John Wilkin at the University of Michigan, and Jon Stroop & Marvin Bielawski at Princeton University are helping HathiTrust to digitize and share the world’s recorded knowledge using the combined effort of fifty institutions. HathiTrust is described on their web site at http://hathitrust.org as “a partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future” and their mission is “to contribute to the common good by collecting, organizing, preserving, communicating, and sharing the record of human knowledge.” Wilkin explains that HathiTrust is often associated with the Google scanning project, but that it is a misrepresentation kkto consider the two efforts one and the same. HathiTrust also contains works scanned for institutions by the Internet Archive and by the institutions themselves. HathiTrust also has its own set of values, quality standards, and goals that are filters for data from Google, and perhaps the most important distinction is the project’s attention to detail when it comes to having the most correct metadata possible attached to the scanned items.
When Wilkin was asked what was in HathiTrust’s catalog that was not in Google’s scanning project catalog, he explained that HathiTrust has a much higher standard of quality for bibliographic and other metadata for scanned items, and sometimes must refuse scanned items from Google that do not meet these standards. The reason that Google is essential to the process, Wilkin noted, is the volume of scanning that they do. While library scanning efforts of the past might have done 10,000 volumes in a year, Google can easily do that much in a day. HathiTrust is also doing post-1923 public domain determination, while Google is not, according to Wilkin.
There are approximately 8 million scanned items (written works) with properly aligned metadata currently in the HathiTrust database, and Wilkin says that the number will rise to 10 million by the end of 2011, then 12 million by the end of 2012. It is, he says “a very, very big library.” Jon Stroop noted that Princeton has sent 255,357 items to the Hathi catalog since October 2010. Stroop listed the following collections at Princeton as contributors: Architecture Library, Lewis Library, Marquand Library (in May or June of 2011), Firestone Library, Stokes Library, and Special Collections.
HathiTrust is a digital preservation effort, but simply having a digital record is not the point. Wilkin says that access is critical. At the website is an interface that provides a catalog search, a full-text search, and a collection builder and viewer. If you belong to one of the participating institutions, you get some special rights. As a Princeton NetID holder, for instance, you can log in and create a new collection of works to support an academic project.
Given the importance of access to the project, it is important to remove barriers to diverse groups. 74% of the items in the HathiTrust catalog are copyrighted, while 26% are in the public domain. The copyrighted items are generally inaccessible, even to those associated with the project by institution. Not everything after 1922 is in copyright, and one ongoing task in the project is to review the catalog to assess the copyright status of catalog items. While 48% of the catalog’s items are in English. 400 languages are currently represented there.
Sustainability is another key goal for the project, one that HathiTrust takes very seriously. Right now the project uses a “depositor pays” business model, in which the project is paid for by the institutions that use it for storage of items. The atomic cost unit is 1 GB of content, and the price flows up and down, over time. At the time of the talk, the price per gigabyte was $3.
The costs of the project are mostly related to maintenance of the servers and datacenter. Storage is about 47% of overall costs. Staff is about 25% of cost Tape backup and disaster recovery are about 14% of cost.
In 2013, HathiTrust plans to implement a new sustainability model. Cost will be based on based on “holdings overlap”. Academic print books in the collection are already substantially duplicated in the catalog. In June of 2009, the average duplication rate between institutions was 19% of items, meaning that almost a fifth of each institution’s work was being duplicated. By sharing duplicated works that each institution owns digitally, a single digital copy could be retained, and the other copies could be deleted to save on storage and backup costs. Details on the cost model for HathiTrust are at http://hathitrust.org/cost
Wilkin described three ways in which HathiTrust makes a difference for participants.The first, collective digital curation, drives down costs for materials, increases a cataloged item’s discoverability, improves the quality of archived works through digitizing, reduces bibliographic indeterminacy via collective research, and helps libraries make meaningful decisions about formats and quality. The second, collective print curation, is a means by which to associate all of the participating institutions’ holdings of print materials, which helps librarians perform record-keeping in a coordinated way. The third way is a series of subsidiary benefits. For instance, the HathiTrust process improves descriptions of materials, and quantifies problems, such as the size of the public domain.
Wilkin, Stroop and Bielawski explained that the HathiTrust is interested in archiving and sharing the cultural record in a single searchable interface. It is a collaborative effort, which Princeton is a part of, along with 49 other institutions. Many benefits exist in the project, including the quality of metadata, the discoverability of the works, and the cross-organizational sharing of content. To learn more about HathiTrust, visit http://hathitrust.org Podcast of this talk is available here. Slides from this talk are available here.
John P. Wilkin is executive director of HathiTrust and associate university librarian for library information technology (LIT) for the University of Michigan. The LIT Division supports the library's online catalog and related technologies, provides the infrastructure to both digitize and access digital library collections, supports the library's web presence, and provides frameworks and systems to coordinate Library technology activities. Wilkin previously served as the head of the Digital Library Production Service at the University of Michigan. Among the units in the DLPS is the University of Michigan's Humanities Text Initiative, an organization responsible for SGML document creation and online systems that Wilkin founded in 1994. He earned graduate degrees in English from the University of Virginia (1980) and Library Science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (1986). In 1992, he worked at the University of Virginia as the Systems Librarian for Information Services, where he shaped the Library's plan for establishing a group of electronic centers and consulted for the University's Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) in textual issues.
Marvin Bielawski is Princeton’s Deputy University Librarian and Head of the Library Systems Office. He’s been involved in negotiating the Library’s contract with Google and the settlement amendment. He also advocated for and negotiated Princeton’s contract for membership in the HathiTrust.
Jon Stroop is the Metadata Analyst in the Library Systems Office. He is responsible for the ingest of digital content from Princeton into the HathiTrust and is a member the Library's Google Project Steering Committee. Jon is also a co-chair of the Library's Metadata Committee and serves on the Library of Congress' MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema) Editorial Committee.
Will Howarth, Professor Emeritus of English at Princeton, spoke to a large Lunch 'n Learn audience on February 16 about how he uses his iPad as an essential companion to reading, writing, research and travel.
Howarth began the talk by describing his long search for a lightweight, portable device that would be convenient for use while writing and traveling. From small-format computers of various vintages, to PDAs, Howarth has found the iPad to be the best solution to date. Its light weight (24 ounces), long battery life (approximately 10 hours), responsiveness, and the availability of useful applications have made it one of his favorite tools for productivity.
Howarth showed the basic mechanics of navigating several iPad screens, and using the screens to organize applications by function. He also demonstrated how to customize the persistent tool "dock" that appears on all screens, useful for storing one's most commonly used applications.
Howarth's preferred layout is to have news and information applications on the first screen of his device, writing tools on the second, and on the third screen, a miscellaneous assortment of apps that are either not fully tested, or exiled as being of secondary importance.
Citing the limitations of the virtual keyboard on the iPad's touch screen for someone with larger hands, Howarth showed his solutions in the form of two Bluetooth keyboards that can be synced to the device to allow typing on a more conventional set of keys. One of the keyboards was integrated into a small carrying case. The other, more suited for desktop use, was a compact stand-alone keypad that allowed for typing on full-sized keys. Another limitation to the iPad is the lack of a USB or other data port that would allow for easy file transfer via portable storage media. However, since several of the applications that Howarth customarily uses have mechanisms to sync and share files among several machines, this shortcoming has been largely overcome by application developers. Howarth proceeded to describe and share his favorite iPad applications for writing and research with his audience.
Author's note: Although the talk was cut short owing to time constraints, Professor Howarth was kind enough to share his notes with me. This post contains material that may not have been presented in the talk, or was mentioned only briefly last Wednesday.
Safari (included with the iPad) is the browser included on all machines using the Apple iOS. Safari on mobile devices can be customized for fast browsing, for bookmarking popular destinations, and customized to take advantage of the highly portable nature of the iPad. Howarth demonstrated how he has tailored his particular Safari toolbar so that he has research tools, particularly remote access to scholarly research collections including Princeton's Library, available at his fingertips. Among the headings in Howarth's customized list of bookmarks are Reference tools, Authors, and Libraries.
Wikipanion (free in the app store) is a tool designed to optimize searching, navigation, and display of entries in Wikipedia. The tool's graphical display of a Wikipedia entry includes a sidebar outline of main headings in a Wikipedia entry to facilitate navigation and exploration, as well as contextual links to related topics.
Google Earth (free in the app store) is a portable version of the popular desktop application, made even more stunning by the iPad's high resolution screen. The application includes all of the features and imagery of the desktop version, with the added ability to find your own location on the globe using the built-in GPS features of the iPad. A good companion to travel, Google Earth, like Google Maps (included with the iPad) can help to find local landmarks, businesses and cultural locations.
The National Geographic World Atlas ($1.99 in the app store) is another application for maps, this time featuring high-resolution images of National Geographic's own distinctive cartography. The app features 3 different styles of maps, and can be zoomed down to the granularity of a satellite image focusing on a particular street or building. (Street-level maps are drawn from Bing satellite imagery.)
The Safari browser should be the first point of departure as a source for reference materials, as the bookmarks can be customized to point to many excellent online tools. Howarth recommends not buying too many reference apps until the potential of Safari is exhausted.
Things for iPad ($19.99 in the app store), also available in a desktop version for Macs, is a task manager that fits with the category known as "todo" apps. The app allows you to enter notes, projects, and due dates, in an easy-to-use interface that syncs with the desktop version of the application. Since Howarth uses both versions, he finds it easy to set up lists at home, and have them automatically updated on the iPad. He uses the Categories to set up priorities and to schedule tasks, and uses the built-in lists for "Today," "Next," "Scheduled," and "Someday" to help keep him on track with deadlines.
DEVONthink To Go ($14.99 in the app store) is a companion program to DEVONthink and DEVONnote, both desktop applications for the Mac. The program can be used on its own, but according to the manufacturer "unfolds its full potential ONLY when used in conjunction with these applications. Howarth uses DEVONthink Pro Office and DEVONnote, and uses the applications together to save web clips, bookmarks, files for courses, notes on alumni trips he has led, and writing projects. A sync folder in the applications keeps the iPad version updated; conversely any changes on the iPad are reflected in the desktop versions at the next synchronization.
Bento for iPad ($4.99 in the app store) is a personal database program made by FileMaker Pro. It comes in a desktop version as well, and can sync with Bento 3 for the Mac. The database includes templates for many sorts of organizational tasks, from to do lists, to events, to household inventories, to expenses--even logs for diet and exercise. Howarth uses Bento at home on his computer, and uses the program mostly for listing addresses, book inventories, lists of films. The application, Howarth notes, can export and import spreadsheets in various formats.
These apps, Howarth noted, are best suited to those who are enthusiastic users of their desktop counterparts. For those who don't own, or intend to own the companion programs, similar functionality can be found in the Note-Taking applications, described below.
One major lack in this category of applications is one for organizing bibliographic references. Howarth told the audience he has been in contact with the makers of EndNote, a popular bibliography program among scholars at Princeton. They report that an iPad version of their database is currently in the works.
Writing begins with reading, according to Howarth--here are his favorite tools:
iBooks (free in the app store) is Apple's own e-book reader, with content purchased from iTunes. iBooks also has the ability to read PDF documents, which can be included in the library from email attachments sent to the iPad. Items in one's library can be viewed as book covers on a virtual bookshelf, or in list view, and it is possible to arrange collections within one's library. Howarth showed an 8-page PDF report written by one of his students that is now part of his iBooks library. The interface controls include adjustments for screen brightness, a search feature, and bookmarks. The interface also has an animated page turn feature, and a "scrubbing" progress bar to slide rapidly from one section of the book to another. Books can be annotated, but PDFs cannot. Although iTunes sells many popular current books, it also has many free offerings, mostly for books in the public domain.
Kindle, (free in the app store) an app that share the name of Amazon's popular e-reader, allows Kindle books to be read on the iPad and the iPhone. There are numerous versions of the Kindle reader, available for most portable devices, desktops, and a web-based version. Content for the app is purchased from Amazon.com, or uploaded by the user. The reader accepts .azw files, .mobi files, .rtf and text files, as well as PDFs. Howarth showed how to navigate his Kindle edition of Deep Creek, a novel he co-authored with Anne Matthews under the pseudonym Dana Hand. The Kindle interface turns pages with a swipe or a tap, and tapping on a word will simultaneously offer the options to highlight the word, make a note about the text, and , and to display the entry for the word in a built-in dictionary,--with links to related entries on Wikipedia and Google. Notes bookmarks and highlights are stored on Amazon cloud servers, and can be referenced and printed through the online interface. The Amazon Kindle bookstore has the most titles of any digital bookstore, including more than 25,000 free titles from Project Gutenberg.
Stanza by Lexcycle (free in the app store) is one of the first e-readers ever made, and has been recently acquired by Amazon. Less sophisticated than the other two readers mentioned in this section, it offers annotations, bookmarks, search, and reverse black/white screen view. Stanza is backed by a library of more than 100,000 books, all of them free.
Working across e-readers can be problematic owing to the fact that formats, citations, annotations, and page numbering are not standard, which as Howarth notes, is a major headache for scholars. One bright note on this topic is the recent announcement that Amazon will include references to the pagination of the print edition on which the Kindle edition is based, which will allow more accurate citations and place finding for readers who are using both paper and digital editions of books. Apple's threatened restrictions on books purchased from non-Apple apps also has caused some worry among consumers.
Among the three readers discussed here, Howarth declares Kindle the winner, because it is the most affordable and flexible platform for reading.
These applications are ideal for taking, sharing and synching notes with other machines. In some cases, they can provide an alternative for the Database applications listed above. There are hundreds of such apps available for the iPad; here is Howarth's selected list. Some of these applications have a browser interface that will update information on your mobile device.
Index Card ($4.99 in the app store) is a simple non-linear writing tool for the iPad. It allows notes to be captured in an interface that resembles index cards pinned to a corkboard. Notes can be reordered, recolored, written, edited, and "stacked" into projects. Index Card exports a text file of your notes that can be read by most word processors. Howarth finds this a favorite tool for brainstorming, organizing, categorizing by color, and for organizing projects. He shares his cards via email, or using Dropbox.
PlainText (free in the app store) is a simple app for editing text on the iPad. It looks much simpler than Index Card, and does many of the same things. Sharing and syncing is done via a Dropbox interface. Howarth and other writers like it because it is simple, elegant, and has a very "paper-like" interface.
SimpleNote (free in the app store) is a note-taking app, that despite its name, is a little more complex than the other apps mentioned in this section. Howarth uses SimpleNote in conjunction with a Mac iOS application called Notational Velocity (a free, open-source download) that stores and retrieves notes. Howarth finds it a great way to type up quick or related ideas, which auto-sync to SimpleNote. There is also a browser application for SimpleNote that can be used to share ideas with others. There is no choice of font, and the user interface is less attractive than the other two options.
All three of these note-taking applications have unique strengths, but of the three, SimpleNote is the most versatile.
Notebook apps group items, sync them to cloud servers, allow for exports into various word processors, and allow entry of data either via a web browser or a desktop application.
Springpad (free in the app store) is an application that allows you to save notes, tasks, links, images, nearby places, barcode scans (from products, books or media), lists of things (movies, books, wines) in virtual notebooks that organize your materials by topic. It syncs via Springpadit.com to a browser interface that includes a web-clipping tool. Your notebooks can be shared with family and friends using Facebook or Twitter. Howarth likes the application for its organization and synchronization, and notes that it is a very good tool for working with groups. His notebooks, containing items related to Teaching, Writing, Travel, and Local topics were displayed against a background of a favorite picture.
Evernote (free in the app store) is probably the most popular notebook app for Apple devices. It stores many kinds of files including webpages, PDFs, text, links, audio files and images, and organizes them into notebooks based on project type. Each media type can also be geo-referenced for mapping and searching. Evernote syncs to Mac, PC, and web interfaces, and the desktop versions are also a free download. The "todo" functions of Evernote are quite good, and works best when used in conjunction with one of the desktop versions (also free). Monthly uploads of up to 60MB per month are free on Evernote; the premium version ($45/annum) allows for monthly uploads of up to 1 GB. The premium version also allows for read/ write notebook sharing with colleagues, whereas the free version is read-only for those you share with.
Howarth notes that other notebook applications allow writing and drawing and speaking instead of typing, but his recommendation is Evernote as the best notebook app.
PDF documents are part of the lingua franca of scholarly documents. There are several apps that allow PDFs to be read, annotated and shared on the iPad. Getting PDFs into your iPad can either be via a server, download, file-sharing via iTunes, or as an e-mail attachment
iAnnotate ($9.99 in the app store) as the name suggests is a tool made for annotating PDF documents ( PDF readers are more numerous.) The tool allows highlights, notes, freehand drawing or writing, bookmarks, stamps, underscoring, strike-through, and tabbed reading of multiple documents. The standard toolbars can be customized with a wide range of possible commands, and the program allows display through VGA out. Search is possible at the document level, or full-library. Markups can be "flattened" for printing and sharing in a way that preserves annotation as an image, or emailed "as is." Sync is possible through iTunes, Safari, email and Dropbox. The same company makes a desktop PDF companion for iAnnotate calld Aji PDF Service. Using the desktop program in conjunction with iAnnotate makes it easy to manage large libraries of PDF documents.
GoodReader ($2.99 in the app store) is another PDF reader/annotation tool. It allows sticky notes, highlighting, freehand drawing and writing, rubber stamps, underlining, strike-through, and shapes such as arrows, boxes, ovals, and others that can be used to draw attention to sections of a document. Transfer and sync can be done via MobileMe, iDisk, Google Docs, Dropbox, SugarSync, box.net, and WebDAV and FTP services. The application is most versatile in the document types it can read: not only PDF, but MS Office, iWork, HTML, image and audio and video files can be used with this application.
Papers for iPad ($14.99 in the app store) is mainly for scholars of science. Although the app is a PDF markup tool, allowing highlighting and notes, and emailing annotations, the chief benefit of the app is the built-in search engine that allows you to find and download PDF articles in the following databases: CM, NASA-ADS, arXiv, Google Scholar, IEEE Xplore, JSTOR, Pubmed, and Web of Science. There is a desktop version for the Mac that can be used for synchronization, but it also works with Dropbox, iDisk, iTunes and email. PDFs are stored on your iPad, so you need at least 100MB of free space. A limitation in the current version is that although documents are synced between the mobile and desktop versions of the app, your annotations are not.
GoodReader is a good value for most PDF use, and also works with other document types. iAnnotate has more markup features, and the advantage of VGA-out. Papers is invaluable for a researcher who commonly uses the scholarly databases supported by the application.
Storage on Cloud Servers
Getting documents on and off the iPad, keeping them up to date, and sharing them with people, other applications, and devices relies mostly on wireless forms of document transfer. Cloud servers perform an important function in achieving this goal.
From the numerous times that Dropbox (free in the app store) is mentioned in other entries, you may have concluded that it is a very popular program for file sharing. Dropbox is available for desktop and mobile devices, has a built-in public html file for sharing, and a photo file for making automated slide shows you can send to other people. Using any of the Dropbox interfaces syncs to all others. The free service is up to 2 GB, and the next upgrade takes you to 50 GB for $99/ year.
MobileMe iDisk (app is free in the app store, but a MobileMe subscription is required) is a popular Apple service that allows you to view and share files from a number of devices. File types from iWork, Microsoft Office, PDFs, QuickTime movies, JPEGs and more, are supported, however files larger than 20MB may not be viewable on all devices. The iDisk has both public and private folders to facilitate sharing. Paid subscribers of MobileMe who have legacy iPhones can subscribe to a service on MobileMe that will find their lost or stolen iPhone. Owners of the iPhone 4, iPad, or fourth generation iPod touch with iOS 4.2 or higher can get this service with a free account, but storage space still costs money.
Air Sharing ($0.99 in the app store) allows you to mount your iPhone, iPad or iPodTouch as a wifi drive on your computer. It works with Mac, PC or Linux. Mounting your mobile device as a remote drive allows you to drag and drop files between devices for syncing and sharing. Documents can be viewed and emailed. The app also allows you to mount other web-based servers such as MobileMe iDisk, Dropbox, Box.net, WebDAV, FTP, FTPS, and SSH/SFTP, and allows downloads of files from the web. Air Sharing can zip and unzip files, print to printers shared by Mac OS X 10.5 and above or Linux. It has an advanced image viewer for hi-res images, and an PDF viewer that supports large, structured PDF files. There's a long list of viewable file types that includes most office applications and media files. The HD version is made especially for the large display of the iPad; the same company also makes a fun app that allows you to turn your Apple device into an extra computer monitor.
Dropbox is the Esperanto of file sharing apps, and you should have this one. Other cloud services can provide extra features.
iWork for mobile devices started a revolutionary trend in office-type applications. Rather than buying bundled software that includes a word processor, a spreadsheet program, and a presentation program, as is typical, Apple decided to market these applications separately for the iPad. Each app costs $9.99. The unbundled desktop version costs $19.99 each for the same three apps.
On the iPad, files can be shared using email, iWork.com, iTunes, MobileMe iDisk, or WebDAV.. There is one-tap AirPrint available on all three apps that allows for automatic printing on any AirPrint-enabled printer.
Howarth describes Pages as his favorite word processor, one he customarily uses on both the iPad and his Mac to share files with MS Word users. The iPad interface is described by Apple as "the most beautiful word processor ever designed for a mobile device." They may be right.
Keynote is Apple's version of PowerPoint, and in Howarth's opinion, is in many ways better. Presentations are easy to build, and sync between devices (although fonts can be an issue). Keynote is one of the few Apple apps that works with the VGA-out feature of the dock connector on the iPad, which makes it possible to use the iPad as a display, as well as editing, device for Keynote presentations.
Apple's spreadsheet app, which Howarth says he uses mostly for grade sheets, and built-in formulas to make calculations easy. The app has many built in design features so that spreadsheets look less like boring tables, and much more like a polished publication.
These apps make the iPad a viable laptop replacement. An external keyboard is almost required to get the most out of them, but the applications cost so much less than expected, you can use the money you save to get a fancy iPad case with an integrated keyboard that makes typing a breeze.
According to Howarth, the iPad is a lot more than entertainment -- the constant evolution of apps have made it into a valuable tool for writing and research. New, useful apps are emerging everyday to extend the usefulness of this device.
Howarth concluded his presentation with this video, which he said, makes it clear that research is "the coolest, sexiest work on the planet."
Doug Dixon, an independent technology consultant, author, and speaker specializing in digital media, presented an overview of the burgeoning market for consumer 3D devices-- as well as explaining the technology behind those devices-- this past Wednesday at OIT's Lunch n' Learn session.
Armed with an array of 3D viewers, from a stereoscope (invented in the late 19th century), to a ViewMaster (invented in the late 1930s), to the Magic Eye books (popularized in the last two decades)--to the latest in 3D cameras (a Fuji FinePix 3D)--Dixon proved to his audience that 3D technologies have already experienced a long history in home entertainment, particularly in the area of vicarious travel and special events.
The success of recent films such as Avatar, and the 3D-capable and 3D-ready TVs now available in the consumer market, introduce the latest chapter in the 3D experience. These displays promise viewers a new, more immersive way to enjoy movies and broadcast TV at home.
3D technology for movies and television is not actually as great a technological leap as was the recent transition from low- to high-definition in broadcast TV, Dixon explained. Many current blu-ray players will only require firmware upgrades to be able to display 3D images; some 3D-ready TVs on the market now only require a moderately-priced upgrade kit to be able to display images in three dimensions. Existing 2D media will also be able to be 'dimensionalized,' and transformed retrospectively into 3D video for those films that warrant this enhancement. For most consumers, transitioning to 3D technology should be relatively painless, should they wish to upgrade their current home equipment when purchasing their next TV.
The glasses currently required to view 3D TV content, however, are a shift from the sort of home viewing practice to which we have grown accustomed. "Glasses are a commitment to focus on the entertainment," Dixon explained, a dedication to the screen that is at odds with many kinds of TV content. At the same time, the glasses "are an impediment to the social aspect [of watching a movie or broadcast TV at home]."
"HD works for everything, including Jay Leno;" said Dixon, . . "3D works for special events and movies and things like that, so I think there's a little less demand, a little less leverage you get by going to 3D, but in niches like games, for example, [3D is] going to be very successful." Dixon remarked by way of example that watching a basketball game at court level was nothing short of "spectacular."
Dixon outlined the technologies that underlie 3D displays to his rapt audience (all of whom were given 3D glasses in order to view several images of 3D technology done right -- and wrong. "You don't turn a 3D camera sideways," Dixon pointed out, after showing one particularly disorienting 3D image that elicited groans from the audience.
Inexpensive 3D glasses with magenta and cyan lenses--such as the ones Dixon gave to his listeners--use colored lenses to achieve an anaglyptic effect that simulates three dimensions. Movies such as Avatar used more expensive polarized lenses to achieve a more natural effect. Home 3D systems come equipped with shutter lenses that coordinate with images presented separately to each eye in rapid succession. These glasses, which currently retail for about $150-- provide an additional social impediment to the 3D experience at home -- "are you going to buy 40 pairs of these glasses when your friends come over to watch the big game?," Dixon asked.
While the consumer market has so far settled on either anaglyptic technology for viewing 3D content on 2D screens or shutter-glasses and transmitter technology for dedicated 3D TVs, Dixon explained that creating 3D images was something that anyone with fairly basic imaging tools could achieve. Dixon demonstrated the new 3D YouTube channel, and showed various ways of making 3D images with a 3D camera. He also showed some inexpensive computer software for creating 3D images. In all cases, images of the same scene, taken approximately 2.5 inches apart, were used to replicate the stereo quality of human vision.
3D, Dixon explained, is not only for blockbuster films; it can be enjoyed by anyone who owns a decent computer and basic photographic equipment, and it can be enjoyed at very little cost.
"3D is coming," Dixon concluded, "and it's lots of fun to play around with. I hope you enjoy it!"
Links to a podcast from this session have been posted; the podcast will also be available on the Princeton's iTunesU channel dedicated to the Lunch n' Learn series. (For more information about Lunch n' Learn podcasts at iTunesU, click here.)
The next Lunch n Learn talk take place on Wednesday, December 1st. Matthew Salganik, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Princeton will speak on Bottom-up Social Data Collection with www.AllOurIdeas.org, a research project to develop a new form of social data collection.
Welcome to the new IT's Academic blog! Most of the writing and all of the keywording (is that a word?) are mine. The photography is Lorene Lavora's. But this latest incarnation of this blog owes its look and feel and remarkable functionality to Michael Muzzie, Senior Web Developer in OIT's Academic Services. It is our collective hope that members of the University community will like what they see here and then contact Michael to start their own blogs!
For more than 15 years, Princeton University has sponsored a series of technology seminars. Part of the outreach efforts of its IT department, these Lunch 'n Learn seminars invite customer friendly speakers with varied affiliations to explore a wide array of cutting edge technology topics. During the past five years, Lorene Lavora and I sought to transform the existing series into fully integrated outreach, with these blog posts, very high quality podcasts, RSS feeds, and through Facebook, all in all a demonstration of how a small outreach office with sophisticated collaboration tools can leverage its resources.
In late 2006, Lorene and I created the first version of IT's Academic, the blog you are reading. Then, in January, 2007, Princeton began to share podcasts of its LnL seminars freely through its iTunes site. The remarkable result has been more than 100 million downloads in just more than two years! Even the early podcasts remain very popular.
A worldwide audience appreciates access to the kinds of activities that occur at institutions of higher education like Princeton. After most LnL seminars, we have produced stories for the blog that contained links to the podcasts, Lorene's amazing photography, and links to the speakers' slides. And we encourage session attendees and the public to sustain the enthusiasm of the seminars by posing questions to the speakers.
The most popularly downloaded talk has been Assistant Professor of Music Dmitry Tymoczko's Geometry and Music. There, he demonstrated that major and minor chords map onto a circle in perfect 3:4:5 triangles. In April 2008, Princeton's new Director of the Broadcast Studio, David Hopkins gave a session on the "New World of Digital TV." After only one week in iTunes, his podcast was downloaded more than 330,000 times.
Two years ago, Lorene also created a comprehensive presence on Facebook that provides a summary of upcoming events, easy links to the podcasts and photographs, as well as an RSS feed to the stories in the IT's Academic blog. We invite you to become a friend of that Facebook Page.
By virtue of its mobility, portability, and ease of connectivity, wireless connectivity provides users with unprecedented freedom, suggests H. Vincent Poor, Michael Henry Strater University Professor of Electrical Engineering and Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Wireless communications is among our most advanced, and rapidly advancing, technologies, he notes. New wireless applications and services emerge on an almost daily basis, and the number of users of these services is growing at an exponential rate. More than half of the world's population uses cell phones, and this is only one of a dazzling array of wireless technologies that have emerged in recent times.
At the April 21 Lunch ‘n Learn seminar, H. Vincent Poor, surveyed the technological landscape, some of its history and societal implications, emerging developments, and recent issues in wireless research.
Railroads reached near ubiquity in terms of the number of countries using the technology in 125 years. The telephone took nearly 100. Personal computers took 25 years. Remarkably, the mobile phone has taken just 15 years. More than just a personal communications device, it has become an engine of commerce in both the developed an developing world. Indeed, the technology has permitted countries in the third world to leapfrog the need for extensive land lines.
The results are extraordinary, says Poor. There are now more than 8 billion text messages a day, picture messaging has become standard, mobile gaming is growing, and video messaging has begun to emerge. We are approaching 5 billion cellular subscribers with explosive growth in wireless applications covering all key areas, from science and medicine, transportation and commerce, security and defense, through entertainment and social networking. And, as a result, it is a very lucrative business, accounting for more than $1 trillion a year.
The main challenge of wireless, notes Poor, is to provide the services familiar to wired systems, but with mobility. The challenges grow with higher capacity, and more simultaneous users in quickly moving vehicles. New 4G networks promise to provide reliable high speed connectivity for highly mobile users.
The one clear trend, says Poor, is the convergence of computing and communications. The cell phone, now an iPhone or an Android, is now both a computing platform and a communications device. In the years to come, he predicts, cars and homes will become nodes on the internet, inventories will be tracked automatically through built in wireless sensors, and we will habitually use a range of location-based and social networking services.
In his talk, Poor highlighted three areas of wireless research. In each, the application, or “pull” is matched by the “push,” interesting research at the physical layer, the theory and methodology of data transmission.
The first involves securing wireless transmission, a more complex undertaking in the absence of a physical infrastructure. It is possible to exploit the fundamental physics of the network, says Poor, to make them more secure. The idea takes advantage of the fact that individual network connections exhibit different physical properties due to the randomness of radio propagation. On-going research in this area involves coding theory, cryptography, game theory, and cross-layer network design.
The second research area involves sensor networks and distributed learning. Individual sensors within a wider grid measure a subset of large data sets, and each sensor can communicate with neighboring sensors to make optimal inferences about their physical surroundings.
The third research area involves the interaction of the wireless infrastructure with social networks, imposing a complex new structure. A famous problem in social psychology, the small world problem, suggests that any two people on the planet are separated by six degrees of separation. Small network analysis can model individuals and their local and long-range interactions. It turns out, says Poor, that if two people are separated by enough distance, you can conclude that they are separated by a fixed degree of separation and you can compute the figure based upon the size of the world and its population.
Speaker Bio: H. Vincent Poor is the Michael Henry Strater University Professor of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University, where he also Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. His research interests lie in the area of wireless networking and related fields. Among his publications in these areas is the book MIMO Wireless Communications (Cambridge University Press, 2007). Dr. Poor is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and is a Fellow of the IEEE, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Royal Academy of Engineering of the United Kingdom. He received the 2005 IEEE Education Medal and the 2009 Edwin Howard Armstrong Achievement Award of the IEEE Communications Society.
The project aimed to explore the use of the e-readers in classes for which e-reserves were the primary readings. The printing of e-reserve readings at Princeton accounts for a large portion of printing in public clusters (total of 10 million sheets of paper last year). The e-reader pilot sought to target e-reserve readings and present them on an e-reader to see if printing could be reduced.
The pilot participants consisted of three faculty members, 51 students, and several administrators in the Library and the Office of Information Technology.
The three courses in the pilot involved considerable eReserve reading, all had some content in the Kindle store, and they had to be of a size that would permit the involvement of three courses. The courses in the pilot were Civil Society and Public Policy (Professor Stanley Katz, an undergraduate seminar), U.S. Policy in the Middle East (Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer, a graduate seminar), and Religion and Magic in Ancient Rome (Professor Harriet Flower, a graduate seminar).
Devices were given to students in September. The pilot was voluntary with opt-out possibilities at any time. One student opted out at the start of the pilot. No student opted out after the pilot began. Students were asked to do the bulk of the course reading on the Kindle. 95% of the students reported that they had not previously used an eReader.
Participants were asked to do pilot course readings on the e-reader without printing as much as they felt it was possible. The pilot concluded with a survey and some final focus groups in February 2010.
The goals of the pilot were to reduce the desire to print, to explore the unique strengths of eReaders, all while being careful not to affect adversely the classroom experience.
At the April 14 Lunch ‘n Learn seminar, Janet Temos, Director of OIT’s Educational Technologies Center, Stan Katz and Dan Kurtzer two of the faculty involved in the pilot, and Trevor Dawes, Circulation Director at the University Library reviewed the findings of the Princeton e-reader pilot and shared their experiences.
Temos reported that the pilot did indeed reduce students’ desire to print.
Students judged the screen size, image resolution, device weight and storage capacity to be excellent. Highlighting, annotating, navigating within and between books, and the dictionary features achieved much less positive evaluations. Overall, Temos reported, the students thought that the devices had promise, the reason they said at the end that none opted out.
Kurtzer noted that, in his graduate seminar, all of the students were expected to read the course material before coming to class. And so, while they may have experienced some challenges with navigation, those did not occur in class. He reported that all of the students liked the fact that they could carry all of their reading around all of the time.
Many of Kurtzer’s students have recently downloaded material from current classes to maintain the experience. Main criticisms included highlighting, keeping track of bookmark references, and moving between and among passages from different books.
One problem that the pilot addressed was the difficulty of working with pdf documents because you can’t enlarge the type size. The only surprise in the data, reported Kurtzer, was that the pilot appears only to cut down 50% of the students’ printing.
Use of the Library’s eReserve system has grown exponentially, Dawes commented. The pilot provided a good opportunity to test the use of the eReserves system on an eReader platform. For this project, the processing was different in that it was required to scan the pages individually, trimmed, and processed further by OIT staff. Early on, we discovered that the Kindle could not read pdf documents in their native format. The amount of staff time involved was large and, he concluded, would not be sustainable for the device. We will continue to monitor progress to see if new devices will be able to accommodate pdf’s more efficiently.
Professor Katz’s course involved 23 books. He emphasized that the device is superbly ideal to accompany travel, and he and students agree wholeheartedly with that assessment. That said, it was wholly inappropriate for the close textual work involved in the course.
Classroom discussion required that all students be looking at the same passages, and they were expected to annotate those passages. Annotations collapse into footnotes, the keyboard is tough to use, and the Kindle had built-in limits on the amount of text that could be highlighted and annotated. The tedious nature of finding passages caused consistent classroom confusion. All that said, he is off to San Francisco for a dissertation review. “I will load it into the Kindle, said Katz, “and love it once again.”
Janet Temos was trained as an architectural historian, and received degrees in art history from Williams College (MA 1992), and Princeton University (PhD 2001). She began working with the Educational Technologies Center (ETC), in 1993, and became a full-time member of the staff in 2000. She is now director of ETC, and continues to work with faculty who wish to use computer technology in their teaching. Current projects include courses on film, archaeology, medieval manuscripts, African languages taught in the US, and a collaborative project with the Princeton University Art Museum to develop an on-line repository of digital images of objects in the museum’s East Asian collection.
Daniel C. Kurtzer retired from the U.S. Foreign Service with the rank of Career-Minister. From 2001-2005 he served as the United States Ambassador to Israel and from 1997-2001 as the United States Ambassador to Egypt. He served as a political officer at the American embassies in Cairo and Tel Aviv, Deputy Director of the Office of Egyptian Affairs, speechwriter on the Policy Planning Staff, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research. Kurtzer was a member of the American delegation to the Israel-Palestinian autonomy negotiations (1979-1982), helped negotiate the creation of the Multinational Force and Observers (1981-1982), negotiated and oversaw the successful arbitration of the Taba border dispute between Israel and Egypt, crafted the 1988 peace initiative of Secretary of State George P. Shultz, and in 1991 served as a member of the U.S. peace team that brought about the Madrid Peace Conference. Subsequently, he served as coordinator of the multilateral peace negotiations and as the U.S. Representative in the Multilateral Refugee Working Group. Kurtzer received several of the U.S. Government’s most prestigious awards, including the President’s Distinguished Service Award, the Department of State Distinguished Service Award, the National Intelligence Community’s Award for Achievement, and the Director General of the Foreign Service Award for Political Reporting. Ph.D. Columbia University.
Stanley Katz is president emeritus of the American Council of Learned Societies. His recent research focuses upon the relationship of civil society and constitutionalism to democracy, and upon the relationship of the United States to the international human rights regime. He is also a commentator on higher education policy. Formerly Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor of the History of American Law and Liberty at Princeton University, Katz is a scholar of American legal and constitutional history, and on philanthropy and non-profit institutions. He is the editor of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise History of the Supreme Court of the United States and of the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Legal History (OUP, 2009). The author and editor of numerous books and articles, he has served as president of the Organization of American Historians and the American Society for Legal History and as vice president of the Research Division of the American Historical Association. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Newberry Library, the Copyright Clearance Center and numerous other institutions. He is a commissioner of the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. He also currently serves as chair of the American Council of Learned Societies/Social Science Research Council Working Group on Cuba. Katz is a member of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the American Antiquarian Society, the American Philosophical Society; a fellow of the American Society for Legal History, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Society of American Historians; a corresponding member of the Massachusetts Historical Society and an academico correspondiente of the Cuban Academy of Sciences. He has honorary degrees from several universities. Ph.D. Harvard University. Katz is director of the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies.
Trevor A. Dawes is the Circulation Services Director at the Princeton University Library, where he is responsible for the circulation, reserve, current periodicals, stack, remote storage and Borrow Direct operations in the library. He previously held several positions at the Columbia University Libraries. Mr. Dawes earned his MLS from Rutgers University’s School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies, and has two additional Masters Degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University. He is an active member of the American Library Association and the Association of College and Research Libraries.
The Technology Manager for the History Department at Princeton University, Carla Zimowsk has provided technical support for the department for 10 years. Not trained as a historian or a GIS expert, she draws upon graduate work in organizational communications and knowledge management. As a result, during the past decade, she has come to understand the needs of those she supports.
"The faculty all have stuff," she began at the March 24 Lunch 'n Learn seminar, "and it tells a story when pulled together." In a trip to the Visualization Centre at the University of Birmingham several years ago, she suddenly realized the importance of visualizing data.
On her return, she began to assist a steadily growing number of history faculty who are also excited about the use of such tools. In a Lunch ‘n Learn presentation on March 5, 2008, Professor John Haldon discussed the Avkat Project, a study of small fortress town near Armenia between the 5^th and 11^th centuries. Avkat uses the technology to assemble images, tax records, and even to predict where to dig. The result is a multi-disciplinary approach to a complete material culture and landscape evolution sequence from the Neolithic period through the modern day. Haldon has been able to calculate population densities primary dietary requirements, and estimate land uses.
In another Lunch ‘n Learn presentation on March 26, 2008, Professor Emmanuel Kreike showed how he was able to place fly-over maps from the 1940s with present-day satellite imagery to draw conclusions about deforestation and settlement over time in Namibia. His GIS databases also contain modern features, from roads and fences through buildings and wells, tax records, photographs, and even interviews with local inhabitants.
Modern Geographical Information Systems reveal relationships, patterns, and trends, not only about physical features, but economic and social phenomena. History Professor Rob Karl is using GIS to search for useful correlations in the international history of political violence. He has charted the distribution of major bandit groups and community action boards as well as changes in political affiliation in Columbia.
Professor Yair Mintzler is studying the defortification of German cities in the 18th and 19th centuries. Charting such events permits scholars to observe key trends. Mintzler plans another interesting use of information technology, the online replication of a German prison.
“What do historians do with computers other than use them as glorified typewriters?” This was the question that Zimowsk most often got from colleagues when she first started providing technical support in the history department in 1999. Ten years later, the question hasn’t changed much as some might now ask, “What do historians do with computers other than create PowerPoint shows for class?”
Both questions assume that historians only concern themselves with archival collection and recollection of dates, events, places, or people. By working with and observing these historians, she has learned that while they are interested in these individual facts, they are also interested in making connections and inferences from among them and in that, finding patterns, making comparisons, or trying to visualize and experience what cannot be seen, touched, or witnessed first-hand.
Speaker Bio: Before working in the University’s History Department, Carla worked for the Art Museum for seven years, and before that Graduate Admissions. Carla has degrees from Blackburn College in Music and a Masters in Communication and Information from Rutgers.
Computers use an ingenious invention called public key cryptography to transmit secrets on the internet, even through public channels that can be observed by anyone. The approach is instrumental today to the secure flow of information on the internet and the whole realm of electronic commerce. There are simple programs that can monitor internet traffic, and even the simplest requests will flow through many, and perhaps dozens of computers. Unsecured transactions can be read by any malicious hacker almost as easily as if you had transmitted the information on a postcard.
In his March 3 Lunch 'n Learn seminar, Dickinson College Assistant Professor John MacCormick explained how public key cryptography works using some fun and easy-to understand techniques.
Public key cryptography relies upon the use of both public and private keys. The private keys are kept secret, while the public key can be freely shared. The sender encrypts the message using the public key, and the message can be decrypted with the recipient’s private key.
If that sounds confusing, MacCormick lessened the complexity.
In the simplest example, he wrote a single digit on his hand. To that number, which might have been credit card number, he added the last two digits of the phone number of a colleague sitting in the audience. That person, knowing their own phone number, could trivially subtract the known two-digit number and derive the original number. But no one else in the audience knew their shared secret. It is a simple trick, which passed information openly yet securely.
And so, it is trivially possible to communicate a shared secret over an open channel. Everyone heard the transaction, and yet only MacCormick and his colleague knew the number.
In the real world, the algorithm is obviously more complex, but the principle is the same. Securely transmitting information over open lines. Let’s say that the sender wants to send securely the number “7” The public key that everyone knows is 8. And let us assume that the recipient’s private key is “3” We multiple the private key 7 with the public key, getting 56, and we place that number in the public area. The recipient does the same, obtaining 24. Of course, 3x56=168=7x24. And so, the two can share information without sharing their private keys. In real life, of course, the numbers are very large prime numbers, making it nearly impossible for those watching network traffic to decipher the data.
For decades, researchers have sought ways to break the procedure and they have consistently failed, says MacCormick. Back in the 1970s, the original technique used exponents and clock arithmetic rather than simple subtraction or multiplication. It is of course, trivial to crack systems that use small numbers, but MacCormick notes that modern cryptography relies rather on very large numbers, often hundreds of digits long. The result is that cracking the code by brute force would require more time than the universe is old.
In a memorable display, MacCormick performed the same numeric trick using cups of primary colored water. MacCormick noted that Chris Bishop, a researcher for Microsoft at the University of Edinburgh had also proposed this explanation for public key cryptography and was the first to perform this experiment live for audiences. In this case, the shared secret was a color of water. The objective? The sender and receiver each have a private key, in this case a color and volume of water that only they know. By combining their secret from the private cups with the unlimited supply of water in the public cup, he demonstrated that both sender and receiver could share information without the public being able to deduce the shared secret, despite having access to a good bit of information. In this case, the receiver can derive the shared secret, the same color of water, without ever having had access to the original private color.
John MacCormick, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Dickinson College, has degrees in mathematics from the University of Cambridge and the University of Auckland, and a doctorate in computer vision from the University of Oxford. He was a research fellow at Linacre College, Oxford from 1999-2000, a research scientist at HP Labs from 2000-2003, and a computer scientist with Microsoft Research from 2003-2007. Professor MacCormick joined the faculty of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Dickinson College in Fall 2007. His current research focuses on computer vision, but he also maintains an interest large-scale distributed computer systems. Currently active research topics include message-passing algorithms for early vision tasks such as stereo vision, and superpixel algorithms for image over-segmentation. Dr. MacCormick is the author of one book, “Stochastic Algorithms for Visual Tracking,” and has filed 15 US patents covering novel computer technologies.
“Smartphones are the new platform, and apps are the core,” says Douglas Dixon, an independent technology consultant, author, and speaker specializing in digital media. “In just a year and a half, the Apple App Store for iPhone users has surpassed 140,000 applications, and users have downloaded more than 3 billion apps. — Not bad for a new market that was created only a year and a half earlier.”
At the February 24 Lunch ‘n Learn seminar, Dixon explored the range of apps being developed for these new platforms. Beyond rude sound effects and popping bubbles, developers are leveraging both the intelligence of handsets and the power of back-end cloud computing to provide new kinds of timely
He began by demonstrating how easy it is to search and locate apps at Apple’s App Store from the device or computer, and to synchronize the iPhone with one’s collection of music on iTunes. The App Store listings include screen shots, user ratings, and easy access to dedicated web pages about each app. Many of the popular apps are games and silly diversions. Based on your apps, the Genus feature also will recommend other apps that you are likely to enjoy.
In comparison, the Motorola Droid from Verizon is based on the Google Android platform. The Android Market also has lots of games and other apps, some free and some for fee. It’s easy to find popular apps including Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, and Google Earth, and the listings kindly show the apps that you have already installed. Unlike Apple, Google does not manually review apps for inclusion in its app market. Users have the primary role in ranking, rating, and tagging apps. And Google automatically notifies users about updates to their apps.
Dixon also demonstrated the Microsoft Zune wireless player, which has a nice interface that automatically organizes your apps, recent updates, and your music and personal information. The new Microsoft Phone platform, due at the end of this year, will discard the old Windows Mobile interface for this Zune style. Microsoft Phone also goes beyond individual apps to feature “hubs” for games, people, photos, and music that combine relevant information. No longer would you have a need to go to a variety of separate apps like mail, Flikr, and Facebook. All of the relevant data will be in a single place.
Says Dixon, these devices combine three really interesting and powerful characteristics. First, they are impressive little computers with a decent processor, gigabytes of memory, and a readable screen. Second, they have sensors in them aware of their orientation and their GPS position. Some also have built in cameras and microphones. And they are connected to the cloud. As a result, we can begin to rethink how to do things.
Then there are location-based services that now go beyond displaying maps and finding a near-by Starbucks to reporting the lowest local prices for gas, and providing the pulse of the neighborhood from real-time Twitter feeds.
And new “augmented reality” services can use the smartphone’s camera to provide information on what’s around you — to look up a product bar code, or an interesting building or painting, or to identify the buildings that you see in front of you. Point at a record album and get all of the product information. Soon you can point at a person and view their Facebook page.
It’s an amazing new world, placing the power of cloud computing in your back pocket, all at a store near you.
Douglas Dixon is an independent technology consultant, author, and speaker specializing in digital media. A graduate of Brown University, and previously a product manager and software developer at Intel and Sarnoff, he is the author of four books, has published hundreds of feature articles over the past decade, has presented over a hundred seminars and talks, and provides expert witness services. Doug makes his articles and technical references freely available on his Manifest Technology blog and website.