At the University of Bath, where UKOLN is based, we use an enterprise calendar solution from Oracle. It's OK, no worse than some others I've used, but not great. It does have a client for Mac OSX in its favour.... but I don't really want to use a dedicated client when I have systems and workflows with dependencies on the Mac's built in calendar application, iCal. iCal is not particularly great either, but it is integrated into Mac OSX and there are advantages to be had from this.
Here's an interesting approach. Bernhard Haslhofer at Media Spaces has developed OAI2LOD Server, a system which harvests metadata with OAI-PMH, processes the records to create a triple store and exposes interfaces to this for linked-data clients, SPARQL clients and web-browsers. According to the web-page: The OAI2LOD Server exposes any OAI-PMH compliant metadata repository according to the Linked Data guidelines. This makes things and media objects accessible via HTTP URIs and query able via the SPARQL protocol.
Back in February I was asked to give a talk to the JISC Digitisation Programme meeting. I blogged about this shortly beforehand asking for comments and suggestions. The response was fantastic - I received a bunch of great suggestions and incorporated many of them into the presentation. Everyone who commented got a public 'thankyou' at the event, and I included all names in the slides I used. I have finally gotten around to making the slides available (someone who was at the meeting has asked for them so they made some sort of impression with someone!
For some time now I have occasionally advised people involved in repository administration that they should consider registering the Base URL of their OAI-PMH interface (if they have one) with Google as a proxy for a Sitemap. Until recently, Google has supported the use of OAI-PMH Base URLs in its Webmaster Tools which site owners can use to create and register sitemaps in order to give hints about the structure of the website to Google's web-crawler.
In a recent post, Facebook Or Twitter - Or Facebook And Twitter , Brian Kelly says: ...in some circle such use of Facebook is being derided with comments such as “It’s a closed garden“, “Its popularity is on the wane” or “Twitter is a better development environment” being made. I have to say that I foind that such comments tend to miss the point.“. Brian tackles the "popularity on the wane" comment with some web statistics, but leaves the "closed garden" and "better development environment" arguments.
This coming Thursday (10/04/2008), UKOLN will be celebrating its 30th anniversary, in an (invitation only) event at the British Library Conference Centre, London. Participating will be current and ex-staff, and a wide variety of people with whom UKOLN has worked or collaborated in some way, both nationally and internationally. In addition to a celebration, in fine UKOLN tradition we will have a series of presentations from senior figures in the Library, Higher Education and Cultural Heritage sectors, offering us their memories and perspectives in a 'Celebration of the Changing Digital World'.
I was pleased to be invited by Brian Fuchs to a 'Million Books Workshop' at Imperial College, London last Friday. A fascinating day, in the company of what was, for me, an unusual group of 20-30 linguists, classical scholars and computer scientists. The morning session consisted of three presentations (following an introduction from Gregory Crane which I missed thanks to the increasingly awful transport system between London and the South West) which brought us up to speed with some advances in OCR, computer aided text analysis and translation, and classification.
After a few years of reading about (and, once upon a time, practising) Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) development, I was interested to read Galen Gruman's article in Infoworld on its take-up in the mainstream, commercial world. I got interested in SOA very early on. Not surprising really: as an enterprise developer (in Higher Education) with a background in web technologies, involved in mainly Java-based projects, I already had the mindset with which SOA would fit naturally.
The headline to Guy Dixon's post on vnunet.com is "Facebook user numbers fall in the UK". The sub-title is: "Social networking fatigue sets in at last". I don't think the one follows the other. I think that what we are really seeing is simply Facebook Fatigue. I felt the first effects of Facebook Fatigue months ago and stopped actively using it although I still respond to the alerts that it sends me about people communicating with me in some way.
In Repositories thru the looking glass over on the eFoundations blog, Andy Powell gives a summary of a keynote he gave to the Vala Conference last week. It's interesting stuff, and I will take the time to look at the presentation slides as well. I mostly agree (vehemently in some instances) with Andy's points, though I do find myself questioning some parts of this, so I'll quote some snippets and make a few comments here.
I have been invited to give a short presentation to the JISC Digitisation Programme on Friday, giving an overview of different ways of exposing content and metadata. I'll be talking to projects which are concerned with Cultural Heritage content which is being surfaced in websites to support eLearning. Formats vary tremendously. This is the complete list: 18th century parliamentary papers 19th century pamphlets online A digital library of core e-resources on Ireland Archival sound recordings 2 British Cartoon Archive digitisation project British Governance in the 20th century: Cabinet papers, 1914-1975 British Library 19th century newspapers British Library archival sound recordings project British newspapers 1620-1900 Electronic ephemera: Digitised selections from the John Johnson collection First World War poetry digital archive Independent Radio News Archive digitisation InView: Moving images in the public sphere Medical journal backfiles Modern Welsh journals online NewsFilm online Online historical population reports Portsmouth University: Historic boundaries of Britain Pre-Raphaelite resource site Scott Polar Research Institute: Freeze Frame – Historic polar images The East London theatre archive UK theses digitisation project Aside from the obvious stuff like OAI-PMH, Google, RSS, what should I be talking about?
Yesterday I left a comment on Brian Kelly's post, Is That A Pistol In Your Pocket?, where I explained how the iPhone had changed my mind about preferring to carry several dedicated devices which inter-operate, as opposed to carrying one integrated device. At one time I was determined to pursue the former approach, making connections with Bluetooth and, later, WI-FI. Essentially, I expected to create a responsive peer-to-peer network of devices, what has been termed a Personal Area Network.
It hasn't even occurred to me to look for a user-manual. This user-interface is so much better than any comparable device, it's just not funny. It'll be copied for sure, but right now the iPhone is fast heading for the horizon and those other poor phones and PDAs out there are going to have to run to catch up. This is the first gadget I have brought home where the family have soon clustered around it, wanting to touch it and play with it.
Disdain for Google on the part of some academics is not new, but Tara Brabazon in her inaugural lecture at Brighton University, has created something of a stir. Alexandra Frean, Education Editor for The Time Online says: Google is “white bread for the mind”, and the internet is producing a generation of students who survive on a diet of unreliable information, a professor of media studies will claim this week.
Facebook, Google And Plaxo Join The DataPortability Workgroup. So, parts of the blogosphere are quite excited by the news that Facebook, previously criticised for being a closed system, has agreed to join the DataPortability Workgroup. According to Duncan Riley, the author of this TechCrunch post: The DataPortability Workgroup is actively working to create the ‘DataPortability Reference Design’ to document the best practices for integrating existing open standards and protocols for maximum interoperability (and here’s the key area) to allow users to access their friends and media across all the applications, social networking sites and widgets that implement the design into their systems.
I've been having a look at Ruby on Rails again, now that version 2 has been released. Generally, I like what I find in this new release. Rails is opinionated software - it isn't afraid to commit to an approach, rather than trying to be 'all things to all men'. In a way, this is a continuation of the convention over configuration philosophy which underpins much of Rails' design. For example SOAP services support has been moved out of the main release and made available as a plugin, while Rails has been refactored to support ReST functionality by default via ActiveResource.
No sooner have I blogged about finely tuned antennae than I see that the FeedForward team have released a version for people to have a look at. FeedForward is described as: FeedForward is a personal aggregator (or possibly a personal information environment...) that integrates inputs and services from both the academic sector and wider world to support common information workflows involving phases of scanning, selecting and organising, tagging and republishing.
The discovery to delivery hook-line has been used for a while to describe a goal of those information services which support the academic researcher. The challenge to academic libraries, national information services etc. has been to support the researcher from the moment they begin the process of searching to the delivery of the digital or physical artefact which satisfies their enquiry. Lately, I've been thinking about discovery to delivery, wondering why it just doesn't quite work for me.
The BBC are 'widgetising' their home page see the beta here. It's quite slick, with a liberal sprinkling of Ajax user-interface decoration. It introduces a greater degree of 'personalisation' and 'localisation'. When I visited the page, I duly entered my postcode, but I couldn't really see a difference to the page after 'localising' it - except for the 'weather widget' which would be the first thing I'd remove any way if I started using this page for real.
Correction: In a comment, Justin Crites points out, correctly, that Simple DB does not offer 'relational' database functionality, in the sense that it is not an RDBMS. While this is true, I think Simple DB clearly offers functionality which many people get, perhaps inappropriately, from a relational database system. Amazon continue to expand their excellent infrastructure web services. Simple DB - relational databases in the cloud. I'm definitely going to have a look at this - clustering/replicating databases for resilience and performance was extraordinarily difficult when I was developing and supporting enterprise systems a couple of years ago.