachers are already functioning outside the boundary of the VLE and the institution.
Brian followed with a 30-minute rollercoaster ride through a range of Web 2.0 technologies, explaining how they've been used at IWMW 2006. He demonstrated that Web 2.0 is very much here already by searching for the term 'iwmw 2006' in Google. The majority of the search results were not 'standard' Web sites, but were blogs, wikis (Wikipedia) or the IWMW Frappr group , yet another Web 2.0 service. We were told that there should be no Web 2.0 without responsibility. We need to accept that Web 2.0 will be used by marketers and we need to remember accessibility. The first Web 2.0 technologies mentioned were RSS and OPML, used for the IWMW news feeds. Mashups were then demonstrated using the IWMW SuprGlu space  that aggregates content from the IWMW blogs, wikis and other third-party services. Blogs were up next and at this point I was feeling a little uncomfortable as Brian's blog slide had a screenshot from my own blog of the workshop, 'Web Idol'  that hadn't been updated since the start of the workshop. I was reminded of this a number of times after the session and spent most of the lunchtime and tea breaks catching up. The IWMW wiki, podcasts, IRC chat, Gabbly chat , Skype  and the del.icio.us social bookmarking service followed. Microformats, apparently the highlight of the WWW 2006 conference , were mentioned next. These were described as the 'lower-case semantic web' or the semantic web on the cheap. Firefox plug-ins, harvesters and other technologies can be used to process microformat semantics included within the HTML, for example to add names to email clients or events to calendar systems such as Google Calendars . Creative Commons and Google Maps were next to get a mention. The motivations for using these technologies and the possible risks were highlighted by Brian along the way. Brian concluded by emphasising that we need to know about these technologies and see how they can be and are being used. Some Web 2.0 will be hyped-up and unreliable. We still need to adopt standards and best practice and be aware of usability and accessibility issues.
Mike McConnell, University of Aberdeen; Iain Middleton, Robert Gordon University; Stephen Pope, Eduserv; Piero Tintori, Terminal Four:
CMS Debate - Challenging the Consensus
Unfortunately I didn't make it to this session so, in true Web 2.0 style, I'll defer to a blog of the session  written by the 'official' IWWM blogger, Owen Stephens. It looked like an interesting session albeit covering the well-trodden ground of content management systems (CMS). The 'to CMS or not to CMS' debate is a long-running classic in the IWMW community. Many of the debunked myths mentioned on the blog sounded like ones that have been debunked in previous years. The conclusion was that CMS does not fulfil its purported benefits. The problem that really needs solving is the people and processes, not so much the technology. This all sounds very familiar. It was interesting that despite this, a straw poll of the audience found the majority still in favour of adopting a CMS solution.
I was facilitating a practical workshop session myself this year, 'Keep SMILing' , on the W3C SMIL language . I think the session went well although we did lose a few attendees to the England v Paraguay World Cup game (as, I suspect, did a few other sessions). It was very much a hands-on session that briefly introduced SMIL, a mark-up up language used for integrating audio, video and other multimedia content. The participants were given an opportunity to create a simple SMIL presentation. SMIL is very useful for combining the graphics of a presentation (typically exported from MS Powerpoint) with an audio recording of the person presenting. Given the current popularity for recording talks and lectures for podcasts, it seems useful to go the extra step of combining the audio with the presentation slides to create a more complete record of the talk. A good example of a SMIL presentation is the talk given by Stephen Emmott at last year's workshop, 'Customers, Suppliers and the Need for Partnerships' .
I could only make it to my own parallel session this year so I can't unfortunately report on any of the other sessions. The topics included chatbots, microformats, podcasting, the Access Grid , digital repositories, digital archiving and RSS. Details can be found on the IWMW 2006 Web site .
This year's discussion group topic was 'Building Collaboration' looking at collaboration across the institution and with peers in the Web management community. Over two sessions delegates attempted to identify the main challenges to building collaboration and looked for some possible solutions. Each group reported back to the workshop on Friday morning. Lack of proximity and lack of time were identified as common inhibitors of collaboration. It appeared that face-to-face communication was generally preferred for team collaboration despite advances in technology. However the JISCmail lists , discussion groups and instant messaging  were all mentioned as being very useful for collaboration across the community. Most groups reported that the annual IWMW event was one of the most successful collaboration facilitators. The discussion group notes can be found on the IWMW 2006 wiki .
As the feedback forms testify year after year, the workshop social events are as important as the sessions for many people, providing the opportunity to renew acquaintances and make new connections with colleagues in the institutional Web management world. For many it is the only opportunity they get to meet up in person and share experiences over a drink or two. This year's social events did not disappoint. On the first evening we were treated to an excellent barbeque whilst being entertained by our very own Brian Kelly rapper sword dancing with 'Northgate Rapper'. Rapper sword dancing, for which Brian co-maintains the wikipedia entry , is nothing at all like Morris dancing. This was followed by a set from a local band 'El Vino Cheapo' which comprises four University of Bath Web managers. Being a musician myself from the pre-Web era, I joined them on guitar for a few songs towards the end of the set.
On the second evening we followed in the footsteps of our bacchanalian forefathers, being treated to a drinks reception in the historic setting of the Roman Baths. Unfortunately batheing was not permitted, so I needn't have brought my swimming trunks. Following the reception, delegates took the opportunity to patronise the excellent range of restaurants, pubs and bars of picturesque Bath, some of us ending up at 'The Star Inn' , a real ale gem.
Most of the technologies used this year were covered in Brian's 'Web 2.0: Behind the Hype' session mentioned above. Other than this, I'd like to say top job to the ever helpful UKOLN and University of Bath IT support teams for keeping everything running smoothly and helping people configure their wifi connections. I'm personally indebted to them for their help in begging, borrowing and stealing laptops for my SMIL parallel session. Streaming video was also used for the first time this year. I didn't get a chance to see it in operation myself but I believe it was a success. It was interesting to see the Access Grid used during one or two of the plenary sessions.
In light of the topic of the moment, it feels quite strange to be writing a 'normal' report instead of a editing a wiki page, posting a blog entry, notating a del.icio.us bookmark or commenting on a Flickr photo. I've found myself drifting between the semi-formal language of a report, the chatty informality of a blog entry and the folksonomic tagging  lingo of a del.icio.us social bookmarker - I wonder if I may be suffering from a post-modern malaise of digital immigrant schizophrenia. I apologise if this report reflects my Web 2.0 crisis. I will attempt to sum up ...
So we've seen this year how important quality issues are and there's no doubt we've heard plenty about Web 2.0. It'll be interesting to see if the term is as popular next year. We've also seen that in this era of openness and the read/write Web we have to accept that we have less control over our institutional presence. Our students are contributing to this by means of a huge range of freely available Web 2.0 services outside our influence. At the same time we've seen that we need to take our digital history seriously and grapple with preserving it or risk losing it altogether. It's also perhaps time to try to engage with the e-learning and e-research communities, areas in which there is currently much activity that may be going unnoticed by the institutional Web community.
There's no doubt that it was another fantastic workshop expertly executed by Marieke and the team at UKOLN. Many thanks to them for another great event and well done to Marieke for making her first workshop a great success - how did she manage to stay so calm? I'm sure we're all already looking forward to IWMW 2007  at the University of York. Marieke wrapped up the workshop with a short surprise tribute to Brian Kelly, 'The Web Manager's Saviour'. Brian originates from Liverpool, studied at Newcastle University and helped set up the Web service at Leeds University in 1993, eventually joining UKOLN in 1996. To date he's given a stunning 220 presentations, written 120 papers and hogs over 3Gb of UKOLN server disc space, more than half its entire capacity. We joined Marieke in thanking Brian for his ten years service to the Institutional Web Management community and he was presented with a fetching UKOLN geek t-shirt and a crate of specially commissioned 'UKOLN Web Unfocussed' ale.
Marieke announced the ambitious intention of having all new speakers for next year so get in touch with the IWMW committee if you'd like to get involved. Hope to see you in York next year. Good luck Web 2.0ing.
Editor's note: Marieke has kindly made available the link to the flickr collection of images of the conference: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/iwmw2006/