Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Digital Preservation

Andy Guess, “At Libraries, Taking the (Really) Long View,” Inside Higher Education, July 23, 2008, provides a description of the efforts to preserve digital stuff by librarians and archivists, focusing on the realization of trying to manage old the digital information these repositories now hold. Guess describes the various approaches as ranging from “hardware complexities, such as constructing storage devices that continuously monitor and repair data while remaining easily scalable; redundancy measures, such as distributing and duplicating data across storage devices and even across the country; universal standards, such as formats that could conceivably remain readable in the distant future; and interfaces, such as open software protocols that manage digital holdings and make them accessible to the public.” He cites a 2006 report from Britain’s Digital Preservation Coalition and describes work being done at Stanford University and its partnership with Sun Microsystems, setting up the “Sun Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group, or PASIG, to bring together leaders in research libraries, universities and the government to periodically meet and collaborate on digital archiving issues.”

The essay is at

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pittsburgh -- Robot Capital

This article over at CNET is interesting since it represents a national view of our region. Quoting the article:

Pittsburgh touts on its official Web site that it's the only city to have won "America's Most Livable City" award twice. But perhaps the "Take me to you robot," or "Go ahead, make my robot," slogans used for its Robot 250 festival are more appropriate.

Pittsburgh is famously home to one of the leading academic research centers for robotics in the country, The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, which is also home to one of the country's leading roboticists, Matt Mason.

There has long been a rivalry between Boston and Pittsburgh as to which city is the tech leader in robotics. Both cities have academic and private research centers, as well as major companies, heavily involved in the robotics industry.

But in recent years, Pittsburgh has been playing up its ties to robotics through a series of public announcements, events, and community projects.

On the site for its 250th anniversary, Pittsburgh proudly states that the first robot was created in the Pittsburgh region, as well as the first polio vaccine and the first advanced organ transplantation.

Taiwan digital archive

I came across this article, which ought to be of interest here. Gordon Cook normally reports on Internet related issues, so I would expect that many of you missed this. From the article:
In 2006 with the beginning of Phase Two, a further decision was made to merge the 16 into six-thematic groups. These are first - maps and architectures; second - languages and multimedia; third - biosphere and nature; fourth - lives and cultures; fifth -archives and databases; sixth - artifacts and illustrations.

The bridging across discipline’s will help raise many new possibilities for research such as the more widespread use of things like the largest known time series of human measurements namely the three centuries of the month-by-month changes in agricultural prices registered as part of the Imperial Ch’ing Dynasty archives in Beijing.

Several other serious digital archive projects have begun elsewhere in the world. However, the one in Taiwan is the only one of which I am aware that is so blatantly cross disciplinary – something that, given the capabilities of computer technology, seems to be an obviously desirable course to follow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blackboard & Open Source

From today’s Inside Higher Education

Blackboard, the dominant player in course management software, has the ability to inspire devotion and, for the more fervid open-source adherents, not a little contempt. So today’s announcement may cause a stir among those more apt to liken Blackboard to the devil than a gentle giant: The company is partnering with Syracuse University to develop a way to integrate Blackboard with Sakai, one of the primary open-source alternatives.

Once the project is completed late this year or early next year, the company hopes it will have created a platform that any campus can adopt to import Sakai data into Blackboard or vice versa. The solution, which is being developed in-house at Syracuse with support from Blackboard, will be released as a “Building Block,” or software plug-in, that will itself be open source.

The announcement comes as part of an increased effort at Blackboard to reach out to proponents of open-source software who have in the past bristled at the company’s tactics or its proprietary, license-based model. In addition to the Sakai partnership, the company is pursuing a similar arrangement with another university to develop integration with another open-source course management system, Moodle.

Andy Guess The original story and user comments can be viewed online at

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Web 2.0 Reflections

The July/August 2008 issue of MIT’s Technology Review features a cluster of essays on “The Future of Web 2.0,” including the implications of social networking and business, security and privacy issues, the use of bandwidth, and reviews of new and emerging social computing providers.