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Listen to the Silence conference, 2013

The University Archives is pleased to showcase the results of ongoing efforts to collect and make available online born-digital materials from Stanford student organizations. The first such collection to be made available via the Stanford Digital Repository is records of the annual "Listen to the Silence" conference organized by the Asian American Students' Association (AASA).<--break->

Edward A. Feigenbaum, circa 1970s

With the University Archives making more and more collections available online, I'd like to take the opportunity to highlight some of the novel ways in which these materials are being used by researchers. What follows is a recent report from Ed Feigenbaum, Kumagai Professor of Computer Science Emeritus, about how his papers in particular are yielding interesting connections: 

The Undergraduate Theses collections for Physics and Engineering Physics are now open for deposit. This year’s crop of top undergraduates in the Department of Physics and in the Engineering Physics program have the distinction of being the first undergrads to deposit their theses in the SDR. These two are the first of several honors theses collections opening this quarter. (The School of Education is assembling their collection together now, and two other departments may follow suit.)

Librarian Stella Ota manages the collections, working with faculty, staff, and the selected students to use the Self Deposit application. She has been collecting digital honors theses offline since 2010. When the ETD system launched in fall 2009, Stella had a vision for using a similar process to collect the Physics undergraduate theses for access and preservation in the SDR. Yet without a deposit interface, it proved to be challenging to track down each student, to have them sign a hard-copy deposit agreement, to collect the PDF files by thumbdrive or email, and to create the metadata. The Self Deposit workflow promises to make the whole process of collecting and archiving these works more systematic, more secure, and more efficient.

Since the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation system launched in November 2009, Stanford's PhD and Engineering graduate students have had the option to submit their culminating works either online or on paper. For many students, the choice is easy to make: electronic submission is convenient, quick, and costs nothing whereas the traditional option requires producing multiple printed copies of the thesis and paying an accompanying fee (starting at $126).

The Big Idea Festival was a big deal to the students enrolled in "Computers and Interfaces: Psychological and Societal Perspectives", an undergraduate course (Communications 169) taught by Cliff Nass in Winter 2013. The event, which took place at Stanford on March 11, was a showcase of projects produced by teams of students with the assignment to imagine and design innovative interactions between automobiles and the people who drive them.

There is the Intuition rental car, a semi-autonomous vehicle marketed to vacationers, and there is the car that never forgets. With Xpress, you can more easily share your emotions with drivers around you and rate better with insurance companies for the number of “thumbs-up” messages you receive from fellow drivers. Looking for a personalized driving experience? Try FollowMe: “Sync your phone with any new car and automatically have all of your personal preferences (ranging from auto-tinted to glass settings to your favorite radio stations) follow you!”

Clearly this is new and fertile ground for the automotive and technology industries, and you can better believe carmakers in attendance at the Festival were interested in the fresh ideas coming from the minds of today’s Stanford students. Wired magazine was there to report on it.

The Big Idea Festival is also the newest collection in the Stanford Digital Repository. Professor Nass gathered the students’ final project files and provided them, along with the event program containing some basic descriptive metadata, to SUL as a real use case for a pilot with the new SDR Self-Deposit application. A small team of DLSSers threw a “deposit party” with Regina Roberts, subject specialist for Communications, where we shared some lunch while uploading the narratives and storyboards as submitted by the students. It was a fun and quick way to get the collection’s 75 items into the repository. As a bonus, now more SUL staff have some hands-on experience with the SDR Self-Deposit software.

We will see more collections of student works coming to the SDR. This spring, students enrolled in ME310 will deposit their team projects directly in the SDR for long-term preservation and access, adding to the existing collection of digitized reports like this one in the ME310 archival collection.

The four fundamental phase transitions for compressed sensing with Gaussian matrices

When thinking about how researchers at Stanford might want to use the Stanford Digital Repository to support their work, probably the first scenario we envisioned was for publication support. And apparently we weren't the only ones.

Even before we started advertising the availability of the SDR for research data, Hatef Monajemi, a graduate student in the statistics department, came to us with just the problem we had envisioned.

Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford

"As Dr. Srinivas watched the charred fragments of his lifetime's work crumble in a fireman's hands and fall to the ground, the scholar wept."

Forty-three years later, the details of the story may be different, but a similar fate could be awaiting any researcher who lacks good data management practices. 

It was shortly after 5 am on April 24,1970, and the offices of Dr. Srinivas and nine other scholars at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford had just been firebombed. 

Image of the earth from space

An.thro.po.cene: /ˈanTHrəpəˌsēn/ noun  The current geologic age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment. -- Oxford Dictionaries

Great things are going on at the Stanford Digital Repository (SDR), and when great things are going on, word is sure to get around. Earth Sciences PhD student Mike Osborne is the creator and co-producer of Stanford's "Generation Anthropocene" podcast. Mike learned about the SDR's digital preservation services from our colleagues over at HighWire Press and is now working with us to preserve audio and transcripts of the more than 50 "Generation Anthropocene" episodes that have been produced thus far.

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