The Standards Dilemma - Digital Library Standards 2008


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Talk given in Edinburgh, May 2008

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The Standards Dilemma - Digital Library Standards 2008

  1. 1. The Standards Dilemma Strategic Content Alliance – Home Forum Edinburgh, May 2008 <ul><li>Alastair Dunning </li></ul><ul><li>JISC Digitisation Programme Manager </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>0203 006 6065 </li></ul>
  2. 2. Standards everywhere <ul><li>Digital content (file formats, metadata) but also software languages, Internet protocols, operating systems </li></ul><ul><li>It used to be so simple … create images as Tiffs, text as XML, make sure databases are SQL compliant </li></ul><ul><li>It still is that simple - Open standards should be at the heart of policy </li></ul><ul><li>But it’s no longer feasible to dictate standards </li></ul>
  3. 3. What have we learnt? (I) <ul><li>Standards have a context and cannot solely be dictated from top down </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Skills are required to implement and exploit them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>95% of acronyms are intimidating </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Take time and money to learn standards and related tools </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>METS (Metadata Transmission and Encoding Scheme) may be great, but it takes time to learn its ins and outs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Even ‘basic’ standards can be exploited in novel ways - but sometimes they are too limiting </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. What have we learnt? (II) <ul><li>Standards have a context and cannot solely be dictated from top do wn </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Different users require different standards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) is great for scholars … but for everyone else? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>On the other hand, simple TXT files may lack precision </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost of standards fluctuate wildly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>MJPEG2000 creates huge file sizes for moving images </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>But other formats are poorer quality </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open standards not necessarily the most suitable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>WAV, MP3 preferred to OGG by users for sound files </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. What have we learnt? (III) <ul><li>Metadata and the creation of digital silos </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Different metadata standards; more importantly different interpretations of metadata </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. basic Dublin Core vs granular VRA4 (Visual Resources Association) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Crosswalks and translation services exist, but are we fighting a losing battle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Different thesauri within the same communities? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Developing communities of practice which allow for early agreement and negotiation </li></ul>
  6. 6. What have we learnt? (IV) <ul><li>Standards may be fixed; but they inhabit an organic environment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Any standards policy that is implemented interacts with other issues throughout an institution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. Staff skills and training, costs, times, available software and tools, relationship to hardware and operating systems, required end uses. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Standards must be agile <ul><li>Not necessarily different external users; same users in slightly different ways </li></ul><ul><li>Media and syndication of content </li></ul><ul><li>Create once; re-use many times </li></ul><ul><li>Migration is not just about digital preservation; </li></ul><ul><li>XML to PDF, TXT, XLS, MDB, RSS, HTML </li></ul><ul><li>At least use tools which can get you to XML </li></ul><ul><li>Letting others use your data in unexpected ways - mash-ups, visualisation </li></ul>
  8. 8. What is JISC doing? <ul><li>Conversations with experts to provide guidance </li></ul><ul><li>UKOLN - wide-reaching concern for standards and metadata </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Netskills workshops </li></ul><ul><ul><li> / </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cetis - Standards for educational technologies </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>TASI (Technical Advisory Service for Images) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Soon to expand remit for sound and moving images - </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. What is JISC doing? <ul><li>JISC Standards Catalogue </li></ul><ul><ul><li> / </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Experts from JISC services (and beyond) provide information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New editions created over time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides entries on key standards, including risk assessment and take-up elsewhere, plus links to further documentation </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. What is the SCA’s involvement? <ul><li>Planning for next iteration of standards catalogue </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A catalogue tailored for different audiences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Providing informed advice on cost, skills required and suitability for respective audiences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advocacy campaign to promote use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Better understanding of audience requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hence events like today’s </li></ul></ul>