The Repository Roadmap - are we heading in the right direction?
I've been asked to provide the opening slot at the JISC "Digital repositories: Dealing with the digital deluge" conference in Manchester, starting tomorrow. My slides are now up on Slideshare.
I'm going to start with a fairly boring overview of the Repositories Roadmap that Rachel Heery and I wrote for the JISC last year (you can have a lie in if you like!) followed by some discussion around the way that our environment is changing, largely because of Web 2.0. The intention is to ask whether we need to adjust the roadmap to take account of those changes.
The roadmap is now one year old, and was written to paint a picture up until 2010. So we are roughly 25% of the way there - a useful opportunity to look back and see how we are doing. Re-reading the roadmap now, I think we did a pretty good job and there's not much that I would strongly take issue with.
Oddly though, the document makes precious little mention of the Web. One might argue that there was no need to state the obvious - or that the Web was just a given. But I'm not so sure. One of the things I want to argue in the presentation (though I know that this is something that Rachel, my roadmap co-author, strongly disagrees with) is that, from the perspective of consumers, repositories are just Web sites. Somehow, it almost feels like heresy to say so - I don't know why!? But conceptualising them as such, changes the emphasis I think. It pushes things like information architecture, the Web architecture, Google, accessibility, usability, URIs and so on to the fore - metadata, OAI and the like seem to become less important. To me anyway. Perhaps I'm just strange! :-)
These are not straightforward issues, and I don't pretend to have any answers - but that doesn't make the question any less pertinent or interesting. In fact, I'm very mindful of the tension between the relatively complex, essentially Semantic Web, metadata modeling issues being addressed by activities such as the OAI ORE project and the ePrints Application Profile work and the relatively simple, tag-based, approaches taken by Web 2.0 repository-like applications such as Slideshare and Scribd.
Unfortunately, I lean uncomfortably in both directions!