My network kicks ass …DSpace social layer update

Kicking ass chart, Emerging Tech 2008, San Diego, CA.JPG, originally uploaded by gruntzooki.

I posted some early work that I have been doing with Julià Minguillón and his team here at the UOC on trying to make the act of searching statistics resources in DSpace in itself a learning experience. I am hoping to get an update on our thinking up later this morning, but before I do so I would be remiss if I didn’t review some of the responses to that post:

* Both Julià and I have been reading Stephen Downes’s monster paper The Future of Online Learning: Ten Years On, which we agree puts forward a great deal material of relevance to the project. So it was a kick when Stephen noted on OLDaily that “what we need for such a system to work is a social layer that exists outside walled-garden websites like Facebook and LinkedIn – a social network without the social network website. Enabled by something simple, like OpenDD.”

* Tannis Morgan (whose attempts to use OER’s to teach herself statistics is itself a crazy bit of serendipity) points to the Visual Understanding Environment, which looks like it may be very useful to the project – as one of the things we have been discussing is a resource browser that is structured something like the Visual Thesaurus. Awesome!

* Doug Symington makes an observation we have been repeating throughout the process of planning: ‘”Rules of engagement” especially in terms of tagging, or “meta-tagging” may help with the delineation of content along lines that make sense to users, and provide for the evolution of the content, as well as the exercise of tagging itself. The secret comes in providing direction without being so prescriptive that one undercuts creativity in the use (and tagging) of resources.’

* When someone like Erik Duval comes forward and says he and his team are “happy to help” on a project like this… well, that pretty much justifies the effort of the initial post in itself. And you can bet we will be following up on that offer. Anyone who thinks that an online resource collection cannot be an engaging and aesthetically pleasing experience should check out the amazing interfaces on the MACE Portal. Stunning work.

* Mike Caulfield offers up a number of interesting observations on the notion of studying illicit learning environments… and he got me thinking a lot harder how the APIs of external services such as Delicious or Twitter (or Wikipedia) might be exploited… and the Ning source code may well be worth a look (hard to argue with their adoption rate).

* Paul Joseph, someone I’ve owed a beer for months, will definitely get another one when I get back to Van Rock City for pointing us to the VRE Community work, which points to encouraging signs of collaborations between DSpace and Fedora. (And this is doubly exciting, judging from some of the rumours I hear about impending enhancements to the already-amazing Fedora-based Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes.)

* And Scott Leslie (oh my, I still haven’t blogged his amazing and relevant work with Free Learning – BAD, ABJECT, BAD BAD!!!) points to this interesting presentation by Les Carr (new blog to me, subscribed). Oh yes, “embed codes” and “widgets” may well help the content to flow. And as Scott adds, “Dspace has a lot going for it in facilitating the conventional institutional/library/archive concerns; its lack (and to be fair, the lack of ALL repositories) has always been in how it facilitates the USERS’ concerns around sharing and reuse.”

I often have people tell me that they would like to blog, but they do not have the time. And I understand that problem. It was a challenge for me to find the time to write the post that stimulated all this feedback. But, I wonder, how much work would it have been for me to gather such amazing input from such an accomplished range of contributors? How many dollars would it cost in terms of consulting fees or convening a think tank? And how much time would it take for me to learn all this researching on my own? (Assuming of course, that I would find it at all?)

When Julià outlined this project for me, I felt I had to be honest. I have not been keeping up with developments in the world of resource repositories. My basic inclinations have led me ever deeper into the world of fast, cheap and out of control. But, I added, I had a network that kicked serious ass, and I was pretty sure they would come through with some interesting ideas.

Thanks to all of you for more than justifying that faith in the network.

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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3 Responses to My network kicks ass …DSpace social layer update

  1. Jason Priem says:

    I missed your earlier post, so this is the first I’ve heard of this effort, and I have to say it sounds awesome. I particularly like the idea of a visual navigation system.

    Visualization is well suited for a problem like this, where you’re trying to organize and make sense of a large and diverse set of data. There’s been a lot of exciting work done in visualization of social networks lately, and I think it’s a really exciting area.

    Heck, I just myself finished a tool that does something similar: an interactive tagcloud that tries to make sense conversation withing the edu-blogosphere (or the most popular part of it, anyway).

    You might find that interactive text-mining of this sort would be useful in what you’re trying to do.

    Best of luck, and let me know if I can help.

  2. Scott Leslie says:

    This last point came up time and time again in our recent PLE workshop – “how do you find the time?” But just as you point out the alternative, my response is always “it’s not ‘extra’ time – it’s your job, find a way to open up your job so that cultivating your network becomes a natural part of how you work. I will definitely be using this as yet another example to illustrate this in upcoming talks on PLEs and networked learning.

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