Friday, 11 November 2011

PhilEvents: Events in Philosophy

We're very pleased to announce the official launch of PhilEvents, a new kind of calendar for academic events in philosophy targeted at researchers and graduate students.

PhilEvents is a one-stop shop to keep up with all upcoming events in philosophy, from talks to calls for papers and conference announcements. What makes it special is that it is both geo- and theme-aware: it allows academics to see just the events that are either close enough to them geographically or sufficiently important for their research to warrant the trip. This makes PhilEvents orders of magnitude more convenient than keeping up with mailing lists or sifting through ordinary event calendars.

The main way to use PhilEvents is through its "Upcoming Events" page, which looks like this:

Notice that it knows where I'm browsing from, as well as the research topics I'm interested in:

Another crucial feature of this page is what I like to call the "laziness level selector." That's the part of the page where the user tells PhilEvents how far he or she is willing to go to attend various events:

That's what allows PhilEvents to present just the right events below.

PhilEvents has many other important features not apparent here, for example:
  • It sends off email alerts of upcoming events based on criteria that parallel those of the upcoming events page.
  • It allows anyone to download its events in a variety of formats, for example, CSV and iCal.
  • It supports embedded widgets similar to Google Gadgets, which institutions or individuals can use to embed events on their web pages. This is handy to maintain a calendar in sync with PhilEvents.
  • It supports attaching recordings and live streams of events to event announcements.
PhilEvents itself is not a redistributable product, but its data are available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. The School of Advanced Study is also making available a Blogger-like platform for other organisations to operate calendars like PhilEvents: xEvents. xEvents is still in beta, but anyone is welcome to try it immediately. The School of Advanced Study is not only committed to supporting PhilEvents and xEvents over the coming years, but it will continue active development on these products over the coming months in order to improve them in response to user feedback.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the whole project team for their great work and enthusiasm throughout the project. Thanks Vithun (programming and graphics design), Prabhu (programming), Chrissy (content management), Lee (user rep), Jean-Philippe (graphics design), Martin (user rep), Dave (user rep), Shahrar (administration), Valerie (administration), and Barry (direction). We're also grateful for the support provided by JISC's Geospatial programme and the Dean's Development Fund at the School of Advanced Study.

Table of contents for project posts

Project plan

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

MySQL full-text and spatial search in Grails

For the advanced search in our application, we had to combine full-text and spatial matches within a single query. Since we were using Grails, and in-turn hibernate, we needed to have a MySQL dialect which would allow us to write such a query. This blog post highlights how this functionality was implemented.
Copyright David Bourget and University of London, 2011. This blog's content is license under the Attribution-ShareAlike license.