code4lib 2015

C4L-ajamie

450 people from around the world gathered in Portland Oregon last week for the 10th annual code4lib library technology conference.

On Monday, approximately 18 pre-conferences were held in half and and full day sessions mostly comprised of demos, tutorials and discussion groups. I attended a morning session on linked data lead by Tom Johnson of DPLA and Karen Estlund of the University of Oregon. As a developer, the demonstration of the ruby gem ActiveTriples was particularly interesting in its ability to quickly model content into RDF classes and properties that can seamlessly connect to fedora 4 persistence or any extensible back end.

In the afternoon I attended a GeoBlacklight demo lead by Jack Reed and Darren Hardy of Stanford. The Stanford GeoBlacklight is a leading map collection interface that allows for spacial search, presentation, and discovery based on the development of metadata schemas, conversion workflows, and interface presentation components. The workshop focused on using the VirtualBox virtual machine and Vagrant setup environment to bring up an instance of geoblacklight in minutes.

On Tuesday the conference proper started with a keynote by Selena Deckelman. Her talk focused on the importance of leading the coding community based on principles of inclusion of beginners and marginal groups. The presentations on Tuesday expanded on that theme with talks focused on users, teams, developers and experiences in dealing with library technology challenges.

The presentations of Wednesday were more technically focused. Thursday morning a closing keynote was given by Andromeda Yelton who encouraged building systems with tools designed to best satisfy the “wanderlust” behind user’s and patrons’s drive to discovery. In between the 20 minute presentations were 2 hour long lighting talk session comprised of 5 minutes talks by 12 people. I thought the keynotes nicely framed the conference, the lightning talks were a great way to digest and get a pulse on what people were working on. As a developer I was particularly interested the the presentation of tools providing facility, such as Kevin Clarke’s presentation of Packer, a dev-opts tool for deploying to virtual machines, and Stanford’s OEmbed service for offering embeddable links to their digital collections, and a presentation by Stanford’s Rob Sanderson and Naomi Dushay describing the experience attempting to integrate their ILS, digital collections, and discovery indexes.

On Thursday afternoon and Friday, I attended working groups focused on fedora 4, hydra’s support of fedora 4, content modeling, and the linked data platform. The discussions were vigorous, and it was a beneficial mental exercise to spin out the various content model concepts of collection/work/file, the distinction between the “aggregates” and “members” predicate, and how to use the LDP Direct and Indirect Containers to deal with assets, rights, and ordering proxies, although I’m afraid not much was resolved. But DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) appears very interested in furthering these concepts into usable models that may promise to be a great step forward in furthering metadata discovery and interoperability.

All in all worthwhile, keeping an eye on next year’s conference, venue TBD.

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