June 22, 2010

Initiating the JP2K-UK Implementation Working Group

By Autumn 2009, we were committed to using the JP2 format for our digitisation projects. However, we knew that the lack of good information and communication between practitioners was a risk factor. First of all, we wanted to know what was going on so we didn't have to keep re-inventing the wheel. Has anyone else carried out compression tests on historic materials? Who uses which tools, and why? Secondly, if we could improve communications, presumably more people would feel comfortable about using JPEG 2000 serving to broaden the user base and further entrench the format into practice - essential to ensuring longevity.

This information wasn't just going to come out of the woodwork - or not as quickly as we would have liked - so we set up the "JP2K-UK Implementation Working Group", with a starting membership of one. We then cold-called a number of contacts from relevent organisations to test the level of interest in joining such a group. We optimistically booked a small meeting room, with a free lunch as an added temptation, hoping someone would be interested.

Someone was indeed interested; in fact, nearly every single person or organisation we contacted had a high level of interest in JPEG 2000, and most were actively pursuing JPEG 2000 implementation in some way as a practitioner, consultant or software developer. We booked a much bigger room, shelled out for a lot more sandwiches, and realised we needed a proper agenda. At this point we set up the JP2K-UK wiki to consolidate online resources, provide dates of any events, and list the member organisations.

Our first meeting was held in December, and we had 17 initial individual members representing 12 organisations, drawn primarily from the library world (see the wiki for member organisations). The bulk of the meeting was taken up with small groups, discussing what they knew of the different technical aspects of JPEG 2000 (formats and features, compression, IPR, and tools) where the knowledge gaps were, what the general opinion of JPEG 2000 was, and how we might act to make the use of JPEG 2000 a little bit easier for everyone.

Not surprisingly, there was a range of opinion, levels of knowledge and understanding, and intended use of the format; but every attendee was keen to work toward creating a resource for practitioners and disseminating information with a series of workshops, seminars and/or conferences. As an initial discussion the meeting set the tone for the future of the group, and further developments will be posted here very soon.

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