Thursday, 15 July 2010

Reflections from OR2010: Part 2

Another activity I was involved in at OR2010 was the Developer Challenge as a ‘non-techie’ judge. Organised by the DevSci project (managed by UKOLN, funded by JISC), this year’s challenge was to ‘create a functioning repository user-interface, presenting a single metadata record which includes as many automatically created, useful links to related external content as possible.’

The winning entry was from Richard Davis and Rory McNicholl, University of London Computer Centre, who enhanced the records of the Linnean Collections, held on EPrints, which the ULCC are responsible for. As many of the metadata fields in the record as possible linked out to external sites- some general such as Google and Wikipedia and some more subject specific such as horticultural indexes. Although only one metadata record was demonstrated, the links which appeared in the record were determined by the entries on a master sheet (an excel spreadsheet) and therefore, would apply to all records within the repository. This development came out top as although the links weren’t truly automated, they were managed externally, it was felt that this was actually advantage for a non-techie repository manager could update for themselves rather than calling on the support of a tame developer.

Coming in a narrow second was ChEsis, presented by Sam Adams, University of Cambridge, which created links to enhance Chemistry e-thesis records. Links were available to show chemical structures of molecules/ crystals used/ created along with their mass spectrums. Fun links were also included such as the Last FM playlist of the student when their thesis was submitted and the BBC headlines for the day.

Another entry utilised OpenCalais to automatically create links from their created repository record. OpenCalais is a free to use service which automatically creates links from open content to other open content sites such as Twitter, YouTube, Flickr etc. It can be used to add a bit of fun to any open source web content such as a blog but be warned the links are automatic and you can’t necessarily restrict what content it links to!

A full write-up and videos of all the Developer Challenge entries is available via DevSci blog.

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