Thursday, November 08, 2007

highlights from the Fall 2007 DLF Forum

There were a number of highlights for me from the fall 2007 DLF forum.

Dan Gillmor gave a great opening plenary on journalism in a world of ubiquitous media access. He talked quite a bit about participatory media and collaboration, and how the average person with a cell phone can participate in "random acts of journalism," such as recording the shooting at Virginia Tech or the 2005 tsunami in Sri Lanka. It is more likely that on-the-spot photojournalism will come from anyone, not journalists . He also talked about what he termed "advocacy journalism," where a community is formed, whether around a location or a topic, and that community reports often more quickly and more deeply on issues of interest to their community. What's the role of professional journalism? "Do what you do best and point to the rest." Follow well-established journalistic practices in reporting, and point to those communities and compedia that are doing a good job rather than trying to also do what they do. In a world with so much access, there is more transparency; conversely, it is also much more difficult to keep secrets. But what do you trust? What's accurate? Trust cannot be based solely on popularity, but on reputation, which is exceptionally difficult to qualify and quantify.

Rick Prelinger gave a talk on moving image archiving and digitization. I loved this phrase: "Wonderful and unpredictable things happen when ordinary people get access to original materials." In a world where there is now more individual production that institutional production, we should be crawling and preserving what's out there on YouTube and elsewhere, starting in early on what will be the hardest to preserve. He also pointed out that YouTube raised popular expectations about video findability while simultaneously lowering quality expectations and making the segmenting of content out of its raw or original context the norm. Rick also referenced the SAA Greene-Meissner report which urged archivists to consider new ways to deal with hidden collections, in making his point that workflows should not be sacred. Our social contract with users is to provide access. Digitization provides visibility and access, which can drive preservation.

Ricky Erway led an interesting overview of the agreements that various institutions have entered into with their third-party digitizing partners. The one that I knew the least about was the NARA arrangement with, where the materials will be available only on Footnote by subscription for five years, after which NARA can make them available, although NARA admits that it isn't clear exactly what they can and cannot do. For some reason James Hastings made sure to make the point that Footnote is not a LDS Church unit, although the parties involved definitely have ties to the church and are strongly interested in the materials for use in genealogy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

There was a session on mass digitization "under the hood." I was particularly floored with the work at the National Archive of Recorded Sound and Images in Sweden. Their automated (in some cases robotic) processes for digitization are truly astonishing, as is the scale of their digitization. If I am reading my notes right, they create between 1.5 and 2.5 TB every day.

Herbert Van de Sompel gave a very effective presentation on ORE. I see a lot more folks getting what he and Carl Lagoze have been saying about compound objects. I love their elegant use of ATOM.

Denise Troll Covey gave a report on a the preliminary results of an in-progress study at Carnegie-Mellon on faculty self-archiving. I look forward to reading the final results and being able to share them, especially given the mis-information that faculty believe about their rights and their lack of archiving.

Steve Toub and Heather Christenson gave a great talk on a survey on book discovery interfaces. Microsoft Live Search Books seemed to fare the worst, while LibraryThing seemed to be at the top. They promise to make a ppt with many more slides than they presented available.

Tito Sierra, Markus Wust, and Emily Lynema from NC State presented their "CatalogWS" a RESTful Web API, which they take advantage of for their very cool MobiLib mobile catalog app, as well as a staff book cover visualization tool for large screen displays, and an advanced faceted search interface for generating custom catalog item lists for blogs and webpages. They also gave a nice shout-out to Blacklight, which we appreciated.

Mike Furlough and Patrick Alexander from Penn State led a good discussion on publishing and libraries. Activities represented in the room ranged from journal hosting to publishing of library collections online to collaborating on born-digital scholarship to working with university presses on electronic editions of works.

Read Peter Brantley's post on Mimi Calter's talk on the examination of the Copyright Registration Database that Peter and Carl Malamud worked to hard to set free. Make sure to also read the comments.

I was happy with the responses that Bess Sadler and I received from our presentation on Project Blacklight. Bess went way above the call of duty and completed some UI update tasks (translating language codes and setcodes into human-readable terms and adding browse centuries) and figured out how to combine the Virgo and Repo indexes in Lucene while sitting in our hotel room. We were able to show REALLY up-to-date screen shots in our presentation, including one we added while setting up the laptop at the podium.


Jodi Schneider said...

Hope you'll put up slides from the Blacklight presentation, Leslie. These sound well-worth a look!

Leslie Johnston said...

DLF has put the slides up at