THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ARCHIVE - June 3, 2016, promotional video.
A multidisciplinary team of researchers has assembled the world’s largest database of declassified documents together with cutting-edge data visualization and exploration tools. The Columbia Libraries is creating a coalition to support and steward this project, and launch it as a public resource in 2016 for 50th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act. It is designed for the age of “big data,” to scale with the growth and diversification of digital content.
The Freedom of Information Archive started by aggregating collections that are now scattered in multiple online repositories and only accessible through stand-alone search engines. Assembling them in a single database gives users the ability to measure the most important persons, places, the topics, and use document counts to chart the rise and fall of historical activity. While examining a document, the user is automatically presented with similar texts based on selected criteria, whether simultaneity, semantic features, or social networks. They can create accounts to tag, annotate, and save their documents, either individually or as part of collaborative research teams. And there will be direct access to the data through an Application Programming Interface (API). This is essential for new research now becoming standard in multiple disciplines.
None of these features -- cutting-edge analytical and visualization tools, a collaborative research and teaching platform, and direct access to data -- are currently being offered by commercial vendors. The Freedom of Information Archive is thus a web 2.0 approach to archiving: It leverages government investment in declassifying documents and putting them online, and channels the energy of everyone who cares about transparency. It will thus scale not only in the number of documents, but in the number of potential applications, as government document collections become a field of research not only for social scientists, legal scholars, and policy analysts, but also for computer scientists, statisticians, and application developers.
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Produced by Intelligent Television, Inc. 2016.