What happens when you try to get 400 people into 2 rooms?

Having survived Microsoft’s hospitality yesterday (and they were extremely hospitable, hence the reason most of those that were there are struggling), I am back at the campus of Southampton University (this time with Peter and Dominic in tow) for the formal start of Open Repositories 2008.

Today’s sessions started with an very interesting keynote presentation by Peter Murray-Rust of Cambridge University, exploring the issues of using repositories for scientific data (with a particular focus on chemistry). This touched on the difficulties of getting users to interact with repositories – how they only want to use the tools that they and processes that they are familiar with, and that repository ingest needs to fit in with this, either by direct integration with the tools (in the kind of way the Microsoft was demonstrating yesterday), or by having alternate ingesting procedures (discovering the content from other sources, harvesting and mining that data with little or no interaction from the user).

This presentation turned out to be as entertaining as it was informative, as the demonstrations that Peter had prepared caused havoc with the arrangements that Southampton University had made to relay the projections to a second room due to the numbers that turned up. So the answer to the question of what happens when you try to get 400 people into 2 rooms is that all your best laid plans fall through, and you end up squeezing 400 people into just one!

The following session consisted of three presentations relating to web 2.0 technologies (although as we certainly know in the DSpace community, you should never refer to something as 2.0!). The presentations focused on Connotea (and OpenID integration), scholarly practice and the impact of social networking, and a very impressive (or at least pretty) demonstration of cross repository browsing using RichTags.

It was particularly good to see what Connotea are up to, and the possibilities to build on and integrate the services of Connotea into a repository (such as the recommendation system). Usefully, this also provided me with an introduction to Ian Mulvany (Nature Publishing Group), who I’ve had a very productive meeting with to talk about how we can enhance the links that we provide to submit articles from Open Repository services into Connotea libraries – the good news is that they’ve already made some enhancements recently that allow Connotea to read the embedded meta links that we are placing in the html, in many cases signifcantly improving the quality and quantity of data that is transferred. There are still some kinks to work out, and I look forward to having further discussions with Ian once we both get back to our respective offices next week.

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