28 Ianuarii 2007

SIMILE

(Richard Rodgers)

What it’s about
- Problem is “heterogeneous metadata.” We’re stuck with DC, MODS, MARC, etc. etc. SIMILE recognizes that any single metadata scheme selected won’t be selected by the whole world, and won’t be what future collections use anyway. On the one hand, you can lose semantics; on the other, you can be too unique to create interoperable query and discovery systems (hello, MARC).
- RDF and other data technologies, aimed at semantic data interoperability. Can it solve the heterogeneous metadata problem?
- Data as graph, not table or tree. (RDF, not RDBMS or XML.)
- “appease the demo gods” — don’t bother, they always frown

Tools
- Tempting to just put a triple-store in DSpace; SIMILE project predicated on this not necessarily happening, built tools to cope with lots of problems.
- “RDFizer” tools convert metadata into RDF (MARC, EXIF, email headers, etc., new ones coming constantly)
- visualization tools
- “Gadget” (XML viewer based on XPath, sounds like Panorama Pro back in the day), “Welkin” (similar, for RDF)
- Browse tools (e.g. “Piggy Bank,” scrapes and RDFizes websites)
- Data comes in many forms; the idea is to create tools that “just work” with all of it.

Longwell
- faceted browser, webapp, N3 store underneath

metasearch tool demo
- interface very cluttered to my mind; salient information does not jump out
- interesting as a metasearch tool, but needs serious usability attention
- promising, but impractical as it stands; I would never give this to an undergraduate, and I’d be hesitant even to show it to faculty. It’s just not clear enough what you’re looking at.

“Timeline” tool demo
- events plotted by timeline
- embedded descriptions and linkouts
- pretty nice!

DWell
- facet-limiting for DSpace searches
- UI too cluttered, again, but I like the occurrence tallies
- good for smoking out metadata errors
- combo box for choosing columns MUCH too full

Data flow
- can RDFize content, or have DSpace expose RDF via OAI
- can dump the RDF in any old way from any old platform

Q: what about data provenance? does the tool show it?
A: you can make it do that.

(I was left rather cold by this presentation, and I hope I can constructively express why. Fantastic intelligence has gone into this work, no question—but nothing useful in adminspace or userspace has come out, is the problem. Arguably, the SIMILE project’s PiggyBank was Zotero before Zotero was Zotero, but the SIMILE project couldn’t or didn’t make the additional leap to “here’s a real problem that real people have that this work can solve.” And the remaining SIMILE projects follow the same pattern. Neat ideas, but horrendous UI when they’ve any UI at all, and no thought for how they fit into the world. Research programming par excellence.)