This year has been full of development and fast progress. Unfortunately, it has meant less time to write on the blog. In this post, I’ll brief you on the current status and latest news.
Open source in content management seminar
Last week we had a very interesting seminar about open source in general and at memory organization point of view. As a keynote speaker we had Michael ‘Monty’ Widenius talking about open source and business. MySQL is an excellent example of how to make open source worth your while. The key points in his speech were community, patience and understanding the ecosystem and users. As Monty said, open source supports well human nature. In a nutshell, you need to work and pay less for getting more value. But there is also difference of being free as a beer and being free as a speech. Open source is the sustainable way of operating in our business (among others); And what Monty said was in line with our views.
Other speakers included a representative from the Ministry of Finance, Mikael Vakkari, who told us how European Union and public goverment regulates and encourages the public sector and administration to use open source. The course is right but it takes time to get there. We heard also about experiences on building open source communities from our local partner Otavan Opisto. It confirmed what Monty had said: it takes time to get people involved and usually it can’t be taken for granted. A common method is to involve a community manager to inspire and gather people together, as well as coordinate the operations.
The director of Brages Pressarkiv, Jessica Parland-von Essen, emphasized that open source is not only about technology and software but about trust and knowledge. Anything that is open and public can be inspected and reviewed. People tend to distrust the unknown and secrets. Open source on the other hand helps to make things like licensing understandable. Anyone could (at least in theory) see how open system works. This does not mean that the data should be open or the system should be accessible to the public. A good example is Linux operating system. While the system itself is open, your personal data is yours only.
Finally, the seminar concluded with a discussion panel on the future of memory organizations and the democratization of the Internet; and whether the archives should or should not adapt. It was an interesting topic and it was quite clear that some changes are happening in the near future.
A few theses have been made or being made about the topics OSA covers. They were introduced in the previously mentioned seminar. There are two theses which studied the usability, service designs and user interfaces of the light archive system. Tytti Vuorikari studied the service concepts, service blueprints and various user profiles and Outi Hilola’s work concentrated on the data visualization and the user interfaces for finding and processing information from the archives.
This kind of research and field study is a necessity when using an agile approach. The said theses helped us to understand the needs and focus the development work on areas requiring the most attention. Methods included interviewing, tailing, benchmarking and organizing workshops. The results were then analyzed and restructured and described. Benchmarking included some related projects like National Digital Library’s Finna. Available also in English at https://www.finna.fi/.
There are some technology oriented theses under work. I will write more about them in the near future. The topics include building a complete virtualized private cloud to provide either platform as a service or infrastructure as a service.
Below is presented the estimated roadmap of the project milestones.
We are currently about to release the first cycle of development builds. There will be a limited release for our project partners. Beginning from alpha or beta release we could provide access to others as well. As this is open source project, the code and other products will be available on request and eventually in Github or the like.
Currently, we have all the essential software in place. These include Fedora Commons, Solr with Fedora integration, MariaDB, LDAP and a web application to wrap them together and to provide easy access. We also have a rough user interface and initial services for ingesting and accessing objects. During the summer, we hope to advance very rapidly. The initial plan is to release a new development build for testing each week and work incrementally until we reach the alpha version at the end of August 2013 and the beta at the end of the year. At that time, we should be pilot ready.