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September 21, 2009

LTER All Scientist Meeting Summary

This post is a summary of the major events of the LTER conference I attended last week. Overall, it was very productive to be in the midst of a whole cadre of Information Managers (IM). The LTER IM's hold a great amount of institutional knowledge and they are, apparently, very open to sharing.

I follow with summaries of four major events:

- Drupal - an open source Content Management System

Probably the best workgroup I attended. Two LTER Network Office IT staffers demonstrated a software program, Drupal, that is used for both web development and database administration (i.e. it is used to build websites that portray information stored in a relational database.)

I am currently considering this to be a one-stop solution for both our website and our data management needs for several reasons:

1) The LTER Network Office has agreed to share code from a website they developed with Drupal (http://sev.lternet.edu/),
2) We are already using a Content Management System but all signs indicate that Drupal is superior to Vignette. I believe Alicia, Bob (if interested) and I could learn Drupal together.
3) the capability of Drupal is constantly expanding due to it's popularity and opensource status. It currently has modules (extensions) that support registration forms, bibliographies, and google maps, among others.
4) The University of Michigan ITCS supports Drupal. They have multiple options in which they supply a web server. Prices range from $0/year to $50/year to $480/year; increasing cost yields more server space and more flexibility. The SNRE currently uses the ITCS service with Drupal (note they hired consultants for their website desing): http://snre.umich.edu/
5) By using Drupal, I avoid the problem of having to learn 3+ programming languages.

- GLEON - Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network

Knute and I talked with a GLEON board member about streaming a portion of the data from the Douglass Lake buoy to the GLEON data network. In exchange, they will give us free assistance in deploying the buoy and building the underlying information management system, if we require it. We need to meet with Guy to get his thoughts. I plan to attend the October GLEON meeting in Wisconsin to learn more.

- Standardized dictionaries

The LTER folks are working on building standardized keyword and unit dictionaries. I plan to use these as they become available. This has two advantages: 1) no reinvention of the wheel, 2) future data sharing/collaboration will be that much easier.

- Information Management Curriculum

Suzanne Remillard, an Information Manager at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, has agreed to share some of the materials she uses to train graduate students and researchers on Information Management. My thought right now is to put together a mandatory (for grad students) training session at the beginning of the summer. One qualification is that I have not received the materials.

Posted by kkwaiser at September 21, 2009 02:07 PM

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