The recording and archiving of seminars though is sometimes a bit of a mess, and depends very much on the institution. PIRSA, the Perimeter Institute Recorded Seminar Archive, aims to provide an interface that makes recorded seminars easily searchable, and allows to refer to them by providing an unique and permanent PIRSA number, much like the arXiv.
The PIRSA websites have just been launched, you can have a look yourself at
The archive presently contains PI’s scientific seminar series (including colloquia), summer schools, courses, workshops, conferences, public lectures, and special events - in total that currently amounts to about 1700. The recording is done using a combination of A/V equipment and Mediasite, which captures both a video feed of the speaker and a VGA feed of any supporting materials – such as presentation slides, transparencies, or black board notes and figures.
Almost like being there. Except that nobody notices when you fall asleep.
The driving force behind PIRSA is PI faculty member Lucien Hardy, who explains
- “Seminars have always played an important role in propagating knowledge. However, it has been the written rather than the spoken word by which scientific knowledge has been recorded, archived, and passed down. These words were written on paper and archived in libraries.
Now technology has progressed further to the point that we can archive seminars. We have modeled PIRSA on arXiv.org. It is not so much a YouTube for science as it is a video arXiv for seminars. It is designed to be a useful resource for researchers rather than an entertainment channel. A permanent archive of seminars allows researchers to watch presentations they were unable to attend, to revisit them many years after they were recorded, and to cite them in their own work just as they would cite a regular article”
Steve Bradwell from our IT department who has been in charge of the software development adds
- “We believe PIRSA’s success as a global, web based physics archive lies in both the quality of content provided and the accuracy and consistency of the supporting information and media formats. It’s more than just feature rich services, people want consistency and cross platform support. PIRSA offers that.”
The ambitious long term goal would be to establish a general recording and archiving standard that other academical institutions could also use.