October 09, 2007

tag gardening!

Follow-up to Tagging tips from Innovating Research!

Well, I’ve been seconded again, this time to the post of E-repositories Manager. There’s been a lot for me to do, hence no time to contribute to the blog properly for a while.

I’m working on a JISC funded project called the Warwick Research Archive Project (WRAP) and our JISC programme co-ordinator has suggested that we all use Blue Dot to share web sites of interest. This is no problem because I already have a Blue Dot account since my Web 2.0 investigations, but I had abandoned it as not as good as del.icio.us

Blue Dot doesn’t seem to remember when I have previously tagged a page already, which del.icio.us does, and which is handy if I try to tag the same page twice, and also if I find I want to say something else about a page I have previously tagged quickly but not really annotated. Also the browser tools from del.icio.us work better for me than the Blue dot ones, largely because Blue Dot tools disappear from the toolbar on new tabs in IE 7.

However, our JISC programme manager likes Blue Dot because of the facility to comment on each others’ tags, and I have made friends with other JISC project managers on Blue Dot and subscribed to a feed of all my Blue Dot friends’ tags on my Bloglines account, so it won’t be too much work to maintain both. In fact, it gives me a chance to try to get my repository tags working properly in Blue Dot because my del.icio.us tags are in a bit of a mess…

Anyway, there has been some talk about folksonomies versus controlled vocabularies on the JISC repositories list and someone pointed to this blog posting which proposes the concept of tag gardening, which I really rather like!

October 01, 2007

Wiki reading lists

Writing about web page https://my.pbwiki.com/

We have been considering the use of wiki functionality for building reading lists between academics and librarians.

Something like PBwiki would do the job. I wonder which other wiki applications, ideally hosted and free, might be out there which could do the job as well.

Both the academic and the librarian should receive and instant email alert of any edits made by either of them, and the email alert should quote the text that has been added or deleted. The wiki should also allow switching of access permissions between public-view and editors-only.

A wiki page for each module can be used to which both the academic and the library have access permissions. The academic can paste references on this page as and when he or she identifies them, potentially throughout the year but perhaps most likely in the summer. Every such change generates an email alert containing the addition to the wiki page. The library can check these as and when posted. Once checked the library edits the wiki page to add either a link to an existent subscription or library holdings catalogue record, or to a digital scan, or to a free web version, or to a catalogue record for the order, or a note to advise it is out of print, or any other relevant comment. Updates on student numbers for the module could also be posted on the wiki page.

A reading list is primarily a printable document intended for students. There is no need to use it as an order form for library resources. The bottle-neck workflow by which academics finish their reading list documents by a date and forward them to the library for checking and ordering is a document centric approach presenting known problems.

It would be much preferable if reading lists could be built up in a tentative way as an iterative, incremental dialogue between each academic and the library. The communication process between academics and the library could be improved by using wiki functionality:
- Treating references singly as opposed to bundled in lists.
- Dealing with them as and when identified by academics without having to wait for a definitive list.
- Feeding back to the academic timely information about availability and alternatives.
- Giving academics the lead time to make a choice informed with the librarians’ knowledge of information resourcing.

Although wiki functionality seems most efficient, alternative technologies could also serve the same purpose, e.g. a common closed web page with notification. Unfortunately Google Docs does not appear to notify of edits, otherwise it would have been enough.

Nevertheless, there are various practical considerations to take into account for a scaleable implementation beyond a small pilot. Ideally the technology should make things easier for both the academics and the library, but in practice making it too easy to submit references may overwhelm the library with submissions.

We would probably have to try on a small scale and fine-tune the process first. It would be nice to hear about any reading list wikis elsewhere.

September 19, 2007

Arts & Humanities bibliometric tools: stretching Scopus

Writing about web page http://www.scopus.com/

I have been looking for a bibliometric tool for Arts & Humanities, something similar to Journal Citation Reports and ideally also something like ISIhighlycited.com

There are alternative tools that can be stretched to serve for A&H scientometrics, like OCLC WorldCat for libraries’ holdings, or Harzing’s Publish or Perish for Google Scholar, but I have just had a quick play with Scopus and it retrieved 93,934 references, each with their “Cited by” count, which could of course be narrowed down to individual journal titles and then be all exported and added up. When I included the “multidisciplinary” references the number of articles retrieved was 394,058, which can be broken down into document types:
Article (293,016)
Review (23,985)
Note (19,258)
Short Survey (15,530)
Letter (15,362)
Editorial (7,160)
Erratum (3,925)
Conference Review (13)
Book (1)

September 10, 2007

Lectopia (formerly the iLecture System and now Echo 360 since acquired by Apreso)

Writing about web page http://www.lectopia-service.uwa.edu.au/welcome

Lectopia has already eight years of history. I wonder why it has not been taken up by more universities outside Australia, or perhaps it has?

August 14, 2007

getting more from your google search

Writing about web page http://www.googleguide.com/advanced_operators_reference.html

A very handy guide to the advanced operators when searching Google!

August 10, 2007

Which social networking site to use?

Writing about web page http://www.wired.com/software/webservices/news/2007/08/student_networks

There’s an interesting article on Wired that talks you through some of the social networking sites available. My favourite was Facebook, and probably it’s still one of my top sites, but I don’t like the advertising that’s appeared more recently. I also like Ning, which isn’t discussed in this report. But it does help you to get a feel and flavour of each of the social networking sites it talks about.

August 04, 2007

mobile libraries on mules and wireless under the banana trees

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/6929404.stm

Mules are being used as mobile libraries (bibliomulas) by Universidad Valle del Momboy in Venezuela to take books, laptops and projectors to rural communities on the Andes that would otherwise be hard to reach. This BBC news feature is an exotic note for this summer, but it does show that enterprising innovations which are realistically adapted to context can succeed because of the lateral thinking of their pioneers.

August 03, 2007

Tagging tips

Writing about Simple advice on keyword tagging and tagsonomies from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

These are my thoughts on tagging: I have built on what Robert O’Toole has proposed on his blog (bold text below) & put his tips in priority order. It’s a fairly comprehensive guide and I certainly don’t follow all of these tips, but at least having thought about it properly has been a useful exercise. If I had done this years ago then the contents of this blog, my Sitebuilder web pages and my del.icio.us bookmarks would be far more easy to retrieve.

My own top tip is: Consider how the search engine combines your tags, and how you and others will be able to use them to retrieve what you have tagged. Is there a limit on the number of tags you can specify per search? Can you combine tags with AND as well as OR?

Sitebuilder supports both types of search with the keywords, whilst Warwick blogs only supports OR searching.

The del.icio.us search box searches notes as well as tags, and the default search is an AND search if you use no operators. You can also use OR between keywords, and the minus sign for a NOT search on del.icio.us and they even support XOR: (bacon XOR ham) cheese gets you bacon and cheese, or ham and cheese, but not bacon, ham and cheese.

1. Be systematic, especially with punctuation, spaces, spellings.

E.g. Web_2-0 or Web2.0, etc. Remember that you may come across limitations as to how punctuation can be used in different services where you might use your tags. (The full stop and spaces are particular problems in Warwick blogs.) Also, with regard to plurals: do you mean “folksonomy” or “folksonomies”. The key is to be consistent: e.g., I use “search_engine” to bookmark a single search engine, and “search_engines” to bookmark something about search engines.

Note that some services, like del.icio.us will allow you to edit your tags, allowing you to do a global replacement of all “folksonomy” tags with “folksonomies” if you later decide that you want to use plurals. Other services like Warwick Blogs don’t yet offer this facility. It is best to decide on a rule and stick to it from the beginning to save you time, as even on Del.icio.us you don’t want to have to change all your tags over!

Consider how you wish to represent compound tags, e.g. by using an underscore to separate words, or by running the words together and using capital letters: “second_life” or “SecondLife”. This may partly depend on whether the software you are using differentiates capital letters.

2. Maintain a list of your tags. A concept map is a good mechanism for maintaining this list. You could use MindManager to create the list.

Some services provide lists of your tags for you, and you might like to use this to organise the tags and keep a copy elsewhere to refer to when you need it (ie when you tag content). Whilst some services suggest tags for you from your list when you tag content, they don’t always choose the right ones, so having your own copy of the list can be helpful.

A MindManager map of tags would also show hierarchies for you. Some services support hierarchies through bundling of tags that you might find useful, but you should read about how these will be used or treated.

A list or map of tags will also allow you to decide on control terms for synonyms. e.g., you might prefer “information_skills” to “information_literacy” and therefore a list or map will remind you of which is your preferred term. When choosing your preferred terms you might like to look at what tags others are using: try searching by tags to see how they are used.

A similar issue with preferred terms is that of language: will all your tags be in English? Or will you use the native language’s name for places? You may be restricted by the alphabets and characters supported by the tagging software.

3. Think about how you might want to be able to search/aggregate/organise your content, how other people might want to search it and see it organised, and how you want other people to think about your content (especially if you are trying to establish a schematic structure in their minds).

Not all tags are public facing, but if you are adding to a public website or collection, then you should think about other people. Eg “Library” in my own Del.icio.us collection means the library where I work. But I should properly say “University of Warwick” as well if my tags are for others to see.

It should go without saying that you should avoid using socially offensive tags.

4. Cooperate – use the same tags that other people use, develop tagsonomies with other people (formally or informally).

E.g. a formal schema of tags in a printed list that you use as a group, or by using the suggested tags that others have used to tag the same resource.

5. Use a combination of very specific and more general tags (for example: e-learning, elab, quizbuilder) – think about your tags as being arranged in a tree structure (specific at the leaves general at the branches).

That is how library subject classification schemes work, and the structured hierarchy helps to overcome problems with homonyms, e.g. “Reading” when coupled with “UK” is likely to be the town, whilst “Reading” when coupled with “literacy” is likely to be the verb. (A capitalisation rule such as only using capital letters for proper nouns might also help with this particular example.)

6. Combine different tags that identify different aspects of the tagged content (for example, use a tag to identify what kind of content it is (essay, review), what it is about (philosophy, Kant).

Most tags describe the content in subject terms. However, you may want to consider other aspects of the content you are tagging, eg that it is a video clip or a sound file, that it is a web page or a blog entry. These features are the kind of thing that a catalogue or metadata record would describe, and you can use tags to describe other features than just content, if that is something that will be useful to you and your community. Begin your tagging schema by thinking about what you will need to describe.

7. Tagging your work with a unique identifier associated with yourself allows you to aggregate your work from wherever it appears (e.g. robert_o-toole in Sitebuilder gets you this result )

August 02, 2007

Copyright swicki

Writing about web page http://uk-copyright1-swicki.eurekster.com/

I’ve just experimented with embedding a UK copyright customised search engine, called a “swicki”, in the left menu part of this blog. It can also be found online directly. I think it works pretty well, and I’m wondering whether a collection of such swickis might be better than adding hundreds of links to my del.icio.us account.

August 01, 2007

Hot air balloon flight

I wasn’t at work on Monday as I was travelling through the Cotswolds from Chipping Sodbury to Oxford for a hot air balloon flight at 6pm. It was a birthday present for Nick and I from last year, and this was our second booking after the weather cancelled plans for a flight over Bath on our wedding anniversary. Never mind: I got 2 weekends away out of it!
I definitely recommend the hot air balloon flight, even for those a bit scared of heights, because it is so gentle when you take off that you hardly notice how high you’re going. It actually gets more scarey again as you travel low to the ground, but then you get to see things better, like the hares darting around the field in fear of this enourmous round, red predator!
We didn’t have time to call in at the model village at Bourton on the Water, but Oxford from the air was a pretty good substitute. :-)

Some pretty pictures are available in the gallery on the left of this blog.

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