Archive for the ‘e-Learning’ Category

Collective Intelligence Amplification

Monday, March 15th, 2010 by Adrian Stevenson

JISC Developer Days, University of London Union, London, 24th-27th February 2010

Following straight on from the ‘Linked Data Meet-up 2‘, I was immediately into the JISC UKOLN Dev8d Developer Days ( held at the same location. Although I may be considered to be a little biased given I work for UKOLN, I have to say I was mightily impressed by this fantastic event. The details that went into the organisation, as well as the multitude of original ideas to enhance the event were well beyond anything I’ve seen before.

I was mainly there to get a few video interviews, and I’ve included these below. It was great to chat to Ed Summers from the Library of Congress who passed on his usual code4lib to attend dev8d, and gave us a few comments on how the events compare. It was also exciting to hear that Chuck Severance is intending to enhance the degree course he teaches on back in the US, using things he’s learnt at dev8d. All the interviewees clearly found the event to be really useful for creating and collaborating on new ideas in a way that just isn’t possible to the same degree as part of the usual working week. Just walking around the event listening in to some of the conversations, I could tell some great developer brains were working optimally. The workshops, expert sessions and project zones all added to the overall effect of raising the collective intelligence a good few notches. I’m sure we’ll hear about some great projects arising directly from these intense hot housing days.

You can get more reflections via the dev8d and JISC Information Environment Team blogs.

Ed Summers Chuck Severance Tim Donahue
John O’Brien Steve Coppin Chris Keene
Marcus Ramsden Lin Clark Tom Heath

Standards, Profiles, Interoperability – Some Notes from the Front

Monday, January 11th, 2010 by Adrian Stevenson

Sword logoTomorrow I’ll be attending the CETIS ‘Future of Interoperability Standards Meeting‘ in Bolton on behalf of the SWORD project that I manage as part of my role at UKOLN. Invitees have been to asked to provide a position paper that “… should focus on thoughts or opinions on the experience of developing both formal and informal specifications and standards, working with standards bodies and potential ways forward to achieve interoperability“. This is quite a tricky one for me, as most of the work on the SWORD profile was done by the previous project manager, Julie Allinson in SWORD phase one, and our SWORD partner from the University of Cambridge, Jim Downing for phase two. I had hoped to get Jim along to this meeting, but it wasn’t possible, so I’ll be the main SWORD representative. Consequently, rather than go into the specifics, I’d thought I’d give a few observations from my experience managing the project, these necessarily being more general. Whether this constitutes a position paper, I’m not sure.

  • Go with the Web
    Mainstream is good. Even if it doesn’t seem to fit, it’s probably a good idea. SWORD went with the Atom Publishing Protocol. It was developed for blogs.
  • Do you really need to standardise?
    Maybe de-facto is good enough? Why waste time and effort? The DSpace, Fedora, EPrints, Microsoft Zentity and Intralibrary repositories all ship with SWORD in their current releases. Microsoft have adopted SWORD as their de-facto standard for deposit and have implemented it in their ‘Article Authoring Add-in for Word‘. ‘Nuff said.
  • Prove a point
    Develop some test implementations and demo clients. Show the thing works.
  • Be agile
    … and don’t be too prescriptive.
  • You can never be too simple
    Do one simple thing well. Don’t try to do everything. It’s got to be clear.
  • Get the message out
    Some say that the marketing is the most important thing.
  • Don’t just say it, do it
    Practice what you preach. You know the quote, there’s too many standards and specifications. Re-cycle. Be strong, don’t re-invent.
  • Allow for serendipity
    … and embrace it when it happens.
  • Don’t go it alone
    Get people on board. Bring people with you.
  • Having great developers makes life easier
    It means you can get things done.

Semantic Technologies: Which Way Now? – A UKOLN Response

Monday, January 11th, 2010 by Adrian Stevenson

Last December myself and Paul Walk were invited to give a UKOLN response to the presentations at the CETIS Semantic Technologies Working Group meeting in Glasgow. Paul couldn’t make it, so it was left to me to come up with a response on the spot. Zach Beauvais from Talis gave an introductory talk on Talis’ activities and Adam Cooper followed with a summary of the ‘Giant Global Graph‘ session from the recent CETIS conference.

I mentioned a new UKOLN project called ‘RepUK’ that will be providing a Linked Data interface to an aggregation of scholarly materials from a number of UK repositories using the Talis platform. I then outlined a few issues around Linked Data, as well as mentioning the new Manchester OpenData project. Following on from discussions at the CETIS conference, I highlighted the difficulty of convincing IT managers and VCs that providing Linked Data interfaces to institutional systems is a worthwhile venture. The slides below provide a pointer to the full range of issues I raised.

After lunch Thanassis Tiropanis gave us an overview of the SemTech Project roadmap and recommendations (pdf).  Following this there was a general discussion about the way ahead for the project, but I’m not sure there were any clear decisions from the day. Nevertheless, it was a useful day for myself and hopefully a productive one for CETIS in determining where to go next.