It’s all just stuff

I was doing a preso this morning about our data repository  development work – the slides are available at slideshare if you’re interested – and someone asked the question as to what the relation was between a print repository, ie a traditional online repository of pdf’s of research paper such as is traditionally provided by eprints or dspace and a data repository.

Well I don’t like term ‘data repository’ – its really digital asset management – storing things, in this case research data so that it can be found again and potentially reused. And that really is digital asset management.

And data in a university can be research data or learning data – ie course material, podcasts, powerpoints and the rest.

Research data of course comes in a vast variety of forms – data is anything with structure

  • spreadsheets of species abundance by location
  • stellar images
  • indexed word lists for text analysis
  • audio of spoken endangered language
  • pictures of artefacts
  • etc etc

It’s all what you can do with it – as exemplified by Tim Sherrat’s recent Harold White Fellowship lecture. It’s all just stuff.

And as it’s all stuff that means that print loses its sacredness. Probably it’s better to think of print as just one delivery medium – and if you start thinking about research objects – just as we think about learning objects rather than learning data – we can say here is the excel spreadsheets of the data, here is the electronic lab notebook detailing what we did, here is the research paper, and here’s a video of the conference presentaion – all simply different presentations of the same research object.

A little abstract I agree. But then to watch John Kenny playing a carnyx tells you a hell of a lot more about a carnyx than a host of research papers


About dgm

Former IT professional, previously a digital archiving and repository person, ex research psychologist, blogger, twitterer, and amateur classical medieval and nineteenth century historian ...
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