A tag-based indexer for items in D(elicious)Space?


cloudythinking, originally uploaded by zanzo.

I mentioned in my previous post that Julià Minguillón and I have been throwing around Mike Caulfield’s suggestion that we think about how we might exploit a third party system with a good API such as Delicious.

For a while, I was just thinking it might be used as a social adjunct to the main search indexing, something like the Social Search view on the MACE Portal. But Julià seems prepared to push the idea much further. The following text is his:

We would like to use DSPACE just for storing content, not for browsing or searching. Each piece of content receives a permanent URL that will be used for retrieving it. Let’s suppose we set up a Delicious account which is going to be primarily managed by the “repository gardener.” Every time we add a new resource to the repository in DSPACE we bookmark the URL provided by DSPACE using Delicious and we add all tags there, we do not add tags as metadata fields in DSPACE.

The tags added to the Delicious entry for every piece of content would ideally be a mixture of basic tags, keywords, etc. but it would be interesting to add some tags like “dc.title=”, etc., following the Dublin Core metadata scheme (or in fact, any other scheme such as LOM, or even a mixture of both).

It would be great to use the delicious API to simplify the process of adding such tags, especially those related to metadata fields. Then, once the gardener determines that the tags for one item are complete, he or she could tag it as “validated” or whatever in order to allow another process to retrieve such validated resources from Delicious and automatically import metadata into DSPACE using its API.

In fact, such objects could be automatically tracked using RSS so future changes or updates can be imported into DSPACE easily (mainly new metadata) as long as the gardener “approves” such changes. The basic idea of this thing is to take advantage of all social and web 2.0 tools for building tag clouds, searching (i.e. Director), etc., allowing users to “use” DSPACE within their blogs, learning spaces, etc. without using DSPACE.

There are a number of reasons this approach appeals to me:

* It builds on a fairly intuitive and user-friendly system, one with a sizable user base, with a well-established API. There are a ton of third-party mash-ups already built, and I would expect that further custom development and interfaces would be relatively easy. Delicious also has fantastic RSS support for accounts, tags, and (as I just discovered) individual URLs on the web that have been bookmarked.

* It builds on a system that is already widely used. People could interact with the system externally via their own accounts via features such as the network, subscriptions, and inbox, or simply suggesting items by using a tag.

* It can incorporate resources from outside the repository into the browser. It also brings the resources from the repository into the wider web ecosystem. Students would be able to access the resources after they’ve graduated from the course.

I do have a few more questions that linger…

* Are their risks I am not accounting for? I suppose there is the standard risk of using a third-party system, but the workflow model Julià proposes would allow for the importing of keywords into the DSpace repository. And it is fairly easy to get data out of Delicious. But maybe an open source Delicious clone such as Scuttle would be better?

* I have not done an exhaustive check of alternatives to Delicious that might offer features that could be useful.

* Does anyone have favorite sites or clients for tag management and visualizations? We would be especially interested in how to connect concepts. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to work this thing. But it looks very close to what we need.

Oh yes, I can’t seem to load my bookmarks and tags into the Director Interface either. I go through the steps, and it says it will not recognise my account, that it is “Unable to load [my] bookmarks!”

Any other thoughts or suggestions are welcome!

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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