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March 28, 2008

Clustering Search Engine for Science - ScienceRoll!

I just blogged a really cool new search tool for science and medicine over at the Health Science Libraries blog.

MBlog: Health Sciences Libraries: Clustering Search Engine for Science - ScienceRoll!: http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/hsl/archives/2008/03/clustering_sear.html

ScienceRoll Search Goes Live!

Read more there, or just go explore at:

ScienceRollSearch: http://sciencesrollsearch.com/

Posted by pfa at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

Dental History Flickr Collection Gets Blogged!

See entry at the Dental Information and Library Innovation blog:


Briefly, it gives an examlpe of successful marketing of library collections and resources via Flickr, a social technologye / social media photo sharing tool.

Posted by pfa at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

Many Eyes - Sharing Data & Data Visualization

I've been wanting to share this amazing tool for quite a while, and am just getting around to blogging it. ManyEyes is a social technology tool for data visualization from IBM.

Many Eyes:

Web 2.0: Many Eyes

You could write a dissertation about the features and potential applications of this. Briefly, here are some of the main points that have attracted my attention.

1. Collections of data visualizations created by other users on specific topics. Below is shown the Health topic hub.

Web 2.0: Many Eyes

2. A variety of data visualization models available. Here is one.

Web 2.0: Many Eyes

3. Data visualizations are INTERACTIVE. You can click on topics or portions of the graphic for some of the visualization types, and then redraw the graphic to focus on just that element within the visualization and dataset.

Web 2.0: Many Eyes

Of course it has all the usual social technology features -- join a group, comment on someone's dataset or visualization, share with others, work with a group, collaborate, embed in a blog ... Are you smiling yet? I am. :)

You can even embed in your blog either of two ways. Here is an example I think will interest you - University of Michigan Faculty Salary data. The first embed is a static image, and the second is an interactive visualization.

Static image:

ManyEyes: Visualizations : University of Michigan faculty size and average salary by dept (no subdepartments)

Live interactive visualization:

ManyEyes: Visualizations : University of Michigan faculty size and average salary by dept (no subdepartments)

Posted by pfa at 07:48 AM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2008

What Are Emerging Technologies?

This question pops up a lot. I will eventually get around to writing down my own ideas on this, but for now I want to start by laying some background. What are other people calling emerging or emergent technologies?

The University has been paying attention to this for quite a while. CRLT (Center for Research in Teaching and Learning) spends a lot of time on connecting new technologies with instruction. The Enriching Scholarship series every May (for the past decade!) has focused on bringing new and innovative technologies to faculty attention.

Last year, the 10th annual Enriching Scholarship week, they invited as a keynote speaker Bryan Alexander, who spoke on emergent technologies. Here are his slides from that presentation to get a sense of what he was thinking of as emerging tech.

Posted by pfa at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2008

Emerging Technologies for Nursing & Nursing Education

Hiya, all. Had fun this week putting together a presentation for the School of Nursing. Had a great conversations, learning more about some interesting projects they have coming up with simulations, and talked about ideas to use some of the tools mentioned in this talk. Looks like I'll go back, and have more fun! Meanwhile, here are the slides, and if you'd like me to do something similar for your health sciences department or school here at UM, give me a holler!

Posted by pfa at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2008

Trends in Virtual Worlds, Part 3: Open Source, OpenLife, OpenGrid, OpenSim, ... Open!

OpenSim and OpenGrid were previously mentioned. When I first heard about these, it was really part of a big PR promo about the new OpenLife grid.

OpenLife: http://openlifegrid.com/

I was hugely excited. "Wow!" I thought, "at last we'll be able to do all our cool Second Life stuff on our own server, save our work, oh ... power!" But I was wrong. It is a much more complicated picture than I thought, and I am glad I did not post on this right away. Instead, I started running around mentioning this to people, having conversations, doing web searches, and learning more about the whole idea.

The most helpful conversation I had was with MB Chevalier, also known as Magid N. Kamel Boulos, head honcho of the ‘Sexual Health’ SIM in Second Life. MB had blogged about this, so was ready to tell me all kinds of ueful information.

A Sexual Health SIM in Second Life: Why ‘in SL and not in “any” website’?: http://sl-sexualhealth.org.uk/?p=115

He quickly set me straight, clarified many of my misunderstandings, and offered a wealth of links for further information.

- Yes, OpenLife was an open grid project and allowed you to use your own server.
- No, OpenLife is not the only project like this. Most of the public grids are actually based on OpenSim. OpenSim is the big name you really need to know.
- No, even though OpenLife is run by someone named Sakai, that doesn't mean it is related to the Sakai open source course management system project of which the University of Michigan is a member.
- Yes, the OpenLife, OpenSim and OpenGrid projects ALL allow you to use your own server and save your work, and they look very much like Second Life. BUT they don't all do this equally well -- some run slow, some render Windlight, each is different.
- No, the grids did not connect to each other, and they don't connect to Second Life, either.
- Yes, there are more grids. For example, the French language grid is at http://www.francogrid.com/.
- No, not all of the grids are public, some are private.
- Yes, the skills you've learned in SecondLife all transfer over, beautifully.

Open Sim News

By now, I pretty well realized that I had been way off track with my original assumptions about all this. I figure we need to be exploring these new options at the same time we are developing our skills in SecondLife. Here are some of the links mentioned and those recommended by MB:

Central Grid: http://centralgrid.com/

Deep Grid: http://deepgrid.com/

OS Grid: http://osgrid.org/

Virtual World Grid: http://virtualworldgrid.com/

A couple days ago, I went to the Metanomics session by David Levine, in which he explained the core issues with OpenSim development very nicely.

Second Life: Metanomics: David Levine / OpenGrid

You can watch this presentation here:

Second Life Cable Network: Metanomics: http://www.slcn.tv/programs/metanomics

Here are some of the links recommended during David's talk.

OpenSimulator Wiki: http://opensimulator.org/wiki/Main_Page

Second Life Wiki: Architecture Standards Working Group: Protecting content in an open grid: https://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Protecting_content_in_an_open_grid

Second Life Wiki: Viewpoint Advocacy Groups: https://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/AW_Groupies#Viewpoint_Advocacy_Groups

UgoTrade: http://www.ugotrade.com/

If you want to stay current on this topic, watch UgoTrade. I plan to.

Posted by pfa at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

Trends in Virtual Worlds, Part 2: Open Virtual Worlds

Roughly a month after the announcement of the MediaGrid, NMC had another big announcement. In the meantime, I had started hearing more and more about OpenSim, OpenGrid and related efforts to also increase openness, portability and interoperability between virtual worlds. More on some of those in the next post.

NMC's big announcement was the Open Virtual Worlds Project, in partnership with SUN Microsystems. As part of the announcement, they made a nice video explaining a bit about this vision and extension of the MediaGrid concept.

Almost immediately, folk in some of the other MediaGrid virtual environments started to have discussions wondering if this emphasis on SUN and Wonderland would end up excluding other players in the virtual worlds. NMC says they plan to model the Wonderland project along the lines of their existing Second Life project, and will share as they already share so much of their work.

Posted by pfa at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

Trends in Virtual Worlds, Part 1: Metaverses?

A couple months ago, I stumbled into a presentation on the NMC Campus in Second Life. The presentation was an advance announcement of the MediaGrid. MediaGrid? What the heck?

Well, MediaGrid turned out to be a group working on portability and interoperability of various open source virtual worlds, with a goal of increasing access to educational content in these virtual worlds. Wow, now *that* sounds cool! What virtual worlds?

Second Life is a big one, lucky for us here at UM who are working there now. World Warcraft is another you might have heard of. World of Warcraft has educational content? Well, not only does WoW have educational content, but IBM mentions in a recent report that they are actively recruiting people with strong WoW skills because of their experience with flexible leadership patterns in teams.

There are two more open source virtual world platforms being emphasized in the initial MediaGrid efforts, but these are not quite as well known - Wonderland and Croquet. Wonderland is from SUN, and Croquet is a consortial effort. The main point is that they are all open source, meaning that people can download, install, tweak code, customize, etcetera. They play nice with others. This is the important trend to note here.

Second Life: NMC: MediaGrid

Croquet Consortium: http://www.opencroquet.org/index.php/Main_Page

IBM Research: IBM Innovation: Gaming and Leadership Report:

MediaGrid: http://mediagrid.org/

Second Life: http://secondlife.com/

SUN's Wonderland: https://lg3d-wonderland.dev.java.net/

World of Warcraft (WoW): http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/index.xml

Posted by pfa at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)