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CODE4LIB  February 2013

CODE4LIB February 2013

Subject:

Learning programming & data (was: You *are* a coder. So what am I?)

From:

Joe Hourcle <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 15 Feb 2013 11:12:48 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (37 lines)

On Feb 15, 2013, at 10:26 AM, Chris Gray wrote:

> Yes.  Exactly.  It's like saying you can't go to the doctor or hire a lawyer without a bit of medical or law school.  Doctors and lawyers need to be able to explain what they're doing.
> 
> Another skill that would be useful is understanding databases, by which I do not mean learning SQL.  Too many people's idea of working with data is Excel, which provides no structure for data. Type in any data in any box.  There is none of the data integrity that a database requires.  Here my ideal is "Database Design for Mere Mortals" which teaches no SQL at all but teaches how to work from data you know and use and arrive at a structure that could easily be put into a database.  It's not just data, but data structure that needs to be understood.  I've seen plenty of evidence that people who build commercial database-backed software don't understand database structure.


I don't know of one specifically for the library community, but there are some courses on the topic for the science community on learning how to use scientific databases, or to develop their own.

Two that I know well are Kirk Bourne at GMU and Peter Fox and his cohorts at RPI, and there's been an effort from the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) to put together short presentations on various related topics: 

	http://classweb.gmu.edu/kborne/ 
	http://tw.rpi.edu/wiki/Peter_Fox
	http://wiki.esipfed.org/index.php/Data_Management_Short_Course


With the need for expertise in data management, there's also been a push to teach librarians in data curation & data management at Syracuse*, UIUC and recently started at UNC.

	http://eslib.ischool.syr.edu/
	http://cirss.lis.illinois.edu/CollMeta/dcep.html
	http://sils.unc.edu/programs/graduate/post-masters-certificates/data-curation

And, another conference that I'm helping to organize, the Research Data Access and Preservation (RDAP) Summit, also being held in Baltimore this year (April 4-5, co-located with the IA Summit)**.  It's been a place for the science, library and archives community to discuss issues (and solutions) that we're facing; it can be an interesting overview for librarians who are starting to look into the management of data.  See the 'Resources' page for links to articles summarizing past years & videos of the talks from last year.***

	http://www.asis.org/rdap/


-Joe


* disclaimer : I gave an invited talk to one of the Syracuse eScience classes a couple of years back.

** I know, you're thinking, 'what idiot would be involved with organizing two events being held weeks apart?' ... but I'm not ...  I'm organizing three, so if you know any craft vendors who might be interested in participating in a street festival in Upper Marlboro, Maryland the day before Mother's Day : http://MarlboroughDay.org/ .  (yes, it's the Marlboro of tobacco & horse fame, but we don't have cowboys)

*** although, my talk's particularly bad, as I wasn't expecting to actually give it 'til two of my three speakers bowed out at the last minute.  But both Peter Fox & Kirk Borne spoke in other sessions, and lots of other interesting people.

ps. and um ... the thing about people making database software that don't understand data structures ... that's also part of my complaint about that project with people writing software that they shouldn't have ... storing journaled data in the same table, and no indexes so a RDBMS becomes a document store as there's only two useful accessors (one of which has to be checked to see if it's been deprecated by another record because of the journaling))

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