December 2009 Archives


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One last, short post for the night.  I have maintained another blog for the past three or four years that has some content relevant to the topic of this blog, τεχνοσοφια.   Some of the categories over there may be of interest.
Here's a list of questions I hope to grapple with.  And, yes, I am fixating on terms a bit here.  I blame it on the philosophy courses.

  • What is a digital library architecture?  
  • When we talk about digital library architectures do we normally tend to talk about systems?
  • Is it wise to have a system-centric view of digital library architectures -- i.e., "just install Fedora/DSpace/Drupal/aDORe!" -- or should we think instead in terms of APIs, standards, and access requirements?  Maybe this is a false dichotomy.
  • Do digital library architectures need to be so esoteric, or may they reduce to garden-variety information architectures?  Formulated otherwise: are our problems really that special?
  • How do repositories and digital library architectures intersect?
  • Would a UNIX filesystem w/ certain naming and directory conventions suffice as a digital library architecture?  Formulated otherwise: would the California Digital Library's curation microservices suffice?
  • How do HTTP, web architecture, linked data, RDF-based ontologies, and REST help us with digital library architectures?
  • How might messaging architectures such as AMQP, XMPP, and OpenSRF fit into the digital library problem space?
  • Am I overthinking this/fixating too much on the phrase "digital library architecture?"
I've been trying to track down relevant literature on digital library architecture and have found a modest number of articles.  Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Happy holidays, folks.

Getting started

I'm not particularly fond of the term "digital library architecture" because it suggests capital 'A' architecture.  It's big; it's monolithic.  The term leaves lots of room for abstraction and complexity and formalism, and I am a fan of simplicity and practicality.  I have tried to be upfront about my inclinations, and so I can only assume that the hiring committee found them acceptable.  Great.

My charge as digital library architect is to work with a team of folks in ITS and the Libraries, among other groups on campus and in the digital library community abroad, to design systems for curation of digital content.  It's a huge problem space involving dozens of stakeholders across campus, terabytes of content, and diverse use cases and requirements.  
At the outset, I expect to work -- especially with the fellow members of the Digital Library Technologies team, the Libraries' digital collections curator, and the Digital Initiatives Steering Committee -- on building out the university's e-Content Stewardship program.  I intend to start with a ton of contextualization: reading functional requirements, sitting on various committees, tracking down key articles and local wiki pages, and engaging folks over caffeinated beverages. 

Beyond that, I imagine we will want to turn to building a team to work on a pilot project. There are many potential pilot projects competing for time, to be sure.

I'm excited to be working on this at Penn State, and can't wait to dig in.  I'll share more as I go along, and hope that folks reading along will participate in the discussion.

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