And the Winner of Will’s World Online Hack is…

Before I tell you about the prizes and the winners, I want to thank our esteemed judges for their time, their insightful input and fairness. They reviewed all the hacks carefully which took a little bit more time than planned. So apologies to all of you who had to wait for an extra 20 minutes for the results to be announced!

Our judges were:

  • Sarah Ellis from the Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Erin Maguire from Culture Hack Scotland
  • Mahendra Mahey from UKOLN DevCSI

And now for the prizes…

Best Set Up

The best set up prize was judged on the photos submitted by our participant of their hack environments and can be seen here. The winner is Neil Mayo for his unusual sun umbrella over his work desk, and his festive mulled wine in his Will’s World Online Hack mug in the photo of his home setup.

The judges also liked Owen’s family friendly set up and were envious of Kate’s double screens. All agreed that the cat would have won if it had been eligible!

The best set up prize was for £50 Amazon voucher and a RSC Shakespeare goodie bag.

The Best Presentation

The best presentation went to Kate Ho & Tom Salyers for their second screen app. The judges agreed that it was very clear and well explained. Although the video was recorded ahead, as Kate was unable to attend the meeting, Tom was able to add comments on the fly which was very helpful. The judges also liked Owen’s presentation which they thought was the best of the live presentations.

The best presentation prize was for £100 Amazon voucher and a RSC Shakespeare goodie bag to share by the team.

The Best Shakespeare Hack

The best Shakespeare hack was decided on the best used of Shakespeare resources and in the spirit of one the suggested theme by the RSC of “How can Shakespeare be past, present and future?”. In that respect, Richard Wincewicz‘s “Shakespeare through the ages” timeline application was the best fit. The RSC noted the great potential of this app for story telling and our judges like the clean and clear display.

The best Shakespeare hack prize was for £100 Amazon voucher and a RSC Shakespeare goodie bag.

The Best Open Hack

The best open hack was judged on the spirit of open sources and open data. Owen Stephens was clearly ahead of the competition in this category with his sterling dissemination efforts for his “ShakespearePress” on Twitter, in his blog and with demonstrator applications on his website and  code on github.

The best open hack prize was for £250 Amazon voucher and a RSC Shakespeare goodie bag.

The Best Overall hack

This was a tight battle with some very serious contenders in our nine amazing hacks but the judges chose Kate Ho and Tom Salyers’ second screen app “The Play’s the thing” for the innovative idea, it’s wide potential of use and the advanced level of the prototype application. Some of our judges related fully to Kate’s experience of the Taming of Shrew and could see the appeal of her app straight away! You can view the presentation of this hack on YouTube.

The best overall prize was £500 Amazon voucher and a RSC Shakespeare goodie bag to share by the team.

The prizes will be sent to you shortly!

And more…

The judges wanted to mention Richard Light‘s Linked Data hack as having a very strong potential too, especially for further development based on the linked data produced. They felt the use of linked data could have been presented more clearly as it may not be obvious to people not in that field. They also liked Owen Stephens‘ Shakespeare press very much for the use of the data and use of the popular WordPress technology.

Is it the end?

Not quite! We have invited all the participants to write a post for this blog to describe their hack but in the mean time check the current hacks page on our wiki for more information. We will soon be posting a summary of our experience of this hack and of your feedback too.

It has been such an interesting and enjoyable experience, and I personally want to thank all involved, the data providers, the judges, the participants, the Will’s World team, JISC, the RSC for the extra prizes and everyone who showed interested in this project on Twitter, our blog, our wiki… I’ll stop here before I turned this post into a Oscar Winning performance!


Day 7 of Will’s World Online Hack

Today is the last full day of Will’s World Online Hack. This is the last straight line and it may be a long night for some of our developers! However we are delighted to have seven hacks – maybe eight, I have just heard of a last minute hack – registered for presentation tomorrow at 1pm (GMT) on Google+ Hangout, check the Current Hack page on our wiki for more information.

There were also some very interesting developments today:

  • Our latest recruit, Tom Salyers from Kings College, joined our daily hangout today, and may provide us with our first collaborative hack. Tom will be working with Kate on the second screen app and provide her with the Shakespeare expertise on the “ meaning of the play so farâ€� which she was looking for. They have still a lot to do on this, so Kate’s second hack on a visualisation for the most popular quotes may have to take the back seat.
  • Richard updated us on his progress on his Linked Data hack and the issue he encountered with ambiguous annotation. For example, the Library of Congress only has one single record for “Katherine” while this is the name of two different characters: one in Taming of the shrew and the other in Love’s labour’s lost. He has also updated the current hack page with his latest results.
  • The services data, that is other online sources of Shakespeare related content, has finally been released – better late than never!
  • Neil also confirmed that an error reported earlier in the day about access to the XML file for Much Ado About Nothing has been fixed.

View the video for this last daily check-in session:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Last but not least

Last day, last hack (based on the Asimov commentary on Macbeth), last participant, last data…

  • The last judge on our panel has been confirmed as Dominic Oldman for the British Museum.
  • The last prize! The Royal Shakespeare Company will be giving away a Shakespeare goodie bag to the winners in addition to the Will’s World prizes.

We are very much looking forward to the presentation of the wonderful hacks of which we have been lucky enough to witness and discuss the devlopment.

Good luck to all the hacks and thank you all for taking part!


Day Five of Will’s World Online Hack

Will’s World Online Hack is now in full swing and our daily check-in session today on Google+ Hangout generated some interesting discussion around the various versions of XML for the plays, those provided by Will’s World, those from Perseus and the latest offering from the Folger Library which includes a lot more details, but also linked data, identifiers, keywords, interative apps and geo-location. It is well worth viewing if you missed it earlier today. It is also available on YouTube and Google+.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The weekend seems to have been productive for Will’s World Online Hackers:

  • Victor is developing an exciting idea for an interactive app on which locations mentioned in Shakespeare’s work could be located on a map, like Google map. The app could let you know what Shakespeare’s landmarks are close to your current location and provide information, background data, etc. It could even warned you when you are near a place of interest.
  • Jeffrey is making good progress and has been looking at how to present the data, how words are used and how to provide keywords.
  • Richard’s hack is also going well and he is now working provided linked data for the characters of the plays. Unfortunately, dbpedia only has URLs for 93 out of the 1000 plus characters.

All of them are looking for some help:

  • Victor would like to hear from developer willing to help with the coding. Will’s World suggested Unlock to help scraping location from the text.
  • Jeffrey is looking for input from the academic/literature side!
  • Richard is searching for suggestion for alternative sources of identifiers.

And we know Owen is still open to collaboration on his hack, and looking for some help with WordPress and Moodle. Check our current hack page and get in touch if you can help. Your involvement will be most welcome!

My hack collaborator has been of limited help… More on pinterest!


Day 4 of Will’s World Hack

The weekend has arrived and we are looking forward to an increased level of activity during this typical hack time. Will’s World is nearing the halfway mark but there is still plenty time left to build some wonderful and creative hacks. There is also plenty time left to join the hack. Like our latest participant who registered today, you too may have a good idea for a hack that you would like to explore with our team of hackers. Registration is still open. You will even get a goodie bag to support your efforts, which includes this great Will’s World Hack mug which is already put to good use by Owen:

More behind the scene photos of Will’s World Hack can be see on pinterest.

Additional data and information on how to use the Registry were made available today.

The metadata has been reloaded, with significant improvements:

  • Values for more fields, including missing titles and descriptions, dc:type and the attribution fields ww:credit, dc:creator, dc:contributor, dc:publisher.
  • Consistent values for dc:source and ww:credit; supporting the retrieval of results by collection (faceting).
  • Persistent record dc:identifiers, supporting reliable referencing even as records are updated.

The interface to Solr has also been improved with the following features:

  • Easier, more reliable searching with simpler URLs.
  • Better results through more general phrase searching.
  • Faceting on type and attribution fields.

The recording for today’s check-in session on Google+ Hangouts summarising these developments is now available to view on YouTube and Google+:

Click here to view the embedded video.

We looking forward hearing more about this weekend hack efforts in tomorrow’s check-in session on Google+, and as usual we will post a summary here.


Day Two of Will’s World Online Hack

The Will’s World Online Hack has now been going for over 24 hours. While most traditional hacks would be over by now. Will’s World just started! And we are very pleased to see that the conversation is starting to flow and connections are being made.

We held our daily session on Google+ Hangout which was streamed live on YouTube and recorded. The  videos for all sessions are made available on our YouTube channel and Google+ page, so feel free to catch up on any session you may have missed.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Today’session brought a few questions about the Registry:

  • How do you find the relevance of records in the Registry? It is not always obvious why some records are returned as results for a specific search.
  • There is currently no faceted search available for the Registry which would help with the exploration of the content and getting a feel for the data. This might help with undertanding the relevance of some records.
  • The service directory is not yet on to the Registry website.

The Registry is still under construction and we are looking into improving these. In addition, not all data available has been loaded in the Registry.  We are hoping to address this within the next day (or two).


Although, some participant have reported that it was not obvious how to join a Google+ Hangout. We are delighted to see that communication betwen participants, and between participants and the project team, has started to happen on Twitter @WillsWorldHack #willhack and IRC. These conversations yielded some useful questions about the data which have been added to FAQs on the wiki at:

  • Track discussion around the Will’s World Hack with our #willhack Storify gathering tweets, videos, etc.

Two days, Two project ideas

We are delighted to have two ideas for project already listed on the Current Hacks page and hoping for more to be listed there in the coming days.

One of our hacker, Owen Stephens, has also blogged about his progress to date in this “To scrape or not to scrape” post about creating a queriable/api form of perfomance cast lists using scraper wiki for the thing he has built.


Register for the Will’s World Online Hack

The last week has been very exciting for the Will’s World team as we have been busy preparing for the Online Hack event taking place next week.  By the way, there are still a few days left to register if you fancy joining us!

Taking the stage

I made my YouTube stage debut in this video introducing the Will’s World project and the motivation behind the online format of the hackathon.

Click here to view the embedded video.

My colleague Neil got into the creative spirit of the hack for this short video presenting the metadata that will be available in the Shakespeare Registry.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Data sources

The Shakespeare Registry will include metadata from:

With additional sources of data listed and some hack participants bringing their own data to add to ours, this will truely ensure we have some rich data to work with!


All the items for our goodie bags have now arrived and I’ve been enjoying putting the packs together. I will be sending them soon to the lucky 18 people already registered. We are hoping that these goodie bags will support your creativity and provide a little bit of fun. Here’s a sneaky peek at the smallest item!

Find out more about Will’s World Online Hack at


Join Will’s World Online Hack 5-12 Dec 2012

Are you interested in Shakespeare? Are you tempted to take part in a hackathon or know someone else who might be? Do you have a great idea for a new app? Do you want to mash your own data with ours? Then get involved in the Will’s World Online Hack! We are pleased to announce that registration for this event is now opened at

This hackathon aims first to promote innovative use of the Shakespeare metadata registry built by the Will’s World project to hold metadata describing online digital resources relating Shakespeare,but also to explore an online format for hackathon.

How does an online hack work?

Well, like a traditional hackathon, technical and creative people with different expertise like software developers, graphic designers, domain experts and project managers, get together and collaborate to develop applications and explore concepts. But instead of getting physically together in one location, social media technologies are used to communicate and collaborate online. We used your very useful and positive feedback to our online survey to plan this event.

The event will take place over a week:

  • Opening session on Wednesday, 5th December, 1pm (BST):
    This will be a live and interactive session to present the data, the goal of the event, prize categories, the set of social media tools and technologies to be used during the hack and the Will’s World project itself. Participants will be able to introduce themselves and put forward ideas.
  • Hack, 24 hours spread over 6 days:
    The participants will have six days to form teams, familiarise themselves with the data and code. Participants are free to organise when they spent their 24 hack hours over these six days. They will have the flexibility to work when it suits them. Teams can set their own schedule either for members to work concurrently or consecutively. The Will’s World project team will be on hand throughout to answer any questions and regular interactive drop-in sessions are planned.
  •  Closing session on wednesday, 12th December, 1pm (BST):
    This will be a live and interactive session where each team will present their hack either live or as a pre-recorded video and prizes will be awarded.

We are hoping to capture as much as possible of the communication taking place. In particular, the opening and closing sessions will be videoed. All recordings will be shared on the event wiki or the blog.

The use of technology and social media is at the core of this online hack. We will be using a wiki to act as hub to support communication, before, during and after the event. Mailing lists, Google+ hangouts, YouTube, Skype, Twitter, IRC, Github and Dropbox will all help the communication and creativity flow. You will find more information about the event, the data, the technologies and how to take part here.

Register now and receive a goodie bag!

If you fancy taking part in this exciting event and be one of the first pioneering online hackers then please register on the Will’s World Online Hack wiki. Participation is free and the first 50 participants to register will receive a goodie bag!


Will’s World online hack survey results: Your Views!

Over the last three weeks we have been drumming up interest for our idea of an online hack event. This twist on the traditional “in person” format has exciting potential to be more flexible and make great use of social media. It seemed like a very attractive idea to us but, we wondered, what did you think?

We drew up a short survey (15 questions) to capture your views, feedback and any experiences that would help us plan a great online hack. We spread the word through this blog, twitter, mailing lists, websites and asked other to do the same.

To date (the survey is still open) we have received 30 replies to the survey and many direct emails with further input. So a BIG THANK YOU to all! We are delighted that you found time to make this hugely valued contribution and we thought that the least we can do is share here what you told us.

A Good idea

In answer to that core question we found that 84% of our survey respondents felt that the online hack was a good idea, of whom: 57% of respondents thought that an online hack was a good idea and would be interested in taking part; a further 27% of respondents felt it was a good idea but they were not sure how it would work.

  • 75% of respondents had attended hack events in the past, and interestingly 3 have already taken part in an online hack.
  • It is very encouraging to see that most people are supportive of the online format – only 10% would prefer an in-person event. Only one person doesn’t think it will work and another said they wouldn’t be interested in taking part.
  • Significantly, all three experienced online hackers think it’s a good idea with two of them definitely interested in participating is this hack – this is really encouraging!

Timing – it’s all relative…

Opinions are divided over what format might work best. This is not surprising since most of our respondents had not been to an online hack before so were being asked to speculate on what might work. However, close to half of those who responded favour a week-long drop-in format. Others were split between weekend and weekday days – we had lots of conflicting comments about availability here.

We didn’t ask you where you were based – although we would if we did this again – but from your experience and email addresses we know we have respondents from both sides of the Atlantic which further encourages us that any possible timings and format needs to support an international hack attendance as elegantly as possible.


We were really pleased to see that you weren’t just being lovely in sharing your views, you were also really up for participating!
  • 50% of respondents said they are definitely interested in taking part in this hack, with an additional 30% a “maybe”, and several others interested but unable to attend on the specific suggested dates in December.
  • A significant number of people (52%) indicated that they may be able to bring additional data to the hack. However, most note that it would depend on having enough time to prepare it and/or obtain approval for sharing the data.

Social Media Technologies

Social media tools are essential in supporting the communication required by an online hack. Many applications are popular and received support from the participants of the survey, as seen in the graph below:

Knowing what tools you already use means we now feel well informed to choose the right combination of social media and web technologies that will ensure you feel comfortable and familiar with the tools and work for the functionality we think we would need.

We need you… but what do you need?

We also asked you what you might need to be able to take part in an online hack. The main requests were for:

as much data as possible

information on the data available ahead of the event

easy access to the data

access to the APIs ahead of the event

We can definitely see from these responses and our word cloud for this question (below) that the data is crucial!

Team-building and help with communication tools ahead of the event were also highlighted. The importance of time, pizza, publicity, prizes and a greater technology know-how were also mentioned!


So who are you all?

  • 50% of  respondents work in the Higher Education section. A further 18% are freelance and 11% work in the private sector.
  • Participants were from highly varied background, with different expertise and interests: from experienced developers, to artists, designers, managers, engineers, teachers, students, librarians – the only common characteristics seemed to be a passion for hacking, for Shakespeare or for both!
  • 92% shared their email with us to be kept informed on the developments of our online hack event – thank you! We will be in touch with you soon!

If you’re not one of those who responded but would like to stay up to date on the hack event please either fill in the survey now or drop an email to with “Wills World” in the subject line.

I Love Shakespeare

You have shared with us your wishes for playing with data, engaging with communication tools, supporting learning and producing creative material. You have encouraged us in our ambitious vision but warned us of the difficulties too.

Most of all, the word cloud for our additional comments section seems to indicate that you simply love Shakespeare!

Will’s World Online Hack is Coming Soon!

Following the positive responses we have received, we have looked further into the practicalities of organising an online hack event and are delighted to let you know that we will be going ahead with the event in early December! Further details and the official announcement will be out very soon… Watch this space!


Online Hack Event

Our Will’s World project is soon coming to an end. While we are busy populating the Shakespeare Registry with great data, we are keen to put this wonderful resource to good use. How can we achieve this in an unusual and fun way?

How about an online hack event!

The idea first came to us as we began planning a traditional hack event – something in person, overnight, possibly featuring pizza. As we started looking at how this would work best we realised there were lots of logistical issues to deal with from finding a suitable venue, to catering to the issue of how participants could find the time to travel and take part.

We also started to think about things that don’t always work so well in in-person hack days… sometimes the software you want to use is sitting on a machine you don’t have with you, sometimes you need to attend to caring responsibilities which just don’t fit into a 24 hour marathon lockdown, and sometimes you just can’t move that meeting or spare the travel time to fly miles away to make that fantastic looking hack day somewhere at the other end of the country.

And that’s when we realised that an online hack event might not only resolve our logistical issues but that the flexibility and potential benefits of an online hack event are also very exciting!

More people can participate:

  • Participants who wouldn’t be able to travel (whether because of the cost, time, distance, or scheduling conflicts) can easily join in.
  • The event can be scheduled to allow participants from further afield and different time zones to be included turning a local event into a global hack event.
  • There is no restriction on the number of participants due to the venue size or cost.

Enable use of familiar tools:

  • Participants can use their own machine, familiar set up and well-loved applications in their own environment. There is no need to get used to a different technical environment or to first install the tools you can’t do without. That means more time to be creative, to hack, play and collaborate.
  • Wifi and cable internet connections are also a lot more likely to be fast and reliable – at least something you are used to managing – if they are not being shared intensely by a room full of coders!
Keyboard disassembled and planted with cress

“Prepared keyboard waiting to sprout” by Flickr user wetwebwork

Flexibility in participation:

  • Participants can choose when and how much efforts they put in to the hack.
  • Participants can fit their participation around their other commitments.

Promote use of social media technologies:

  • Many collaboration tools can be used to run the event and connect people: blog, Twitter, wiki, Skype, Google Hangout, videos, websites…
  • Participants or those who find out about the event later can still share in the event with records of the hacks more easily captured via video, wikis, text chats etc.

Obviously,  the critical issue will be to ensure that communication takes place effectively during the hack between people scattered in various locations. Team formation will be interesting – but no weirder than grabbing a coke or a beer and introducing yourself around a room of fellow hackers. And we know that  interruptions could be tricky for some participants since they will be occupied with the Will’s World hack from their normal office or home desk. We can see challenges here but we think the benefits could make this a great format for our hack event.

But we want to know what YOU think of the idea…

We have come up with a few scenarios on how this type of online hack could work. We would really appreciate your help in evaluating different formats and communication tools for this event. Please take a moment to tells us what you think and provide us with your feedback by taking this short survey:

Please do feel free to share that survey link with others you think might be interested in this event. We also welcome any comments here as well.

Shakespeare's Globe Theater, Southwark, London

Image based on “Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, Southwark, London” by Flickr User nikoretro/Sheri

One last thing, we are aiming for the online hack to take place during the first week of December. Put it in your diary!


OA-RJ is dead. Long live ORI and RJ Broker.

JISC is funding EDINA to participate in the UK Repository Net+  infrastructure project.  UK Repository Net+, or RepNet for short,  is a socio-technical infrastructure supporting deposit, curation and  exposure of Open Access research literature.  EDINA’s contribution to RepNet is based on the Open Access Repository Junction (OA-RJ) project outcomes. Two independent tools will be developed as two separate projects from the ‘discovery’ and ‘delivery’ functionality of the OA-RJ.

The Organisation and Repositories Identification (ORI) project will design a standalone middleware tool for identifying academic organisations and their associated repositories. It tool will harvest data from several authoritative sources  in order to provide information on over 23,000 organisations and 3,000 repositories worldwide.  APIs will be provided to query the content of the ORI tool.

The Repository Junction Broker (RJ Broker) project will deliver a standalone middleware tool for handling the deposit of research articles to multiple repositories. This will offer an effective solution to authors and publishers wishing to deposit open access publications in relevant subject and institutional repositories.  The RJ Broker will parse the metadata of an article to determine the appropriate target repositories and transfer the publication to the registered repositories. It is intended to minimise efforts on behalf of potential depositors, and thereby maximise distribution and exposure of research outputs.

The RJ Broker project has been funded for a year as part of the wave 1 development of  UK Repository Net+ while the ORI project was awarded 6 months funding.