I want to let you know that I’m planning to retire from the University of California on July 1, 2022, with my last working day sometime in late April. This seemed like the right moment since CDL was significantly reducing the time I would be able to spend on the ARK Alliance. In the next few years I plan to maintain or increase my involvement in the ARK Alliance to ensure its rapid transition to community-based ownership, and to continue working on projects that contribute to open networked information.
I was very fortunate to start working at the UC Berkeley computer center when academic computing and university libraries were technically far ahead of industry in operating systems and networking. A decade before the web existed, staff at CDL’s predecessor (DLA) wrote 150,000 lines of assembler code to make Melvyl available to the public anytime, anywhere via Telnet, since IBM had no Internet support. While the World Wide Web was tackling Internet browsing, libraries had taken on the much harder problem of Internet searching. This inspired me to adopt their new Z39.50 search protocol when I created Berkeley’s first campus information system (“Infocal”) just as the web was emerging (it similarly inspired Brewster Kahle when he created WAIS).
I’d been happy at Berkeley to write code that is now running on everyone’s Mac computers, 10 years before the term “open source software” was coined, but libraries’ cutting edge energy and open information mission got me to join the UCSF Library and Center for Knowledge Management, and later to join CDL. OCLC had recently pioneered persistent URLs (purl.org) and the then new concept of Internet “metadata” (Dublin Core). I am extremely grateful to the University for the extraordinary freedom of action that I was trusted with. That trust helped lay the foundations of CDL’s preservation program and its move into research data curation. It led me to create the widely adopted ARK and BagIt standards, to publish the first version of the principal web archiving standard (WARC), to publish the requirementsthat “unstuck” consensus on the URL standard, to create Noid, N2T, and its compact identifier support, to establish EZID and Yamz, to initiate CDL’s entry into two international MOU’s (with BnF and Identifiers.org), and to write microservice specifications (Pairtree, REDD, etc.) used now by OCFL and HathiTrust. It even resulted in CDL receiving its first visit from a UC president (in April 2010, after I invited him during one of his “Bagels with Mark” sessions) and my giving a 45-minute keynote (English translation) at the 2018 ARK Summit in Paris on the history of open information access tools and persistent identifiers on the Internet. (General context in bio.) I’m thrilled with the accelerating ARK adoption worldwide (8.2B ARKs, 26M in EZID) and excited to focus more on ARKs in the future.
Of course none of this would have been possible without the collaboration and support of my wonderful CDL colleagues and friends, too numerous to name. I will miss you (I already do with this pandemic!) and will cherish many good memories. I’m confident that you and CDL will carry on the proud library tradition of openness, innovation, and public service for years to come. You should always be able to contact me at jakkbl via gmail.