Professional Development

Code4Lib 2010 in Asheville

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 8:02 am

Asheville hosted a fantastic code4lib. Here are a few highlights:

  • Tuesday’s keynote. Cathy Marshall (Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research) discussed the nature of living digitally, where, for many, loss is an acceptable means of culling collections, where benign neglect is the de facto stewardship technique.
  • Galactic glitter glue with space debris. There was a proposal for the code4lib community to pursue cloud4lib, a cloud platform that would enable libraries to build and use a common infrastructure and service layer, the glue to hold everything together. Development enhances the entire platform, not just a single product or installation.
  • Public data. There are 3 cloud service models: infrastructure as service, platform as service, and software as service. Related to these service models is data in the cloud. One example is Google Fusion Tables, an experimental system for data management, collaboration, and visualization from Google Labs. For libraries, the cloud could include institutional data as a service.
  • Agile development. This one is all about IT project management and development cycles. When priorities and requirements change frequently (or are undefined) and others see IT as a black box, is it possible to build both software and trust? Sprint planning and iterative development make it possible to set priorities and to commit to certain functionality collaboratively.
  • Vampires vs. werewolves. How do you balance a stable production environment with a rapid upgrade cycle? How do you balance the needs of sysadmins and developers? You use puppet and nagios.
  • Thursday’s keynote. Paul Jones (Director of ibiblio.org and Associate Professor, UNC SILS) talked about Dunbar’s Number, attributed source (where liking and quality are functions of the communication source), and the changing nature of liabilities and assets on the social web (attention deficit is to multitasking as jargon is to slang as idiocentric humor is to internet memes).

c4l10 – tuesday/wednesday

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 5:17 pm

One thing I love about Code4Lib – I find out about projects that are complex, neat, well outside my technical expertise range, and every now and then, something that I can’t wait to play around with. I decided to spare everyone the gritty details from Tuesday & Wednesday – if you want to see them the session descriptions are on the code4lib wiki. But – a few common themes emerged (for me) through during the long sessions, lightning rounds, breakout sessions, and accidental discussions.

  • Code management, continuous integration, agile development and development frameworks were a recurring theme. People are seeking, and in some cases have found, good tools and methods for helping them develop more efficiently and effectively.
  • System integration – I heard several presentations that talked about using central platforms to show/manage/produce digital repositories, online catalogs, and website content. One platform used Fedora/active-fedora/Blacklight to bring together digital/book collections into a single discovery system. The eXtensible Catalog project has made a lot of progress with their drupal tools & there was some interesting talk of Islandora (a drupal plug-in for fedora).
  • Open source, open content, open solutions – It was nice to be in an environment where the ideas, tools, and projects focused on open source ideals. Ian Walls gave an interesting talk about his experience migrating from a proprietary ILS to Koha, countless presenters showed how open source solutions helped them do things not possible or too expensive in proprietary environments, and it was common to showoff ideas for solving problems in lots of different ways.
  • If tecchies are the canaries of technological change - the future is connected, cloudy, not based on a single client or operating system, not based on a single approach to solving complex problems, and not based on a single form of interaction. This conference included a wide mix of presentation formats (including an open Q&A session, a very active IRC channel, multiple lightning rounds, and one great screencast), featured virtual and real-world methods for solving common conference problems (coordination, events, spontaneous planning), and included a wide array of devices, platforms, and approaches to problem solving (e.g. virtual bookshelf browsing at NCSU, Univ. Wisconsin & Stanford).

Code4Lib Preconferences – Koha/blacklight/dev tools

Monday, February 22, 2010 5:32 pm

JP and Erik hit Code4Lib on Monday and started off with attending a pre-conference on Koha. Koha has hit version 3 & includes some interesting serials and acquisitions functionality now. The presenter was Galen Charlton, the programmer who previously helped ZSR on our Meridian implementation.

During the break we had an opportunity to chat with Evergreen & Koha users & found that the Acquisitions and serials implementations are in process (evergreen) or functioning (Koha). We had an interesting discussion about the utility of serials check-in.

During the dream-the-dream segment some ideas for best world scanrios included lots of talk of system integration – integration of digital library stuff with the ILS< integration of ERM stuff with the ILS, the integration of Koha/Evergreen.

After a lunch at Salsas JP & I split up. He hit the Blacklight session & I went to Dan Chudnov’s tools session in which we learned some python programming, talked about Django, Kohana, and the overall value of testing your code :)


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