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A standards based approach to farmers and scientists sharing information via electronic networks

Roger Johnson

The Regional Institute Ltd


The extraordinary advances and wide-spread adoption of information and communications technologies over the past decade have largely by-passed agricultural extension in Australia. Outside the domain of the commercial journals and ad-hoc institutional repositories, there are little or no coherent public online sources of agricultural research related information relevant to the growing needs of the farming sector.

Many societies see the value of their membership contingent on restricting access to information services. The information that they manage on behalf of members in the form of conference proceedings, newsletters and journal articles is increasingly published in electronic form, but incurring the substantial cost of print-based production processes. This approach severely limits the available pool of information, hence undermining the efforts of all societies to provide value to members.

This paper describes the process used to gather and publish the entire history of the ASA's proceedings, the standards applied and the opportunity afforded by this approach to develop a fully integrated network of like minded societies whose mission it is to contribute to the pool of information available to scientists, advisors and farmers. The importance of open standards will be discussed in the context of managing text, images and data including spatial data at all levels in the RD&E sector from individual authors to institutional efforts to solve the problem of managing and making publicly funded information accessible to those who need it.

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