Check Your Tie at the Door and Think outside the Box at AusWeb05

By Huwe, Terence K. | Computers in Libraries, October 2005 | Go to article overview

Check Your Tie at the Door and Think outside the Box at AusWeb05


Huwe, Terence K., Computers in Libraries


In July, I gave a keynote at the 11th Australasian World Wide Web Conference (AusWeb05; http://ausweb.scu.edu.au). The event was held on Australia's Gold Coast, about 400 miles north of Sydney. AusWeb is endorsed by the International World Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2) and is the second-longest-running international conference that focuses on the Web. In fact, it has been around almost as long as the Web itself.

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It's always nice to receive an invitation to comment on the state of the profession and on our digital futures, but this was a particularly rewarding event for me for a couple of reasons. First, there's the Aussies' world-renowned friendliness. Second, there's the iconoclastic spirit that AusWeb has nurtured over the years. It's serious; it's rigorous; it's multidisciplinary and entrepreneurial. But on top of that, it's about having fun and letting your hair down a bit.

But just because it's fun doesn't mean it's flighty. AusWeb brings together librarians, technologists, social scientists, and entrepreneurs to discuss the broad issues that are shaping the Web's evolution. The meeting's style is hands-on and informal--one of the conference conveners really did say, "Check your tie at the door." Presenters discussed their papers in about 15 minutes and spent the remaining 45 minutes in up-close, vibrant, and highly interactive dialogues with the audience. This was a bracing change of pace from the lecture/Q & A approach that most conferences employ.

As a W3 Consortium conference, AusWeb05's focus was on the "big picture" of the Web's growth. Its four paper tracks were Technical and Standards; Education and Training; eCommerce/eBusiness/Online Marketing; and Society, Information and the Web. Australians were the majority of presenters, but there were delegates and lecturers from Asia and North America too. Here are a few highlights from the program.

Repositories and Organizations

Online repositories were a hot topic. Andrew Treloar of Monash University in Melbourne described the information architecture of the Australian Research Repositories Online to the World (ARROW; http://www.arrow.edu/au) project. He covered ARROW's unified approach to meta-data development, authority control, and authentication and argued that this method makes collaborative content development more effective. A related project, the Australia Digital Theses Program (http://adt.caul.edu.au), shares a common goal of strengthening Australia's commitment to open access (OA).

Antipodal interest in shared repository architecture didn't come as a surprise--Australia's early commitment to e-government and digital solutions has fueled a robust OA design stream. At the same time, academic mergers (such as the formation of the Charles Darwin University from five separate institutions) have increased the importance of consortia and multi-institutional planning.

Joanna Richardson, a librarian/programmer at Griffith University in Brisbane, presented "Building Bridges between Learning Management Systems and Library Content Systems." Libraries are using the e-learning environment to rethink how users interact with content, she wrote. She has a good point: In order to achieve a convergence between different streams of design--both library- and IT-driven--each group needs to know what the other is doing.

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Tony Boston of the National Library of Australia (NLA) presented "Exposing the deep web to increase access to library collections. …

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