Through Democratizing Open Knowledge Project, Harvard will Explore How Libraries Can Use Decentralized Technologies For Cultural Preservation and Self-Governance
Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web (FFDW) is proud to announce an award to the Library Innovation Lab (LIL) at Harvard University to support its Democratizing Open Knowledge program. As a specialized lab within the Harvard Law Library, LIL explores new ways for libraries to share knowledge through technology; the Democratizing Open Knowledge program is focused on enhancing discovery and engagement with open data and exploring new ways to preserve digital information. FFDW’s support will enable the Library to explore how decentralized and open web technologies can help advance discovery and preservation of human knowledge, including using decentralized storage technologies like Filecoin and the Interplanetary File System (IPFS).
LIL was founded to expand the library’s role and impact in the digital world, as technology has transformed the information economy. As a multi-disciplinary team, LIL is looking to address big challenges that have arisen as more information becomes digital, such as equitable access to information and knowledge, the rise in disinformation and establishing trustworthy sources, and long-term preservation of digital information. These priorities align closely with FFDW’s mission to preserve humanity’s most important information.
Through this award from FFDW, the Library Innovation Lab will have the opportunity to explore how the Democratizing Open Knowledge program can benefit from open technologies like the decentralized web. Through this collaboration, some of the present-day challenges that the Lab is planning to explore include:
- Fighting Linkrot — A 2021 study by Harvard Law School and the New York Times, which looked at 2.2 million URLs, found 25% of links in New York Times articles were completely broken and no longer pointing to accurate sources. Decentralized technologies can help ensure that the availability of information is not dependent on any one server or company, ensuring that links to content remain active into the future.
- Exploring Creating Strong Dark Archives — Strong Dark Archives allow for multiple keyholders to store sensitive cultural information. These types of archives can support resilience and long-term preservation of critical information.
- Building an Education Installation — An exhibit in the Library Innovation Lab’s Harvard’s Law School campus to help visitors understand and compare the operation of novel digital preservation tools.
- Protecting Valuable Research Data — Providing access to valuable data sets through open technologies while exploring the use of decentralized storage technologies, like IPFS and Filecoin.
LIL has a strong track record of building sites and tools that make an impact by protecting and increasing access to some of humanity’s most important information. For example, Perma.cc works with over 500 organizations to provide web archiving tools to authors and scholars wanting to save their citations from linkrot. Opencasebook.org, democratizes textbook access by empowering professors to create and remix free digital texts for their classrooms. Additionally, the LIL Caselaw Access Project scanned and made freely available all of US case law — democratizing access while redefining how we can study the law.
This award will help the Lab to pursue new projects that align with the Lab’s and FFDW’s mission and increase access to information through decentralized technologies.
“FFDW is on a mission to preserve humanity’s most important information,” said FFDW President and Chair Marta Belcher. “This collaboration will enable the Library Innovation Lab to explore how decentralized technologies can solve real-world challenges to preserve critical data, and we’re thrilled to support the Library’s Democratizing Open Knowledge program.”
You can learn more about the Library Innovation Lab and its projects here.