22 December 2007

Measures of dispersion

After a couple of years or more of doing nothing with it, I've stirred myself to participate in Photo.Net.

So far, it's mostly past work that I'm shifting there, so anyone reading this will probably have already seen it - but for anyone interested, the alphabetical slide show index is here and the most recently added folder will always be at the top of the list here.

This is part of a general (if slow) move on my part to shift material from private web space to public spaces such as here at Blogger, the new 2collab project from Elsevier, and so on. As an example, I recently moved an educational dataset resource to a Blogger base ... then placed a link to it in a new 2collab educational resources group ... where, I hope, others will join it as and when I find the fragments of time necessary to transfer them. And an archive of the "Difference of Opinion" column which Ray Girvan and I wrote from 1997-2000, to which access is often requested, and of which Ray and I have until now maintained private copies, has now made the same transition.

Why do this?

Well ... partly it's selfish (who would bother, otherwise?): I shift the webspace, housekeeping, bandwidth and other concerns onto somebody else. It also makes functional sense, though: the user who wants (for example) an educational data set resource is much better off hunting for it in a small and relevant pool than across the web at large, while the producer is better occupied producing than in maintaining websites and reinventing wheels. And in the case of 2collab, the whole project is based on ready made mechanisms for collaboration. Personal websites can often be valuable, but can also sometimes be triumphs of ego over commonsense; the difference lies in deciding when they are the best medium for the purpose at hand and when something better exists.

This seems to me a logical next phase of web maturation and evolution. I don't see myself abandoning a discrete web presence in the next few weeks or months; but I do see that being a possible long term result ... and by long term, I may not mean more than a year or two.

My own website has always, to be honest, been a neglected place which I tended to only fitfully and inadequately; it gives access to only a small fraction of the material which lurks in the space behind it, to which relevant people make direct links. Moving it out to other, purpose designed, generic platforms seems the only sensible course