Tag Archives: data

Week 11: The commentary on Newserve

5 Oct

Newserve is a data mashup entry of LibraryHack. A mashup is “a web page, or web application, that uses and combines data, presentation or functionality from two or more sources to create new services”. The goal of Newserve is to make the related data visible to search and to use. It is a good product but it needs to be developed further. You can see the following video (from 3colors) which shows several steps of the search process.

The search interface is easy to understand for finding relevant information. It includes the map with relevant timeline glider on the top. It makes the search visible by using selected Google map data, State Library of NSW‘s newspaper catalogue data and Trove digitized newspaper metadata and relevant content. On the map-based interface, the user can see the available newspapers with their metadata from State Library of NSW and/or Trove during every specific time period. The time can be changed by simply moving the timeline glider on the top. This data mashup is created by Shahid (the web and data miner), Iqbal (the  web and solution implementor) and Asif (the designer). The designing team analyses the information first. Then the selected information fields are used. The datasets are indexed and arranged on the map with the related timeline. As a result, all the metadata about the newspapers in State Library of NSW collection and all the digitized newspapers’ contents with their metadata are combined together. It is interesting that when a user presses the play icon on the top, the timeline is gliding automatically and the map is showing the information about the newspapers at the same time.

The usability of the mashup seems to need some improvements. Basically, it is usable and useful. The search field is limited in two sections: catalogue data and Trove data. The search is available by inputting a title, and/or a location, and/or time for the catalogue information in State Library of NSW collection. For the newspaper collection in Trove, a user even can type a keyword for the search, in addition to typing a title, and/or a location, and/or time. Then the content of the newspaper will appear. Of course, a user can search the metadata information in Trove section too. But, the keyword search was confusing at some points when I conducted some search. This aspect is essential for user experience. Thus, the usability needs to be improved.

According to its goal, this mashup need develop further. The mashup is not as simple as it seems. The goal for this design is “to provide a single point of access to all newspaper resources in libraries of Australia – whether it be just catalogue information of the newspapers stored in the libraries of Australia or be the digitized newspaper collections”. But the available datasets are not sufficient for this good intention. Furthermore, experimental Trove API is used to access Trove data. The official Trove API is developing now. So, if the official API is launched in the future, this mashup might be not useful anymore. This aspect is connected with the current situation of the datasets. Stephens states that the “creative thinking, professional knowledge and technical skills” are crucial along with the understanding of the available data and the potential services to successfully mash up the data. (Stephen, 2011, p. 245). Hence, the data are important for the success.

In conclusion, this mashup has bridged some gaps between the content of the newspapers, the metadata of the newspaper, the location, and the timeline visually. It is a good try. The visibility of the data of this creation looks amazing. The design team has creative ideas, good expertise. However, to manipulate the raw data to create a popular web design product, the user experience needs to be investigated further. This includes more skills in the interaction design. And the datasets also need to be sufficient to enhance the search. The format of the mashup can be designed further too, such as adding audio datasets, if it is possible. The creation process seems endless!

Reference

Stephens, Owen. (2011). Mashups and open data in libraries. Serials: The Journal for the Serials Community, 24(3), 245-250. doi: 10.1629/24245