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May 29, 2008

FRBR & "Time-Based Media", Part 3: Stills

In my previous post on using the FRBR model for "Time-Based Media", I outlined an example based on a video tutorial and a clip of that tutorial, the former made available in multiple formats, and both of them "versioned" over time.

Another similar, but slightly different, scenario which we want to represent is the case in which one or more still images is created from the content of a video. Suppose I create a sequence of images to use in some sort of summary page describing my video tutorial (or indeed to be used quite independently of the video itself), and I make these available as both a JPEG and a PNG format. The extraction of a still image clearly involves the creation of a new FRBR Work, so each of my stills is a distinct Work (W11, W12, etc), realized in a single Expression (E11, E12, etc), each embodied in two Manifestations (M11, M12, M13, M14, etc), each exemplified in a single Item.

Again, I'm tempted to use a whole-part relationship to express relationships between these new Works and Expressions and my original "complete video" Work (and Expression). It does seem slightly odd to use the same relationship type to express both the relationship between a (moving image) clip and a video and the relationship between a still image and a video, but perhaps from the perspective of film and video as made up of a sequence of discrete events/frames, it can be justified. So in Figure 1 below, I end up with a similar set of relationships to those illustrated in Figure 2 of my previous post. Again, I'll leave out the representation of the Items for conciseness:

Figure 1

And using Ian Davis' and Richard Newman's FRBR RDFS vocabulary again, a Turtle representation would look like:

@prefix frbr: <http://purl.org/vocab/frbr/core#> .
@prefix dcterms: <http://purl.org/dc/terms/> .
@prefix ex: <http://example.org/examples/> .

ex:W01
  a frbr:Work ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial" ;
  frbr:part ex:W11 ;
  frbr:part ex:W12 ;
  frbr:realization ex:E01 .

ex:W11
  a frbr:Work ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial Still 1" ;
  frbr:partOf ex:W01 ;
  frbr:realization ex:E11 .

ex:W12
  a frbr:Work ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial Still 2" ;
  frbr:partOf ex:W01 ;
  frbr:realization ex:E12 .

ex:E01
  a frbr:Expression ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial, Version 1.0" ;
  frbr:realizationOf ex:W01 ;
  frbr:part ex:E11 ;
  frbr:part ex:E12 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M01 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M02 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M03 .

ex:E11
  a frbr:Expression ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial Still 1" ;
  frbr:realizationOf ex:W11 ;
  frbr:partOf ex:E01 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M11 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M12 .

ex:E12
  a frbr:Expression ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial Still 2" ;
  frbr:realizationOf ex:W12 ;
  frbr:partOf ex:E01 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M13 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M14 .

The first issue raised by the stills example (and also by the previous example of clips/segments, although I didn't address it in my earlier post) is that of how to express the temporal "location" of the part (clip or still) within the whole i.e. to be able to say that my still is taken from a point T1 within the video, or that my clip is taken from the point within the whole video starting at a point in time T1 and continuing until time T2 (or starting at time T1 and having some specified duration). Given that  duration is considered to be an attribute of the Expression, I'd expect this to be represented at the level of the Expression. As far as I can tell, FRBR itself doesn't provide attributes for capturing this level of detail. I can imagine three ways of addressing this:

  • adding an attribute at the Expression level which provided some sort of human-readable note providing the information. This would serve the purpose of presenting the information to a human reader, but it wouldn't be sufficient to support e.g. an application presenting my stills along a timeline or supporting searches for stills or clips extracted from within a specified period of the video
  • adding start-point-within-whole and end-point-within-whole attributes to the "part" Expression. This would enable such processing as suggested above, but would be sufficient only if the  part participated in at most one part-whole relationship
  • modelling the part-whole relationship as a resource in its own right with start point and end point attributes

And the part-whole relationship may have a spatial aspect as well as a temporal aspect e.g. the case where a still is only some of some specific spatial region of the whole screen image. Potentially, there's a great deal of complexity here - as is reflected in the capabilities within MPEG-7 to represent quite complex segmentation/decomposition relationships - but I suspect for the purposes of this exercise we'll be aiming to try to satisfy some of the simple cases required to support the discovery, selection and navigation of resources, probably using some variant of the second bullet above, while acknowledging that there is some complexity which isn't modelled within the DCAP.

Secondly,  I probably want to capture the fact that my set of still images form a set or sequence, distinct from my video clip(s) which also form parts of the same whole. The best fit I can see for this in FRBR would seem to be to express hasSuccessor/isSuccessorTo relationships between the stills in the sequence (ex:E11 frbr:successor ex:E12. ex:E12 frbr:successorOf ex:E11 . And so on.) Whether it's also useful/necessary to represent the sequence as a distinct work, I'm less sure. Probably not.

The final issue raised here I wanted to note is the assumption that both the video and the still images are described using the FRBR model, where whole-part relationships exist between instances of the same Group 1 Entity Type i.e. when a Work is the subject of a has-Part or is-Part-Of relationship, the assumption is that the object of that relationship is also a Work (and the same for Expressions, Manifestations and Items). As I mentioned in a comment on my earlier post, one of the "sibling" projects to the Time-Based Media project is developing at a DCAP for describing still images, and that project has recommended the use of a model which is derived from the FRBR model but which substitutes a single entity type of Image for the Work-Expression pair used in FRBR. Mick Eadie describes the project's reasons for that choice in a recent Ariadne article:

In essence what is being done by FRBR is not the modelling of the simple image and its relationships, but rather an attempt to model the artistic / intellectual process and all resultant manifestations of it. We decided this was inappropriate for the IAP for a number of reasons. While possible, an application profile of this complexity would require detailed explanation that could be a barrier to take-up. Moreover, it strays from the core remit of the images IAP to facilitate a simple exchange of image data between repositories. While the FRBR approach attempts to build relationships between objects, e.g. slides, photographs, objects and digital surrogates, this facility already exists in, for example, the Visual Resources Association Core (VRA) schema. Our intention was not to reinvent or in any way replicate existing standards that are robust and heavyweight enough to deal with most image types. Rather our intention was to build a lightweight layer that could sit above these standards, and work with them, facilitating a simple image search across institutional repositories.

Using the IAP model to describe the still image, there are no distinct Works and Expressions, only Images, so it seems to me that integrating that data within a strictly FRBR-based view would require some mapping between the two models, and the separating out of attributes of the IAP Image entity which in the FRBR model apply to the Work from those which apply to the Expression.

May 27, 2008

A "layered" model for interoperability using Dublin Core metadata

Mikael Nilsson has circulated (to the DCMI Architecture forum mailing list) a short draft document titled Interoperability levels for Dublin Core metadata. The document is a result of both the discussions around the relationship of the DCMI Abstract Model and RDF which surfaced around a series of posts by Stu Weibel a few months ago, and also the longer running efforts within DCMI to reconcile the use of the term "Dublin Core metadata" to refer both to data created within these formal frameworks and to data created using less formal, more ad hoc approaches.

The document presents a "layered" approach, describing four distinct "interoperability levels", each building on the previous one, and attempting to specify clearly the assumptions and constraints which apply at each of those levels, and the expectations which a consumer can have for metadata provided "at" a specified level.

  • Level 1: "Informal interoperability", based essentially on the natural-language definitions of metadata terms;
  • Level 2: "Semantic interoperability", based on the RDF model;
  • Level 3: "DCAM-based syntactic interoperability", introducing the notions of descriptions and description sets, as defined by the DCMI Abstract Model;
  • Level 4: "Singapore Framework interoperability", in which an application is supported by the complete set of components specified by the Singapore Framework for Dublin Core Application Profiles

As Mikael notes in his message, this is an attempt to articulate some of the notions which have underpinned developments in DC metadata over the last few years. One of the difficulties we've had, I think, is that in some of our conversations within DCMI, parties in the discussions have been adopting viewpoints reflecting different "levels" in this model (particularly level 1 on the one hand and levels 2 or 3 on the other, I think) and perhaps "talking past each other" as a result. So any attempt to try to articulate these differences, and to make explicit our implicit assumptions, is to be welcomed, I think.

It should be emphasised that this is a very early working draft circulated for discussion, and there is no community consensus on these concepts. Comments on the draft should be sent to the DC-Architecture mailing list. (While I'm not going to close comments on this post, I'd strongly urge you to send comments to that list, so that discussion is visible to members of that forum.)

May 22, 2008

W3C Technical Architecture Group recommends against XRI

I've previously noted my concerns about the introduction of the XRI into the OpenID 2.0 specification.

In a message to the W3C Technical Architecture Group list yesterday Tim Berners-Lee and Stuart Williams, co-chairs of the TAG, state categorically:

We are not satisfied that XRIs provide functionality not readily available from http: URIs.  Accordingly the TAG recommends against taking the XRI specifications forward, or supporting the use of XRIs as identifiers in other specifications.

This statement leaves OpenID in an uncomfortable position, or so it seems to me.  Much of the value proposition of OpenID lies in its simplicity and its close fit with the Web architecture - unfortunately, the introduction of XRI into version 2.0 of the spec did damage on both counts.

The statement from the TAG could hardly be clearer - I'm intrigued as to how OpenID people are going to respond.

May 2008 "snapshot" of UK HE and FE development in SL

The second in our series of three snapshots of UK higher and further education activities in Second Life is now available.  This is significantly longer than the previous snapshot(s), reflecting a growth in the level of use and development around Second Life.

The snapshots have been funded by the Eduserv Foundation and undertaken by John Kirriemuir (Silversprite Helsinki).  As John notes in the introduction:

The number of UK academics who are developing or operating teaching and learning resources in Second Life (SL) has grown rapidly in the last year. While an accurate figure is difficult to determine (partially due to the non-public nature of some developments), as a rough estimate some three-quarters of UK universities are actively developing or using SL, at the institutional, departmental and/or individual academic level. Of these, many institutions support several ongoing SL developments, often involving groups of people rather than individuals. However, the proportion of UK FE institutions actively using SL was much smaller.

75% of UK universities is a pretty significant proportion - though, of course, the range of activities and level of investment that represents is very variable:

Academics described a very wide range of SL activities spanning teaching, learning, research, performance, construction and demonstration. The key advantage of SL in teaching and learning is that there are many activities in which the student must be more than a passive learner in order to progress. The student has to develop “stuff”, collaborate and participate. Before these can occur, he or she has to master a new and transferable skill set, meaning that, in SL, learning is done more by participating and doing than by listening and absorbing.

Though use of SL in UK HE/FE is growing, many academics are not “welded” to it, being aware of its deficiencies and open to moving to alternative virtual environments, especially open source and more localised versions, in the future.

Overall, and perhaps not surprisingly, the three most mentioned requirements of UK academic
SL developers are:

  • more funding opportunities
  • more time to develop
  • better technical facilities within SL, or a viable alternative environment.
[Note that this blog entry was previously posted on ArtsPLace SL]

May 20, 2008

Streaming media from the symposium now available

All the streaming media from the Eduserv Foundation Symposium 2008 is now available via blip.tv.  See the symposium presentations page for a full listing.

May 16, 2008

Facebook blocks Google Friend Connect

I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.
Along with the sunshine,
There's gotta be a little rain sometimes.

(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden, Joe South

So Facebook - you know... that bastion of privacy protection - have blocked Google Friend Connect on privacy grounds.  Yeah right!  More like, "we've realised that the walls round our garden weren't high enough and we've just added a few more rows of bricks" :-(

Teach online to compete...

An article in Tuesday's Education Guardian, Teach online to compete, British universities told, caught my eye - not least because it appears to say very little about teaching online.  Rather, it talks about making course materials available online, which is, after all, very different.  To be fair, Carol Comer, academic development advisor (eLearning) at the University of Chester, does make this point towards the end of the article.

The report on which the story is based is "a paper for the latest edition of ppr, the publication of influential thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research".  I'm not sure if the paper is currently finished - it doesn't really look finished to be honest - the fonts seem to be all over the shop but perhaps I'm being too picky.  Or perhaps the Guardian have got sight of it a little early?

The report suggests that the UK should:

  • establish a centralised online hub of diverse British open courseware offerings at www.ocw.ac.uk, presented in easily-readable formats and accessible to teachers, students and citizens alike
  • establish the right and subsequent capacity for non-students and non-graduates to take the same exam as do face-to-face students, through the provision of open access exam sessions
  • pass an Open Access Act through Parliament, establishing a new class of Open degree, achieved solely using open courseware
  • conduct a high-profile public information campaign, promoting the opportunities afforded open courseware and open access examinations and degrees, targeted at adult learners, excluded minorities and students at pre-university age

OK, I confess that I found the report quite long and I didn't quite get to the end (err, make that beyond halfway).  I'm as big a fan of open access as the next person, probably more so, so I don't have a problem with the suggestion that we should be making more courseware openly available.  I'm just not convinced that anyone could get themselves up to degree level simply by downloading / reading / watching / listening to a load of open access courseware - no matter how good it is.  The report makes reference to MIT's OpenCourseware and the OU's OpenLearn initiatives.  Call me a cynic, but I've always suspected that MIT makes its cousreware available online, not for the greater good of humanity but so that more students will enroll at MIT?  OK, I'm adopting an intentionally extreme position here and I'm sure people at MIT do have the best of intentions - but I think it is also the case that they don't see the giving away of courseware in any way harmful to their current business models.  The OU's OpenLearn initiative (treated somewhat unfairly by the parts of the report I read) is slightly different in any case since the OU is by definition a distance-based institution - or so it seems to me.

So, I should probably stop at this point - having not properly read the report fully.  If you think I've been very unfair when you read the report yourself, let me know by way of a comment.

JISC IE blog, Val Doonican and *that* diagram

Jisciearch

A very quick note to say that the JISC Information Environment team are now blogging... good stuff.

And while I'm on the subject of the JISC IE, I should perhaps note that that diagram still seems to be doing the rounds.  At the UKOLN 30th celebration Paul Walk invited me to say a few words about it from the floor, at which point I stood up and joked that I'd left UKOLN to get away from the diagram and had no intention of saying anything about it!  Not quite true actually... I had prepared something to say about both the diagram and the work that went on around it but in the end I felt that the day needed something lighter and more anecdotal, so I sat down, stage front, mic in hand and said "I want to tell you a story" instead.

Ukoln30 This resulted in much piss being extracted by various of my current and ex-colleagues by way of reference to Val Doonican - Rachel Bruce (one of the authors of the new blog above) even went so far as to send me a photo of good old Val with the caption, "picture of you" :-)  I'll tell the story here, for posterity, another time - I know you're desperate to hear it.  I don't have the time right now.

Anyway, I digress... back to the diagram.  So having turned down an opportunity to talk about the diagram that day, I tuned into the live video stream from the JISC conference a few weeks later and found Sir Ron Cooke (Chair of the JISC) speaking to it in-front of an audience of practically millions.

Hey, if nothing else, it's certainly been good value.  If someone did a tag cloud of Powerpoint slides based on the number of times they'd been shown in JISC-related events, I reckon that diagram would be pretty sizable.

May 15, 2008

Google Friend Connect

This did the rounds fairly extensively on Twitter yesterday but is still worth a mention here...

Google have announced Friend Connect (currently on a limited beta release as far as I can tell) which "lets you grow traffic by easily adding social features to your website".  The following video gives a nice introduction to its use:

I haven't yet worked out if this is anything more than a set of widgets that allow you to layer social features onto an existing non-social Web site or whether it provides APIs that support proper integration with your local content and services?

Whatever... there's no doubt that it is an interesting development, and one that deserves more investigation, especially as we begin to see growing dissatisfaction with Facebook.  Google Friend Connect would, for example, have allowed us to add social features to the main symposium Web site this year, without needing to go out and create a separate social network on Ning.  Having said that, I have to confess that the example sites aren't very compelling currently.

An @foo convention for blogs

I've noted before in this blog that Twitter has a very simple convention for prefixing someone's Twitter account name with '@' to indicate that you are responding to them in your tweet - @andypowe11 for example.  (In Twitter, being made up of messages that are only 140 characters of plain text, all conventions are by definition simple!).  This allows me to reference another twit (someone who tweets) but doesn't tie my response directly to a particular tweet, or thread of tweets.  It works, within the confines of tweetspace because all Twitter account names are unique.

In the blogsphere we have the opposite problem.  If I want to respond to a particular blog post I can do so using the entry's trackback (or ordinary) URL.  But if I just want to refer to someone, as I did in my recent entry about podcasting, there don't seem to be any lightweight conventions for doing so.  I could use a microformat or an OpenID I guess, but my current blogging tool, Typepad, doesn't give me an easy way of doing so afaik?  In any case, the complexity of this approach makes it hard to see it taking off in the way that the @foo convention has done in Twitter.

So what I'd like, and please tell me if it already exists, is an easy way of dragging and dropping the names of the people I regularly refer to in my blog entries (there aren't that many btw!) into a blog post such that the result is more machine-readable than just the person's name as a text string.  Does such a convention and/or tool exist?

Podcasting in teaching and learning

Andy Ramsden and Lindsay Jordan up at the University of Bath have made a nice little presentation available on Slideshare providing an introduction to the use of podcasting in education - it's short and sweet.  Like most presentations on Slideshare, it would benefit from the addition of an audio track - hint, hint - mind you, I never get round to adding audio to my own slide shows, so I don't really see why I should expect others to do it.

I did wonder if 'reflection' should have been added to the list of 'student created podcasts' on slide 19?

Note that this is part of a series of enhancing teaching through technology events (a.k.a. @eatbath on Twitter).

May 14, 2008

Symposium thoughts

Some brief thoughts on the symposium which happened last Thursday...

Overall, it seemed to go well I think, with relatively few hiccups.  We had one near miss - a Mac which decided not to work 5 minutes before its owner was due to go on stage.  Oh, and the air-conditioning at the venue, which appeared to be totally broken.  Other than that, things went pretty smoothly.  Note that we've still got to read thru the evaluation forms in detail, so it may be that I've got this all wrong and people hated it! :-)

The talks seemed to be well received and I'm grateful to all the speakers for turning up and doing their stuff.  One of the problems with both chairing and getting involved in the technical side of the event (which I love doing) is that I find it very difficult to concentrate on what the speakers are talking about.  It's also difficult to do any real socialising :-(  We're currently waiting for the media from our streaming company to turn up at which point I'll watch all the talks again.  We expect this to be available via the Web site by Friday this week.

Photos from the event are available in the following video:

Alternatively, if you prefer your photos in a more static form, look on Flickr.

We had 180 delegates registered for the day.  For one reason or another about 25 of those were unable to make it, though some sent replacements in their place.  This is understandable - given illness, travel problems and so on - though somewhat frustrating.  With the delegate day rate we were paying for the venue it is perhaps worth noting that it probably represents something like £2000 wasted investment on our part.

We streamed the whole event live on the Web and about 60 additional people watched throughout the day.  In his opening talk, Larry Johnson of the NMC noted in passing that, given the rise of free video streaming services like Ustream.tv, it is no longer necessary to pay large sums of money to stream events live on the Web.  He may be right, though my personal view is that it is worth paying to get an experienced camera operator, sound engineer and vision editor.  Decent sound is, above all, absolutely critical in my experience.  On this occasion we chose to stream in Windows Media format (.wmv).  In part this was because the streaming company assured us that, given the greater number of Windows machines out there, this approach would lead to fewer compatibility problems than streaming in Quicktime (.mov).  I was also a little worried that if we streamed in a format compatible with Second Life, our virtual audience would fork into two sections (those in-world and those not) whereas we wanted them in one place to maximise the social aspects of the live chat facility (see later).  On reflection this was perhaps a bit of a hard line approach.  I certainly lost some sleep the night before the event, worried that Mac users wouldn't be able to see the stream.  However, as far as I can tell, this wasn't a problem for people.  I am aware of one issue, noted by a couple of bloggers including Joe Blogg - the streamed video wasn't good enough to read many of the slides.  Apologies for this.  With slightly more forward planning we could have got all the slides uploaded to Slideshare before the event (though I should note that at least two of the speakers were still tweaking there slides right up to the start of their talks!). 

Anyway, there's definitely room for some improvement in that area.

The use of Coveritlive as a live chat facility for both the delegates in the room on wireless and the remote delegates watching the video stream also seemed to be very successful.  Again, as chair, I didn't get as involved in this as I would have liked, but the virtual discussion certainly seemed to be flowing for most of the day.  We had a member of Eduserv staff in the venue (Mike Ellis) monitoring the chat for possible questions and asking them from the floor during the question and answer sessions at the end of each talk.  Furthermore, my co-author on this blog Pete Johnston, spent the whole day moderating the chat from the back of the room - a thankless task if ever there was one, especially seeing as moderation wasn't really necessary, but one that was imposed on us by the use of Coveritlive as the chat tool. Note that Coveritlive is not really designed for this purpose, it is really a live-blogging tool, so we were stretching its capabilities in rather unusual directions.  However, its ease of use (for delegates rather than for Pete) proved successful.  We also displayed the live chat on the screen in the venue during the Q&A sessions and this really helped to bring the remote audience into the room.

In his blog entry about the event, David Harrison (who spoke during the afternoon session) noted how odd it felt to be giving a presentation at the British Library in London, while his colleagues back in Cardiff answered questions in the live chat as he was speaking.

At this point I should stress that the video stream and the use of Coveritlive were completely separate.  We chose to co-locate them on the same Web page - such is the beauty of small tools, loosely joined - but they were unrelated and separate tools.  Coveritlive doesn't actually do streaming as far as I know.

Finally, we offered a Ning social network for the event, offering a chance for delegates, both real and virtual, to create a profile and share information about their interests - a kind of virtual delegate list if you like.  This worked reasonably well - at the last count there were 119 delegates signed up, though I don't currently know the balance between real and virtual delegates.

In his presentation, Chris Adie questioned whether Eduserv were taking risks in hosting such a network on an external service (because of data protection concerns primarily).  While I think there are valid issues to think about in this area, I don't think we were taking a risk at all - part of the point of using an external tool was to emphasise the topic of the day.  Indeed, I tend to think there is a greater danger in the paralysis that comes from being over sensitive to concerns about data protection, privacy and other legal matters.  Chris also made this point.

In his blog, Michael Webb questions the value brought by the social network, particularly for a one day symposium.  I have to confess I'm not sure either.  Some delegates reported using it to see who else was going to be at the event beforehand and it was very cheap to set up - free actually, though we paid a small amount to get rid of the Google adverts for a month.  So I'm not sure it matters too much.

Anyway, clearly there are things we could have done better - and we hope to do so next time - but all in all I'm pleased with the way the event turned out.  I hope those who took part feel likewise.

May 13, 2008

Grants - lack of feedback

We have just passed the second major milestone in our rather lengthy and convoluted research grants application process.  The 14 people who got thru the first round (where bidders had to submit a short proposal of no more than two sides of A4) have just finished submitting a longer and more detailed proposal to us (8 sides of A4).  These are about to be evaluated using a mix of Eduserv staff, trustees and external experts.  Then we will shortlist again and invite successful proposals (probably 7) to interview here at Eduserv HQ.  The aim is to fund 3, or 4 at the outside, projects this time around.

Unsuccessful bidders from the first round will know that we didn't provide any feedback this year as to why their bids failed to get thru.  This obviously upset some people and we have received some negative feedback as a result.  I can only apologise...  this was not a decision we took lightly and in previous years we have always tried to provide feedback to everyone who sends us a proposal.  For the record, I have literally lost sleep as a result of this decision.

Unfortunately, the volume and quality of the bids this year meant that we didn't feel we had enough effort to provide feedback to everyone.  We received almost 130 bids in the first round and the truth is that we rejected very few of them because they were poor or not fundable.  The bottom line was that we simply had to move from 130 to 15 and you can't do that without turning down a lot of perfectly good proposals.  In most cases I suspect we would have simply found ourselves providing feedback at the level of, "there was nothing particularly wrong with your bid, we just found other proposals that showed a better potential fit with what we are trying to do".  As a small funder we have to consider more than just the bids as individual entities.  We have to think about the programme as a whole, small as it is, how projects are likely to sit alongside each other, how they fit in with other activities at the Eduserv Foundation, and how they fit with Eduserv's charitable aims more generally.

So I suppose that those people who unsuccessfully bid to us might well be thinking, "well why didn't you put more of that information into the original call?".  We tried to, but we also didn't want to be too prescriptive in terms of the kinds of bids we wanted to see.  Hopefully, we've learned some lessons about the way we frame the call text and we'll do better next year.  I'm just hoping that the lesson our unsuccessful bidders have learned from this isn't, "don't bid to Eduserv because they don't provide feedback"!

May 12, 2008

FRBR & "Time-Based Media", Part 2: Clips/Segments

Following on from my previous post about applying the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) model to the case of Time-Based Media, this post works through one example, reflecting the requirement to be able to disclose/discover relationships between "whole" videos and segments/clips of those "wholes". While the example I'm sketching here isn't based on my actual experience, I think it is a reasonably realistic one.

Suppose I develop a machinima-based tutorial video introducing some of the features of Second Life for use by undergraduate students new to the application. I might make my tutorial available for streaming using my institution's streaming server, both in Windows Media Video format and in QuickTime format. And I might make a QuickTime version available for download as an alternative to streaming. I might also make a second copy of that QuickTime file - exactly the same content, quality, size etc - available for download from my personal Web site.

From a FRBR viewpoint, I think this would be represented as a single FRBR Work (W01), realized in a single Expression (E01), embodied in three different Manifestations (streamed Windows Media Video (M01), streamed QuickTime (M02) and downloadable QuickTime (M03)), with the first two of these Manifestations each exemplified in a single Item, and the last exemplified in two Items. The relationships between these resources are indicated in Figure 1 below.

Fig1

For the purposes of ths discussion I'm focusing on the FRBR "Group 1" entities (Work, Expression, Manifestation and Item); a full FRBR modelling of the resource would also include various flavours of "responsibility" relationships with Group 2 entities (Persons, Corporate Bodies) and "subject" relationships with Group 3 entities.

Using the FRBR RDFS vocabulary developed by Ian Davis and Richard Newman (I'm using this vocabulary rather than the set of terms defined as part of the Scholarly Works Application Profile project because SWAP defined terms for only a small subset of the FRBR relationship types, and here I need to make use of a wider range of those relationship types), and the Turtle RDF syntax, I'd represent this as something like the following (I'm deliberately focusing here on only the FRBR "Group 1" Work-Expression-Manifestation-Item relationships, and I'm also including the inverse relationships just to be explicit):

@prefix frbr: <http://purl.org/vocab/frbr/core#> .
@prefix dcterms: <http://purl.org/dc/terms/> .
@prefix ex: <http://example.org/examples/> .

ex:W01
  a frbr:Work ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial" ;
  frbr:realization ex:E01 .

ex:E01
  a frbr:Expression ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial, Version 1.0" ;
  frbr:realizationOf ex:W01 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M01 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M02 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M03 .
 
ex:M01
  a frbr:Manifestation ;
  frbr:embodimentOf ex:E01 ;
  frbr:exemplar ex:I01 .

ex:M02
  a frbr:Manifestation ;
  frbr:embodimentOf ex:E01 ;
  frbr:exemplar ex:I02 .

ex:M03
  a frbr:Manifestation ;
  frbr:embodimentOf ex:E01 ;
  frbr:exemplar ex:I03 ;
  frbr:exemplar ex:I04 .

So far so good. Having made this full tutorial video available, I then create a clip of the original, say, a segment focusing on the graphical preferences in the SL client which covers the topic in such a way as to be useful as a self-contained resource. And I choose to make that clip/segment available only as a download in QuickTime format, from my own server, not from the institutional server. So now we have a second FRBR Work (W02) - there is a significant difference in the content of the two videos - , realized in a single Expression (E02), embodied in a single Manifestation (M04), exemplified in a single Item.

And I can express the fact that there is a relationship between this second Work (my clip on graphical preferences, W02) and the Work corresponding to the original tutorial (W01). I think (but I'm not 100% sure) it would be appropriate to use a whole-part relationship between the two Works here.

And I can also express a whole-part relationship between the two Expressions (E01, E02). This might seem redundant, given the relationship between the two Works, but I think it does add additional information, and hopefully the value of this will become clearer below. For simplicity I'm leaving out the representation of the Items in the diagrams from now on.

Fig2

Or in Turtle:

@prefix frbr: <http://purl.org/vocab/frbr/core#> .
@prefix dcterms: <http://purl.org/dc/terms/> .
@prefix ex: <http://example.org/examples/> .

ex:W01
  a frbr:Work ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial" ;
  frbr:part ex:W02 ;
  frbr:realization ex:E01 .

ex:W02
  a frbr:Work ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial Segment: Graphics Preferences" ;
  frbr:partOf ex:W01 ;
  frbr:realization ex:E02 .

ex:E01
  a frbr:Expression ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial, Version 1.0" ;
  frbr:realizationOf ex:W01 ;
  frbr:part ex:E02 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M01 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M02 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M03 .

ex:E02
  a frbr:Expression ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial Segment: Graphics Preferences, Version 1.0" ;
  frbr:realizationOf ex:W02 ;
  frbr:partOf ex:E01 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M04 .

Now twelve months on, there is some change to Second Life functionality and I produce a slightly revised, extended version of my tutorial to take this into account. As much of the content remains the same, I think these should probably be modelled as two Expressions (E01, E03) of the same Work (W01), with a hasRevision/isRevisionOf relationship between them. Assuming I make the new version available in the same range of forms as the original, then the relationships between the two versions appear as follows, in Figure 3:

Fig3

Or in Turtle:

@prefix frbr: <http://purl.org/vocab/frbr/core#> .
@prefix dcterms: <http://purl.org/dc/terms/> .
@prefix ex: <http://example.org/examples/> .

ex:W01
  a frbr:Work ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial" ;
  frbr:realization ex:E01 ;
  frbr:realization ex:E03 .

ex:E01
  a frbr:Expression ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial, Version 1.0" ;
  frbr:realizationOf ex:W01 ;
  frbr:revision ex:E03 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M01 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M02 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M03 .
 
ex:E03
  a frbr:Expression ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial, Version 1.1" ;
  frbr:realizationOf ex:W01 ;
  frbr:revisionOf ex:E01 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M05 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M06 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M07 .

And I also create a new version of the clip on graphics preferences, a new Expression (E04) of my second Work (W02), and this new Expression is a participant in two Expression-Expression relationships:

  • it is a revision of the first Expression (E02) of that Work, and;
  • it is a part of the Expression (E03) corresponding to the new version of the full tutorial

Fig4_2

Or in Turtle:

@prefix frbr: <http://purl.org/vocab/frbr/core#> .
@prefix dcterms: <http://purl.org/dc/terms/> .
@prefix ex: <http://example.org/examples/> .

ex:W01
  a frbr:Work ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial" ;
  frbr:part ex:W02 ;
  frbr:realization ex:E01 ;
  frbr:realization ex:E03 .

ex:W02
  a frbr:Work ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial Segment: Graphics Preferences" ;
  frbr:partOf ex:W01 ;
  frbr:realization ex:E02 ;
  frbr:realization ex:E04 .

ex:E01
  a frbr:Expression ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial, Version 1.0" ;
  frbr:realizationOf ex:W01 ;
  frbr:part ex:E02 ;
  frbr:revision ex:E03 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M01 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M02 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M03 .
 
ex:E02
  a frbr:Expression ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial Segment: Graphics Preferences, Version 1.0" ;
  frbr:realizationOf ex:W02 ;
  frbr:partOf ex:E01 ;
  frbr:revision ex:E04 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M04 .

ex:E03
  a frbr:Expression ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial, Version 1.1" ;
  frbr:realizationOf ex:W01 ;
  frbr:part ex:E04 ;
  frbr:revisionOf ex:E01 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M05 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M06 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M07 .

ex:E04
  a frbr:Expression ;
  dcterms:title "Second Life Tutorial Segment: Graphics Preferences, Version 1.1" ;
  frbr:realizationOf ex:W02 ;
  frbr:partOf ex:E03 ;
  frbr:revisionOf ex:E02 ;
  frbr:embodiment ex:M08 .

At least, I think that's right :-) But I'd appreciate any feedback on whether that is an appropriate use of the FRBR hasPart/isPartOf relationships (or indeed on any other aspect of that example.)

Finally, I guess there's an alternative scenario in which when I come to update my tutorial I remake it more or less from scratch and I consider it a distinct Work from the original.

Fig5

And if I go on to create a new clip of my new tutorial, I can still indicate the relationships between the clips and their respective wholes as above, but I don't think there is any explicit relationship between the Works correspnonding to the two tutorials, or between the Works corresponding to the two clips (though of course the two Works would have a "created-by" relationship with the same Person, and probably a set of "has-as-subject" relationships with a common set of Concepts).

Fig6_2

May 11, 2008

FRBR & "Time-Based Media", Part 1

Under their Repositories and Preservation Programme, JISC is currently funding a number of short projects (see the overview of this activity by Rachel Bruce) to develop (or in some cases to explore the feasibility of developing) metadata application profiles for a range of different resource types. One of the considerations is the capability to search effectively across a merged dataset formed by aggregating metadata instances based on the different specifications, and - based largely on the experience of the Scholarly Works Applicaton Profile - the projects are exploring an approach based on the Dublin Core Abstract Model, i.e. the development, more specifically, of Dublin Core Application Profiles.

Further, given the use in SWAP of an entity-relational model based on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) model, at least some of the projects are also examining the use of FRBR as the basis of the models underpinning their profiles, in order that there is a common high-level model in use across the different datasets.

I am contributing to the project tasked with drafting a profile for the description of Time-Based Media, led by Gayle Calverley at the University of Manchester, and I'm starting to look at some of the issues involved in applying FRBR to this class of resource.

The immediate question, of course, is what we mean by "Time-Based Media"? And I think(!) the answer is something like "resources of which the content changes meaningfully with respect to time", or perhaps more simplistically, resources which have, or are experienced as having, a duration in time - so the primary focus is on moving images and audio.

I really wanted to use this post (and a few subsequent posts)

  • to work through some examples; and
  • to throw out some questions that I've been throwing around in the hope that some of the FRBRistas out there can set me straight; and
  • to highlight some of the complexity that I suspect is an inevitable consequence of applying the FRBR model to these resources

Despite the length of the FRBR report, and the range of examples provided, when I come to apply the FRBR model in some particular context, I often find myself with unanswered questions and looking more some examples that I can relate directly to the case at hand. So I was pleased to find that Martha Yee's chapter "FRBR and Moving Image Materials: Content (Work and Expression) versus Carrier (Manifestation)" from the book Understanding FRBR: What It Is and How It Will Affect Our Retrieval Tools is available on the Web. Here I just note a few of the points highlighted by Martha which helped guide my thinking about applying the FRBR model to Time-Based Media:

  • "a filmed version of a work intended for performance... is a new work" (Yee, page 118) (See e.g. the Romeo and Juliet examples in FRBR 3.2.1)
  • "Change from any other GMD, for example, text, music, sound recording, electronic resource, that is not moving image, into the moving image GMD motion picture or videorecording creates a new work by FRBR definition.... The reverse holds true, as well. Change from a moving image GMD to a nonmoving image GMD necessarily involves the creation of a new work. The change from a moving image to a still image or to a sound recording, for example, is so fundamental that the result has to be considered a new work" (Yee, page 121)
  • "any change in the sound, text, music or image of a moving image work creates a new expression of that work" (Yee, page 119) (See e.g. the Jules et Jim examples in FRBR 3.2.1)
  • A change in playing time is an indicator of a change between one expression and another (Yee, page 122)
  • Aspect ratio (intended proportion of image width to height) should be considered an attribute of the work, not the expression (Yee, page 123)
  • Colour should be considered an attribute of the work, not the manifestation (Yee, page 123)

When I'm exploring these sort of problems, I usually find I need to work through a few concrete examples, and try out various options, which I'll do in a series of follow-up posts to this one.

May 02, 2008

SWAP and ORE

There's an interesting mini-thread on the jisc-repositories list, started by the announcement by Google to drop support for OAI-PMH which Paul Walk blogged recently.

I reproduce my contribution here, partly because I haven't been blogging much lately and it seems a shame to waste the text :-) and partly because email messages have a tendency to disappear into the ether.

It seems to me that Google's lack of support for the OAI-PMH is largely a non-event - because their support for it was (ultimately) a non-event.  They never supported it fully in any case AFAIK and, in some cases at least, support was broken because they didn't recognise links higher in the server tree than the OAI base URL.

It highlights the fact that the OAI-PMH will never be a mainstream Web protocol, but so what... I think we spotted that anyway!

There are technical reasons why the OAI-PMH was always going to struggle (I say that only with the benefit of hindsight) because of its poor fit with the Web Architecture.  Whilst I don't suppose that directly factored into Google's thinking in any sense, I think it is worth remembering.

On the 'social' thing I very strongly agree and I've argued several times in the past that we need to stop treating stores of content purely as stores of content and think about the social networks that need to build up around them.  It seems to me that the OAI-PMH has never been a useful step in that direction in the way that, say, RSS has been in the context of blogging.

Simple DC suffers from being both too complex (i.e. more complex than RSS) and too simple (i.e. not rich enough to meet some scholarly functional requirements).  Phil Cross suggests that we need to move towards a more complex solution, i.e. SWAPOAI-ORE takes a different but similar step in the direction of complexity - though it is probably less conceptually challenging that SWAP in many ways.  ORE's closeness to Atom might be its saving grace - on the other hand, it's differences to Atom might be its undoing.  Come back in 3 year's time and I'll tell you which! :-)

I like SWAP because I like FRBR... and whenever I've sat down and worked with FRBR I've been totally sold on how well it models the bibliographic world.  But, and it's a very big but, however good the model is, SWAP is so conceptually challenging that it is hard to see it being adopted easily.

For me, I think the bottom line question is, "do SWAP or ORE help us build social networks around content?".  If the answer is "no", and I guess in reality I think the answer might well be "no", then we are focusing our attention in the wrong place.

More positively, I note that "SWAP and ORE" has quite a nice ring to it! :-)

Inside out - symposium update

Our annual symposium takes place next Thursday (8th May) at the British Library in London:

Inside Out: What do current Web trends tell us about the future of ICT provision for learners and researchers?

The day is intended to give people a chance to think about the potentially disruptive impact of current Web trends on the provision and use of ICT services within the educational sector, particularly higher education, and will feature talks from a range of perspectives including:

  • Larry Johnson (New Media Consortium, US),
  • Bobbie Johnson (Guardian),
  • Jem Stone (BBC),
  • Geoffrey Bilder (CrossRef),
  • Chris Adie (University of Edinburgh),
  • David Harrison (UCISA / Cardiff University)
  • and Grainne Conole (Open University).

I'm really looking forward to it... though right now things are a bit hectic with all the final preparations and what not.

The event is full but we are planning on streaming all the talks live on the Web, coupled with a live chat facility that will allow delegates (both those in the room and those watching the video stream) to discuss the presentations and ask questions of the speakers.

Presentations start at 10.30am, UK time.

Please note that it is not necessary to register to watch the video stream or take part in the live chat.  However, we have set up a social network for the event and we encourage you to sign up for this if you are planning on attending (either in person or via the video stream).  Doing so will give all delegates a better feel for who is in the audience.

Also note that all the presentations and streamed media will be made available after the event for those not able to see it live.

Finally, we are encouraging people to blog and Twitter about the event - if you do, please use the event tag, efsym2008.

For those with an interest in such things, we are using I S Media to do the live video streaming for us - the same people we used for the symposium last year.  The live chat facility is being done using Coveritlive, which is really a live blogging tool but it supports quite a nice moderated comment facility, so we are going to use it slightly outside its intended space.  It should work OK though.  The social network has been built using NIng.  I'm very impressed with the flexibility and power of NIng and I strongly suspect that would be possible to do an awful lot with it (given the necessary time!) - you basically get full access to the source code if you want it.  Despite that, in some ways I would have preferred to use Crowdvine for our social network, which I think offers a really nicely put together suite of social tools aimed specifically at conference delegates - but unfortunately, the costs were prohibitive for us given the money we are spending on other parts of the event.

Anyway, I'll be keeping my fingers firmly crossed between now and next Thursday and hoping that everything runs smoothly.

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