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Twilight of the JISC

This year many JISC funded services are “sunsetting”, presumably due to the cuts.

(nb. not everything JISC does is ending, but enough to be pretty brutal)

I have benefitted hugely in my career and projects from the support of many JISC services, events and staff. Dev8D changed my professional life in a really good way.

I offer my sincerest thanks to all JISC funded staff moving on to new jobs this year.

– Christopher Gutteridge

How have JISC staff, services or events helped you?

UPDATE: OSS Watch “changing funding model”

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6 Responses

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  1. Andy Turner says

    I’ve been aware of JISC activities for a long while. Colleagues based at the University of Manchester once interviewed me and the professor I was working with about JISC about 5 years ago. I still don’t know quite what that was all used for, but anyway JISC is great. Long live JISC. The organisation has supported my research in so many ways and the people it has nurtured are a generally marvellous bunch. Like Chris I gained through Dev8D though I only attended once.

    I have learned that researchers from other nation states have admired JISC and its activities and have wondered about the lack of and how to establish such an organisation in their own scheme of things.

    I only went to one JISC conference, the one in Edinburgh, 2009. It was a great venue and coincided with another meeting I was having about Research 3.0. Some of my notes for this survive on the internet archive (

    A lot has come to pass in the last 4 years or so. OpenMicroBlogging sure took off in a big way. For the time being, I am hopeful of a future for JISC in the UK scheme of things, but whatever happens, I will continue to view JISC as a success.

    Thanks and may the force be with you!

  2. Anonymous Coward says

    As a former member of one of the services being dismantled, I know I personally benefited greatly from the opportunities that I had in my role there. I was very fortunate, and I learned a huge amount. And I – as I think did all my colleagues at the time – worked my very hardest to try to pass on that knowledge to the communities we were funded to serve, and to work with them to explore its relevance to the particular challenges they were facing.

    At the risk of seeing the past through rose-tinted spectacles, I like to think we were trying to do this within a spirit of collaboration, co-operation and knowledge sharing across the boundaries of institutions, funding programmes or projects – and helping to foster that spirit and those real networks and communities was as important as any particular technology or set of documents or piece of software.

    I’m sure we didn’t always “get things right”, but even today, many years after I left that role, I continue to receive email requests for advice/help from people I met during that time, and I try to take that as some small indication that we were providing something of value.

    I found the way some of the recent announcements were made, couched in the “boilerplate business-speak” of “new opportunities” and released as blog posts shortly before Christmas – a case of “burying bad news” if ever there was one! – quite upsetting.

    I consider the cuts to these services to be short-sighted and damaging: the skills, knowledge and energy of many very able and dedicated individuals may be lost, but perhaps more worryingly still – and I hope I am wrong – I fear such changes presage a wider retreat from the ethos of collaboration and sharing into a world of “business impact assessment”, competition and closedness.

    If I try to find some shreds of optimism, it is that the networks which have developed will be strong enough to resist and prosper in spite of this.

    My thoughts and very best wishes to all the individuals directly affected by these current changes.

  3. Patrick McSweeney says

    I just like to second your comments Chris. Dev8D is what motivated me to experiment with a lot of technologies I would otherwise heard mentioned in passing.

    The JISC projects have given me a connection into the higher education community and provided a platform for me to propagate my work outside of the University of Southampton. I’d like particularly to thank the program managers who have had to put up with me in the last 5 years. Particular mention goes to Andy McGregor, David Flanders and Balviar Notay. Thanks for all the support.

  4. Anonymous Cowherd says

    Chris, if you’re collecting ‘changing funding model’ statements you may also wish to check out CETIS and UKOLN. Both ‘looking ahead to new challenges’, a euphemism for ‘closing down due to withdrawal of funding.’

    For some in affected services it’s a classic outsourcing situation, the kind where your employer’s last demand is for you to spend a month on the phone to Indonesia (or Brettenham House) teaching your replacements everything you know. Nu-jisc would like those services to be silently forgotten, so I ask: when you mention Dev8D why not take the time to mention and thank people like Mahendra Mahey of UKOLN? It’s not what nu-jisc want, but it is the right thing to do.

    The previous AC said: ‘I fear such changes presage a wider retreat from the ethos of collaboration and sharing into a world of “business impact assessment”, competition and closedness.’ From what I’ve seen of nu-jisc’s motivating obsessions of spin, PR, IP, that fear is not misplaced. JISC died last year after a long illness. A little advice to take or leave, if nu-jisc shake your hand, remember to count your fingers. If they tell you it’s raining, go outside and check. I’m sorry to add that this advice holds even if the nu-jisc rep in question is someone you worked with and trusted before.

    All the best to those affected.

    • Christopher Gutteridge says

      I was actually at the last event Mahendra organised, at Gateway to Research hackday. He was among the many friends I’ve made at UKOLN. I’d be afraid if I started that list I’d miss people, some who I probably don’t even know work for JISC.

      Over the years, I’ve worked most closely with UKOLN staff so I’ve been most aware of what’s being going on there. I didn’t realise until recently quite how many other things are going to be going into the West and diminishing.

  5. Anonymous Cowherd says

    See your point although people discarded by the JISC may appreciate a shout-out. God knows they’re not getting much support from anyone else.

    ” I didn’t realise until recently quite how many other things are going to be going into the West and diminishing.”
    Nothing at minion-level is likely to survive unless it results in successful marketing to the media, VCs, RUGIT. Nu-jisc is a social business, sharp emphasis on business.

    The JISC’s day is ended but there are still hackers in middle-earth, so if HE likes what previous AC called ‘the ethos of collaboration and sharing’ it must forget its reliance on the dear departed and do what any good social business must: compete. A good time for a call to arms, maybe?

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