IL2006: Challenges of Cyberinfrastructure

Talis mashup prizes: First – John Blyberg, AADL Second – Alliance Second Life Library 2.0. Lori Bell, Michael Casey, Tom Peters, et. al.

Keynote Clifford Lynch, Exec Dir Coalition of Networked Information

Been told yesterday’s featured a musical performance; there will be no singing, humming, or any other type of scary stuff at this morning’s presentation. [laughter]

Practices of scholarship teaching changing in profound ways. Cyberinfrastructure: in most of the rest of the world, you can go and talk to people about e-science. Notion that the practice of science has been transformed by high-performance computation, high-performance networking, and large scale management of data. EU is investing heavily on e-science, as is much of the rest of the world.

National virtual observatory projects in various nations. If you build a telescope right, you automatically get metadata, which allows for aggregation of that information. Building enormous sky surveys from this information. Astronomy is no longer about getting time; now they’re running algorithms using data. By changing the interface a bit, you can open up high-end astronomy to school kids.

How do we get data reused and preserved? How do we get scientists assistance?

Initial focus of cyberinfrastructure discussion on science and engineering. All of this technology is equally applicable in humanities and social sciences, though there is some discussion on that in the disciplines.

Humanists interested in digitizing all of the writings and images in the world, so they can be searched and researched.

We tend to think of published literature when we speak of digitizing evidence; museums also play a part in getting large-scale digitization projects of these collections. Vast amount of museum holding are out of copyright. They’ve tried to monetize these collections by restricting access to them. (eg. No photos in the museum) Starting to see museums talking about digitizing public-domain materials and making them available.

Other issue in humanities and social sciences is that special collections are hugely important for research in many fields. These collections are going digital. Personal collections being digitized. Special collections in the future will have to change how they approach life; deal with information in digital form. Scale can be a problem, as well. Study of earlier times (18th century, etc.) is usually characterized by a paucity of evidence. Scholars of modern era can’t deal with sheer volume of information. Information retrieval and data mining very important.

Needs are shifting from problems tied up with information technology to problems involved with informatics – how to organize data, how to deal with confidentiality, etc. We tend to focus our attention on big marquee projects, but they’re projects with large funding and large teams.

Someone on those teams has thought about information management issues. Small projects with small teams (or individuals) don’t have that luxury – we need to figure out how to support these projects. Misunderstanding that everyone in science gets a grant. Not true. We will end up with patchwork of institutional and disciplinary approach to this problem.

Roles of libraries: If you look at big research universities and at information technology workforce, 15 years ago most of those people worked for central IT. Now in different departments, not central organization. Libraries are now facing demands for data curation. Scientists more interested in sharing data. Funding institutions realizing there’s real value in this data. Starting to put requirements for grantees for data management and sharing plan.

2005 – hurricanes a wake-up call. Long-term research projects where question of whether data was backed up, tissue lines, etc. How resilient is this stuff to natural disasters? We need to get organized about research data.

Demands to support this – who is supposed to be doing this? References to a new professional, which is largely mythological right now, called a Data Scientist. What do they need to know? What of their knowledge needs to be general, what needs to be disciplinary specific? Are these going to be librarians, or researchers in the fields? Will we meet these requirements through collaboration? Scale of this problem over the next decade or two is quite large.

Big research libraries – average librarian in these settings frustrated by trying to acquire more than their budgets allow. Also have weird relationship with scientists; main role of library for sciences is to pay for journals. (Shocking number of scientists think journals are free online because interface is so seamless.)

Will be moving into inter-institutional collaborations. Rapid rise in research frameworks that are collaborative – crossing institutional and international boundries.

Will be huge demand for access beyond research institutions. Nature of personal history is changing; issue for any cultural memory organization because the scope is getting broader. Rise of amateur science, especially observational science. Suggestion for libraries of all types to be mindful of all broad based changes.


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