Mix, Rip, Burn Your Research

You’ve done research; you’ve collected and sifted through mounds of links, papers, articles, notes and raw data. Shouldn’t there be a way to manage all that material that’s as easy and intuitive as, say, iTunes or Zune – helping you manage and share your snippets and research the way you share and enjoy your music?

Last week I wrote about several powerful new tools for scientific research that take advantage of cloud computing and massive data processing. Let’s keep with the theme for one more neat app, aimed at scientists and researchers of all types.

That’s the goal of ScholarLynk, a “collaborative content management and scholarly communication” prototype from Microsoft Research that is being unveiled this week at ECDL, the European Conference on Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries, a leading scientific forum on digital libraries and associated technical, practical, and social issues.

(By the way, you can follow ECDL action this week on Twitter with the hashtag #ECLD2010. Lots of neat papers and demos.)

ScholarLynk has its technical roots in an MSR project that I wrote about back in 2008, “Research Desktop,” combining semantic analysis with Web 2.0-style user interfaces.  It’s designed to enable the following key functions:

  • Click to enlarge

    Create “Reading lists” as you research

    • Heterogeneous, local and online resources (for example emails, scholarly papers, web pages, local files)
    • Metadata, annotations and associations
  • Manage and maintain your growing reading lists
    • Personal
    • Shared
    • Collaborative
  • Communicate in your chosen community (or communities)
    • Follow (akin to Twitter lists)
    • Wall (akin to Facebook)
    • Conversation
    • Feedback and rate each others’ research

Appropriately, this social-software prototype itself is being built collaboratively with several researchers from MSR labs in Europe and researchers at the University of Athens (see some of their AI, CS, and scientific-computing research here) and CNR/Pisa, one of Italy’s premier National Research Council labs (here’s a link to the English-language page of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche). As the prototype’s description puts it:

The prototype implementation leverages the DRIVER Infrastructure for European Open Access publications that currently comprises 2,500,000 publication records from over 250 repositories world wide. With respect to ScholarLynk, the DRIVER infrastructure offers: (i) integrated data sources by providing search facilities over DRIVER bibliographic metadata and other services such as Google Scholar, CiteULike, Flickr, etc., and (ii) hosting of content and metadata from the users’ personal spaces and sharing of that data via authorized client applications.

In the specific European context, over the last year DRIVER has sparked the creation of the Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR), with Microsoft Research as a sponsor. This degree of international collaboration, across collections, platforms and tools, is really how most great science is performed today – and that’s exciting.  Official government research is no exception; even “classified” research is increasingly collaborative across public-sector/private-sector boundaries (i.e. use of contractors).

There’s a bit more information about ScholarLynk on the MSR project page here, and most importantly the prototype should be available for download in December – watch this space!

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7 Responses

  1. Lewis,

    Thanks much for the update. I know for a fact that many users are crying out for this type of research tool. I could use one myself for my business. I like digesting lots of info from many sources but I have just about reached the limits of what I can do with my current tools and a system like this could let me injest and track far more. More importantly, it should help in the sense making of all the info out there.

    And of course there is the sharing point you mention.

    I look forward to this being in general availability so I can use it.



    • Bob – you’ll be first on my list to notify. You are (like me) an incurable omnivore, so there’s little to do except accept the help of more powerful automation, added to some selective automated sense-making capabilities, all of which this has. I’m not a complete technophile; I realize the limits of technology and simply want to use its power where appropriate to supplement human-supercomputers, i.e. our minds. I think this approach and others like it can really help. Thanks -lewis


  2. Lewis,

    Here’s “a shock” ——- I agree with Bob Gourley. From a governance/enterprise approach for the IC I believe Content Management Software is probably best for things like version control, but for the individual to document research behind IC producsts this should be a lot easier to customize and use



    • Hi Joe, thanks for the comment. I remember another of our mutual naval-intelligence friends telling me of the days out at sea, pulling out maps in the morning and marking up message-traffic tracks with grease pencils. And when I first did intell analysis in the mid ’80s, my most advanced electronic equipment was an IBM Selectric typewriter. Having tools like ScholarLynk will, I believe, add a real degree of individual control and flexibility to their daily work. That’s what I care about – enabling smart, creative “knowledge artists” to focus on the knowledge part, not the data-assemby part of their job. Thanks for reading – lewis


  3. Lewis: Some interesting stuff on Linkedin today about poetry and those people who are interested in it…..I am getting boned up on how to set up a blog for my poetry…..I would like to get a wider distribution than I am getting now with my email list. I wanted to congratulate you on your election to the intelligence group…..I looked at the member list and saw a couple of your old friends and cohorts there…..you will make a valuable addition to the group and a great contribution to their discussions.

    PS Thanks for the recent letter and content…..put the contents in their proper place today. Thanks to Kat also!


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    I’ve be all over the internet the last few days digesting every piece of information about Data Transformation This is a great article! can great article thanks.


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