It’s about time for a check-in on my experiences with the DataCite Metadata Working Group. I introduced this intrepid band a couple of months ago when we met face-to-face in Hannover, Germany. Since then, of course, we’ve dispersed to our home institutions across the globe. And, from these varied locations, we’ve embarked on a collaboration adventure.
Our task has been to complete the work on a Metadata Kernel document to prepare it for community comment in August and early September.
Fortunately for me, I have the able assistance of a Swiss DataCite member librarian. She and I meet weekly on Thursdays. It’s late afternoon for her and very early in the morning for me. We use Adobe Connect, a service hosted by the German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB) on behalf of DataCite. Most of the time, this works really well for us, although I have been known to appear inadvertently as an alien avatar from time to time.
In order to move the work along, I split the Metadata Kernel document into pieces and turned these into wiki-based documents, so that they could be worked on asynchronously. Meanwhile, I encouraged the members of the Working Group to form subgroups and “adopt” a portion of the document for authoring or revision. I did this because I felt that our efforts to coordinate large group teleconferences had not been very successful prior to the Hannover meeting. I had hoped that smaller teams with less of a geographic stretch might succeed in a shorter time-frame.
The heightened schedule was formed by a start date beginning in mid-June, and something my Swiss colleague warned me about when we returned from Hannover: virtually all the Europeans (herself excepted) would be going on vacation for the month of August.
Here are a few things I’ve picked up as the weeks have zoomed by:
- Information exchanges between California and Continental Europe have a one-way trip of one day, meaning that joint decisions take at least two days.
- It’s helpful to watch all the wiki pages. It gives me an idea about which sub-groups are active or inactive, and that lets me know when to send reminders and encouragements.
- I asked the TIB to install a group calendar plug-in, and then I asked the members to indicate planned absences of longer than one week. This has helped me keep those long upcoming vacations in mind as I choreograph the due dates of various pieces of work.
I’m certain I have more to learn about this process, and I have the best teachers: my colleagues on the DataCite Metadata Working Group.