Jerome/COMET hack day: Fun in the Fens

Posted on August 10th, 2011 by Paul Stainthorp

Here’s a photo of the CARET (Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies) offices at the University of Cambridge, where we held our log-awaited joint Jerome/COMET hack day, on Monday 8 August. Actually, in the end, it turned out to be a kind of Jerome/COMET/SALDA/synthesis/OUseful mashup-AH!

Jerome/COMET

In attendance (for the record):

Train mayhem aside (in the end the Lincoln contingent didn’t arrive until nearly midday), it was a really useful day and well worth doing. Particular thanks to Ed Chamberlain and his colleagues for hosting the event and for arranging the food and refreshments. Thanks also to everyone who travelled from afar for no other reason than they love a good mashup.

Typically, the ever-prolific Tony Hirst has already managed to write up not one, but two blog posts about ideas that came out of the day:

  • Getting Library Catalogue Searches Out There…
  • Open Data Processes: the Open Metadata Laundry (N.B. this one relates specifically to Jerome – in particular, our notion of ‘scrubbing’ dodgy MARC records by taking only the identifiers plus the bare citation-only fields, and using that minimal set to grab additional free and Open data from the web, automatically creating new full versions of records that are inherently Open. ‘Metadata laundry’, me like.)

Here are three more ideas/conversations we had in Cambridge that I thought were going somewhere interesting. Yeah, we might get around to actually doing these, sometime…

1. Using COMET data to enhance Jerome

The ideaSimilar to the ‘metadata laundry’, above, and to the way Jerome already uses data from the Open Library, JournalTOCs, LibraryThing, etc., to enhance its book records with additional metadata. Jerome constructs a URL in the form http://data.lib.cam.ac.uk/isbn/_______, with the ISBN from the Jerome record dropped in at the end. COMET responds with a link to an open record in RDF and/or JSON, which Jerome gladly sucks in, adding any additional fields to its original source record. Enrichment ensues.

2. Using Jerome search to ‘skin’ COMET

I called this one “Jerome Scholar” ;-) …we make use of the search aspects of Jerome (in particular, the speed of Sphinx, the ‘mixing desk‘ idea, the neat record presentation, to provide a really smooth way of interacting with the much more well-structured (hence “Scholar”) data that resides in COMET.

3. Using the differences between the two datasets to tell us something interesting

I have a notion that there’s something inherently useful about being able to compare two versions of a record for the ‘same’ object. If we could use Jerome+COMET to generate a web application/data feed – one that other discovery services could themselves consume, we’d have ways of ‘sparking off’ whole new avenues of discovery: from misspelled names, variant titles, different subject terms assigned by different cataloguing practices, etc. Like xISBN, but for non-standardised data(?). All right, that’s the fuzziest of the three ideas. And as the eminiently sensible Owen Stephens kept asking me, “…what’s the use case?”.

And then we went to the pub.

And then we went to the pub.

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