What a NASA/Google Mashup Might Mean for Libraries

Ron Murray (no relation) from the Library of Congress sent me this announcement about a joint NASA/Google partnership, which starts:

NASA Ames Research Center and Google have signed a Space Act Agreement that formally establishes a relationship to work together on a variety of challenging technical problems ranging from large-scale data management and massively distributed computing, to human-computer interfaces.

As the first in a series of joint collaborations, Google and Ames will focus on making the most useful of NASA’s information available on the Internet. Real-time weather visualization and forecasting, high-resolution 3-D maps of the moon and Mars, real-time tracking of the International Space Station and the space shuttle will be explored in the future.

Ron went on to say:

Recall that the principal archival reference model for our community’s current archiving effort came from the space data community.

He’s referring to the Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS), a product of the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems, itself a cooperative of major space agencies in the world to discuss common problems in the development and operation of space data systems. Although ostensibly about archiving the digital products of space research and exploration, the committee authoring the document set out to do nothing less than “[develop] a broader consensus on what is required for an archive to provide permanent, or indefinite long-term, preservation of digital information.” 1

So if the library community is heavily influenced by the OAIS model in how we are now fashioning our technologies, one wonders if this NASA/Google partnership can offer dividends to us as we seek to provide many of the same types of services described in the press release. OAIS is not, of course, a system specification or a network protocol that would by itself ensure interoperability. But it certainly can’t hurt if we are all talking a similar language.

Food for thought. What do you think?

Footnotes

  1. “Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS).” Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems. Report #CCSDS 650.0-B-1. p. iii. []