Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fin d'une année, et ennui?

Well it's been a busy run-up to Christmas. I've been busy putting finishing touches on our streaming service now due for launch next year which I'm pretty excited about. It's a nice integrated solution with some neat features that I hope to write about once it is a little more established. There's still work to be done, but at last we're on the home strait after some three years of exploration and false dawns.

In the meantime we've become engrossed in discussions over fairly big architectural directions for the coming year. Why? Well like most Universities, at some point we have to accept what's happening in the world of the web and whether we can't do things differently. Why doesn't our university have centrally supported wiki and blog services? Why doesn't it have a thriving community systems allowing ad-hoc group formation and personal/group activity streams a la Facebook? Why don't we have personal dashboards with mini tools that are sharable with friends? More importantly how come we don't when the University of Jones does? We now have new management who are either ambitious or crazy enough to be asking these questions. "Software as a virus", they say. "Impress the students", they say. Whether this lasts with a long funding winter looming is another question.

Throw this type of thing on the table and techies get to thinking infrastructure. Do we want a University API? If so should it secured using delegated authorisation or Shibboleth? Should we go bigtime for Gadgets and Shindig? Should our principal IDs be in-house, or some federated convention like Open IDs or email addresses, and if its the latter should these be real name based, and recycled? Should we invest in large off the shelf integrated systems, or grow and interleave our own?

To be sure 2010 looks like being an interesting year. Happy Christmas & New Year to you and yours.

(With apologies for my French if it's rubbish.)


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