Monday, April 8, 2013

Notes from Spring 2013 CNI

Below the fold are some notes from the sessions I attended at the Spring 2013 CNI meeting.

For the opening plenary Herbert van de Sompel reprised his keynote from the 2013 IDCC. This is an important talk, well worth re-visiting. Herbert makes a very strong case for the advantages of working with the Web infrastructure, as for example Memento does, rather than simply viewing the Web as a communication channel on which an application protocol can be layered, as for example OAI-PMH does.

Tom Klinger from Kent State described how they use Backblaze's storage pods and some in-house software (which will be open-sourced) to build a low-cost, easy-to-use, triple-redundant, RAID-6 storage infrastructure. They use it for fairly dark copies which need medium-term retention with high reliability but not 7/24/365 uptime guarantees. They bought the boxes assembled, and installed their own 3TB drives. Their capital cost for max-ed out 45-drive pods would be $0.30/GB with triple redundancy. Tom describes the hardware as the Volvo 240 of storage, built like a tank but very heavy and noisy. This experience was supported in the Q&A by McMaster University, who use the same hardware.

Franny Lee talked about SIPX, a spin-out from Stanford that provides a new, Web-based service to manage copyrights and deliver digital documents for educators to use in course packs and for MOOCs. I was impressed with the demo and the care the system takes to present freely available versions ahead of for-fee versions of the chosen content.

Steve Griffin and Micah Altman reported on the outcomes of what sounded like a fascinating workshop on new models of scholarly communication held at Pitt last January, and the DPN team gave an overview of the current state of their technical architecture, which is coming together.

Peter Brantley presented the substantial progress has made in their efforts to enable annotation for the Web as a whole since the workshop I attended at Ft. Mason on the identity and reputation aspects. The demo showing making an annotation on a PDF page and having it appear also on the HTML version of the same document was impressive, even though Peter had to use two different browsers to do it! As with Memento, is working within the W3C framework to leverage the Web infrastructure.

In the closing plenary Deanna Marcum and Roger Schonfeld presented Ithaka S+R's latest triennial survey of University faculty, and Judy Russell presented data from the same survey taken at U. of Florida. This was a disappointment because, as Kevin Ashley pointed out in the Q&A, the slides presented the data without confidence intervals. This made it impossible to know whether the trends the speakers identified, many of which were in the single percentage digits, were statistically significant. The report now available on Ithaka S+R's website has the same flaw, although apparently the raw data will be deposited at ICPSR.

The series of Ithaka surveys excludes health science and agriculture faculty. As Judy pointed out, they form a large part of her institution's faculty, so were included in her local survey. This may well have accounted for some fairly large divergences between the local and national responses to some questions. Most reflected a greater technological optimism among the U. of Florida faculty, which is not unexpected especially from the health sciences.