Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

RepoFringe2010 – Metadata, Repos & Dumplings

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Last Frday, 3rd, September,  the Metadata Forum held a second face-to-face meeting at the RepoFringe 2010. With an event focussing on repositories, there was much talk of metadata in both the practical and the abstract.  Talks and sessions from the RepoFringe can be found at the event blog. The blog is being added to over the next few days, so please check back if a specific session is not yet ‘live’ on the blog.

Tony Hirst of the Open University gave an interesting and thought-provoking keynote address, looking at mashups and using informal publication methods. He raised the inevitable questions around the default use of the PDF format for documents, and it’s many limitations with regard to accessing content. This was only matched later in the evening by his insightful thoughts on popular music and how to freak out your teenage offspring shared at a nearby alternative Fringe venue.

Both days saw Pecha Kucha sessions, with speakers being given 2 minutes and 20 slides to share their projects. All the speakers were excellent, though explaining an institutional repository through the medium of cake seemed a sure winner for the first day for Robbie and Toby talking about Enlighten, the IR of the University of Glasgow! Do check out the session slides as they become available – they are an very useful way of getting a quick overview of many exciting projects happening at the moment.

Round table sessions on both days provided a good way to discuss topics of interest in more detail. The Metadata Forum chaired one of the sessions on… metadata. Specifically we looked at metadata for time-based objects and the aggregation of metadata, helped by Sheila Fraser of EDINA who is working on a JISC Scoping Study on this subject. Full details will follow in my next post.

Other particularly interesting presentations from a metadata perspective were given by Herbert Van De Sompel of Los Alamos National Library, Chris Awre of the University of Hull and Michael Fourman of the University of Edinburgh.

Herbert looked at adding a time dimension to searching, allowing people to search for earlier versions of web pages through the Memento project. The implications of this were very interesting and the idea of being able to search in time as well as space was intriguing and useful.

Chris spoke about the Hydra project, a joint project between the Universities of Hull, Stanford and Virginia working in partnership with Fedora Commons. The success of this collaborative venture, where each institution offers it’s expertise and resources to create a repository that can be tailored to individual requirements yet would be out of reach without thus collective approach was inspiring. Agreements and flexibility is the way forward – something that affects metadata decisions on a very practical level.

Michael explored a different approach to classifying documents using Topic Models. Topic Models offer an alternative, potentially more accurate way of classifying documents than keywords, as they pinpoint more accurately what an article is actually about by looking at word frequency. A little Bayesian magic is then applied to balance the model.

The closing address was delivered by Kevin Ashley of the DCC who gave a great summary of the past two days. He also spoke about the need for repositories to work with and link into many other systems – a vision that is, of course, supported by metadata in many forms! Kevin’s humorous yet thoughtful address made a perfect end two an event that had been both useful and enjoyable.

Thanks to all the organisers for a great RepoFringe 2010. The Metadata Forum would also like to thank James Toon of the ERIS project for sustaining the metadata frenzy of the Fringe with possibly the best Chinese dumplings she has ever had the pleasure of eating. ;)

We’re Going To The Fringe

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh

The Metadata Forum will be holding a face-to-face meeting at the Repo Fringe 2010 in Edinburgh, 2-3 September. The meeting is free and open to anyone who has an interest in metadata. So if you’re coming along to the event, or will be in Edinburgh and have an interest in metadata,  please come and join in – everyone is welcome!

More details of a suggested agenda and guest speaker will follow. There may even be chocolate biscuits and shortbread(!).

*Photo used under CC licensing, with thanks to mrbrocks. Find out about the famous  Greyfriars Bobby of Edinburgh, a sad story of love, devotion and metadata (well, ok, maybe not metadata!).

The Forum Is Open!

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Image from The Freddy Portfolio, under Creative Commons Licensing.*

The Metadata Forum had a great first meeting on Wednesday. Despite being towards the end of a busy conference day, we had a good turn out of people from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the USA all bringing valuable and interesting contributions to the Forum. I’d like to thank everyone who attended, and also the people who emailed in contributions both before and after the meeting.

Although we only had a one-hour slot to talk, we covered a lot of topics, so in this post I’ll summarise the main themes of the discussion. I’ll cover the main issues raised individually in subsequent posts.

We started with everyone sharing with the group their own particular  metadata interests and experiences. As the group ranged from national projects to smaller, institutional initiatives, taking in regional collaborations, support services and even a museum along the way, it was an interesting way to get started! Despite the wide range of applications, some overall themes emerged fairly quickly.

Complexity versus simplicity was the first discussion point. Overall, simple was seen as a good approach, but comprehensive, more complex usage could be critical depending on the objects being described and their expected use. This was a rich seam for discussion and the group highlighted this area as on for further exploration.

This led on to a discussion about standards and how even the most pared-down, simplistic versions of a standard can be implemented in very different ways and lead to a lack of consistency that can create problems for aggregation further down the line. The subject of aggregation was of great interest. Several attendees shared hands-on experience of aggregation. This was a topic seen as important for everyone in the group, and one that could be considered for a show-and-tell session followed by discussion at one of the face-to-face meetings planned later in the year.

Having identified aggregation as topic of interest, we discussed the kind of future face-to-face meetings people would find useful. Specific topics, sent out in advance so that attendees could prepare for participation in a focussed discussion was seen as a good idea. In addition, everyone was keen on sharing their knowledge and their current projects, so a show-and-tell session that could act as a place to exchange experiences and learn from each others would be a good addition. Ways of communicating between face-to-face meetings were also covered, and I’ll be devoting a post to this later. I’d like to open up the discussion via this blog on both ways of communicating in a virtual environment.

The idea of case studies, where people would write up specific aspects of their metadata-related work to share with others was greeted enthusiastically. The less formal approach of making these available as a post here on the blog rather than as a formal report seemed to fit in realistically with the inevitable heavy workloads of project and repository managers, so watch this space. Advanced notice that there are promised case study posts from three participants at this first meeting, a very encouraging sign!

The discussion naturally moved on to standards, schemas and other useful resources. The group were keen to share useful resources they had found and make these available online for others to use. Providing a place to look for metadata resources was also identified as something that everyone could participate in, taking little time to pass on and not requiring attendance at any face-to-face meetings. More news on this will follow early next week.

Finally, the level of knowledge and experience that the Forum aimed to support was discussed. This is, I think, another ongoing conversation and one that those attending the first meeting would be keen to open up and continue. Although there was a strong feeling to support those new to (and possibly terrified of) working with metadata, people with more experience also felt that being able to discuss issues with similarly experienced peer practitioners was also very important. Again, this come back to one of the foundations of the Forum, to support the needs of those who become involved.

*Photo shows the other main event happening in Madrid on 7th July – crowds watching Spain going through to the finals of the World Cup on screens at the Bernabeu stadium across the road from the OR10 Confernce venue.

The Metadata Forum At OR10

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

The Metadata Forum will be officially launched at the Open Repositories Conference in Madrid. The conference runs from 6th – 9th July with the Forum launch taking place on Wednesday 7th July, 15.45-16.45  at a Birds of a Feather session. If you’re attending the conference, please come along and join in. If you’re not able to attend the conference, you can still take part by emailing or tweeting your ideas, questions and thoughts before, during and after the meeting.

I’ll be attending the full conference, so please feel free to chat to me at any time about metadata!

The meeting will be covered here on the blog, and I’m also hoping to encourage people to tweet the proceedings, so please follow @MetadataForum on Twitter.

More news about the meeting will be posted here soon…