Like many other academic institutions in the Netherlands and abroad, the University of Amsterdam is currently developing better practice and guidelines with regard to research data management (take a look at the website of the British Digital Curation Centre for an example of relevant high-quality information source).
Being the topic not only quite new to most of us library professionals but, at first sight, rather technical stuff as well, I am just the more grateful that colleagues Janneke Staaks en Mariëtte van Selm invited me to give a speech (and therefore to learn more) on the UvA’s Sakai-based research data management tools at last week D-Day Sociaal Wetenschappelijke Informatie, with Sociaal Wetenschappelijke Informatie, i.e. SWI, standing for Social Sciences Information and referring to the eponymous work group of the Royal Dutch Association of Information Professionals, the KNVI). And where UvA, needless to say, stands for Universiteit van Amsterdam and Sakai…
GOTCHA! It’s abbreviations, I realised while working at my speech, that often make me uneasy, both as a general rule, but all the more so if I’m dealing with any ICT-related topic of the information profession (research data management included): acronyms superfluously help increase the imperviousness of the technical jargon. They are available “in all sizes and shapes”, devised with or without associations to literary characters or historical figures, to natural phenomena or (unintentionally) foreign words with completely, and sometimes amusingly ambiguous, different meanings.
Here follow some of the abbreviations I came across while setting my speech, having omitted the ones not strictly related to RDM Research Data Management: Chef CompreHensive collaborativE Framework, Jasig Java in Administration Special Interest Group, Fedora Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture, VRE Virtual Research Environment, VLE Virtual Learning Environment, Fluor Functionele Laagdrempelige UvA Communities Onderzoeksdata Repository (or Easily accessible functional UvA Communities research data repository), CARDS Controlled Access to Research Data Stored Securely, DANS Data Archiving and Networked Services. A nice overview for me to fall back on in the future.
As for Sakai: inspired, just as ‘Chef’ above, by the Japanese television cooking show Iron Chef, it originally was meant also as acronym for Synchronized Architecture for Knowledge Acquisition Infrastructure… «too big a mouthful!», stated Joseph Hardin, one of Sakai’s initiators, in his welcome speech at the 2005 Sakai Conference. «It is just a nice word. We like the sound»… Hiroyuki Sakai being one of Iron Chef‘s contestants (it’s him and Hardin in the photo above, taken from the afore mentioned 2005 Conference speech powerpoint).
As for the Venetian photo below (found here), being uva the Italian word for grapes, and me utterly in love with Venice, the Passageway of the University of Amsterdam was too big a temptation to resist for ending this post!