Offline Thl

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THL Offline

THL has been designed as an online digital library that requires a fast, reliable Internet connection for end uses, and increasingly even for contributors. One of the great advantages of this is that the library itself provides the technologies and applications, as well as large amounts of storage. Thus the user simply requires a simple computer, browser, and internet connection to access complex and rich repositories of data.

However, the digital divide means that many individuals and communities who are off the grid of Internet access are thus prevented from using, and contributing to, THL. Given THL's social agenda of empowering and benefiting local communities across the Tibet and Himalayas, this constitutes a major concern. In terms of end delivery, we are working on migration strategies for how specific THL resources can be rendered from the digital library into formats that are viable for use as of today in rural Tibetan and Himalayan villages (see Mobile Digital Libraries). For example, how can one create a subtitled video that can be played on a local VCD or DVD player? How can the translation tool be run on a single offline computer? How can a video iPod or other portal digital video player be used to deliver hundreds of rich images and audio-video materials into a classroom? In this way, rural communities can take advantage of these resources with their available technical infrastructure.

In terms of the mechanisms for contributing to THL, this is rather more complex. Initially, THL editing and contribution processes were purely offline. This quickly became a major challenge. With contributors located all around the world, and a single process often involving multiple people working on different phases, offline technologies quickly generate a bewildering chaos of version conflicts (people have the same data in different versions), large amounts of data lost because it was in private hands without backing up, large amounts of staff time required for refining contributions so they are in proper form for the digital library, and other such problems. Thus from THL's founding 2000, we have aimed at producing online interfaces for contributing, editing, and refining data. Such interfaces prevent version conflict, ensure data is properly backed up, and help enable non-technical contributors to put their data into formats that can be easily published without being delayed through the necessity of extensive staff intervention. However, there is one drawback, namely that it disenfranchises people from the communities in Tibet and the Himalayas who may not have easy access to the Internet. Thus, we are trying to produce - though this is admittedly a long term project - a system that offers offline mechanisms for contributions that can then be migrated into the online repositories. In this sense, the whole of THL's Toolbox supports this effort with its survey of tools and guidelines supporting contributors without great technical background support. For a summary, see Contributing to THL Offline.

Ideally, we would offer offline versions of our Web applications including downloads of the data, so that users could install them on their personal computers for rapid speed as well as portability whether or not they have an Internet connection (see THL Fully Offline). This applies equally to end users, as well as contributors to THL doing editorial work. However, this requires extensive effort and funding, and is not currently being planned. We are keeping an eye on technical developments in the hope that this might be possible in future years. At the present, the focus remains on consolidating THL's online applications and data.

It is possible to run select portions of THL on a local computer, even a laptop, if you have a bit of technical expertise (see Running THL From Your Local Server). A much easier solution to showing the full range of THL is to simply cache Web pages, or take screen snapshots and make a powerpoint presentation (see Running THL from Cached Web Pages or Powerpoint).

For more detail:

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