Friday, 23 March 2012

UKAD Conference

I gave a talk with Robert Baxter from Cumbria Archive Service at the annual UKAD conference at The National Archives on 21 March. The talk explored the potential of Linked Data in the archives, libraries and museums sector, focusing on the experience of Step change.

Key lessons/challenges from Step change and from other JISC projects King's College Archives are working on (Trenches to Triples and World War One Research) mentioned in the talk include:

  • Definining/setting up/maintaining APIs - this is potentially challenging and time-consuming
  • Need for URI definitions/syntax across the archives, libraries and museums sector - this discussion was started by LOCAH and is ongoing. A wiki will be launched soon by ULCC inviting information professional feedback on these definitions and to try and reach some consensus in the coming months
  • Place name vocabularies are a particular challenge. Step change archivists will potentially have access to some four or five sets of data about similar places - for example Geonames, English Place Names, AIM25-UKAT, GoGeo, and a local CALM place dataset. Have will they ensure consistency or that terms found across the datasets are actually talking about the same place?
  • Linked Data analysis exposes poor quality and inconsistent existing metadata. Step change is partly about providing tools that will identify discrepancies and make metadata input more consistent but the funding and management challenges of this laundry operation remain considerable
  • Establishing and supporting new live LOD services beyond existing JISC funding will be a challenge. Services go down - how will data retrieval cope with this fact of life?
  • Visualisation - this poses multiple challenges. how much information is too much information for users? How do we maintain relevancy - can the users decide themselves to some extent?
The development of the Workflow tool (Alicat) and LOD version of UKAT are well under way (Workpackages 2-3). These are informing redesign currently under way at Axiell. A meeting is planned on 29 March to review CALM development to date, prior to the commencement of analysis of Cumbria test catalogues by Robert using the new tools in a CALM development environment.

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