Thursday, December 11, 2008

UCLA's Borgman contends that scholarly information infrastructure must facilitate collaboration

Recently, a colleague shared an article in which Christine L. Borgman, a professor of information studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, contended that the new “scholarly information infrastructure” must be shaped with collaborative, interdisciplinary research in mind.

I pointed out that Amazon's new Astore object is a commercial example that could be adapted for research purposes. My reply:

We are rapidly entering the age where web-based data structures are becoming extremely important to continue leveraging the intellectual capital that has expressed itself on the web. Although a commercial example, Amazon’s new Astore collaborative Associates program is one example of how this is achieved. Each Amazon associate has the ability to configure an Astore that is targeted to a specific visitor demographic. For example, my blogs focus on various aspects of history. I have constructed an Astore that is a linked compendium of resources (products like books and film) that provide further information about history of particular periods that I have further categorized by civilization and topic.


If you click on the link for History-Rome, you will find links to subcategories for

Romans-Julius Caesar
Rome-The Etruscans
Rome-Early Period
Rome-The Republic
Rome-Julio-Claudian Period
Rome-Hadrianic Period
Rome-The Late Empire
Rome-Weapons and Warfare
Rome-Daily Life

Eventually I will populate the other categories in a similar way as time permits. Just think of how a similar concept could be used to facilitate the identification and retrieval of research materials. Amazon has configured the Astore construction tool to combine a search of the product database with a categorization tool that creates folder categories that you can move up or down in the folder list or indent as a subcategory of an existing category. Each category folder is assigned a unique ID that does not change so you can also call each specific folder as the primary display object for web pages with specific topic references. For example, I also constructed an Astore for a nonprofit arts foundation in California. If you select the web page to view their Historical Figures of England group page you will see a display featuring books that focus on English History:

If you choose a particular figure on the Historical Figures of England page, like Henry VIII, the Astore will display books about The Tudor Period:

I accomplish this by placing the Astore permalink information in the foundation’s filemaker database record for the Henry VIII figure. I then call the information with Php via Filemaker’s Php support facility in combination with a third party scripting tool, FX.php.
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