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  • BTP Technical Approach - Phase One

This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.

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The following text and diagram are excerpted from the Project Bamboo Technology Proposal to the Mellon Foundation, July 2010.


Technical Approach

In this section we provide additional technical detail about the four areas of work Bamboo will carry out in phase 1: Work Spaces, design of the Corpora Space applications, scholarly web services on a Bamboo services platform, and collections interoperability. We begin first by situating Bamboo’s work in the context of a larger ecosystem of technology in the humanities and in higher education. This will help to explain why these areas of work are significant and how they are related to one another.

Technology Ecosystem and Strategy

Project Bamboo will develop technology as part of a much larger ecosystem of existing and emerging digital tools, content sources, methods, and algorithms in the humanities and higher education as a whole. We aim for Project Bamboo to make its own distinctive contributions to the health of this ecosystem, by interconnecting tools and content sources, opening up scholarly methods and algorithms that are locked away in specific applications, and fostering far greater re-use and efficiency across institutions in the development and operation of scholarly applications.

To make these contributions, we will be working within several key areas at the same time. Work Spaces will provide virtual work environments suitable for large numbers of scholars, and we will build these by leveraging substantial existing technologies. The Bamboo Services Platform will create a foundation that many technologists and scholars can leverage as they use its scholarly and other web services in creating new applications. By working on collections interoperability, we will be reaching out to the digital library community to help scholars work smoothly and productively across many distributed collections that currently do not “play together” well. In the Corpora Space design process, we will draw upon the expertise of a broad community of technologists and scholars to determine how best to leverage our accomplishments going forward and build upon Work Spaces, the services platform, and our interoperability contributions to create sophisticated applications of high value. In each of our areas of work, we will borrow from and re-use as much existing technology as we can, and we will foster further integration and interoperation throughout the technology ecosystem.

The simplified ecosystem diagram below shows three major areas of technology that Bamboo will build, adapt, or interoperate with.

* Corpora Space applications could be built in each of the asterisked areas

In this diagram, humanities scholars are at the top because it is their work that the technology infrastructure is intended to support. They access tools through the application user interface layer, represented in blue. These interfaces are supported by various underlying technologies that carry out workflow, store data, and interoperate with other applications and content sources. Please note that in this simplified representation some applications access services from the Bamboo Platform but are principally supported by, and part of, a separate technology stack (the two outside columns), while other possible applications are directly supported by the Bamboo Services Platform (the middle column).

The column labeled “*Other Humanities Applications”* represents existing and future tools, content sources, or platforms that can function better by making use of scholarly services deployed on the Bamboo Services Platform.  These technologies exist independently of Bamboo, implemented atop technologies chosen by their creators.  But Bamboo makes it simple for these applications to interoperate with Bamboo services: they need only provide interfaces for the web services exposed by Bamboo.  By piggy-backing on Bamboo services in this way, the developers of these applications can focus their energies on creating new tools and services to support particular areas of scholarship.

The column labeled “*Shared Bamboo Infrastructure and Scholarly Applications”* shows the Bamboo services platform along with the Bamboo services and applications that are built on it: scholarly services and applications, along with services that enhance interoperability among different collections.  In phase 1, Bamboo will develop the services platform, selected scholarly services, and collections-interoperability services (that is, we will build up to the blue user application layer in phase 1).  Although phase 1 would not see the development of major new scholarly applications directly supported by the Bamboo platform, it is vital to the entire project that the infrastructure for applications be put into place early.  That way, both Bamboo partners and other technology developers will be able to develop applications with more efficiency, drawing upon the essential scholarly, interoperability, core, and utility services hosted at lower layers of the service-platform architecture.  (More information is provided in sections 5.5 and 5.7 below.)

The third column represents the Bamboo Work Spaces*,* which are the environments in which scholars will be able to collect, annotate, and share content.  We will build the Bamboo Work Spaces by using existing technology, including open-source Enterprise Content Management (ECM) technologies (e.g., Alfresco) and virtual research environments (e.g., HUBzero).

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