DSpace Goes Olympic

In just five years, the digital archiving software has found a wide range of online uses.

Researchers at China’s Beihang University in Beijing will use DSpace, the open-source digital archiving system developed by MIT and Hewlett-Packard, to create a multimedia, online museum for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

DSpace makes this 3-D model of a terra-cotta sculpture in Emperor Qin Shihuang’s mausoleum accessible online.

The project uses technology similar to what Beihang researchers designed for the virtual collections of the China Digital Science and Technology Museum. DSpace allowed them to store high-definition 3-D digital representations of hundreds of thousands of objects from 100 Chinese museums. Those images are now freely available to anyone in the world. The technology will now be used to store more than two terabytes of information about modern and ancient Olympics and traditional Chinese sports in an interactive 3-D virtual environment. To enable the average user to access so much information, the researchers designed the system so that central servers–not users’ computers–do most of the processing.

DSpace, which turns five this year, is best known as a way to archive academic materials like MIT’s open courseware. It was designed, using open-source code, to preserve records from the digi­tal era, including research data, lectures, and even building plans such as those for the Stata Center. DSpace has been used in about 270 projects worldwide. One of the largest, the Texas ­Digi­tal Library, unites information from university libraries across the state. A project by Stuart Lewis at the University of Wales at Aberystwyth is one of the quirkiest: Lewis uses DSpace to store experimental data generated by a robot scientist.

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