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The Year of Blogging Dangerously


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The Year of Blogging Dangerously: Lessons from the "Blogosphere". This talk will describe how to build an institutional repository using free (or cheap) web-based and blogging tools including,,,, and We will discuss some strengths and limitations of these tools and what Institutional Repositories can learn from them.

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The Year of Blogging Dangerously

  1. 1. The Year of Blogging Dangerously Lessons from the “Blogosphere” Dr. Duncan Hull “dullhunk” PostDoctoral Research Associate School of Chemistry, 23rd April 2009 Manchester e-Scholar Institutional Repository
  2. 2. Dangerous summary <ul><li>I’ve Spent the last ~ year building an institutional repository </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Using free and cheap web-based “blogging” software tools: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> , myexperiment .org , citeulike .org , friendfeed .com , and wordpress .com part of the “Blogosphere” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>There are some valuable lessons to be learnt from these tools: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pros: Things they do well </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cons: Things they do badly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The dangerous currents I’ve witnessed while bathing in the blogosphere </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Let me demonstrate… </li></ul>Picture from
  3. 3. An Institutional Repository is for Saving and Sharing the Digital Intellectual Property of a Research Institution online
  4. 4. The Institution: “ The University of Me and My Mates ”
  5. 5. Me My Data & Intellectual Property (I.P.) 1. Papers I’m reading and writing 2. Laboratory Notebook 3. Slideshows 4. Software (workflows) 5. Images (photos, figures and illustrations) Notebook picture from
  6. 6. Two things I need to do with my data <ul><li>1. SAVE all of it </li></ul><ul><ul><li>NOT on a local hard-drive (unreliable) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>remote location via the Internet </li></ul></ul>Sharing picture from Mmmm…Sharing is Good! <ul><li>2. SHARE some of it on the World Wide Web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>With my social network </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>& anyone else who is interested </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BUT Only when I’m ready to </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. don’t share everything immediately </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. 1. Papers I’m reading or have written Defrosting the Digital Library Hull, Pettifer and Kell PLoS Computational Biology Save and share personal digital library, organise all pdf files and metadata in one place on the Web
  8. 8. <ul><li>2. Lab Notebook , notes, journal club, scribbles, opinion etc </li></ul><ul><li>blogging software powers </li></ul><ul><ul><li> that’s me “ Bioinformatics Blogger ” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> Doug Kell, the “ BBSRC Blogger ” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> the “ Baghdad Blogger ” </li></ul></ul>Publish notes, people can comment: See wordpress .com and for details 1,475 views as of 2009 Blogging is powerful but can be dangerous!
  9. 9. Why is blogging dangerous? <ul><li>Putting Intellectual Property on the Web, mostly with Creative Commons “Attribution” license </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anyone is free to copy, distribute, transmit, remix and adapt the work… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Must attribute work to original author </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BUT Plagiarism without attribution? “Scooping”? Sacrificing originality? Losing I.P.? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>FREE SPEECH: You can say whatever you like on a blog!!! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Very powerful and liberating </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But no “safety net” of peer review before publication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make friends and influence people but also… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lose friends and alienate people </li></ul></ul><ul><li>FUNDING “The F-word” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not on the funding bodies radar of acceptable research outcomes </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Dangerous risks mostly compensated for by benefits Dr. Cameron Neylon, Biochemist Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) and The University of Southampton I started up a blog and all I got was five invites to give keynotes, ten new collaborators, introduction to new funding bodies, an interview in Nature , an invite to Science Foo Camp , three papers...and a couple of T-shirts Cameron’s Blog: “Science in the Open” With thanks to John Dupuis “Confessions of a Science Librarian”
  11. 11. 3. Slideshows @ slideshare .net/dullhunk 15,732 views! Professor Carole Goble test Save and share powerpoint presentations for viewing in web browser
  12. 12. Speaking of shows… <ul><li>Another talented British woman of similar age to Carole … </li></ul><ul><li>Now seen more than 37 million times (according to youtube .com viewing statistics) </li></ul><ul><li>The Web is very powerful way of saving and sharing data (e.g. Talent shows / Slide shows) </li></ul><ul><li>People love statistics! So let them eat stats… </li></ul>Susan Boyle Image from The Guardian <ul><li>15,000+ views is very impressive … </li></ul>
  13. 13. 4. Software recipes <ul><li>Share workflows for analysing data from distributed databases </li></ul><ul><li>See myexperiment .org </li></ul>
  14. 14. 5. Images See - Photos - Figures - Illustrations Store and share images on the web
  15. 15. The University of Me: Essential Features <ul><li>Feeds, anyone (or anything) can subscribe, automatic notification of updates </li></ul><ul><li>(technology: ATOM / RSS) </li></ul><ul><li>Updated daily (never “finished”) 24/7 always-on </li></ul><ul><li>Allows comments </li></ul><ul><li>Everything important has its own URL (or URI) </li></ul><ul><li>Integral part of the Web, can be linked to… </li></ul><ul><li>Indexed by Google etc </li></ul>Cartoon from Personal: “me-Science” and “Selfish Scientist”
  16. 16. “ The University of Me and My Mates ” “ My Mates” = Trusted friends + colleagues, mostly PostDocs and PhD students, Globally distributed, young “Google Generation” but includes some more senior scientists
  17. 17. Integrates all data from citeulike, wordpress, flickr, myexperiment and slideshare via feeds into one place … and all my peers too Voting and commentary Can be noisy but interesting data usually floats to the top Trusted Social Network of ~30 peers See “Microblogging the ISMB” Saunders et al PLoS Computational Biology
  18. 18. Things the tools do well: Thumbs up <ul><li>Easy (and often fun) to use, very lightweight </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Special tools to make it easy to upload data (widgets, clients, plugins, browser buttons etc) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Viewing statistics: “this thing has been viewed x times” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Each site does one thing (and one thing only) very well </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Flickr for photos (and video) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Citeulike for scientific papers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wordpress for blogging etc </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Friendfeed (social feed integration) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Destination and a service </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Allows embedding and re-use of data elsewhere </li></ul></ul>Borat Very Nice, Me Likes!
  19. 19. But there is a problem: Thumbs down <ul><li>These tools are great but… </li></ul>Simon Cowell
  20. 20. Sharecropping is a system of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crop produced on the land and see also
  21. 21. Web Server Space is just like agricultural land… <ul><li>I’m a sharecropper on the plantation </li></ul><ul><li>I’m a sharecropper on the plantation </li></ul><ul><li>I’m a sharecropper on the slideshare, </li></ul><ul><li>myexperiment and friendfeed plantations </li></ul><ul><li>Each Web Server is run by a “landlord” who can </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Change their terms without notice (e.g. stop being “free”) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increase rent (e.g. stop being cheap) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decrease the quality of service they provide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Become bankrupt and lose all my data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>or be bought up by bigger companies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This could leave my valuable data stranded! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Long term storage is compromised, this could be dangerous </li></ul></ul><ul><li>I do not own the “land” or “plantation” that I “farm” data on </li></ul>
  22. 22. Enter Institutional Repository <ul><li>This is where Manchester e-Scholar and other Institutional Repositories can help </li></ul><ul><li>Solve the “sharecropper” problem? </li></ul><ul><li>Solve the longevity problem? </li></ul>
  23. 23. Conclusions <ul><li>Institutional Repositories should copy other web-based and blogging tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to use and sociable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to upload all kinds of data, have some privacy options </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on archiving specific types of data really well (rather than archiving everything badly) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Give every important thing a URL (and DOI’s would be great too) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Feeds (ATOM and /or RSS) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Viewing Statistics </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But give us longevity, make it last </li></ul><ul><li>Be both a destination AND a service </li></ul><ul><li>There are already lots of really good tools for saving and sharing data </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional Repositories compete directly with these </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Acknowledgements <ul><li>Phil Butler for the invitation to speak today, and Jan Wilkinson JRULM </li></ul><ul><li>Refine Project www. nactem .ac. uk/refine </li></ul><ul><li>Sophia Ananiadou and Douglas Kell </li></ul><ul><li>Jun'ichi Tsujii, Pedro Mendes, Steve Pettifer, Yoshimasa Tsuruoka BBSRC grant code BB/E004431/1 </li></ul><ul><li>www. myGrid .org. uk and especially Carole Goble and Robert Stevens </li></ul><ul><li>Peter Weir, Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson etc for title of this talk adapted from “The Year of Living Dangerously” film </li></ul><ul><li>Any Questions? </li></ul>