We are pleased to announce the first BETA version of The Observatory Tool.
Join our next free webinar on 23 February 2016, 15:00 CET for a guided tour through the Tool!
This new version (available at observatory.giponet.org) has been released to allow you testing some of the core functions of the tool with a view to improve its effectiveness and provide a more usable interface to the end user.
The software is still in a beta stage, so you may face some bugs and missing features but overall it will give you a thorough impression of what we consider a tool of this type should offer.
If you have any suggestions on how The Observatory Tool might improve - by doing things better or offering new functionalities –, you are welcome to send us your comments using the contact form available within the tool.
We are also eager to collaborate with other observatories and initiatives focused on Internet Governance topics in several ways, such as making efforts to standardize data sharing methods.
In essence we have developed an interface that serves two main user strategies for exploring the information collected by the tool: browsing and query searching.
Generally query searching is suitable for users that want to see items which meet their criteria. Browsing is more suitable for users that prefer to be led through a series of choices to help them narrow their focus.
Each of these information retrieval approaches has advantages and drawbacks, and frequently the best option for a user is to combine both. For instance you can start with a query and then refine it by browsing the metadata associated with the search results.
Our aim is to design and offer a software tool for the global community, and suitable for different types of users, being them experts in the Internet Governance field or layman users with lack of domain knowledge.
Experts usually know which terms/keywords can be selected within each Internet Governance issue, and thus formulate an efficient query in fewer steps to complete a search. On the contrary, layman users may not have a clearly defined information need, or they simply do not know the terminology associated with some issues. We consider that browsing is especially appropriate for them.
The Observatory Tool is built on open standards, which are necessary for data and systems to be interoperable.
For this version of the tool we offer output feeds in open, machine-readable and standard format (XML-RSS). Every feed contains a list of the items or entries gathered by GIPO for a specific Internet governance aspect covered in the tool. Moreover all information sources covered by GIPO tool can be downloaded as an OPML file.
Each entry in the feed includes all the relevant metadata such as category, tags, or even the URL pointing to the copyright page or legal notice in the original source. This way any user or observatory can use their own tool or services to properly handle further aggregation and filtering for own presentation and analysis purposes.
Last but not least we want to highlight some of the core technicalities that drive the tool.
The presentation layer with which users or external services interact is on top of a powerful and scalable system that includes web crawlers, semantic services, and other state-of-the-art software components.
Complex as it is, users can still get a glimpse of what is behind the scenes in an automated tool like this. For this we provide users access to a simple but effective filtering system based on rules for recognition of keywords and named entities. Being aware that rule-based natural language processing has its drawbacks, but also that there is no perfect solution, we have opted for this approach because of its good accuracy and the transparency (readability) of the patterns.