Tell us something about yourself... what is your background and role in the organization you are working for?
Sometimes to start my bio saying that I wrote my first AGRIS input manual with a pen. But by training I am an agricultural entomologist, but I have been involved all my working life with agricultural information one way or the other. With Wageningen and Research Centre in the Netherland as an information person, amongst other things for the documentation network, the vocational education system and teaching information literacy. Internationally as a consultant, working with for example CABI, CGIAR, and for FAO on IMARK and CIARD.
How did you get in contact with AIMS?
I was nearby when its conception took place, but I want to plead innocence, I am not its father. Since 2000 we had a sequence of meetings that formed the prelude to the CIARD initiative. At some point in that process, around 2005, several people realised that the standard setting process needed an organisational home. AIMS became just that home.
What is your opinion on AIMS?
There is a lot of useful stuff there. But recently I met several people who were not aware of it while they could find there several things that are relevant for what they wanted to do. So in one hand there is a good resource, on the other hand AIMS can potentially engage with a much wider community than it reaches right now.
According to you, what is the most important benefit that AIMS provides to the agricultural information management community?
May I propose two potential benefits, as I can not choose which I find most important? AIMS is, and become still more, the home for sector specific standard setting work. And it may be the place where a wider group can go if they need information about those standards.
How do you think that information management standards can contribute to agricultural research for development?
Like any other sector we attempt to create new information systems, and some do not survive, and remain empty containers. In a sense that is all right: we are trying to find our way as information professionals in a still rather new environment with many new opportunities. You’ll never know what works if you do not try. But we should not spend more effort than necessary setting up the container. Using standards is a way to make use of the efforts that others did to conceptualize how data structures and systems can be set up. And most of the time we want to set up things in such a way that we can exchange information with others. AIMS can be helpful in that process, and could be still more helpful if it would guide people better in this confusing world of standards in different degrees of maturity. If we could combine the pedagogic approach developed for IMARK with the richness of the AIS resource, and demystify more of the jargon, that would really be a step forward.