Discovering Discovery

As I mentioned in a recent post I’ve been involved in UK Discovery ( – an initiative to enable resource discovery through the publication and aggregation of metadata according to simple, open, principles.

Discovery is currently running a Developer competition. Others have already blogged the competition, but what I wanted to do here was note the reasons for running the competition, capture some ideas that I’ve had, and hopefully inspire others to enter the competition (as I hope to myself).

Firstly – why the developer competition? For me I hope we can achieve three things through the competition:

  1. Engage developers in/get them excited about Discovery
  2. Get feedback from developers on what works for them in terms of building on Discovery
  3. Start building a set of examples of what can be achieved in the Discovery ecosystem

If we achieve any of these I’ll be pretty happy. We are still at early days in building an environment of open (meta)data for libraries, archives and museums, but the 10 data sets we are featuring in the competition provide good examples of the type of data we hope will be published with the encouragement and advice of the Discovery initiative.

On to ideas. The list below is basically just me brainstorming – my hope is that others might be inspired by one of the ideas, or others might contribute more ideas via the comments. (I’ve already picked one of the ideas below that I’m going to try and turn into an entry of my own – but for the purposes of dramatic tension, I won’t reveal this until the end of the post!)

  • Linked Library Catalogue. Rather than having a catalogue made up of MARC (or other format of choice) records, rather simply a list of URIs which point to the bibliographic entities on the web. Build an OPAC on top of this list by crawling the URIs for metadata and indexing locally (e.g. with Solr). Could use Cambridge University Library, Jerome and BNB featured datasets as well as other bibliographic information on the web.
  • What’s hot in research? Use the Mosaic Activity Data, the OpenURL Router data and other relevant data (e.g. from research publication repositories) to look at trends in research areas. Possibly mash up with Museum/Archive data to highlight relevant collections to the research community based on the current ‘hot topics’?
  • Composer Bookmarklet. Use the MusicNet Codex to power a bookmarklet that when installed and used would link from relevant pages/records in COPAC/BL/RISM/Grove/BBC/DbPedia/MusicBrainz to other sources. Focus on providing links from library catalogue records to other relevant sources (like recordings/BBC programmes)
  • Heritage Britain. Map various cultural heritage items/collections onto a map of Britain. Out of the featured datasets English Heritage data is the obvious starting point, but could include data from Archives Hub, National Archives Flickr collection, and the Tyne and Wear Museums data.

Remember that although entries have to use data from one of the featured data sets (I’ve mentioned them all here), you can use whatever other data you like…

If you’ve got ideas (perhaps especially if you aren’t in a position to develop them yourself) that you think would be great demonstrations or just really useful, feel free to blog yourself, or comment here.

And the one I’m hoping to take forward? The Composer Bookmarklet – I’ll blog progress here if/when I make any (although don’t let that stop you if you want to develop one as well!)


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