w/c 6 Feb 2012 – Discovery News Round-up

February 9, 2012

Here’s my round up of news from the world of Discovery and beyond over the past few weeks. Many of the items were gleaned from the #ukdiscovery twitter hashtag which you can dip into whenever you like by opening up this FiveFilters ‘newspaper’ pdf that I generated.

Last week Joy Palmer shared plans for the next phase of guidance materials and workshops here on the Discovery blog and is looking for your feedback on the outlined approach so please do wade in and let us know what you think. And bonus points for anyone who can suggest a better title for the event than ‘Un’developer hands-on development event. The best I can come up with is ‘Can’t Code, Won’t Code’ so the field is wide open.

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) are currently inviting public comment on the working group recommendations that have come out of the joint NISO and NFAIS (the National Federation of Advanced Information Services) project to develop Recommended Practice on Online Supplemental Journal Article Materials. The main aim of the project is to improve the ‘discoverability and findability’ of journal supplemental materials for librarians and would-be readers by establishing and maintaining links to the related article. The comment period runs until 29th February and, although the recommendations are aimed mainly at publishers, they are also interested in feedback from the wider scholarly community. [via @simonhodson99]

One of the key NISO/NFAIS recommendations is around consistency and, interestingly, this was also one of the key discussion points raised during recent focus groups run by the JISC/AHRC-funded Open Access e-Books research project (OAPEN-UK). So far the project have heard from humanities and social sciences (HSS) monograph publishers, authors/readers and institutional representatives and next week they are running focus groups for research funders, e-book aggregators and learned societies. Incidentally, if you are interested in taking part in one of those focus groups then further details can be found on their Events page. [via @publishersrcly]

A couple of weeks ago it seemed to be ‘Big Data’ week on my twitter stream – all and sundry were tweeting about it and it wasn’t just the data geeks any more. It certainly seemed to suggest, as reported in this Museum Geek post, that “the era of Big Data has begun” but it struck me that the conversation around big data seems to be moving on from mostly logistical or functional discussions about gathering, storing, sharing and making use of data to a realisation that generating and circulating more data doesn’t solve anything on its own (see GigaOm’s article which likens it to virtual landfill via @paulmiller). In the world of building websites there’s a saying that ‘content is king’ but in the world of data it would appear that ‘content + context = king and queen’. Which had me pondering whether the Discovery initiative could usefully consider establishing Open Paradata Guidelines to sit alongside our Open Metadata Principles. And coming from a humanities background myself I found Michael Kramer’s assertion that “data is always already meta-data” an interesting point to mull over.

The Data Catalogs website, which was launched last summer, aims to be “the most comprehensive list of open data catalogs in the world”. I’m sure it’s relatively early days yet but there are already 212 catalogues listed and the list of experts involved in the website is impressive. It looks like it will grow into a useful centralised resource, particularly if a more advanced search is added, but I noticed that not all of the entries state what their metadata license is – it seems to me that there’s an opportunity to improve consistency and clarity by making that a mandatory field. What did impress/surprise me though is that any visitor to the website can improve a record simply by clicking on the ‘Please help improve this page by adding more information’ link at the bottom of the record and editing the fields that appear [via @rufuspollock]. If you are interested in the issues around licensing open data then Naomi Korn and Professor Charles Oppenheim’s practical guide is worth a read.

And finally, a few items of interest from the wider world of Discovery:

  • This article about book mashups on the Programmable Web ‘API News’ blog got me thinking about countless possibilities for making library and museum and gallery collections more visible and connected in new ways. Then this morning someone tweeted about the strangely hypnotic Flight Radar website and I wondered if one day I might find myself gazing at a map that shows books flying overhead as they wend their way from place to place as inter-library loans.
  • March is looking set to be Culture Hack Month, with events taking place on both sides of the Pennines. Hack for Culture takes place on the 3rd and 4th March in Liverpool and is bringing interested parties together “to explore the possibilities offered by joint experimentation with a wide variety of hidden cultural data sets”.  The 24 hour-long CultureCode Hack takes place towards the end of March in Newcastle and will give cultural and arts organisations with open data the opportunity to work with developers and designers to create something new. You can take a peek at the hacks that were developed the Culture Hack North event in Leeds last year to get an idea of what can be produced in such a short amount of time.

New Discovery open metadata projects

February 3, 2012

Five new Discovery projects started this week. They are all focused on the creation and release of open metadata from libraries, museums and archives in line with the Discovery open metadata and technical principles.

The projects are:

  • Bricolage – will publish catalogue metadata as Linked Open Data for two of its most significant collections: the Penguin Archive, a comprehensive collection of the publisher’s papers and books; and the Geology Museum, a 100,000 specimen collection housing many unique and irreplaceable resources. University of Bristol
  • Open Education Metadata UK – will publish metadata sourced from four significant UK education collections as Open Data in a variety of formats, for anyone to reuse as linked data in their own applications. In addition, subsets of two collections which have high latent potential for linked data will be catalogued. Institute of Education
  • Open Book – will release open metadata for the Fitzwilliam’s Designated Collection (over 150,000 records) and linked open data for the internationally important collection of illuminated manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum (approximately 500 manuscripts records). The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge
  • Music Collections at Cardiff University: Advancing the Resource – focuses on a collection of manuscript and printed music from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a resource of nearly 3000 items largely unknown to the wider scholarly community. This project will catalogue the material online, and make the data available through the Archives Hub and COPAC, as well as RISM (UK) (Répertoire International des Sources Musicales). Cardiff University
  • Trenches to Triples – will provide Linked Data markup to 200 collection level descriptions and 6,000 item level catalogue entries relating to the First World War from the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives and will also provide a demonstrator for using Linked Data to make appropriate connections between image databases, Serving Soldier, and detailed catalogues. King’s College London

The projects are just getting started but will all have blogs which will record their progress. Look out for further information on the projects via the discovery site. All of the learning and outputs from these projects will be summarised on the Discovery website to ensure that others can benefit from what the projects learn and produce.

I have written an overview of all the current Discovery work on the JISC website.