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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Andy Powell at Talis Research Day

Owen Stephens has blogged more notes on the Talis Project Research Day (Birmingham, June 10, 2008).  Excerpt:

Andy [Powell] describing repositories....

[T]he issues....

#1 We talk about 'repositories'

There is a real issue with terminology. The term 'repository' is pretty woolly. Whereas a focus on 'making content available on the Web' would be more intuitive to researchers....

#3 Our focus is on sharing metadata

Even though we have full-text to share - and what we do share is PDF rather than a 'native web' format. Also the metadata we do share tends to be simple Dublin Core - inconsistently applied. Andy arguing that simple DC is too simple to build compelling discovery services, but too complicated for the user - they are put off adding metadata....

#5 We are antisocial

'we' (presumably the [higher education] environment?) tend to treat content in isolation for the social networks that need to grow around that content

Successful repositories in a more generic sense (Flickr, YouTube, Slideshare, etc.) tend to promote the social activity that takes place around content as well as the content management and disclosure activity....

We are ending up with 'empty' repositories, having to 'mandate' deposit to get content, rather than making a compelling offering that researchers want to use.

So, Andy is suggesting we need to look at moving back to subject based, global repositories that concentrate content so that we can take advantage of the 'network' effect etc. This is where we started with arXiv....

Andy suggests that we need to look at examples like Slideshare (a service that shares presentations). This might be what a 'Web 2.0' repository looks like:

  • a high quality browser-based document viewer (not a 'helper' application like Acrobat)
  • tagging, commentary, more-like-this, favourites
  • persistent (cool) URIs to content
  • ability to form simpler social groups
  • ability to embed documents in other web sites
  • high visibility to Google
  • use of 'the cloud' (Amazon S3?) to provide scalability...

In conclusion:

Flickr was a response to digital photography - it wasn't an attempt to create an 'online photo album'

We need an approach to digital research that is not an attempt to recreate paper based scholarly communication - we need to re-think ('re-envision' in Andy's words) scholarly communication in the digital age....

Update.  Also see Cameron Neylon's notes on Andy's talk.

Update.  Also see Andy's slides, Web 2.0 and repositories.