Conference Call with O’Reilly Atlas

I inquired about O’Reilly Atlas (using the “Invite Me” button on their main site, and they emailed back and set up the conference call) because it looks like it could be good for so many things that I work with on a regular basis for digital scholarship, digital humanities, and other single-source needs for web and print projects, like annotated editions.  O’Reilly is in private beta for O’Reilly Atlas, “A powerful authoring platform built on Git” per the website The site slides/flier on O’Reilly Atlas make it look like a great option for digital scholarship projects including annotated editions and book-form or printed catalog-forms for online exhibits, teaching guide books which often need to be both web-based/born and printable, conference proceedings, academic books (like those published by university presses), and others like electronic theses and dissertations (which are often written with MSWord templates and very specific on formatting, which is great for a professional and polished looking final product, but which can be painful to create).

Right now, the tools I recommend for all of these vary based on the people and project needs, which isn’t an ideal situation for me or for building a cultural awareness and critical capacity for single sourcing print/web/mobile/many-device publications. I’m hoping that O’Reilly Atlas could help as one solution or tool in a garage of many for these needs. Plus, O’Reilly has a good reputation and track record for doing good/smart things that can be affordable and usable by academic communities, so it may be a fit for others even if it isn’t for the projects and work that I do.

In the conference call with O’Reilly Atlas, I asked if it was okay to blog about the call and they said it was. I wanted to include this with specifics on what and why I had the call because I’m trying to remember to share more about my processes and activities when I’m trying to get more information on software/tools and on evaluating software/tools.  I often don’t share about software that I’m testing or on the testing process simply because I’m focused on spending time on testing.  And, because a lot of software simply isn’t where it needs to be–for usability, total cost of ownership, functional and non-functional requirements, and all of the other considerations that come into play for evaluating software for fitness and appropriateness–testing and evaluation takes up a lot of critical time. I’m always happy when other folks share reports on their software/tool tests and so I’ve been trying to do this more often, and trying to do more of it for the full process. The process of evaluation and sharing of evaluative results and reasoning is a very useful contribution that digital humanists and others make to the larger academic and communities, so I’m trying to remember to better support this as well.

Overview for My Day of DH Activities

I’ve already noted that I’m not as prepared for today as I’d like to be because of great work like preparing for THATCamp-Gainesville. It’s also a rainy day, and it shows with the photo of UF’s Century Tower with cloudy skies. To help structure my so far unstructured posts, here’s a bit of background on what I do overall and on my plans for the day.

I’m the Digital Humanities or Digital Scholarship Librarian at the University of Florida. My focus is on the socio-technical (people, policies, procedures, technologies) supports for digital scholarship and data curation, and is focused on socio-technical supports that build from core infrastructure (or scholarly cyberinfrastructure). My work is best summarized as relationship management (and thanks to Sarah Bleakney for describing her work this eloquently and allowing me to borrow her description) where I work with others on collaborative teams and to build the supports for collaborative activities, for what the UF Libraries term transformative collaboration (current strategic plan development) and UF’s Research Computing calls radical collaboration.

Shifting Focus: From Building Socio-Technical Cyberinfrastructure to Building Upon Socio-Technical Cyberinfrastructure 

In the past, I’d been more focused on building the core foundation for infrastructure and I’m now more able to focus on building from the core infrastructure, but both are done together, so it’s a difference of focus.  I’ve been able to shift the focus because UF uses the SobekCM Open Source Software for our Digital Asset Management System, Repository, and Digital Scholarship/Curation Activities. The SobekCM software is in use by institutions around the world and powers the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC, and many other shared/collaborative collections, single institution collections, and shared and single digital scholarship collections.

SobekCM has evolved over many years, and in the last few has really come together for superb integrated support for library needs (patrons/users and internal) as well as for scholarly needs for new works of digital scholarship and integration with research and teaching. Thanks to SobekCM’s excellence, I’ve been able to build from a focus on digital collections and libraries for library needs (which always also includes patron/user/public needs) into focusing on greater integration for data curation, working with the wonderful UF Research Computing folks, and greater integration with research and teaching at UF and beyond. For instance, in Fall 2013, I was on the support team for the Distributed Online Collaborative Course (DOCC, a feminist rethinking of the MOOC, and more on this from the Fembot Collective) for the Panama Silver, Asian Gold: Migration, Money, and the Making of the Modern Caribbean course which was simultaneously and collaboratively taught by Leah Rosenberg at UF, Donette Francis at the the University of Miami, and Rhonda Cobham-Sander at Amherst College (see syllabi and presentation slides).

Today’s Planned Activities

With the core of my work being relationship management, I spend a great deal of my time with email, face to face conversations, phone calls, meetings, planning meetings, events (planning, attending, developing, etc.), as well as a great deal of time on background and administrative work with review of materials for digital curation, digital/data curation of materials, writing reports, developing proposals, etc.

With the changed focus from building socio-technical cyberinfrastructure to building upon it, my more recent activities have included working with the new UF Digital Humanities Library Group, which is a new library-focused group that operates in parallel with the UF Digital Humanities Group from across campus, and then working in and with these and many other groups and individuals to support the next steps of needed activities.

For today, I’ll soon be attending an open house for the Cataloging & Acquisitions Departments in the Libraries, which have recently moved within the Smathers Library (which houses Special & Area Studies Collections and many of my core collaborative partners). To me, it’s important to attend events like this to show support for colleagues and to be present. With research showing that collaboration falls off when people are more physically separated (50 meters is a critical distance per the Allen Curve, and thanks to Lynn Siemens for sharing this in a presentation at THATCamp Caribe) and given that my work requires fostering a culture of collaboration, attending events is very important so that I am present and that I support opportunities for collision spaces/places and serendipities that are made possible by people being together and having others on their minds for those activities.  Later today, I’m going to lunch with one of the researchers for MassMine, which is software and  tools for data mining by academics for academic needs. After that, I’m attending presentations by researchers in Cuban History and Cuban Studies in the Latin American & Caribbean Collections Library.

Other than those planned events, and a conference call on HTML5 based digital publishing software, I plan to work on review of student-created scholarly resources for requesting permissions to add to the Digital Library of the Caribbean, reports/proposals on data curation and Digital Humanities teaching, and catching up on email and other conversations.

My plans often change in relation to new opportunities and discussions that come up, so we’ll see and I’ll try to share as much as possible on this blog.


Open Repositories 2014 and SobekCM

I’m excited to share that Mark V. Sullivan’s and my proposal to Open Repositories 2014 has been accepted, which we just learned last night. Mark will be attending the conference while I’m attending the ACURIL conference as the Technical Director for the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC,  Our proposal is on SobekCM’s Community Ecosystems & Socio-Technical Practices, and it’s online.