Fostering Innovation

Yesterday we announced that David Walker of the California State University won the Third OCLC Research Software Contest with his entry, Bridge. His entry was an imaginative use of OCLC Web Services, primarily the WorldCat Search API, to serve the needs of libraries to have more local control of the full record display of catalog items.

The screen cast that accompanied his entry is well worth watching, as it identifies the features as well as the reasons behind them. David has a lot of experience in developing systems and it shows in both the functionality of his entry and in his actual code.

The decision of the judges, a mixture of OCLC staff and well-regarded coders from the library community, was unanimous. David will receive a $2,500 cash payment and an all-expenses-paid trip to Dublin, OH to meet with OCLC Research staff and others.

The purpose of this award is to foster innovation with OCLC data and services. It began before we were offering many of our services through machine interfaces, so prior contests would often include a chunk of WorldCat records that contestants could use. This time, however, contestants were to use one or more of our many Web Services in their entry. Although we reserve the right to build from these ideas, as far as I know we have never commercialized any entry. The winner of the Second contest, the Umlaut project by Ross Singer (formerly of Georgia Tech, now at Talis), remains in independent development by Jonathan Rochkind of Johns Hopkins University and others.

The point is to encourage new ideas and demonstrate innovative ways to use these services and the data that our member libraries have contributed. We hope that doing so will both reward those with good ideas as well as inspire others with the possibilities.

Roy Tennant works on projects related to improving the technological infrastructure of libraries, museums, and archives.