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Announcing The Brown CS Digital Archive

Do you remember when Donald Knuth gave the keynote at our inaugural symposium? Or when the CIT was built? What about when Tom smashed a laptop with a samurai sword or Andy walked into the Sunlab in a Darth Vader costume?

Faster than a rubber chicken flies, our fortieth anniversary has come upon us, and one of the ways we’re celebrating is by taking a major step to preserve the many artifacts (large and small, rigorous and silly) of Brown CS history. Our solution is a grassroots effort powered by homegrown technology: the Brown CS Digital Archive (BCSDA), an extension of the Brown Digital Repository. Put simply, it allows anyone on the planet to submit a piece of Brown CS history for permanent preservation online, accessible to all.

Launched this week, the BCSDA accepts more than a dozen different formats: photographs and other graphic files, audio, video, PDFs, and even code. (We’re guessing that more than a few of you have a favorite software project sitting around on a floppy disk somewhere.) All submissions will go through a virus check and be verified for accuracy, and authors/creators will retain all copyright.

We’ve populated the BCSDA with some initial assets, and we’ll be adding a lot more, but we don’t have a staff historian, so we’re depending on you. We’re looking for items with real historical interest, so please don’t send us your lecture notes, but if you take a look at the archive, you’ll see the wide variety of items that we’re looking for. After verification from an appropriate Brown CS staff or faculty member, your asset will enter the BCSDA and be available in perpetuity to anyone with an Internet connection. (Please be patient if we get a lot of submissions all at once after this article appears.)

As we’ve all seen, digital media can deteriorate much faster than expected, so we hope you’ll share your pieces of history as soon as you can. As participation increases, each new asset will add color and detail to a growing picture of what makes us the community that we are. “One of the things that truly sets Brown CS apart is our people,” says Ugur Çetintemel, Brown CS Professor and Department Chair. “We treasure these artifacts of our history because we understand and we continue the spirit of imagination, teamwork, discovery, and commitment that they embody. This archive helps us remember who we are, and it’s our gift to many future generations of computer scientists.”

Sending us something is an easy process:

  1. Go to cs.brown.edu/archive/submit. You’ll need to be logged in to our site, but if you’ve forgotten your ID or password, we can help.
  2. Write a title and description for your asset and choose the year it dates from.

  3. Choose metadata tags. For example, you might choose 2017, Barbara Meier, Faculty, Undergraduate Students, and Graphics when submitting Toymaker, a recent animated short.

  4. Upload your asset.

For more information, click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communication Outreach Specialist Jesse C. Polhemus.