Sunday, 8 June 2008

JISC CRIG / IEDemonstrator BarCamp - Controlled Vocabs

Beautiful Sunny morning here in Sheffield, and all seems well with the world. It's taken me a day to recover from the traveling (mostly) but now I'm feeling vaguely human again, it's time to write about bits of the CRIG / IEDemonstrator day.

Controlled Vocabularies / Terminology Services

Had a great discussion about this with the Names, HILT and the STAR project. Everyone showed a sample of what kind of vocab service they are working with, and the pattern of a pretty web app fronting a web-service back-end was pretty much the defacto. K-Int's interest really centers around the work we are doing with Vocman in the learning sector (See screen-shot). Although the lexaurus suite isn't tied to any particular metadata scheme or representation we have worked almost exclusively with ZThes to date. After talking with these projects it seems critical that we write the SKOS adapters sooner rather than later for import and export, so thats something I'm going to push for ASAP in the vocman development plan. Hopefully, that will add another SRU searchable terminology service to the IE.

Our small prototyping group was tasked with working out how vocabulary services could be used WRT repositories. We talked around many use cases, from improved metadata creation and validation on submission (This works great for both subject headings and the name authority services like NAMES) and also improved precision for searchers, and better current awareness and dissemination services, by allowing subscribers to follow a single controlled term and have that term translated into whatever subject scheme is in use at a given repo. The issue here is that without the initial effort of improved metadata (Keeping in mind Pauls closing comment about lets not get too hung up on the metadata) we decided to focus on ways of improving the metadata of items attached to deposited artifacts.

One of our group (I'm really sorry, memory has failed me, but please comment if it was you), discussed ways they have managed to put an external metadata editing page behind a repository submission page, through use of proxies. Thus, the repository is kept un-polluted by the metadata editing app, but the presentation of a form is transparent to the depositor. So our final paper prototype extended the deposit service by adding a response parameter of the URL at which the metadata for an item could be edited. This editing environment would be pre-configured to use external vocabulary services and assist the user in selecting such terms. The tool could them post back the metadata using some repository specific adapter. For example, adding a Datastream to a fedora object using the rest service, or some other system, for example, auto publishing into an indexing service such as Zebra.

One interesting side note is that we ran into the old content dis-aggregation ussues again a little when talking about how we can improve the metadata attached to a packaged item.

At k-int we've long since discussed the need to take the Tagging Tool and turn it into a web application for editing metadata records using controlled vocab sources and then publishing those records using a pluggable system of adapters. The Controlled Vocab conversations have made me look at this in a new light, and I think its about time we got to hacking something out. One for next weekend perhaps!


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