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SDLRC Blog: April 2019 Issue


SDLRC Blog - April 2019
The April 2019 issue (pdf version) of the Sheahan Diamond Literature Reference Compilation is now available online at the KRO Diamond Resource Center.
What is the Sheahan Diamond Literature Reference Compilation?
Patricia Sheahan has for decades searched the academic, general and corporate media for articles relevant to the diamond sector and published a monthly "newsletter" which compiles these articles as formal references complete with region and category keywords. She has compiled over 100,000 references dating as far back as 1500.
Who is Pat Sheahan?
There is not enough space to answer that question fully. Pat Sheahan has chaired the PDAC diamond technical session for as long as I can remember. The 2019 session was outstanding in terms of new insights presented by the speakers. My best suggestion is to watch the YouTube Video created by the PDAC in 2016 when they awarded her the Distinguished Service Award.
Why have I never heard of the Sheahan Diamond Literature Reference Compilation?
Since 2004 this monthly newsletter has been sent by email as a free pdf document to a fairly small list of individuals interested in the diamond sector who somehow managed to track down Pat and get on her list. I got on the list a number of years ago, but realized that beyond reading the notices about upcoming events and glancing through the reference list, I was not getting much value from the titles and author names. And once I saved the pdf to a folder, I never looked at it again. I wondered if the others on the list did anything more and it struck me that the tremendous discerning work being done by an individual steeped in diamond knowledge might be going to waste. So in 2015 I approached Pat about converting her reference database into an online version. She liked the idea and so we embarked on a project of recovering all those old spreadsheets and pulling the references into a relational database which I then used as the foundation for the online version of the Sheahan Diamond Literature Reference Compilation (SDLRC) currently hosted on Kaiser Research Online.
How does the online version of SDLRC work?
The references fall into two basic groups. The "technical" references relate to articles of a scientific nature usually published in an academic journal. Sometimes they are available free but most of the time the full article is behind a paywall. However, each technical article usually has an unrestricted, dedicated page that includes an abstract which describes the focus and conclusion of the article. Sometimes graphics are included with the abstract. The other group consists of media and corporate references. The corporate references are for press releases published by companies engaged in diamond exploration or mining. The media references are articles about the diamond sector published by third parties, usually media entities, some specialized in the diamond sector, others with a broader focus. For each year there are two web pages, one dedicated to the technical references and the other to the media/corporate references (2015 and earlier are combined). The references are sorted alphabetically by author which in turn are sorted chronologically. The references from Pat's most recent monthly compilation are highlighted in yellow. Now when I get Pat's monthly pdf by email I go the current year's technical and media/corporate reference pages and scroll down looking for the highlighted references to see what is new and possibly of interest to me.
Why not just stick with the pdf where you don't need to scroll past older references?
While working on the online version I made a remarkable discovery. By copying and pasting the reference's title into the Google search box a link to the article usually showed up at or near the top of the search results. So now every month when Pat sends me her latest compilation I track down the online sources for the articles and include their links in the database. In the case of technical articles I also capture the abstract. This is a vast improvement over the pdf because with the pdf, if a reference captures my interest, what do I do next? Not much without a lot of time-wasting effort. Now when I browse the online technical references I can skim the abstract and click on the link to read a better formatted version and even buy the article from the publisher if necessary. In the case of the media references, I click on the link and can read the entire article. In the case of the corporate references the link takes you the company web site where you can track down the press release. Pat does the hard work of sifting through the online literature flagging articles relevant to the diamond sector, I put in a bit of extra work hunting down the online links, which together enable the reader to generate knowledge relevant to his or her purposes.
What is the business model behind the SDLRC?
There is none. Access to the references is free and users of the online version are not pestered with advertisements for things they neither need nor want. Nor is your activity tracked so that you can be profiled and exploited by third parties. It is a form of "leveraged giving" where the cost incurred to create and make something universally available is a tiny fraction of the public good its existence potentially generates. The leveraged value comes from the time this cross-referenced online resource saves for knowledge seekers. It is post-capitalist in the same way that Wikipedia is.
What if I am interested in a particular region or topic?
Pat catalogs each reference by regions and category key words. This has made it possible to create web pages dedicated to specific regions and key words. The Region Index allows users to home in on articles related to a region. The category keywords proved to be problematic because over time lots of different ones emerged. Once the references were inside a relational database and all the category key words had been isolated Pat and John Kaiser came up with a group of "major" key words into which other key words could be slotted. The Major Key Word Index provides a list of all such categories for which a dedicated web page exists. The references are sorted by year and then alphabetically by author. Each major key word has a "definition" in which John Kaiser attempts to explain what the category means and why it may be relevant to diamonds. The hope is that eventually experts in the field furnish us with definitions, anonymously or with credit.
What if I am interested in a particular author, company or media group?
Most of the technical articles have multiple authors who are listed in an order presumed to be that of importance with regard to contribution to the article. John wrote some code to extract individual authors from the author field so that the author could be linked to the reference directly. We then created an author page dedicated to each letter of the alphabet. But because there is a size limit to KRO web pages, we ran into a problem with certain letters. We had no idea how many Russians have a surname that begins with "K" and how prolific they are! That is why there are 4 separate pages for the letter "K", a consequence of the online version of SDLRC not being driven by an online database. But it works. Now you can find an author, see what that author's areas of expertise are, and also see with whom they collaborate. That is of not much interest to ordinary people, but will be of tremendous value to the academic community, especially students trying to figure out who is who. The media and corporate references have their own alphabet letter based web pages. By linking to a media-corporate letter a user with a favorite media site such as Rough-Polished can very efficiently catch up on articles published by that media outlet.
How can I find out when the online SDLRC has been updated with the latest monthly references?
Those of you who are deeply immersed in the diamond sector will know how to get hold of Pat Sheahan directly and request that you be put on her email list. You will get an email with the pdf attached once the online version is updated. If your email bounces or generates an "unsubscribe" you will be deleted from the list without further notice. Alternatively you can follow @KaiserResearch on Twitter. This Twitter account is mainly used to notify followers when new material is available at Kaiser Research Online. Once the online SDLRC is updated we will post a blog and tweet the link via Twitter.
Who should be interested in following the Sheahan Diamond Literature Reference Compilation?
First of all, anybody connected with the diamond sector should follow SDLRC for the simple reason that there is no other way to keep track of the latest developments in the diamond sector on such a broad basis. De Beers, Rio Tinto and Alrosa will have vastly more extensive databases, but they are proprietary. People involved in upstream exploration and mining have an obvious interest in the technical references, as do academics involved in earth science. When Dia Met revealed its Ekati diamond discovery in 1992 it spawned an explosion of diamond knowledge in the public domain. Until then knowledge about diamonds was largely confined to the De Beers organization which kept a tight lid on knowledge seeping into the public domain. Diamonds, courtesy of inclusions, are suitcases that function as windows into the past of the earth's interior. Much of the technical literature assembled by Pat relates to the earth's interior all the way to the core which is relevant to figuring out where and why diamondiferous bodies exist at the earth's surface. Many of the intrusions that originate from the mantle such as carbonatites have zero diamond potential. But they may contain elements such as rare earths which, unlike diamonds, have properties capable of changing the world in a way that gem diamonds never will. They will also never be synthesized in the manner of diamonds. So even if you are of the view that diamonds are headed for a future of gangsta bling with an unlimited ever cheaper supply as technology drives the cost of synthetic diamonds lower, the knowledge work related to mantle derived bodies is relevant to you. If you are involved in the downstream diamond sector you need to stay on top of developments; the media references collected each month are the key to doing so. If you are a journalist or member of an NGO covering diamond linked conflict you need to follow SDLRC. If you are a historian SDLRC is an excellent place to start your research. If you are an investor interested in diamond exploration or mining SDLRC is your best resource for catching up on the latest.
What if I don't know enough to know what is new and important?
Pat Sheahan does not judge which articles, especially technical ones, deserve to be included in the SDLRC for the simple reason that recognizing what is new and interesting requires a highly focused and contextualized knowledge base. We are thus open to guest commentators who highlight articles that caught their attention and explain why. Since January 2018 diamond exploration geologist Brooke Clements has provided a monthly highlights commentary (April 2019). Such highlights will reflect the interests and expertise of the commentator so are by no means a definitive observation about "what's new what's not". We invite anybody with relevant expertise to submit similar highlight commentaries in the spirit of focusing our attention.
 
 

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