Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Experimenting With Repository UI Design

I'm always on the lookout for engaging UI paradigms to inspire repository design, and I recently noticed that Blogger has made some new "dynamic views" available. It provides a variety of smart presentation styles aren't a million miles away from the ones emerging on smartphone apps, combining highly visual and animated layouts.

So I've imported some repository contents into Blogger to get some hands on experience, and I'd be interested in any feedback on whether this looks useful or compelling.

These views suit various different types of material, but the constant theme that is emerging is that a good visual is pretty much de rigeur for any resource. This means that relying on the thumbnail image of an article's first page is not going to be a good strategy (hint: they all look the same.) I can forsee the need to extract figures and artwork from the PDFs and Office Documents uploaded to a repository.

(Over the next few days I hope to put some more examples on the blog to help get a better feel for how this will work. But I think I might make a bulk Blogger exporter for EPrints because manual cut and pasting is only enjoyable for a few minutes!)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Mobile Use of Repositories

While looking at the impact of mobile devices on the development of the Web I found useful information in this March 2011 press release from web analytics company StatCounter, charting the rise of Android.
StatCounter data also pinpoints the rise and rise of mobile devices to access the Internet. The use of mobile to access the Internet compared to desktop has more than doubled worldwide from 1.72% a year ago to 4.45% today. The same trend is evident in the US with mobile Internet usage more than doubling over the past year from 2.59% to 6.32%.
I thought I'd see whether this behavior applies equally to repositories and so I had a poke around in the usage states for and this is what I found:
  • 53,285 PDF downloads from 27 March 2011 (4am) - 3rd Apr 2011 (4am).
  • Of these 33,304 are attributed to crawlers and 19,981 to real browsers.
  • Only 0.93% of the browser downloads occur on mobile devices (70% iOS, 22% Android, 7% Blackberry and 1% Symbian)
The use of mobiles that we are seeing for accessing research outputs in repositories is less than 1/4 of the general use of mobile Internet. An obvious reason for that is the unpalatable mixture of PDF pages and small devices, but popular applications like Mekentoshj's Papers and Mendeley for iPhone seem to indicate that an attractive mobile experience should be possible.
That implies that there's another exciting opportunity for repository developers to up their game!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Faculty of 1000 Posters - Still Looking for a Silver Bullet

The F1000 Open Access Poster Repository was brought to my attention by a recent Tweet. I love repositories with posters in - they're copyright-lite and very visually attractive - and I've long advocated for more use to be made of these kinds of scholarly communication. With some success, I have pushed hard for the poster artwork to be made available online in all the conferences I have been involved in organising.

The Faculty of 1000 has a special relationship with some Biomedical conferences, inviting authors to upload their posters to the open access F1000 site. Perhaps this is an effective new way of gaining open access to specific kinds of early-report research material?

The F1000 posters site contains 909 posters. 649 of those are derived from 28 invited conferences (an admirable average of 23 posters per conference), and the remaining 260 posters are uploaded on an ad hoc basis from authors attending 148 other conferences (an average of 1.7 posters per conference).

While it is clear that the invitation approach is much more effective than the laissez faire approach, the huge size of biomedical conferences (often displaying several thousand posters over the course of four days) means that the overall success rate of this OA strategy is only 4.2% (a figure I reached by counting the total number of posters at a sample of 7 of the 28 invited conferences).

So, still no silver OA bullet!