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Open, social and linked - what do current Web trends tell us about the future of digital libraries?

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A invited presentation given at the Advanced Technologies for Digital Libraries (AT4DL) meeting held in Trento, Italy in September 2009.

Publicado en: Educación, Tecnología
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Open, social and linked - what do current Web trends tell us about the future of digital libraries?

  1. 1. Open, social and linked What do current Web trends tell us about the future of digital libraries?
  2. 2. <ul><li>the purpose of this talk is to ask some questions about the future of digital libraries </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>that’s not because I think current digital library thinking is wrong </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>but because I think it is healthy to ask those kind of questions every so often </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>JISC Information Environment </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Dublin Core Metadata Initiative </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>linked data, social networks and digital identity </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>I hope I have something useful to say </li></ul><ul><li>but we’ll see! </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>I’m going to focus on the three words in the title as core themes for this talk </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>open </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>social </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>linked </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>digital library content should be not just “on” the Web but “of” the Web </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Huh? What does </li></ul><ul><li>of the Web </li></ul><ul><li>actually, like, mean? </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>an attitude </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>an expectation that your content will be re-used in ways you didn’t anticipate </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>an expectation that people will take your content, your API and URLs and use them to build something different </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>so let’s take a step back for a minute </li></ul>
  19. 19. <ul><li>where are we coming from? </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>uk-centric </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>and specific to higher education </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>jisc ie diagram </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>focus on the content </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>primarily ‘document-like objects’ </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>focus on describing the content (primarily using simple Dublin Core metadata) </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>and on moving that metadata from providers to consumers </li></ul>
  27. 27. <ul><li>for the purposes of resource discovery , access and use </li></ul>
  28. 28. <ul><li>being ‘open’ is all about enabling re-use </li></ul>
  29. 29. <ul><li>but the cultural conditions for open sharing and re-use don’t necessarily emerge overnight </li></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>as we have found with learning objects </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>and we are likely to find with research data </li></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>UKRDS survey of staff representing 700 researchers... </li></ul><ul><li>43% expressed need to see other’s research data </li></ul><ul><li>most share data in some form (informally with peers) </li></ul><ul><li>but only 12% share via existing formal data centres </li></ul>
  33. 33. <ul><li>and even in the case of scholarly publications (where there is an existing heritage of ‘sharing’ for ‘re-use’) cultural change towards deposit is only happening very slowly </li></ul>
  34. 34. <ul><li>I also wonder if there’s a generational attitude to ‘openness’ which tends to assume most things digital are ‘open’? </li></ul>
  35. 35. <ul><li>so even things that are very definitely not open, like most music for example, are often treated as though they are </li></ul>
  36. 36. <ul><li>anyway, I digress... </li></ul><ul><li>back to the JISC Information Environment </li></ul>
  37. 37. <ul><li>we tend to talk about the OAI-PMH, Z39.50, SRW/SRU, OpenURL, Dublin Core and so on </li></ul>
  38. 38. <ul><li>much of the content is provided commercially </li></ul>
  39. 39. <ul><li>so there is also a focus on mechanisms to protect content from inappropriate access </li></ul>
  40. 40. <ul><li>in the JISC Information Environment there is an implied flow </li></ul>
  41. 41. <ul><li>jisc ie diagram </li></ul>
  42. 42. <ul><li>the JISC IE says very little about the relationships between people and content </li></ul>
  43. 43. <ul><li>and nothing about relationships between people </li></ul>
  44. 44. <ul><li>it says nothing about the social use that grows around content </li></ul>
  45. 45. <ul><li>it talks about identifiers for stuff </li></ul>
  46. 46. <ul><li>but not about identity (of people) </li></ul>
  47. 47. <ul><li>this is not unusual for ‘digital library’ activities </li></ul>
  48. 48. <ul><li>we talk a lot about content, and data formats, and metadata, and curation, and preservation, and persistent identifiers, and … </li></ul>
  49. 49. <ul><li>and we talk about openness, and Creative Commons, and other open licences </li></ul>
  50. 50. <ul><li>and these things are all very good and important </li></ul>
  51. 51. <ul><li>but we don’t talk much about social networks </li></ul>
  52. 52. <ul><li>which is a shame… </li></ul>
  53. 53. <ul><li>because... “ cultural heritage results from EXCHANGE OF IDEAS about objects - it is not located IN them” </li></ul><ul><li>tweeted by @janestevenson from the #soa09 conference, quoting Marc Bouley of the University of St Andrews </li></ul>
  54. 54. <ul><li>and while we have been busy building digital library initiatives like the JISC Information Environment </li></ul>
  55. 55. <ul><li>the Web has changed under our feet </li></ul>
  56. 56. <ul><li>it’s increasingly participatory </li></ul>
  57. 57. <ul><li>it’s increasingly about user-generated content </li></ul>
  58. 58. <ul><li>it’s increasingly open </li></ul>
  59. 59. <ul><li>it’s increasingly social </li></ul>
  60. 60. <ul><li>it’s increasingly linked </li></ul>
  61. 67. <ul><li>all very much open, social and linked </li></ul>
  62. 68. <ul><li>3 other things are also worth noting about these services... </li></ul>
  63. 69. <ul><li>firstly, concentration </li></ul><ul><li>Lorcan Dempsey, OCLC </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  64. 70. <ul><li>secondly, they are ‘ of ’ the Web </li></ul><ul><li>they support diffusion thru simple and open APIs, the use of RSS, cool URIs for everything of value, a RESTful architectural approach, and so on... </li></ul>
  65. 71. <ul><li>in short... they see being mashed as a virtue </li></ul>
  66. 72. <ul><li>thirdly, identity (in these services) is not just concerned with questions like “who are you and what are you allowed to do?” </li></ul>
  67. 73. <ul><li>but also about “ this is me, this is who I know, and this is what I’ve created ” </li></ul>
  68. 74. <ul><li>digital identity has become user-centric </li></ul>
  69. 75. <ul><li>concentration, diffusion and identity are enablers of social interaction </li></ul>
  70. 76. <ul><li>meanwhile... somewhere in academia </li></ul><ul><li>(a alternative case-study) </li></ul>
  71. 77. <ul><li>the open access </li></ul><ul><li>movement </li></ul><ul><li>and </li></ul><ul><li>scholarly repositories </li></ul>
  72. 78. a university-based institutional repository is a set of services that a university offers to the members of its community for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by the institution and its community members. It is most essentially an organizational commitment to the stewardship of these digital materials, including long-term preservation where appropriate, as well as organization and access or distribution . … An institutional repository is not simply a fixed set of software and hardware (Cliff Lynch, 2003)
  73. 79. <ul><li>scholarly publications </li></ul><ul><li>learning objects </li></ul><ul><li>research data </li></ul>
  74. 80. <ul><li>manage </li></ul><ul><li>deposit </li></ul><ul><li>disclose </li></ul><ul><li>make openly available </li></ul><ul><li>curate </li></ul><ul><li>preserve </li></ul>
  75. 81. <ul><li>largely institutional focus </li></ul><ul><li>interoperability through centralised aggregators (national and global) </li></ul><ul><li>harvesting metadata about content using OAI-PMH (metadata = simple Dublin Core) </li></ul>
  76. 82. <ul><li>jisc ie diagram </li></ul>
  77. 83. <ul><li>we have tended to adopt service oriented approaches in line with long tradition from Z39.50 to SOAP/WSDL </li></ul>
  78. 84. <ul><li>our focus has been on building “services on content” rather than on the “content” itself </li></ul>
  79. 85. <ul><li>we don’t tend to adopt a resource oriented approach </li></ul>
  80. 86. <ul><li>we don’t adopt REST – an architectural style with a focus on resources, their identifiers (e.g. URIs), and a simple uniform set of operations that each resource supports (e.g. GET, PUT, POST, DELETE) </li></ul>
  81. 87. <ul><li>we don’t encourage a Web style “follow your nose” approach </li></ul>
  82. 88. <ul><li>… and we tend to treat “content” in isolation from the “social networks” that need to grow around that content </li></ul>
  83. 89. <ul><li>successful “repositories” (Flickr, YouTube, Slideshare, etc.) promote the social activity that takes place around content as well as the content management and disclosure activity </li></ul>
  84. 90. <ul><li>the institutional approach has fundamental mismatch with the real-life social networks adopted by researchers </li></ul><ul><li>subject-based </li></ul><ul><li>cross-institutional </li></ul><ul><li>global </li></ul>
  85. 91. <ul><li>while institutional approach is good from perspective of institutional management, preservation, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>globally “concentrated” repositories might better reflect the social networks that need to arise </li></ul>
  86. 92. <ul><li>the net effect …is that there is no net effect </li></ul>
  87. 93. <ul><li>repositories remain uncompelling places to disclose scholarly publications from POV of the researcher </li></ul>
  88. 94. <ul><li>perceived cost of deposit remains higher than perceived benefits </li></ul>
  89. 95. <ul><li>we resort to institutional or funder mandates, “thou shalt deposit”, to fill what would otherwise remain empty </li></ul>
  90. 96. <ul><li>final thoughts </li></ul>
  91. 97. <ul><li>visitors vs. residents </li></ul><ul><li>David White, University of Oxford </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  92. 98. <ul><li>counterpoint to the whole ‘Google generation’, ‘digital native’ meme </li></ul>
  93. 99. <ul><li>resident – “ an individual who lives a percentage of their life online” </li></ul>
  94. 100. <ul><li>visitor – “ an individual who uses the web as a tool in an organised manner whenever the need arises” </li></ul>
  95. 101. <ul><li>the cultural heritage sector tends to build services aimed at visitors </li></ul>
  96. 102. <ul><li>I think we should be designing with residents in mind </li></ul>
  97. 103. <ul><li>conclusions... </li></ul>
  98. 104. <ul><li>what would I do if I was advising on something like the JISC Information Environment now? </li></ul>
  99. 105. <ul><li>I’d aim to be as like the mainstream Web as possible </li></ul>
  100. 106. <ul><li>I’d ask “How would Google do this?” more often </li></ul>
  101. 107. <ul><li>I’d focus on the basics </li></ul>
  102. 108. <ul><li>I’d focus on the principles of linked data </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  103. 109. <ul><li>use URIs to name things </li></ul>
  104. 110. <ul><li>use HTTP URIs so that people can look them up </li></ul>
  105. 111. <ul><li>provide useful information when people dereference the URIs </li></ul>
  106. 112. <ul><li>include links to other things as part of that information (so that the recipient can find new things) </li></ul>
  107. 113. <ul><li>I’d promote the principles of cool URIs </li></ul><ul><li>(practical persistence) </li></ul>
  108. 114. <ul><li>I’d strongly encourage a RESTful architectural approach </li></ul>
  109. 115. <ul><li>I’d encourage RSS / Atom as essential point of access </li></ul>
  110. 116. <ul><li>I’d focus on the social aspects of the systems being built </li></ul>
  111. 117. <ul><li>implies that the Open Stack (OpenID, OAuth, ...) is increasingly important </li></ul>
  112. 118. <ul><li>I’d focus on building stuff for residents rather than visitors </li></ul>
  113. 119. <ul><li>thank you </li></ul>