Between 16th and 18th of June this year in Austin (TX, USA) the Thirteenth International Symposium on Electronic Theses and Dissertation ETD2010 was organized by NDLTD. On the symposium the representatives of scientific institutions from all over the world were exchanging experience related to popularization of the idea of electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs), and also to collecting ETDs and making them available on-line. Main activities in this subject from USA, Canada, several countries from Central and South America and also Africa and Europe were presented.
The symposium had two keynote speeches. The first one, on opening of the symposium, was made by Larry Johnson (CEO, The New Media Consortium) and titled “Seven Channels of Change: How Technology is Unfolding, Everywhere We Look”. As the seven channels Larry Johnson numbered:
- “Computing in Three Dimensions”
- “Games Are Reality”
- “Keyboards are for Older People”
- “Users ARE the Content”
- “Collective Intelligence is the New Knowledge”
- “The People Are the Network”
- “The network is everywhere”
The second keynote, simply titled “Google Books”, was made by James Crawford, the Engineering Director of… Google Books. Besides of the general description of this service, James Crawford emphasized the source of content for Google Books, cooperation possibilities and of course issues related with IPR. Also several technical curiosities were mentioned, like issues related with the automated discovery of the book creation/publishing date.
Because of the location of this edition of the symposium, the majority of presentations was related to activities in the USA and neighboring countries, including prestigious universities like Stanford or Yale. European experiences were presented also by Agnieszka Lewandowska from PSNC. She described the aggregation of ETDs metadata from Polish digital libraries done by the Digital Libraries Federation and the process of transferring this metadata to the DART-Europe Portal. The presentations of the Polish achievements caused interest. The symposium participants have asked several questions, mostly regrading the organisational and technical aspects of the Federation, the rules for automated selection of object exposed for the DART-Europe and of course the directions of the DLF development.
Two sessions were dedicated to strictly technical aspects such as cloud computing, semantic technologies or the use of HTML5. Very interesting presentation was made by Ed Fox, the NDLTD Executive Director, but also well known scientist specialized in the digital libraries. He presented the results of a research made by his team on the influence of large high resolution displays on the comprehension of long documents and on user experience when using such documents. For the purpose of this research an interactive gigapixel display was constructed, consisting of fifty standard LCD monitors (rectangle 5 x 10 monitors). This display was used for an experiment, in which the participants were asked to do several tasks with a tens pages long PhD thesis. These tasks should be done by reading the document on the mentioned display, on single monitor and on… paper. After achieving the tasks, participants had to answer a series of questions describing the quality and comfort of work with the document in all three tested ways. As a result it came out, that the large display, allowing to view all document pages at once in a readable quality, was the best for quick looking through the document. In tasks requiring deep analysis of the document the winner was… the traditional table on which the document was available in printed form.
Conference was also accompanied by the NDLTD awards, given in three categories:
- Innovative ETD
- Innovative Learning through ETDs
- ETD Leadership
Full list of awarded is available in a dedicated NDLTD press release. In the “Innovative ETD” category one of three awards was granted to Andre Zimmermann, the graduate of PhD studies in Geography on the University of British Columbia (Canada). In his work he was analyzing the erosion of streams, and the research was made as a series of micro-experiments realized in a laboratory. Because his PhD thesis was published as ETD, he could include in the content the video recordings showing his experiments. This was for him a major improvement in the possibilities of explaining the results of research. The PhD thesis is available at UBC repository, and below you can find short comment from the laureate commenting the received award:
Recordings of other laureates are available at the NDLTD website.
The next edition of the symposium will be held in south Africa. Everyone interested in the ETDs issues should participate! 🙂