Twelve Themes and a few more

All 17 projects funded by JISC in Phase 2 of the Discovery programme met in Birmingham today to share updates and ideas as they wind down their efforts. It was a very stimulating meeting, not least because the shared Discovery dialogue seems to have developed significantly since during 2012. The Phase 1 projects undertook some very useful experiments, but the Phase 2 projects have taken things up a notch.

Here, in very raw form are the recurrent themes that I recorded as takeaways from the session

A – Data and access points

  • Time and Place are priority access points
  • URIs offer an effective base level linking strategy
  • Collection level descriptions have potential as finding aids across domains
  • User generated content, such as annotations, has a place at the table

B – People

  • Community is a vital driver – open communities maintain momentum; specialist enthusiasms and ways of working provide strong use cases
  • For embedding new metadata practice, start where the workers are – add-ins to Calm and MODS demonstrate that
  • More IT experience / skills are required on the ground

C – The way the web works

  • Aggregators crawl don’t query … OAI-PMH, Robots, etc
  • Google’s strength shouts ‘Do it my way’ – and we should take heed (but we do need both/and)
  • Currency of data is important – there may be a tension with time lags associated with crawling
  • Aggregators need to know what is where to build or add value  so … we don’t need a registry?
  • No man is an island – It’s a collaborative world with requirements to interact with complementary services such as Dbpedia, Europeana, Google Historypin, Pleiades, UKAT, VIAF

D – Tools and technology

  • There is opportunity / obligation to leverage expert authority data and vocabularies – examples as above and more, such as Victoria County History, …
  • Commonly used software tools include Drupal, Solr/Lucene, Elastic Search, Javascript, Twitter bootstrap
  • JSON and RDF are strong format choices amongst the developers
  • Beware SPARQL end points and Triple Stores, especially in terms of performance
  • APIs are essential – but little use without both documentation and example code
  • OSS tools have been built by several projects … but how do we leverage them (e.g. Bibsoup, Alicat)

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