Guest Column with Brendan O’Keefe

April 13 / 108

Some of the re-discovered websites from the audit.
Some of the re-discovered websites from the audit.

It’s not every day you get asked to audit and catalogue hundreds of university websites, some of them dating back to the early 1990s and the early days of the internet in Australia. This unique project has seen us uncover some lost gems of the university’s web presence, and some of the intriguing people and stories behind our own web history.

The University of Melbourne was the first university in Australia to go online via ARPANet in 1989. Many of the research projects conducted back in the late 80s and early to mid 90s were published using static HTML and viewed on the then-popular (and now defunct) Mosaic and Netscape browsers. Many of these early sites can be viewed by visiting the Archive IT on the University partner page.

This audit will see many more pages added: from hundreds of pages of documents, text and photographs on Russian history to transcripts and recordings of physics lectures from 1968 to the present, to a multilingual, multiscript plant database with thousands of entries, our historical websites are as important and fascinating as any of the University’s other cultural collections.

Every week, we publish the most interesting find of the week on the Content Audit Yammer group. Some recent finds include:

  1. Know your eggplants – who knew there were so many varieties?
  2. WORMS - make sure you also check out tutOR
  3. LFR Image Bank – thousands of images collected by School of Resource Management staff
  4. Melbourne University Student Theatre Archive – documenting the history of theatre at the university
  5.  tutORial  - Check out Die Hard at the Pub

The content audit project is part of the  Web Enhancement Program (WEP), which is looking at ways we can improve the quality, discoverability and performance of our large and diverse web presence.

A content audit undertaken in late December 2012 found that there are hundreds of thousands of web pages and many hundred websites on the and custom hosted domains. As a result, one of the key WEP projects for 2013 is to review this content and determine the best place for it to reside.

The goal of the audit is to ensure all externally-facing websites hosted by the University are up to date in terms of both content and design, relevant to the audience, meet web accessibility or other standards and guidelines, or are required by law or funding agreement to be hosted on a public facing sub domain or custom domain.

We also want to make sure some of these forgotten or little-known sites are conserved appropriately and exposed to a wider audience.

This is a fantastic opportunity for all site owners to take stock of their current websites/content, review the quality, find solutions and enhance their sites and content as part of our commitment to host a world-class web presence.

Staff who are interested in exploring our online heritage can join the Content Audit Yammer Group and maybe even submit a ‘site of the week’ of their own. Staff who are interested in improving their web presence and wish to conduct an audit of their area’s online assets, can contact for advice and assistance.

Brendan O’Keefe is the Content Auditor for the (WEP) Web Enhancement Program, part of Information Technology Services.

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