AMS Indianapolis 2010 in the Cloud
As some of you know, I serve on the web committee of the Society for American Music, and have also written a piece of software called Inventoriana, useful for the manipulation and cataloging of liturgical manuscripts (and other fun things). While I’ve been working on these, it has become clear that so-called cloud computing can offer the digital humanities, and digital musicologists (which includes everyone reading this blog post), a lot. So here is a brief proof of concept, using some publicly available files for the upcoming American Musicological Society annual meeting as a demonstration.
If you are like me you need to consult and search the program book for a given conference about a million times before and during the conference. At the Society for American Music, this meant that one month out of the year we had a tremendous load on our web server, because everyone was downloading tons and tons of copies of the PDF. If you are on a metered web hosting provider (as many societies and individuals are), this can really start to add up, since bandwidth limitations are usually expensive if you go over them. Even if your connection is not metered, the web server, which usually handles far less traffic, can grind to a halt in the weeks (and days) leading up to the conference.
Enter the content distribution network. You can find a technical description of one such solution here. But what it basically means is that everyone in the world has a copy of the AMS program closer to them. This reduces load on the AMS servers, and, since the PDF has to travel through fewer stops in cyberspace, faster download times for AMS members. Also, if AMS’s usage is metered, it completely offloads the file-intensive operations from their own service, containing the cost.
Anyway, here are some of AMS’s publications, available via the cloud. If your computer is like mine I think you will find that they download faster than the AMS site. Perhaps more to (my own) point, you can see a simple demonstration of how cloud computing can make one common task for conference organizers easier and less expensive.
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