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Fedora Commons awarded $4.9M grant to develop open-source software for building collaborative information communities

Courtesy of Ross Powell and Reed Scherer, Northern Illinois Univ., data recovery from the ROV
August 10, 2007

Fedora Commons today announced the award of a four year, $4.9M grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to develop the organizational and technical frameworks necessary to effect revolutionary change in how scientists, scholars, museums, libraries, and educators collaborate to produce, share, and preserve their digital intellectual creations.  Fedora Commons is a new non-profit organization that will continue the mission of the Fedora Project, the successful open-source software collaboration between Cornell University and the University of Virginia.   The Fedora Project evolved from the Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture (Fedora) developed by researchers at Cornell Computing and Information Science. 

With this funding, Fedora Commons will foster an open community to support the development and deployment of open source software, which facilitates open collaboration and open access to scholarly, scientific, cultural, and educational materials in digital form.  The software platform developed by Fedora Commons with Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation funding will support a networked model of intellectual activity, whereby scientists, scholars, teachers, and students will use the Internet to collaboratively create new ideas, and build on, annotate, and refine the ideas of their colleagues worldwide.  With its roots in the Fedora open-source repository system, developed since 2001 with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the new software will continue to focus on the integrity and longevity of the intellectual products that underlie this new form of knowledge work.  The result will be an open source software platform that both enables collaborative models of information creation and sharing, and provides sustainable repositories to secure the digital materials that constitute our intellectual, scientific, and cultural history.

Recognizing the importance of multiple participants in the development of new technologies to support this vision, the Moore Foundation funding will also support the growth and diversification of the Fedora Community, a global set of partners who will cooperate in software development, application deployment, and community outreach for Fedora Commons.  This network of partners will be instrumental for making Fedora Commons a self-sustainable non-profit organization that will support and incubate open-source software projects that focus on new mechanisms for information formation, access, collaboration, and preservation.

According to Sandy Payette, Executive Director of Fedora Commons, “the new Fedora Commons can foster technologies and partnerships that make it possible for academic and scientific communities to publish, share, and archive the results of their own work in a free, open fashion, and make it possible to analyze and use content in novel ways.”

“Establishing a sustainable open-source software system that provides the basic infrastructure for on-line communities of scholars will have enduring impact.  The unanticipated cross-disciplinary uses of this open platform are the hallmark of this revolutionary infrastructure,” said Jim Omura, technology strategist with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Payette also noted, “The open-source software that is developed and distributed by Fedora Commons can impact the entire lifecycle of what is often referred to as “e-Research” and “e-Science,” including storage of experimental data, analysis of experimental results, peer review, publication of findings, and the reuse of published material for the next generation of scholarly works.  We will also continue our work with libraries and museums to facilitate the sharing of digitized collections, making previously locked away material available to wide audiences.  Also, building on our attention to digital preservation in the Fedora open-source repository system, Fedora Commons will continue to stress the importance of the sustainability of digital information in applications of our work.”

About Fedora Commons

Fedora Commons is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide sustainable open-source technologies to help individuals and organizations create, manage, publish, share, and preserve digital content upon which we form our intellectual, scientific, and cultural heritage.  Since 2001, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Cornell University and the University of Virginia have collaborated on the Fedora Project which has developed, distributed, and supported innovative open-source repository software that combines content management, web services, and semantic technologies.  The Fedora software has been adopted worldwide to support an array of applications including open-access publishing, scholarly communication, digital libraries, e-science, archives, and education.

Fedora Commons will initially be located in the Information Science Building at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.  The Executive Director of Fedora Commons is Sandy Payette, who co-invented the Fedora architecture and led the Cornell arm of the open-source Fedora Project.  The Board of Directors of Fedora Commons provides leadership from multiple communities, including open-access publishing, digital libraries, sciences, and humanities.  For more information, visit http://www.fedora-commons.org.

About the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, established in 2000, seeks to advance environmental conservation and cutting-edge scientific research around the world and improve the quality of life in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The Foundation’s Science Program seeks to make a significant impact on the development of provocative, transformative scientific research, and increase knowledge in emerging fields. For more information, visit http://www.moore.org.