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Integrating Repository Function with Work Practice

e-framework workshop from John (Heap)…..

Posted by johnheap on October 29, 2008

I, along with a lot of other bright people, have just attended the JISC e-framework workshop in London.Well, we thought we were bright when we turned up …. but now we’re not so sure.We just know we’re confused.

The workshop was not what most of us expected. We thought we were going to have the e-framework explained to us (and it certainly needs explaining). The message seemed to be (and I’m interpolating somewhat here) that the e-framework was too difficult to understand so it has been re-designated as the International e-framework, and a new simpler model – the UK e-framework or Project X – has been super- (or sub-) imposed upon it. This uses a slightly different vocabulary but follows the same broad concept and philosophy – that it is important to document JISC project (and similar activities) in a way that makes the results/outputs more easily shareable and transferable. No argument with that. The big question is whether the approach being taken is the right way to do this.


The e-framework team are using a structured modelling approach ….. but the model seems over-engineered. It seems to have been designed by modellers (clever people no doubt) but seems to have forgotten that a prime aim of modelling is to communicate with a specific audience. In this case most/many of the target audience is not familiar with such modelling languages – and thus cannot receive the message being transmitted.


I suspect that in 3, 4 or 5 years time, people will find out about JISC projects as they have always done – by reading brief descriptions and then by talking to someone who knows about the project. I understand that some may want to access a range of e-services resulting from such projects to build applications, system and larger services (and such people may actually understand the modelling language used)). But currently these people seem to build mashups from current services, widgets and gadgets without a superstructure like that of the e-framework


Of course, these may be the rantings of an old, tired and bitter curmudgeon (my wife sys I’m not tired) and in 3 years time the clever e-framework team will be proved right. We will use the e-framework to identify the tools we want to use and incorporate into our new, exciting services and systems and future projects and activities will benefit from our confusion.



6 Responses to “e-framework workshop from John (Heap)…..”

  1. lawrie said

    Hi John,
    I’m sorry you felt this way, most of the feedback was positive but you are entitled to your opinion. I strongly believe that the e-framework will, as visioned by the current team will underpin our most successful projects and programmes. However, like many initiatives it needs support and critical mass and people to believe in its potential. Already, as I work up ideas for my new programme, along with other JISC programme managers, we are putting the e-framework at the centre of our thoughts and hope that it will result in much stronger projects in the future.

    As to the workshop itself, this is the first time that the team have presented together in such away, as was stated at the beginning. I find it sad that we are not far enough along as a community that we can not be supportive of people in their efforts at helping us with the different elements of programme and project requirements. For my part, and several of the delegates that I have spoken to, it was a good, solid and well delivered workshop and I am pleased that so many of the e-framework team turned out to help us in the Programme.


  2. Richard said

    Thanks for the feedback John! Its clear there are a few lessons we need to learn from your comments, those of the others who attended the workshop, and from our own analysis of how the day went:

    – We need to make sure that language is used consistently across the E-Framework and the Innovation Base wherever possible.
    – Doing the same thing in two different ways isn’t clever, it’s confusing.
    – We must refine the modelling approach to make sure it’s accessible and relevant to everyone.

    This workshop was a bit of an experiment for us too. We learnt a lot and we hope to improve as the Community Engagement Project progresses.

  3. johnrg said

    Hi John,
    I also attended this session and though I felt that there was room for improvement overall I found the session very helpful. Clearly people are entitled to their individual views however I think that we need a little more discussion before posting negative views. For an alternative view on this event please visit the Planet Blog site at


    John G

  4. Janet Finlay said

    Thanks all – agree with John (G) that we need more discussion on the issues here and with John (H) that he may just be being curmudgeonly! From what I can glean (mainly from blog posts – is there an “official” summary of the workshop and Project X for those of us who couldn’t make it?) – the proposed Innovation Base has the potential to be a hugely useful resource for all of us undertaking projects. I know one of the biggest headaches in bidding is being able to trace and assimilate all the related previous projects on a given topic. Anything that helps support that process has to be a good thing. Looking forward to hearing more about it!

  5. johnheap said

    OK, folks. Seems people think I have been ‘negative’. But I thought the point of blogging was to post personal comments on issues … and to do so in a timely manner.

    I certainly agree with Janet that – if it works – the Innovation Base will be a valuable resource. (If I was still being negative, I might think that a sledgehammer is being used to crack a nut.) For now, I will content myself with saying … thanks (genuinely) for all the comments … and I will reflect on my original posting in the light of them. Oh, and I applaud the JISC/Emerge communities for taking the technology forward in innovative and interesting ways. As I said in the earlier post, time will tell if the approach used is appropriate – but I recognise the need to move onwards.

  6. Janet Finlay said

    John – it is – and your post has sparked more discussion than most so has worked in that respect! Important I think to have people seeing both the ups and downs as it helps in achieving better understanding. As someone who wasn’t there it is difficult at the moment to get a proper handle on the details of what is being proposed – and I suspect from the comments that that is partly because it is still very much “work in progress” and, in that, we hopefully have a role as stakeholders to influence its development.

    I am very pleased though that there is an initiative to take forward the principles of the eFramework and try to make it more accessible to the wider community – at present it clearly is problematic for many of us to use and it is good that this is recognised and being addressed. So I’m very happy for our projects to be guinea pigs in working through these issues – as a great believer in making it easier to share practice effectively I’ll be interested in seeing how this progresses.

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