We were asked to pitch a vision of Digipedia, so here&#x2019;s my vision...
...the chance to make an architectural offering, as well as delivering the Digipedia service. In certain respects, Digipedia will provide an authentic context to explore the idea of a white label service that can be used to support topic based content development from authorised (and potentially distributed) content submitters from a well defined partner based membership group, as well as more informal submissions and discussion from a wider ranging special interest community.
The proposed architecture is based on the idea of radical syndication, the publication of content atoms using standards based syndication protocols and their (re)aggregation around particular topics of interest to the community within a user facing website. The use of syndication feeds allows contributors to optionally author content for their own purposes and/or in their own environment, and then republish it automatically on Digipedia with no further effort.
The current Digipedia website provides a front end to content authored in a Mediawiki environment, syndicates content from an SCA blog, and offers a faux discussion area on a Mediwiki page.
Navigation across the content is provided using a topic based knowledge maps that click through to wiki pages. (Browser back button functionality is broken under the mechanic adopted.)
Our intention is to use Wordpress Multi-User as the hub for the Digipedia service. This supports multiple independent authoring environments (if required) as well as the ability to aggregate content from across the multiple environments (each of which may be individually styled) within an user facing website. In many respects, Wordpress may be thought of as a content management system for faceted content, where facets correspond to categories, tag, authors, and user-submitted comments on a particular content element. As well as publishing user facing content in a branded website, content is simultaneously publishde in a format that supports syndication, and hence its republication and reuse elsewhere. This &#x201C;elsewhere&#x201D; can include novel navigation and display frameworks.
Several notable examples of using Wordpress in a production environment already exist. Jim Groom has been pioneering the use of Wordpress MultiUser as a syndication oriented academic publishing platform at University Mary Washington for several years. Until last weekend, the UK goevernment Department for Business Innovation and Skills has been using Wordpress for their public facing departmental website.
One of the attractions of the Wordpress environment is that it publishes content using the standards based Atom Syndication protocol at a variety of levels - blog feeds, comment feeds, topic and category feeds are all published as standard. Through its plugin architecture, a wide variety of user generated plugins extend the functionality of the base platform. For example, plugins are available that will pull content in to a Wordpress blog from another source - such as a blog or even a Mediawiki wiki - via an RSS or Atom feed.
For the JISCPress project, on which I was a member of the project team, we extended the CommentPress plugin that Joss Winn and I had used on the WriteToReply public document commenting website to support the republication of, and commenting around, JISC funding calls and project reports. The digress.it theme atomises content further into uniquely referenced paragraphs (that is, each paragraph in the document has a unique URL), as well as tagging pages automatically with semantic (i.e. meaningful) tags using the Reuters Open Calais web service.
This example shows content from the Linked Data Report on JISCPress re-presented in a widget that takes what might be thought of as a &#x201C;meta-syndication feed&#x201D; using a protocol known as OPML, that allows separate content feeds to be bundle up together in a single feed. (Think: multiple cables bundled in one.)
A second part of the vision is to explore ways of exposing emergent link structure and pathways generated from cross-linked content via a coherent navigational scheme. The current version of Digipedia uses knowledge maps; one possibility for us is to automatically generate knowledge graphs based on semantic tags and web links between web pages in an XML format that can be rendered using current knowledge mapping tools. Another approach might be to use navigational widgets similar in style to the one used by Skittles a couple of years ago... (In that case... etc)
If it is successful, Digipedia will demonstrate participation from different classes of user. In terms of populating the site with content, we will need to involve members of the Strategic Content Alliance, either authoring content on-site directly, or syndicating it from their own environments. In the same was as an athletics team is made up from individual competitors, so too might contributions come in from SCA members independently of submissions from other partners. In terms of wider reach, we need to be able to encourage end-users onto the site - an audience that is likely to be several orders of magnitude larger than the SCA-sponsored contributing members. &#x201C;Volunteers&#x201D; might also play a role, providing content through comments on-site, as well as discussion on third party sites, from personal blogs, to mentions on social networks that link back to Digipedia content. Governance will in part be based on access permissions and the decisions of a controlling editor, in part by actions of autonomous independent members (e.g. who are publishing content to their own site that is re-published via a Digipedia channel), in part by the community, through comments and ratings.
In order to grow awareness of the resources held on Digipedia, we will raise the profile of Digipedia at events we attend, and well as participating virtually in related event backchannels, promoting Digipedia resources as and when appropriate.
A Vision for
Tony Hirst & Jon Rosewell
Dept of Communication and Systems
The Open University