Names Project Blog

Managing identities

Posted in conferences by Amanda Hill on 25 March, 2009

Edinburgh Castle at dusk

Edinburgh Castle at dusk

The JISC conference was held in Edinburgh this year and has been widely held to be a great success. The parallel sessions included a fairly interactive one on identities, called ‘As You Like Identity’, which has been fairly comprehensively blogged about by Rach Colling and also by James Farnhill. (And yes, I am the Amanda mentioned in Rach’s post.) Conclusions from this group included the need to help people to be aware of the significance of their online presence (for example in relation to potential employers checking people out) and the difficulties of correcting false or presented-out-of-context information.

In the afternoon I attended the session on e-theses, which was chaired by Owen Stephens and also thoroughly blogged by him (which is quite an impressive feat). Author identities were only touched upon in passing here, but the Entry to EThOS (E2E) project at King’s College is using student record systems to populate name (and other) metadata associated with electronic theses, which sounded interesting. The overlap between the people involved in the creation of theses and those who are producing research outputs is clearly high, meaning that there will be good reasons in the near future for the Names Project to work together with those involved in managing e-theses and digitising the paper versions.

Repository Infrastructures

Posted in identifiers, meetings by Amanda Hill on 17 March, 2009

Sint Nicolaaskerk, Amsterdam

Sint Nicolaaskerk, Amsterdam

An international meeting on the subject of repositories is going on in Amsterdam at the moment, jointly sponsored by JISC, the Surf Foundation and DRIVER and organised by UKOLN. The meeting’s aims are listed as these:

1. to review the current position
2. to come to a shared vision of an international repositories infrastructure or, at least, the infrastructure components that might best be developed internationally
3. to identify the essential components of an international repositories infrastructure
4. to review the approaches to sustainability, scalability and interoperability being taken by these components, bearing in mind the wider research infrastructure
5. to agree ways to resolve any issues identified in (3) above, including areas where practical international collaboration would help
6. to identify critical success factors in achieving the progress identified in (4) above, bearing in mind the current position
7. to consider ways in which the progress might be coordinated and reviewed over time

Yesterday began with a presentation by Norbert Lossau of the DRIVER project which set the scene for the workshop. There are about 100 attendees, who were then invited to attend one of the four breakout groups to draw up action plans which will be presented to various representatives of funding organisations today. Quite a tall order, this, but it certainly concentrates the mind (although I don’t get the impression that the funders are going to be in a position to hand out cash right now…).

The group that is of most relevance to the Names Project was the one looking at ‘Interoperable Identification Infrastructure’. Which is quite a hard phrase to get your tongue around. My impression (mainly gleaned from the lively Twittering that was emanating from the other groups) was that this ended up being quite a small cohort, compared to the other sessions. It was certainly quite tightly focused, thanks in large part to the chair of the group, Andrew Treloar of the Australian National Data Service. Andrew had expressed concern about the connotations of the location we had been allocated, namely the Batavia room, as this was an infamous Dutch ship that became shipwrecked in Australia, resulting in mutiny and murder. As it turned out, our discussion was certainly lively, but rarely mutinous.

It was quickly decided to put the initial priority on identifying people, organisations and digital objects. The original draft had also included identification for funding programmes, research projects and collections of digital objects. The action plan for further progress is gradually coming into shape and this morning we will be continuing to work on it, so that there is something for the funders to discuss this afternoon. A closing keynote by Cliff Lynch of the Coalition for Networked Information will bring the main event to its conclusion.

I recommend following the Twitter tag #repinf09 for live updates on today’s discussions. Although not from me, I’m afraid. I have great admiration for those who are able to Tweet while listening: it was all I could do to take in everything was being said, without the additional burden of trying to summarise it for the rest of the world. And they say it’s men that can’t multi-task…