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ARCHIVES  June 2006, Week 3

ARCHIVES June 2006, Week 3

Subject:

FW: Saving the Lectures of Science

From:

Brian Doyle <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Brian Doyle <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 19 Jun 2006 08:49:39 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (62 lines)

The following is forwarded on behalf of Ronald LaPorte. Please address all replies and inquiries to [log in to unmask]
________________________________________
From: [log in to unmask] [mailto:[log in to unmask]] 
Sent: Saturday, June 17, 2006 9:16 AM
Subject: Saving the Lectures of Science
 
Dear Archivist Friends,
 
I am a Director of a World Health Organization collaborating center and Professor of epidemiology in Pittsburgh. I very much would like your perspective on the work we are developing.
 
I am not an archivist, therefore i would like some direction concerning the long term preservation of the lectures of science world wide.  I come about this from a very different direction than you, I think.  
 
I am developing and discussing this work with Ismail Serageldin, the director of the Library of Alexandria, Vint Cerf, Gil Omenn, the head of the AAAS, and Elias Zerhouni, the head of the NIH.  The goal is to save scientific  lectures  for at least the same duration of the Library of Alexandria, 700 years. We are developing this with the library of alexandria in egypt.    
 
Let me give you a little background. About 7 years ago a group of us wanted to improve research and training in the area of epidemiology and prevention. World health is hampered by a lack of educational materials in prevention. We hit upon a simple idea, you are an expert on preservation, and i am an expert in the area of diabetes epidemiology. If we shared our lectures i could reasonably teach about archiving and you could teach about epidemiology.  This is especially important where many countries in africa have not had access to journals for 15 years.  We first built a global network, which now has 38,000 faculty members. Then we collected lectures and we now have 2622, the largest collection of PowerPoint lectures on prevention. This has been enormously successful with over 100 million hits a year. (www.pitt.edu/~super1/). Most of the lectures are annotated where the lecturer accompanies the slide with what he/she would say about that slide, thus empowering even better those who want to use it. We have been able to do this because of the Internet and PowerPoint becoming ubiquitous world wide the tradition of knowledge sharing and education in science..
 
We have moved in several directions. One of these was to collect lectures from the top people in science, the Nobel prize winners and the National Academy of Science winners.  By the end of the summer we will have 50 Nobel prize winners, and 300 NAS.  In doing this a person from Cornell came to me, and asked.."Ron would you like this tape from 1932 of Max Born and Sir Lord Rutherford?"  It is the only known voice recording of these two nobel prize winners who describe the atomic structure.  It was fantastic. Then I begin to think how powerful it would have been to have the lectures of Newton, or Einstein as our knowedge is what we leave for future generations..  The problem has been that since 1801 we have taught using a blackboard, where at the end of class, we erased the board, destroying the lecture. Now with PowerPoint the lectures can be stored and with the Internet we can provide these materials virtually anywhered.  In academia powerpoint lectures are rapidly migrating to the web, in 5 years the number jumped from 1 to 6 million. Obviously many of us are not in agreement with Microsoft, but for now it is the standard for sharing much of scientific knowledge.
 
 
Then I was stumped...how can we preserve the lectures for 700 years, this is what i ask you. I was thinking that we should maximize redundancy by using different formats, e.g. video, sound, powerpoint, paper...etc...and to maximize the redundancy in terms of location, e.g. putting these into the 170 National Libraries so that if the Library of Congress does not exist in 700 years, the library of Malaysia may.  Our initial concept is to maximize the likelihood that at least 1 copy would survive. We need to consider how to save this information not only in the US, but in China, Malaysia, Mali, etc, who have very little resources.
 
Peter  Lasewich from IBM suggested a system also of multiple formats, one of which was very inexpensive, e.g. moving the PowerPoint lectures to microfilm.  We have been storing some of the lectures in what we call comic book format where they are printed out with 9 sides per page.
We think that we have to preserve the lectures of science as this is what we share with future generations, for future centuries.   The approaches need to run from almost an oral history approach to digital preservation so that all people can benefit.
 
You are the experts, and we need your thoughts.
 
 
Thanks so much for your thoughts.  
 
ron
 
Supercourse member www.pitt.edu/~super1/

Ronald E. LaPorte, Ph.D.
Director Disease Monitoring and Telecommunications
WHO Collaborating Centre
Professor of Epidemiology
Graduate School of Public Health
3512 Fifth Ave, Room 310
DLR building
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
USA

Phone: 412 383 2746
Fax: 412 383 1026

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