Monthly Archives: October 2009

Day-to-day work

1.scrum meeting + meeting minutes

  1. see the progress made by what people present – what they did yesterday, what they expect to do today, and what worked for them. Allow the manager to keep track of how the project development is progressing and how the team are performing.
  2. find and solve potential problems before they become significant or expensive!

2. collaboration on code

  1. Allows developers to learn from each others’ expertise; permits peer-review of code (extreme programming-style?) and review of functionality.
  2. A long-term goal for this approach is to encourage developers to share code, to think of it as ‘our code’ rather than ‘my code’ and to be more open to review, reuse, constructive criticism, etc.

3. moving code between machines & testing code on different workstations

  1. A single functional installation does not mean that a development project is finished, since it may be very difficult to set up on other platforms, to understand or to reuse.
  2. It should be functionally portable and include all necessary libraries, scripts, datasets and configuration to promote remote development, reuse and external contribution to the codebase.
  3. This also encourages review and testing since it tends to highlight any difficulties with installation and use of newly developed components.

Active collaboration and a flexible approach to development in particular tend to optimise productivity, in that time spent coding also has a knowledge sharing component – and there is relatively little time spent becoming familiar with code before beginning to contribute. scenarios

Title: Looking for a supervisor for a research project
Author: Emma Tonkin and Debra Hiom

Narrative: Alice is a student at the University of Oxford. She is looking for a supervisor for her MSc level research in Information Science. She knows what sort of research area she wants to work in, and she has found several example papers of interest to her. She would like to be able to use those papers as a first step in looking for researchers working in that area who either work at her university, an affiliated institution or somewhere geographically local. She would like to get back a list of researchers, their institutional and departmental roles and their previous work and supervisory experience.

Title: Classifying events and forums by listed participants
Author: Em (adapted from Ana’s Tea For Two article, D-Lib)

Narrative: Jonathan is a researcher in evolutionary linguistics. He has become very interested in possible mathematical mechanisms for describing the nature, growth and adaption of language, as he has heard that others, such as Partha Nyogi, have done some very interesting work in this area. Unfortunately, Jonathan is not a mathematician and finds that some of the detail is hard to follow. He realises that what he really needs to do is either to go to the right sort of event or the right sort of online forum and find some people who might be interested in exploring links between his specialist area and their own. Both of these are difficult in their own ways. To go to the right sort of event would mean identifying what sort of event that would be, and he does not have enough money to go to very many. So he chooses to look up possible events and web forums, thinking that he can look through the participant lists for names that he recognises. This is greatly simplified by a system that uses information about the papers and authors that he considers most relevant; with this information it is able to parse through lists of participants in events or online communities in order to provide him with a rough classification of how relevant the group is likely to be to his ideas.

Title: Building a ‘dance card’ for an ISRC event
Author: Em

Narrative: One of the purposes of an ISRC (Information Sciences Research Council, a fictitious but plausible organisation) event is to encourage the serendipitous meeting. Rather than simply assuming that synchronicity at the coffee-table will carry the day, the ISRC decide to produce a ‘dance card’ that suggests several other individuals that you might like to meet. Whilst elements of the composition of this ‘dance card’ are resultant from program managers’ knowledge of the individual’s interests and character, the service can be used to quickly build some interesting (and at times amusing) meeting suggestions, based on the individuals’ papers and output, and/or on the names and ISRC-held descriptions of the projects on which the individuals work.

Title: Facilitating collaboration in a multidisciplinary research environment
Author: Em

Narrative: Ben is an anthropologist with a particular interest in the area of paleolithic archaeology. He works in the Department of Humanities. He is very interested in exploring likely patterns of migration, and particularly in the idea that this activity may have been driven by climate change. However, the Department of Humanities has limited funding for the purpose of data collection and interpretation regarding modeling of climate change, so it is not possible for him to develop a paleoclimate simulation system. Therefore he decides that it is more appropriate for him to look for other people who have other reasons to be interested in modeling of this kind, particularly during the time period in which he is interested. This is not a trivial problem for several reasons; firstly, he does not usually publish in the same area as paleoclimatologists and therefore is unlikely to make chance acquaintances. Secondly, he and they have very different ways of describing their areas of interest, and therefore there is quite a lot of interpretation required in order to ascertain that the datasets they require are (or are not) closely related.

Title: Recording collaboration; figuring out what worked best
Author: Em

Narrative: Jennifer is a program manager for the Information Sciences Research Council, a fictitious but plausible organisation that funds information sciences research in the UK. She is tasked with deciding the future direction of ISRC funding for research-related events and related online community grants in the UK. In order to facilitate the decision, she decides that it is necessary to seek some evidence able to characterise the profile of past exemplars of these events, and the current state of the online groups that they fund. Her analysis shows that certain events attract a broad and diverse set of individuals from organisations all over the UK, and give rise to unexpected and interdisciplinary collaboration, whereas certain others attract fairly closed cliques of similarly focused individuals who are also linked online by Twitter accounts and other mechanisms for informal communication. This aids her in making her eventual decision regarding which events should receive greater funding.

SWOT Analysis:


Good knowledge of data source aggregation and normalisation
Agile rapid prototype development and evaluation
Links to IEMSR, FixRep, Aggregator: internal resources – strong support network

Staff time is limited
Various programming languages in use

Lots of interest in auto-extraction of community networks data
University of Minho now have funding to take work forward
University of Leiden interest in specific technical tagging
Learning from NAMES and enhancing other existing services like NAMES
FixRep stuff: data provenance, evaluation, quality assurance
Establishment of user community

Reliance on external services/data
Quality of source data and availability of source data is variable
User community not firmly established