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One of the most remarkable men i have ever interviewed is Dr. Simon Lin of Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan. This man typifies the open and collaborative culture nourished by the internet. Despite the fact that he is a nuclear physicist and computational scientist - his mind set is quite compatible with Doc Searls and JP Rangaswami.

He is one of the primary organizers of the Large Hadron Collider Global Computing Grid. Aside from his work in open source science grids and the LHC grid he played a very important role in the establishment of Taiwan’s National Digital Archives Program.

This is the only program on the globe (or was a year ago) that seeks to digitize almost every field of knowledge. A magnificent investment in the preservation of Chinese culture.

Take a look at the National Palace Museum. And at an exhibition.

Here is the conclusion ofthe interview published in the March 2006 COOK Report:

COOK Report: Can you please explain how your digital archives came to combine all the disciplines? No one else is doing that.

Lin: Exactly. Libraries think only of digitising their holdings. Museums think only of digital museums. I began by thinking that if you digitise everything, given the convergence of media, you can apply the same set of tools across disciplines. We cover from A to Z (anthropology to zoology).

COOK Report: So to digitize one area, you have to develop a set of tools, common formats, and a common metadata system. With this infrastructural framework developed for libraries or museums, it is a much more cost-effective approach to apply the system – developed, built and paid for in one discipline – across all disciplines, rather than developing a vertical silo framework for each discipline, and risk running into incompatible formats for other disciplines. You are creating inter-operable digital archiving standards, in other words. Is this your thinking?

Lin: Yes. I think that my strategy was correct. Each person’s technology silo tends to be his fiefdom. But meanwhile there is global infrastructure out there, and the one that reaches a critical mass will dominate.

I saw that this critical mass could not be reached by the commercial sectors - by definition, because they cannot collaborate. Their product family must dominate. This is intrinsic to capitalism. In this context, academia becomes a very important balancing force. For us, the power of open-source computing enables us to leave the commercial sector behind if it does not meet our needs. I realised how open source could be used in an infrastructure way in building an open applications grid platform.

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu had the most important vision - set goals for others by your example, and lead them to meet these goals and to take credit for them. Then you will find that “Not to own anything is to own everything.”

One Response to “Simon Lin and Collaboration in Asian Culture”

  1. […] Dave Isenberg and Sean both told me that he will attend F2C in Washington on Monday and Tuesday (March 5 and 6). Buy a ticket Hear Bruce Sterling and touch the future – a Neo1973 running OpenMoko. And for some insight into why they are smarter in Taiwan that the US – read my recent interview with Simon Lin. […]

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