How important is usability for data librarianship?

A comment on discussions during the DLF forum 2015. Does usability matter for providing access to library collections as data? As a librarian the answer may seem obvious. Of course, usability matters, without proper usability testing and design best practices we will limit the accessibility of our collection, potentially screening out some of our user community. I agree that access is a key goal for any library project. But I want to push back on the default assumption that data should not be released without proper usability or even documentation.

JCDL 2015 Conference - Knoxville, TN - Part 1

I’m posting some brief notes on the presentations from JCDL 2015. Here are some thoughts and notes from the first day. Panel on Lifelong Digital Libraries, a discussion of how the digital library community may respond to the growing amount of personal data people are capturing in their daily lives. Some examples of technologies that allow lifelogging are fitness trackers, Google glass, and mobile phone cameras. The discussion was moderated by Sally Jo Cunningham and included short presentations by Haavard Johansen, Taro Tezuka, Cathal Gurrin

Citizen Science and Open Data

I spoke on a panel last week about citizen science and open data. The panel was one of the events put on by the University of Alberta library for Open Access week. I went first so my presentation didn’t reflect directly on the work of others, although there was much to think about. I started by describing the key dilemma faced by many scientists who have turned to citizen science methods: how to deal with the huge amounts of data which are needed to do or are used in science today?

John Unsworth at CLIR Camp plus Libraries and Scholars Interacting Over Time

John Unsworth spoke at the CLIR-DLF postdoctoral camp last week. I thought he presented some interesting ideas about the emerging cross-connections between libraries and publishers, as well as some speculations about the development of scholarly data communities around the existence of large-scale data resources. Unsworth works at Brandeis as a vice provost, CIO, and university librarian. He also serves on the executive committee of the HathiTrust Research Center. As part of the HathiTrust he has been directly involved in the development of a 11 million digital collection of books and journals scanned from the collections of member libraries.

How I spent my summer vacation - in Toronto

I’ve spent the last week at the University of Toronto attending the summer doctoral program hosted by the Oxford Internet Institute. Conveniently abbreviated as OIISDP. Every summer the institute hosts a group of ~30 graduate students who are working on research related to the internet. I was lucky enough to be one of the students accepted for this year. The program is two weeks long and consists of presentations by faculty from Oxford, other schools, and the students themselves.

Best Paper at BOBCATSSS 2013!

The big story was winning the best conference paper award for my presentation, co-authored with my adviser Suzie Allard, on libraries and citizen science. The basic argument of the paper was that libraries are poised to assist the general public with citizen science projects. A citizen science project is a scientific research project where professional scientists recruit non-scientist to assist with data gathering or analysis. E-bird is a popular and widespread example in the United States.

Steve Kelling on citizen science - #asist2011

Steve Kelling from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the eBird project presented the second ASIST 2011 keynote on citizen science. Kelling began by describing the background of the ornithology lab and its long-term commitment to involving the public in science. The lab was founded in 1915 so the centennial is rapidly approaching. They have engaged over 200,000 citizen scientists in various projects, many of them in eBird for which Kelling serves as information science director.

Tom Wilson on Preservation - #asist2011

ASIST 2011 kicked off with a keynote by Tom Wilson on the challenges of preservation in the digital age. What we know about the past has been preserved through a series of happenstance and contingencies. Aristotle mentions over 100 playwrights in the Rhetoric but only 4 of them have been preserved to the present day. We don’t know why these 4 survived but we suspect that they were highly valued by the people of Greece.

Testing a new installation of wordpress

I’m experimenting with a new installation of WordPress. I’ve tried to use WP in the past before and been less than impressed with it’s usability, at least in the admin sections. So far I’m impressed with the improvements that have been made. But getting some of the older content I had in my blog to format correctly with markdown is going to be a challenge.

Noam Chomsky Lays It Down

Today Noam Chomsky, still kicking it at the age of 82, addressed a standing-room only crowd at the Cox Auditorium on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. His hour-long speech boiled down to a simple principle: the powerful will continue to promote policies that help themselves as long as the masses are quiescent. If no one objects then the wealthy will get wealthier, the stronger will get stronger, and the dictators will become more dictatorial.