Friday, 7 November 2008

Various bits and pieces

Work has been so incredibly hectic lately that I've been neglecting my reading - have managed to skim-read a few things so am making a note here as I'll forget otherwise...

CILIP Gazette (31 Oct - 13 Nov) has a cover feature ("Digital services 'challenge' HE") which reports on a JISC survey of senior staff and the latest SCONUL stats which show "the proportion of digital journals to printed journals shifting from 25% to 75% in 8 years. Some 45% of all acquisitions expenditure now goes on electronic formats".

HSJ (16 Oct) reports that members of the Long Term Conditions Alliance will merge with a new patient representation body and expected to become part of National Voices, being developed by Chief Exec David Pink.

Strategic Content Alliance (Oct newsletter) reports on the UKRDS interim report ( - it'll be interesting to see how that's taken forward.

Strategic Content Alliance (Sept newsletter) reports that the UK has "increased its share of published research in the world's most influential scientific journals" from a DIUS report.

The SCA Sept newsletter also mentions the emerging W3C POWDER protocol which allows metadata to be associated with multiple resources. "POWDER has been developed to create and use authoritative descriptions that identify online resources that meet specific criteria, such as those published under a specific licence or subject to a given code of conduct or suitable for children".

Saturday, 1 November 2008

e-Health Insider: "New patient e-health 2.0 sites launched"

"Two new websites have been launched featuring a collection of real life health stories and personal experiences of illness and health.

The two sites, Healthtalkonline, and Youthhealthtalk, have replaced DIPEx, a site created by Dr Ann McPherson, an Oxford GP, and Dr Andrew Herxheimer, former editor of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin."

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Gartner - top 10 techologies for 2009

from last week's Computing:

Gartner's Top 10 Techologies for 2009:

  1. virtualisation
  2. cloud computing
  3. servers - beyond blades
  4. web-oriented architectures
  5. corporate mashups
  6. specialised systems
  7. social software and social networking
  8. unified communications
  9. business intelligence
  10. green IT

Friday, 10 October 2008

Various recent news

Information World Review reports on the following:

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Other news

"Bloomsbury unveils academic imprint: Bloomsbury is making a bold move into academic publishing with the launch of an "on demand" imprint that will publish titles online for free."

"Study challenges e-book assumptions [news from the National eBooks Observatory project at JISC] According to Lorraine Estelle CEO of JISC Collections, in the first user survey, which received over 22,000 responses, 62 per cent of students reported that they read online whilst only 6 per cent said that they print to read. The survey also indicated that interactivity may not be as important to students as anticipated. 'Students say that the main attraction is that e-books within an academic setting, are more accessible than print books, meaning that users can get at them wherever they are and at whatever time they like,' explained Estelle."

INteresting post on Laika's Medliblog on the various EBM pyramids circulating

A reminder to myself to have a look at How Readers Navigate Scholarly Content

Interesting post by Frank Cervone on 5 things I've learned, based on a talk by Don Tapscott:
  1. We are under the microscope
  2. Transparency is power
  3. The benefits of mass collaboration are boundless
  4. Practice what you preach
  5. Thinking forward pays off

Wolters Kluwer Health Reaches Agreement to Acquire UpToDate :{22EDF61C-A289-4301-B4CD-23DA44BBFFB1}&dist=hppr

A fun blog post about getting on when you don't feel inspired :

Next generation wiki

Thanks to Roddy McLeod's Internet Resources Newsletter for pointing out this recent story...

"Scientific wiki solves the 'Who Wrote What' problem
End of anonymity - Next generation wiki links every word to its author

Reporting in Nature Genetics, scientist Robert Hoffmann develops the first Wiki where authorship really matters. Based on a powerful authorship tracking technology, this next generation wiki links every word to its corresponding author. This way readers can always know their sources and authors receive due credit."

Full text of article at

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

EU and open access

The EU has launched an open access pilot to facilitate access to scientific articles from research within its 7th Framework Programme. The pilot will cover around 20% of the programme, including health.

From the press release:
Fast and reliable access to research results, especially via the Internet, can drive innovation, advance scientific discovery and support the development of a strong knowledge-based economy. The European Commission wants to ensure that the results of the research it funds under the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7) with more than € 50 billion from 2007 - 2013 are disseminated as widely and effectively as possible to guarantee maximum exploitation and impact in the world of researchers and beyond. The Commission today launched a pilot project that will give unrestricted online access to EU-funded research results, primarily research articles published in peer reviewed journals, after an embargo period of between 6 and 12 months. The pilot will cover around 20% of the FP7 programme budget in areas such as health, energy, environment, social sciences and information and communication technologies.

More info at

Friday, 26 September 2008


BCS-KIDDM has been discussing the implications of Tim Berners-Lee's news earlier of the formation of a World Wide Web Foundation where he mentioned the need to "separate rumour from real science", (see BBC News) in response to the recent end-of-the-world stories on the launch of the Large Hadron Collider:

Communicating critical information

Came across this model today, which developed from the need for health professionals to communicate patient information:


Although developed for clinical settings, a useful way of communicating critical information concisely and clearly, especially to decision-makers.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Australia and open access

From the article on Times Higher:
<The review says that scientific knowledge produced in Australia should be "placed in machine-searchable repositories" developed and implemented using universities and public funding agencies.

"To the maximum extent practicable, information, research and content funded by the Australian governments ... should be made freely available over the internet as part of the global public commons," it says. "This should be done while the Australian Government encourages other countries to reciprocate by making their own contributions to the global digital public commons."

Giving a speech on the report, Mr Carr said that Australia - which produces 3 per cent of the world's research papers - "is and will remain" a net importer of knowledge. As a result, he said, it was in the country's interest to "promote the freest possible flow of information domestically and globally">>

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Some tech news

From New Scientist, news that Nokia has applied for a patent for a new technology allowing the user to "scribble" notes on digital photos - the digital equivalent of scribbling on the back of photos.

From the BBC, "EU launches new hi-tech institute", referring to the new European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) which will explore renewable energy and new-generation IT as priorities.

Thursday, 11 September 2008


Interesting article on BBC about geotagging - mentions Yahoo's new Fire Eagle which i haven't seen yet.

interestingly, Techwatch have an open call at moment relating to geotagging and mashups:


Interesting article on search and how to improve it - mainly about recognising that users don't really think about entering their terms in a way a computer will understand:

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Digital natives...

not sure if i have already included this in earlier post - Derek Law talking about digital natives... still not sure i like such broad segments but entertaining to read the Beloit mindset list..

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Strathclyde Uni Library bucks the trend

CILIP's Gazette (5-18 Sept) has an interesting story on the cover this issue: "Don't just go to the library, take it with you" which focuses on Strathclyde Uni Library's decision to go against the trend of expanding library space and actually plan to reduce library space. The plan is to direct funding (an increase of 40%) towards virtual services. A one-off sum of £2.5m has been allocated for digitisation. Additional funding is coming from within the university which is some achievement in the current climate. The physical space taken up by the library will be halved and the unused space reallocated for teaching, research and social areas. The university has developed an "electronic preference" policy. On the downside, it does mean fewer staff but it will be really interesting to see how it develops. User consultation is being planned.

Ebooks - not cost effective?

Bookseller mentions a recent study into student use of ebooks in the US:

"E-textbooks may not be cheaper than their printed versions, according to a new report in the United States.

The LA Weekly says that the report, from Portland State University and the City Colleges of Chicago, describes e-textbooks as "expensive and impractical for a large portion of the student population".

The report claims that a lack of resale value of the digital textbook and restrictions on printing and online access to some e-books make it unwieldy for some students.

It also found that only one-third of students said they were comfortable reading textbooks on a computer screen. Three-quarters said they would prefer a print textbook to an electronic one if the costs were equal."

Google's new browser

BCS has interesting blog post on Google's new Chrome browser:

The Tipping Point

This book has been around for ages but only just got round to reading it...The idea is to look at how ideas and trends cross the "tipping point", which is when they become contagious and create epidemics. Gladwell gives some interesting examples which now seem a little outdated.

Gladwell outlines 3 "agents of change":
  1. the Law of the Few: "the influence of special kinds of people, people of extraordinary personal connection" which he describes as Connectors (people with extensive networks who can link others together), Mavens (people with extensive information at their fingertips and share with others) and Salesmen (people with persuasion skills that influence others' behaviour).
  2. the Stickiness Factor : "[...] changing the content of communication, by making a message so memorable that it sticks in someone's mind and compels them to action"
  3. the Power of Context : recognising that how we behave is strongly determined by our immediate environment

Friday, 29 August 2008

NHS Evidence mentioned in HSJ

HSJ (21/8/08) mentions NHS Evidence (p7):
"Health minister Lord Darzi's plans for a web portal called NHS Evidence, for clinicians and managers to share best practice, would spread the take-up of NICE guidance, [Dr Gillian Leng] said.

NICE will lead work in establishing NHS Evidence, filling it with information on clinical care, drugs and research, in addition to help for commissioners in planning care pathways.

Dr Leng, who is also interim Chief Operating Officer for NHS Evidence, said, 'It will provide an efficient access point for staff to find out about evidence. We want it to be as easy to use and as used as Google'."

Information prescriptions

E-Health Insider reports on the use of information prescriptions and accredited information via NHS Choices:

"Mr King said: “The government intends to expand NHS Choices so that it has a directory of quality accredited information – a single sophisticated database covering all the long term conditions, linked to care pathways and accessible by users and health professionals.”

The first six LTC [long term condition] information packages on asthma, coronary heart disease, diabetes, dementia, depression and stroke are already on the website with more in their way."

Government web sites

"Government Should Focus on Data Feeds, not Web Sites, Researchers Say"

From Princeton Uni so focused towards US government but still relevant over here

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Interesting thoughts on Google..

including, from Ashley Highfield, from Kangaroo:
"The future's going to be in layering on top of Google more understanding of the context of the user and the question - the 'semantic web', without getting too cyberbollocks about the whole thing."

Gartner hype cycle

Just came across this blog entry on the latest Gartner Hype Cycle ...

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Everything is miscellaneous - David Weinberger

Finally got round to reading this... some snippets below:

"Instead of everything having its place, it's better if things can get assigned multiple places simultaneously.

[...] we're no longer forced to carefully construct a single shared path through memory.

[...]the digital order ignores the paper order's requirement that labels be smaller than the things they're labelling.

knowledge is diverse, changing, imbued with the cultural values of the moment."

Weinberger argues that for the web to work, given the volume of information it now contains, that social tagging is the most feasible way to "organise" the content. But I'd argue that this assumes that all information is equal - and it's not.

Weinberger covers the different ways we've developed of organising information - from library catalogues and Dewey through to Amazon's "planned serendipity" and collaborative filtering (customers who bought this also bought x). He suggests that Amazon's offering of multiple routes (top-down categories, user generated lists, filtering etc) is an ideal combination of top-down and bottom-up.

How we organise information depends on the purpose of organising it in the first place - i.e. simply to map knowledge or to prioritise certain information above others. He mentions faceted classification "that dynamically constructs a browsable, branching tree that exactly meets your immediate needs". He also explores controlled vocabularies and thesauri - although controlled vocabularies can be too static, they can express relationships between terms. Weinberger points out the weaknesses of different forms of classification - either you are limited by the number of classification terms you can add or the terms chosen by the creator are not necessarily those used by the reader. There is also the question of how we name "things" - e.g. cancer is a broad term used to describe 100s of different diseases.

Weinberger argues that a system for organising information has to add value e.g. the periodic table. He suggests that bottom-up tagging adds value - in fact, the more tags there are, the more value. Tags can be shared and clustered - visualisation tools can help the user navigate the clusters.

The main thrust is that we can do more in the digital world than we could in the paper world. We're not constrained by the fact that physical objects can only be in one place at any one time. Digital objects can have multiple tags attached:
"How their [Delicious, Flickr, BBC, Wikipedia] content is actually arranged does not determine how that content can and will be arranged by their users [...] These examples are miscellaneous because users don't need to know the inner organisation, because that inner order doesn't result in a preferred order of use, and because users have wide flexibility to order the pieces as they want, even and especially in unanticipated ways."
To enable this "unanticipated use" what should identifiers point to? At the BBC, they've been exploring this - should the identifiers be at programme, series, episode, segment, frame level? Weinberger refers to IFLA's FRBR which has been designed to help with this problem.

Weinberger also gets into some detail about organising user-generated content, such as the reviews on Digg and Reddit. Some of these issues have been tackled by Wikipedia - although I guess the jury's out on how well they've succeeded in achieving accuracy (although it apparently measures up to Britannica). Wikipedia has developed a list of labels for non-neutral articles - kind of like a crude confidence interval, almost. He also looks at the explosion of mashups, with Google Maps inevitably getting a mention. User-generated content is growing at a phenomenal speed - Weinberger suggests that the more metadata (in the form of tags), the better we can manage this huge volume. He does mention the semantic web and the gulf between the vision and what can practically be achieved. The task now is not so much to build knowledge but to build meaning.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Patient views - mashup

E-Health Insider last week reported on the mashup developed by Patient Opinion to incorporate patient feedback from NHS Choices:
"This means that patients and carers can find comments about hospital care posted on either Patient Opinion or NHS Choices, using Patient’s Opinion’s site. And subscribers can generate reports using feedback from both sites."
Content from NHS Choices is clearly marked with a link back to the original content (organised by NHS organisation) thus providing context. Patient feedback is an important theme in the Darzi review so it'll be interesting to see how this develops. At the moment, there are 7234 opinions listed - there is a postcode and keyword search but it may need some work to better direct users as the site grows.

Various bits of news

Trying to keep up to date with reading during time off...

- Cheap laptops make me cheerful from BCS blog : some questions about the wider implications of cheaper laptops e.g. software, interfaces : "When the operating system license accounted for 10% of the total cost (and was ubiquitous) it was easily swallowed. When it could potentially double the cost of the purchase, that's a different matter. Then, adding on standard productivity software like word processing, spreadsheets and email, and Houston, we have a problem. Most of the leading lights from the new line in low cost laptops are running versions of Linux, OpenOffice and Firefox to provide the core set of functionality - all of which have zero-cost licenses. "

- Article in THES on journals specifically targeted at the undergraduate market - some arguments for and against although not in any depth - although may be useful for initiatives like Equator to target such journals to reach researchers and practitioners earlier in their careers

- pushes £50,000 fine for online copyright infringement

Moving my blog

New job, new blog address! I'm moving back to the health sector after a couple of years away so the focus of this blog will shift a bit from eResearch to health information although the underlying theme of data/information/knowledge will still be there...

Thursday, 7 August 2008

LHC goes live

Computing has a front page story on the LHC going live tomorrow: and the implications for data management

Friday, 1 August 2008

Project failure in NHS

Interesting article on BCS about reasons for project failure - based on IT projects in University College London (UCLH) in the last 3 years ...much of it is common sense really, though interesting to see that projects following PRINCE2 are more likely to succeed that those which don' some useful recommendations

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Various bits and pieces

"Semantic Medline"

Interesting story in Information Today...

Cognition launches Semantic Medline

"...enables complex health and life science material to be rapidly and efficiently discovered with greater precision and completeness using natural language processing (NLP) technology"

I tried a quick search "exercise and depression" just to see it working - results are mostly relevant on the first couple of pages - it does offer you to select the correct meaning e.g. of depression (feeling of sadness/hopelessness) but still seems to bring up records referring to other meanings (e.g. ST segmental depression) - although I guess it's impossible to avoid that - and the definitions might be more useful if sourced from a medical dictionary which they don't appear to be. It would be interesting to compare results using MeSH.

Given that my search retrieved over 7000 results, it would also be useful to have some options for narrowing the search - suggesting additional search terms (e.g. are you interested in a particular population e.g. postnatal?)

Monday, 28 July 2008

Mobile web

From BBC: Mobile web reaches critical mass

"The mobile web has reached a "critical mass" of users this year, according to a report by analysts Nielsen Mobile.

The US is the most tech savvy nation with nearly 40 million Americans - 16% of all US mobile users - using their handset to browse on the move.

The UK and then Italy come a close second and third in the 16 countries surveyed by the analyst firm.


'PC internet users visit more than 100 domains per month, on average,' the report said.

'By contrast, the average mobile internet user in the US visited 6.4 individual websites per month.' UK use was slightly less at 5.5 per month."

Clearly, has implications for how to deliver content effectively ... could be a good way of delivering alerts, prompts, small chunks of quality content, bitesize e-learning...

Friday, 25 July 2008

Open Web Foundation

"an organization that will help the creation and acceptance of Open Web"

"The Open Web Foundation's goal it to provide a home for community created specs. with mentorship, resources and infrastructure. Hopefully this will help teams spend time on making the spec."

ps Thanks to Ian for pointing this out

Thursday, 24 July 2008

NLH news

CILIP Gazzette 11 - 24 July: "OCLC's WorldCat Link Manager has been chosen by NLH as its OpenURL resolver solution"

More..various news

  • Google launched Knol this week, taking on Wikipedia although it does take a different approach, making authors more visible than on Wikipedia, with more emphasis on authority and reputation. Individuals can contribute but I'm not clear how contributions are validated - it recommends contributors write a bio to establish credentials and you can set permissions for others to edit your "knol" - but essentially it seems to be up to the reader to judge based on the writer's credentials. It also lets writers select IPR options, defaulting to Creative Commons. A lot of the knols there now relate to health so I'd be interested to know more about their quality framework.
  • Steve Prentice from Gartner tells the BBC that the days of interacting with your computer via your mouse are numbered
  • New Scientist reports "UK to get superfast broadband by 2012" (speeds of up to 100 megabits per second) -
  • CILIP Gazette 11-24 July includes a feature on the latest TFPL Connect event, exploring implications of a recent CMI report on the world of work in 2018. Delegates discussed the move towards portfolio working; the role of knowledge managers; flexible working; increasing emphasis on "alliance-building", strategic planning and political skills.
  • Central Office for Information releases guidelines on inclusion for public sector websites
  • Interesting article reporting on James Evans' research in Science, Great minds think (too much) alike suggesting that access to more journal literature is actually resulting in fewer citations
  • Article in Times Higher reporting on the suggestion by Bahram Bekhradnia, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute that HEFCE's new Research Excellence Framework should be based on peer review not solely data metrics
  • IWR reports: Nearly £10 million has been awarded to preserve low use journals for those in UK Higher Education. The new initiative, UK Research Reserve (UKRR) aims to improve access to the journal information for researchers as well as better preserve the body of work.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

More bits and pieces of news and stuff

Friday, 18 July 2008

Various news

I'm starting to catch up with reading - here's some of the news to hit recently (ish!):
  • Microsoft buys up Powerset, in its attempt to take on Google
  • HEFCE announces 22 pilot institutions to test the new REF (
  • NHS Choices selects Capita as preferred bidder
  • Google is experimenting with a Digg-like interface
  • Amazon S3 experienced service outage on 20 July - one of the risks of relying on the cloud, I guess
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica goes wiki
  • Proquest to acquire Dialog business from Thomson Reuters
Some interesting articles came my way too...
  • Information : lifeblood or pollution? has some interesting thoughts about when information has value and when there is so much information it loses its value. Jakob Nielsen is quoted: 'Information pollution is information overload taken to the extreme. It is where it stops being a burden and becomes an impediment to your ability to get your work done.' Possible solutions are rating the integrity of information and clearer provenance.
  • International initiative licenses resources across 4 European countries about a deal negotiated via the Knowledge Exchange with Multi-Science, ALPSP, BioOne, ScientificWorldJournal, and Wiley-Blackwell.
  • A fun way of describing the amount of data Google handles

Thursday, 17 July 2008

JISC Innovation Forum

Earlier this week, this JISC Innovation Forum took place, with the aim of getting together projects and programmes to discuss cross-cutting themes and share experiences. I attended the theme on research data - 3 sessions in all each focusing on a different aspect:

Session 1 - Legal and policy issues
This session followed the format of a debate, with Prof Charles Oppenheim arguing for the motion that institutions retain IPR and Mags McGinley arguing that IPR should be waived (with the disclaimer that both presenters were not necessarily representing their personal or institution's views).

Charles argued that institutional ownership encourages data sharing. Curation should be done by those with the necessary skills - curation involves copying and can only be done effectively where the curator knows they are not infringing copyright therefore the IPR needs to be owned "nearby". He also explained how publishers are developing an interest in raw data repositories and wish to own the IPR on raw as well as published data. There is a real need to encourage authors from blindly handing over the IPR on raw data. He suggested a model where the author is licensed to use and manipulate data (e.g. deposit in repository) and the right to intervene should they feel their reputation is under threat. The main argument focused on preventing unthinking assignment of rights to commercial publishers.

Mags suggested that curation is best done when no-one asserts IPR. There may in fact be no IPR to assert and she explained that there is often over-assertion of rights. There is in general a lot of confusion and uncertainty around IPR which leads to poor curation - Mags suggested the only way to prevent this confusion is to waive IPR altogether. Data is more than ever now the result of collaboration relying on multiple (and often international) sources of data so unravelling the rights can be very difficult - there could be many, even 100s of owners across many jurisdictions. Mags concluded with the argument that it is easier to share data which is unencumbered by IPR issues and quoted the examples of Science Commons and CC0.

A vote at this point resulted in : 5 for the motion supporting institutional ownership; 10 against; 7 abstaining.

A lively discussion followed - here are the highlights:
  • it's important to resolve IPR issues early
  • NERC model - researchers own IPR and NERC licenses it (grant T&Cs)
  • in order to waive your right, you have to assert it first
  • curation is more than just preservation - the whole point is reuse
  • funders have a greater interest in reuse than individual researchers - also have the resources to develop skills and negotiate T&Cs/contracts
  • not just a question of rights but responsibilities too
  • issues of long-term sustainability e.g. AHDS closure
  • incentives to curate - is attribution enough?
  • what is data? covered range of data including primary data collected by researcher, derived data, published results
  • are disciplines too different?
  • duty to place publicly funded research in the public domain? use of embargoes?
  • can we rely on researchers and institutions to curate?
  • "value" of data?
  • curation doesn't necessarily follow ownership - may outsource
  • proposal to change EU law on reuse of publicly funded research - HE now exempt - focuses on ability to commercially exploit - HEIs may have to hand over research data??
And finally, we voted again : this time, 6 for the motion; 14 against; 3 abstaining.

Session 2 - Capacity and skills issues
This session looked at 4 questions:
  1. What are the current data management skills deficits and capacity building possibilities?
  2. What are the longer term requirements and implications for the research community?
  3. What is the value of and possibilities for accrediting data management training programmes?
  4. How might formal education for data management be progressed?
Highlights of discussion:
  • who are we trying to train? How do we reach them? The need for training has to appear on their "radar" - best way to reach researchers is via lab, Vice-Chancellor, Head of School of funding source.
  • training should be badged e.g. "NERC data management training"
  • "JISC" and "DCC" less meaningful to researchers
  • a need to raise awareness of the problem first
  • domain specific vs generic training
  • need to target postgrads and even undergrads to embed good practice early on
  • need to cover entire research lifecycle in training materials
  • how is info literacy delivered in institutions now? can we use this as a vehicle for raising awareness or making early steps?
  • School of Chemistry in Southampton has accredited courses which postgrads must complete - these include an element of data management
  • lack of a career path for "data scientists" is a problem
  • employers increasingly looking for Masters graduates as perceived to be better at info handling
  • new generation of students - have a sharing ethic (web2.0) but not necessarily a sense of structured data management
  • small JISC-funded study to start soon on benefits of data management/sharing
  • can we tap into records management training? a role here for InfoNet?
  • can we learn from museums sector? libraries sector?
  • Centre for eResearch at Kings are developing "Digital Asset Management" course, to run Autumn 09
  • UK Council of Research Repositories has a resource of job descriptions
  • role of data curators in knowledge transfer - amassing an evidence base for commercial exploitation
  • also a need for marketing data resources

Session 3 - Technical and infrastructure issues

This session explored the following questions:

  • what are the main infrastructure challenges in your area?
  • who is addressing them?
  • why are these bodies involved? might others do better?
  • what should be prioritised over the next 5 years?
One of the drivers for addressing technical and infrastructure issues is around the sheer volume of data – instruments are generating more and more data – and the volume is growing exponentially. It must be remembered that this isn't just a problem for all big science – small datasets need to be managed too although the problem here is more to do with variety of data (heterogenous) than volume. It was argued that big science has always had the problem of too much data and have to plan experiments to deal with this e.g. LHC in CERN disposes of a large percentage of data collected during experiments. In some areas, e.g. geospatial, data standards have emerged but it may be a while before other areas develop their own or until existing standards become de facto standards.

Other areas touched on included:
  • the role of the academic and research library
  • roles and responsibilities for data curation
  • how can we anticipate which data will be useful in the future?
  • What is ‘just the right amount of effort’?
  • What are the selection criteria – what value this data might have in the future (who owns it, who’s going to pay for it), how much effort and money would you have to regenerate this data (eg do you have the equipment and skills to replicate it?)
  • not all disciplines are the same therefore one size doesn't fit all
  • what should be kept? data, methodology, workflow, protocol, background info on researcher? How much context is needed?
  • how much of this context metadata can be sourced directly e.g. from proposal?
  • issues of ownership determine what is stored and how
  • what is the purpose of retaining data - reuse or long-term storage? Should a nearline/offline storage model be used? Infrastrucutre for reuse may be different from that for long-term storage?
  • Should we be supporting publication of open notebook science? (and publishing of failed experiments). What about reuse/sharing if there’s commercial gains?
The summing up at the end concluded 4 main priority areas for JISC:
  1. within a research environment – can we facilitiate the data curation using the carrot of sharing systems? (IT systems in the lab)
  2. additional context beyond the metadata
  3. how do we help institutions understand their infrastructural needs
  4. what has to happen with the various dataset systems (fedora etc) to help them link with the library and institutional systems

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom

I was pointed to an article by Martin Fricke (by the BCS KIDDM list) which argues that the Data-Information-Knowledge-Wisdom hierarchy is methodologically unsound. It makes for fairly heavy reading at times but has some interesting discussion about the strength of data/information/knowledge in relation to "truth":

"Information is both more extensive than data and many instances of it are logically stronger than data. Information is irreducible to data. [...] This makes knowledge and information synonymous. Knowledge and information collapse into each other"

"And the wise person must not only have wide appropriate knowledge, but they must act in accordance with the knowledge they have."

The article also mentions evidence, but in a different context to the "evidence-based practice" use - this is more related to knowledge (some discussion of whether this means "know-that" or "know-how") and wisdom.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Agile documentation

Interesting post on BCS blog on agile management led me to the concept of TAGRI - They Aren't Gonna Read It:

Some interesting thoughts of how documentation should be produced - working with the customer, to provide communication not documentation for documentation sake, writing to a good enough standard.

Some of the questions posed could apply to anyone writing any kind of documentation. Interestingly, they don't advise using templates as each system is different so will require different documentation - the thinking is that the template is resource-intensive to create; the template will ask for detail which isn't always relevant but people will attempt to write something; thus reviews take longer because there's so much more information to read through.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Project failure

Article on BCS site citing reasons for project failure:

Thursday, 26 June 2008

ISKO event on information retrieval

Went along to some of the ISKO event on information retrieval today...

Brian Vickery was up first but unfortunately, I missed most of his talk. I did catch the last few minutes though where he asked some very pertinent questions:

  • What is the case for building classifications, thesauri and taxonomies? How does this relate to the needs of Communities of Practice?
  • Are the benefits of controlled retrieval languages strong enough to justify the effort and cost of creating/maintaining/using them?
  • Is there a growing need to harmonise or match terminologies?
  • What is the future for "universal" controlled languages and general classifications/ ontologies?

Next up was Stephen Robertson, giving a researcher perspective. He pointed out that although web search engines have been very successful, other systems cannot say the same - perhaps because the extensive machine learning available to Google et al just isn't feasible for a smaller setup. Roberston mentioned some useful sources of evidence in evaluating retrieval - notably click-throughs and "dwell time" (how long a user spends somewhere before returning to search results). There is some rich data out there but it is also "noisy".

Last up was Ian Rowlands who talked about the implications of the Google Generation report. He started with some context - insecurity around the power of Google, Yahoo branding; devaluing of the "library" brand; the hypothesis that the younger generation is somehow different. He referred to various pieces of research including Carol Tenopir's long-standing survey of academics. The bottom line of the Google Generation report is that it is a myth - yes, there is a type of user behaviour which is comfortable online but the Google Generation is not a homogenous mass of people - "silver surfers" (another irritating term!) demonstrate characteristics too and there are also "digital dissidents" among younger generations who are shunning technology. So, the general message is to stop thinking of our users as fixed targets who fit some kind of stereotype. We need to understand user behaviour much better, in particular, online reading - but then, how much do we really understand about how people read/absorb information in print? How can we be sure what we learn about online reading is peculiar to an online environment and isn't just typical of reading in whatever format?

Rowlands also suggested that we need to help users form "mental maps" of information - typically, when you walk into a library for a print resource, you have a reasonably good image of what you are expecting to find - the same can't be said of the web. There is a message for librarians here to help create easier access to information for users e.g. through less confusing terminology. Information literacy is key but research seems to suggest that unless individuals learn from a young age, the changes possible in user behaviour are more limited. There have been studies demonstrating a correlation between information literacy and academic grades.

Rowlands finished with a plea to understand our users better - stop thinking of them as one big mass which can be served by a one size fits all solution and learn from the commercial world, where customers are segmented and can follow a number of routes to information - though, I have to say, the commercial world doesn't always get it right either and they have greater resource at their disposal.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Back in the library world

Have rejoined CILIP and had various bumph through today. The LMS study seems to have stirred things up a bit with some uncertainty about the way forward, but everyone seems to agree that sitting still isn't an option. Need to set aside time to read the study through again...

Friday, 20 June 2008

Is the web changing the way we think?

A nice story on BBC by Bill Thompson ( suggesting that the availability of small chunks of information on the Web is limiting our reading and thinking - now, I'll be the first to admit to a short attention span and it'd be lovely to use this as my excuse but I'm not so sure...I think that a lot of people (maybe not the younger people so much) still print out anything which takes more than a couple of minutes to read, so I don't think we're doing all our reading on screen...and in a way, the Web has made it easier to discuss issues and be exposed to other people's opinions. But maybe there is something in the idea that we maybe accept information from others without thinking too hard about the quality, validity...? Something to think about...

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Yet more snippets...

Computing, 19 June 08:
- news that the OECD has organised a meeting of Internet experts this week in Seoul. Topics for discussion include net neutrality and adoption of IPv6 (which would enable almost limitless IP addresses, a concern given the ubiquity of mobile devices)
- Janie Davies writes about the green agenda in academic IT services - no mention of JISC work here but does mention HEFCW's shared services initiative. Gloucestershire makes it into the Green League :-)

Various snippets

Research Information - April/May 08:
- article by Sian Harris on peer review referring to recent report from Mark Ware Consulting on behalf of the Publishing Research Consortium - quotes 93% of academics disagreed with the statement that peer review is unnecessary. However, the report does note criticism with the current approach to peer review e.g. overloading of reviewers, time taken, methods used, bias of single blind method, lack of guidance from editors. Open review is an alternative, but apparently not a popular one.
- article by Nadya Anscombe on changes to the peer review process across a number of neuroscience journals - the Neuroscience Peer Review Consortium (NPRC). The journals (22 currently) have agreed to share reviewers' comments thereby reducing the number of times a manuscript might be reviewed.
- article by John Murphy on Google Book Search - mentions the Partner Programme where Google works with publishers and the Library Programme where Google has worked with the Bodleian as well as Cornell, Princeton and Harvard. About 10,000 publishers are involved and 28 large libraries are supplying material. IPR is obviously an issue and lawsuits are underway - one area of uncertainty is orphan works although Google is tackling this by publishing only snippets.
- article by Tom Wilkie and Sian Harris on e-books. We've all been waiting a while now for e-books to really take off and the authors suggest that "despite this enthusiasm amongst researchers, however, there are formidable barriers to the wider acceptance of e-books" including file format (with XML emerging as the preferred standard); legacy file formats; effective multimedia support; archiving and preservation; standardising e-book information; pricing models; understanding user behaviour. Ebooks have a lot of potential - we can do more with the content (e.g. translations) and enable users to build their own personal libraries but like other types of content, our thinking still seems restricted by what we could achieve with paper. One concern is what the role of the librarian will be if they are no longer seen as the intermediary/gatekeeper for accessing books.
Research Information - June/July 08
- article by Nash Pal on multi-product platforms for e-products - as opposed to the current model where e-books and e-journals have developed along separate paths resulting in silos. Benefits to the user include uniform online experience; seamless search; unified access control; potentially lower management/maintenance costs. "... what is needed is an integrated front end supported by a single, comprehensive, content-agnostic set of admin tools to manage all content types".
- article by Jay Katzen on "collective intelligence" as a solution to the volume of information/data facing researchers. Katzen quotes recent research from Carol Tenopir - "Scientists now read 25% more articles from almost twice as many journals then they did 6 years ago". Essentially (although very much from a vendor perspective) the author proposes a combination of quality corpora, user-focused tools and collaborative space.
Information World Review - April 08
- Tracey Caldwell reports on Pfizer's attempt to make JAMA reveal confidential peer review documents as part of its legal case concerning its arthritis drugs Bextra and Celebrex - again, raises the question of open review
- ALPSP (Assoc Learned and Professional Society Publishers) agrees platform deal with MyiLibrary
- Peter Williams in his editorial: "Information professionals should put themselves at the heart of the current debate over payment models for information and content. As the information gatekeeper for their organisations, they exercise a major responsibility on a daily basis in deciding what information is paid for, the value of that information, and the subsequent return on investment"
- article by Tracey Caldwell on ebooks - noting that business models are still at an experimental stage. Quotes Mark Carden, senior VP at MyiLibrary "paper and shipping account for only 5-10% of the cost of a book". Refers in some detail to JISC's eBooks Observatory project and CIBER's SuperBook project. Ebooks have potential in helping librarians provide access to knowledge free at the point of use - they can incorporate Web2.0 technologies such sa social networking, tagging; they are easily updated; online chats with authors could add an interesting dimension; integration into workflow; and the idea of iChapters, content can be purchased as chunks rather than as an entire monograph or collection. Also quotes Jay Katzen, from Science Direct: "...there needs to be a publisher paradigm shift so that more information is put in at the creation of content such as better tags". Mentions the Automated Content Access Protocol which will enable publishers to make content machine readable (semantic web?). Chris Armstrong is quoted: "Journals are more granular; access is to the article, which has an abstract, while access to and abstracts for e-books tend to be at the book level. Journals are also serials, so an access habit can be built up". A key early challenge is to tackle the issue of monitoring usage to inform future purchasing decisions.
- article by Michelle Perry on new business models for publishers. Mentions O'Reilly which looked at how tutors were using their titles online and came up with the idea of an online model that allowed them to design their own books for their courses. Apparently, Elsevier has developed a product to enable medics to search for diagnoses (???). David Worlock, from Outsell, highlights 3 areas publishers must grapple with to avoid being left behind: workflow, community, and vertical search.
Information World Review - May 08
- article by Kim Thomas on grey literature reporting that regulations to mandate deposit of electronic material is in hand but unlikely to be implemented before Autumn 09. There is a hope that this regulation will allow the BL to harvest websites for grey literature. Refers to 2 projects part-funded by JISC: Manchester Uni repository of Access Grid events; and Kings repository of documents relating to committee meetings.
Information World Review - June 08
- news that OCLC members participating in Google Book Search will now be able to share their MARC records with Google, the idea being that if an individual finds a book through Google Book Search, they'll be able to drill down to find where the book is physically located
- article on open access in social sciences and humanities, reporting on the EU promoting OA through something called Action32 of the STM-based COST programme (Co-operation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research). There is increasing pressure from users to link to source data - it has been suggested that a useful first step might be to open up access to research already in the public domain.


March 08 issue of ITNow from BCS includes an article by John Tabeart, "Child's play", on innovation:
"Innovation occurs when two or more ideas, components, capabilities, or technologies are combined together in a novel way".

Tabeart recommends working with the following principles:
  • Establish broad rules
  • Provide raw materials
  • Lead by example
  • Keep an open mind
  • Encourage experiments
  • Learn from experience
  • Challenge conventional wisdom
  • Encourage collaboration
  • Celebrate success
  • Accept and understand failure
  • Liberate from the constraints of business as usual

Information literacy

FreePint includes a review of the LIS Show by Adrian Janes. He very neatly sums up two main themes to emerge from this year's event:

User empowerment

using Web2.0 technologies; wifi access; RFID

Information literacy

A very interesting overview of some work already underway (notably Sheffield and Bedfordshire) to improve quality of discovery and to counter the seemingly widespread belief that "if it isn't on Google, it doesn't exist" (also refers to the recent RIN report on use of academic libraries and the Google Generation report). Peter Godwin (co-author of a CILIP book on information literacy and library2.0) is quoted as saying In a digital world in which, as he said, ‘Content has left the container', we as professionals have to adapt. Godwin refers to key principles he set out for ‘Library 2.0':

  • Find out your users' changing needs
  • Believe in your users
  • Be rid of the culture of perfect
  • Become aware of emerging technologies.

There's also a reference to SCONUL's 7 Pillars of Information Literacy which I will take a look at when I have time.

Free Pint has a related article in the same issue by Derek Law on digital natives covering the issue of information literacy as well as provenance of digital information and the role of the librarian:

"It is all too easy to see the prospect of an alliterate world in apocalyptic professional terms. Much better to recognise that repurposing our skills, particularly in the areas of building collections of born digital materials, providing trust metrics and kitemarking and teaching information literacy skills will be more prized than ever. The trick will be to ensure that our profession responds to this, rather than abandoning the field to others while we guard the gates of our paper based storehouses of knowledge."

JISC away day : part 2

Oh dear, it's taken me a while to finish writing up the away day ... I blame it on the email backlog which was waiting for me when our away day finished.

Anyway, the most useful session (for me) was on the 2nd day - on the new JISC IPR policy. I understand this is going to appear on the JISC web site soon. It's been developed as part of the IPR consultancy. Professor Charles Oppenheim talked us through the background and the key principles behind the policy.

It was also a useful refresher of some of the issues around IPR and the implications for JISC and its funded projects. Charles referred to the 4 reports produced as part of the consultancy:

Monday, 16 June 2008

JISC Away Day part 1

Today was the first day of the annual JISC Away Day. Here are my very quickly typed up notes...

First up, Ron Cooke, the JISC Chair, gave an overview of some recent achievements and looked towards the future and JISC's role in the sector. Malcolm Read gave an overview of key challenges facing JISC and referred to recent market research (e.g. 100% of Russell Group unis have led on JISC projects but figures are lower for other institutions).

Particularly useful to hear from JISC Collections - have noted down the following to look up later: NESLI2SMP; Knowledge Exchange joint licensing; eBooks observatory; CASPER; extending licensing beyond HE (study ongoing); deals with Scottish HEIs. Also noted: JISC Publishers Action Group; paper ebook; Repositories UK; Flourish/TICTOCs as examples of the U&I programme; Emerge community; Web2Rights.

Attended a session on increasing the impact of JISC in the sector. The group discussed who we are trying to reach (funding bodies; institutions; change agents); what messages we need to get across (value for money, influencing strategy/policy); and how. I think an additional question might be when we engage with different stakeholders depending what we hope to achieve. Branding was a key topic and the need for brand management. It was agreed JISC also needs to work on improving understanding of JISC activities within the community, enabling feedback, and finding the right metrics to measure impact. Kerry mentioned that they are currently working on audience analysis to improve the web site - i.e. providing secondary routes to information. It was acknowledged that much of our information is written for experts - there needs to be a more basic level which is more contextual.

The group also discussed what is meant by impact. We need to distinguish between reach (e.g. hit on Google) and impact (affecting behaviour in the sector). What can we learn from service reviews? What can we learn from the Top Concerns work? What value does JISC add to the sector? Methods discussed included institutional visits; networks of moles/champions.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

BL Direct

BL Direct now has over 7000 journal titles available for full text purchase:

Data librarians

Interesting article in CILIP Update:
which quotes:
"‘Recent research carried out by the Australian Department of Education, Science and Training3 has indicated that the amount of data generated in the next five years will surpass the volume of data ever created, and in a recent IDC White Paper4 it was reported that, between 2006 and 2010, the information added annually to the digital universe will increase more than six fold from 161 exabytes to 988 exabytes.’ "

JISC preservation of web resources project

Dangers of the cloud

Yep, still reading back through Bloglines (having a bit of a spring clean!) and came across a piece from Bill Thompson on the dangers of the cloud - funnily enough, had a similiar conversation at a meeting last week...

Image search on the web

Reading through old posts in my Bloglines account, came across this BBC story about attempts to address the limitations of image searching on the web:

Search engine paradigm shift

Interesting post on Geospatial Semantic Web blog:

Thursday, 5 June 2008

BCS at Cheltenham Science Festival

I went across to the Cheltenham Science Festival today, for the BCS sponsored talk "Computer Whizz: The Best is Yet to Come" given by Professor Dave Cliff, from University of Bristol. It was a really enjoyable talk...

Dave Cliff started off by covering some of the big things to happen over the last 50 years. He talked about the idea that one major thing happens every decade and how Moore's Law (giving examples relating to processors, hard drives, digital cameras) is being proved right and has indeed become a self-fulfilling prophecy. He showed the progression from mainframe - minicomputer - PC - LAN/distributed networks - Internet/Web - utility/service computing.

He also talked for a while about utility computing, sharing some of the thinking from HP. He showed the design for a centre with 50,000 blade servers which was interesting to see, especially to learn that around 350 are replaced a day and new kit arrives in shipping containers. In fact, Sun/Google have patented the shipping container which has it all ready to go and just needs "plugging in". The cloud (HP called it utility computing, IBM on-demand computing, Sun N-1) is the future business model offering real-time processing (drug design, real-time translation, simulation, gaming worlds). And in fact, there has been work done on market-based control so computers can effectively bid for work, and the user can determine the price they are willing to pay for remote processing.

Cliff also explained a little how computing is learning from nature - e.g. genetic networks, superorganisms, ecosystems - and socioeconomic systems - .e.g marketplaces, languages, ontologies.

And of course, being a science festival, a talk on computing wouldn't be complete without a reference to robots! There has been a lot of work on humanoid robots but there have been many successful commercial applications of non-humanoid robots e.g. Cliff also shared some thoughts on how the lines between human and robot may be becoming blurred, through for example, the use of intelligent prosthetics for amputees; cochlear implants. Might there be a future for storing our memories increasingly on devices and not in our heads?

Lastly, he touched very briefly on two new-ish areas: amorphous computation and quantum computing. Apparently, Bristol Uni is a Centre for Excellence for quantum computing. Though this is where it started getting a little rushed and possibly too technical to cover neatly in a few minutes so will have to look into these a bit more...

All in all, a really enjoyable presentation :-)

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

RSC virtual library

FreePint features a story from RSC on setting up their virtual library:

Interesting discussion of some of the barriers with publishers and how they addressed them. Also interesting to note the physical space previously occupied by the library is being reconfigured to include a new conference/meeting space.

Presentation on VREs/MREs

Thanks to Rachel for pointing this out: Interesting presentation from the Eduserv David Harrison of Cardiff Uni...

Medecins sans frontieres adopt Open Repository

Press release from 15 May:

"Today, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) adopts 'Open Repository' - the service from BioMed Central, which allows institutes to build, launch, host, and maintain their own repositories.
Through the implementation of the Open Repository system, MSF is now able to provide a personalized in-house repository that maximises the distribution of their research at a fraction of the cost of other commercial systems.
Médecins Sans Frontières is just one of 15 organizations who have adopted the Open Repository solution since its inception.
Open Repository is built upon the latest version of DSpace, an open-source solution for accessing, managing and preserving scholarly works. Customers of Open Repository benefit from updated system features not only from DSpace themselves, but also from BioMed Central's team who are continually working to enhance their repository service. "

Future of the Internet

BCS are hosting a debate next week - sold out :-( - featuring Jonathan Zittrain and Bill Thompson, looking at appliances (e.g. iPhones, XBox) and the impact they're having. Should we be concerned that appliances stifle the ability to create new things on the Internet, or should we be more concerned about safety and security? Some discussion on one of the BCS blogs -

Web usage

BBC reports on Jakob Nielsen's annual report into web usage:

"Instead of dawdling on websites many users want simply to reach a site quickly, complete a task and leave. Most ignore efforts to make them linger and are suspicious of promotions designed to hold their attention.
Instead, many are "hot potato" driven and just want to get a specific task completed.
"The designs have become better but also users have become accustomed to that interactive environment," Dr Nielsen told BBC News.
Now, when people go online they know what they want and how to do it, he said.
"Web users have always been ruthless and now are even more so," said Dr Nielsen.
"People want sites to get to the point, they have very little patience," he said.
"I do not think sites appreciate that yet," he added. "They still feel that their site is interesting and special and people will be happy about what they are throwing at them."
Web users were also getting very frustrated with all the extras, such as widgets and applications, being added to sites to make them more friendly.
Such extras are only serving to make pages take longer to load, said Dr Nielsen.
There has also been a big change in the way that people get to the places where they can complete pressing tasks, he said.
In 2004, about 40% of people visited a homepage and then drilled down to where they wanted to go and 60% use a deep link that took them directly to a page or destination inside a site. In 2008, said Dr Nielsen, only 25% of people travel via a homepage. The rest search and get straight there.
"Basically search engines rule the web," he said.
But, he added, this did not mean that the search engines were doing a perfect job.
"When you watch people search we often find that people fail and do not get the results they were looking for," he said.
"In the long run anyone who wants to beat Google just has to make a better search," said Dr Nielsen.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Google Health launched

"Google Health allows you to store and manage all of your health information in one central place. And it's completely free. All you need to get started is a Google username and password. Google believes that you own your medical records and should have easy access to them. The way we see it, it's your information; why shouldn't you control it?

  • Keep your doctors up-to-date
  • Stop filling out the same paperwork every time you see a new doctor
  • Avoid getting the same lab tests done over and over again because your doctor cannot get copies of your latest results
  • Don't lose your medical records because of a move, change in jobs or health insurance"

It'll be interesting to see if they promote this over here in the UK. Given that the NHS is going to be promoting HealthSpace, is there as much of a market here?

From FAQs "Google Health is mostly about helping you collect, store, manage, and share your medical records and health information. There is a search box at the top of every page in Google Health, and if you enter a search query there, you go to the search results page that you are used to. There is also useful health information built into Google Health, but Google Health is not a new health-specific search engine."

Still, it'd be interesting to see their quality criteria for the information they DO point to.

Presence technology

BCS has an interesting feature on presence technology:

"Being able to see individuals over the network provides organisations with the ability reach people almost anywhere when they are available, and importantly it gives the individual user the flexibility to control how they want to be reached. Communications, and by extension, the workforce, can stop being desktop centric, and start to incorporate the use of mobile internet devices and PDAs much more effectively.


For example third-party enterprises involved in a project could be given presence access to a particular folder of work for a specified length of time. This could help businesses to work more collaboratively and, importantly, to build stronger relationships, both of which ultimately can only help the bottom line. "

Geospatial resources use in tertiary education: shaping the future

Last week, I attended a workshop organised and run by EDINA, as part of the eFramework workpackage of the SEE-GEO project. The aim of the workshop was to inform future planning and to begin thinking about how geospatial resources might work in a future world. We were asked to look ahead around 5 years - the general consensus was that we would be seeing an evolution rather than a revolution in that time e.g. ubiquity of geo info.

Opportunities and Challenges

  • economics of information - IPR; FoI; access and exploitation
  • what about the knowledge that doesn't lend itself to a digital format?
  • how to handle digital persona - virtual communities and alternative economies
  • divisive nature of technology - a new division of class according to access to technology? does it disenfranchise or empower?
  • standards and interoperability - impact of Google/Microsoft/Yahoo?
  • how to manage fast paced change and multiple devices
  • still a need to teach and train experts - geo experts will be needed, deeper learning for experts
  • domination of Google/Microsoft/Yahoo - driving technology but have also helped put GI in mainstream
  • data deluge
  • protection/privacy/access/reuse
  • embedding (what does embedding really mean?)


  • need an underlying basic IT infrastructure (e.g. grid, visualisation, mobile) with a spatial infrastructure (e.g. spatial ontologies) overlaid on top
  • Google/Microsoft/Yahoo challenge - raises expectations; discourages sharing?; how well does it transfer to academia?
  • methodologies - lack of skills here - mashups are not research; need to develop more analytical skills in young researchers
  • data - integrity; interoperability; creation (new, repurposed); sharing
  • policy - IPR; funding; publication; RAE/REF; tracking development of information
  • collaboration - technological, social, learning with industry


  • Data is currently in layers and "all over the place"
  • What will INSPIRE achieve?
  • funding for infrastructure: interoperability; storage; distribution
  • role of community generated data
  • quality and validation
  • semantic enrichment
  • where does Google/Yahoo/Microsoft fit?
  • Research Council mandates are not enforced
  • how does a researcher deposit a dataset/database?
  • depth/breadth tension
  • there is a disconnect between creator and dataset - need provenance info - data/process broker, intelligent catalogue
  • (web) services lead to fundamental changes in models of use e.g. do you need processing power alongside the data - remote processing
  • "handy" mobile needed - portable, light, multiple ports, GPS, wearable
  • sensor networks and notion of central storage
  • tools/portals enable virtual world immersion - deeper sense of telepresence
  • can we learn from games technology?
  • consolidated and converged technologies
  • collaboration and sharing - less travel?
  • different publication needs - raw data; code; published papers
Skills, knowledge, people
  • wider promotion of geo info
  • compulsory GI education
  • funders to encourage outputs to be disseminated
  • policy framework
  • repositories, portals, databases
  • need for academic level specialist support
  • career development
  • professional development
  • networks and communities of practice
  • funding for methodological development e.g. spatial methods for Grid
  • copyright and intellectual property - derived data, watermarking, commercialisation
  • training - cross-disciplinary; quality
  • data and standards development - involving user communities
  • ethics - code of practice; awareness of issues; data integrity; monitoring
  • support - policy to encourage networking
  • data access policy - feasibility and extent of info in public domain
  • access/usage permissions - who has the right to grant permissions? authentication in a global context
  • collaborative support - policy to enable multi-centre, multidisciplinary, multisector, multinational activity
  • social software/networking tools
  • wider dissemination of metadata beyond traditional subject boundaries
  • cultural change to cite datasets
  • links between universities and schools
  • changing demography e.g. >adult learners
  • funding - different streams - staffing, content, experimentation
  • benefits - clear roles/responsibilities
  • free or pay to view infrastructure
  • alternative (i.e. to OS) providers now available
  • entrepreneurial drivers
  • REF/RAE should effectively recognise complex and hybrid digital outputs
  • institutional or subject repositories
  • nervousness about depositing material
  • support to clear confusion re IPR especially in relation to derived data
There was some discussion about the role of JISC and its Geospatial Working Group so some messages to feed back.

Also, as an aside, I talked with Dr Douglas Cawthorne from De Montfort Uni in Leicester - they are involved in a large project to map Leicester - the result will be a multilayered map, showing the current city, the Roman city, social maps, emotive maps etc and will incorporate user generated content e.g. photos. Something to watch out for...

Thursday, 22 May 2008

IT delivering value

Another interesting article on delivering value in Computing (15 May 08) - "Harnessing IT value" reporting on research at Cranfield which came up with 6 competencies that organisations should have if they want to deliver value through IT:
creating strategy
  1. defining the information system contribution : translating strategy into processes, information and systems investments
  2. exploiting information : to maximise benefits
  3. defining the capability : long term planning of architecture and infrastructure
  4. implementing solutions
  5. delivering IT supply

IT contribution to the green agenda

Computing (15 May 08) runs with "Talks begin on cutting Europe's IT energy use" on the cover. A consultation is looking at how IT can enable a 20% cut in EU energy use by 2020. This will look at hardware efficiency as well as delivering online services and remote working.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Provenance theme at NeSC

A nice intro article to the new theme on provenance in the latest NeSC newsletter...
Also a helpful report from the "Marriage of Mercury and Philology" event including a summary of the CLELIA project, which is looking at how to mark up and structure manuscripts to include all components of the text.

Successful IT projects in the public sector

BCS blog entry on geo DRM

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Monday, 12 May 2008

Govt web sites

Interesting article in Computing about the plethora of Government web sites which doesn't really help anyone find the information they need when they need it:

I also came across the National Archives' Web Rationalisation project recently:

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Project tips

A useful article from BCS on project triage (, recommending that projects are monitored using a small number of key metrics, to help find the way through the mass of information often presented by project managers:
  • milestone slippage
  • using this information, identify delivery trends using a timeline
This only works if you select the most significant milestones.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Shared services in HE

Thanks James for pointing out this article in Computing:
Mentions UKRDS, though not by name and highlights JANET as an exemplary model of a shared service.