RSP at repositories and the open web

23rd April 2010, by

On the 19th April 2010, I attended "Repositories and the open web" in London organised by CETIS. The theme of the meeting was to discuss how Web 2.0 / social sharing sites compare to repositories when used for the management and dissemination of learning materials.

For many of us in the research repository world (including here at the RSP!), the focus is on the repository - what its features are, how do we get people to put stuff in it etc. This meeting took a different perspective and focused on different ways of hosting, sharing and enabling discovery. The CETIS website provides a summary and links to the papers and Phil Barker has provided a personal view on his blog.

Phil included in his initial presentation, a paraphrase of a comment by Andy Powell of Eduserv: teaching and learning materials are not well served by conflating discussion of them with Open Access research outputs. David Millard from EdShare highlighted that, with learning resources, there is no preservation driver as there is with research publications - they are more ephemeral. However, the presentations and discussions were thought provoking so I've drawn out some of the issues that struck a resonance with me.

  • Repositories are storage mechanisms, "Google fodder" and we should spend our effort on making deposit easy and the repository highly discoverable and not on creating web 2.0 type features. Conversely another view was from a project that had developed these features in e-Prints.
  • Work with the technologies that are already there.
  • Metadata - keep it simple. Particularly for learning resources, people don't look at the metadata (particularly educational metadata), they look at the object.
  • The importance of beginning with your community when setting up a repository (or alternative). Often pilot and project work is done with early adopters who may have very different characteristics to the majority.
  • The difference between the open web and the social web. iTunesU is closed but very social!
  • The need for guidelines on creating RSS feeds to improve their quality. The experience of Xpert at the University of Nottingham highlighted this as a problem for their project in using RSS to develop a distributed repository.

Interestingly, we'd been having some discussions here at the RSP about an event which takes a broader perspective of repositories with a working title of "Doing it a bit differently" - if you have any thoughts on this, do e-mail me at the link below.


For further information contact Jackie Wickham.

Alternatively, email RSP Support or phone 0845 257 6860.