Jo Evans: Designing for Diversity

e-Scholarship Research Centre, University of Melbourne.

"The system won't let you do that?" No, the designer didn't. Technologists need to know about real requirements; scholars need to be able to articulate requirements.

The humanities involve heterogeneous data, used with a long tail, and with limited availability of resources for humanities. Systems for e-research in the humanities must be designed with those constraints in mind, allowing for tailoring: What and when to standardise, what to customise, and what to customise in standardised ways (once the technologies allow it, e.g. CSS/XML).

Design philosophy: standardise the back-end, customise the front-end. The back-end must be of archival quality, and scholarly.

They use OHRM (Online Heritage Resource Manager) as a basis for their systems: OHRM describes entities and contexts separately, and allows custom ontology reflecting community standards. Extensible types. Front end has exhibition functionality. Templates to add pages to presentation.

The tailored exhibition is a new research narrative. Can have service oriented approach to link to other information. The centre encourages OHRM as a tool for active research, not just for research outputs. Build incrementally, not in response to imagined needs.

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