Panlibus Blog

Andy Powell is spot on

Former colleague Andy Powell is always good value, and this recent blog post about his trip to Melbourne is one small demonstration of why I will always listen to him.

It’s hard to nod vehemently in a blog post, and as it’s the school holidays in this part of the UK, screaming ‘Yes’ at the computer just results in children banging down the door to see if I’m ok…

So let me draw out three short snippets…,

“…our current preoccupation with the building and filling of ‘repositories’ (particularly ‘institutional repositories’) rather than the act of surfacing scholarly material on the Web means that we are focusing on the means rather than the end”

“…our focus on the ‘institution’ as the home of repository services is not aligned with the social networks used by scholars, meaning that we will find it very difficult to build tools that are compelling to those people we want to use them”

“…that the ‘service oriented’ approaches that we have tended to adopt in standards like the OAI-PMH, SRW/SRU and OpenURL sit uncomfortably with the ‘resource oriented’ approach of the Web architecture and the Semantic Web”

…comment briefly…

Our current approach, fundamentally, is totally, completely, utterly wrong, isn’t it?

…and then send you off to read the whole thing. Off you go

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2 Responses

  1. Chris Keene Says:

    “Our current approach, fundamentally, is totally, completely, utterly wrong, isn’t it?”

    Yes and no.

    As a Institutional Repository Manager I may be biased but try to see things from a neutral pov.

    As I see it, IRs are *Infrastructure*, like email servers, web servers etc they are the plumbing, but not the end user experience. They are Joined up Silios!

    Other resources (web sites) will use the data within IRs (using the protocols mentioned above) to help with discovering, linking, browsing and whatever else (very web2.0ish) people will think of in years to come. and the Ethos project are just two ‘early days’ examples.

    Why *Institutional* Repositories? The Institution created the research (in the same way that white papers from Talis go on to the Talis website), they have the structure and resources to managed and oversee the submission of IRs. etc. And an IR allows the institution to use the IR as a source for other needs and services, such as web academic profiles (CVs) or for management information.

    In my mind the idea that a piece of work produced at an institution is available from that institution makes sense. The key thing will be other web services building on these data pools to create useful and exciting service.

    One final point on “…rather than the act of surfacing scholarly material on the Web” surely the problem is that scholarly material on the web is locked behind subscription services, and that isn’t going to change, hence repositories (and open access journals).

  2. Owen Stephens Says:

    Not totally and utterly wrong of course. I believe we need systems to manage these things – however, what we don’t need is for the ‘management’ and ‘system’ to become the focus of what we are trying to achieve – which has happened in some areas.

    Andy I think skips over some work happening in the area, while focussing on the problems – fair enough, but not the whole picture. My feeling is that the problems we have are not just about how we are doing it, but also what we are trying to do – we are bolting non-native web material into the web, and this seems to be difficult.

    See my own post on for some expansion on this.

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