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.
- I’ve noticed recently that there seems to be a surge in governmental commitment to ‘open’ across the pond and here in the UK – The news that Canada has released 6000 “high-value” data sets in their Open Data Portal sits alongside Glyn Moody’s assertion that “the White House loves Open Source [and Open Data]” (both via @ckanproject) and the recent launch of the beta Gov.UK website on an open source technical platform. All of which suggests that initiatives such as Discovery that champion the open cause can draw encouragement from the fact that they are currently heading in the same direction of travel as national governments.
- 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.