In my mind, the interwebs is an alternate universe. As an optimist, I prefer thinking of the World Wide Web as some sort of Utopian experiment. You’re laughing. Oh no, I won’t deny that porn makes up about half of the content on the web (I suppose this content IS someone’s idea of Utopia); however, there are some amazing institutions doing great work out there on the webs. One in particular attracted my attention yesterday.
The World Digital Library launches on April 21, 2009. This is an unprecedented partnership of national, international and academic libraries (see here for a complete list). The WDL’s mission:
The World Digital Library will make available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from cultures around the world, including manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, architectural drawings, and other significant cultural materials. The objectives of the World Digital Library are to promote international and inter-cultural understanding and awareness, provide resources to educators, expand non-English and non-Western content on the Internet, and to contribute to scholarly research.
What I appreciate most about this endeavor is the stress is on international primary materials. The videos on the site and this demonstration (pdf) indicated that the WDL platform itself will be available in numerous languages (in peeking at the source code, I saw hidden lines which indicate that users will be able to select either English, Spanish or French; hopefully, more non-Western European languages will be available later). The platform boasts the ability to provide translations of primary documents that are archived in the Digital Library. There are also indications that the platform will read the document for you, indicating that the platform designers are keeping accessibility in mind. Of course, none of this is clear until the site is officially launched. I look forward to playing in digital library land soon.
And now, for something completely different.
Today’s Musical Interlude: Alan and Sean of Great Big Sea join the lads and lass of Gaelic Storm to perform “Leaving of Liverpool” and “Hills of Connemara.” Wow, wish I could have seen this pairing!
For more Great Big Gaelic Storm, see the “Tell Me Ma” video here.