"Digital Libraries began as systems whose goal was to simulate the operation of traditional libraries for books and other text documents in digital form. Significant developments have been made since then, and Digital Libraries are now on their way to becoming 'Knowledge Commons'. These are pervasive systems at the centre of intellectual activity, facilitating communication and collaboration among scientists or the general public and synthesizing distributed multimedia documents, sensor data, and other information.
Digital Libraries represent the confluence of a variety of technical areas both within the field of informatics (eg data management and information retrieval), and outside it (eg library sciences and sociology). Early Digital Library efforts mostly focused on bridging some of the gaps between the constituent fields, defining `digital library functionality', and integrating solutions from each field into systems that support such functionality. These have resulted in several successful systems: researchers, educators, students and members of other communities now continuously search Digital Libraries for information as part of their daily routines, decision-making processes, or entertainment.
Most current Digital Library systems share certain characteristics. They are content-centric, motivated by the need to organize and provide access to data and information. They concentrate on storage-centric functionality, mainly offering static storage and retrieval of information. They are specialized systems, built from scratch and tailored to the particular needs and characteristics of the data and users of their target environment, with little provision for generalization. They tend to operate in isolation, limiting the opportunities for large-scale analysis and global-scale information availability. Finally, they concentrate on material that is traditionally found in libraries, mostly related to cultural heritage. Hence, despite the undisputed advantages that current Digital Library systems offer compared to the pre-1990s era, the above restrictions limit the role that Digital Libraries can play in Knowledge Societies, which will serve as important educational nuclei in the future.
Together with the general community, the DELOS Network of Excellence on Digital Libraries has initiated a long journey from current Digital Libraries towards the vision of 'Knowledge Commons'. These will be environments that will impose no conceptual, logical, physical, temporal or personal borders or barriers on content. They will be the universal knowledge repositories and communication conduits of the future, common vehicles by which everyone will access, analyse, evaluate, enhance and exchange all forms of information. They will be indispensable tools in the daily personal and professional lives of people, allowing everyone to advance their knowledge, professions and roles in society. They will be accessible at any time and from anywhere, and will offer a user-friendly, multi-modal, efficient and effective interaction and exploration environment.
Achieving this requires significant changes to be made to past development strategies, which shaped the functionality, operational environment and other aspects of Digital Libraries. Knowledge Commons will have different characteristics. They will be person-centric, motivated by needs to provide novel, sophisticated, and personalized experiences to users. They will concentrate on communication and collaboration functionality, facilitating intellectual interactions on themes that are pertinent to their contents, with storage and retrieval being only a small part of such functionality. They will remain specialized systems that will nevertheless be built on top of widely-available, industrial-strength, generic management systems, offering all typically required functionality. In general, they will be managed by globally distributed systems, through which information sources across the world will exchange and integrate their contents. Finally, they will be characterized by universality of information and application, serving all applications and comprehensively managing all forms of content."
"A DECADE after the first Internet boom and the parallel explosion of the connected fields of new media studies, techno-cultural studies, cyber-cultural studies, new medium studies, there is still much discussion of innovation, but there is also an understanding that the first moment of the new has passed. New media has a history, as well as present and future - and of course, it always did. Today, the dynamic of continuity and transformation intrinsic to the relationship between technology and culture can be drawn differently. Innovation continues. Technologists declare web 2.0; the stress shifts from the screen-world to the penetration of the real-world environment by pervasive and intimate forms of new media. New forms of new media continue to arrive; content develops and original modes of use, forms of association, ways of writing or thinking together, spring up. Continuity reasserts itself. Processes of remediation transform old media, but not beyond all recognition. Much remains of 'good old television' in the world of digital TV, the aesthetics of radio persist as it is delivered to us over the net or as a pod-cast, and the conventions and economy of the traditional cinematic apparatus translate into the world of DVD and digital screening in forms we recognize and find familiar. Even the truly innovative media forms, those springing up out of digital technology, now have substantial development histories, their own traditions, and increasingly their own conventions. These last are expressed in code, articulated in the physical architecture of new media networks, found in the dispositions or habitus of users, evident in the consolidation of various genres, and evident also in the contested but provisionally secured cultural capitals circulating around various new media formations.
AT THIS POINT, with this new balance in mind, it is legitimate and timely to re-define the object and its significance, to ask what 'digital culture' or 'networked culture' entails. And so this centre sets out to re-assess forms of thinking about new media technologies as material digital cultures. It asks what material properties, what symbolic properties, what affective or sense perceptive regimes and what political economies, are now invoked under the banner of new media. It explores how the networked digital culture in which we live can be defined and critiqued. And, it argues that this is a moment when new media theory also needs to be re-assessed: What forms of thinking about processes of convergence worked? What were their outcomes? Are they productive in generating ways of thinking and investigating the developing and established new media ecologies within which we now live?"
(Joanne Whiting, University of Sussex)
Urban Tapestries project
Urban Tapestries is a Proboscis project exploring social and cultural uses of the convergence of place and mobile technologies through transdisciplinary research. To help us model emerging social and cultural behaviours we have built an experimental platform that allows people to author and access place-based content (text, audio and pictures). It is a framework for exploring and sharing experience and knowledge, for leaving and annotating ephemeral traces of peoples' presence in the geography of the city....Urban Tapestries seeks to understand why people would use emerging pervasive technologies, what they could do with them and how we can make this possible. It seeks to enable people as their own authors and agents, not merely as consumers of content provided to them by telecoms and media corporations. The project centres on a fundamental human desire to 'map' and 'mark' territory as part of belonging and of feeling a sense of ownership of our environment.