Legacy of Advanced Infromatization
Legacy of advanced informatization in Ljubljana as a sound basis for the future of digitalization in Slovenia
The Computer History Museum, Ljubljana in co-organization with the Institute of Contemporary History, Ljubljana and Institute Jožef Stefan, Ljubljana is organizing an international expert panel “The Legacy of Advanced Informatization”. The panel will take place on Monday June 13th 2022 from 14:00 – 18:00 and will feature participants from the fields of information technology, digital humanities, law, entrepreneurship and museum science. The one-day event will be held in person at the Computer History Museum in Ljubljana as a closed event for the group of expert panelists and select observers to present their papers and exchange insights. The key takeaways of this expert meeting will be published in an electronic publication.
The goal of the expert panel presentations is to contribute to the understanding of software heritage and continuity challenges as well as help us co-create the guidelines for the preservation of software legacy in Slovenia. In our mapping of the current state of affairs we detected a lack of emphasis on software heritage in key strategic documents of public policies and museum practices in the field of heritage preservation and were faced with the following questions: Which software heritage will we leave for future generations in Slovenia? How to properly preserve software? What are the challenges in the musealization of software? What legal issues can we encounter?, etc.
The event is supported by the City of Ljubljana (Mestna občina Ljubljana) and the French Cultural Institute in Slovenia (Institut français de Slovénie).
Symposium Agenda June 13th 2022:
14:00 – 14:20 Arrival and greetings – Gaja Zornada (Head of Computer History Museum)
14:20 – 14:40 Roberto Di Cosmo, PhD (UNESCO Software Heritage),
Keynote on Software Heritage
14:40 – 15:00 Borut Kumperščak, MSc (Computer History Museum, Interactive Preservation Department),
Bit shovels and similar artifacts
Today’s software is typically a very complex array of code, structure and dependencies, machine code, programming environment, hardware, data input and output sets and backend support system, systems for version tracking, tools for continuous integration and introduction, tools for functional planning and bug tracking, etc. Software development is practically a never ending process . At the same time software represents a dynamic category, encompassing a vast array of engineering practices, collective knowledge management, and as such reflects the economic, legal and social imperatives of the environment in which it was created.
We are going to explore an example of software from the Computer History Museum collection. In this collection item the source code has been preserved but at the moment we do not have an appropriate environment to translate and run it. We will also look at a related situation where the input and output data of a software have been preserved, but the code itself is lost.
15:00 – 15:20 Saša Divjak, Phd (Professor Emeritus Faculty of Computer and Information Science),
Development and obsolescence of programs – the programmer’s challenge and nightmare
The contribution will touch upon the problems programmers and users of computer programs are presented with in the constant onslaught of newer and newer versions of programming languages, software libraries and development tools and platforms. A special problem in itself is the maintenance of software, which is losing support on the hardware and system software levels. The presentation will be spiced up with concrete examples. It will be based on the point of view of a programmer – developer as well as on the needs for ongoing upgrades, learning and teaching of programming languages and software development. It will span from experience with software development in the early 1970ies all the way to the challenges we face in today’s connected world and mobile applications. We will conclude with a speculative thought on the future of programming.
15:20 – 15:40 Silvana Žorž, MA (Digital Humanist),
Are values in software development time-critical or can they be stored?
The ethical quality of technology derives from the more or less explicit norms and values accepted by a social group or culture (Stahl, Timmermans & Mittelstadt, 2016, pp. 55-58). According to Friedman, value refers to what a person or group of people considers important in life. Although research has been conducted in the field of computer ethics for decades, there is no consensus on what the key components of computer ethics are (Stahl et al., 2016).
With the increasing use and deployment of computer technologies and artifacts, the need for an understanding of the ethical aspects of computing is increasing for professional computer scientists and related technical experts. The purpose of this paper is to investigate, using a reverse engineering approach, whether software can be analyzed retrospectively from the point of view of values.
Through interview, literature review, and an analysis of practices for incorporating the concept of values into the software development process, we attempt to answer the question of how difficult it is to identify and “store” values in order to preserve the historical context and norms from which the software in question emerged.
15:40 – 16:00 Primož Jakopin, PhD,
From BESS to EVA, archival challenge
The preservation of past software and its legacy is an acute and very important issue, and the idea by SRM to tackle it also comes at a very opportune time. Several protagonists from the early time, seventies and eighties of the past century, are still with us. The most important aspect is the legacy, the problem solving ideas applied and contained in the programs of the past, the ideas which in many instances keep their relevance for the upcoming work.
After mentioning the first Slovenian software tool in wider use, STRUCTRAN, a FORTRAN preprocessor from 1975, the author outlines the condition of his contributions in software area, mainly for microcomputers, from BESS in 1982/83, over INES till STEVE (late 1980s) and EVA/NEVA in the nineties (EVA is still being updated). The author discusses feasibility of a wikipedia-like solution of how to present the software as an online museum exhibit, where the user interaction would not be limited only to general comments, but the users would also have an opportunity to contribute to the comment side of the particular source code, as well as to its examples of use.
16:20 – 16:40 Andrej Pančur, PhD (Institute of Contemporary History),
Open science and software heritage: An example of research software storage in digital humanities
Open science includes not only open access to scientific papers and research data, but also open access to software resulting from the process of those research endeavors. In the new Horizon Europe EU research and innovation initiative compliance to open science principles is prescribed for scientific publications and research data, while it remains merely a recommendation for software itself. Despite this, the awareness of software preservation significance has been gaining a foothold in the scientific community over the past years. The author will present main initiatives and solutions in this area. Special attention will be given to the problem of storing results of digital humanism projects, where we need to pay holistic attention to digital storage of research results as well as in the context of digital editions also presentations, functionality and program code. This presents a big challenge especially for smaller digital humanism projects with limited financing, which does not allow for long term maintenance of technically demanding digital editions. The author will present certain solutions, developed at the Institute of Contemporary History, in the context of providing research infrastructure for Slovene historiography and research infrastructure for digital humanities.
16:40 – 17:00 Nataša Milić-Frayling, PhD (Founder and CEO, Intact Digital Ltd, Professor Emerita,
University of Nottingham),
Towards sustained use of software for long-term access to digital heritage
Digital media is fundamentally computational. Without software, digitally encoded content cannot be interpreted, presented and experienced. However, the importance of software is often overlooked.
In regulated sectors, digital data must be retained for decades and software must remain functional for reconstruction of past studies and reproducibility of data analyses. This is a challenge due to rapid obsolescence of software. Similarly, authentic presentation of digital art requires special care, combining legacy software and contemporary technologies to enable the intended user experience of artistic works.
We aim for a systematic and principled approach to long-term care of software to ensure that digital content remains accessible for as long as needed. We developed a framework for assessing and mitigating risks associated with legacy software installations and promote development of economically sustainable services to enable digital continuity across public and industry sectors.
17:00 – 17:20 Matija Šuklje (Senior IP Counsel Liferay),
Legal challenges of archiving software
The archiving and public display of software in a museum can prove challenging, especially since copyright law does not cover software well at all, and for museastic purposes even less so. What further complicates the matter is that software is only rarely just code, but includes several other pieces that all may be covered by their own rights and obligations. In this talk we shall point out these challenges and, hopefully, provide some solutions.
17:20 – 17:40 Boštjan Špetič (Computer History Museum, Head of Collections),
Head of Collections at the Computer History Museum will tell a romantic story of a computer forgotten and revived and a program lost and rediscovered. We will see a case study of how broad the challenges of software preservation can be, and how impactful this is when done right.
17:40 – 18:00 Franc J. Zakrajšek (Urban planning institute of the Republic of Slovenia)
A view into the history of digitalization of Urban planning in the city of Ljubljana
The passage from analogue to digital media meant a great leap in technological and managerial advancement for urban planning efforts. The challenges of early informatization work are almost unimaginable today. Despite many hurdles, Slovenia and mostly the city of Ljubljana kept it’s pace with worldwide development. This is a segment of history of managing our living space, cultural heritage and even the penetration of advanced technologies in society, that left a trace we can still see today.
Expert Panelists Biographies
Roberto Di Cosmo
Roberto di Cosmo is a computer scientist and in 2010 he was first director of IRILL, initiative for innovation and research of free and open software (La Recherche et l’Innovation sur le Logiciel Libre). After a decade of teaching at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, he became a tenured professor of computer science at University Paris Diderot in 1999. He is active in research in the field of theoretical computing, especially functional programming, parallel and distributed programs, programming language semantics, system types and linear logic. He now focuses on new scientific problems created by ubiquitous use of free and open source software, which was core to the European research project Mancoosi. He is monitoring the informational technology induced social changes with great interest and is a longtime proponent of free software, and contributed to its establishment with a bestseller The planetary holdup (Le Hold-Up planétaire, 1998). In 2007 he founded a thematic group for free programming at Systematic, which induces the creation of more than 60 open source research and development projects in the last decade. Di Cosmo was an early member of AFUL, the French Linux society. His most known contribution to Linux is the first live distribution of Linux (2000 to 2002), demolinux, which enabled running Linux from a CD-ROM. In 2015 he established and now leads Software Heritage, an initiative for creating a universal archive of all publically accessible source code.
Andrej Pančur is Head of the infrastructure program Research Infrastructure for Slovene historiography, active in the field of digital humanistics and director of Institute of Contemporary History, Ljubljana. He obtained his PhD in 2002 at the History department of the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Arts, with the dissertation Monetary politics in the Habsburg monarchy and Slovene people (1848-1914). He obtained his Masters degree in 1999 at the History department of the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Arts with the topic Economic and social worldviews in the 1880s and 1890s in Slovenia. In 2000 he held a scholarship position at the Institute for European history (Institut für Europäische Geschichte) in Mainz germany. Since 1996 he is employed at the Institute of Contemporary History. Between 2002 and 2015 he was a member of the research program for economic and social history at the institute, and since 2022 a member of the new research program Digital Himanistics: sources, tools, frameworks and methods. He was a member of several research projects, among others he headed the project on Asset and civic-legal status of Jewish Slovenes in the 20th century. Since 2011 he works in Research infrastructure for Slovene historiography, where he is responsible for technological development, research data, digital editions and transfer of digital humanistics techniques and methods in the Slovene research space.
Born June 30, 1949 in Ljubljana, Slovenia in a linguistic family – father Franc was a professor of eastern Slavic languages with publications in the field of grammar and onomastics, mother Gitica has translated more than 50 novels from English, German, French, Russian and Polish. Because his main extracurricular activity was caving he intended to study geology but followed his father’s advice with a degree in mathematics at the University of Ljubljana in 1972. In 1981 he received a master’s degree in information science: Entropy of Names and Family Names in Slovenia at the University of Zagreb, in 1999 a PhD in information theory: Upper Bound of Entropy in Slovenian Literary Texts at the University of Ljubljana. From 1972 to 1984 he constructed a numerical model for approximation and visualization of karst caves. It was used to compute the volume of several caves and collapsed dolinas in Slovenia; the results were reported at the 8th International congress of speleology and 3rd European symposium of stereology. After he failed to continue this research at the Karst Research Institute in Postojna he changed his area of interest to language technology, closer to the parental field of work. His great passion was also computer programming. With the software he developed mostly at home he managed to make a career in computational linguistics, both in research, as head of Corpus Laboratory at the Fran Ramovš Institute of Slovenian Language, since its foundation in 2001 till 2012, and in teaching, at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana (1993-2012) and at the School of humanities in Nova Gorica (2012-2016). Major pieces of software: STAT (statistical package, Control Data Cyber, 1977), IBIS (software package for data of variable length, mainly used for handling secondary library information such as data on books and articles, Digital DEC 10, 1981), INES (text editor with database and graphics, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, 1985, widely used in ex-Yugoslavia), STEVE (16-bit character text editor with database, graphics and DTP, ATARI ST, 1987-1992, distributed in ex-Yugoslavia, Germany, Benelux and Norway, manuals in English, German, Slovenian and Serbian/Croatian), EVA (text editor with database and language technology features, 135.000 lines of code in C, for DOS, 1992 and Windows operating system, 1996-), NEVA (EVA-based search engine for Windows servers, 1999-).
Legal Counsel by education, a hacker at heart, Matija Šuklje feels most at home at the crossing of both those worlds. Since the late 1990s he has dedicated his skills to FOSS (Free & Open Source Software) and collected a vast array of experience in the field both in public, NGO and private sector. He spent years leading the largest global network of legal experts, specialized in open-source topics, where he is still an active member. He currently holds the position of Senior IP Counsel at Liferay.
Borut Kumperščak leads the Computer History Museum’s Interactive Preservation Department. Borut is a creative engineer and entrepreneur in the fields of computer graphics, interactive experiences, VR and XR, health and environmental sensorics as well as machine learning. He is currently working in the Laboratory for data technologies at the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Computer Science, where he is actively contributing to expanding use of Slovene language in digital environments. He is a cofounder and CTO of UNIKI, Ambassador of Software Heritage. He won 1st prize at the 2019 BR4IN.IO Brain-Computer User Interface Designers’ Hackathon within the Popcorn vs. Unicorn project, Trbovlje and a prize for the project Phenakistomixer in the annual Cocktail Robot Awards v15.0 for Cocktail Culture.
Boštjan Špetič is Head of Museum Collections at the Computer History Museum, Software Heritage Ambasador, entrepreneur and startup mentor, currently living in Slovenia, but keeping tight connections with New York, where he lived for most of the past decade. Boštjan Špetič co-founded, built and sold two products within the same startup Zemanta. First was a personal assistant based on semantic web technologies, which was acquired by an independent publishing-technology company Sovrn, the other product was the first programmatic advertising platform (DSP), specialized for native advertising and got acquired by Outbrain. Boštjan currently works in Outbrain’s development group as a product specialist, is a mentor to several entrepreneurs worldwide, and a board member of Rock Content.
Saša Divjak is the author of various program applications, lead and collaborator on a series of international and local projects in the field of computer automatization, robotization and multimedia technologies. He was active on boards of various international and local professional associations. He was head of the Department of electrotechnics at the Institute Jožef Stefan, assistant to CEO of Iskra Delta, Dean of Faculty for computer science and informatics at the University of Ljubljana, and Director of Laboratory for computer graphics and multimedia. He held the lecturer position for subjects Programming 2, System software, Operating systems, Computer graphics.
Silvana Žorž, Master of Digital Humanities (KU Leuven) and Master of Economics (Master in Business and Administration – IBM, University of Ljubljana). In her master’s thesis, she researched the discovery of discriminatory factors in software design, under the mentorship of dr. B. Berendt (KU Leuven, Belgium). Her master’s thesis with cum laude, and dedicated her work to the value system in software design methodology. She has collaborated with many companies (Google, Outfit7 …) in the field of digital marketing, digital product development, market research and consumer habits. She is currently a senior advertiser with the digital agency Red Orbit.
Dr Nataša Milić-Frayling is a Founder and CEO of Intact Digital Ltd, a company that provides a platform and services for hosting legacy software installations to enable long-term readability and use of digital data. Intact Digital works with highly regulated sectors such as Pharma and Life Sciences to support compliance with the data integrity regulations, reconstruction of research studies and reproducibility of data analyses, including machine learning and AI.
Nataša has 25 years of experience in computer science research and innovation, including 17 years at Microsoft Research (MSR). She authored over 100 research publications and has dozens of approved patents to her name. Besides her research, Natasa led MSR Research Partnership Programme, promoting collaboration with innovation partners on strategic challenges, including digital preservation and long term access to digital content (PLANETS and SCAPE EU projects). She is Professor Emerita at the University of Nottingham where she spent 5 years serving as Chair of Data Science, contributing to the University research strategy on Data Science and AI.
Nataša is actively engaged with a broader professional community on critical issues that arise from the prolific use of digital technologies, ranging from professional ethics, privacy and design transparency to digital obsolescence and responsible innovation. She is a member of the Preservation Sub-Committee within the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme and serves as Chair of the Research and Technology Working group for the UNESCO PERSIST project. Nataša is an active member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). She served on the ACM Europe Council and as Chair of the ACM Women Europe Executive Committee.
Franc J. Zakrajšek
Franc J. Zakrajsek is a mathematician, senior researcher, computer programmer, and consultant, working since 1970 developing geographical information systems in urban planning and related areas. His work focuses on innovative approaches, methods, simulation models, and introducing artificial intelligence in e-planning. He acted as a member of the Member state’s expert group on digitization and digital preservation established by the European Commission until 2015. He is one of the founders of the Register of Cultural Heritage in Slovenia. He participated in several EU projects introducing geospatial information and 3D modeling in the cultural heritage field, museums, libraries, and archives as a part of the Europeana-European digital library and developed Europe-wide eCultureMap. He also led numerous local and national projects and was appointed as a lecturer by UNDP, UN-HABITAT, and TAIEX. He was a consultant for InterAmerican Development Bank and issued more than 500 articles and publications.