Question 1: What are we sharing and what needs to be shared?
The landscape of information and data flows and repositories is multifaceted. Peer reviewed journals and scientific conferences are still the basis of scholarly communication, but science blogs and social community platforms become increasingly important. Research data are now increasingly managed using advanced technologies and sharing of raw data has become an important issue.
This topic thread will address and discuss details about the types of information that need to be shared in our domain, e.g.:
Information residing in communications between individuals, such as in blogs and
community platforms supported by sources such as directories of people and
Formal scientific data collections as published data sets and their associated
metadata and quality indicators, peer-reviewed scholarly journals or document
Knowledge „derivatives‟ such as collections of descriptions of agricultural
technologies, learning object repositories, expertise databases, etc.; And surely more...
There are several interesting examples of successful data exchange between distributed datasets, and some of them in the area of agricultural research and innovation. There are also ambitious attempts that still have to live up to expectations. A common characteristic of most examples is that they are based on specific ad-hoc solutions more than on a general principle or architecture, thus requiring coordination between "tightly coupled" components and limiting the possibilities of re-using the datasets anywhere and of replicating the experiment.
In some areas there are global platforms for sharing and interoperability. Some of these address the need to access scholarly publications, mostly those organized by the publishers, and others address the interfacing of open archives. With regard to standards and services in support of interoperability, there are several very successful initiatives, each dealing with different data domains. Among document repositories, the most successful initiative is surely the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) Protocol for Metadata Harvesting used by a global network of open archives. The strength of this movement is changing the face of scholarly publishing. Geospatial and remote sensing data have strong communities that have developed a number of wildly successful standards such as OGC that have in turn spurred important open source projects such as GeoServer. Finally, in relation to statistics from surveys, censuses and time-series, there has been considerable global cooperation among international organizations leading to initiatives such as SDMX and DDI, embraced by the World Bank, IMF, UNSD, OECD and others.
Singer System1, GeoNetwork2, and GeneOntology Consortium3 are examples of successful initiatives to create mechanisms for data exchange within scientific communities. The SDMX4 initiative aims to create a global exchange standard for statistical data.
There are more examples, but these advanced systems cannot have a strong impact on the average (smaller, less capacitated) agricultural information systems, because overall there are no easy mechanisms and tools for information systems developers to access, collect and mash up data from distributed sources. An infrastructure of standards, web sevices and tools needs to be created.
1 Singer System http://singer.cgiar.org/ Last accessed March 2011
2 GeoNetwork http://www.fao.org/geonetwork/srv/en/main.home Last accessed March 2011
3 GeneOntology Consortium http://www.geneontology.org/ Last accessed March 2011
4 SDMX http://sdmx.org/ Last accessed March 201