Launched today: the Facebook repository deposit application

Within the repositories community we often talk about how to encourage faculty to self-archive their works. We also talk about the problems with repositories, and how repositories are not yet part of the daily toolkit of faculty. In an attempt to see whether bringing these two problems together by allowing faculty to deposit from within a tool that many do use on a daily basis, as part of the JISC funded ‘SWORD 2‘ project I have now created a Facebook repository deposit application.

For the uninitiated, Facebook is a social networking site, where users add other users as ‘friends’, congregate in groups based on their activities and interests, and update the site with small parts of their daily life (uploading photos, saying what they have been up to that day, sending messages to old class mates etc). Snippets of updates from friends are aggregated on the home page of a user so that they can see what their friends have been up to recently. Users are also able to comment on the activities of their friends. Facebook has for some become a site with as much importance as email when it comes to checking messages and updates and interacting with friends and colleagues.

Should we and could we try to leverage this type of system to help populate our repositories?

Being able to deposit from within a site such as Facebook would enable what I’m going to call the Social Deposit. What does a social deposit look like? Well, it has the following characteristics:

  • It takes place within a social networking type site such as Facebook.
  • The deposit is performed by the author of a work, not a third party.
  • Once the deposit has taken place, messages and updates are provided stating that the user has performed the deposit.
  • Friends and colleagues of the depositor will see that a deposit has taken place, and can read what has been deposited if they want to.
  • Friends and colleagues of the depositor can comment on the deposit.

So the social deposit takes place within the online social surroundings of a depositor, rather than from within a repository. By doing so, the depositor can leverage the power of their social networks so that their friends and colleagues can be informed about the deposit.

One of the features of social networking sites that encourages their use is the ability for third parties to write applications that can be used from within them. So it seemed an obvious place to start an investigation into the potential of the social deposit. Hence the SWORDAPP Facebook Repository Deposit Tool was born. So how does it work? I’ll talk you through a deposit in Facebook:

1) Ensure you have a Facebook account, and that you are logged in.

2) Open the SWORDAPP application by visiting http://fb.swordapp.org/ If you are prompted to grant the SWORDAPP access to your information, do so. This allows the application to know who you are, and who your friends are. By granting this, the application can show your deposits to your friends, and allow you to see the deposits of your friends.

3) Start a deposit! You can start this process by clicking on the ‘Deposit an item’ tab.

4) The first stage of the deposit requires you to select your repository, and to enter your repository username and password. If you don’t have a SWORD compliant repository, but want to try out the application, sign up for an account on our test DSpace installation. If you do so, select the ‘DSpace test server’ as your repository, and then enter your username and password.

5) Once you press ‘Next >’ the application will talk to your repository and find out a list of collections that you are allowed to deposit into. Select one of these by clicking on the relevant ‘Deposit into this collection’ link.

6) The next stage is to enter the metadata for the item you have. The user is required to enter a title, abstract, author, type of publication and whether it has been peer reviewed or not. They can optionally add another two authors, a bibliographic citation, and a link.

7) Pressing ‘Next >’ will take you to the file upload page. Use the file chooser to select the file you wish to deposit.

8 ) To complete the deposit, press the ‘Deposit’ button. Your file and the metadata will be zipped up into a deposit package, and deposited into the repository. This may take a little while depending upon the size of the file. Once the deposit has finished, you will be told what the URL of the deposited item is.

If you visit the URL, you will see your deposited item. Congratulations on performing your first social deposit!

In addition to being informed about the deposit, a message will be added to your feed stating that the deposit has taken place. Your friends and colleagues will see this in their friend feed.

Finally, by using the tabs at the top of the facebook application you can see the deposits made by your friends, and by yourself (you can hide these from your friends if you want to, by using the ‘hide’ links).

Time will tell if this method of depositing could help increase self-deposit rates, but please feel free to try out the application, discuss the potential, and highlight any problems. Please contact me or leave comments on this blog post if you have any suggestions, find any bugs, think this is a good or bad way of depositing etc. I’m currently at the SPARC repositories meeting in Baltimore, so if you want to chat about this or see a demo, come and find me. I’d be interested to hear what you think.