RE: Questions, Relevance

From: David Provost <>
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2005 13:23:28 -0500

MacKenzie -

This is a great reply and I appreciate the time it must have taken. My

1. I agree that many general_at_simile subscribers may not know much about
DSpace. However, those that do might have some very interesting insights in
response to my original post. Your response is an excellent example.
Additionally, being aware of DSpace might serve as a helpful example for
development, adoption, and transition to a new environment. On this point
though, I must admit that I'm only speculating.

2. A review of the DSpace Web site will quickly substantiate its adoption
worldwide and notably, at many elite institutions. This is good company to
keep. I don't know where the members of the Simile and DSpace communities
reside, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if the members of each are
located in the same institutions. Presumably, this would facilitate
collaboration within the institution, with the benefits ultimately accruing
to the community at large.

3. I believe that the capture, management, distribution and preservation of
digital research material is a critical issue at all institutions, public or
private, small or large. In my opinion, no single approach will address the
myriad needs of any institution, so I'm trying to understand the
distinctions between DSpace, Simile, federated database environments, and
then effectively querying across federated environments.

4. In the future, I will post these kinds of questions to dspace-devel
and/or general_at_simile, which explains the cc in this message.

Thanks again for your reply.


-----Original Message-----
From: MacKenzie Smith [mailto:kenzie_at_MIT.EDU]
Sent: Friday, March 25, 2005 11:08 AM
Subject: Re: Questions, Relevance


I seriously doubt if many people on this list knows very much about DSpace.
That is a separate
project (at the moment) which has been available as open source for more
than two years and
has been adopted by over 100 research institutions world-wide as their
digital asset management
system. The purpose of DSpace is to allow organizations to *capture,
manage, distribute, and
preserve* their digital research material.

Where I see the synergy with SIMILE (and the reason that the MIT Libraries
is involved in both
projects) is in the aspects of DSpace that deal with metadata -- that is,
finding stuff in DSpace
no matter how it was described, and managing that metadata over time.
SIMILE, of course,
has a larger agenda than that, but that is the piece of it that should help
the DSpace project.

Here's a rough picture:

       SIMILE DSPACE COCOON (for example)
------------------------- ------------------------
        D2D CM PI
------------------------- ------------------------

Where the digital library business requirements are:
D2D = discovery to delivery (of content), or finding stuff and getting stuff
CM = collection management, i.e., what libraries and archives do, including
long-term preservation
PI = publishing interfaces (of content), also called behaviors or

On the CM side, you are correct that asset stores (or what you're calling
data stores) will
probably be further separated out to take advantage of new storage APIs,
the data grid, and
other new technologies that improve storage. That still leaves the
collection management and
long-term preservation requirements, which are neither trivial nor solved
by throwing RDF at them.

So that's my take on it, and if you want opinions from the larger DSpace
community then you
should probably ask them directly (, and the list you want is
probably dspace-devel
But be warned that
only a handful of
the DSpace developers is familiar with SIMILE... the two communities aren't
that close yet,
given SIMILE's status as an active research project.


At 08:50 AM 3/25/2005 -0500, David Provost wrote:
>For those on this list familiar with both DSpace and Simile:
>It's beginning to seem as though the Simile suite will either transcend
>the capabilities of DSpace ( or simply render
>its functionality as limited and unnecessary. I'm arriving at this
>conclusion after reading Chris Bizer's meeting notes sent Thu 3/24/05,
>reading messages from the Simile list, listening to others, and just
>trying to think this through in general.
>Am I perceiving the evolution of these technologies correctly?
>Here's how I've been looking at DSpace and Simile:
>DSpace is an abstraction layer above a data store(s). Tools from Simile
>can then be applied to this abstraction layer to annotate/tag, create
>views, and ultimately weave together electronic artifacts no matter
>their type or location. I also include programs in this notion of
>weaving (eventually, if not now) that will allow individuals (in a
>corporate setting, authorized
>users) to create and/or tailor the functionality they want or need.
>David Provost

MacKenzie Smith
Associate Director for Technology
MIT Libraries
Building E25-131d
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Received on Fri Mar 25 2005 - 18:23:35 EST

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