Emulation technology is designed to recreate the experience of interacting with digital content in its original context. It does this by recreating old computer hardware within modern software. This enables original software to be run on modern computers, where it can then be used to interact with old computer files.
Yale University Library recently hosted a visiting emulation researcher from the University of Freiburg in Germany who gave a talk at the Library: http://www.library.yale.edu/librarynews/2013/12/making_the_old_new_again_pract.html Dr. von Suchdoletz has been working as part of a set of European Union funded projects to develop a software suite that enables emulation to be provided as a service via a web browser. This exciting development opens up new opportunities for enabling users to access historic early digital content in its original context without leaving home and without having any specialist expertise.
Previously, institutions wanting to provide access to their historic digital content using emulation technology have been hesitant to do so due to the daunting technical challenges. By taking care of the (often complicated) installation, configuration and other technical issues, and providing the final environment seamlessly as a web service, this new tool provides a great solution.
Yale University is currently deploying a pilot installation of this service in order to understand how it can be offered in the future. One exciting possibility would be the ability to provide a seamless access experience in which users could browse or search the online catalog, find an old digital object, click on it, and have the object open in the original environment right within the user’s web browser.
To learn more about the service software, and to experience an example environment provided by the service, visit: http://bw-fla.uni-freiburg.de/