A Guide to the CNI Spring 2004 Task Force Meeting
by Executive Director Clifford Lynch
The Spring 2004 CNI Task Force meeting, to be held at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia on April 15-16 offers a wide range of presentations that advance and report on CNI’s programs, showcase projects underway at Task Force member institutions, and highlight important developments at a national and international level. Here is the “roadmap” to the sessions at the meeting, which includes both plenary events and an extensive series of breakout sessions focusing on current developments in networked information.
As you’ll see, I think this is going to be a particularly valuable meeting. We have an extraordinary set of presentations.
As usual, the CNI meeting begins with a short optional orientation session for new attendees – both representatives of new members and new representatives or alternate delegates from existing member organizations — at 11:30 AM; guests are also welcome. Refreshments are available for all at 12:15 PM on Thursday, April 15. The opening keynote is at 1:00 PM and will be followed by two rounds of parallel breakout sessions. Friday, April 16, includes additional rounds of parallel breakout sessions, lunch and the closing keynote, concluding around 3:30 PM. Along with plenary and breakout sessions, the meeting includes generous time for informal networking with colleagues and a reception on the evening of Thursday, April 15.
Note that the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center offers regular shuttle service both to National Airport and to the Metro stop at Pentagon City. See the CNI web page on the meeting for details.
If you are wondering about the EDUCAUSE Net 2004 meeting that normally follows the spring CNI task force meeting, it has been renamed the EDUCAUSE Policy Conference, reflecting a broader focus on information technology and networking policy issues in higher education; CNI continues to be a co-sponsor of this meeting. Unlike previous years, however, we were unable to co-schedule this meeting with the CNI Task Force, and it will take place on May 19-20 in Washington DC. (We will return to back-to-back scheduling of the two meetings in 2005.) For more information and registration materials for the EDUCAUSE Policy Meeting, visit the EDUCAUSE web site at www.educause.edu.
As always, the CNI meeting agenda is subject to last minute changes, particularly in the breakout sessions, and you can find the most current information on our web site, www.cni.org.
The Opening Plenary
Professor Edward Ayers of the University of Virginia will give the opening plenary, which he has titled “Academic Culture and Computer Culture.” Ed has long been a leader and a pioneer in the application of information technology and networked information to transform the practice, teaching and scholarship of history; he co-founded the Virginia Center for Digital History and many of you will be familiar with his milestone work “Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War.” He is also a renowned historian; his 1992 book, “The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction,” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Just this month his most recent book, “In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863,” won the Bancroft Prize.
Ed’s work and thinking are of vital importance to our community for at least three reasons. First, he has led the way in transforming the practice of history through information technology in his personal scholarly work. Second, Ed and his colleague Will Thomas have been doing deep, creative and seminal thinking about how “new-genre” scholarly works such as Valley of the Shadow relate to traditional practices of scholarly communication and argument as embodied in books and journal articles. The December 2003 American Historical Review article by Ayers and Thomas, “The Differences the Slaves Made: A Close Analysis of Two Communities,” represents a breakthrough both in scholarly exposition and in helping to clarify and structure the relationship between complex information and data resources and actual scholarly argument.
Third, Ed is not simply a leading historical scholar who has engaged the promise of digital technologies in his own work. He also serves as Dean of the College and Graduate School of the Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia. In this role, he has been thinking broadly about issues involved in the large-scale adoption and integration of information technology and networked information across a range of disciplines to transform teaching and learning, research and scholarship.
Ed’s ability to combine and synthesize these two roles and perspectives – leading scholar and academic leader – should offer us very valuable insights into the continuing transformation of higher education, and I am delighted that Ed will be able to share them with us.
The Paul Evan Peters Award Lecture (Closing Plenary)
The Paul Evan Peters Award recognizes extraordinary and lasting achievement in the use of advanced technologies and digital information to enhance scholarship and intellectual productivity. The award was established to honor the memory of Paul Evan Peters (1947-1996), CNI’s founding director. Brewster Kahle, President of the Internet Archive, is the third recipient of this award. The award winner gives the Paul Evan Peters Award Lecture, which will be the closing plenary at our meeting this spring.
I believe that at least some of Brewster’s accomplishments are well-known within our community – particularly his work in establishing the Internet Archive (www.archive.org), which preserves Internet sites and other digital cultural materials. Through the way-back machine at the archive, it’s possible to find snapshots across time of material on the web, and this has already become an essential part of our cultural memory both for scholars and the broad public. I want to underscore the importance of Brewster’s leadership in archiving the Web; without his actions, most of the early history of the web, and a great deal of important material that was at one time available through the web, would be lost to us permanently. All of us – and those who will come after us – owe Brewster a great deal of recognition and gratitude for his work.
Brewster has made many other important contributions that may be less widely known. For example, in the early 1990s he developed a very sophisticated network based information dissemination system called WAIS (Wide Area Information Servers) that was one of the first implementations of the Z39.50 protocol. Paul Peters knew Brewster and was instrumental in making his work on WAIS visible to the library and higher education communities through early CNI meetings; Brewster has continued to be engaged with our community since those early days. Brewster later founded Alexa Internet (www.alexa.com), which was later acquired by Amazon.com; Alexa has done some very innovative work in web searching and recommending.
I have known Brewster for more than a decade now; he holds a deep and passionate personal commitment to the use of technology to transform culture, to foster creativity, and to advance learning. These are themes that echo throughout Brewster’s career, and I expect that he will explore them as part of his award lecture.
Brewster is concerned not just with technology and its use, but with the complex interactions of technology and public policy. You may be aware that this week Brewster, working with the Stanford University Center for Internet and Society directed by Larry Lessig, has filed a lawsuit (Kahle vs. Ashcroft) seeking to remove copyright restrictions on “orphaned” creative works. Details of this case can be found at
I cannot think of a more deserving person to receive the Paul Evan Peters award, and I think that we will all find insight and inspiration in the thoughts that Brewster will share with us.
Highlighted Breakout Sessions
I will not attempt to comprehensively summarize the wealth of breakout sessions here. However, I want to note particularly some sessions that have strong connections to the Coalition’s 2003-2004 Program Plan, which is available at www.cni.org/program/, and also a few other sessions of special interest, and to provide some additional context for a few sessions that may help attendees make session choices. We have a packed agenda of breakout sessions, and as always will try to put material from these sessions on our Web site following the meeting for those who were unable to attend.
A large cluster of sessions relate to the themes of institutional repositories and the management of locally-produced scholarship. We will have updates on the progress of DSpace and the DSpace Federation, including a report on their recent meeting; on Fedora (including a discussion of the first commercial product built on top of the open-source Fedora system); on repositories in the context of instructional materials, and a report from Herbert van de Sompel on his work in federating repositories using OAI technology. There will also be a report from an important project at the University of California, Santa Barbara which is looking at faculty practices and needs in information management; this is one of the few efforts to systematically examine the demand drivers for solutions like institutional repositories. We will also have a presentation by Warwick Cathro of the National Library of Australia on Australian Research Information Infrastructure Projects, which describes a national strategy for the deployment and integration of institutional repositories and supporting infrastructure. The general update from JISC and SURF on developments in their programs will also include substantial coverage of repository-related efforts such as DARE in the Netherlands.
Closely linked to the issue of institutional repositories are initiatives related to cyberinfrastructure. It is clear that grid computing technologies will play important roles, but many of the specifics of the relationships among data management and archiving and grid computing have remained murky. I’m delighted that Reagan Moore of the San Diego Supercomputer center — probably the single individual who has done the deepest and most extensive thinking about this area – has agreed to join us at this meeting to discuss developments involving data grids, storage request brokers and related technologies.
In the area of learning management systems, one important session will cover Sakai, a multi-million dollar collaboration to develop an open source learning management system environment. The session will focus specifically on interconnections and interfaces between Sakai and various library systems and services, as well as providing a general update on the project; this is an excellent opportunity for the CNI community to engage with the Sakai project to help ensure that the resulting work fits well within the broader information services context. Liz Lyon from UKOLN will also report on the UK’s eBank project, which deals with the integration and linkage of datasets, scholarly publishing and learning materials.
Preservation issues are well represented, and include a session covering issues in video preservation, an update on the Library of Congress national digital preservation initiative, which is now moving into a new phase of its activities, and a presentation on work at the University of Kansas. The National Library of Medicine will report on its work in the development of DTDs for journal archiving.
Another group of sessions focus on the use of digital media in the practice of teaching, learning and scholarship. Virtual Vaudeville is a project that uses very sophisticated 3D gaming technologies to re-create historical performance, and is a very powerful example of new approaches to humanities and arts scholarship; I had the opportunity to see this system demonstrated at a recent National Science Foundation meeting, and found it fascinating on many levels. Many CNI attendees are already familiar with the Survivors of the Shoah visual history project; a team from Rice University will report on efforts to integrate this resource into the classroom and the curriculum. We will also have a report on an environment being developed to capture source material and scholarship related to Caribbean life and culture at the University of Miami.
I’m very pleased that we are able to have a session covering a trail-blazing report about to be released by Kati Gerber of CHIN, Howard Besser of NYU, and Steve Dietz titled “The New Virtual Museum” which formulates a good deal of new thinking about how museums may evolve and change in the digital age. Joyce Ray from IMLS will also join in the discussion of this work.
As a discipline, history has taken a leadership role in trying to understand the evolution of the monograph into the digital world; not only do we have pioneering historians exploring the digital medium individually through their works, but also leading scholars thinking about the implications of such works for scholarly practice and norms within the discipline in a way that I have not seen in many other disciplines. Arnita Jones of the American Historical Association will chair a session covering developments in digital books for history, where there is now a substantial base of experience and investment through several large scale projects; the session will include representatives from both the History E-book project and Gutenberg-e. We will also have a session on the findings of a major three-year research effort at Columbia University’s Electronic Publishing Initiative focused on how electronic resources are altering the work and economics of different sectors of the scholarly enterprise, such as university presses, libraries, faculty and students.
I want to draw your attention to two presentations covering young but important projects that focus on the individual scholar and his or her immediate workgroup and personal collections, and the ways in which these personal environments interact with the broader information landscape. Raymond Yee and his colleagues from the University of California, Berkeley and the California Digital Library will discuss Scholar’s Box, a system which draws material from various repositories and helps scholars to manage and repackage this information. Michael Halm of Penn State will describe a system called LionShare which exploits peer-to-peer file sharing for collaboration within educational communities. Both of these systems deserve careful consideration as they help to frame new questions about how we approach the architecting of information environments; I have found them personally very helpful in clarifying my thinking about these issues.
CNI has a long history of cooperation with the Internet Society, which has been deeply involved in the policy issues that shape the future of the Internet. I’m very pleased that at this meeting we will have a session that will re-invigorate this connection. Michael Nelson of IBM also serves as the Internet Society’s Vice President for Public Policy, and is an old friend of higher education and networked information from his days working with first Senator and later Vice President Al Gore. Mike will join us to discuss critical Internet policy issues, with a particular focus on the World Summit on the Information Society which was held last December in Geneva. Also in the policy area we will have a report from the Joint Higher Education- Entertainment Industry Task Force on Peer to Peer applications, and a presentation on the Zwolle Principles for scholarship-friendly copyright practices. In addition, there is a session on security and privacy that should be particularly interesting in that it explores potential disconnects between policies and practices that may be in place in the library and those implemented at an institutional level through the information technology organization. Finally, the Shibboleth distributed authorization system update at this session will be strongly policy oriented, focusing on organizational developments such as Incommon.
Finally, let me just mention three other sessions. Kevin Guthrie, the former President of JSTOR and now CEO of a new venture called Ithaka, will lead two sessions. One will describe Ithaka and its work; the second, jointly with Roger Schonfeld, will report on a large-scale (7400 faculty) study that Ithaka has conducted on faculty views of electronic resources, updating an earlier JSTOR study from 2000. And Lorcan Dempsey of OCLC will discuss highlights from a very interesting environmental scan that OCLC completed in late 2003 titled “Pattern Recognition” (after the William Gibson book of the same name); this study is available at the OCLC web site.
There is much more, and I invite you to browse the complete list of breakout sessions and their full abstracts at the CNI web site. In many cases you will find these abstracts include pointers to reference material that you may find it useful to explore prior to the session.
I look forward to seeing you in Alexandria this April for what promises to be another extremely worthwhile meeting. Hopefully we will have beautiful spring weather after a rather long and chilly winter. Please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Joan Lippincott, CNI’s Associate Director (email@example.com) if we can provide you with any additional information on the meeting.