I attended a very interesting workshop for the ReStore project last week. The project is run by Southampton’s ESRC National Centre for Research Methods and is investigating the use of a repository to host and maintain orphan web resources.
The problem that the project is addressing is that very useful web resources are produced by research projects. However when the project funding stops the maintenance of the resources often stops. This means that the resources start to decay, broken links flourish and the usefulness of the resource deteriorates quickly.
ReStore aims to address this problem by accepting suitable resources after a review process and then hosting and curating the sites with a mixture of automated and manual processes.
The project is funded by ESRC and aims to produce a prototype repository that curates a few web resources that have been produced by other ESRC projects.
The workshop was chiefly concerned with introducing the project and discussing some of the major issues such as technical challenges, IPR and sustainability. The presentations from the day can be downloaded from the project website: http://www.ncrm.ac.uk/restore/slides/. These include some mockups of the proposed system and an overview of the proposed review and curation process.
The project’s work on development of a long-term strategy for ESRC in sustaining on-line resources will be very relevant to JISC.
The technical challenges in hosting a range of resources that may all use different software and hardware are significant and it may be better in the short term to use Amazon Web Services or a similar service to host the sites and avoid a large hardware bill.