Friday, 2 March 2012

Initial evaluation of user needs for the Pelagios apps and widgets

This is the second in a series of posts about users’ requirements for Pelagios apps and widgets. The first post set the scene, and this one describes some of our initial findings from the "super user" group.

The questions we asked were about
Daily App Experiment #345 "Where to Draw the Line?" - not sure if this is cheating, but today's #appsperiment started with an image from a broken scanner. I dug the glitchy lines & decided I wanted to play with them, so I took the image (posted earlier to
Thanks to docpop for the pic.
  • the target audience(s) for the apps and widgets
  • what the Pelagios apps and widgets could do
    e.g. specific goals they could help people achieve, tasks they should help people carry out
  • what sort of things different types of users might do with the apps/widgets
    If there are different audiences, what will these different audiences do
  • barriers to exploiting Pelagios partners data
  • technical and legal considerations
This post summarises the findings about the target audience(s), the widgets, and the perceived barriers.

The target audience(s) for the apps and widgets
Some respondents identified "super users" as the primary target audience for the apps and widgets. However, the majority of responses suggested that non-technical users should be catered for.
Suggestions on this theme included groups of people with both a professional and/or an  amateur interest in the ancient world:
- tourists who want to know about the cultural background of their vacation spot,
- historians that want to have an overview of their local history in terms of research,
- archaeologists that are interested in the findings and citations in literature related to the area of their excavations, -   fiction writers who want to get abetter historical background of a setting for a story
-   educators who want to give their students some background knowledge about the ancient history of a place they are looking at
- researchers that want to find things by place
"anybody who uses the web".
What the Pelagios widgets should do
Respondents suggestions varied from general guidance about the nature of the widgets (e.g. 'nice, compact, easy-to-transit view of related linkages', 'allow people to easily add some "Pelagios context" to their own place-related web pages') to some more specific suggestions.
The specific suggestions include:
  • focus  on a topographical spot so that once embedded into a website the widget will display contextual data for a Pleiades place, e.g. showing any literature mentioning Isica  on a map, or as a list.
  • interest in using Pelagios with the Concorcodia vocabulary
  • enable the user to search on modern place names (e.g. Mainz instead of Mogontiacum)
  • an API that outputs RDF/xml or plain XML of the entire Pelagios dataset, input parameters would be Pleiades-id or search string of place name
  • a person is viewing a web page that mentions a place; the  widget that displays "other cool stuff" from the Pelagios universe related to that place
Barriers to exploiting Pelagios partners data
Concerns raised included
  • the projects that are linked by Pelagios use different languages
  • the PELAGIOS annotation spec is not complete and published. The format may change, thereby breaking any applications or queries we build around it.
The next post will be about requirements for the Pelagios apps, and technical and legal issues that were raised by respondents. By the way  if you have been invited to fill out the requirements questionnaire please do so, we are still analying responses but would like some more before the 9th of March :-)

That's all for now

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