Monday, 30 September 2013

Metadata MOOC - Microformats

Still enjoying the Metadata MOOC, learning about microformats right now, including hCalendars which allow you to do this:

Gathering of people who have not watched Breaking Bad at To be confirmed
This is a made up event to test how an hCalendar works.
Categories: Breaking Bad, hCalendar, fake events
This hCalendar event brought to you by the hCalendar Creator.

I am ridiculously pleased with myself for understanding the code behind that! It looks like this:

<div class="vevent" id="hcalendar-Gathering-of-people-who-have-not-watched-Breaking-Bad"><time datetime="2013-09-30" class="dtstart">September 30, 2013</time>–<time datetime="2013-09-30" class="dtend"></time> <span class="summary">Gathering of people who have not watched Breaking Bad</span> at <span class="location">To be confirmed</span><div class="description">This is a made up event to test how an hCalendar works.</div><div>Categories: <span class="category">Breaking Bad</span>, <span class="category"> hCalendar</span>, <span class="category"> fake events</span></div>

<p style="font-size: smaller;">This <a href="http://microformats.org/wiki/hcalendar">hCalendar event</a> brought to you by the <a href="http://microformats.org/code/hcalendar/creator">hCalendar Creator</a>.</p></div>

Metadata is a love note to the future

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Next Quest: Metadata

'Metadata' is a scary word. I kind of know what it means (and can trot out the standard 'data about data' definition) but I don't properly understand it. So when I spotted that Coursera were offering a MOOC on Metadata I signed up.

Week 1 began yesterday and I am very surprised to say that it's great! Informative and enjoyable and the instructor (Jeffrey Pomerantz of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) has a great presenting style - so much so that I watched all the video lectures instead of shouting out random answers to University Challenge.

Knowledge of HTML is a prerequisite for the course but I'm glossing over that slightly - I can learn as I go along, right? And I was pleased to find that I scored well over 60% on the W3Schools’ HTML Quiz which is mostly down to tampering with the plain text view in LibGuides at work to see how things work (and possibly lucky guessing on a few questions).

If I get time I will take the free W3Schools’ HTML tutorial in parallel with the metadata MOOC. If not, I'll let you know how I get on!

Metadata Man
(Image from Mel McC's Flickr photostream under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license)

Sunday, 25 August 2013

P2PU Open Research or-3: How Can We Research Openly?

Ooh, more new things I hadn't heard of!

Google Fusion Tables look very interesting, I'm sure I can shoehorn them into a piece of work in future (look out world, cue evil laugh...), but for now have a read of this description of how to use a visualisation tool called Gephi: http://linkedscience.org/tools/sparql-package-for-r/sparql-package-for-r-gephi-movie-star-graph-visualization-tutorial/

The image below (from Matt Biddulph on Flickr) shows what Gephi can do:
The true continents of the world (version 2)

My Britishness slips again as once more I say...awesome!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

P2PU Open Research or-2: Who's Working On It?

A few months ago I had a Eureka moment when I finally understood how valuable Twitter could be. I mostly use it for finding out local information, headline news, and information relating to open access (such an interesting life I lead).

There are 2 people whose tweets I particularly look forward to reading: Greg Jenner (@greg_jenner), the Horrible Histories historian, and Jon Tennant (@Protohedgehog) who is "PhD-ing with dinosaurs".

Jon Tennant is a great 'open' advocate; this is how science should be! On his blog he talks about the Palaeobiology Database:

The Paleobiology Database seeks to provide researchers and the public with information about the entire fossil record. It has expanded continuously since 2000 thanks to the efforts of 340 paleontologists from around the world.

He uploaded his 9 month PhD report to Figshare and, via Twitter, has massively increased my knowledge of, and interest in, open science.

Jon Tennant, I salute you!

P2PU Open Research or-1: What Makes it Open?

Open Research is the next logical step forward from Open Access and Open Data.


Open Access enables you to share your research findings with everyone.

Open Data lets you share the data you have collected with everyone.

Open Research allows you to share not only your complete methodology and software code that you are using to obtain your data, but also allows you to share your data as you are collecting it. Faster results, greater collaboration, reproducible experiments, further scientific advancement.

Want an example of how this works? Have a look at the Open Research Exchange.

Data and Merlin
I can haz data
And I can haz data too
(Photo from Melissa Wiese on Flickr)

Sunday, 18 August 2013

P2PU Open Data od-4: What Can I Do?

Now bear in mind that I'm British so I should be saying "this is rather good, chaps", but in fact it is awesome!

I've signed up to SciStarter so I can contribute to scientific research from the comfort of my own home. There are so many interesting projects listed, including Notes From Nature (transcribing labels of historical museum collections) that I've got bookmarked to contribute to when I have more time, and Treezilla (mapping every tree in Britain) but I was disappointed to find projects listed that had finished, and projects that involve further registration instead of the SciStarter login being sufficient.

I have just taken part in the VerbCorner Project, answering questions about the use of words. You can login or take part anonymously and it's great - challenging enough to be interesting, but not so hard that it is demoralising. So thank you SciStarter for linking me with the project and making me feel I have contributed!


P2PU Open Data od-3: What are the Current Issues?

Task 3 this week is:
Perform online field research about an Open Science Data Community, pinpointing a specific issue around Open Data that is being discussed right now. Note the following: What is the issue at hand? Who is talking about the issue? What organizations/institutions do they represent? Where can we go for more information about this issue?

A search on Twitter using the #opendata hashtag and a couple of idle Google searches (delayed slightly while I put the hood of my jumper up and couldn't resist doing a Sith lord impression - chilly and rainy in south England this evening) drew me into reading about issues relating to where data should be stored.

I have a vague awareness of the background to this at my place of work (not the Death Star, fear not); the University of Southampton was involved in a JISC project from 2009-2011 titled IDMB: Institutional data management blueprint that led on to another project, DataPool, both of which I was aware of but not knowledgable about.

From this the decision was made to use the existing institutional repository, ePrints Soton, to store datasets, as explained here. I know a bit about this because I helped test the ReCollect plug-in that deals with the data deposit workflow.

But how do people know where to find or deposit open data? Should it be in a subject repository or an institutional repository? The good news is that there are a lot of open data repositories, as listed on the Open Access Directory (OAD) wiki. The even better news is that there are a lot of people out there who know a lot more about it than me.


Death Star II