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Jonathan Rochkind: “Is the semantic web still a thing?”

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-10-28 23:29

A post on Hacker News asks:

A few years ago, it seemed as if everyone was talking about the semantic web as the next big thing. What happened? Are there still startups working in that space? Are people still interested?

Note that “linked data” is basically talking about the same technologies as “semantic web”, it’s sort of the new branding for “semantic web”, with some minor changes in focus.

The top-rated comment in the discussion says, in part:

A bit of background, I’ve been working in environments next to, and sometimes with, large scale Semantic Graph projects for much of my career — I usually try to avoid working near a semantic graph program due to my long histories of poor outcomes with them.

I’ve seen uncountably large chunks of money put into KM projects that go absolutely nowhere and I’ve come to understand and appreciate many of the foundational problems the field continues to suffer from. Despite a long period of time, progress in solving these fundamental problems seem hopelessly delayed.

The semantic web as originally proposed (Berners-Lee, Hendler, Lassila) is as dead as last year’s roadkill, though there are plenty out there that pretend that’s not the case. There’s still plenty of groups trying to revive the original idea, or like most things in the KM field, they’ve simply changed the definition to encompass something else that looks like it might work instead.

The reasons are complex but it basically boils down to: going through all the effort of putting semantic markup with no guarantee of a payoff for yourself was a stupid idea.

The entire comment, and, really the entire thread, are worth a read. There seems to be a lot of energy in libraryland behind trying to produce “linked data”, and I think it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on in the larger world here.

Especially because much of the stated motivation for library “linked data” seems to have been: “Because that’s where non-library information management technology is headed, and for once let’s do what everyone else is doing and not create our own library-specific standards.”  It turns out that may or may not be the case, if your motivation for library linked data was “so we can be like everyone else,” that simply may not be an accurate motivation, everyone else doesn’t seem to be heading there in the way people hoped a few years ago.

On the other hand, some of the reasons that semantic web/linked data have not caught on are commercial and have to do with business models.

One of the reasons that whole thing died was that existing business models simply couldn’t be reworked to make it make sense. If I’m running an ad driven site about Cat Breeds, simply giving you all my information in an easy to parse machine readable form so your site on General Pet Breeds can exist and make money is not something I’m particularly inclined to do. You’ll notice now that even some of the most permissive sites are rate limited through their API and almost all require some kind of API key authentication scheme to even get access to the data.

It may be that libraries and other civic organizations, without business models predicated on competition, may be a better fit for implementation of semantic web technologies.  And the sorts of data that libraries deal with (bibliographic and scholarly) may be better suited for semantic data as well compared to general commercial business data.  It may be that at the moment libraries, cultural heritage, and civic organizations are the majority of entities exploring linked data.

Still, the coarsely stated conclusion of that top-rated HN comment is worth repeating:

going through all the effort of putting semantic markup with no guarantee of a payoff for yourself was a stupid idea.

Putting data into linked data form simply because we’ve been told that “everyone is doing it” without carefully understanding the use cases such reformatting is supposed to benefit and making sure that it does — risks undergoing great expense for no payoff. Especially when everyone is not in fact doing it.

GIGO

Taking the same data you already have and reformatting as “linked data” does not neccesarily add much value. If it was poorly controlled, poorly modelled, or incomplete data before — it still is even in RDF.   You can potentially add a lot more value and more additional uses of your data by improving the data quality than by working to reformat it as linked data/RDF.  The idea that simply reformatting it as RDF would add significant value was predicated on the idea of an ecology of software and services built to use linked data, software and services exciting enough that making your data available to them would result in added value.  That ecology has not really materialized, and it’s hardly clear that it will (and to the extent it does, it may only be if libraries and cultural heritage organizations create it; we are unlikely to get a free ride on more general tools from a wider community).

But please do share your data

To be clear, I still highly advocate taking the data you do have and making it freely available under open (or public domain) license terms. In whatever formats you’ve already got it in.  If your data is valuable, developers will find a way to use it, and simply making the data you’ve already got available is much less expensive than trying to reformat it as linked data.  And you can find out if anyone is interested in it. If nobody’s interested in your data as it is — I think it’s unlikely the amount of interest will be significantly greater after you model it as ‘linked data’. The ecology simply hasn’t arisen to make using linked data any easier or more valuable than using anything else (in many contexts and cases, it’s more troublesome and challenging than less abstract formats, in fact).

Following the bandwagon vs doing the work

Part of the problem is that modelling data is inherently a context-specific act. There is no universally applicable model — and I’m talking here about the ontological level of entities and relationships, what objects you represent in your data as distinct entities and how they are related. Whether you model it as RDF or just as custom XML, the way you model the world may or may not be useful or even usable by those in different contexts, domains and businesses.  See “Schemas aren’t neutral” in the short essay by Cory Doctorow linked to from that HN comment.  But some of the linked data promise is premised on the idea that your data will be both useful and integrate-able nearly universally with data from other contexts and domains.

These are not insoluble problems, they are interesting problems, and they are problems that libraries as professional information organizations rightly should be interested in working on. Semantic web/linked data technologies may very well play a role in the solutions (although it’s hardly clear that they are THE answer).

It’s great for libraries to be interested in working on these problems. But working on these problems means working on these problems, it means spending resources on investigation and R&D and staff with the right expertise and portfolio. It does not mean blindly following the linked data bandwagon because you (erroneously) believe it’s already been judged as the right way to go by people outside of (and with the implication ‘smarter than’) libraries. It has not been.

For individual linked data projects, it means being clear about what specific benefits they are supposed to bring to use cases you care about — short and long term — and what other outside dependencies may be necessary to make those benefits happen, and focusing on those too.  It means understanding all your technical options and considering them in a cost/benefit/risk analysis, rather than automatically assuming RDF/semantic web/linked data and as much of it as possible.

It means being aware of the costs and the hoped for benefits, and making wise decisions about how best to allocate resources to maximize chances of success at those hoped for benefits.   Blindly throwing resources into taking your same old data and sharing it as “linked data”, because you’ve heard it’s the thing to do,  does not in fact help.


Filed under: General

Cherry Hill Company: Islandora Camp Colorado - Bringing Islandora and Drupal closer

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-10-28 22:40

From October 13 - 16, 2014, I had the opportunity to go to (and the priviledge to present at) Islandora Camp Colorado (http://islandora.ca/camps/co2014). These were four fairly intensive days, including a last day workshop looking to the future with Fedora Commons 4.x. We had a one day introduction to Islandora, a day of workshops, and a final day of community presentations on how Libraries (and companies that work with Libraries such as ours) are using Islandora. The future looks quite interesting for the relationship between Fedora Commons and Drupal.

  • The new version of Islandora allows you to regenerate derivatives on the fly. You can specify which datastreams are derivatives of (what I am calling) parent datastreams. As a result, the new feature allows you to regenerate a derivative through the UI or possibly via Drush, which something the Colorado Alliance is working to have working with the ...
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FOSS4Lib Recent Releases: Service-Proxy - 0.39

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-10-28 21:14
Package: Service-ProxyRelease Date: Monday, October 27, 2014

Last updated October 28, 2014. Created by Peter Murray on October 28, 2014.
Log in to edit this page.

New IdentityLayer field, indexIconUrl, meant for defining another per-user logo, supplementing iconUrl.

FOSS4Lib Recent Releases: Archivematica - 1.3.0

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-10-28 21:12
Package: ArchivematicaRelease Date: Friday, October 24, 2014

Last updated October 28, 2014. Created by Peter Murray on October 28, 2014.
Log in to edit this page.

Important note: this is not a required upgrade from 1.2.x. Only new users, those wanting to try out 14.04, or DuraCloud account holders need this release.

Nicole Engard: Bookmarks for October 28, 2014

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-10-28 20:30

Today I found the following resources and bookmarked them on <a href=

  • ZenHub.io ZenHub provides a project management solution to GitHub with customizable task boards, peer feedback, file uploads, and more.
  • Thingful Thingful® is a search engine for the Internet of Things, providing a unique geographical index of connected objects around the world, including energy, radiation, weather, and air quality devices as well as seismographs, iBeacons, ships, aircraft and even animal trackers. Thingful’s powerful search capabilities enable people to find devices, datasets and realtime data sources by geolocation across many popular Internet of Things networks
  • Zanran Numerical Data Search Zanran helps you to find ‘semi-structured’ data on the web. This is the numerical data that people have presented as graphs and tables and charts. For example, the data could be a graph in a PDF report, or a table in an Excel spreadsheet, or a barchart shown as an image in an HTML page. This huge amount of information can be difficult to find using conventional search engines, which are focused primarily on finding text rather than graphs, tables and bar charts.
  • Gwittr Gwittr is a Twitter API based search website. It allows you to better search any Twitter account for older tweets, linked web pages and pictures.
  • ThingLink Easily create interactive images and videos for your websites, infographics, photo galleries, presentations and more!

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LITA: Midwinter Workshop Highlight: Meet the Field Research Presenter!

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-10-28 19:51

We asked our LITA Midwinter Workshop Presenters to tell us a little more about themselves and what to expect from their workshops in January. This week, we’re hearing from Wayne Johnston, who will be presenting the workshop:

Developing mobile apps to support field research
(For registration details, please see the bottom of this blog post)

LITA: Can you tell us a little more about you?

Wayne: I am currently Head of Research Enterprise and Scholarly Communication at the University of Guelph Library. Prior to joining the Library I worked for the United Nations in both New York and Geneva. My international experience includes work I’ve done in Ghana, Nepal, Croatia and Canada’s Arctic.

LITA: Who is your target audience for this workshop?

Wayne: I think this workshop will be most relevant to academic librarians who are supporting research activity on their campuses.  It may be of particular interest to those working in research data management.  Beyond that, anyone interested in mobile technology and/or open source software will find the workshop of interest.

LITA: How much experience with programming do attendees need to succeed in the workshop?

Wayne: None whatsoever.  Some experience with examples of field research undertaken by faculty and/or graduate students would be useful.

LITA: If you were a character from the Marvel or Harry Potter universe, which would it be, and why?

Wayne: How about the Silver Surfer?  By living vicariously through the field research I support I feel that I glide effortlessly to the far corners of the world.

LITA: Name one concrete thing your attendees will be able to take back to their libraries after participating in your workshop.

WayneYou will be equipped to enable researchers on your campus to dispense with paper data collection and discover new efficiencies and data security by using mobile technology.

LITA: What kind of gadgets/software do your attendees need to bring?

WayneNothing required but any mobile devices would be advantageous.  If possible, have an app that enables you to read QR codes.

LITA: Respond to this scenario: You’re stuck on a desert island. A box washes ashore. As you pry off the lid and peer inside, you begin to dance and sing, totally euphoric. What’s in the box?

WayneA bottle of craft beer.

More information about Midwinter Workshops. 

Registration Information: LITA members get one third off the cost of Mid-Winter workshops. Use the discount promotional code:  LITA2015 during online registration to automatically receive your member discount.  Start the process at the ALA web sites: Conference web site: http://alamw15.ala.org/ Registration start page: http://alamw15.ala.org/rates LITA Workshops registration descriptions: http://alamw15.ala.org/ticketed-events#LITA When you start the registration process and BEFORE you choose the workshop, you will encounter the Personal Information page.  On that page there is a field to enter the discount promotional code:  LITA2015 As in the example below.  If you do so, then when you get to the workshops choosing page the discount prices, of $235, are automatically displayed and entered.  The discounted total will be reflected in the Balance Due line on the payment page. Please contact the LITA Office if you have any registration questions.

Library of Congress: The Signal: Data Infrastructure, Education &amp; Sustainability: Notes from the Symposium on the Interagency Strategic Plan for Big Data

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-10-28 16:38

Last week, the  National Academies Board on Research Data and Information hosted a Symposium on the Interagency Strategic Plan for Big Data. Staff from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Institute for Standards and Technology presented on ongoing work to establish an interagency strategic plan for Big Data. In this short post I recap some of the points and issues that were raised in the presentations and discussion and provide links to some of the projects and initiatives that I think will be of interest to readers of The Signal.

Vision and Priority Actions for National Big Data R&D

Slide with the vision for the interagency big data activity.

Part of the occasion for this event is the current “Request for Input (RFI)-National Big Data R&D Initiative.” Individuals and organizations have until November 14th to provide comments on “The National Big Data R&D Initiative: Vision and Actions to be Taken” (pdf). This short document is intended to inform policy for research and development across various federal agencies. Relevant to those working in digital stewardship and digital preservation, the draft includes a focus on issues related to trustworthiness of data and resulting knowledge, investing in both domain-specific and shared cyberinfrastructure to support research and improving data analysis education and training and a focus on “ensuring the long term sustainability” of data sets and data resources.

Sustainability as the Elephant in the Room

In the overview presentation about the interagency big data initiative, Allen Dearry from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences noted that sustainability and preservation infrastructure for data remains the “elephant in the room.” This comment resonated with several of the subsequent presenters and was referenced several times in their remarks. I was glad to see sustainability and long-term access getting this kind of attention. It is also good to see that “sustainability” is specifically mentioned in the draft document referenced above. With that noted, throughout discussion and presentations it was clear that the challenges of long-term data management are only becoming more and more complex as more and more data is collected to support a range of research.

From “Data to Knowledge” as a Framework

The phrase “Data to Knowledge” was a repeated in several of the presentations. The interagency team working in this space has often made use of it, for example, in relation to last years “Data to Knowledge to Action” event (pdf). From a stewardship/preservation perspective, it is invaluable to recognize that the focus on the resulting knowledge and action that comes from data puts additional levels of required assurance on the range of activities involved in the stewardship of data. This is not simply an issue of maintaining data assets, but a more complex activity of keeping data accessible and interpretable in ways that support generating sound  knowledge.

Some of the particular examples discussed under the heading of “data to knowledge” illustrate the significance of the concept to the work of data preservation and stewardship. One of the presenters mentioned the importance of publishing negative results and the analytic process of research. A presenter noted that open source platforms like iPython notebook are making it easier for scientists to work on and share their data, code and research. This discussion connected rather directly with many of the issues that were raised in the 2012 NDIIPP content summit Science@Risk: Toward a National Strategy for Preserving Online Science and in its final report (pdf). There is a whole range of seemingly ancillary material that makes data interpretable and meaningful. I was pleased to see one of those areas, software, receive recognition at the event.

Recognition of Software Preservation as Supporting Data to Knowledge

Sky Bristol from USGS presenting on sustainability issues related to big data to an audience at the National Academies of Science in Washington DC.

The event closed with presentations from two projects that won National Academies Board on Research Data and Information’s Data and Information Challenge Awards. Adam Asare of the Immune Tolerance Network presented on “ITN Trial Share: Enabling True Clinical Trial Transparency” and Mahadev Satyanarayanan from the Olive Executable Archive presented on “Olive: Sustaining Executable Content Over Decades.” Both of these projects represent significant progress supporting the sustainability of access to scientific data.

I was particularly thrilled to see the issues around software preservation receiving this kind of national attention. As explained in much greater depth in the Preserving.exe report, arts, culture and scientific advancement are increasingly dependent on software. In this respect, I found it promising to see a project like Olive, which has considerable implication for the reproducibility of analysis and for providing long-term access to data and interpretations of data in their native formats and environments, receiving recognition at an event focused on data infrastructure. For those interested in the further implications of this kind of work for science, this 2011 interview with the Olive project explores many of the potential implications of this kind of work for science.

Education and Training in Data Curation

Slide from presentation on approaches to analytical training for working with data for all learners.

Another subject I imagine readers of The Signal are tracking is education and training in support of data analysis and curation. Michelle Dunn from the National Institutes for Health presented on an approach NIH is taking to develop the kind of workforce that is necessary in this space. She mentioned a range of vectors for thinking about data science training, including traditional academic programs as well as the potential for the development of open educational resources. For those interested in this topic, it’s worth reviewing the vision and goals outlined in the NIH Data Science “Education, Training, and Workforce Development” draft report (pdf). As libraries increasingly become involved in the curation and management of research data, and as library and information science programs increasingly focus on preparing students to work in support of data-intensive research, it will be critical to follow developments in this area.

David Rosenthal: Familiarity Breeds Contempt

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-10-28 15:00
In my recent Internet of Things post I linked to Jim Gettys' post Bufferbloat and Other Challenges. In it Jim points to a really important 2010 paper by Sandy Clarke, Matt Blaze, Stefan Frei and Jonathan Smith entitled Familiarity Breeds Contempt: The Honeymoon Effect and the Role of Legacy Code in Zero-Day Vulnerabilities.

Clarke et al analyze databases of vulnerabilities to show that the factors influencing the rate of discovery of vulnerabilities are quite different from those influencing the rate of discovery of bugs. They summarize their findings thus:
We show that the length of the period after the release of a software product (or version) and before the discovery of the first vulnerability (the ’Honeymoon’ period) is primarily a function of familiarity with the system. In addition, we demonstrate that legacy code resulting from code re-use is a major contributor to both the rate of vulnerability discovery and the numbers of vulnerabilities found; this has significant implications for software engineering principles and practice. Jim says:
our engineering processes need fundamental reform in the face of very long lived devices.Don't hold your breath. The paper's findings also have significant implications for digital preservation, because external attack is an important component of the threat model for digital preservation systems:
  • Digital preservation systems are, like devices in the Internet of Things (IoT), long-lived.
  • Although they are designed to be easier to update than most IoT devices, they need to be extremely cheap to run. Resources to make major changes to the code base within the "honeymoon" period will be inadequate.
  • Scarce resources and adherence to current good software engineering resources already mean that much of the code in these systems is shared.
Thus it is likely that digital preservation systems will be more vulnerable than the systems whose content they are intended to preserve. This is a strong argument for diversity of implementation, which has unfortunately turned out to increase costs significantly. Mitigating the threat from external attack increases the threat of economic failure.

HangingTogether: Lots more on researcher identifiers

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-10-28 13:19

I blogged earlier this year inviting feedback on the OCLC Research Registering Researchers in Authority Files Task Group‘s draft report-and we did receive some, much appreciated. Now the report is published!

Along with it, we’ve published supplementary datasets detailing our research:

  • our use case scenarios
  • characteristics profiles of 20 research networking or identifier systems
  • an Excel workbook with
    • links to 100 systems the task group considered
    • the functional requirements derived from the use case scenarios and their associated stakeholders
    • compilation of the 20 characteristics profiles for easy comparison
    • the 20 profiled systems mapped to their functional requirements.

The report, supplementary datasets, and a slide with the Researcher Identifier Information Flow diagram used in the report (and which can be repurposed, with attribution) are all available on the Registering Researchers in Authority Files report landing page.

If I had to choose the key message from all of this, it would be that research institutions and libraries need to recognize that “authors are not strings” and that persistent identifiers are needed to accurately link their researchers with their scholarly output and to funders.

The report could be considered the “executive summary” of the task group’s two years’ worth of research. No one identifier or system will ever include all researchers, or meet all functional requirements of every stakeholder. If you’re weighing pros and cons of different identifier systems, I’d suggest you look at the profiles and our mappings to the functional requirements.

Collaborating with such talented experts on the task group has been a great pleasure. Now that we’ve delivered our final output, I’m looking forward to your reactions and feedback!

About Karen Smith-Yoshimura

Karen Smith-Yoshimura, program officer, works on topics related to renovating descriptive and organizing practices with a focus on large research libraries and area studies requirements.

Mail | Web | Twitter | More Posts (52)

Islandora: iCampCO's Secret Sauce - a Guest Blog

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-10-28 12:56

The following guest post was written by Islandora Camp Colorado attendee Bryan Brown, who joined us from Florida State University:

Islandora Camp CO was over a week ago now, but I’m still digesting the experience. Having been to several conferences before, I was expecting something similar where a Sage on the Stage lectures about some abstract topic while the audience passively listens (or doesn’t). I was pleasantly surprised at the smaller and more personal atmosphere of iCamp, where we were free to ask questions in the middle of presentations and instructors revised their talks based on what the audience was most interested in. Instead of canned slideshows, Islandora Camp is an interactive experience that could vary wildly depending on who attends. This is because the core theme of Islandora Camp, and maybe even Islandora in general, is community.

From the first day where we all introduced ourselves and how we are using Islandora, I quickly felt like I knew everyone at camp and felt no hesitation to strike up a conversation with others about their work. The conversations I had with other campers about how they are using Islandora stuck with me just as much as the presentations and workshops. I met a lot of interesting developers and administrators who are working on projects similar to my own and came back to Florida with a greatly extended network of fellow Islandorians I could work with to solve shared problems. Instead of treating our Islandora instances like unique snowflakes and solving our problems in a vacuum, we need to come together and discuss these problems as a community so we can create better solutions that help more people.

The future of Islandora is not up to the Islandora Foundation or Discovery Garden, but with Islandora users. If you want Islandora to be better, it’s not enough to sit around and wait for new modules to come out or complain about problems they might have. File bug reports when you find an issue. Volunteer to test modules for new releases. Contribute your patches as a pull request. Join an interest group. There are lots of ways to get involved in the Islandora community, even if you aren’t a developer. Since we are all using the same system, we are all in the same boat. This sense of connectedness might just be the secret sauce that makes iCamp such a great experience.

DuraSpace News: DSpace-CRIS News from CINECA

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-10-28 00:00

From Michele Mennielli, Cineca

Casey Bisson: Unit testing WordPress plugins

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-10-27 22:18

We’ve been unit testing some of our plugins using the old WordPress-tests framework and tips from this 2012 blog post. The good news is that the framework has since been incorporated into core WP, the bad news is that it was changed along the way, and it wasn’t exactly easy to get the test environment setup correctly for the old WordPress-tests.

I’ve had a feeling there must be a better way, and today I discovered there is. WP-CLI has plugin unit test scaffolding that’s easy to install. Pippin’s Plugins’ guide to the scaffold is helpful as well. My experience was pretty smooth, with the following caveats:

  • cd $(wp plugin path --dir my-plugin) is just another way of saying “cd into the plugin’s directory.” It’s good to see the example of how wpcli can be used that way, but way easier for me to type the path.
  • bin/install-wp-tests.sh came out with some unexpected permissions. I did a chmod 550 bin/install-wp-tests.sh and was a lot happier. It’s possible (perhaps likely) that I’m missing a sexy unix permissions trick there, and the permissions are intentionally non-executable for non-root users, but there’s no obvious documentation for that.
  • The bin/install-wp-tests.sh needs to run with a user that can create databases (probably root for many people). I’m usually pretty particular about this permission, but the convenience factor here depends on it.
  • The old framework expected -test.php to be the file suffix, the new approach expects the files to be prefixed with test-

All those are pretty minor, however. I think this approach will make it far easier to make tests distributable. The support for Travis (and from there to Github) is super sexy. All together, this should make tests easier to write and use.

Followup

I’ve added the scaffold to some of my most popular plugins:

Only bCMS has a meaningful test, written by Will Luo, but we’ll see where it goes from here. I’m still working out issues getting the test environment setup both locally and in Travis. Plugin dependencies, configuration, and git submodules are among the problems.

Nicole Engard: Bookmarks for October 27, 2014

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-10-27 20:30

Today I found the following resources and bookmarked them on <a href=

  • JSON2HTML json2html is an open source javascript library that uses JSON templates to convert JSON objects to HTML.

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District Dispatch: Policy Revolution! and COSLA in Wyoming: Bountiful in bibliophiles but barren of bears

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-10-27 19:43

Jenny Lake, Wyoming

I just returned from the Annual Meeting of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA), held in Teton Village, Wyo., just down the road from Grand Teton National Park and Jackson. From the moment I left the airport, I knew I was not in D.C. any longer, as there were constant reminders about avoiding animals. There were road signs informing drivers about “moose on the loose;” strong suggestions about hiking in groups and to carry bear spray; and warnings about elk hunting so “please wear bright colors.” In D.C., we only worry about donkeys and elephants engaging in political shenanigans.

Work on our Policy Revolution! Initiative attracted me to the COSLA meeting, to leverage the presence of the state librarians, and also librarians from the mountain states. Our session focused on four aspects of work related to developing a national public policy agenda:

  • From a library leader’s perspective, what are the most important national goals that would advance libraries in the next 5-10 years?
  • From the U.S. President’s perspective, how could libraries and libraries best contribute to the most important national goals, and what national initiatives are needed to realize these contributions?
  • From the many good ideas that we can generate, how can we prioritize among them?
  • What does a national public policy agenda look like? What are its characteristics?

Steamboat

The wide open spaces and rugged individualistic culture of Wyoming, symbolized by Steamboat, reminded me of the vastness of the United States, and great resources and resourcefulness of our people. In this time of library revolution, we need to move beyond our conventional views of the world to figure out how libraries may best serve the nation for decades to come. With the next presidential election just around the corner, and with it the certainty of a new occupant in the White House, it is timely and urgent to develop and coalesce around a common library vision.

One thought on the way home was stimulated by the Wyoming session. What should be the priority for national action? Three possibilities occur to me:

  • Increase direct funding (i.e., show me the money)
  • Effect public policy changes that may or may not directly implicate funding, such as copyright, privacy, licensing regimes, accommodations for people with disabilities, but are changes that can only be achieved at the national level, or at least best addressed at the national level
  • Promote a new vision and positioning for libraries in national conversation (i.e., bully pulpit)

Should a national public policy agenda systematically favor one of these directions?

Teton County Library

Many thanks to COSLA for hosting us, with particular thanks to Ann Joslin and Tim Cherubini (and his staff). I also appreciated the opportunity to sit in a number of sessions that included generous doses of our long-time friends E-rate, ebooks and digital services. We had a special treat as Wyoming’s senior U.S. Senator, Michael Enzi (R-WY), addressed the group, regaling the audience with his love of reading and libraries.

I had the opportunity for a quick tour around the area. I was impressed with the large, modern Teton County Library (in Jackson), which has good wireless access—yay! After seeing the Grand Tetons and tooling about Jenny Lake, it is gonna be hard to settle back down to the political chaos that is Washington, D.C.

The post Policy Revolution! and COSLA in Wyoming: Bountiful in bibliophiles but barren of bears appeared first on District Dispatch.

Manage Metadata (Diane Hillmann and Jon Phipps): What’s this Jane-athon thing?

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-10-27 18:57

Everyone is getting tired of the sage-on-the-stage style of preconferences, so when Deborah Fritz suggested a hackathon (thank you Deborah!) to the RDA Dev Team, we all climbed aboard and started thinking about what that kind of event might look like, particularly in the ALA Midwinter context. We all agreed: there had to be a significant hands-on aspect to really engage those folks who were eager to learn more about how the RDA data model could work in a linked data environment, and, of course, in their own home environment.

We’re calling it a Jane-athon, which should give you a clue about the model for the event: a hackathon, of course! The Jane Austen corpus is perfect to demonstrate the value of FRBR, and there’s no lack of interesting material to look at– media materials, series, spin-offs of every description–in addition to the well known novels. So the Jane-athon will be partially about creating data, and partially about how that data fits into a larger environment. And did you know there is a Jane Austen bobblehead?

We think there will be a significant number of people who might be interested in attending, and we figured that getting the world out early would help prospective participants make their travel arrangements with attendance in mind. Sponsored by ALA Publishing, the Jane-athon will be on the Friday before the midwinter conference (the traditional pre-conference day), and though we don’t yet have registration set up, we’ll make sure everyone knows when that’s available. If you think, as we do that this event will be the hit of Midwinter, be sure to watch for that announcement, and register early! If the event is successful, you’ll be seeing others in subsequent ALA conferences.

So, what’s the plan and what will participants get out of it?

The first thing to know is that there will be tables and laptops to enable small groups to work together for the ‘making data’ portion of the event. We’ll be asking folks who have laptops they can bring to Chicago to plan on bringing theirs. We’ll be using the latest version of a new bibliographic metadata editor called RIMMF (“RDA In Many Metadata Formats”–not yet publicly available–but soon. Watch for it on the TMQ website). We encourage interested folks to download the current beta version and play with it–it’s a cool tool and really is a good one to learn about.

In the morning, we’ll form small cataloging groups and use RIMMF to do some FRBRish cataloging, starting from MARC21 and ending up with RDA records exported as RDF Linked Data. In the afternoon we’ll all take a look at what we’ve produced, share our successes and discoveries, and discuss the challenges we faced. In true hackathon tradition we’ll share our conclusions and recommendations with the rest of the library community on a special Jane-athon website set up to support this and subsequent Jane-athons.

Who should attend?

We believe that there will be a variety of people who could contribute important skills and ideas to this event. Catalogers, of course, but also every flavor of metadata people, vendors, and IT folks in libraries would be warmly welcomed. But wouldn’t tech services managers find it useful? Oh yes, they’d be welcomed enthusiastically, and I’m sure their participation in the discussion portion of the event in the afternoon will bring out issues of interest to all.

Keep in mind, this is not cataloging training, nor Toolkit training, by any stretch of the imagination. Neither will it be RIMMF training or have a focus on the RDA Registry, although all those tools are relevant to the discussion. For RIMMF, particularly, we will be looking at ways to ensure that there will be a cadre of folks who’ve had enough experience with it to make the hands-on portion of the day run smoothly. For that reason, we encourage as many as possible to play with it beforehand!

Our belief is that the small group work and the discussion will be best with a variety of experience informing the effort. We know that we can’t provide the answers to all the questions that will come up, but the issues that we know about (and that come up during the small group work) will be aired and discussed.

SearchHub: Podcast: Solr Usability with Steve Rowe &amp; Tim Potter

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-10-27 18:44
Lucene/Solr Committers Steve Rowe and Tim Potter are back on SolrCluster to discuss how Lucidworks and the community are making changes and improvements to Solr to increase usability and add ease to the getting started experience. Steve and Tim discuss new features such as data-driven schema, start-up scripts, launching SolrCloud, and more. Check out the episode here!

The post Podcast: Solr Usability with Steve Rowe & Tim Potter appeared first on Lucidworks.

Islandora: Photos from iCampCO

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-10-27 17:52

I mentioned the location of our latest Islandora Camp was beautiful, right? Well, don't take my word for it. One of our campers shared these lovely photos from around town:

(also, check out Ashok Modi's blog about his experiences at camp)

Nicole Engard: IL2014: Driving Our Own Destinies

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-10-27 16:41

Brendan Howley opened up the Internet Librarian conference this year. Brian designs stories that insight people to “do something”. He’s here to talk to us about the world of media and desired outcomes – specifically the desired outcomes for our libraries. Brendan collected stories from local library constituents to find out what libraries needed to do to get to the next step. He found (among other things) that libraries should be hubs for culture and should connect community media.

Three things internet librarians need to know:

  1. why stories world and what really matters
  2. why networks form (power of the weak not the strong)
  3. why culture eats strategy for lunch (Peter Drucker)

“The internet means that libraries are busting out of their bricks and mortars”

Brendan shared with us how Stories are not about dumping data, they’re about sharing data and teachable moments.

Data is a type of story and where data and stories meet is where change found. If you want to speak to your community you need to keep in mind that we’re in a society of “post-everything” – there is only one appetite left in terms of storytelling – “meaning”. People need to find it relevant and find meaning in the story. The most remarkable thing about librarians is that we give “meaning” away every day.

People want to know what we stand for and why – values are the key piece to stories. People want to understand why libraries still exist. People under the age of 35 want to know how to find the truth out there – the reliable sources – they don’t care about digital literacy. It’s those who are scared of being left behind – those over 35 (in general) who care about digital literacy.

The recipe for a successful story is: share the why of the how of what you do.

The sharing of stories creates networks. Networks lead to the opportunity to create value – and when that happens you’ve proved your worth as a civic institution. Networks are the means by which those values spread. They are key to the future of libraries.

A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander is a must read by anyone designing systems/networks.

You need to understand that it’s the weak ties that matter. Strong ties are really quite rare – this sounds a lot like the long tail to me.

Libraries are in the business of giving away context – that means that where stories live, breathe, gather and cause people to do things is in the context. We’re in a position where we can give this context away. Libraries need to understand that we’re cultural entrepreneurs. Influencers fuel culture – and that’s the job description for librarians.

The post IL2014: Driving Our Own Destinies appeared first on What I Learned Today....

Related posts:

  1. IL2014: More Library Mashups Signing/Talk
  2. IL2012 Keynote: Library as Platform
  3. Open Source Culture

Islandora: Wagging the Long Tail Again

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-10-27 12:17

It has been a while since our last foray into the Long Tail of Islandora. Some of those modules have moved all the way from the tail to the head and become part of our regular release. We have been quietly gathering them in our Resources section, but it's more than time for another high level review of the awesome modules that are out there in the community, just waiting to make your repo better.

Islandora XQuery

The ability to batch edit has long been the impossible dream in Islandora. Well, with this little module from discoverygarden, Inc., the dream has arrived. With a basic knowledge of XQuery, you can attack the metadata in your Fedora repository en masse. 

Putting Islandora XQuery into production should be approached with caution for the same reason that batch editing has been so long elusive: if you mass-edit your data, you can break things. That said, the module does come with a helpful install script, so getting it working in your Islandora Installation may be the easiest part!

Islandora Entity Bridge

Much like Islandora Sync, Ashok Modi's Islandora Entity Bridge endeavours to build relationships between Fedora objects and Drupal so you can apply a wider variety of Drupal modules to the contents of your repository without recreating your objects as nodes.

Ashok presented on this module at the recent Islandora Camp in Denver, so you can learn more from his slides here.

Islandora Plupload

This simple but very effective module has been around a while. It makes use of the Plupload library to allow you to exceed PHP file limits when uploading large files.

Islandora Feeds

Mark Jordan has created this tool so you can use the Feeds contrib module to create Islandora objects. This module is still in development, so you can help it to move forward by telling Mark your use cases.

Islandora Meme Solution Pack

The latest in islandora demo/teaching modules, developed at Islandora Camp Colorado by dev instructors Daniel Lamb and Nick Ruest to help demonstrate the joys of querying Solr. This module is not meant to be used in your repo, but rather to act as a learning tool, especially when used in combination with our Islandora VM.

LITA: Are you an iPad or a laptop?

planet code4lib - Mon, 2014-10-27 11:00

I’ve never been a big tablet user. This may come as a surprise to some, given that I assist patrons with their tablets every day at the public library. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Nexus 7 tablet. It’s perfect for reading ebooks, using Twitter, and watching Netflix; but the moment I want to respond to an email, edit a photo, or work my way through a Treehouse lesson, I feel helpless. Several library patrons have asked me if our public computers will be replaced by iPads and tablets. It’s hard to say where technology will take us in the coming years, but I strongly believe that a library without computers would leave us severely handicapped.

One of our regular library patrons, let’s call her Jane, is a diehard iPad fan. She is constantly on the hunt for the next great app and enjoys sharing her finds with me and my colleagues. Jane frequently teases me about preferring computers and whenever I’m leading a computer class she’ll ask “Can I do it on my iPad?” She’s not the only person I know who thinks that computers are antiquated and on their way to obsoletion, but I have plenty of hope for computers regardless of the iPad revolution.

In observing how patrons use technology, and reflecting on how I use technology in my personal and professional life, I find that tablets are excellent tools for absorbing and consuming information. However, they are not designed for creation. 9 times out of 10, if you want to make something, you’re better off using a computer. In a recent Wired article about digital literacy, Ari Geshner poses the question “Are you an iPad or are you a laptop? An iPad is designed for consumption.” He explains that literacy “means moving beyond a passive relationship with technology.”

So Jane is an iPad and I am a laptop. We’ve managed to coexist and I think that’s the best approach. Tablets and computers may both fall under the digital literacy umbrella, but they are entirely different tools. I sincerely hope that public libraries will continue to consider computers and tablets separately, encouraging a thirst for knowledge as well as a desire to create.

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