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Blue Ribbon Task Force to Host Symposium on Economics of Sustaining Digital Information

Government, Industry, Academic Leaders Featured in Public "Conversation" April 1, 2010 in Washington, D.C.

Published 02/01/2010

The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access (BRTF-SDPA) will hold a one-day symposium convening a diverse group of speakers from the academic, private, and public sectors to discuss one of the most pressing issues of the Information Age: identifying practical solutions to the economic challenges of preserving today's deluge of digital data.

Called "A National Conversation on the Economic Sustainability of Digital Information", the symposium will be held April 1, 2010 at The Fairmont in Washington, D.C. Scheduled to speak is a spectrum of national leaders from the Executive Office of the President, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian Museum, Nature Magazine, Google, and other organizations for whom digital information is fundamental for success.

The symposium will also provide a forum for discussion of the recommendations in the Blue Ribbon Task Force's Final Report on economically sustainable digital preservation practices, to be issued in mid-February. When released, the report can be found online at the BRTF-SDPA website.

Sessions in the BRTF-SDPA symposium will focus on four key areas of digital information: research data, scholarly discourse, collectively produced web content such as blogs, and commercially owned cultural content such as movies and music. The symposium is aimed at policy- and decision-makers in the private and public sectors, federal agencies, major libraries and archival institutions, and the general public.

"Across all sectors, success in today's world is driven by access to digital information," said Francine Berman, vice president for research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and co-chair of the Task Force. "The ability to access critical information tomorrow requires preservation of that information today. How we pay for digital preservation and access is fundamental, yet little attention has been paid to the economics of information preservation."

"This symposium combines the perspectives of economists, preservation experts, and domain specialists on the crucial problem of creating a sustainable economics for digital preservation," said Brian Lavoie, research scientist at OCLC and Task Force co-chair. "It is at the intersection of these three perspectives that sustainable strategies will be found to support the long-term accessibility and use of digital information."

During 2008 and 2009, the Task Force, comprised of 17 experts in economics and digital preservation, explored multiple facets of economic sustainability and published an Interim Report in December 2008. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Library of Congress, the U.K.'s Joint Information Systems Committee, and the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Task Force will report its findings and recommendations in its Final Report.

Participants scheduled to speak at the April 1 BRTF-SDPA symposium in Washington include:

Daniel E. Atkins
Former Director of the National Science Foundation's Office of Cyberinfrastructure

Daniel E. Atkins is the Kellogg Professor of Community Information in the University of Michigan's School of Information, and is a professor in the Division of Computer Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering. From June 1, 2006 to June 30, 2008, Mr. Atkins served as director of the Office of Cyberinfrastructure at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C., while on leave from the University of Michigan.

William G. Bowen
President Emeritus, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

William G. Bowen, president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation from 1988-2006, was President of Princeton University from 1972-1988, where he also served as Professor of Economics and Public Affairs. A graduate of Denison University and Princeton University, Bowen joined the Princeton faculty in 1958 specializing in labor economics, and served as Provost there from 1967-1972. Mr. Bowen's special interest in the application of information technology to scholarship led to a range of initiatives including the Foundation-sponsored creation of JSTOR, a searchable electronic archive of the full runs of core journals in many fields; the Mellon International Dunhuang Archive; ARTstor, a repository of high-quality digitized works of art and related materials for teaching and research; and Ithaka, an organization launched to accelerate the adoption of productive and efficient uses of information technology to benefit higher education.

Wayne Clough
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution

Wayne Clough is the 12th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, leading the world's largest museum and research complex with 19 museums, numerous research centers, 20 libraries, the National Zoo, and research activities in nearly 100 countries. Dr. Clough has started a new era at the 164-year-old Institution, working to expand the Smithsonian's global relevance. The Smithsonian has a new strategic plan, the first of its kind in the history of the Institution, to guide it as it helps our nation shape its future through research, education and scientific discovery on major topics of the day.

Thomas Kalil
Deputy Director for Policy in the Office of Science & Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President of the United States (Keynote Speaker)
Thomas Kalil is Deputy Director for Policy in the Office of Science & Technology Policy in the Obama administration. Prior to his appointment, he was Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Science and Technology at UC Berkeley. Mr. Kalil also served as the Deputy Assistant to President Clinton for Technology and Economic Policy, and as Deputy Director of the White House National Economic Council. He was the NEC's "point person" on a wide range of technology and telecommunications issues, such as the liberalization of Cold War export controls, the allocation of spectrum for new wireless services, and investments in upgrading America's high-tech workforce.

Timo Hannay
Publishing Director,, Nature Publishing Group
Timo Hannay is a British publisher working for Nature Publishing Group (NPG) in London, and a recognized expert in online publishing and web-enabled science. Mr. Hannay directs NPG's online publishing activities, including, Nature Network and Connotea, among others. Originally trained as a neurophysiologist and biochemist, Mr. Hannay has written for The Economist and worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company in London and Tokyo. He joined NPG's Tokyo office in 1998 before moving to London in 2000. Mr. Hannay holds a doctorate in neurophysiology from the University of Oxford, and a degree in biochemistry from Imperial College, London.

Chris Lacinak
Founder and President, Audiovisual Preservation Solutions
Chris Lacinak, founder of the New York based consulting firm AudioVisual Preservation Solutions (AVPS), has spent years consulting with corporate, government, university and non-profit moving image and sound archives on a wide array of preservation and access issues. Recent clients include the United Nations, Library of Congress, Museum of Modern Art, Harvard University, and WITNESS. Mr. Lacinak has been an Adjunct Professor for New York University's Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Masters Program since 2005. As an advocate for the advancement of the field, he also lectures, sits on advisory boards, chairs committees and is active in standards forming and relevant organizations including the Association for Moving Image Archivist (AMIA), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Society for Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Audio Engineering Society (AES), and the International Association of Sound Archives (IASA).

Derek Law
Board Chair, JISC Advance

Derek Law was appointed chair of the Board of JISC Advance in November 2008, and is supervising the setting up of the company, which started trading formally in August 2009. JISC Advance is a not-for-profit organization that brings together the collective expertise of established JISC services. Prior to that, Mr. Law was head of the Information Resources Directorate and University Librarian at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, from 1999 until October 2008. Before joining Strathclyde he held appointments at King's College London and at the universities of Edinburgh, St. Andrews and Glasgow. He was awarded the Barnard Prize for contributions to Medical Informatics in 1993, Fellowship of King's College London in 1997, Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1999, an honorary degree by the Sorbonne in 2000, the IFLA medal in 2003 and Honorary Fellowship of CILIP in 2004. He holds a chair in the Department of Computing and Information Science and is a member of the Centre for Digital Library Research.

George Oates
Lead, Open Library at Internet Archive
George Oates is an award-winning, world-renowned web designer. A member of the founding team that built Flickr, she is fascinated by collaboration, organic information systems and virtual society. Having created the innovative Flickr Commons program as a way for cultural heritage institutions all over the world to better share their photographic collections, she now finds herself ensconced in and surprised by the world of librarianship heading up the Open Library project at the Internet Archive.

Brian E. C. Schottlaender
The Audrey Geisel University Librarian at the University of California, San Diego
Under Brian E.C. Schottlaender's direction since 1999, the UC San Diego Libraries have excelled in the development and implementation of leading-edge digital technologies, including national and global digital preservation and digitization initiatives. The UC San Diego Libraries were the first academic library in Southern California to partner with Google on its global book digitization project. In addition, Mr. Schottlaender serves on the executive committee of the Hathi Trust, a consortium of universities (including the University of California), that is building one of the largest online collections of books ever assembled.
The UCSD Libraries are also collaborating with the San Diego Supercomputer Center, the Library of Congress, and other partners in Chronopolis, a digital preservation initiative focused on collecting and preserving at-risk digital information. Mr. Schottlaender, who has held librarian positions at the California Digital Library, UCLA, the University of Arizona, and Indiana University, was recognized for his significant achievements in collections management by the American Library Association with the 2007 Ross Atkinson Lifetime Achievement Award.

Hal R. Varian
Chief Economist, Google

Hal R. Varian started in 2002 as a consultant and has been involved in many aspects of Google, including auction design, econometric analysis, finance, corporate strategy and public policy. Mr. Varian is a fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, the Econometric Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was co-editor of the American Economic Review from 1987-1990, and has published numerous papers in economic theory, industrial organization, financial economics, and econometrics and information economics. Mr. Varian is a co-author of a bestselling book on business strategy, Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy, and wrote a monthly column for The New York Times from 2000 to 2007.

Please visit the BRTF-SDPA webpage for a preliminary agenda for the BRTF-SDPA symposium. Seating is limited. General registration opens February 1 and will be on a first-come first-served basis. There are a limited number of spaces reserved for accredited media.

About the BRTF-SDPA
The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access was formed in late 2007 to explore one of the most urgent issues of the Information Age: identifying economically sustainable solutions to the challenges of preserving the ever-growing amount of digitally based data. The Task Force is funded by the National Science Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, in partnership with the Library of Congress, the Joint Information Systems Committee of the United Kingdom (JISC), the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), and supported by Task Force member institutions.

Media Contact:
Jan Zverina, 858 534-5111 or

Event Contact:
Susan Rathbun, 858 534-8321 or