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Australia Data Storage Education Government The Internet Politics

The Fight To Save the Australian Digital Archive Trove (abc.net.au) 87

Slashdot reader sandbagger writes: A digital archive and research tool developed by the Australian National Archives may be the victim of upcoming budget cuts. Used by an estimated 70,000 users per day, the system may be eliminated thanks to a $20 Million (AUD) budget cut to the agency's budget. Since its 2009 launch, Trove has grown to house four million digitised items, including books, images, music, historic newspapers and maps. Critics of the cuts say that such systems should be considered national infrastructure because there's literally no replacement service.
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The Fight To Save the Australian Digital Archive Trove

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 03, 2016 @11:57PM (#52441313)

    Trove is a National Library of Australia project, not the National Archives of Australia.

  • by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Monday July 04, 2016 @12:07AM (#52441327)

    This should be no surprise to anyone watching the current conservative governments attack on research and academia in australia.

    The world renowned CSIRO has been gutted with climate research all but abandoned along with oceanographic research, which is a *big problem* when your an island nation entrusted to the care of the dying barrier reef. The government has stripped funding out of education and universities, removed scientific advisors from all levels of government, and often replaced them with spiral eyed religious idiots who see more value in quoting the bible than quoting peer reviewed research.

    And now they are going after the history archives.

    • by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Monday July 04, 2016 @12:25AM (#52441357)

      Much more likely, this is a move by the bureaucrats controlling this area, who are having their budgets squeezed because central government (rightly or wrongly) feel they need to spend less, so are planning to cut the most newsworthy part of their service to get attention and protect their budgets.

      That is how these things usually go. Publicly funded hospitals always cut patient services before anything else, Schools increase staff/child ratios, Transport cuts services at peak times, etc.

      The only thing worse is unionised public servants, who really are on the double-take, since there is little downside to their bosses paying them more as it is 'free' money, and they get the double whammy of working for a votes government, AND having union muscle.

      Welcome to another facet of the bleeding dry of the working middle class.

      • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Monday July 04, 2016 @01:30AM (#52441465)
        Man am I sick of the myth of bureaucratic waste. Did it ever cross your mind that the reason cuts start in those places is that there were most of the cost is? There's this belief (instilled by right wing think tanks looking to gut the commons for their own profit) that there's this magic "waste" that can be cut without impacting the quality of service and life.

        The worst words I've ever heard are "I'm from the gov't and I'm hear to help". It wasn't a man from the gov't saying those (one of those paid my friends insulin to treat his type 1 diabetes), it was a right wing politician looking to cut some billionare's taxes and pushing more bullshit austerity for everyone but themselves.
        • by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Monday July 04, 2016 @03:33AM (#52441675)
          There is a massive amount of government waste, I see it everyday while working within various government departments. The problem is the cuts are usually generic and don't target the real waste and simply usually say, here take a 2%, 5%, 10% cut across the board while wasteful practices aren't targeted or touched. e.g. spending surplus budget before EOFY as they know if they don't they might get less the next FY, I see this every year, sometimes the waste is in the millions where they will buy services, hardware and software that never get used or touched just to ensure they don't have surplus. You have government employees with "safe" comfortable positions that don't mandate performance and have no consequences for lack of performance as they are heavily union protected, Their is massive Machinery of Government spending purely to reward ministers with bigger portfolios to match ego's (some of this spending is absolutely insane and how the fuck it is ever justified to spend X million just to make a ministers portfolio bigger is beyond me).
          • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Monday July 04, 2016 @05:41AM (#52441899)

            There is a massive amount of government waste, I see it everyday while working within various government departments.

            And there's a massive amount of waste on the private sector too. I see it every day in all jobs but my own. The reason is that I only see the surface of those other jobs from the outside. Every single time I've tried to do one, I've found out that there simply isn't any better way to do it - any possible speedup requires taking risks or shortcuts which will come back to bite you.

            The problem is the cuts are usually generic and don't target the real waste and simply usually say, here take a 2%, 5%, 10% cut across the board while wasteful practices aren't targeted or touched. e.g. spending surplus budget before EOFY as they know if they don't they might get less the next FY, I see this every year, sometimes the waste is in the millions where they will buy services, hardware and software that never get used or touched just to ensure they don't have surplus.

            It is ironic that the push for efficiency can lead to the opposite result. But the solution is not to push harder, but lighter. Let the department carry over their unused budget to the next fiscal year, and now they have an actual motive to save money because it's now "their" money - and it also means they can build up savings to use for emergencies and larger projects.

            • Yep this waste exists in private sector, but multiply by a factor of 1000 to get government style waste
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by sumdumass ( 711423 )

              Budget burning as it is called is still wasteful if they keep the funds rather than send it back. For instance if your department has a 1 million surplus, that million can be used more effective either doing something else government should be doing or staying in the hands of taxpayers who will increase economic activity and thereby increase future revenue. But if it sits in an account because you didn't need it, neither will happen and your department will simply be over funded yet again the next year maki

              • Budget burning as it is called is still wasteful if they keep the funds rather than send it back. For instance if your department has a 1 million surplus, that million can be used more effective either doing something else government should be doing or staying in the hands of taxpayers who will increase economic activity and thereby increase future revenue.

                No, because money is not a limited resource. Having 1 million dollars sitting in your account means you have authorization to spend actual, limited reso

          • Government waste is only exceeded by waste in successful corporations. Sure, little scrappy companies are fast, lean and efficient, but when a corporation reaches 10K employees and years of consecutive growth, take a look on the inside and see how many "Wally"s the place has, how much structural BS exists for no particular reason other than "that's how it's done here."

            Government waste is continually scrutinized by the taxpayers, but when a corporation has been "exceeding shareholder expectations" for a dec

            • Government waste is only exceeded by waste in successful corporations. Sure, little scrappy companies are fast, lean and efficient, but when a corporation reaches 10K employees and years of consecutive growth, take a look on the inside and see how many "Wally"s the place has, how much structural BS exists for no particular reason other than "that's how it's done here."

              Government waste is continually scrutinized by the taxpayers, but when a corporation has been "exceeding shareholder expectations" for a decade or more - you'd be amazed at the colossal waste that goes on inside.

              BS, I work for one of those massive corporations and I am usually contracted into various government agencies. I am very familiar with the waste and inefficiencies in BOTH sectors. corporate waste doesn't come even close to what is wasted in government and most companies have regular Targeted crackdowns on waste and inefficiencies, though they will always have some, highly successful fast growing companies tend to have a lot more waste as they can get away with it while on that trajectory but as soon as gro

              • The major difference for me between government and corporate inefficiency is that we _usually_ have to option to not deal with an inefficient corporation. Of course, government has told me several times "if you can't get a job here, move", so I suppose we also have the option of changing countries if we can find one with a government we like better? /sarc

          • by Kjella ( 173770 )

            The problem is the cuts are usually generic and don't target the real waste and simply usually say, here take a 2%, 5%, 10% cut across the board while wasteful practices aren't targeted or touched. e.g. spending surplus budget before EOFY as they know if they don't they might get less the next FY, I see this every year, sometimes the waste is in the millions where they will buy services, hardware and software that never get used or touched just to ensure they don't have surplus.

            A lot of it is dysfunction to combat dysfunction because if any process is delayed you can't say the $100k we budgeted for servers this year we'll need in February next year. Those money will go away and because you overbudgeted last year, we'll actually not just cut the $100k but we'll give you $150k less and you'll be stuck with extra old out of support servers because there was a delay in procurement. Sure, every company has to replan their portfolio and cancel projects sometimes. But they don't go nucle

            • The problem is the cuts are usually generic and don't target the real waste and simply usually say, here take a 2%, 5%, 10% cut across the board while wasteful practices aren't targeted or touched. e.g. spending surplus budget before EOFY as they know if they don't they might get less the next FY, I see this every year, sometimes the waste is in the millions where they will buy services, hardware and software that never get used or touched just to ensure they don't have surplus.

              A lot of it is dysfunction to combat dysfunction because if any process is delayed you can't say the $100k we budgeted for servers this year we'll need in February next year. Those money will go away and because you overbudgeted last year, we'll actually not just cut the $100k but we'll give you $150k less and you'll be stuck with extra old out of support servers because there was a delay in procurement. Sure, every company has to replan their portfolio and cancel projects sometimes. But they don't go nuclear every year and make every project and every department start over the allocation process.

              The theory is of course that all the money will go back in a big pool and be spent where they're most needed. The reality is that when you've finally got approval to do something in one budget process, then no matter what you'd rather spend it than taking that fight all over again. I actually think you'd see much less waste in practice if you could get a spillover-account where you could have at most 10% of the budget but it's still "yours", sure more money would be stuck down in the system but it wouldn't accumulate and you could flex schedules more. It's the "use it or lose it" process that is the real problem.

              well aware of why it happens and the mentality behind it. It doesn't make it less appalling watching a department deliberately flush millions down the toilet just to ensure it doesn't affect how much they get the following year. I have even been the beneficiary of this broken system in past years where they prepaid my contract for a year in advance just to help empty their budget and I am still completely against it as they are just gaming a broken system which is especially bad when the country is in debt

      • That is how these things usually go.

        In America, it is called the Washington Monument Syndrome [wikipedia.org].

        Schools increase staff/child ratios

        In my school district, the first thing they cut was the school buses. The result was maximum inconvenience for parents, and congested roads for commuters even without school aged kids.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Much more likely, this is a move by the bureaucrats controlling this area, who are having their budgets squeezed because central government (rightly or wrongly) feel they need to spend less, so are planning to cut the most newsworthy part of their service to get attention and protect their budgets.

        Disclaimer - I work in the Australian Public Service

        As I understand it the prototype and early work on TROVE were funded from the NLA's own budget not as an NPP (New Policy Proposal).

        TROVE has become part of the NLA's strategy (https://www.nla.gov.au/corporate-documents/annual-report/2014-2015/strategic-direction-two-make-the-librarys-collections-and-services-accessible-to-all), however the government have never decided to directly funded it and it doesn't appear Government feels it's an explicit part of th

      • In the early days of the Thatcher cuts of the 1980s, London Zoo announced that due to government cuts they would have to cull many of their animals.

        They got the money....

        The name for this in the bureaucratic game is 'bleeding stumps'; you announce cuts that will upset people to force the government to spend more. Just occasionally it can go wrong, when the government toughs it out and you have to go ahead, though this is unlikely as an alternative plan can usually be found.

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )

      which is a *big problem* when your an island nation entrusted to the care of the dying barrier reef.

      Not to worry, it'll stop being a problem in another few years. Of course the fictional "climate change" Hippy Illuminati conspiracy won't be to blame, it'll be some other thing that doesn't offend Slashdotters.

    • Nice way to engage in a political diatribe, but it is the liberals who are cutting the funding and stopping more content coming online.

    • by MercTech ( 46455 )

      Trove looks similar to the U.S. repository at www.archive.org which is administered by the Smithsonian Institution.
          I wonder if Trove could get funding as Archive.org does with a mix of public monies from a few branches and private funds like the Prelinger Grant for their digitized film library?

    • If all of that is so important to you, donate money to the organization.

      Otherwise, you are just bitching about how other people's money is being spent.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There are no quotes from anyone with authority to back this claim. No Government representatives, no links to authoritative sources, no media quotes - absolutely nothing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Fuck me, this so called 'story' is from March.

    Just a few things have changed since then, like the double dissolution and re-election of the entire house of representatives and Senate.

    Maybe EditorDavid should lookup what SandBagger means before posting her shit as news?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Check out #fundTrove on Twitter and the FB page https://www.facebook.com/fundtrove/ for more information about the campaign to save Trove.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Not 4 million objects, 500 million objects - "Find and get over 499,794,678 Australian and online resources:
    books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music, archives and more"

  • by h33t l4x0r ( 4107715 ) on Monday July 04, 2016 @04:50AM (#52441827)
    If I can put up banner ads. Seriously I don't see how that thing is worth $20M. And yes I realize we're talking about AUD.
    • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Monday July 04, 2016 @08:45AM (#52442335)

      If I can put up banner ads. Seriously I don't see how that thing is worth $20M.

      Obviously you didn't read TFA. And I'm not sure the submitter who wrote the "summary" understood what it said either. A couple clarifications:

      (1) The $20 million refers to budget cuts to a number of cultural institutions, which include the library. The library cuts are only one portion of this $20 million, and I'm assuming that this Trove thing is only a small portion of the total library cuts. The real problem, as explained in TFA, is that the library is cutting 22 staff positions.

      (2) Now, you might say, "but why do they need 22 staff positions to maintain an online archive?" They don't. And that's the second misleading thing here: No one appears to be talking about eliminating the online archive completely. TFA explicitly explains that all they will do is cease to add new materials. Basically, the library has to eliminate staff due to budget cuts, so they can't afford to keep the people that ADD new stuff to this archive and update it:

      Although Trove, which was launched in late 2009, is funded by the library's budget, without government funding the library will not be able to update the material in the database.

      So there's no need (at least at this point) for people to go around offering to host or creating torrents or whatever.

      TL;DR -- TFS is BS. NOBODY is talking about elimination of material already in the archive. Budget cuts may just prevent adding future materials.

  • with the Australian fascist government/nanny state... burn/vanish culture... good job mates.... :/
  • Save these treasures like "I Want to Hump my Bluey" before it's too late!

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