October 6, Day of Digital Archives

Day of Digital Archives is an initiative spearheaded by Gretchen Gueguen, Digital Archivist at the University of Virgina, to raise awareness of digital archives by engaging practitioners in the field to describe their work via social media.  As we work with digital archives on a daily basis, we are pleased to be able to participate.

Our best known contribution to the community is the open source Recollection project (Update: now Viewshare), developed in conjunction with the Library of Congress and NDIIPP. Recollection picks up where most digital archiving software leaves off, importing curated collections from an archive where they can be augmented, visually enhanced, republished, and ultimately shared.

Recollection makes use of the popular publishing framework, Exhibit, developed by MIT’s Simile project a few years ago, but currently being updated as part of the Exhibit3 project in conjunction with MIT.  Exhibit3’s primary added value over the original Exhibit project is scalability up to one million triples, making it not only suitable for publishing large collections, but of some archives too! We’ve posted some sample large exhibits as part of our recent beta release.

Here are two exhibits that demonstrate many of the features of both Recollection and the original Exhibit project;

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Charitable Program Update

It’s been six months since we launched our charitable giving program, which included ongoing financial support for Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) and Partners in Health (PIH), as well as the donation of computational cycles to the Folding at home (FAH) project. Time for an update.

In that time, PIH have continued to apply their community partnering model to places in need, in particular Haiti where cholera remains an enormous problem long after the catastrophic earthquake almost two years ago.

MSF, as a much larger organization than PIH, is simultaneously involved with many efforts around the world too numerous to highlight here. However, a few times a year they publish a short video which summarizes their work over the course of a month. The latest is September 2011, a Month in Focus which runs about seven minutes.

Our computers – both Zepheira-managed servers as well as the desktops and laptops of our team – continue to fold proteins for FAH at a staggering pace.  Though active for only six months, Team Zepheira ranks in the 94th percentile (11008 out of 205287 teams) and have already folded 1200 work units, achieving 170000 points.  We’ll try to dig up some more resources to push us past the likes of Team Snaztastic and the Indigo Bunny Heroes, and onward into the top 10000!

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The Art of Linked Data: Architecting Recollection

Uche Ogbuji has authored the column “The Art of Linked Data: Architecting Recollection” for In this article, he discusses observations, reflections and practical advice from various projects applying Linked Data and thus Semantic Web principles across diverse domains.

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Zepheira completes prototype for ‘Reference Extract,’ with funding by The MacArthur Foundation

In 2010 The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded $350,000 to fund researchers and developers from OCLC, the information schools of Syracuse University and the University of Washington and Zepheira LLC to develop a pilot of a ‘credibility engine,’ a system that supports augmenting Web searches with measures of credibility derived from the unique experience and expertise of librarians worldwide. This work is the prototype phase of the QuestionPoint collaborative virtual reference service, in which librarians answer patron requests for credible information on particular topics through an interactive interface. The presentation also included a demonstration of the Reference Extract prototype in action, which is also available as a screencast.

Zepheira, OCLC and the participating universities will continue to investigate how best to evolve the prototype into a sustainable service long-term.

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Exhibit 3.0 Part 1 – An Open Source Software Platform for Publishing Linked Data

Part one of a two-part series on Exhibit 3.0 was recently published on The article, co-authored by MacKenzie Smith, University Librarian at UC Davis and Eric Miller, President of Zepheira, is titled Exhibit 3.0 Part 1 – An Open Source Software Platform for Publishing Linked Data.

The MIT Simile project, a joint project between MIT Libraries, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab and the World Wide Web Consortium, has spent the last decade developing and experimenting with new open source software tools for Web-based data publishing. This led to the release of Exhibit, a JavaScript browser widget for searching, browsing, navigating and visualizing data. Exhibit lets Web site authors create dynamic publications of their data collections without resorting to complex programming, database or server technologies.

In the article, Eric and MacKenzie discuss the next phase of the project which provides a new architecture for Exhibit that increases scalability and addresses other limitations identified by its users. This Exhibit 3.0 project is made possible by generous support from the Library of Congress. It is a partnership among MIT Libraries, MIT CSAIL and Zepheira, including personnel who are SIMILE project alumnus.

Part 2 of this article will be released in late September/early October.

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Exhibit 3 Beta Release Announced

TThe Exhibit3 team is proud to announce the beta release of Exhibit 3. This project is made possible by generous support from the Library of Congress. It is a partnership among MIT Libraries, MIT CSAIL and Zepheira, including personnel who are SIMILE project alumnus. View release features, where to download it and how to give us your feedback on the Exhibit 3 Project site.

The release includes both the new client and the server component of Exhibit 3, so you can see how going from a client only collection to a client/server collection will work. The new client is less functional than the current Exhibit 2 client, but will improve over the next few months. We will be posting a timeline for the rest of the year to the Web page soon, so those of you who need to wait for a more stable version or one with a particular feature will have some idea of when to expect that. Over the next few months we’ll also create a lot of new documentation, but for now we just have what’s in the code and some basic instructions for building the system.

So for those of you who’ve been waiting, we hope you’ll try it out and give us your thoughts! Bugs and feature requests are welcome via GitHub and discussions welcome on the SIMILE Widgets mailing list.

For those interested in seeing some of this work in action check out the early demonstrations of both the new client and the server component of Exhibit 3.

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Open Source Release of Recollection Platform

Zepheira, in conjunction with the Library of Congress, is pleased to announce the full open source release of the Recollection software platform. Recollection is a web application that enables librarians, archivists, curators, and historians to create dynamic interfaces to cultural heritage collections. To learn more about Recollection (Update: now Viewshare), visit the site or watch the screencast.

View the Library’s release announcement or to access the code visit the Library’s project page on Sourceforge.

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Library of Congress NDIIPP Partner Meeting: Highlights and Presentations

The Library of Congress held its annual NDIIPP Partner Meeting in Washington, DC from July 20 – 22. The meeting is a showcase for the innovation which is taking place among the Library’s digital preservation partners. Martha Anderson, Director of Program Management for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, gave an overview of top developments in this space in her closing presentation.

In addition, presentations from the conference program entitled “Make It Work: Improvisations on the stewardship of digital information” have now been posted and are available for those who were not able to attend the meeting in person. Zepheira was in attendance and co-presented “Exhibit3@MIT: Lessons learned from 10 years of the Simile Project for building library open source software”.

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Linked Data at the Library of Congress

Laura Campbell, CIO of the Library of Congress, spoke at the recent Semantic Technologies Conference about how the world’s largest library leverages semantic technology to help manage the vast resources of the LoC. In her keynote address, Ms. Campbell spoke about how the Library of Congress is leveraging linked data technologies in three key areas:

  • Managing existing collections
  • Maintaining the Library of Congress’s role as a leader in the distribution of canonical information
  • Fulfilling the mission to collect, preserve, and provide access to a more digital collection

The keynote covered several of the key linked data initiatives underway at the Library including project Recollection (Update: now Viewshare), a joint project with Zepheira. The keynote in its entirety, is presented below.


To read more about Recollection and the Library of Congress, check out this recent series about the Recollections Project.

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Exhibit 3 Face to Face meeting boosts the project

A few Zepheirans met with their colleagues on the collaborative Exhibit 3 project, building a publishing framework for large scale data-rich interactive Web pages, building on the success of the original Exhibit. Meeting in space generously provided by Google in Mountain View, CA, key project members from Google, MIT, The Library of Congress and Zepheira discussed progress, technical issues and opportunities to spread the word about Exhibit 3. This face-to-face meeting helped boost efforts, including the meeting of a key milestone, loading 100,000 records into Exhibit 3.

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