Scholarly Communication in the Networked Age

Last week, I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to attend the Texts and Literacy in the Digital Age: Assessing the future of scholarly communication at the Dutch National Library in Den Haag (a trip that ended up turning into a weekend break in Amsterdam when my flight was cancelled…)

The presentation can be found here and embedded below, if your feed reader supports it:

One thing I have tried to do is annotate each slide with a short piece of discursive text relating to the slide. I need to find a way of linearising slide shows prepared this way to see if I can find a way of generating blog posts from them, which is a task for next year…

The presentation draws heavily on Martin Belam’s news:rewired presentation from 2009 (The tyranny of chronology), as I try to tease out some of the structural issues that face the presentation of news media in an online networked age, and constrast (or complement) them with issues faced by scholoarly publishing.

One of the things I hope to mull over more next year, and maybe communicate in a more principled way rather than via occasional blog posts and tweets, are the ways in which news media and academia can work together to put the news into some sort of deeper context, and maybe even into a learning (resource) context…

My Slides from the Data Driven Journalism Round Table (ddj)

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to attend a Data Driven Journalism round table (sort of!) event organised by the European Journalism Centre.

Here are the slides I used in my talk, such as they are… I really do need to annotate them with links, but in the meantime, if you want to track any of the examples down the best way is to probably just search this blog ;-)

(Readers might also be interested in my slides from News:Rewired (although they make even less sense without notes!))

Although most of the slides will be familiar to longtime readers of this blog, there is one new thing in there: the first sketch if a network diagram showing how some of my favourite online apps can work together based on the online file formats they either publish or consume (the idea being once you can get a file into the network somewhere, you can route it to other places/apps in the network…)

The graph showing how a handful of web apps connect together was generated using Graphiz, with the graph defined as follows:

GoogleSpreadsheet -> CSV;
GoogleSpreadsheet -> “<GoogleGadgets>”;
GoogleSpreadsheet -> “[GoogleVizDataAPI]”;
“[GoogleVizDataAPI]”->JSON;
CSV -> GoogleSpreadsheet;
YahooPipes -> CSV;
YahooPipes -> JSON;
CSV -> YahooPipes;
JSON -> YahooPipes;
XML -> YahooPipes;
“[YQL]” -> JSON;
“[YQL]” -> XML;
CSV->”[YQL]”;
XML->”[YQL]”;
CSV->”<ManyEyesWikified>”;
YahooPipes -> KML;
KML->”<GoogleEarth>”;
KML->”<GoogleMaps>”;
“<GoogleMaps>”->KML;
RDFTripleStore->”[SPARQL]”;
“[SPARQL]”->RDF;
“[SPARQL]”->XML;
“[SPARQL]”->CSV;
“[SPARQL]”->JSON;
JSON-> “<JQueryCharts_etc>”;

I had intended to build this up “live” in a text editor using the GraphViz Mac client to display the growing network, but in the end I just showed a static image.

At the time, I’d also forgotten that there is an experimental Graphviz chart generator made available via the Google Charts API, so here’s the graph generated via a URL using the Google Charts API:

Graphviz chart via Google Charts API

Here’s the chart playground view:

Google Charts API LIve chart playground

PS if the topics covered by the #ddj event appealed to you, you might also be interested in the P2PU Open Journalism on the Open Webcourse, the “syllabus” of which is being arranged at the moment (and which includes at least one week on data journalism) and which will run over 6 weeks, err, sometime; and the Web of Data Data Journalism Meetup in Berlin on September 1st.

Imaginings Around Emerging Infoskills for Digital Librarians

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of leading a couple of sessions in the OU Library for Library staff on exploring the emerging digital skills terrain, and the extent to which it could, or should, fall to a new wave of Digital Librarians to support related service delivery and skills development.

The first session focused on supporting digital and networked researchers, the second on the sort of practical infoskills that I rely on a day to day basis that I get the feeling aren’t really being provided or developed as much as they should be…

Both sessions were structured in a similar way – I rambled on for too long with some background/scene setting talk, and then provided a set of “challenges” or discussion topics for the four groups of five or so to argue over for 30-40 minutes or so. A final plenary provided an opportunity for each table to report back on the outcome of their discussion.

The morning session opened with a too long presentation on the Social’n’Digital Researcher:

before opening up the following series of Social Researcher Challenges:

The afternoon session opened with a quick review of some of the things that I learned how to do over the last couple of months – The Digital Librarian:

before setting the following Digital Infoskills Challenges:

(OU LIbrary folk – I will post some solutions to the Library wiki at some point, I promise ;-)

It was the first time I’ve run this sort of event, and learned a lot from doing so, so if I ever get the chance again, here are some of the things I’d do differently:

1) talk less at the start;
2) do an icebreaker activity right at the start to set the scene for the scene setting presentation, with a view to: a) trying to find out some common assumptions about what folk are doing there and what they expect to get out of the session; b) start to (re)shape their expectations about what the event is about;
3) provide a short slide to be displayed throughout the activity to remind folk of what the challenges are designed to achieve;
4) be clearer about what the point of doing the challenges is/what they are designed to achieve from the very start…!;-)
5) have takeaway/follow up training material prepared in advance for anyone motivated enough to pick up and run with it immediately…

I’ll try to do another post summarising a bit more of the what the outcomes of the session were at a later time – but for now, I just wanted to get the posts archived here, along with notes-to-self about how to do it differently next time… if there is a next time…!

PS Richard Nurse has done a write-up of the sessions here: ‘Digital Librarians’

PPS I think this whole area is something that needs exploring, so if any other libraries would like to brave this sort of session, feel free to get in touch…

PPPS a couple of people expressed interest in Yahoo Pipes – there’s a Get Started tutorial here: Pipes Book – Imaginings

Web Lego And Format Glue, aka Get Yer Mashup On

Another week, another presentation… I dunno about death by Powerpoint on the audience side, but even though I’ve started finding ways of reusing slides, it still takes me forever and a day (well, 4-6 hrs), to put a slide deck together… One day – one day – I’ll have to produce a presentation I can just give over and over again… ;-)

Anyway, here are slides for a presentation I’m due to give tomorrow (Thursday) at the University of Portsmouth. The plan is for a 1 hr “lecture”, and a 1 hr hands-on workshop session. The slides are for the talk – but also set the scene for the practical activity…

So what’s the practical? (For anyone reading this in advance of attending the session, I suggest you get yourself sorted with accounts for Google/Google Spreadsheets, Yahoo/Yahoo Pipes and IBM/Many Eyes and Many Eyes Wikified.) As time is tight, I suggest the best way in is to just try recreating some of the demos shown in the presentation above, and then going from there…. A good alternative would be to start working through this intro to Yahoo Pipes:

For the more adventurously minded, looking through the pipework category on this blog might provide a little more inspiration…

If it’s Google Spreadsheets hacks you’re after, searching for Google spreadsheet import formula should turn up some example posts…

Many Eyes and Many Eyes Wikified demos can be found by search for “Many Eyes”

For treating Google Spreadsheets as a database, here’s the Guardian Datastore Explorer, and here’s half a how to about using it.

NB there are are actually two ways of using a Google Spreadsheet as a database: form a third party page via a query API; and within a spreadsheet using a =QUERY() formula;

JQuery you should be able to find, but here are a handful of Javascript visualisation libraries that you might also like to try out at some point…;-) To find my list of flash visualisation libraries, look at the URL and use your initiative…

I was hoping to put together a couple of rather better structured self-paced workshop examples, but I’m afraid I’ve run out of time for today…:-(

Infoskills for the Future – If You Can’t Handle Information, Get Out of the Library

On Wednesday, transport willing, I’ll be giving a short presentation at an East of England Imnformations Services Group event:

Whilst preparing the slides, I listened in to Martin Bean’s opening keynote from JISC2010, and was interested to hear what he had to say about libraries:

That is, folk are gonna need help with sensemaking around information and with identfiying trusted [trustable?] content.

I had intended to put together a talk about the challenges faced by the OU library, as I see them, as it starts to offer a comprehensive digital library service for our students; but the VC’s talk got me thinking again about some of the issues I touched on in my Arcadia brown bag lunch talk about the skills training gap that I think is building up around digital tools:

Anyway, here’s a preview of my slides for Wednesday (subject, as ever, to change…;-)

(UPDATE, post presentation: a couple of folk commented on the slide aesthetic – it’s inspired in part by the Presentation Zen approach (blog), in part by Lawrence Lessig. As far as the Digital Economy Bill/Act goes, here’s a summary. And for Doctorow on book ownership, listen here.)

The content diverges somewhat from the title (oops!) but I feel the need to have another crack at exploring what exactly are the skills I think we’re failing to articulate…

As ever, it’s rich in images that don’t make a lot of sense without my commentary. I also toyed with the idea of embedding a few audio and video clips in the presentation, but as time is tight, I think I’ll omit probably have to omit those on the day:-(

One of the clips I had thought of using was Martin Bean’s quote embedded above. Another was from a recent TEDxNYED talk by Jeff Jarvis (via @ajcann) in which he talks about the move educators – like journalists – may have to make towards a curatorial role.

For libraries, too, there is need to consider the new curatorial role of the library (e.g. as recently observed by Lorcan Dempsey: Lam-inating libraries…). But maybe more important is the help that librarians can give to academics, and researchers, who are building their own collections, and wanting to curate their own “exhibitions”?

(Just by the by, I’ve started putting together the images I use in my presentations in flickr galleries. In part, this means I have ready access from source to images I’ve used before if I want to use them again… I’m also toying with the idea of trying to annotate the images in the gallery with “presenter notes” or “presentation design notes” as a way of capturing some of the things I was thinking about/looking for as I was selecting the images. If I was doing an Art GCSE, I guess this would correspond to my notebook…)

One of the reasons I considered adding the audio clips to the presentation was because they were to hand and I heard things in them potentially relevant to, and reusable in, the presentation I was preparing. (The use of the clips would also slow the presentation down a little – something I’m looking for strategies to help me with. Fewer slides may help here, of course…!;-) To make (re) use of them, I wired the headphone out to the audio in on my laptop, and played through the relevant parts of the original videos whilst capturing the audio track using Audacity. A little bit of editing in that environment cropped the audio clip to just the bit I needed, and also allowed me to tidy it up a little (removing ums and ahs, for example). For hosting purposes, I’ve used Audioboo. I’m not sure this is really in the spirit of Audioboo, but again, it was a pragmatic choice;-) Now I haven’t received any training in this (as any audiophile will probably be able to tell you!) but it got the job sort of done…

So, is that a skill the library can – or should – help me with, if required? In the OU’s case, I think getting help with that sort of activity would fall under the Digilab remit.

At the very least, is/could/should it be the role of the library to help me develop effective strategies for discovering audio content (nothwithstanding what the VC had to say about moving on from search and discovery)? Discovering audio content from OER repositories, maybe?

And what about help or advice on producing visualisations, such as visualisation of volcanic ash data from official advisory notes? Would that count too? (That was a request typical of the ones I receive on a weekly basis from various parts of the OU…) I captured my hacked attempt at working through that problem in the post Steps Towards a Volcanic Ash Advisory Google Maps Mashup Using Met Office Data, which also includes several bad assumptions I made in the original version of the post, so maybe I should pick through that to identify some of the skills involved?

Slides From UKSG…

Earlier this week, I spent three very enjoyable days in Edinburgh at UKSG (tag uksg10), the UK Serials Group conference which brings together librarians and vendors of journal subscriptions and discovery services.

Walking round the exhibition, a couple of things jumped out at me. Firstly, a lot of the search/discovery interfaces that various vendors were pushing are still not really doing much on the relevancy/results ranking front or personal recommendations (for some of my previous thoughts on this, see OPAC Ground Truth… and for some ideas about new ranking factors see
JISC MOSAIC Competition Entries – Imaginings Around the Use of Library Loans Data
). Everyone was happy to show me their advanced search interface forms, though…. (which gets a personal yawn from me… If I want to use an advanced search, I’ll usually drop a limit tag into the search box, or hack the URL. For advanced searching, I guess I prefer command line to a form!;-)

The second thing that jumped out at me was the lack of technical knowledge on the part of the vendors and some of the buyers. “Is there an API for that?” is not, apparently, polite conversation in such circles…

As ever, the conversation is what makes an event, and I’ll try to pop a few notes about some of the conversations I found myself in over the next few days. But for now, here are the slides I used in my (rather rushed) presentation…

As ever, I guess you had to be there…

Arcadia Project – OU Report Back Presentation

Short notice, but then, if I gave more notice there’d have been all sorts of calendar negotiations over a week or two then we’d have rescheduled anyway…


Presentation trailer

Many OU folk will have already spent an hour or two at the Learn About fair (fayre?) on that day, so you might as well as right the whole day off in terms of doing “proper work”…;-)