The Institute of Museum and Library Services has awarded a two-year, $497,756 grant to Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists and library personnel led by University Libraries' Dean Gloriana St. Clair, to develop Olive, the first archiving system for the preservation for executable content.
The Olive concept grew out of a collaboration between Mahadev Satyanarayanan (Satya), professor of computer science, and Vasanth Bala of IBM Research. Together they explored applying virtual machine (VM) technology invented by IBM in the late 1960s to current problems of software configuration and distribution in cloud computing.
That research led to the realization that a global archive of curated VM images that could be shared, searched, extended, and executed via the Internet would be a powerful catalyst for collaboration across space and time. Realizing this vision is the goal of the Olive project.
Dynamic, interactive, executable content is the core output of the computer science community. New types of educational electronic content such as learning games and interactive data visualizations are transforming teaching research and scholarly publishing.
Preserving this content, and the generations of earlier executable content upon which it was built, is essential to optimal progress in computer science. But the means to archive the dynamic, working content of computer science have not yet been successfully achieved.
Olive, says U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, who supported the Olive grant proposal, "seeks to address a pressing and ever-growing need to preserve and maintain, through a revolutionary new type of archival system, executable content in its original form.
"Analogous to the manner academic papers and research data in academic libraries are currently preserved, this archive... would be accessible to future researchers in a trusted 'virtual world' that would ensure, with a high degree of certainty, its provenance and integrity. It would enable academic libraries to empower researchers to run a program in the original environment in which it was created," he added.
"Preserving these scholarly products of computer science research and making them accessible for future researchers has tremendous relevance for ensuring the accurate and reliable history of intellectual property to resolve issues of licensing and security constraints. For this reason, I believe the project will yield important benefits for government and industry."
For more information, see the university's news release.
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