Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 

International recognition for Waikato Professor


International recognition for Waikato Professor

Computer Science Professor Ian Witten has been honoured with a prestigious international award for the humanitarian work of his University of Waikato research group, the New Zealand Digital Library project, on the Greenstone Software.

Professor Witten will be the seventh recipient of the biennial Namur award ( http://www.info.fundp.ac.be/~jbl/IFIP/award.html), which recognises recipients for raising awareness internationally of the social implications of information and communication technologies.

Presented by the International Federation of Information Processing, an organisation devoted to the relationship between Computers and Society, the purpose of the Namur award is to draw attention to the need for a holistic approach in the use of information technology in which the social implications have been taken into account.

Nominations for the 2004 award were made earlier this year and Professor Witten has been announced as the recipient now, to allow for travel to the award ceremony in Belgium during January 2004.

Professor Witten was nominated for his work with the New Zealand Digital Library (NZDL) project, a research group within the University of Waikato Computer Science Department. One focus of the group is developing the Greenstone Software, which is being used to deliver humanitarian and related information in developing countries (http://www.greenstone.org/english/home.html).

“Greenstone allows user-friendly computer-based libraries to be compiled according to the needs of a wide range of groups and organisations,” says Professor Witten.

“Part of our work involves liaising with UNESCO and Belgium-based nongovernmental organisation, Human Info. to publish humanitarian information on CD and distribute it widely in developing countries.”

Greenstone is particularly valuable in developing countries, which typically lack information resources and have slow and unstable communication networks, making accessing information difficult. CD-Rom based virtual libraries can free organisations and agencies from reliance on those networks.

In the rural village of Kakunyu, Uganda, the nearest source of books, periodicals and newspapers was in a town 20 km away, a long journey over rough roads. Most people were unable to access important resources and information needed to have a major development impact on the community.

The Kataayi Multipurpose Cooperative, a grass-roots organisation within the village, set up an information and communication centre in the hopes of supplying resources on topics like fair-trade marketing, agriculture, environmental conservation and social justice.

“The Kataayi Cooperative heard about the Humanity Development Library, a CDRom compiled using Greenstone software, and approached Human Info. for a copy to use in the Kakunyu information and communication centre,” said Professor Witten.

“Kakunyu villagers now have access to a collection of 1,200 books and periodicals on topics produced by UN agencies and other international organisations, increasing their information resources immeasurably.”

In print, the books available on the Humanity Development Library CD-Rom would weigh 340kg, cost $20,000 and occupy a small library book stack. The Greenstone software has allowed this wealth of information to become available to people throughout the developing world at a miniscule fraction of the cost of paper books.

Disaster relief agencies can also use the Greenstone software to pull together libraries of material from international sources, store them on CD, and access them even when Internet lines are down or jammed in the aftermath of a disaster. Professor Witten says that to overcome language barriers interfaces to Greenstone have been established in almost two-dozen of the world’s languages, such as Maori, Arabic and Hebrew.

“As well as Uganda and other developing countries, the Waikato software is in regular use in the US, Israel, South Africa and Russia, to name a few, and has established New Zealand as a leading provider of digital library software.”

Currently visiting Canada on a research trip, Professor Witten will travel to Belguim for the Namur award ceremony in January 2004. As part of his acceptance of the award he will present a lecture on the work of the Waikato research group before being presented with a commemorative plate and certificate.

Established in 1989, the Namur award has most recently been granted to such leaders in their field as Dr. Deborah Hurley, Director of the Harvard Information Infrastructure Project (http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/ii), Harvard University, USA (2002 Namur Award) and Professor Simon Rogerson of the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility, De Montfort University, in the U.K. (2000 Namur Award).

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Reuben Moss' Property is Theft! & Kaitani at The Physics Room

Property is Theft! continues Moss’ interest in the contemporary urban environment as a space controlled by pulsing and unequal flows of capital and labour. Kaitani features work by the University of Canterbury Fijian Students Association and Kulimoe’anga Stone Maka. More>>


Handcrafted Form: Rare Treasures From Japan

This unique exhibition at Expressions Whirinaki represents 90 everyday objects made by contemporary Japanese artisans who employ various traditional craft techniques made in regional workshops. The works used in daily life are crafted from raw materials with techniques appropriate to bringing out the best of its medium, balancing ease of use with aesthetic appeal. More>>

Howard Davis Article: A Musical Axis - Brahms, Wagner, Sibelius

Brahms' warm and exquisitely subtle Symphony No. 3 in F major, Wagner's irrepressibly sentimental symphonic poem Siegfried Idyll, and Sibelius' chilling and immensely challenging Violin Concerto in D minor exemplify distinct stages of development in a tangled and convoluted series of skirmishes that came to define subsequent disputes about the nature of post-Romantic orchestral writing well into the following century. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: A Pale Ghost Writer

Reviewed by Ruth Brassington, Richard Flanagan's new novel is about a novelist hastily ghost-writing the biography of a crook about to go to trial. The reader is kept on a cliff-edge, as the narrator tries to get blood out of his stone man. More>>

New Zealand Wars Commemoration: Witi Ihimaera's Sleeps Standing Moetū

The second of several articles to mark Rā Maumahara, remembering the New Zealand Land Wars. The first was a Q&A with Vincent O’Malley, author of The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800–2000. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • CULTURE
  • HEALTH
  • EDUCATION
 
 
  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland