Benchmarking Open Source: Measuring Success by "Low End" Adoption

In an article about Kuali adoption, the Chronicle of Higher Education quotes Campus Computing Project director, Kenneth C. Green as saying,

With due respect to the elites that are at the core of Sakai and also Kuali, the real issue is not the deployment of Kuali or Sakai at MIT, at Michigan, at Indiana, or at Stanford. It’s really what happens at other institutions, the non-elites.

Indeed, all government- and charity (read, “foundation”)-funded open source projects should measure their success by adoption at the “low end.” That goes for library and museum technology as well; we could easily replace MIT, Michigan, Indiana, and Stanford in Mr. Green’s quote with Beinecke, Huntington, MoMA, and Getty, Though we still have a long way to go—the launch of will help a lot—Omeka aims at just that target.

Briefly Noted for November 22, 2009

What’s Happening? New Twitter Question Makes More Sense for Digital Humanities — Yesterday Twitter changed its update prompt from “What are you doing?” to “What’s happening?” There is a lot of subtle speculation on what the change means for Twitter and how it does or doesn’t reflect changes in user behavior over time. But at least for the digital humanities crowd, which uses Twitter largely as a place to share links, content, and news—rather than simply to provide personal status updates—the new question seems more appropriate.

Briefly Noted for November 20, 2009

CONTENTdm 5.2 Released — OCLC has released version 5.2 of its popular digital collection management software, CONTENTdm. Among the new features, CONTENTdm 5.2 includes improved PDF print support and reduced indexing times for text collections. Version 5.2 is available at no additional charge to current license holders.

Think ChromeOS is Competing with Linux? Think Again. — It would be easy to see Google’s announcement of Chrome OS—a lightweight, web-focused operating system—as a shot not only at Microsoft and Apple, but also at popular Linux distributions, especially those focused on the netbook experience like Ubuntu Netbook Remix and Mobiln. In fact, Canonoical, the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu has announced it is “contributing engineering to Google under contract” for Chrome OS and its open source code base, Chromium OS. Noting that “open source development is as much about co-operation as it is about competition,” Canonical says Chrome OS is “a positive development, bringing choice to the consumer.” In this case, Canonical says the choice will be between Ubuntu, which “will continue to be a general purpose OS running both web and native applications such as OpenOffice,” and Chrome OS, which will provide an entirely web-based user experience. We’ll have to wait and see how this goes down with the Linux community at large.

Archiving Social Media

In an article posted yesterday under the title 5 Ways Social Media Will Change Recorded History, Mashable co-editor Ben Parr writes,

For the first time in human history, the day-to-day interactions between people are being permanently recorded and formatted in easily organizable segments of information.

I don’t disagree that social media is poised to change the way the history of the early 21st century is written. But I’m not at all convinced social media interactions are being “permanently recorded” or “formatted” in ways that will be useful to future historical inquiry. As a session organized by Jeff McClurken at this year’s THATCamp made clear, there are still lots of unanswered questions swirling around the issue of archiving social media. Indeed, I’m not sure we understand the full range of questions involved—standards and interoperability, privacy and copyright, preserving context, mapping personal networks, etc., etc.—let alone the answers.

For nearly a decade now, my colleagues at the Center for History and New Media and I have been investigating the problems and opportunities that internet ephemera presents for scholars and archivists, exploring and implementing best practices for collecting the born-digital record of unfolding events through projects like the September 11 Digital Archive and the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank. New social media and their traces (Tweets, Facebook status updates) present a new set of questions for this ongoing project. If past experience tells us anything, the full range of those questions won’t be readily apparent until we begin the actual work of archiving social media. It also suggests we have to move quickly.

With that in mind, we are already getting down to business, laying the groundwork for a 2010 workshop of collections professionals, scholars, social media experts like Ben Parr, and representatives from the most popular social networking services to start this project and make sure these unprecedented—but as yet still potential—historical riches are in fact “permanently recorded” and properly “formatted” for scholarly access.

Stay tuned.

Briefly Noted for November 18, 2009

"How to Write a Zotero Translator" Now in Print — Another great resource from Adam: his comprehensive guide to building a Zotero translator is now available in print from LuLu. As Adam points out, I was the one who asked for this, so I guess I finally have to get off my backside and learn how to write a translator.

Writing Great Documentation — Jacob Kaplan-Moss of Django has some tips for writing software documentation, including thoughts on what to write, style, and the importance of editors.

Briefly Noted for November 16, 2009

Aggregate Your Friends’ Links with Twitter — Via @james3neal another great link: The Twitter scours your Twitter stream for links posted by your friends, grabs the content of those links, and assembles that content daily in a newspaper-style layout for your reading convenience. Stories are ordered according to how many of your friends have tweeted the link in question, and an RSS feed is provided if you’d rather get the content in your reader. It’s a nice way to keep up with what’s hot on Twitter without constantly watching the stream. For instance, yesterday I hardly checked Twitter at all, yet with Twitter I know that six of the people I follow tweeted a link to Mark Sample’s recent post, Digital Humanities Sessions at the 2009 MLA. Now, I already subscribe to Mark’s blog, so I eventually I would have read the post anyway. But not knowing how helpful my friends found it, and not being a lit guy myself, I may not have paid the post much attention. And, of course, if I didn’t subscribe to Mark’s blog, I wouldn’t have caught the link at all.

Briefly Noted for November 15, 2009

Enterprise 2.0 — I hadn’t heard it before, but apparently the term “Enterprise 2.0” is familiar enough in certain circles to serve as the title for a conference series that began this month in San Francisco. Defined by the conference organizers as a “term for the technologies and business practices that liberate the workforce from the constraints of legacy communication and productivity tools …” making accessible “the collective intelligence of many, translating to a huge competitive advantage in the form of increased innovation, productivity and agility.” So, basically, Web 2.0 for business. Despite being somewhat obvious, however, I think it may be a useful catchall for certain developments Dan, Mills, and I have been following over the past few years on Digital Campus, including the increasing adoption by universities of Gmail and other cloud-based email solutions and the addition of student bloggers to admissions office payrolls.

Adam Crymble on How to Archive a Conference — Noting that conferences and workshops are ephemeral events, especially those that don’t produce a white paper or edited volume, our friend Adam Crymble offers some suggestions for the kinds of things that can be saved of a conference and ideas for how to present those products after the conference has ended. We have tried to do some of this for THATCamp, but Adam outlines a more deliberate and considered approach that we should explore in 2010.

Briefly Noted for November 14, 2009

Cloud Computing in Plain English — In September, I pointed to a definition of cloud computing developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which, though thorough, was also thoroughly unreadable. Now Common Craft—the company made famous for its simple, pencil and paper video explanations of commonplace internet technologies such as RSS—has released a short video explaining Cloud Computing in Plain English. Now this could help your elevator pitch.

Revised Google Books Settlement FiledGoogle, the Authors Guild, and the Publishers Association have filed a revised settlement with the court hearing the Google Books case. From my quick first reading the main changes include: placing the orphan works registry in the hands of an independent trustee which will oversee funds generated from their sale; allowing third party companies to license and resell the entire database; providing more room for companies other than Google to negotiate deals of their own with copyright holders; and an agreement to purge books published outside of the U.S., Canada, the U.K. or Australia (i.e. in the EU) from the database. It’s hard to say, but it seems like these concessions should satisfy many of critics.

Briefly Noted for November 13, 2009

Book Lending at Twitter Speed: Thoughts from Josh Greenberg — Based in part on ideas raised during his appearance on the latest episode of Digital Campus, Josh Greenberg (@epistemographer) speculates on the future of book lending under the doctrine of first sale in a digital economy where access to copyright material can be lent, returned, and logged at Twitter speed. Assuming a  “hyper-efficient distribution system,” if a given book only ever has ten simultaneous readers worldwide, could a print run of ten be enough to serve the whole world? Something to chew on over the weekend.

Jono Bacon on Roadmaps for Successful CollaborationsUbuntu Community Lead, Jono Bacon, knows something about building communities of collaboration. In this post, he provides some specific guidance (and wiki templates) for using structured “roadmaps” to help manage collaborative projects.