Karen Calhoun: February 2010 Archives
I was the first of several keynote speakers. There were some requests for early access to the slides from my plenary address "The Emergent Library: New Lands, New Eyes" so I uploaded them to SlideShare. People can get them from http://www.slideshare.net/amarintha/the-3109781
Late yesterday a VALA conference participant, speaking at the end of the keynote on OpenCalais by Tom Tague of Thomson Reuters, suggested that WorldCat be uploaded in OpenCalais. The suggestion intrigued me and generated a certain amount of buzz during the reception that followed Tom's presentation.
It's an interesting notion to consider in the context of the OCLC cooperative. OCLC members build WorldCat. OCLC is a membership cooperative whose purpose is to promote library use and libraries. Speaking in my role as Karen the VP of WorldCat and Metadata Services, OCLC would welcome the chance to talk further with Tom and Thomson Reuters about WorldCat and OpenCalais. Our starting point would be understanding how a collaborative effort could advance the public purpose and directly help OCLC members.
My colleagues Roy Tennant and Don Hamparian already started a conversation with Tom, and I hope to join in that conversation later in the conference. Speaking with me early today, Roy noted that it's likely to be a bit more complicated than "uploading WorldCat to OpenCalais." That is, where we are likely to be mutually successful is in tackling common problems, such as the appropriate and unambiguous identification of persons.
OCLC has done a great deal of work on identifying individuals that can be seen at http://viaf.org and http://worldcat.org/identities--I mentioned both in my plenary session. Work such as this could potentially enrich OpenCalais matching of individuals and organizations. So the most profitable direction for both OCLC members and OpenCalais may be to explore common problems and solutions, given our particular strengths.
OpenCalais has developed expertise at extracting meaning from unstructured text using software, while OCLC has a great deal of structured data that has been created over several decades by humans. Finding the right synergies between these efforts is nuanced but potentially powerful.
If Tom and Thomson Reuters have some interest in further exploring the suggestion we heard at VALA, perhaps a good initial investigation might involve appropriate collaborators from OCLC Research to work with Tom or his designates at OpenCalais. The goal would be to determine points of synergy between OCLC's and OpenCalais' efforts.