[LINK] Innovative Ideas Forum on Mobile Internet and Archives
Tom.Worthington at tomw.net.au
Thu Apr 10 12:29:04 EST 2008
The third annual Innovative Ideas Forum started at the National
Library of Australia in Canberra this morning. This is a one day
event for librarians and other information professionals. There is
almost a full house in the NLA theatre. It is very pleasant to be
able to just sit here and let someone else do the organizing, after
last week's Open 2020 Summit.
The proceedings are being recorded and will be podcast by the NLA,
along with copies of the speaker's slides next week.
The ideas forum is a curious blend of the old and the new. Demetrius
of Phaleron, librarian at the ancient Great Library at Alexandria,
would have felt at home at the NLA; it looks like a temple for books.
If you look closely, some of what was on paper, such as catalogs and
signs, have been replaced with electronic screens. But the operation
and feeling remains the same. No doubt Demetrius would have attended
forums on "papyrus 2.0". ;-)
The event was opened by Professor Gerard Goggin on Internet and
Mobile Phone. He described broadband as a "totem" for the new
government and asked what it might be used for and the role of
wireless. Roger Clarke got a mention in recording the history of the
Internet. Gerrard pointed out that scientists figured prominently,
but activists should be mentioned. My recollection from around the
early 1990s is that we deliberately clothed any social activism of
the Internet in scientific language to make it politically palatable.
Having, for example, someone who had been jailed for their political
activism did not seem a good way to get the government onside.
Professor Goggin mentioned several Internet historians and activists.
But he did not mention Carl Malamud's "Exploring the Internet : A
Technical Travelogue" (1992), which was about trip around the world
visiting Internet pioneers, including those in Australia. This book
has a large effect on me. Much of what is advocated has happened.
Some of open access to documents may be about to happen.
Professor Goggin asks for histories of how and when the Internet
developed in different parts of the world. However, he proposes to
approach this from that of the key figures involved. The problem with
this is that the people saying things publicly in traditional forums
were not necessarily the people actually key to the process. Many of
the key strategists were not public figures, relying on others to put
the message out. Also the technology was used, so that the work was
done by loose online groups which did not necessarily have leaders or
formal structure. Those involved in this process may not necessarily
know who did what.
This distributed approach still applies to Internet development. As
an example, a few weeks ago I was part of a process to tell the
government that it was not a good idea to give each school child a
laptop. Within 24 hours, a cabinet minister said this to the media.
It is not clear who said what to who and for this form of political
communication to work, the lines of communication need to remain unclear.
It was not clear in the 1990s that "the Internet" would be a success
and their were many alternatives which were proposed, failed and
forgotten. It is very much the case with the Internet and the web
that the victors have written the history. The other forgotten
histories are buried in electronic archives, yet to be dug up by
Professor Goggin pointed out that exciting new developments in the
use of mobile phones in developing nations do not get considered. He
also said that exactly what would be done with broadband on mobiles
in Australia was not yet clear.
The commons approach then got a mention (of which Creative Commons is
an example). He argued that the commons approach to mobiles has not
been explored. This is relevant to broadband development in
Australia, as the Australian Government recently cancelled the Opel
contract to build a wireless broadband network in regional Australia.
The government has no viable strategy to replace that network. A
commons approach may help solve a looming political problem for the
government. The opposition could get political traction around the
perception that regional Australia is missing out on broadband access.
At question time I asked if historians needed to adopt analytical
techniques to discover the history of the Internet. I suggested
reading what people wrote in old fashioned paper books is not the way
to do it. Also reading Wired magazine is not the way to do it
(described by my technical colleagues as "The Dolly magazine of the
computer industry"). The Internet Archive and others have kept
records which can be analyzed to see who said what first. Professor
Goggin replied that both approaches were needed. He was working on an
analytical analysis of how Australian youth use mobiles, but it was
also important to look at what historians say about topic.
Next there was Kris Carpenter Negulescu from the Internet Archive.
She started off pointing out that the archive has more than just
copies of old web pages, with books, music and video. Alos the use of
the archive for research was emphasized, with "content as
infrastructure" and "examination of primary data". She mentioned
challenge with archives linking together with APIs. One aspect of
interest was the risk of patent which risk the use of common
approaches, such as a US company patenting the us of a thumbnail of a
web page next to a reference to it. As an expert witness I have used
the Internet Archive to check the prior art for such patents.
One interesting development was the use of Zotero in place of End
Notes to keep research references. Mellon is funding an extension to
this to allow a social network of researchers to exchange their
references in a closed group or publicly.
Also it is interesting that data can in the archives can have
analysis. An example Kris gave was of the use of the term "Cube Farm"
to refer to an open plan office with low partitions. In passing she
mentioned that Herman Miller was horrified that his idea of a more
comfortable more flexible office layout turned into the confined cube farm.
Kris pointed out that the trend in research funding in the USA was to
require the researchers to plan for sustaining the results of their
work beyond the end of the funding. In Australia there has been some
limited discussion of doing this, with researchers having to put
their data in an institutional repository and pay for its upkeep.
Tom Worthington FACS HLM tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd ABN: 17 088 714 309
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617 http://www.tomw.net.au/
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, ANU
More information about the Link