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Scholars from around the world converge on UC Berkeley to discuss Web-based research community
10 Jan 2000

By Janet Gilmore, Public Affairs

BERKELEY-- Scholars from around the world are meeting at the University of California, Berkeley, this week to help build a better virtual global research village.

The academics are developing a computer system to allow any user to click onto a Web site, request information on a particular region in the world, and view a map stocked with the latest research about the area's history, myths, human rights record and other characteristics.

The scholars, along with computer professionals, will meet during the joint annual meeting of the UC Berkeley-based Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative and the Taiwan-based Pacific Neighborhood Consortium.

The conference runs from Jan. 12 - Jan. 16 at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business. It ends Jan. 17 at Stanford University.

"Collaborative, Web-based projects of this scope tend to be driven by the concerns of governments, corporations and scientists," said Lewis Lancaster, director of the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative. "This conference is a great opportunity for humanities scholars and computer professionals to talk to each other."

More than 300 scholars from the United States, Asia, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere are involved in the project. They will discuss such issues as the mapping the Salem witch trials; protecting scholars' intellectual property rights; and the role of Internet II in this venture.

Among the universities participating are Princeton University; University of Virginia; Stanford University; Yale University; Taiwan National University; Harvard University; the University of Southern California; University of Sydney; UC San Diego; El Colegio de Mexico; Kyoto University in Japan; University of Michigan; National Chengchi University in Taiwan; University of Texas at Austin; and UCLA.

Other participants include the National Science Foundation; Radio Televisione Italiana; the British Library; the National Library of China; National Palace Museum, Taipei; and Mexico's Telecommunicaciones Y Educacion Interactiva.

Ultimately, the project will allow experts across disciplines to share knowledge and critique each other's work. Lay people also will be able to add their data to the electronic atlas project and perform customized searches of the atlas.

The effort to create this computerized atlas officially began in 1997, and scholars from around the world have regularly met since then.

The conference plenary session, held at the Haas School's main auditorium, Room F-295, will begin at 9 a.m., Friday, Jan. 14, with opening addresses and speeches by scholars and dignitaries. From 11:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., participants will choose among various concurrent presentations on such topics as digital libraries and virtual museums.

Saturday's program will run from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday's sessions will run from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The conference will conclude Monday, Jan. 17, at Stanford University's Bechtel Conference Center. It will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. and feature addresses from Rice Luce, library director for Los Alamos National Laboratory; Michael Keller, Stanford University Librarian; Kevin Starr, California State Librarian; and others.

The Pacific Neighborhood Consortium, comprised of institutions of higher education in the Pacific Rim, is sponsoring this week's conference.

Simon Lin, executive officer of the consortium said, "The PNC has an enduring interest in furthering cooperation and understanding among the higher education institutions all over the world. It is our goal to make the concept of a 'global village' come true through advanced technology."

Last year, the consortium helped UC Berkeley establish a high-speed T3 Internet connection with Academia Sinica, a leading research institution in Taiwan.


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