The Gorge of Eternal Peril

The Gorge of Eternal Peril
It's rare for any speaker to draw a standing ovation from the OSCON audience, but that's what David Rumsey
did last week. And Rumsey isn't one of the heroes of open source
software. He's a philanthropist who collects historical maps, scans
them at high resolution, and publishes them on the Internet as open
content that anyone can access and repurpose. His motive is partly to
connect many people to content that few would be able to view in a

I thought about donating
it to a university, but their libraries focus on preservation, they'd
have put my collection in a vault and there would have been no access.
Along comes the Internet, and I found we could do even more with the
digital content than with the originals. We serve over 7000 visitors a
day. A typical map library will serve 200 visitors a year.

But expanding access, while lovingly preserving the feel
of the artifacts he has collected, is only the tip of the iceberg.
Although you can view these images in the expected ways — zooming in
and out, panning around — Rumsey wants us to do more. He hopes we'll
use the online maps to tell one another stories about history,
geography, culture, and the environment. To that end, he's commissioned
the development of a family of clients. For starters, there's a
browser-based interface that you can use to view, pan, and read about
the maps. Then, using an installable Java client, you can add
annotations to the maps, crosslink points on different maps, and link
from points on maps out to the web. [Jon's Radio]

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