Kim H. Veltman

A Grid for Culture

TERENA Networking Conference 2003 and CARNet Users Conference 2003, User Opportunities/ Network Challenges, 19 May 2003, Zagreb: TERENA, 2003 (in press). Cf.

1. Introduction
2. Changing Needs
3. Conservation and Restoration
4. Reconstruction
5. Contextualisation of Themes
6. Contextualisation of Space and Time
7. National, Regional and Local
8. Alternative Interpretations and World Views
9. Creativity
10. Individuals and Particulars
11. Conclusions

1. Introduction

A series of technological developments are transforming new media and the Internet. Telecommunications, Broadcast and Internet, are predicted to converge into a single network within the next decade. Developments in miniaturization in the direction of nanotechnology mean that electronic devices, which once consumed much space will “disappear” from sight and become part of ambient intelligence. As a result walls, windows and other surfaces can function as computer screens and interaction devices. A report from the BBC News (12 January 2000) indicated that: “1 gramme of dried DNA can hold as much information as 1 trillion CDs.” Once this becomes a reality then we can almost literally have the whole world in our hands as far as replicas of culture go. Even if this long-term future vision holds a promise that we can carry all the knowledge we need with us, the need to share via networks and to update that knowledge and information is destined to become of central importance in the next decades.

We are told that the Internet is growing at a rate of 7 million pages per day, that the surface web is 2.1 billion pages and that the deep web, including pages generated on demand, “on the fly,” amounts to 550 billion pages. The number of users has risen from 5 million in 1995, to 200 million in 2000, 650 million in April 2003 and is predicted to reach 940 million in 2004. The press may continue to speak of a dot.bust since 2000. The reality is that the first four years of the millennium are bringing seven times as many users as the first hundred years of the telephone.

Parallel with this there has been a dramatic increase in collaborative technologies. For instance, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project makes use of volunteers’ computers while their screen savers are on: i.e. using their idle capacity. From 30 July 2000 to 30 April 2003 volunteers increased from 2,192,077 to 4,454, 985. Their combined capacity grew from 11.17 to 32.60 trillion instructions (or teraflops) per second.6 In layman’s terms, SETI’s volunteers now have 50% of the combined computational power of all the 500 top computers in the world in 2000.

In 1995, the Internet was 98% English. In the past year, English has fallen from 40 to 35.2%. Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian now account for 29.1% and it is predicted that by 2007 Chinese will be the number one language of the Internet. The major European languages (Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch) now account for 26.6 % of an Internet where over 70 of the world’s 6,500 languages are represented.

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