links for 2006-11-30

Blog break

Will be taking an enforced break from blogging for a while. I’m moving to a new house, which as yet doesn’t have a telephone line set up, let alone a broadband connection.

Hopefully I’ll have things up and running again by the middle of December.

Quiet times ahead

After a pretty speedy burst of activity at the beginning, things are going to tail off for a little while here at LGNewMedia.

I’m moving house this weekend, to a brand new place which hasn’t even got the phone connected yet. And when that’s done, I can get the broadband sorted.

Given that LGNewMedia is a one-man-working-in-his-spare time kind of project, it means things will slow down to a halt over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, why not enjoy a sneak peak at our latest service, the for Local Government service, LGKnowledge?

Hello LGSearch readers!

Hello there to anyone who has clicked the Blog link from LGSearch. Rather than being directed to the LGSearch blog, you’ve been sent here, to visit the rest of the family.

LGSearch matters will be discussed here, along with the other work I am doing on a forum, wiki and this blog. Have a look around, and let me know what you think!

Wikis and whatnot

Work continues apace on what is only the second day of LGNewMedia. While the four sections of the site all look very different, I’m hoping to add some consistency of visuals by producing a common logo, based on the one used at LGSearch. Once that’s done, I think things will look a little more uniform. I have done nothing to set the forum up yet, though I have quite a bit of experience with phpBB so hopefully that won’t take too long!

My original choice for a wiki was PMWiki, which is lightweight and more than adequate for my needs. However, I have suspicions that it might just be a little too techy for a lot of people’s experience, so I went with MediaWiki, the engine that drives Wikipedia. This is a case, frankly, of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but MediaWiki is way easier to use that PMWiki and can produce some nicer looking designs.

So, I have the front page of the wiki looking quite nice, with some highlighted headings for the various sections of the site. The only problem I am facing is that the text links in the top right of the screen on this blog, the forum and LGSearch are missing, and I haven’t figured out yet how to edit the wiki template to put them in there! Am sure it will come in time.

The other slight disappointment is that I am unable to run the latest version of MediaWiki, as it requires PHP5 to run on your server. My hosts only have PHP4 point something, so I am having to run a legacy version of the software. Oh well, it’ll do for the likes of me, I’m sure!

Update: The wiki is now hosted at Wikispaces.

Hello world!

Well, this is the first post on the new LGNewMedia site. The site is in continual development to try and get everything tied in and a reasonably common theme across the board.

So, what’s LGNewMedia all about? Well, we aim to spread the word about new, or social, media and the benefits it can have for the local government sector in the UK. The site is made up of four main sections:

  • This blog, which aims to provide useful information and news about new media and local government
  • A forum, where like-minded folk can get together and chat
  • A wiki, where community projects can be organised
  • LGSearch, a local government focussed search engine

And these are the sorts of new media tools that local councils should be using to develop their internal and external communication strategies, as well as increasing the levels of collaboration and cooperation between officers.

Another key aim of this site is to promote the use of open source tools wherever possible. For example, this site runs on WordPress, phpBB and PMWiki – all of which are freely available open source packages. The total running costs of this site are probably in the region of £30 a year. The initial work of setting up the site took about 2 hours. The point is, there is no resource based argument against new media projects. They are cheap, and they are quick.

I’ll post more as the site develops. In the meantime, do have a poke around and if you would like to get involved, just let me know!


Simon Dickson, a consultant ‘bringing new media thinking to UK news and government’, has launched Findless (pronounced Find-less, rather than Findluss, which was my original reading!):

a new editorialised search engine network. Why ‘findless’? Well, aside from hopefully being memorable, it sums up our philosophy that ‘less is more’ when it comes to search results. We’ve all seen the heatmaps: startling numbers of people instinctively click on the first search result in the list. All the more important, then, to strip out all the sites whose SEO may be great, but whose content may be lacking. Most people we’ve asked immediately think it’s an odd choice of name… but pretty soon, they get it.

We’re starting with two areas, chosen because we (my wife and I) have worked in the fields in question, and know the good sites without having to think too hard. One is health and safety, the other is education. Coincidentally, in both cases, the quality information is spread very widely, and you may not instinctively know where to look.

Very similar, then, to LGSearch. I’ve left a comment on Simon’s blog for him to get in touch. It’d be cool to figure out a way to link all this stuff up.

[tags]Google Coop, CSE, Simon Dickson, Findless, LGSearch[/tags]