Slides from my presentation at the International Digital Curation Conference last week in Edinburgh are available from either of: –

The work on embedding semantics was led by Peter Sefton of University of Southern Queensland, who’s currently visiting the UCC as part of our collaboration on ICE-TheOREM (+ the ICE team’s trac).

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A quote from Sam Ruby

February 13, 2008

“…the ease with which a Ruby client (or a Python one) can be wired up to a Java middle tier talking to a Erlang back end using only HTTP, Atom, and JSON is a testament to the power of these simple protocols and formats.”

Sam Ruby

Substitute in some repository software names in for the programming languages. That’s why we had a barcamp on RESTful repository interfaces last week.

Background: An alpha version of the OAI-ORE specifications was released in December, and has prompted less public discussion than I’d hoped for, so I’m going to post some of the issues as I perceive them in an attempt to promote awareness. I’ll inevitably fail to be comprehensive, so I won’t try – I’ll stick to the ones that interest me.

ORE is a way of describing aggregations of web resources; complex objects in digital library / repository parlance. It’s based on semantic web principles and technology and is RESTful (unlike PMH, but that’s a story for another day), which is a Good Thing.

So what is it good for: –

i) Provides an alternative to content packaging. Content packaging standards and security are two of the biggest hurdles to repository interop. ORE could provide a route around one of them, and bring the repository world closer to the web in doing so.

ii) Takes forward named graphs for defining boundaries on the semantic web. The semantic web can be visualized as a big network of statements about things, that lacks a way of defining a chunk of the network (in order to make statements about it…). You perhaps have to be a bit of a semantic web geek to appreciate the importance of this at first flush.

The alpha of the standard itself stood out for a couple of things too. It seemed to have been written with a mindset of “what is the least we can specify whilst being useful?”. It’s also a well rounded spec; there are constraints to make it simple, but they’re not out of balance with the amount of specification and support provided.

ORE is likely to be important to the repository community; there is a lot of momentum behind it (on which more later), and it provides a piece of perviously-missing infrastructure. So it might well be worth your while to read the spec, join the discussion group and maybe even read some of the following posts…

Roundup 14th Dec P.S.

December 14, 2007

I omitted some important news: OAI-ORE released an alpha spec. I’d urge anyone with an interest in interoperability to read and comment – the definition of compound object boundaries on the semantic web isn’t done fantastically well at the moment and the current idiom of pass-by-val between repositories (with content packages) means a bunch of headaches that pass-by-ref (a la ORE) avoids – so it’s important to get this right early.

CRIG Podcasts

November 30, 2007

Near the start of November, I was involved in a series of chats organized by the JISC CRIG support project, aiming to serve as an introduction to various aspects of repository interoperability and to look at possible areas for standardisation, and areas that might benefit from further research. The chats were in the form of conference calls, which were recorded and made into podcasts. They’re now available.

In the GET and PUT chat, Richard and I resurrect a long running discussion we have IRL about granularity and various aspects of resource description, and amongst other things, the potential impact of OAI-ORE and SWORD are discussed. The search chat led by Martin Morrey of Intrallect was very informative, it has a bit of background on Z39.50 and the birth of SRW/U, which happened before I was involved with repositories. The last chat I was involved in was the Identity chat, the main part of which was postponed, but as it stands is a helpful introduction to the FAR project. The full chat went ahead yesterday, and was a good discussion on lots of good stuff around federated access management, identity management and so on. The audio from that chat will be available in due course.

SWORD APP Profile Released

October 17, 2007

Julie has released the SWORD APP profile (via).