Greenstone Digital Library Open Source Software

The orgins of Greenstone can be traced back to The New Zealand Digital Library Project, and our work with UN agencies and other NGOs to distribute, on CD-ROMs in developing countries, digital libraries collections containing humanitarian and development information.

The software and the team members' contribution to IT development for humanitarian aid was acknowledged in 2004 as the winner of the Namur award.

One journalist nicely captured the essence of the project in the following:

"Greenstone turns a ragtag menagerie of documents in various formats into an easy-to-use collection that can run on a standalone laptop in a Ugandan village’s information center"

If it can do that, then there are lots of other situations the software can be configured to run. For instance, how about running the software standalone on a click-wheel iPod? This is a device with the capacity to hold the entire text of a moderate sized univeristy library (we have calcuated) with enough space left over to fit in a copy of Wikipedia. All indexed, and no need to be on-line to access it (see Running Greenstone on an iPod for more details, winner of Best Demo at the 2008 ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries).

Or how about running the DL software on OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) Laptops with content sourced from the International Children's Digital Library and the ability to `beam' books between OLPCs configured as a MESH network? (see Perambulating libraries: Demonstrating how a Victorian idea can help OLPC users share books). There are many other examples ...


Meldex: Query by Humming

Tune buzzing around your head but you don't know what it's called? Wouldn't it be great if there was a computer system that let you sing the part of the song you remembered, with a list of possible matches returned? This idea provided the motivation for the Query by Humming system Meldex developed with colleagues Roger McNab and Lloyd Smith.


Realistic Books

By shifting from physical books to electronic form—Web pages, word processor documents and the like—should we be worried that we've lost something critical or important along the way? After the (millenniums old) breakthrough of the codex as a form of access to written information in the physical world that made tablets, scrolls, and concertina-styles forms obsolete, it seems odd that how we expect people to interact with electronic documents—with their ever-present vertical scroll-bar— appears to be appears to be digital equivalent of asking people to go back to using scrolls.

This was the starting point for the Realistic Books project, with a Masters project by Yi-Chun (Jack) Chu, further developed through a PhD by Veronica Liesaputra.


Once Seen Never Forgotten (OSNF)

Wouldn't it be great if you could scrub back through time, like a video player, and view how your desktop had previously been. Even better if your desktop manager paid attention to the text that was being drawn over time on the screen, allowing you to search for and pinpoint specific moments to hone in on.

Working with Carlin St. Pierre and Corey Sterling, this is precisely the functionality this project implements: a project that adds full text indexing to whatever text is drawn on your screen, to let you search and find things you've previously had up on your screen. Currently designed for X-Windows. Once Seen, Never Forgotten!


SEAWEED: SEAmless WEb EDiting

Seamless Web Editing (or SEAWEED in acronym form) is a technique I developed with Brook Novak when he was a Masters student at Waikato. It is a method for allowing editing of HTML content that is purely written in Javascript. This means it can be actived in a page without the need to reload the page (to active the editing components in a browser, as traditionally done in Web browsers) which can be distracting and leads to disorientation for the user. Consequently SEAWEED gives a fully immersive WYSIWYG experience to editing the web.


Computer Says No ...

Working with my collegues Dave Nichols and Mike Twidale, we have come up with a Web browser extension that assists users when they encounter errors in web pages: in particular this work targets those pesky but all too frequent variants of peoples names that crop up when looking up information in digital library systems. Many variants are legitimate (such versions of nameswith and without accents, with and without middle names), others the sign of more fundamental things going wrong in the digital library (such as Renþ instead of René). Whatever the source, it all adds up to a frustrating user experience that confounds accessing content through our digital libraries.

This project, which in full we named Computer Says No ... Computer Says Maybe_ ... Computer Says Yes! or CSN for short, is an approach under the user's control that we are exploring as a way to mitigate such problems.


MEDDLE: ModifiED Digital Library Environment

It is surprisingly easy for user misconceptions to arise when using digital library search interfaces, and the significant unseen impact this can have on the user's interpretation of search results. With colleagues Sally Jo Cunningham, Annika Hinze, and Stephen Downie, we stumbled across this observation when trying to conduct what should have been a simiple task: to locate a paper that we knew existed in the digital library we were searching. We knew the DL contained it because we'd written it and chosen to publish it through that organisations digital library!

We were taken aback at how attempts it took to locate even when searching by distinguishing keywords that we knew occured in the text and were unlikely to appear in other articles. Reflecting upon this, and conducting similar experiments with other digital library systems spurred us to develop MEDDLE, a bespoke proxying technique that helps address identified pitfalls in a DL search interface that operates independently of the originating digital library.


With colleague Annika Hinze, in the Tipple project we are exploring the confluence of two forms of information source: a Tourist Information Provider (TIP) information system, and a spatially aware Digital Library (DL). We call the resulting hybrid, Tipple as 'TipDL' is a bit of a mouthful.

The nett result is a mobile applications that let's you know about places of interest, when you are nearby ...


DIY NZ Flag Design

Flying the flag for New Zealand, quite literally! Separate to the NZ government's initiative for a referendum on the country's flag, for this project I helped co-ordinate the work of two summer student projects, to develop an interactive web site where the user can interatively design a flag (in a 2D paint style program) and then see the resulting flag design flying above the Bee Hive (NZ parliament) in 3D (using WebGL). Joanna Stewart worked on the 2D design part of the project, and Brandon Thomas worked on the 3D part. Geoff Holmes conceived the project, and Bill Rogers and Dave Nichols were also involved.

We took the idea out to the 2015 Fieldays event to show attendees the sort of project work students get to do when enrolled in Computer Science at the University of Waikato. Over the course of the 4 day event we had over 200 participant design flags. Both the interactive design site, and the flags designed at Fieldays can be accessed through the links below.


The Pei Jones Special Collection

Pei Te Hurinui Jones, 1898–1976, was an outstanding figure in New Zealand—from his editorial work compiling and translating the songs of Māori tribes in Nga Moteatea, to founding one of the first New Zealand owned and operated million dollar companies, to being the President of the Māori Council and advisor to King Koriki and the Māori Queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu. In conjunction with staff from the School of Māori and Pacific Development, our library staff have worked tirelessly to gather scholarly material and artefacts relating to his academic life, made available as a special collection and housed in its own room on the top floor of the recently re-developed library building. Through the Pei Jones Digital Library project we are developing an on-line version designed to complement the physical version.



The aim of the Structural Analysis of Large Amounts of Music Information (SALAMI) project is "to provide a substantive corpus of musical analyses in a common framework for use by music scholars, students and beyond." Combining large scale digital library ingest techniques developed at Waikato with audio-fingerprinting repository software developed at the University of Southampton (afrepo), has led to a Sparql Endpoint to some 23,000 hours of digitized music content.


Hey You, Interact with Me!"

A project for turning passive Information Displays into interactive ones. More details on this project's about page ...

So We Must Think ...

Increasingly, I have been putting up demo's of research projects on the website So We Must Think. So this is also a good spot to head over to, to check out some additional projects.