VSSN to join 21st century in new e-services strategy

David Kane |

VSSN”s aging 20th century web site is moving onwards and upwards into the web 2.0 era (wrote Nick Plant and Véronique Jochum).

Our present site is ancient, in technology terms – five years old! On 19 July 2004 we announced “Beta test version of Web site in soft launch”. Things have not stood still since then, in fact vssn.org.uk has been enhanced steadily over the years.

But crucially, we have been stuck in the 20th century under the limitations of the first web era -mostly due to resource constraints- and are now moving towards “Web 2.0” technologies and modernised processes that accompany them.

But this is not new technology for its own sake. The new e-services strategy recently adopted by the Steering Group is based on a mix of business and technology factors, including these:-

The development and maintenance of VSSN”s current web site is based on a web 1.0 paradigm and relies heavily on two members of the Steering Group;We need to replace the current centralised model with a more decentralised workgroup-based model and a more flexible technical infrastructure;We also want to make better user of web 2.0 technologies that better reflect and support our continuing ethos as a democratic, interactive, networking organisation;In practical terms, the new strategy features “content management” and “social networking” technologies, coupled with a team-based authoring and development model.

As a way to learn about web 2.0 and its contribution to VSSN, the strategy also involves some cautious, planned experimentation and a continuation of the evolutionary approach initiated all those years ago.

For example, the old creaking online “Who’s who” is being replaced on a temporary, exploratory basis, with an interactive membership directory hosted separately from the main site over an initial period. It will later to be moved back to the main site once the new, clever, technology infrastructure is ready, taking into account initial learning outcomes and feedback. See separate news item for more.

The work will be led by an enlarged e-services task group formed from Steering Group members, additional volunteers who responded to the recent appeal for input, and an expert external helper employed using a small budget for an element of professional support.