Tuesday

Tuesday 5/11/2002News breaks of a mission into quite a different space. DSpace is a project to catalogue, preserve and distribute the intellectual output of MIT -- a prodigious piece of work that is expected to expand to over a petabyte of data or 1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes, if you don't fancy counting them yourself.

Tuesday 5/11/2002
News breaks of a mission into quite a different space. DSpace is a project to catalogue, preserve and distribute the intellectual output of MIT -- a prodigious piece of work that is expected to expand to over a petabyte of data or 1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes, if you don't fancy counting them yourself. It's open source, it copes with all sorts of digital data, and it revolves around the idea of communities -- people with a common interest who manage their own portal into the data. That data is bunched into collections, and contributors can choose to which collections their work should belong. People set their own territories, and the system supports them in that. The whole thing is designed to be accessed from the Web. It's an enormous undertaking, with pretensions to universality. For that sort of vision, and for the clarity and openness of the system, both MIT and its co-worker HP are to be applauded. It's the sort of ambition made palpable by the way Google is becoming the global library, and it should work in tandem with the creative chaos of the Web itself to give us all a formal archive coupled with enormous freedom of analysis. That the world is moving with such alacrity towards the digitising of all data is tremendously exciting -- it may be how history remembers these years, if the fates are kind. Compare and contrast the approach of other curators of great bodies of data -- the entertainment industry, national administrations, publishing. Whether your ambitions for the information in your charge are commercial, intellectual, personal or perverse, one thing remains true in all cases. If nobody can find it and get it, it might as well not be there.

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