Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Integrating and displaying data using RSS
Although I'd been thinking of getting the wiki project ready for e-Biosphere '09 as a challenge entry, lately I've been playing with RSS has a complementary, but quicker way to achieve some simple integration.
I've been playing with RSS on and off for a while, but what reignited my interest was the swine flu timemap I made last week. The neatest thing about the timemap was how easy it was to make. Just take some RSS that is geotagged and you get the timemap (courtesy of Nick Rabinowitz's wonderful Timemap library).
So, I began to think about taking RSS feeds for, say journals and taxonomic and genomic databases and adding them together and displaying them using tools such as timemap (see here for an earlier mock up of some GenBank data). Two obstacles are in the way. The first is that not every data source of interest provides RSS feeds. To address this I've started to develop wrappers around some sources, the first of which is ZooBank.
The second obstacle is that integration requires shared content (e.g., tags, identifiers, or localities). Some integration will be possible geographically (for example, adding geotagged sequences and images to a map), but this won't work for everything. So, I need to spend some time trying to link stuff together. In the case of Zoobank there's some scope for this, as ZooBank metadata sometimes includes DOIs, which enables us to link to the original publication, as well as bookmarking services such as Connotea. I'm aiming to include these links within the feed, as shown in this snippet (see the <link rel="related"...> element):
What I'm hoping is that there will be enough links to create something rather like my Elsevier Challenge entry, but with a much more diverse set of sources.