Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Connotea + ED + SWAN

Anyone who is following this blog will notice that I stopped blogging some time ago. I guess I'm old enough to be "old school", and I worry about putting half-baked ideas online because they become associated with my own reputation (such as it is! LOL!). Chances are, that isn't true! I am probably looking at Blogs far too formally, and assuming that my peers read blogs in the mindset that they read peer-reviewed papers... and while I know that is not true, it's still difficult for me to get over that perception.

Nevertheless! This evening I was having a conversation with Ben Good and he convinced me that I should put the content of that conversation up on my Blog so that he could run with it, create a killer-app, take-over the world, make a fortune, claim credit, and then acknowledge me in a footnote somewhere (He's gonna KILL me for saying it that way! LOL!)

So... here, verbatim, is the content of our email conversation... and I suspect that Ben and Eddie will, in a matter of days, create the said killer-app that brings these ideas to reality!


Ben: What I see when I look hard is basically that the
tags themselves are not of very high value - especially where lots of
text is available. What is likely higher value is the availability of
a publicly accessible record of scientific attention - perhaps similar
to the Pubmed query logs except that its very easily accessible to the
public. This data tells us what people think is important. Its
reminding me a lot of things I read a million years ago in cognitive
science regarding human attention - we are generally very tightly
focused on small sections of the incoming data while we also process
the bits at the edges but to a much lower degree. I suspect that if
we could plot the amount of attention within, for example, the visual
field, we might see something very similar to the plots of posts per
paper (the power laws) from our data. That could make a very
interesting analogy if it worked out. Social tagging repositories as
the record of the hive mind's track of attention.

Mark: I don't disagree with you AT ALL! to be honest, the greatest benefit that *I* get from Connotea is the ability to follow the literature that is being read by people I respect/trust! i almost never use Connotea to re-discover stuff that I already have read, except in certain cases where I need to quote something, and then I find that Google finds that paper more easily than Connotea because I can remember enough of the sentence to discover it with a text search but not enough of the paper to remember what I would have tagged it with!! ...I suspect there's something to be learned in that... further to that thought... I think that SWAN does what Connotea desperately lacks! I use Connotea to learn what I need to know, based on what others in my "peer group" are reading. While Connotea has a "comments" field, it is almost never used... but that is the ONLY purpose of SWAN! What I want to know is (a) what are you reading, but more importantly (b) what are you THINKING! Connotea misses that mark... by a LONG shot... What has always bothered me about SWAN was that it is just another Silo {Tim, I don't mean that in a disparaging way! I just mean that it isn't clear how to link-in to SWAN from other tools that I already use. I LOVE SWAN!}. But just now (in the toilet!) I realized that what we need is an ED2Connotea2SWAN! We need to over-ride both the tagging interface AND the comment box, and connect the comment-box into the SWAN infrastructure. We should look into this, and if it isn't obvious how to do it, talk to Tim about the idea...

So... Ben... go rule the world!!!


Benjamin Good said...

Nothing like an advisor who gives you easily achievable short term objectives ;) !

I think such an app would be - to use a term from my junior high school days - dope.

When I started blogging and using connotea I always felt like the two should be interconnected so that you could optionally blog about or simply bookmark anything and index/access both via the same collection of tags. ed2swanotea takes that one step further (via the introduction of structured discourse in place of simple individual blogs+comments). Excellent.

Would be nice if the SWAN implementations provided APIs - do they??

Grace Baynes said...

I like this conversation very much, and just tagged it in Connotea ;-)

As I use Twitter more, I often wish I could tweet and tag in Connotea at the same time. Twitter is a great way to share ideas quickly, but I'd like to be able to refer back to my tweets through tags in Connotea. Be cool if a # could add a Connotea bookmark, with the tweet in the comment field. Thoughts?

Disclosure: I work for Nature Publishing Group, who run Connotea.

Benjamin Good said...

As both Twitter and Connotea provide nice open APIs I think it would be pretty easy to build the suggested mashup. Since you work at Nature, maybe you should poke Euan Adie (one of their principle mashup artists) to do it for you ;).

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