Overall themes: interoperability, modularity.
A Framework for Building Open Digital Libraries has me totally sold on the ODL concept and on the extension of the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI_PMH) to build every future Digital Library ever. I think it’s a great idea; interoperability is a desirable thing. My one critique is that their very simple mock-up and animated gif detracted, a little bit, from the picture they were painting. Perhaps I am unnecessarily picky.
Architecture for Information in Digital Libraries is interesting enough, but I’d love to know what they’ve done in the last decade. As I was reading, I found myself wondering if the meta-object to object link worked in the opposite direction; that is, whether pulling up an object would pull up a link to its meta-object (for instance, if the object is part of a larger collection). I would think it would come up on the catalog page when a search is done, but I was just surprised not to see them point that out explicitly.
I smiled when I saw that they based RAP on CORBA. That was the big thing, back then. And it stayed big for quite a while; I imagine it’s still fairly widely used nowadays, even. (Though I admit, I really don’t know. I hear something [neither a protocol nor a language] called “SOA” is in vogue, now, but I don’t delve into specifics.)
As I read through Interoperability for Digital Objects and Repositories, I begin to be grateful that our reading list was put in the order it was. They just whip through those acronyms. But I like the structure of their experiment, and I admit, I was holding my breath, a little bit, wondering whether they would find their systems interoperable–even after extending them (if that’s the right conjugation of the verb that goes with “extensibility”). Again, I began to get worried, until, finally, in their last paragraph, they mentioned their plan to add access management. (I know if I were curating a DL or DA, I wouldn’t want to grant remote locations the ability to add digital objects except in very specific ways.)
I decided that the broken link in Blackboard must have meant to refer to this particular description of the Internet.
I’m pretty familiar with web technology, so I didn’t find too much to say about this article. I think he’s a little bit overzealous in his defense of Internet-as-proto-DL; the truth lies somewhere between his statements and the statements he derides. There’s hope for the ‘net, but I could definitely see it going either way, at this point.
(A lighthearted aside: “Recently, attempts have been made to rewrite the history of the Internet … and for individuals to claim responsibility for achievements that many shared.” Hey, now! That quote was taken out of context! He was joking!)
I have another aside, not strictly relevant to this article, but the discussion of Los Alamos brought it to mind. I’ve seen several articles–including a required reading for Understanding Information–that suggest that the sciences are all progressive, all sharing their information immediately and collaboratively over the Web, but I just don’t see it. At least in engineering, which, despite Kuhn’s disparagement in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, is a subset of “the sciences” (seriously, ask me about my research), we tended to hold our papers–and with it our most recent research results–until a conference accepted them. And then the conferences (really, the IEEE) required that we not post the papers anywhere else. (That’s what I recall, anyway.) With conference deadlines being six months or more before the conferences, themselves, I really feel that this “real-time collaboration” people talk about it is not particularly widespread.
Don’t misunderstand me: I’m in favor of it. But the current methods of determining tenure, hooding, and so on would have to change significantly before a “share and share alike” system will really become tenable.