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Nelson Wins Mellon Computer Science Grant

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has invested $25,000 in computer science research being done at Old Dominion University to improve access to Web pages that are related to each other.

Michael Nelson, assistant professor of computer science, will apply the grant to his work on the international Open Archives Initiative-Object Reuse and Exchange (OAI-ORE). He is on the technical committee of the project and co-editor of specifications that will result from OAI-ORE.

The grant will support the development of prototype applications to test the coherence and utility of the emerging protocol for the reuse and exchange of digital objects.

OAI-ORE is providing specifications for "resource maps," which define aggregations of Web resources. The maps allow Web crawlers to understand what is in and out of aggregations such as scholarly eprints, photo packages in Flickr, blog entries and the like.

Digital repositories, such as those maintained by an academic institution, host ever more complicated aggregations that contain much more than yesterday's static and text-based components. They may be combinations of data, text, images and services. The stated goal of the project is: "Provide an interoperable fabric to allow use and re-use of compound digital objects in a variety of contexts."

"My research group is interested in digital preservation," Nelson said. "Understanding the boundary of an aggregation of Web resources will help us quantitatively evaluate preservation of such things as university classes and blogs."

As an ODU faculty member since 2002, Nelson has won more than $2.5 million in research support from the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Library of Congress and the Mellon Foundation. His project, "self-preserving digital objects," is supported by more than $500,000 from the NSF's Early Career Development program.

This article was posted on: March 4, 2008

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