11 comments on “More on what went wrong with Intute. And – is there a can of worms?

  1. “How on earth, in 2005 when Google had already gone public and when the popular search engines had already taken over ‘Search’, could a Board including university librarians and others who should have known better think that cataloguing the Internet, in order to produce a searchable database of about 80,000 records of the type above, have a future worth investing more £ millions?”

    My recollection is of having similar thoughts at the time. I had been fully expecting the review to recommend ending the RDN rather than continuing it. I was pretty gobsmacked when a further 5 years was agreed. But by then I had not been involved for some years, and did not have any detail on the background. I doubt a conspiracy of any kind, and suspect it was felt to be worth “one last try” at the idea.

    FWIW both RDN and Intute did good work in many areas other than the “cataloguing the web” bit.

    I’ve been looking through my email folders, and surprisingly can’t find any with primary focus on the subject gateways, the RDN or Intute (but it was mostly a bit outside the eLib programme). There are mentions of the RDN in many places, especially discussions on the DNER (the proposed Distributed National Electronic Resource, which I guess became the Information Environment). At that time, I think we thought the RDN would play a key role in coordinating cross-access to the many resources that would underly the DNER. I even remember suggesting that the RDN hub (then at Kings in London) should be part of the JISC team rather than separate (this was at the time when Lorcan Dempsey was Director), but this didn’t fit the model the Powers That Be had in mind.

    I did not find any direct reference to the £80 per catalogued record, but it doesn’t surprise me.

    In the end, to my mind, the purported superiority of the SBG/RDN/Intute model over Internet Search was based on a flawed, patronising view of the capabilities of internet users at the HE level to discern quality in Internet resources. The masses have proved that view both wrong and right! But the masses also proved that they preferred making up their own minds in assessing the wealth of resources presented to them by increasingly smart search algorithms, rather than searching comparatively minute, patchy but “quality” resource hubs. So by and large they used search and did not use Intute.

  2. Similarly, for many years I used to save useful web content on my hard drive. Eventually I grew to trust google instead.

  3. In response to your request for more accurate figures: I worked at Intute: Health and Life Sciences from 2005 – 2010 as manager (after your time Roddy). We had a large number of external contributors – we paid £5 for a new record and £2.50 for a review of an existing one.

  4. Thanks Jackie. At EEVL, in the early years, we had volunteers who added records, and a further figure I remember is for the cost per record, including overheads, at the EEVL Hub, which was something like £32 or £35

  5. Mike, Roddy,

    Both SOSIG and OMNI predated eLib / 1995; I think they are both from 1993 in a basic form. A bit disappointed that http://www.sosig.ac.uk now no longer exists – at least EEVL and OMNI point to other things.

    As you mentioned Catriona, there was a fair amount of experimentation with z39.50 around 95-98 but it never looked healthy in terms of a widely distributed pseudo RDN or Intute network in the long term. BUBL itself didn’t look like a long-term option (there’s no way JISC were going to fund both it and the RDN into the 2000s) and it nearly got sold off to a well-known Dutch information services company in 2001, but that fell through. That and [redacted] pretty much sealed its fate.

    I really must write the damned book one day, as pretty much 20 years of JISC has gone by now; have got enough material on the various computers and in my England storage unit. I still have a first edition print edition of Ariadne I think signed by the four of us; Sothebys here I come… :-)

    JK (ex of UKOLN, ILRT, ROADS, OMNI, CDLR and erm the Outer Hebrides, in that order)

  6. Pingback: So – What was the big idea? The Intute that never was. | Roddy Macleod's Blog

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