Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Unexpected advice

During the NDF2011 today I was in "Digital initiatives in Māori communities" put on the the talented Honiana Love and Claire Hall from the Te Reo o Taranaki Charitable Trust about their work on He Kete Kōrero. At the end I asked a question "Most of us [the audience] are in institutions with te Reo Māori holdings or cultural objects of some description. What small thing can we do to help enable our collections for the iwi and hapū source communities? Use Māori Subject Headings? The Iwi / Hapū list? Geotagging? ..." Quick-as-a-blink the response was "Geotagging." If I understood the answer (given mainly by Honiana) correctly, the point was that geotagging is much more useful because it's much more likely to be done right in contexts like this. Presumably because geotagging lends itself to checking, validation and visualisations that make errors easy to spot in ways that these other metadata forms don't; it's better understood by those processing the documents and processing the data.

I think it's fabulous that we're getting feedback from indigenous groups using information systems in indigenous contexts, particularly feedback about previous attempts to cater to their needs. If this is the experience of other indigenous groups, it's really important.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Goodbye 'social-media' world

You may or may not have noticed, but recently a number of 'social media' services have begun looking and working very similarly. Facebook is the poster-child, followed by google+ and twitter. Their modus operandi is to entice you to interact with family-members, friends and acquaintances and then leverage your interactions to both sell your attention advertisers and entice other members of you social circle to join the service.

There are, naturally, a number of shiny baubles you get for participating it the sale of your eyeballs to the highest bidder, but recently I have come to the conclusion that my eyeballs (and those of my friends, loved ones and colleagues) are worth more.

I'll be signing off google plus, twitter and facebook shortly. I my return for particular events, particularly those with a critical mass the size of Jupiter, but I shall not be using them regularly. I remain serenely confident that all babies born in my extended circle are cute, I do not need to see their pictures.

I will continue using other social media as before (email, wikipedia, irc, skype, etc) as usual. My deepest apologies to those who joined at least party on my account.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Recreational authority control

Over the last week or two I've been having a bit of a play with Ngā Ūpoko Tukutuku / The Māori Subject Headings (for the uninitiated, think of the widely used Library of Congress Subject Headings, done Post-Colonial and bi-lingually but in the same technology) the main thing I've been doing is trying to munge the MSH into Wikipedia (Wikipedia being my addiction du jour).

My thinking has been to increase the use of MSH by taking it, as it were, to where the people are. I've been working with the English language Wikipedia, since the Māori language Wikipedia has fewer pages and sees much less use.

My first step was to download the MSH in MARC XML format (available from the website) and use XSL to transform it into a wikipedia table (warning: large page). When looking at that table, each row is a subject heading, with the first column being the the te reo Māori term, the second being permutations of the related terms and the third being the scope notes. I started a discussion about my thoughts (warning: large page) and got a clear green light to create redirects (or 'related terms' in librarian speak) for MSH terms which are culturally-specific to Māori culture.

I'm about 50% of the way through the 1300 terms of the MSH and have 115 redirects in the newly created Category:Redirects from Māori language terms. That may sound pretty average, until you remember that institutions are increasingly rolling out tools such as Summon, which use wikipedia redirects for auto-completion, taking these mappings to the heart of most Māori speakers in higher and further education.

I don't have a time-frame for the redirects to appear, but they haven't appeared in Otago's Summon, whereas redirects I created ~ two years ago have; type 'jack yeates' and pause to see it at work.