The University of Hull

Gold Dust - In a Nut Shell

In response to analyses of various reports, user requirements and the outcomes of several user engagement activities across a series of JISC programmes and related initiatives, Gold Dust will build upon some by-products of the JISC Users & Innovation funded ticTOCs project, plus the work of several other projects and research, in order to produce and test a prototype and consequently a demonstrator for the delivery of highly relevant, personalised current awareness content of a variety of kinds to academics, ultimately without the need for any input by those academics in the personalisation process. It will test the delivery of this content from within selected JISC and non-JISC presentation services (i.e. flexible distribution of matching content), including a university institutional setting, a desktop tool, and selected web-based services including a commercial publishing service.

The project will develop Personal Interest Profiles (PIPs) from existing data. It will exploit the potential of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and will aggregate content from numerous sources*. It will then incorporate text mining techniques and terminological searching aids in a filtering process between the PIPs and the aggregated content. It will use the complex information landscape subject area of engineering as its test-bed, and a controlled group of fifty academic testers as its main user community, with additional engagement with the U&I Community.


Gold Dust architecture

In the above diagram, from the left:
Test group of people using ticTOCs in order to keep abreast of journal Tables of Contents.
Their use of ticTOCs produces very interesting usage logs containing metadata that can be analysed in order to produce ‘Personal Interest Profiles’.
Text mining techniques are then used to match these ‘Personal Interest Profiles’ with content found from numerous selected, potentially relevant, RSS feeds.
The results are then delivered in a flexible way at a place of the user’s choice.

Gold Dust is not the easiest of proposals to summarise because it involves several elements, including personalisation, RSS, current awareness, text mining, flexible delivery, automated discovery, multiple content providers (including JISC services and projects). It’s really the combination of all of these that makes Gold Dust quite unique, and potentially of great benefit to academics and researchers.

Saying that Gold Dust will develop potential solutions to deliver the right information, at the right time, to the right people, in the right way and in the right place may sound like PR talk, but it is essentially what Gold Dust is about. – i.e. developing practical solutions to identify highly relevant (personalised) items of interest from amongst a mass of potentially relevant current awareness information which is being generated (via RSS) by numerous content providers (including JISC services and projects, but also others), and then delivering it as required, to academics without requiring their input in the process.

A tiny amount of the current awareness information generated by JISC services/projects and numerous other content providers (IRs, publishers, professional societies, information services, etc) currently hits its potential mark, because RSS produces a river of information which requires manual filtering or unsmart searching. Gold Dust will filter this by matching personal interests with text-mined items, i.e. in a smart way. Uniquely, it will do this without the need for input by academics beyond that they use the ticTOCs service in a normal way.

The potential benefits are to academics and researchers – they would receive highly relevant items of interest in a way that facilitates use and reduces retrieval effort. Content providers (including JISC services and projects) – their current awareness content hits its mark. Portal managers – their services are enhanced.

Gold Dust would be nothing at all like iGoogle or any other existing service, although there are a few similarities in concept with Blastfeed and Scintilla.

* Categories for databases of RSS content will include, but may not be limited to: new items in Institutional Repositories and subject repositories, Calls for Papers, funding opportunity news, patents, press releases, professional society news, engineering news feeds and component announcements, teaching and learning resources, journal Tables of Contents, forthcoming conferences, theses and dissertations, and news from JISC services and projects.

Roddy MacLeod
Heriot-Watt University