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DepositMO – enabling the user-repository conversation

Barbara Claussen, Modern Monoliths migrating, by Northern SparkAs the DepositMO project concludes, lead developer Dave Tarrant summarises his thoughts on the impact and effect of the project’s technical developments.

DepositMO has contributed to reducing the distance between users and content held in digital repositories. In a world where people are ‘always connected’, the Internet is now being used to both store data as well as transfer it. Content stored ‘online’ can be accessed from any device, such as¬†smartphones, and from desktop applications. ‘Disks’ are¬†disappearing¬†in favour of constantly connected clouds of data. Although the physical distance to the data bits increases, for the user, because their content is available on any ‘connected’ device, the distance to their content is simply that to the nearest connected device.

The repository is one item in this connected cloud and must provide the same types of services. The SWORDv2 and DepositMO extensions replicate much of the functionality of the proprietary web interfaces of repository systems and allow control to be decoupled from the content storage. This decoupling is the key enabler to reducing the distance between content and users.

During the course of the project, two platforms – EPrints and DSpace –¬†were enabled with SWORDv2 and DepositMO extensions, and two clients developed (Watch Folder and the Word Add-in). The Watch Folder client was developed as a result of comments about services not reflecting the usability of Dropbox “Drag Drop Share”. Watch Folder was developed as a demonstration that this type of client could be implemented on top of the SWORDv2 and DepositMO protocols. The initial feedback was positive, but it is not DropBox, and the client still needs some polishing. The protocol is in place, however, and would support a more fully-fledged client.

Since the implementation on EPrints, two developments which utilise both protocols have been undertaken for customers by EPrints Services, a repository services provider: one to harvest tweets into a repository, and the other to automatically manage internal and external repositories of the same items. Significantly, both took less than a week to develop (combined!), demonstrating the understandability of not only the specification documents but also the implementations against the repository platform.

DepositMO set out to enable a conversation between a user and a repository. Unlike generic data storage, a repository is able to provide specific services to a user. Through creating a conversation with the repository it is envisaged that an environment can be created in which the repository is providing added value to the user. Within the project this conversation allows distributed item curation and continued editing. Essentially all this boils down to making users’ lives easier and making these services appeal to new users. Why click 20 buttons and fill in three forms when you can just click one button?

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