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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Reversed folksonomy

Firstly, some background. A colleague/friend discussed their phd with me a while back, which was around images and how to catalogue them. The conclusion - as I got it - was the importance of determining the goals of the user accessing the image (at that instance in time) driving the cataloguers thought process when describing the image. Consider a picture of a bridge - the metadata about that bridge that is required, and the terms used to access it, vary greatly between an architect studying tensions, to a historian interested in who built it, to a child who wants "any old bridge" for a school project. I've thought a lot about this over the years, mainly from the perspective of how to profile the user searching in more innovative ways so the right images (or any type of information) are retrieved to meet the users current goal.

Folksonomies begin to solve one half of this problem - we have a range of users with different goals/views of some "content" each providing their own description from their viewpoint. In theory, if their viewpoint can be mapped to a user class, and other users are also known to be within that class, then we should be able to improve relevance of hits greatly. This falls down when you have a user who's doing some searching for their kids homework, but its still something I want to keep picking at as its an interesting diversion on these wet summer days.

But this ain't what I'm supposed to be posting about - this is!!! Go on, take a click!

Now, whats interesting about this site is that the folksonomy concept is back-to-front. "We provide the term, you provide the content" seems to be the philosophy. I like that! And it got me thinking - its something we can apply to the content in our OPACs just as easily. Put a word up each day, let users link works/records to it. It may take a long time, but eventually an interesting folksonomy would appear (its a bit like asking users to flag "books like this one").

But would it take a long time? I start thinking Bigfoot and Silkworm and the whole ethos of leveraging the network effect of libraries. Say each Talis library is provided a different word each day on their OPAC from a central store of, hmmmm, 50,000 words. Users could link whatever book or dvd or cd to that word they felt "matched". Next day, different word. Talis harvest this centrally. So, thats 100ish libraries, 364 days a year (go on, you can have xmas off!). Each word would have 7 different libraries, of many different user types, linking mutliple works/records to it. In a year, we have a complex folksonomy of all Talis library holdings. And, to a limited degree, these terms are "controlled".

Hmmm - think I'm now moving into "pie in the sky" stuff so I'll stop, and have a lie down. And maybe a beer...

Friday, July 22, 2005

Body network

O-kay. Now this just sort of leapt out at me, probably tracable to 10 years ago when I read The Great Mambo Chicken and The Transhuman Condition, and too much William Gibson - a personal wireless network powered by the human electrical field! And its "here next year"! Whether thats a Tomorrows World "next year"(i.e. never) or it will actually be, I just don't care. Still fascinating article. Still quite scary.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Blogs/forums in OPACS?

This is a facinating post about Ann Arbor District Library, who have integrated Blogs onto their OPACs homepage as a means of engaging with the library community, and gathering feedback on the services offered. Whats great, as The Shifted Librarian states, is the sheer volume of comments coming in. All the libraries I've worked at, we'd empty the cr*ppy box once a week, one comment slip would fall out, to find - well, the comment shouldn't be repeated here! But each post is getting 20+ comments, and they're really top notch stuff.

Libraries should be trying this over here, I think - I'm quite interested to find out if anyone has , or if people have some ideas on how Talis could help you on something like this. Drop me a comment if you've got something to say...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Microsoft moves office

Seems as if Microsoft are moving away from more proprietry formats for office docs, to XML. Key impact to this is it makes it far easier for "innovators" to get access to the data saved in Office files. Hmmm, wonder what Richard and all the other smart bods here can "make" out of this one!

Podcasting with a purpose

Podcasting, eh. Maybe its me, but little about this medium has so far struck me as being "innovative". Yeah, I can listen to radio programs I missed, and IT conversations is really useful, but nothing has yet made me go "ooo, thats an unusual idea". Until this - guided tours for places you're visiting! OK, its not groundbreaking but its a practical useful extension of the idea which I found myself wanting to use, to download something for the various hols destinations I have in mind, or National Trust properties I intend to visit. Obvious problem - no content. Sigh. Still, like the idea...

Extending this philosophy, there's a real buzz in Talis at the moment precisely because we are becoming far more innovative in the way we look at the world of emerging technology, and we're getting people in who can see how to exploit this view. Something I mentioned a while back which I got to play with, and has been shown at the Talis Research Days, plays up to this idea. Richard has been experimenting with Web Services, and created some really innovative ideas from...well, nothing. One service utilises googlemaps, and various Silkworm components (Access control, library directory) to create a service where the user can see on a map libraries by them, find details on these, and even search them. Another highlights ISBNs on any web page, uses FRBR to find related ISBNs, sticks some books jackets in and purchasing info and also lets you search your local library. And this is with any ISBN in any webpage.

There seem to be hundreds of these ideas knocking around at the moment and - once the Lyra workload lessens (first beta release this week of MARC21 Alto and Talis Base - woo hoo!) - I can't wait to start thinking far more deeply about these sort of things so we can start linking all this smart innovation to identified customer needs. And thats the crux - Web2.0 will provide us with the opportunity to develop innovative solutions both huge and tiny - and its going to be (partly!) down to the analysts working with our customers to find ways to use this innovation to make a real, direct and practical difference to everyones lives. Oooo, I can't wait ;-)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Bible in Lego!

Yep, bit of a random post but thought I'd break the monotony. The Brick Testament can be looked at two ways - its either an astounding, fascinating achievement which will leave you gasping in wonderment at the meticulous detail OR it will leave you shaking your head, and wondering WHY, oh WHY! You decide.

Yahoo to offer Blog search engine?

Seems as if Yahoo may be ahead of Google on this one - check here. Will be interesting to see if this re-appears sometime soon...