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Paper plans glued to cardboard - beginning the cutting out

A while ago, Google released Cardboard, an inexpensive virtual-reality system for smartphones running Android. As well as the software, Google has made available the plans for building a viewer which is designed to wrap around the smart-phone, producing a set of virtual-reality 'goggles'.

I found this intriguing - but I don't own an Android-based smartphone. I do have an iPhone, and it turns out that there are a few compatible apps available for iOS, including the two which I downloaded onto my iPhone 6:

Long story short, I referred to a good set of...

At EDINA we are just entering into that period where we review and revise our organisational strategy. In the course of a little light research this afternoon to refresh my thinking about and understanding of approaches to doing this, I came across a briefing paper by Ken Chad called Developing and reviewing strategy.

Making reference to a book by Richard Rumelt called Good strategy, bad strategy. The difference and why it matters, Ken offers a short and clear list of things which are confused with, but which are not, strategy:

  • vision : where we want to be - an indeterminate future...

Drone buzzing the London Eye

Yesterday, I went on the London Eye with the family. We were very lucky with the weather which provided excellent visibility - so good in fact that I noticed a small drone in the distance. The drone came gradually closer until it hovered a few tens of metres away (although it's difficult to estimate distance when all available points of reference are so far away).

I guess it says something about me that I found this more fascinating than the lovely view of the Thames and North London.

Drone buzzing the London EyeFrom zooming into my photo, I think I can identify the species of drone as being one of the DJI Phantom...

I attended EDINA's Geoforum 2014, described as:

… a free all day event aimed at lecturers, researchers and support staff who promote and support the use of geo-services at their institution.

I came along primarily to learn more about the services that my own organisation, EDINA, provides in this space.

These are my notes from the day - I had to dip in and out of parts of the day to deal with other things so my notes are quite selective - my aim is to give a flavour of the day. For a more complete account, I recommend the impressively comprehensive 'live blog' post written by my colleague...

BL Labs LogoLast week I attended an event, organised by BL Labs working with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, at the British Library's Centre for Conservation. The event, described as a showcase event for British Library Labs and AHRC Digital Transformations, consisted of a packed series of presentations - I won't describe them all (and I missed Bill Thompson's talk anyway) but will, instead, pull out some snippets which interested me in particular.

BL Labs

In introducing the event, Caroline Brazier (Director, Scholarship and Collections at the British Library) described the purpose of BL Labs...

I'm delighted to announce that I will be joining EDINA in August as Head of Technology Strategy and Planning

I have long admired EDINA, having had several opportunities to collaborate with them in the past few years. EDINA is a powerhouse of technical service delivery and innovation, and has carved out an enviable national and international reputation in several fields. I'm excited to be joining this successful and innovative organisation, and am looking forward to what I have no doubt will be a challenging role.

Rather than moving to Edinburgh, I'll be based in a Bristol office, but I expect...

Resourcesync logo I have been slightly involved (through Jisc funding) with the ResourceSync specification project, being led by Herbert Van de Sompel of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The project has just released a draft specification, which is available at

The draft will be available for public comment until March 15th 2013 - you are invited to comment via the ResourceSync Google Group. Group discussions are openly accessible; posting requires group membership.

In Herbert's words:

The ResourceSync specification describes a synchronisation framework for the web...

Together with Sheridan Brown, I have been tasked with developing some guidelines and a metadata ‘application’ profile for institutional repositories (IRs) in the UK. We are calling this work RIOXX. This post focusses on the application profile more than the guidelines, and describes phase 1 of the project, which aims to deploy this application profile across IRs in the UK by the first quarter of 2013.


  • to develop an application profile which enables open access repositories to expose metadata more consistently and which, in particular, conveys information about how the item being...

I have recently resurrected a domain I used to use actively - I started blogging on this site in about 2003 and stopped using it in about 2007. I only started using it again this week because I needed a free domain name and I discovered I was still paying for this one…. Anyway, having installed a new web-server which listens on, I had cause to examine the server logs. I was surprised to find this line:

[Sun May 20 09:06:21 2012] [error] File does not exist: /opt/web/, referer:

Edit: The presentation I gave to accompany this post is available on Slideshare

I was asked by Ben Showers of the JISC to write a ‘challenging and provocative vision’ for library management systems, for a joint JISC / SCONUL workshop. I was given a free hand with this - the only parameters were that the piece should be non more than a side of A4 paper in length, and that it should use 2020 as its target year for prediction. I think I ignored both of these restrictions, but I had fun and it did provoke some discussion….

Dramatis personae:

  • Alby, a young student & researcher in full time...

Back in August I gave a short presentation to the JISC Innovation Group about the DevCSI project, introducing some ideas about possible future directions. The DevCSI project is a JISC-funded initiative designed to work directly with (software) developers in Higher Education through the general approach of encouraging them to establish a community or peers, sharing knowledge, experience, code etc. An aspect of this which has emerged during the first year of the project is the potential value in peer-training - where one developer trains a few of their peers. By supporting this kind of activity...

Introduction - (warning - old-timer indulgence)

From the mid-nineties through to the end of 2006 I earned my living as a developer of Web applications, or as someone managing Web application development projects. I like to think I was quite good at it, and I certainly have a lot of experience. I worked with CGI writing in Perl and a little C, moving into ColdFusion and Java (via JServ - anyone remember that?), did the whole Java EE thing, undid it again, did SOAP because it was better than J2EE, undid that when we realised it actually wasn't…. In about 2002/3 I adopted a RESTful approach to...

I've been at the excellent JISC CNI Meeting in Edinburgh these last two days. Lots of interesting work being described and met some great new people. Some people have asked me to post my slides, so here they are:

In case you missed it, the OR10 Developers Challenge is now live!

Andy McGregor has explained why he thinks you should enter the challenge and, I'm pleased to say, there have been some expressions of intent already. If you do decide to enter, please register your intention on the OR10  Crowdvine forum.

A reminder of the challenge:

Create a functioning repository user-interface, presenting a single metadata record which includes as many automatically created,useful links to related external content as possible.?

We had one comment suggesting that the challenge was limited to dealing with...

Please note that what follows is a draft. A few weeks ago I posted some thoughts about a Developer Challenge for OR10, with a plea for ideas for specific challenges. I'm pleased to say that this post got a really good response, with plenty of useful ideas and comments. Thank you to all who responded. I think it fair to say that all of the comments influenced our thinking, but the interest in linking content ( most fully expressed by Andy Powell) stood out from several comments, so we have concentrated on trying to create a challenge around the this. While linked data was mentioned often (naturally...

Update: I have closed comment on this post now. Thank you very much to all who commented and suggested ideas for a challenge. I have now posted a draft Challenge here and would welcome comments on that post. Thanks again!

Through the JISC-funded DevCSI project, UKOLN has been asked to arrange a 'Developer Challenge' for the Fifth International Conference on Open Repositories, (OR10) to be held in Madrid in July of this year. This will be the third consecutive year that the Developer Challenge has been a feature of this conference. Previous challenges have been both competitive and creative...

I have been asked to provide a position paper for next week's Future of Interoperability Standards meeting hosted by CETIS. This blog post is one I have been meaning to write for ages so I'm offering it as a position paper of sorts.

UKOLN has been charged by JISC with the task of supporting the development of Dublin Core Application Profiles (DCAPs) in a number of areas. While I have not (so far) had much direct involvement in this work I have developed, over the last year or so, a real interest in the process of developing these.

The development of DCAPs is governed through the application...

I took advantage of an offer to upgrade my iPhone 3G to the 3Gs model just before Christmas. I spent some time considering the alternatives, and speculating about what might become available during the next eighteen months of my new contract, but I've been more than happy with the 3G so my decision was quite an easy one. The 3Gs offered three main improvements over the 3G:

  • a faster processor
  • a better camera
  • a 'compass'

At first glance, these improvements seem quite modest. But, as we shall see, they add up to something quite significant.

The feature which attracted me mostly was the...

Last week I outlined an idea, that of the service anti-pattern, as part of a presentation I gave to the Resource Discovery Taskforce (organised by JISC in partnership with RLUK). The idea seemed to really catch the interest of and resonate with several of those members of the taskforce who were present at the meeting. My presentation was in a style which does not translate well to being viewed in a standalone context (e.g. on Slideshare) so I have decided to write it up here. I would very much welcome comments on this. (The presentation will be published on the Resource Discovery Taskforce pages...

There is still time to register for this year's International Digital Curation Conference in London, although you will need to be quick - I'm told that registration closes on the 25th November.

This year's conference (the fifth), organised in partnership with the Coalition for Networked Information, has the theme Moving to Multi-Scale Science: Managing Complexity and Diversity. It promises to be an interesting event - see the full programme for more details.

You can keep up with developments in advance of the event itself by reading the Digital Curation Blog (see this particular post for example...

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