April 2008

Research Data and the Computing Cloud: NSF/Google and IBM

Research in the Cloud: Providing Cutting Edge Computational Resources to Scientists is an interesting recent post to the Google Research Blog. It provides Googles take on its participation in the National Science Foundation/Google/IBM collaboration within The Cluster Exploratory Program (CluE).

The NSF solicitation for proposals was released last week. To quote from the call:
‘In addition to the widespread societal impact of data-intensive computing, this computational paradigm also promises significant opportunities to stimulate advances in science and engineering research, where large digital data collections are increasingly prevalent. Well-known examples include the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the Visible Human, the IRIS Seismology Data Base, the Protein Data Bank and the Linguistic Data Consortium, however other valuable data collections or federations of data collections are being assembled on an ongoing basis. In many fields, it is now possible to pose hypotheses and test them by looking in databases of already collected information. Further, the possibility of significant discovery by interconnecting different data sources is extraordinarily appealing. In data-intensive computing, the sheer volume of data is the dominant performance parameter. Storage and computation are co-located, enabling large-scale parallelism over terabytes of data. This scale of computing supports applications specified in high-level programming primitives, where the run-time system manages parallelism and data access. Supporting architectures must be extremely fault-tolerant and exhibit high degrees of reliability and availability.
The Cluster Exploratory (CluE) program has been designed to provide academic researchers with access to massively-scaled, highly-distributed computing resources supported by Google and IBM. While the main focus of the program is the stimulation of research advances in computing, the potential to stimulate simultaneous advances in other fields of science and engineering is also recognized and encouraged.’

It should be interesting to see how this collaboration evolves and the datasets it includes. For more information see the The Cluster Exploratory (CluE) program call text.

OR2008 – Presentations available


The Open Repositories conference (OR2008) repository is available at http://pubs.or08.ecs.soton.ac.uk/ as a permanent record of the conference activities.

The repository contains papers, presentations and poster artwork for 144 different conference contributions from the main conference sessions (Interoperability, Legal, Models, Architectures & Frameworks, National Perspectives, Scientific Repositories, Social Networking, Sustainability, Usage, Web 2.0), the Poster session, User Group sessions (DSpace, EPrints, Fedora), Birds of a Feather sessions, the Repository Managers session and the ORE Information day.

My powerpoint presentation from the Plenary keynote for the Fedora International Users’ Meeting is also available there. Titled “Keeping alert: issues to know today for long-term digital preservation with repositories” it focussed on research data and sustainability. It drew heavily from the forthcoming JISC Research Data Preservation Costs study and the draft final report titled ‘Keeping Research Data Safe: A Cost Model and Guidance for UK Universities’. It concludes by outlining tentative findings and implications for repositories from that report.

Academic Libraries Unleashed

There is an excellent supplement on academic libraries today in the Guardian produced jointly with JISC. I would highly recommend it to international and UK colleagues who want a quick overview of latest developments in UK academic libraries.

You can also read the supplement online.

The supplement includes articles and overviews under the headings:

  • Colleges, universities and the digital challenge
  • Learning spaces
  • Library 2.0
  • New business models
  • Digitisation
  • The New User
  • and last but by no means least [new] Librarians.

A warm welcome to Research Libraries UK

On Friday 18th April the Consortium of Research Libraries (CURL) celebrated its 25th anniversary and launched it new organisational title: Research Libraries UK (RLUK). A warm welcome to RLUK and best wishes for the next 25 years!

Further information and a press release is available on the RLUK website.

SLAIS C21st Curation public lectures 30 April 2008

Now in its fourth year, the annual C21st Curation lecture series is held at the School of Library, Archive and Information Studies (SLAIS) in University College London.

The 2008 C21st Curation public evening lectures will be on 30 April 2008. Come hear two speakers, Roy Clare (Chief Executive, Museums, Libraries and Archives Council) and Carole Souter (Chief Executive, Heritage Lottery Fund) talk about the impact of the recent Government Comprehensive Spending Review on their respective organisations. This seminar is open to students, professionals and the general public in the JZ Young lecture theatre at UCL from 6.00 -7.15pm, followed by a reception to which the speakers and the audience are invited. Attendance is free, but please email slais-admin@ucl.ac.uk to reserve a place.

I will be chairing the session and look forward to the lectures and seeing colleagues at the reception afterwards.

For further information and directions see the SLAIS C21st Curation lectures webpage .

Institutional Digital Preservation Policies

I’m pleased to announce on the blog that Charles Beagrie successfully tendered to complete a study on institutional digital preservation policies for JISC. Our consultancy team for the project will be Neil Beagrie (project lead), Najla Rettberg (nee Semple), and Richard Wright. We will start work this month and submit in September.

As many of you will know, the JISC has supported UK Further Education and Higher Education institutions in addressing the challenges of long-term management and preservation of their digital assets through funding of a range of research and development programmes and advisory services. A recent synthesis of its digital preservation and records management programme noted that the costs and benefits of developing a coherent, managed and sustainable approach to institutional preservation of digital assets remain unexplored. Across the sector the development of institutional preservation policies is currently sporadic and digital preservation issues are rarely considered in key strategic plans. The lack of preservation policies and as a result the lack of consideration of digital preservation issues in other institutional strategies is seen as a major stumbling block by the community.

We look forward to helping institutions address this challenge and hope our forthcoming work will be of value to a wide range of different organisations.