Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Culturenet: grinding to a halt

Culturenet Cymru have resorted to the reason of cowards - threats and smears

- Peter Black, Member of the Welsh Assembly

Culturenet Cymru is the publicly-funded body that brought you the faked and falsified 100 Welsh Heroes poll. Since its inception to date Culturenet has been given one and a half million pounds of taxpayers' money by the Welsh Assembly. What's it been doing recently with all that cash? Misleading us, certainly.

Culturent Cymru says it's working on a set of projects. Let's see how it's doing with the half a million pounds it was given for 2004-2005:

Culturenet Cymru's Schedule of Work
adding 10 new books to the Books from the Past website   30/09/05 Fail - The website still has only the same 10 books it launched with
Add 3000 items to the 'Gathering the Jewels' website October 2005Impossible to tell - the website's links have been wrecked by staff at the National Library¹. Most of the existing links in Google and from other sites are now invalid. A return to the first year when the website was unusable. (update: site seems to have been put back) but all the same, there were the promised 3,000 items in the pipeline a year and a half ago and rather inventive arithmetic was being used even then
Add 'advice and guidance' and teachers' topic packs to Gathering the Jewels March 2005 Fail - there are no teachers' topic packs available and no specific advice and guidance pages have been added
Communities Cymru September 2005Unknown - the website doesn't seem to have changed since January 2005, 2 months before this was included on the promised delivery list
Copyright Toolkit delivery March 31st 2005 Fail - no sign of the tool, no announcement of completion
Ongoing digitisation December 2006 No further information
Accessible version of the Cultured Cymru quiz ? Fail - this website was bought from a Cardiff development company; although Culturenet ran website accessibilty seminars it obviously doesn't think the matter important, even though it has made a promise of delivery of an accessible site

In the light of this failure to deliver on just about everything it's probably a wise decision not to publish details of projects for 2005-2006. More alarmingly, the £250,000 from the Assembly Government for this year is supposed to include funding for a new 'specialised' management information system.

Culturenet's history of IT systems purchasing is abysmal, although an attempt to recoup money from a supplier, responsible for the first, unworkable incarnation of the Gathering the Jewels website was prevented, apparently because embarrassing questions might have been asked about project management - and after all, it doesn't matter if you're spending someone else's money.

¹ Gathering The Jewels URLs had been tidied up using a Win32 version of Apache's MOD_REWRITE - it looks like someone has taken over the website without understanding how this worked