On April 27, DPLA West brought together over 400 librarians, technologists, public policy advocates, and a very small number of publishers at the Internet Archive in San Francisco to discuss the progress of the most visible effort yet to forge a common digital library for both Americans and the world: the nascent Digital Public Library of America. The best thing about the meeting, the second major public gathering of the DPLA, was that it was full of hope and aspirations. Of course, that was also the worst thing about the DPLA meeting, too.
Harvard has also been actively involved in implementing the new Digital Public Library of America, of which former law professor John G. Palfrey ’94 is chair.
Responding to concerns voiced by privacy advocates, conservative groups and hundreds of thousands of Americans, the House Intelligence Committee has revised parts of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, also known as CISPA.
Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society eagerly accepted Darnton’s challenge. It announced late in 2010 that it would coördinate an effort to build the DPLA and turn the Enlightenment dream into an Information Age reality.
John Palfrey, Chair of the DPLA, said, “With this major contribution, developers will be able to start experimenting with building innovative applications that put to use the vital national resource that consists of our local public and research libraries, museums, archives and cultural collections.” He added that he hoped that this would encourage other institutions to make their own collection metadata publicly available.
“This is Big Data for books,” said David Weinberger, co-director of Harvard’s Library Lab. “There might be 100 different attributes for a single object.” At a one-day test run with 15 hackers working with information on 600,000 items, he said, people created things like visual timelines of when ideas became broadly published, maps showing locations of different items, and a “virtual stack” of related volumes garnered from various locations.
And the OpenNet Transparency Project — a project of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and other universities — is hoping to make that kind of voluntary disclosure more mainstream.
What happens when you trade out books for screens? When parents discourage kids from majoring in English and history and push for engineering and computer science? Where are the humanities headed?
That’s why the key to today’s battles over intellectual property lies with derivative works: once Lego claims ownership to anything built with its blocs, or Oracle to anything written in Java, whole swaths of creativity and innovation are blocked to no good end.
Debaters considered the longevity of libraries in an age of rapid digitalization at “Libraries Are Obsolete: An Oxford-Style Debate,” an event hosted by the Harvard Library Strategic Conversations on Wednesday.