PNC Summary Description


Background

The Pacific Neighborhood Consortium (PNC) is an organization formed to initiate and implement a program in computing and communications technology oriented toward maximizing opportunities for information exchange among institutions of higher education in the Pacific Rim. The goal of the Consortium is the development of information exchange capacity to a level that will allow the participating institutions of higher education to regard themselves, not as organizations separated by vast distances, but as the residents of a virtual neighborhood.

The Pacific Neighborhood Consortium began this enterprise by an exchange of communication with other centers of learning as the most effective way to begin the transformation of the Pacific Rim into the Pacific Neighborhood. The Consortium was initiated by the University of California, Berkeley in partnership with major academic centers in the Pacific Rim, with the collaboration of corporate partners and with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

A primary focus is the enhancement of education, first at the university level , and eventually, extended to secondary education, through the increased ability to share knowledge. The PNC is concerned with the ways in which the technology of computer networking,can be effectively used. Efforts in the Pacific Neighborhood Consortium are focused on the formation of an organization to reach agreements on information exchange standards, mutual sharing pacts, facilitation of information exchange and the expansion of electronically readable information resources, ranging from the immediately practical (finance, medicine, etc.) to the pedagogically useful (distance learning, library exchange, etc.), to the scholarly (archival collections, art history, etc.).

In planning the consortium, it was assumed that centers of higher education in the participating countries contain, in microcosm, the problems that a larger social framework would face in trying to accomplish a similar goal. If the intellectual communities of the Pacific Rim can effectively manage to become the intellectual community of the Pacific Neighborhood, the problems of information exchange faced on national levels will have a clear functional model to follow. With this goal in mind, the following problem areas were selected for study:

(1) The availability and capacity of existing communications technologies; what is currently available; what is forecast to be available for the future; and what will be needed to produce effective and harmonious exchanges among the participants.

(2) The standards needed to provide effective means of communication, including agreements on character sets, formats and system protocols.

(3) The resources in the Pacific Rim currently accessible through technology, including libraries, data bases and corpora of texts in technologically accessible form.

At the first PNC organizational meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, January 14-15, 1993, the 80 attendees, representing 33 institutions and sixteen countries, agreed to form the Pacific Neighborhood Consortium and to work toward the goals described earlier. Task force groups discussed the areas of (1) Internet connectivity, (2) standards & agreements for library and database access and (3) applications for distance learning both to institutions of higher education and to primary education. Participating institutions will also provide supplemental information for the PNC electronic database, currently consisting of an inventory of all machine readable databases in Pacific Rim countries.

The membership of the Pacific Neighborhood Consortium is composed of (1) the universities of the Pacific Rim countries, both public and private, participating in a consortium to accomplish the goals of improved scholarly and cultural communication, (2) affiliated institutions concerned with education, cultural exchange and international agreement, (3) corporate and governmental organizations with interests in information management and exchange. A common theme for members is an interest in the fostering of improved exchange of scholarly, cultural and economic information of mutual interest.

Membership in the Pacific Neighborhood Consortium requires a commitment by the applicant institution to contribute resources of personnel and support costs as appropriate to participate in the activities of the consortium. An annual fee of $5,000 in US currency is required for membership. (An alternate fee of US $2000 may be used by countries with an extremely low per capita income.) In addition, member institutions contribute the time and support costs necessary to participate in the ongoing activities of the consortium and the programs under development. It is expected that the principal active participants in Consortium activities will be the chief information officers of the participating institution -- the head of computing and telecommunications, the librarian, or those persons delegated by the institution to participate in the Consortium activities. Participation is not limited to the above mentioned officials, but is at the discretion of the participating institution.

It is expected that this consortium must be self-supporting among its members, if it is to be an effective and ongoing organization. Given the benefits to be realized among the members, it is expected that the number of members in the consortium will be more than sufficient to provide a stable financial base. Since the potential benefits of the developments proposed will have possible gain in the commercial world as well as the scholarly, it is proposed that the membership include corporate and governmental entities, as well as institutions of learning.

Since its founding in January, 1993, the PNC has worked to develop and implement information sharing programs and policies. Annual meetings were held in Hong Kong in January of 1994 and in Bangkok in January, 1995. The next annual meeting will be held January 17- 19 in Mexico City.

Issues currently under consideration by Consortium members:

% The exchange of information about knowledge bases and the ways in which communication with these knowledge bases may be most effectively developed.

% The ways in which access protocols may be developed and adapted to permit transparent access to a variety of knowledge bases under conditions of a known and familiar operating system.

% The ways in which technology can be used to surmount language access difficulties present in multiple language systems and different graphical representations

% The ways in which both cultural and economic exchange may be facilitated.

% The efficient transmission of high resolution image information.

% The development of data control models allowing the exchange and manipulation of data sets to optimal configurations from a variety of original forms.

Current Work

As of January 30, 1995, the PNC membership has agreed to focus on three major development efforts:

1. Developing and coordinating a regional WWW server network for the Pacific Rim.

2. Developing a distributed Electronic Museum of the Pacific.

3. Developing a cooperative electronic library exchange program for Pacific Rim Universities.

The next page you see is a general map of the Pacific Rim. To gain access to the list of area databases, position your cursor on the desired area and click on it. This will bring up a more detailed map and the next positioning of the cursor and click will provide access to the catalogue of machine readable databases available for that area or nation.