The next major release of the EaaSI platform is out!!! EaaSI “v2020.03” (forgive us the delay, but we’re sure everyone understands) incorporates PortalMedia’s beautiful new UI design on top of the nodes’ familiar Emulation-as-a-Service functionality, and went out to the Network in late May. We are so thrilled to finally give a wider audience to our developers’ hard work, and hear everyone’s feedback and comments in the coming months. The EaaSI community’s thoughts will feed immediately into ongoing dev work to prototype access modules and implement our detailed metadata model for description of software and computing environments.
Contributions from the team to Wikidata and the EaaSI Network’s legacy software collection also continue to grow. And our EaaSI PI Euan Cochrane has also been in constant communication with the Mellon and Sloan Foundations to line up the goals and outcomes for the next two years of EaaSI “Phase Two”. We’re grateful for the positive feedback on the team’s work thus far and are glad to continue working together!
And finally, a big “welcome back” to our Program Manager, Seth Anderson, after six weeks of paternity leave! We’re delighted to see you (and Arthur) in our Zoom calls.
Stanford Virtual Symposium
On May 11, Stanford held a virtual event titled “Software Preservation and Emulation at Stanford”, an online equivalent to the in-person symposium thay had initially planned for late March. In a well-attended discussion with over 30 members of the Stanford library and digital preservation community, we gave updates on the current status of the EaaSI project and heard from several brave testers from Stanford’s emulation working group who have been exploring how our platform can address important use cases and records at the university.
The results were thrilling and thought-provoking! Ron Nakao and Kris Kasianovitz showed how emulation can resurrect IMF databases from the ‘90s and early 2000s, critical for both context and reproducibility of legacy data sets. Jasmine Mulliken from Stanford University Press and Ilya Kreymer compared the recreation of a complex web publication across several virtualization, emulation, and web crawling tools, demonstrating where EaaSI might still improve and integrate with web archiving workflows. And Bob Stein, co-founder of the Voyager Company, woke everyone up from their morning coffee with the raucous opening notes to The Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night…on interactive CD-ROM!
In particular, Bob’s presentation reminded me that software preservation is active. We in SPN and EaaSI are not seeking to “preserve” legacy software and software-dependent material by placing it on a shelf or freezing it in a bunker – but to re-animate and discover them anew, to make legacy systems as alive and interactive as the day they were released. Voyager’s multimedia presentation of A Hard Day’s Night had full-text search and discovery features that modern streaming platforms would still envy. Contemporary scholars and artists could have a field day creating new studies and artifacts and publications with the tools that IMF or Voyager or Stanford University Press gave them decades ago.
Here’s to all those pursuing software preservation and emulation to put those tools back in our cultural toolbox!