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June 16, 2008

Web 2.0 and repositories - have we got our repository architecture right?

For the record... this is the presentation I gave at the Talis Xiphos meeting last week, though to be honest, with around 1000 Slideshare views in the first couple of days (presumably thanks to a blog entry by Lorcan Dempsey and it being 'featured' by the Slideshare team) I guess that most people who want to see it will have done so already:

Some of my more recent presentations have followed the trend towards a more "picture-rich, text-poor" style of presentation slides.  For this presentation, I went back towards a more text-centric approach - largely because that makes the presentation much more useful to those people who only get to 'see' it on Slideshare and it leads to a more useful slideshow transcript (as generated automatically by Slideshare).

As always, I had good intentions around turning it into a slidecast but it hasn't happened yet, and may never happen to be honest.  If it does, you'll be the first to know ;-) ...

After I'd finished the talk on the day there was some time for Q&A.  Carsten Ulrich (one of the other speakers) asked the opening question, saying something along the lines of, "Thanks for the presentation - I didn't understand a word you were saying until slide 11".  Well, it got a good laugh :-).  But the point was a serious one... Carsten admitted that he had never really understood the point of services like arXiv until I said it was about "making content available on the Web".

OK, it's a sample of one... but this endorses the point I was making in the early part of the talk - that the language we use around repositories simply does not make sense to ordinary people and that we need to try harder to speak their language.


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"I had good intentions around turning it into a slidecast but it hasn't happened yet, and may never happen to be honest"

An approach Cameron Neylon took when he spoke at a UKOLN seminar was to have Camtasia software (although the open source JING software would also do) running as he presented, capturing his slides and his live demos along with his audio. This means no subsequent synching was needed.

And if this is too scary for a live talk (running extra software on the PC you're presenting on) you could get a friend in the audience to do this for you).

Brian Kelly, UKOLN


I've tried doing the same with audacity in the past. Indeed, Adrian Stevenson explicitly reminded me to do so just before I went on stage at the Talis meeting ("don't forget to start audacity") via Coveritlive.

I didn't do so...

In my case, I'm not convinced that the version of the talk that I give live is the best thing to use as the basis of a slidecast. Perhaps it's just the way i give talks :-) though I guess I'd have to concede that it is better then nothing! I guess I worry that my live performance is a bit too messy or something - which you can get away with in the room but it doesn't come across well when viewed / listened to after the event.

It definitely works for some people though...

I'd hope that a focus on "making content available on the web" would not only help researchers understand what's going on, but would also make it easier to sell small projects to management.

Although my last project (http://wals.info/) turned out nicely, it wasn't particularly easy to free the simple "put content that used to be a book on the web" from over-the-top expectations on innovative repository architectures.

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