The conference organizers have granted me the opportunity to do a poster presentation.
I’m disappointed that the abstract, included below, didn’t please all the reviewers. Two of them were enthusiastic, but the third obviously doesn’t see the value, mentioning that there are many other content management systems apart from ICE. It’s pretty hard to explain what ICE does in a few paragraphs, because it’s really more than a piece of software. Anyway, I’m thinking that maybe I should have proposed a more theoretical talk about why PDF-only document repositories are a bad idea and what can be done about it.
There are indeed many other CMSs, but I have not found anything that has the same distributed, version controlled, word-processor based, style driven, multi-output capabilities as ICE, not to mention the dashboard reporting and repository integration we’re tackling with ICE-RS. And I’m really sorry not to have the opportunity to talk about the issues in the conference session; but I’ll be there with a demo.
The Integrated Content Environment for Research and Scholarship: helping move repositories from Web 0.5 to Web 2.0
At Open Repositories 2006 there was lively discussion about bringing repositories onto “Web 2.0”, a theme of Open Repositories 2007. Yet many document repositories have not even made it to “Web 1.0”. For one thing, the default document format for repositories is Adobe’s Portable Document Format, and many can not even serve HTML documents and associated images. Thus many repositories are not really part of the fabric of the Web.
While PDF has the advantage that it can faithfully render documents for print it has a number of disadvantages; particularly in the areas of online usability, re-use, re-rendering and re-mixing of content. PDF should certainly be offered as a document format but so too should HTML, allowing more seamless online scanning, browsing and reading and better integration with the rest of the web via mechanisms such as browser extensions.
In this paper we introduce a project, the Integrated Content Environment for Research and Scholarship (ICE-RS) running from late 2006 until the end of 2007.
ICE-RS extends on an open source application (ICE) released by the University of Southern Queensland in 2005. ICE is a system that allows academic staff to work in a word processor using styles to capture the structure of their work, while providing a parallel HTML view generated automatically. Behind the scenes, documents are stored in the OpenDocument Format, which promises to aid in preservation.
ICE-RS aims to provide a toolkit for researchers to enable them to capture and manage content throughout its life cycle and create flexible, re-mixable HTML and preservation-quality XML as well as PDF. An example of re-mixing is the way ICE software can extract labeled parts from a long document to make an HTML-formatted slide presentation from key diagrams and specially marked-up text in the document.
ICE-RS includes a ‘working repository’, a version-controlled, distributed databased that can aggregate work from multiple researchers, capturing research reporting from the very beginning of its lifecycle, rather than just at the end, as is the case with most Institutional Repositories.
The working repository will produce a ‘dashboard’ view of research in progress, aggregating information about the writing process across research teams and institutions. ICE-RS will collect metadata from the very start of the writing process, and enable automated ‘zero-click’ ingest into an IR at the appropriate time, for example upon acceptance of a paper into a conference.
The ICE-RS project has established partnerships with other projects in Australia for integration with DSpace and Fedora, and Fedora client software including VTLS Vital and the University of Queensland’s Fez.
This paper will report on accomplishments with ICE so far; and the accompanying presentation will include a demonstration of the software.
ICE-RS is supported by the Systemic Infrastructure Initiative as part of the Commonwealth Government’s Backing Australia’s Ability - An Innovative Action Plan for the Future (http://backingaus.innovation.gov.au)