MyBristol Toolbar

I was alerted to the MyBristol portal via a tweet from Mike Ellis who commented on the URIs it uses:


woa – check out the beautiful friendly url’s on UPortal…

Now I’d agree that

is a rather ‘uncool URI’. But I was more interested in the MyBristol portal service itself and, in particular, the portal toolbar which is available for the FireFox browser:

The Add Newsfeed option “allows you to maintain a personalised set of newsfeeds“.  Wouldn’t it be great if every institutions provided a service like this, which allowed your news feeds and your bookmarks to be stored in a managed environment – if it would also allow such data to be seamlessly stored on your preferred external service as well (perhaps or Diigo for your bookmarks and Google Reader or Netvibes for your news feeds).

I feel that the ability to store such resources on a remote service is needed in order to gain the ‘network effect’ that popular remote services can provide. But I’d also like to have a managed local copy, so I wouldn’t have to worry if the remote service went down, its performance was unreliable or if I was concerned about the privacy implications of storing sensitive information remotely. And I’d like such services to work transparently so I wouldn;t have to worry about managing plugins myself.

Are such approaches being developed?


  1. Feels more like a creepy treehouse to me. Why not just facilitate users using public tools so that they’re not tied to UBris?

  2. A toolbar is a creepy tree-house? I guess any service developed or deployed by institutions is a creepy-tree house, then? Jorum rather than Slideshare? MS Word, perhaps, rather than Google Docs.

    Nonsense! Or isn’t Google a creepier place for kids, if you want to use this rather contrived analogy?

  3. The advantage is infrastructure – Providing such a service may allow the less confident student to gain a better understanding of these technologies, safe in the knowledge that they can approach actual support staff for informed advice.



  1. Are Institutional Portals and VLEs Really “Creepy Treehouses”? « UK Web Focus - [...] the Tribe” at the IWMW 2008 event. Alan Cann mentioned it again in a recent comment on one of …

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>