The Documentalist

GLIFOS-Media: Rich Media Archiving

Posted in Archiving Solutions, Reviews, technology by Sarah on November 19, 2009

Rich-media preservation

As posted on November 4, 2009, The University of Texas Libraries Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) has been working with the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Rwanda on a pilot digital archiving program that takes advantage of a rich media platform called GLIFOS media.  GLIFOS provides a social media tool kit that was originally created to meet the needs of a distance learning program at the Universidad de Francisco Marroqín in Guatemala, but it  proves to also be promising as a tool for human rights archiving (see the article “Non-custodial archiving: U Texas and Kigali Memorial Center” at WITNESS Media Archive).  As a rich-media wiki,  GLIFOS is designed to integrate digital video, audio, text, and image documents through a process that “automates the production, cataloguing, digital preservation, access, and delivery of rich-media over diverse data transport platforms and presentation devices.”    GLIFOS media accomplishes this by presenting related documents–for example, video of a lecture, a transcript of the same, and associated PowerPoint slides–in a synchronized fashion such that when a user highlights a particular segment of a transcript, for example,  the program locates and plays the corresponding segment of the video and also locates the related Power Point slide. This ability to seamlessly synchronize and present related digital media translates well to the human rights context by allowing for the cataloging and integration of video material, documents containing testimonies, photographs, and transcripts.  Materials that all relate to a single event can be pulled together and presented in a holistic fashion, which is useful for activism and scholarship.

GML: The Key to Preservation

In order to support the presentation of this integrated information for users, GLIFOS needed to ensure that materials can be read and accessed across existing digital presentation platforms (e.g., web browsers, DVDs, CD) and readers (e.g., PCs or PDAs), as well as on platforms yet-to-be-created (see “XML Saves the Day,” an article written by the developers in 2005 for more detail).  This was accomplished by indexing and annotating all digital documents stored in the GLIFOS repository  with an XML-based language called the “GLIFOS Markup Language,” or GML.  The claim is that “GML is technology, platform, and format independent” (Ibid), thus allowing for preservation of established relationships between materials.  Basically, the GML language allows users of GLIFOS to create a metafile that determines the relationships between related multi-media records held in a repository in such a way that the relationships between files are maintained across a variety of media reading platforms.  This is possible because GML is a significantly stripped-down  markup language that requires little or no translation from one reader to the next, thus content is preserved as technology changes and evolves.

GLIFOS and Human Rights Documentation

Given that GLIFOS is designed to catalog, index, and synchronize a wide variety of digital media types, it proves to be a promising tool for aiding in digital archiving. The GLIFOS GML protocol allows the program to access and present cataloged materials through the meta-relationships it establishes for records; and because GML is a streamlined markup language that allows multiple platforms to present and read digital documents, these relationships have been successfully  maintained when migrated to entirely new data reading and presentation platforms.  As long as the repository of documents that GLIFOS accesses remains intact, both in terms of the materials stored there and their associated metadata, and as long as new media platforms continue to read older video and image media files, use of the GLIFOS Markup Language aids in preservation by providing a means of cataloging and indexing documents using GML, as well as preserving the synchronized links and interactions that GLIFOS establishes between related documents over time.

[1] See



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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by T-Kay Sangwand, T-Kay Sangwand. T-Kay Sangwand said: Read @CRLHumaRights blog on #glifos + how to provide access to #humanrights documentation #archives #libraries #software […]

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