It’s fair to say that most Local Authority websites are a collection of text based articles, in fact that’s a reasonably good description of most websites. Sure, many will have a forum or two, perhaps an events calendar, in fact all Local Authority websites will have at least a small amount of more complex functionality, but on the whole they’re based around pages of text.
I’ve started to look at website content in a different way, not just as
text but as a collection of objects. To illustrate what I mean by this,
let’s take an example of a page about a library.
A conventional page would be an article with textual information about the
library. It would probably contain things like the address of the
library, contact details, perhaps a map, perhaps events at the library
and so on.
object however would be a digital representation of that library. The
object would contain metadata about what type of object the library is,
the latitude and longitude of where the library is located, what image
should represent the library and so on.
details could be imported into a directory, events into a calendar,
rather than including a map and this object could be included in a map
itself, and not just on the Local Authority’s website, but any other
that wished to re-use the content.
I can’t take credit for these ideas, many have proposed them before me. Sir Tim Berners Lee coined the phrase the Semantic Web to describe this and Facebook have big plans for Open Graph
once they release Timeline. I’ve not seen them referred to in the
context of a Local Authority website however and to me it seems to fit
well with services and facilities that a Council might offer or operate.
who are already acquainted with what I’ve been discussing will
recognise that I’ve barely touched the subject and a quick view of sites
like schema.org will confirm this but what of those struggling to see the benefits of this approach?
My original incentive for looking at website content this way came from Facebook. Including basic Open Graph tags and a Like button on specific pages contained on your site means that each object also becomes a Page on Facebook.
If for nothing else, then I think being “objective” is worth it.