Vol. VIII, No. 2

August, 1995

CSA Archive of Computer Models

The founding purpose of CSA was to provide an archive of CAD models of structures or archaeological sites (Such an archive would be a natural adjunct to the work of COPAR.) That founding purpose has been enlarged by the Archaeological Data Archive Project but not superseded. Computerized data must be cared for properly, whether CAD files, database files, or text files.

The archival functions of CSA and the ADAP have, however, taken a back seat in some ways. The need to encourage scholars' use of CAD and other technological aids necessitated an emphasis on explaining and demonstrating the use of those technologies. After all, it is difficult to collect computer data if the technologies to create the data files are not being used.

More CAD models are being created now, though, and the time has come to reassert CSA's founding purpose. CSA is therefore seeking CAD models - either architects' models of recent buildings or scholars' models of buildings or archaeological sites. Models may be of buildings of any time or place and of archaeological work of any time or place; they will be archived at CSA in a safe, secure system and made accessible to others. They will be migrated to new systems as appropriate so that they do not become obsolete, and the files will be protected from degradation.

Those characteristics of the archive have been clear from the beginning. Only recently, however, has it become clear that CAD models (and other computer data as well) will have economic value for commercial users and, though unpredictable today, that value may eventually be considerable. Therefore, the possibility of making the models available to commercial projects for a fee must now be considered as well. The CAD database may function much like a stock photo supply house, with everything in the archive available for use under strict terms and conditions. (Many of the photographs used in books and print ads today are 'rented' from such stock photo suppliers.) Producers of television or motion picture shows wishing to create realistic models of buildings might pay for use of a model; textbook publishers might also pay to use images derived from the models. The possibilities are difficult to assess at this time, but there are so many possibilities that they must be taken into account. Therefore, contributions to the archive may involve contractual obligations for the sharing of funds generated by the commercial use of models placed in the archive. The Center's share of such funds would help offset the costs of maintaining the archive; the creator's share would help offset the original costs of creating the model.

Those who have CAD models, who are working on such models, or who know of such models are encouraged to contact CSA Director Harrison Eiteljorg, II, to discuss contributing them to the Center - and to consider carefully what terms and conditions should be set for sharing potential commercial revenues. One cannot know clearly what the future holds for good CAD models, but it should be possible to build a flexible system for making the most of the work that has gone into their creation.

For other Newsletter articles concerning the CSA archives, consult the Subject index.

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