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Research as social activity: designing a collaborative e-Research space. Ian Johnson Archaeological Computing Laboratory Spatial Science Innovation Unit University of Sydney. Is the quill dead?. 55% of project applications have a digital component

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research as social activity designing a collaborative e research space

Research as social activity: designing a collaborative e-Research space

Ian JohnsonArchaeological Computing Laboratory

Spatial Science Innovation Unit

University of Sydney

is the quill dead
Is the quill dead?

55% of project applications have a digital component

Individual scholars and informal mechanisms

arts and humanities needs
Arts and Humanities needs
  • We don’t have a data deluge
  • We don’t deal with Petabytes or Teraflops …
  • We don’t (mostly) need e-Science
  • We do need e-Research
  • We do need virtual communities
  • We do need tools to handle the information deluge, viz:
    • New ways of doing things (tools, techniques, methodologies, ways of thinking, paradigms …)
    • New analyses, reinterpretation, deconstruction and understanding of a (basically) fixed set of resources
  • We do need zero entry barrier
    • Like: file storage, office, browser, email
    • Grid computing?
information deluge
Information deluge
  • How do we find out about new tools, methodologies, approaches, projects, sources of data and information which don’t make it to formal publications
  • How do we do this without spending our life at conferences or hours of frustrating Googling?
  • Do we just try and ignore it?
    • Discussion on H-world
    • Historians saying they won’t accept anything from their students which is not published in a refereed journal
specific issues
Specific issues
  • How do we keep track of all the different web sites, tools, databases, notes and so forth that we create or use?
  • How do we take notes about, or annotate, resources to which we have no write access?
  • How do we backup information if we have it scattered across several systems, some (many) of which we don’t own (eg. blogg and wiki servers)?
are portals the answer
Are Portals the answer?
  • Canadian cultural portal (Mostafa Zommo)
    • The portal lets you find databases
    • The databases are a proxy/ad hoc classification
    • The real question is:How do you find the things in which you are really interested?
    • The answer is probably: You need a search mechanism
    • Search reduces need for developing and sharing an unambiguous classification
is google the answer
Is Google the answer?
  • Yes, that’s why we all use it
  • No, that’s why we:
    • Publish papers
    • Visit the library
    • Attend conferences
    • Talk to colleagues
    • Create structured databases
    • Create metadata
    • etc…
keeping track
Keeping track
  • How can we keep track of all the different web sites, academic papers, ICT tools, databases, thoughts, ideas, scribblings, and so forth that we create or use?
  • Some solutions(increasing functionality, increasing shareability, higher entry barrier)
      • MS Word, Notepad Google desktop?
      • Browser bookmarks Structure, attrition
      • Bibliographic software Defined function
      • Bloggs Server
      • Wikis Server
      • CMS, database Server/rigidity/cost/setup
      • Knowledge managers Server/cost/setup
  • Fragmentation of information
  • Cross-resource searching
  • Annotation and linking
    • Uncertain existence
    • Unstable addressing
  • Sharing information
  • Backup
shsseri sydney humanities social sciences e research initiative
SHSSERISydney Humanities & Social Sciences e-Research Initiative
  • Groupware/Collaborative KnowledgeSpace
  • Web-based community system
    • Reduced dependence on desktop systems
    • Centralised, persistent, accessible
    • Integrated information source, searchable
    • Participation, information sharing
    • Builds on community knowledge
    • Low entry barrier – web browser, pre-configured
shsseri for u sydney
SHSSERI for U. Sydney
  • One-stop-shop maintained within the University for:
    • Information (Humanities and Digital Humanities)
    • Bibliographies, bookmarks, notes/annotation
    • Server-based digital tools – admin, information management, database creation, analysis
    • Communication, web pages, community activities
    • Single-point backup, link verification, harvesting
    • Archiving (Sydney e-Scholarship)
shsseri tmbookmarker
SHSSERI + TMBookmarker

Simple design

Lightweight, rapid page load

Highly functional page header

Two click hierarchy


User participation

1 digital humanities information
1. Digital Humanities Information
  • Annotated domain guides
    • Linking to:
      • Guides to best practice
      • Project exemplars
      • Data resources
      • etc …
    • Wiki-based
    • Seeded by us
    • Extended by users … we hope
    • Monitored
wiki problems
Wiki problems
  • Will we have the same problems as Wikipedia?
    • Authoritative info overwritten by dunces
    • Trashing by trolls
    • Incomplete coverage compared with Encyc Brit.(but compare the speed of development and cost!)
  • Better-defined community, common goals
  • Contributors are not anonymous
2 bookmarks bibliography annotation
2. Bookmarks, bibliography, annotation
  • TMBookmarker
    • A consistent index to conventional bibliographic entries, web bookmarks and personal notes
    • Annotation linked to any physical or digital resource (or free-floating notes)
    • Bookmarks/annotation sharing
    • Social bookmarking – exploiting group behaviour of the ‘swarm’
social bookmarking
Social bookmarking
  • Communities of interest highlighting key resources in a particular domain through group behaviour (collecting, tagging and rating bookmarks/bibliographic entries)
  • “… allows users to save and categorize a personal collection of bookmarks and share them with others. Users may also take bookmarks saved by others and add them to their own collection, as well as subscribe to the lists of others” (Wikipedia)
social bookmarking systems
Social bookmarking systems
  • (late 2003)
  • Furl (rating and popularity)
  • Sync2It (tag clusters)
  • CiteULike (academic bookmarking)
  • Connotea (bibliographic entries with DOI)
  • Yahoo MyWeb (mid 2005) – moving to mainstream
  • Flickr (photos)

See Wikipedia entry for listing of approx. 40 social bookmarking tools and some reviews

social bookmarking functions
Social bookmarking functions
  • Personal topic/tag lists (folksonomies)
  • Private and public bookmarks
  • Rate bookmark (generic or against a topic)
  • Search all bookmarks, copy to personal list
  • Follow tags or people to find related bookmarks
  • Sort tags or bookmarks by popularity, avg rating etc.
  • Create groups, use to find relevant bookmarks
  • Mark for reading, mark as read
  • Save page (clipping)
  • Email a friend or group
user defined tags
User-defined tags
  • Each user defines their own tags
  • Duplication (even within one user)
  • Popularity
    • assumes consistency
  • Clusters
  • Networks of tags
    • my GIS = your Mapping
    • Assumptions of meaning
    • Potential for data mining(correlation of tags)

social bookmarking



social software








resource sharing

Social Bookmark


  • Anonymous users
  • Saves web pages (reliable?)
  • Search other people’s bookmarks (unless private)
  • Free addition of tags visible to all
  • Rating 1-5 (within topic)
  • Tags rated in order of popularity
  • Cool (>1), warm (>~3), hot (>~9 for popular topics)
  • No bibliographic functions

CiteULike is a free service to help academics to share, store, and organise the academic papers they are reading. When you see a paper on the web that interests you, you can click one button and have it added to your personal library. CiteULike automatically extracts the citation details, so there's no need to type them in yourself. It all works from within your web browser. There's no need to install any special software.

Because your library is stored on the server, you can access it from any computer. You can share your library with others, and find out who is reading the same papers as you. In turn, this can help you discover literature which is relevant to your field but you may not have known about.

  • Anonymous users, no way to contact
  • Depends on non-commercial service provider, free
  • Approx 25 academic sources (journals etc) from which publication details are extracted automatically
  • Mostly science (eg. AIPScitation) or generic (eg. Amazon)
  • Export EndNote or BibTex, import BibTex
  • No field for URL on manual entry
  • Typed records but no conditional data entry
citeulike social functions
CiteULike social functions
  • Free tagging, tags visible to all
  • Most popular tags list
  • Groups (~100, 0 – 31 members)
  • Link to papers
    • with same tag
    • by same author
    • tagged by particular user
    • tagged by members of group
  • Watchlists
  • Academic, science oriented
  • Depends on commercial service provider, free
  • Captures bibliographic info for pages on:
    • PubMed
    • PubMed Central
    • Supported Highwire Press publications
    • Amazon
    • HubMed
    • D-Lib Magazine
  • Support for DOIs, OpenURL resolver
  • Open Source (perl, MySQL)
  • Must have URL – no floating notes or referencing of printed materials
connotea social functions
Connotea – social functions
  • Personal tags (with annotation)
  • Related tags
  • Search across all users
  • Link to:
    • Users who tagged item
    • Items with same tag in other user’s space
  • Groups
  • Import Firefox bookmarks, RIS
  • Export RIS, RSS
tmbookmarker now
TMBookmarker - now
  • Built from scratch in T1000 (php, MySQL)
  • Flexibility to develop as required
  • Rapid display, simple interface
  • Use as browser startup page
  • Server based, accessible anywhere
  • Custom searches for frequently used resources
  • Bookmarks, personal notes (+ or – URL)
  • Bookmarklet, automatic DOI recognition
  • Personal and public notes, password reminder
  • Personal categories/keywords (controlled lists)
  • Find/copy bookmarks
tmbookmarker plans
TMBookmarker – plans
  • Open Source
  • Bibliographic info, import/export/format
  • Wiki and blogg functionality
  • Humanities-specific content
  • Identifiable users, interest groups
  • Rating and weighting
  • Data mine for related tags/records
  • Automatic watch lists, notification, recommendation
  • Data feeds (RSS), archive feeds, harvesting
  • Pre-defined query results in web pages
  • Model for overcoming the dangers and wasted effort associated with the current fragmentation of digital tools and resources
  • Promotes knowledge-sharing
  • Scaling
    • institutional level
    • community of practice
    • need to identify an appropriate scale