Archive for May, 2007


Friday, May 25th, 2007 by Merrilee

As you may know, RLG Programs lives in the Silicon Valley. So we have neighbors like Google. We recently met the new kid on the block, LinkedIn, who just moved upstairs. I signed up, following an invitation from my brother in law — and immediately felt so insecure! I had only one connection! Fortunately, I was able to link to some friends and OCLC colleagues, but I still have a relatively slim number of connections.

The interesting thing is, this is supposed to be a networking site (as in job hunting). But many people who are not currently on the job market have tons of connections. My brother in law has 83 connections. Eric Childress has 69 connections. One of the speakers at our annual meeting, Dylan Tweney has a whopping 408 connections! Connecting with these individuals has made my expanded network huge, and it can be pretty addictive to see which relatively well known people I am “related” to. Gary Price? Three degrees of separation. Lorcan Dempsey? Only two degrees away!

Creating relationships this way, the hard way, got me thinking. It would be great if I could turn to my mail client and ask it to give me a prioritized list of all my important connections — the people I’m in touch with the most, and the people who are in touch with me the most. Maybe some piece of social networking software could suggest which people I’m not in touch with that I should be. (My thinking on this was somewhat inspired by this CNI Podcast with Marc Smith, from Microsoft Research.) When looking at the connections on LinkedIn, I’d like to see what the direction of the link was. Was Eric building his network, or did lots of people want to have Eric in their network?
Relationships like this also exist in our collections. Sometimes these are explicitly expressed (lists of correspondents in archival finding aids, names in subject headings in catalogs, in back-of-book indexes, tables of contents, etc.). Sometimes these relationships need to be mined out of unstructured text. In either case, I see WorldCat Identities as a great tie in for this type of activity. Once you identify that there is a someone associated with the thoughts and ideas of another someone, you need a way to explicitly nail down which someones you are talking about, and then a place to explore the relationships dynamically.

If you are playing around with LinkedIn, invite me to join your circle!

Upcoming RLG Programs events

Thursday, May 24th, 2007 by Merrilee

Just in case these have slipped by you…

On June 4th and 5th, we’ll be holding the RLG Programs Annual Meeting. This is your chance to hear about the RLG Programs work agenda, and rub shoulders with RLG Programs staff — some of our OCLC Research colleagues will be on hand as well. Can’t come? We’ll be posting the audio and visuals for presentations on the website, so you can attend virtually (albeit in a time-delayed fashion).
Register here
Read about our Work Agenda here [pdf], and our framing Information Context here [pdf].

Can’t get enough of our Discovery to Delivery activities? Missed the last event and want to catch up on the conversation? We’re holding a discussion group at ALA in Washington, D.C. (Saturday, June 23rd, 1:30-3:30, Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, Columbia B Room). We have two discussion areas.

The first part of the discussion will focus on network level tools and services, and we’ll be looking at WorldCat Local as an example of that. This will also give us an opportunity to share results from user studies done at the University of Washington, which should be of broad interest.

The second part of the conversation will be on progress made with the Registry of Copyright evidence, a small but important network level tool which can be useful in developing delivery services for digitized content.

We hope you will join us. Please register at

Finally, our upcoming forum, “Digitization Matters,” is now open for registration. Scheduled for August 29th in association with the Society of American Archivists annual meeting in Chicago, this one-day event is shaped to push the envelope on increasing the scale of digitization of special collections. The agenda has more information:

This event is co-sponsored by RLG Programs, the Society of American Archivists, and the Newberry Library. The forum is open to all participants, and is free for RLG Program Partners.

Books are objects too

Sunday, May 20th, 2007 by Jim

Lorcan recently brought my attention to a conference where he will be speaking. It’s the mid-term meeting of LIBER where they will have a think tank on the future value of the book as artefact and the future value of digital documentary heritage at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm 24-25 May 2007. I’m sure he’ll share some interesting thoughts when he returns (more likely, before he returns).

The topic sent me back to one of his recent posts that focused on books as technology and to thinking about a recent RLG Partner visit to UCLA about which Merrilee posted not long ago.

During that day at UCLA a special and unexpected treat was an invitation from Victoria Steele, a long-time professional friend and the head of special collections, to join an evening event she had organized for friends where she would be offering an intimate, organized tromp through the treasures. Vicki was passionate, the group was very interested and the treasures were a great pleasure to see close up.

Part of her traverse included the following items:

Euclid - Ratdolt
Euclid, Erhard Ratdolt, Joannes Campanus, and Adelard. 1482. Elementa artis geometriae: [translated by Joh. Adelhardus Bathoniensis; edited by Joh. Campanus; with dedicatory letter by Ratdolt]. Venice: Erhard Ratdolt. [big image]

Byrne, Oliver, and Bruce Rogers. 1847. The first six books of the elements of Euclid, in which coloured diagrams and symbols are used instead of letters for the greater ease of learners. London: William Pickering. [big image]

Euclid Valery

Euclid, Paul Valéry, and Bruce Rogers. 1944. Elements of geometry. New York: Random House.

Hofstra, Sjoerd. 1994. Elements of geometry by Euclid. Amsterdam: ZET [big image]

The first and earliest book relocated the content on the page to provide a wide margin in which to present the diagrams that illustrated the text. The second nearly eliminated the text – the content instead delivered by richly colored diagrams that reminded us more of Mondrian than mathematics. The third (for which I was unable to find an image) delivered its content via beautiful italic along with diagrams in colored panels overlaid by the presence of Valéry’s essay and commentary. The final volume by a Swedish book artist transformed Euclid’s original two-dimensional drawings of geometric shapes into three-dimensional models that spring from the flat pages of grayed-out, abstracted text as pop-ups.

These four dramatically different versions of Euclid’s ‘text’ represented to me an increasing innovation in presentation within the broad parameters of the book technology but possible largely because the book was honored as an object.

In Lorcan’s post he mentions that consideration of the book as a technology “reinforces an awareness that the book itself, the codex, represents particular technological choices which in turn have influenced how we create and engage with the intellectual and cultural record, and in turn with broader experience and intellectual development.” He thinks that this is positive because it moves us “beyond the reductive opposition between the book and the digital turn.”

Vicki’s traverse I think reinforces a complementary point. Certain kinds of desired and desirable activities that are now easily delivered in the digital environment have been playing out within the technology of the book for a very long time. All those re-actions –reuse, repurpose and remix – have a deep history of their own within the book as object.

P.S. All the citations above were obtained via WorldCat – the citations are in Chicago form. There’s a post for another day regarding my search for these texts…

All about EVIE

Thursday, May 17th, 2007 by Constance

The new issue of Ariadne includes an article by Tracey Stanley on the University of Leed’s EVIE (Embedding a VRE in an Institutional Environment) project, which bears a certain resemblance to some of the work coming out of the University of Minnesota, the University of Washington, NYU and various other places examining researcher behaviors and related service needs.  Lorcan has blogged about several of these projects elsewhere, for example here, here and (more generally) here

Like many of these other projects, the Evie project bgan with a survey of researcher needs.

“Respondents prioritised the different aspects that they required as follows:

  1. Finding and acquiring published information such as articles, conference proceedings, monographs etc.
  2. Finding out about funding opportunities; applying for funding; managing funding projects.
  3. Collaborating with partners within the University or elsewhere.
  4. Sharing or archiving research results.”  [T. Stanley "Developing a Virtual Research Environment in a Portal Framework: The EVIE Project" Ariadne Issue 51]

These examples are less specific than the requirements generated by the Mellon-funded project at Minnesota, but still quite similar.  It would be interesting to compare the prioritized lists of requirements generated by these different projects.  A consensus may already have emerged.  Leeds is interesting in that they’ve already deployed and tested a set of tools (within a virtual research environment) to meet these requirements.  I was also glad to see that they’re already thinking about the need for making the VRE permeable, so that it can benefit from an contribute to networked resources:

“There is also a requirement to integrate not only with systems within a single institution, but also, driven by the dispersed nature of research communities, with a variety of systems and resources outside the institution. These might include: 

  • Collaboration tools at a collaborating institution or commercial partner.
  • External Web 2.0 collaboration tools (eg: Google Docs).   
  • Grid services.   
  • Broader Information Environment tools and services.   
  • Integration with the emerging landscape of institutional and other repositories and other publication mechanisms. [T. Stanley Op. cit.

The focus here on grid services, institutional collaboration, and integration in existing networks is particularly interesting.  It’s something our Programs and Research group will be examining as part of our work agenda in Supporting New Modes of Research, Teaching and Learning