Research ∕ Learning

Moving to the network level

Lorcan 1 min read

It was an interesting week for announcements about network level services.
Amazon announced SimpleDB:

Amazon SimpleDB is a web service for running queries on structured data in real time. This service works in close conjunction with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), collectively providing the ability to store, process and query data sets in the cloud. These services are designed to make web-scale computing easier and more cost-effective for developers. [ Amazon SimpleDB, Amazon Web Services]

Enough to make Nick Carr suggest in his commentary that a ‘tipping point’ approaches. Tipping, that is, from locally deployed software to processing capacity available on demand in the ‘cloud’.
And then, Dan Cohen wrote about the Zotero Commons:

The Zotero-IA alliance will create a “Zotero Commons” into which scholarly materials can be added simply via the Zotero client. Almost every scholar and researcher has documents that they have scanned (some of which are in the public domain), finding aids they have created, or bibliographies on topics of interest. Currently there is no easy way to share these; giving them a central home at the Internet Archive will archive them permanently (before they are lost on personal hard drives) and make them broadly available to others. [Dan Cohen’s Digital Humanities Blog]

One of the benefits of network-level services like Flickr or SlideShare is that they allow you to ‘add’ your materials to the public web and provide you with a URL to facilitate sharing. This is a motivation here also: “one of the great advantages of the Zotero Commons at IA will be the transport of scholarly materials currently residing on personal hard drives to a public space with stable, rather than local, addresses”. It will be ineresting to see if the Zotero Commons develops the network effects that characterise various of the successful network level services.

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