Monday, December 22, 2008

Before and After

Here are some pictures illustrating the change we're undertaking in our digital collections infrastructure. The second diagram, "After', relates to Mike's post/picture. This first one, though, reflects our current situation: different workflow, management, and access schemes depending on the content type. Not too surprising, given that most DL platforms want to 'own' their content. If you have content they can't handle, you need to get another platform. Fortunately, things have evolved in a good direction, giving us the opportunity to unify content and manage it coherently in one place, and build integrated access. That's the second diagram:

This parallels large parts of Mike's diagram, with the center "Repository" here corresponding to Mike's "IR". Most of the services along the right edge correspond to the "CISR". The big Repository will use Fedora, and the access services will likely be built with Solr/Lucene and other plugin services like user comments, etc. Federation with external repositories happens at the bottom of the picture, either using the repository or just being indexed together with local content. We're prototyping this architecture for the Technology Enhanced Learning grant with the School of Human Ecology and the Vet Med department.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Authority Control?

Here's a question from a non-librarian: how do we (could we) do authority-control-type-operations across a lot of different systems/services? Is there already an Authority Control Service application for this sort of thing? So that when we deposit something into MINDS@UW, the "Author" field can be something other than a free-text string, and can hook into the same authority control system that is used in all of the other places that need it?

I have this feeling that good authority control ties into FRBR and faceting in ways that could make things easier for us in the future.

Service Infrastructure Hack

Here's a diagram I drew a couple of years ago, when I was first trying to figure out the core services that make up our technical infrastructure. If I did it again today, I'd do it differently, but in the interest of discussion, I'm posting it as-is.

Decoding some of it: "ILS" is Integrated Library System; "CISR" is Comprehensive Index/Search/Retrieval; "IR" is Institutional Repository. If I re-did it, the CISR and IR functionalities would get blended together and then un-mixed into something like "Digital Collections" and "Digital Content Management".

Blue arrows represent all of the harvesting that turns the CISR into an FRD ("Federated Resource Discovery") service. Red arrows represent peering relationships with sister institutions that in turn elevate an FRD into a GFRD ("Global FRD").

Anyway ... worth what you paid.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Horizon Report 2008

The Horizon Report is an annual study that looks at "emerging technologies for teaching, learning and creative expression" and in its annual report, lays it out what they think are the general technologies to be watching in three time frames (1-2 years out, 2-3 years out, 4-5 years out).

Sometimes when I look at the Horizon Report I think "duh, isn't that obvious?" But I do find that it can give some focus to initial discussions about what is happening around us.

What I also like about the report is it gives real-world examples of what some places are doing with this technology to aid learning. This too leads to ideas for what we can do.

For 2008, the "key emerging technologies" identified were:

1-2 years out:
Grassroots video (very easy to capture, edit, post videos)
Collaboration webs (easy ways to collaborate online)

2-3 years out:
Mobile broadband (smart phones will be more pervasive)
Data mashups (transforming the way we look at and interpret data)

4-5 years out:
Collective intelligence (knowledge and understanding developed from large groups of people)
Social operating systems (networks organized around people rather than content)

I have heard that for the 2009 report, mobile devices is now in the 1-2 years out category.

Those first 4 areas are issues we have been talking about in a number of ways, so it is good to see that we appear to be looking in the right direction.

The full report is at:

including examples of what others are doing. Some of the mobile broadband application and mashup examples are especially interesting.