Omeka 0.10 Alpha Released

The Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has released Omeka 0.10 Alpha. Omeka is used to provide access to digital collections and exhibitions (see the About page).

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

In this version we’ve updated to a powerful new data model based on an unqualified Dubin Core standard. We’ve also improved the theme and plugin APIs to work with that data model and make it easier for plugin and theme creators to work with Omeka.

History 2.0: The History Engine Relaunches

Noted digital historian Edward L. Ayers, whose The Valley of the Shadow project has been very influential, became the President of the University of Richmond last July, and now the innovative History Engine project has moved with him from the Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia to Richmond's Digital Scholarship Lab.

Here's an excerpt from the "What is the History Engine?" page:

The History Engine project aims to enhance historical education and research for teachers, students, and scholars alike. The Engine allows undergraduate professors to introduce a more collaborative and creative approach to history into their classrooms, while maintaining rigorous academic standards. The core of the HE project is student-written episodes—individual snippets of daily life throughout American history from the broadest national event to the simplest local occurrence. Students construct these episodes from one or more primary sources found in university and local archives, using historical context gleaned from secondary sources to round out their analysis. Students then post their entries in our cumulative database, giving their classmates and fellow participants around the country the opportunity to read and engage with their work.

Read more about it at "The Little Engine That Can."

Kete 1.1 Released

Kete 1.1 has been released. Kete is a Ruby on Rails application. Source code can be obtained from the Downloads page.

Here'e an excerpt from the 9/1/08 ITSIG announcement:

Kete combines features from Knowledge and Content Management Systems as well as collaboration tools such as wikis, blogs, tags, and online forums to make it easy to add and relate content on a Kete site.

A more complete description can be found on Katipo’s Web site (Katipo provides fee-based support for Kete).

The Kete 1.1 Features and Bug Fixes page lists new features in this version.

ARL SPEC Kit: Social Software in Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries has published Social Software in Libraries, SPEC Kit 304. The table of contents and executive summary are freely available.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

This survey was distributed to the 123 ARL member libraries in February 2008. Sixty-four libraries completed the survey by the March 14 deadline for a response rate of 52%. All but three of the responding libraries report that their library staff uses social software (95%) and one of those three plans to begin using social software in the future.

Survey results indicate that the most broadly adopted social software—chat or instant messaging—was also the earliest implemented social software. While one respondent was using instant messaging for reference and another was using chat for internal communication as early as 1998, the earliest use of this type of social software dates back to 1993.

While chat and instant messaging have been in use for several years, use of other types of social software in libraries is very recent. Beyond isolated cases, a steadily increasing number of ARL member libraries began implementing social software in 2005, with the largest rate of adoption being in 2007.

OpenDOAR/Google Maps Mashup

OpenDOAR is mapping repository data using Google Maps.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

SHERPA is pleased to announce the addition of a Google Maps extension to OpenDOAR, its directory of open access repositories (http://www.opendoar.org/find). Just run any search of the directory, and then change the output format from "Summaries" to "Google Map".

Here are a few examples:

1. http://www.opendoar.org/find?format=gmap&cID=jp
—Repositories in Japan . . .

3. http://www.opendoar.org/find?format=gmap&cID=us&ctID=6
—United States repositories holding theses & dissertations

4. http://www.opendoar.org/find?format=gmap&search=Nottingham
—Keyword search for "Nottingham"

5. http://www.opendoar.org/find?format=gmap&rSoftWareName=
CONTENTdm

—Repositories using CONTENTdm software

Tools Allow Users to Create Automatically Updated Lists from Research Papers in Economics Database

Research Papers in Economics (RePEc) offers two tools that allow users to create lists from its database: (1) a reading list tool (e.g., Socio-Economics of Fisheries and Aquaculture), and (2) a customized publication compilations tool (e.g., University of Connecticut Economics PhD Alumni). Reading lists are automatically updated each week; publication compilations are automatically updated each month.

Read more about it at "Using RePEc for Syllabi, Bibliographies and Publication Lists."

Research Study: How Is Web 2.0 Viewed by Academics?

The Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery's Pre-Raphaelite digitization project has released a study (Pre-Raphaelite Resource Project: Audience Research Report) about the perceptions of academics of the usefulness of Web 2.0 capabilities.

Here's an excerpt from the "Executive Summary":

Our research indicated that there is some readiness among the education community for Web 2.0 technologies but only in the context of academia as a status-conscious, competitive environment. Whilst there are clear benefits to be achieved from providing teachers and students with the opportunity to share ideas in the context of stimulus artefacts, many hold reservations about 'giving away' their intellectual property. Providing different levels of publishing privileges will help cater for the varying acceptance within the audience base for sharing their ideas publicly.

Social networking features are perceived by both HE students and lecturers as primarily for pleasure rather than for work so must be used sparingly in a resource of this nature. For younger students, however, the boundaries between work and life are increasingly blurred and the ability to contact experts and to personalise or control the space would be welcomed.

Care must be taken with positioning for the resource to be truly useful as a research tool; students and lecturers need to know that it has been created for them and has scholarly merit. Their main concern is to access reliable, relevant content and information, but the ability to form connections between these resources is one way of adding value to the collection.

Omeka Version 0.9.2 Released

Version 0.9.2 of Omeka has been released. This is a bug fix release.

Here's an excerpt from the About page that describes Omeka:

Omeka is a web platform for publishing collections and exhibitions online. Designed for cultural institutions, enthusiasts, and educators, Omeka is easy to install and modify and facilitates community-building around collections and exhibits. It is designed with non-IT specialists in mind, allowing users to focus on content rather than programming.

Oil, ALA, and Digital Communities

I follow the energy markets closely, and recently there have been predictions of $250 a barrel oil in 2009 and $400 a barrel oil in 2018.

What does this have to do with ALA? Nothing, if ALA functioned effectively as a virtual organization that wasn't dependent on physical travel. Everything, if it is not.

Already we see airlines consolidating, cutting routes, and raising ticket and auxiliary prices. That's with oil at about $136 a barrel. Imagine if it were $250 a barrel or $400 a barrel. Impossible? Unlikely? Maybe, but in early 2007 it was $60 a barrel, and predictions of $100 a barrel met with incredulity.

We can hope that oil prices stabilize or decline, but it may be prudent to plan for what to do if they do not.

Would ALA function well if its committee members were increasingly unable to attend meetings? Would the organization's current awareness and personal networking functions that physical conferences support work if general members were increasingly unable to attend them?

Ask yourself this: If you never attended ALA conferences, how would the organization look to you? Would you feel that you could meaningfully participate in it? Would you feel that it had added value as an important source of current information, personal networking, and professional development?

Perhaps. In recent years, ALA has make progress in creating a more useful digital presence with efforts like virtual committee members, blogs, wikis, and other tools. This is commendable progress; however, much remains to be done. Do virtual committee members interact with physical committee members in real-time meetings? Is there meaningful non-conference committee digital interaction? Are conference presentations and committee meeting sessions available to ALA members in MP3 and digital video formats? Are blogs open to all potential member authors through self-initiated registration procedures? Are wikis dynamic information exchange mechanisms or primarily dull descriptive tools for disseminating information about ALA and its divisions? Is social network software provided to connect members with each other, committee members, and ALA officers? Is there is a true sense of a vibrant digital community?

Although its not perfect, the EDUCAUSE CONNECT community points in the direction of what could be.

Of course, energy markets are volatile, prices could drop, and all could be well for a while, but there is little to suggest at the current time that the long-term prospects for cheap energy are good. Thinking the unthinkable about reinventing ALA as a digital community might not be a bad idea as a contingency plan, and it might not be a bad idea in any case.

Encyclopaedia Britannica to Accept Online Contributions from Scholars and Readers

The Encyclopaedia Britannica has announced that it will allow online contributions from scholars and readers. All contributions will be vetted before becoming public.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

The Britannica Online site will become the hub of a new online community that will welcome and engage thousands of scholars and experts with whom we already have relationships. . . .

To elicit their participation in our new online community of scholars, we will provide our contributors with a reward system and a rich online home that will enable them to promote themselves, their work, and their services; allow them to showcase and publish their various works-in-progress in front of the Britannica audience; and help them find and interact with colleagues around the world. In this way our online community of scholars not only will be able to interact with our editors and content in a more effective manner; they will also be able to share directly with Britannica’s visitors content that they may have created outside Encyclopaedia Britannica and will allow those visitors to suggest changes and additions to that content. . . .

Readers and users will also be invited into an online community where they can work and publish at Britannica’s site under their own names. Interested users will be able to prepare articles, essays, and multimedia presentations on subjects in which they’re interested. Britannica will help them with research and publishing tools and by allowing them to easily use text and non-text material from Encyclopaedia Britannica in their work. We will publish the final products on our site for the benefit of all readers, with all due attribution and credit to the people who created them. The authors will have the option of collaborating with others on their work, but each author will retain control of his or her own work. . . .

Two things we believe distinguish this effort from other projects of online collaboration are (1) the active involvement of the expert contributors with whom we already have relationships; and (2) the fact that all contributions to Encyclopaedia Britannica’s core content will continue to be checked and vetted by our expert editorial staff before they’re published.

Read more about it at "Encyclopaedia Britannica Goes—Gasp!—Wiki."

Open Access Directory, a Factual Wiki, Launched

The Open Access Directory, a Wiki for factual information (vs. narrative descriptions) about the open access movement has been launched.

Here's the press release:

Peter Suber and Robin Peek have launched the Open Access Directory (OAD), a wiki where the open access community can create and maintain simple factual lists about open access to science and scholarship. Suber, a Research Professor of Philosophy at Earlham College, and Peek, an Associate Professor of Library and Information Science at Simmons College, conceived the project in order to collect OA-related lists for one-stop reference and searching.

The wiki will start operating with about half a dozen lists—for example, conferences devoted to open access, discussion forums devoted to open access, and journal "declarations of independence"—and add more over time.

The goal is to harness the knowledge and energy of the open access community itself to enlarge and correct the lists. A list on a wiki, revised continuously by its users, can be more comprehensive and up to date than the same list maintained by an individual. By bringing many OA-related lists together in one place, OAD will make it easier for users, especially newcomers, to discover them and use them for reference. The easier they are to maintain and discover, the more effectively they can spread useful, accurate information about open access.

The URL for the Open Access Directory is oad.simmons.edu.

The wiki is represented by an editorial board consisting of prominent figures in the open access movement. The Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at Simmons College hosts and provides technical support to the OAD.

Editors and administrators

Robin Peek. Editor, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Simmons College
Athanasia Pontika. Assistant Editor, Doctoral Student, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Simmons College
Terry Plum. Technical Coordinator, Assistant Dean for Technology and Director, Simmons College

Editorial board members

Charles Bailey. Publisher, Digital Scholarship
Leslie Chan. Program Supervisor for New Media Studies, University of Toronto Scarborough
Heather Joseph. Executive Director, Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)
Melissa Hagemann. Open Society Institute
Peter Suber. Research Professor of Philosophy at Earlham College, Visiting Fellow at Yale Law School, and Senior Researcher at SPARC
Alma Swan. Key Perspectives Ltd
John Wilbanks. Vice President, Creative Commons

Read more about it at "Launch of the Open Access Directory."

E-Book Readers to Go: NCSU Libraries to Check Out Kindles and Sony Readers

Starting next week, the North Carolina State University Libraries will check out Kindles and Sony Reader Digital Books from its Learning Commons. Users will ask library staff to load desired e-books on the readers at check-out.

Read more about it at "Library to Offer New Reading Options."

Another interesting development is that the NCSU Libraries are supporting both Weblog (WolfBlogs) and Wiki (WolfWikis) services for NCSU community members.

Digital Library Federation and 10 Vendors/Developers Reach Accord about ILS Basic Discovery Interfaces

Ten vendors and application developers have agreed to support standard ILS interfaces that will permit integration and interoperability with emerging discovery services. These interfaces will be developed by the Digital Library Federation's ILS-Discovery Interface Committee. The participants are AquaBrowser, BiblioCommons, California Digital Library, Ex Libris, LibLime, OCLC, Polaris Library Systems, SirsiDynix, Talis, and VTLS.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

On March 6, representatives of the Digital Library Federation (DLF), academic libraries, and major library application vendors met in Berkeley, California to discuss a draft recommendation from the DLF for standard interfaces for integrating the data and services of the Integrated Library System (ILS) with new applications supporting user discovery. Such standard interfaces will allow libraries to deploy new discovery services to meet ever-growing user expectations in the Web 2.0 era, take full advantage of advanced ILS data management and services, and encourage a strong, innovative community and marketplace in next-generation library management and discovery applications.

At the meeting, participants agreed to support a set of essential functions through open protocols and technologies by deploying specific recommended standards.

These functions are:

  1. Harvesting. Functions to harvest data records for library collections, both in full, and incrementally based on recent changes. Harvesting options could include either the core bibliographic records, or those records combined with supplementary information (such as holdings or summary circulation data). Both full and differential harvesting options are expected to be supported through an OAI-PMH interface.
  2. Availability. Real-time querying of the availability of a bibliographic (or circulating) item. This functionality will be implemented through a simple REST interface to be specified by the ILS-DI task group.
  3. Linking. Linking in a stable manner to any item in an OPAC in a way that allows services to be invoked on it; for example, by a stable link to a page displaying the item's catalog record and providing links for requests for that item. This functionality will be implemented through a URL template defined for the OPAC as specified by the ILS-DI task group.

Project Reports from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's 2008 Research in Information Technology Retreat

Project reports from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's 2008 Research in Information Technology retreat are now available.

Here are selected project briefing reports:

National Science Digital Library NCore Team Releases NSDL Search, MediaWiki Extensions, and WordPress MU Plug-Ins

The National Science Digital Library NCore team has released three applications:

Open Source Multimedia Document Creation and Reading Tool: Sophie Version 1.0 Released

The Institute for the Future of the Book has released version 1.0 of Sophie, an open source tool for creating and reading multimedia networked documents.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

Sophie is software for writing and reading rich media documents in a networked environment.

Sophie’s goal is to open up the world of multimedia authoring to a wide range of people and institutions and in so doing to redefine the notion of a book or "academic paper" to include both rich media and mechanisms for reader feedback and conversation in dynamic margins.

Read more about Sophie at "Sophie Project Gets $1 Million from Macarthur Foundation," the Sophie documentation, and the Sophie tutorials.

NYU Libraries and Institute for the Future of the Book Partner to Develop New Digital Scholarly Communication Tools

The New York University Division of Libraries and the Institute for the Future of the Book will work together to develop new digital scholarly communications tools.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

"We are constantly watching the unfolding digital landscape for new paths we might want to take," said Carol A. Mandel, dean of the NYU Libraries. "IFB is a thought leader in the future of scholarly communication. We will work together to develop new software and new options that faculty can use to pubish, review, share, and collaborate at NYU and in the larger academic community."

For the past three years, IFB has been researching, prototyping, and sketching out models for how university presses could expand their publishing programs to include digital and networked formats. IFB is best known for its series of "networked book" experiments, which modify popular blogging technologies to create social book formats for the Web. Among these are: "Without Gods" by NYU’s Mitchell Stephens, "The Googlization of Everything" by Siva Vaidhyanathan, "Gamer Theory" by McKenzie Wark (the first fully networked digital monograph), and "Expressive Processing" by Noah Wardrip-Fruin, which is currently undergoing the first blog-based peer review.

Out of these projects, IFB developed CommentPress, an extension for the WordPress blog platform that enables paragraph-level commenting in the margins of a text. IFB is also at work on a powerful open source digital authoring environment called Sophie, the first version of which has just been released.

"We are thrilled to be working with NYU," said IFB Director Bob Stein. "We now have the benefit not only of the Libraries’ first-rate technical support, but also of working with world-class faculty, many of whom are leading innovators in digital scholarly communications."

In an auspicious start to their partnership, NYU Libraries and IFB have been awarded a start-up grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to design a set of networking tools that will serve as the membership system for MediaCommons, an all-electronic scholarly publishing network in the digital humanities that IFB has been instrumental in developing.

Under the agreement, three of IFB’s leaders will serve as visiting scholars at NYU. They are Bob Stein; Ben Vershbow, IFB editorial director; and researcher Dan Visel. They will work with NYU librarians; with the digital library team, headed by James Bullen; and with Monica McCormick, the Libraries’ program officer for digital scholarly publishing.

Read more about it at "Major News: IFB and NYU Libraries to Collaborate."

NEH Awards $474,474 in Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded $474,474 to Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants recipients.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

Note: The We the People program encourages and strengthens the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture. Grants bearing this designation have been recognized for advancing the goals of this program.

ALASKA

Fairbanks

University of Alaska, Fairbanks $50,000
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Siri Tuttle
We the People Project Title: Minto Songs Project Description: The collection, digitization, organization, and archival storage, as well as dissemination among the Minto Athabascan community, of recorded performances of Alaskan Athabascan songs.

ARIZONA

Tucson

University of Arizona $25,000
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Douglas Gann
Project Title: Virtual Vault
Project Description: Electronic access to the world's largest collection of whole pottery vessels from the American Southwest through digital renderings of Arizona State University's Pottery Vault and relevant prehistoric archaeological sites as well as interviews with anthropologists, conservators, and Native American potters.

ILLINOIS

Lake Forest

Lake Forest College $25,000
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Davis Schneiderman
We the People Project Title: Virtual Burnham Initiative
Project Description: The development of the Virtual Burnham Initiative (VBI), a multimedia project that would examine the history and legacy of Daniel H. Burnham's and Edward H. Bennett's Plan of Chicago (1909).

MARYLAND

College Park

University of Maryland, College Park $11,708
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Matthew Kirschenbaum
Project Title: Approaches to Managing and Collecting Born-Digital Literary Materials for Scholarly Use
Project Description: A series of planning meetings and site visits aimed at developing archival tools and best practices for preserving born-digital documents produced by contemporary authors.

MASSACHUSETTS

Boston

University of Massachusetts, Boston $24,748
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Joanne Riley
We the People Project Title: Online Social Networking for the Humanities: the Massachusetts Studies Network Prototype
Project Description: The development and evaluation of a social networking platform for the members of the statewide Massachusetts Studies Project.

Norton

Wheaton College $41,950
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Mark LeBlanc
Project Title: Pattern Recognition through Computational Stylistics: Old English and Beyond
Project Description: Development of a prototypical suite of computational tools and statistical analyses to explore the corpus of Old English literature using the genomic approach of tracing information-rich patterns of letters as well as that of literary analysis and interpretation.

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi State

Mississippi State University $50,000
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Paul Jacobs
Project Title: Distributed Archives Transaction System
Project Description: Development of open source web tools for accessing online digitized collections in the humanities via a system that communicates with multiple database types while protecting the integrity of the original data sets.

NEW YORK

Brooklyn

Unaffiliated Independent Scholar $23,750
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Daniel Visel
Project Title: Sophie Search Gateway
Project Description: The development of an interoperable portal within the Web authoring program, "Sophie," for locating and incorporating multi-media sources from the Internet Archive.

Hempstead

Hofstra University $23,591
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: John Bryant
We the People Project Title: Melville, Revision, and Collaborative Editing: Toward a Critical Archive
Project Description: The development of the TextLab scholarly editing tool to allow for analysis of texts that exist in multiple versions or editions, beginning with the Melville Electronic Library.

New York City

New York University $49,657
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Brian Hoffman
Project Title: MediaCommons: Social Networking Tools for Digital Scholarly Communication
Project Description: Development of a set of networking software tools to support a "peer-to-peer" review structure for MediaCommons, a scholarly publishing network in the digital humanities.

RHODE ISLAND

Providence

Brown University $49,992
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Julia Flanders
Project Title: Encoding Names for Contextual Exploration in Digital Thematic Research Collections
Project Description: The advancement of humanities text encoding and research by refining and expanding the automated representation of personal names and their contexts.

TEXAS

Austin

University of Texas, Austin $49,251
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Samuel Baker
Project Title: The eCommentary Machine Project
Project Description: Development of a web-based collaborative commentary and annotation tool.

VIRGINIA

Charlottesville

University of Virginia $49,827
Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
Project Director: Scot French
We the People Project Title: Jefferson's Travels: A Digital Journey Using the HistoryBrowser
Project Description: Development of an interactive web-based tool to integrate primary documents, dynamic maps, and related information in the study of history, with the prototype to be focused on Thomas Jefferson's trip to England in 1786.

Scriblio Final Report: Open Source WordPress-Based Online Catalog and CMS

The Scriblio project, which was partially funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has issued "Scriblio MATC Project Final Report." Scriblio is an open source, WordPress-based online catalog and content management system.

Here's an excerpt from the report:

Open source software may be good for the community, but it succeeds because it solves problems for those who use it. For Plymouth, this is an easy question: compared to commercial offerings now available, Scriblio can be said to have saved the University hundreds of thousands of dollars in acquisition, license and support costs. Further, the staff time necessary to develop and support Scriblio for Plymouth’s use is similar to that necessary to support those commercial alternatives. Because ongoing development is limited to the library-specific features not provided by WordPress, the investment required to maintain the software is expected to remain low and Plymouth is likely to continue using and supporting Scriblio as long as it continues to deliver value and solve problems. . . .

Some features, such as development of a hosted solution based on WordPress MU suitable for representing consortia, OAI input and output (including eXtensible Catalog project-specific OAI features), support for additional ILSs, and OpenSearch (and Z39.50) input and output are outside the strict scope of Plymouth’s needs, but would greatly aid adoption of the software and build the community. Softer features, such as the development of reusable sample content and more discussion of best practices in online library services, would also greatly aid the project. Because a rich and active Scriblio community will lower the development costs for all participants, Plymouth is seeking opportunities to begin development on those features and expand the community.

Omeka 0.9.0 Released: Software for Digital Collections and Exhibits

Version 0.9.0 of Omeka has been released.

Here's an excerpt from the About page that describes Omeka:

Omeka is a web platform for publishing collections and exhibitions online. Designed for cultural institutions, enthusiasts, and educators, Omeka is easy to install and modify and facilitates community-building around collections and exhibits. It is designed with non-IT specialists in mind, allowing users to focus on content rather than programming.

Omeka will come loaded with the following features:

  • Dublin Core metadata structure and standards-based design that is fully accessible and interoperable
  • Professional-looking exhibit sites that showcase collections without hiring outside designers
  • Theme-switching for changing the look and feel of an exhibit in a few clicks
  • Plug-ins for geolocation, bi-lingual sites, and a host of other possibilities
  • Web 2.0 Technologies, including:
    • Tagging: Allow users to add keywords to items in a collection or exhibit
    • Blogging: Keep in touch with users through timely postings about collections and events
    • Syndicating: Update your users about your content with RSS feeds

Read more about it at "Introducing Omeka" and "New Tool for Online Collections."

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