Into The Wild: Breathing New Life Into Collections
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Into The Wild: Breathing New Life Into Collections

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Delivered at the Society of Archivists meeting in Bristol, UK, this is a revised version of the "Into The Wild" talk I gave last year a bit, about the Commons on Flickr. Also mentioned a bit about ...

Delivered at the Society of Archivists meeting in Bristol, UK, this is a revised version of the "Into The Wild" talk I gave last year a bit, about the Commons on Flickr. Also mentioned a bit about Open Library, with a sneak peek at the planned redesign.

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    Into The Wild: Breathing New Life Into Collections Into The Wild: Breathing New Life Into Collections Document Transcript

    • Hello. Into The Wild: Breathing New Life into Collections September 3, 2009 Bristol, England http://flickr.com/photos/baboon/405064021/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - Thank you for having me... and thank you to Martin for asking me to come. It’s been interesting to hear from the archives side of the LAM equation.I’m completely in love with the cultural heritage sector at large, so it’s only appropriate that I get to know some archivists too. - I am a web designer by trade, and was the lead designer of a big photosharing communitity called Flickr, and now am Director of a project called Open Library, run out of San Francisco, California. - Most of my work experience is in front-end software design and virtual community building. I’m always keen to reveal the humans behind any process or system, and hope that this desire leads to more interesting and usable software.
    • “e enormous multiplication of books in every branch of knowledge is one of the greatest evils of this age, since it represents one of the most serious obstacles to the acquisition of correct information by throwing in the reader’s way piles of lumber in which he must painfully grope for the scraps of useful matter, peradventure interspersed.” - Edgar Allan Poe, c. 1844 Wednesday, September 9, 2009 I want to try to set the tone for my talk with a quote... about proliferation of information
    • “e enormous proliferation of data in every branch of knowledge is one of the greatest opportunities of this age, since it represents one of the most serious obstacles to the acquisition of correct information by throwing in the reader’s way piles of lumber in which he must painfully grope for the scraps of useful matter, peradventure interspersed.” - Edgar Allan Poe, c. 2009 Wednesday, September 9, 2009 I’m not sure that’s a problem. I see it as an opportunity.
    • http://flickr.com/photos/beals/63404919/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - Gone are the days of solitary participation in the cultural heritage sector... The broadcast model is being stretched into something else - Your audience are now ACTORs. Creators and participants - The audience can affect what is shown and how it is represented
    • 3 Themes 1. It’s all about increasing access, isn’t it? 2. Learn to love (and exploit) networks 3. Institutional knowledge as substrate Wednesday, September 9, 2009 There are hopefully 3 themes threaded through my presentation today...
    • 2 Projects 1. The Commons on Flickr An opportunity for public institutions to share their photography archives in an existing photo-sharing community of some 30 million people 2. Open Library A project of the Internet Archive; an open, editable library catalogue containing some 23 million records, providing access to some 1.1 million scanned books Wednesday, September 9, 2009 And I’d like to talk about 2 projects I’ve worked on, which hopefully reinforce the 3 themes I just mentioned...
    • The Beginning of The Commons on Flickr http://flickr.com/photos/marko_k/132719753/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • http://loc.gov Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - background to relationship - started working with Michelle Springer and her team of 8 or so in July last year - librarians, cataloguers, strategy group, web devs - really helped to have a cross-functional team involved early
    • • Over 1 million digital records • Looking for a “Web 2.0” partner http://loc.gov Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - background to relationship - started working with Michelle Springer and her team of 8 or so in July 2007 - librarians, cataloguers, strategy group, web devs - really helped to have a cross-functional team involved early
    • Why Flickr? Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Almost certainly the best photo site in the world Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • “A great place to be a photo.” Bob Baxley Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - arguably the world’s best photosharing site
    • • Designed specifically to browse and search photographs • An active, engaged community with a deep connection to photography • An infrastructure big enough to support hosting 3 billion photos • 50 million unique visits per month • Available in 8 languages Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - but, above all,
    • It’s made of people http://flickr.com/photos/carthorse/340434797/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - people who socialise, argue, explore, participate, observe... all the things that regular people do - they also happen to organize their photos, and without even necessarily realising it, contribute to a greater pool of knowledge and content, now in the billions of photographs. - for example...
    • http://flickr.com/photos/george/190348207/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - These are my parents, Jeff & Margaret - This is shameless exploitation of my parental bond, but...
    • • Taken on July 8, 2006, in Tofino, British Columbia, where my brother Andrew married Laurel. • Tagged with holga, dad, mum, tofino, family, myparents, oates • Shot with a Holga camera • In my “Fa mill lee” set, which is part of my “Humans” collection. • In “The Oates Family” group, which contains 45 photos. The group has 5 members. • In the “Andy & Laurel Get Married” group, which contains 251 photos of the wedding by 6 other photographers. The group has 34 members. http://flickr.com/photos/george/190348207/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - Apart from being a lovely photo of both of them, this is also an example of a “broad context” - You can see on the right that I’ve highlighted in blue all the links that this photo has into other parts of Flickr: the date it was taken, etc - All of these provide “support” for the photo’s position on Flickr, and also provides jumping points to see more related pictures in a variety of different directions - It’s almost as if all this metadata provides some sort of surface tension that prevents the photo from sinking into the depths of obscurity amongst these billions of photos
    • Over the last week eclissi, mondfinsternis, maansverduistering, wondercon, mooneclipse, totaleclipse, lunarossa, eclipselunar, beyondbroadcast, approm, shrove, losangelesmarathon, kiwifoo, lunareclipse, womensday, totallunareclipse, eclipse  http://flickr.com/photos/rhys400d/409242012/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - In the broader Flickr context -- I mean the whole dataset -- tags emerge to represent news and events, and other things of a certain scale... - This is an example of our “hot tags” list, around the time of the last lunar eclipse...
    • Over the last week eclissi, mondfinsternis, maansverduistering, wondercon, mooneclipse, totaleclipse, lunarossa, eclipselunar, beyondbroadcast, approm, shrove, losangelesmarathon, kiwifoo, lunareclipse, womensday, totallunareclipse, eclipse  http://flickr.com/photos/rhys400d/409242012/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - You can see that the eclipse has firstly emerged as an event of “photographic note”, and - You can see that Flickr now holds information about what a lunar eclipse means in several languages - This is not information that was ever overtly requested, or organized in any way, post creation... The information practically flows together, accumulated by sheer volume
    • paris france 2006 olympus e500 color demonstration CPE police riot Events protest matraque top-v1000 top-f25 photojournalism top-v2000 stick nightstick top-v3000 f40 http://flickr.com/photos/hughes_leglise/120006771/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 To give you a sense of the sort of emergence that weʼve seen with information architecture... Hereʼs a photo from the riots in Paris back in March ʼ06
    • paris france 2006 olympus e500 color demonstration CPE police riot Events protest matraque top-v1000 top-f25 photojournalism top-v2000 stick nightstick top-v3000 f40 http://flickr.com/photos/hughes_leglise/120006771/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - These are tags that have to do with the number of views this photo has had - And how many people have marked it as a favourite. - Clicking on these photos would show you photos with the same attirubutes
    • Information Architecture? http://www.flickr.com/photos/blmurch/90083317/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - We’re dealing with a swirling tide of information that ebbs and flows. - People don’t fit into tidy boxes, and nor do their photos or the language they use to describe them. - But, back to The Commons...
    • flickr.com/commons Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - Our pilot with the Library of Congress launched on January the 16th, just before 9:30am
    • What’s it for? • To increase access to public photography collections • To gather information about them • To share this new data Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - We’ve established the objectives of the program...
    • What’s it for? • To increase access to public photography collections • To gather information about them • To share this new data Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - We’ve established the objectives of the program...
    • Launched January 16, 2008 27 members so far Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - When we went live, we were immediately stunned by the response of the community - We positioned the program as a way to see new content, but also to help describe it... whether with tags or annotations on the photo or comments
    • My Flickr Tag Cloud 2 weeks old Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - tags are just keywords, or phrases - you can add tags to your own photos, and you can also choose to allow other Flickr members to add tags to your photos. e.g. allow friends - this page lists the 150 tags Iʼve used the most -The size of the text equates to the number of photos tagged with each word - interesting thing here is that you can infer things about my photos (and me) without looking at any content
    • My Flickr Tag Cloud 2 weeks old spends a lot of time here Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - interesting thing here is that you can infer things about my photos (and me) without looking at any content
    • My Flickr Tag Cloud 2 weeks old and here Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - interesting thing here is that you can infer things about my photos (and me) without looking at any content
    • Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - Here’s how the Library’s tag cloud began, when we went live at about 9:25 Pacific Time, on Wednesday January 16...
    • Monday 09:25 Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - I was thrilled that the Library team had decided to go with a blank slate, more or less... - The impression it gave was one of openess, exploration and trust
    • Monday 09:30 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 09:37 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 09:46 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 10:00 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 10:10 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 10:18 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 10:36 Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - link to see All the Tags Iʼve ever added down below.
    • Monday 10:36 1 HOUR Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - link to see All the Tags Iʼve ever added down below.
    • Monday 10:36 1 HOUR 150 TAGS Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - link to see All the Tags Iʼve ever added down below.
    • Monday 10:36 Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - link to see All the Tags Iʼve ever added down below.
    • Monday 10:45 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 10:56 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 11:16 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 11:47 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 12:00 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 12:20 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 312:20 HOURS Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 312:20 HOURS 767 TAGS Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 12:20 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 12:55 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 13:14 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 14:26 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Monday 15:40 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Wednesday 17:03 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Thursday 10:49 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Thursday 24 10:49 HOURS Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Thursday 24 10:49 HOURS 11,000 TAGS Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Thursday 10:49 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Thursday 14:43 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Friday 17:07 Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - LAST ONE
    • 2.5 Friday 17:07 DAYS 20,000 TAGS Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - LAST ONE
    • Friday 17:07 Wednesday, September 9, 2009 So now, without even seeing any of the photos, I can get a sense of that’s in the collection. - All without guidance or rules, just people describing what they see, using words they know.
    • UK Institutions Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - I thought I could show you examples of the sort of interactions and creativity that’s happening with UK content, just because, well, it’s local
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalmediamuseum/3588772325/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 National Media Museum recently celebrated its 1 year anniversary. Somewhere around 960,000 views across their account! Henry Essenhigh Corke (1883-1919); Autochrome
    • Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - the collections are curated into 10 sets, around 177 photos in total - odd coset of Spirit Photographs particularly interesting to people
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalmaritimemuseum/3836396959/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - National Maritime Museum in Greenwich - Joined last year, about 315 photos - Fiona will tell you more when she talks in a moment, but I spotted a couple of good examples about NMM reaching in to the Flickr community...
    • Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - 10 sets, including some photographs documenting life behind the scenes
    • Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalmaritimemuseum/2839522578/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalmaritimemuseum/2839522578/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - you can see a dialogue between an interested punter and the institution.
    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/besidetheseaside/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - this is a Flickr group, which anyone can join to share their photos of the British seaside - 400 members, 4300 photos
    • Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - group members were asked to add their submissions to the Flickr group map, a tool that NMM didn’t have to build, but could make use of
    • Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - the NMM exhibition site now houses photos from the group pool displayed in a slideshow, alongside the exhibition snapshots
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalgalleries/3102709906/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - National Galleries of Scotland
    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/flickrcommons/discuss/72157613061097398 Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - there is a group on Flickr run by the Flickr community, where a chap who lives in Edinburgh joined the group and created this thread...
    • “I thought it would be interesting however (at least to myself) to re-shoot some of the old photos (as closely as patience and access allowed) to get a side by side comparison and see exactly how much or how little the city had changed. Enjoy!” Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - there is a group on Flickr run by the Flickr community, where a chap who lives in Edinburgh joined the group and created this thread...
    • Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - this sort of Then and Now photography has been really popular, with absolutely no encouragement!
    • http://www.paulhagon.com/thenandnow/nypl/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - There is a chap who works at the National Library of Australia called Paul Hagon, who decided to write a mashup that shows Commons photos on a map, and Google street view alongside, so you can see then and now. He’s integrated 4 Commons institutions into the map, and the State Records of NSW too, who aren’t in the Commons, but presumably have similar geodata
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/llgc/3746176208/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - and finally, the National Library of Wales
    • Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - All entries in both Welsh and English - links back to records’ pages on the Library site (this is common practice)
    • Results? http://flickr.com/photos/ntang/21736793/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 (Incidentally, this photo is called “20 yards, first time”)
    • Generally... • About 30 million views across about 15,000 photos • “Well-behaved” • Emergent “collections” • Growing interest • Re-use, proliferation, useful information (!) Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Generally... • About 30 million views across about 15,000 photos • “Well-behaved” • Emergent “collections” • Growing interest • Re-use, proliferation, useful information (!) Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • http://www.flickr.com/commons/tags/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • http://flickr.com/commons/tags/smile/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 Emergent collec,ons... 79 photos of smiles
    • http://flickr.com/commons/tags/moustache/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 173 photos tagged with  moustache
    • http://www.flickr.com/commons/tags/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Wednesday, September 9, 2009 Tagged with blimp, zeppelin, dirigible, airship etc
    • Mayanaut says: “Unfortunately, many of the tags on this photo are incorrect. it is neither a Zeppelin, nor a dirigible. Barrage balloons were not manufactured by the Zeppelin company, nor did they utilize helium as their lifting gas.” Wednesday, September 9, 2009 Someone pipes up to say...
    • Mayanaut says: “I applaud the Library of Congress for allowing individuals to add tags, but in this case, such incorrect tags are merely contributing to historical inaccuracies.” Wednesday, September 9, 2009 BEHAVE MORE LIKE AN INSTITUTION! (But the effect of that discussion is educa,on nonetheless. I mean, I’d never even heard of a “dirigible”!)
    • Azchael says: “@mayanaut: But you wrote a corrective statement, which means that a natural control mechanism is taking place and those interested [will] find the right information.” Wednesday, September 9, 2009 interes,ng self‐correc,on... without modera,on
    • Feedback screenshot Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - One of the other Commons members, the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, has actually begun re-ingesting tags added on Flickr into their own internal systems
    • Feedback Flickr screenshot Tags Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - One of the other Commons members, the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, has actually begun re-ingesting tags added on Flickr into their own internal systems
    • The Library of Congress has updated 3,266 records in the Prints & Photographs Catalog, “based on information provided by the Flickr Commons project, 2008,” with more to come. Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - Almost the most exciting thing for me is that participating institutions are starting to take back feedback that’s useful to their catalogues... - Whether it’s a simple link to the photograph’s page on Flickr, or an actual catalogue update...
    • "Street in industrial town in Massachusetts." http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/2178249475/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 This was a photo LC added to the Commons, and it’s initial title was...
    • "Street in industrial town in Massachusetts." http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/2178249475/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 A speculative comment, suggests the location of the tea room.
    • "Street in industrial town in Massachusetts." http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/2178249475/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 Anty Diluvian confirms that this is indeed the corner of School & Main streets in Brockton, Massechusetts. And provides a bunch of other context for the photograph.
    • "Street in industrial town in Massachusetts." http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/2178249475/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 Josh Glenn pipes up with a ton of extra information about Sylvia’s Sweets Tea Room...
    • "Street in industrial town in Massachusetts." http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/2178249475/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 Perhaps best of all, THE Library of Congress responds to say thank you.
    • http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?fsaall:3:./temp/~pp_2WYG::@@@mdb=fsaall,brum,detr,swann,look,gottscho,pan,horyd,genthe,var,cai,cd,hh,yan,lomax,ils,prok,brhc,nclc, matpc,iucpub,tgmi,lamb,hec,krb Wednesday, September 9, 2009 Here’s the LC record on loc.gov
    • Current title devised by Library staff based on information provided by the source: Flickr Commons project, 2008. The FSA or OWI agency caption was "Street in industrial town in Massachusetts." Additional information about this photograph might be available through the Flickr Commons project at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ library_of_congress/2178249475 http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?fsaall:3:./temp/~pp_2WYG::@@@mdb=fsaall,brum,detr,swann,look,gottscho,pan,horyd,genthe,var,cai,cd,hh,yan,lomax,ils,prok,brhc,nclc, matpc,iucpub,tgmi,lamb,hec,krb Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • “The Flickr Commons project provided Smithsonian staff an excellent opportunity for collaborations between our different museums and researcher centers.” http://smithsonianlibraries.si.edu/smithsonianlibraries/2008/06/smithsonian-lib.html Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - The team assembled were all volunteers too, just by the way.
    • Personal Investment Time, labour, thought, even code Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - This is probably just semantics, but using the word “access”, as in ‘we need to increase access’ assumes some sort of barrier, or a right of entry
    • http://flickr.com/groups/flickrcommons/discuss/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - 1,025 members, 179 discussion threads in just over a month - entirely community-driven (though staff now participate)
    • http://indicommons.org Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • “Indicommons.org isn’t just about about blogging about Flickr Commons–related news, showcasing Commons-related research and community- generated ‘subcuration’. We’re also active in creating new tools to follow, search and sort the Commons collections.” http://indicommons.org Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • “Indicommons.org isn’t just about about blogging about Flickr Commons–related news, showcasing Commons-related research and community- generated ‘subcuration’. We’re also active in creating new tools to follow, search and sort the Commons collections.” http://indicommons.org Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • http://indicommons.org Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Greasemonkey + The Commons = “Greased Commons” Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - A Flickr member, clickybd, has developed a couple of fantastic scripts to help people brose the Commons more easily. - And, here’s an interesting way to reward and thank the people who make the effort...
    • From Access to Release A different mindset; not an adversarial position Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - This is probably just semantics, but using the word “access”, as in ‘we need to increase access’ assumes some sort of barrier, or a right of entry
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationallibrarynz_commons/3326203787/ http://flickr.com/photos/daveynin/560170975/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - Can institutions cultivate a genuine intent to release content to the web? - Internal benefits may include: - saving time - attracting new
    • “The very ‘stuff’ of the Web is profoundly social and meaningful. It thus lets us see that our traditional realism is not only wrong but dreadfully alienating.” - David Weinberger, Small Pieces Loosely Joined http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationallibrarynz_commons/3326203787/ http://flickr.com/photos/daveynin/560170975/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - Can institutions cultivate a genuine intent to release content to the web? - Internal benefits may include: - saving time - attracting new
    • http://flickr.com/photos/carthorse/340434797/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - Bran talked about affinity this morning... That’s basically what Flickr is - an “affinity engine” - a place where people share knowledge voluntarily, Commons or not !
    • • How might participating in something like Flickr save you time & money? • New, global audience • Attract new information, new curation, new insight • Born-digital memory creation • Potential to direct digitisation efforts • Cross-institutional collaboration http://flickr.com/photos/carthorse/340434797/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - People have referred to Flickr as an “Affinity Engine” - a place where people of ! like minds can “meet” and talk about what they’re interested in. - When you’re talking about a virtual society of some 30 million people, there is plenty of variation, and many affinities. - Instead of seeing this as meaningless chatter, perhaps conceiving of it as a resource to enhance your collection is the way to go. - A lot of the interest may be mundane, yet amongst the rocks you’ll find the occasional diamond. Just another, new channel to help you in your quest to enhance your own data.
    • And now, to the second project... Wednesday, September 9, 2009 -
    • Open Library http://flic.kr/p/4Pg28f Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/albaum/2220505187/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/albaum/2220505187/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/future15/2036935569/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/george/3481337237/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • web.archive.org Wednesday, September 9, 2009 Browse through over 150 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago.
    • archive-it.org Wednesday, September 9, 2009 Archive-It, a subscription service from the Internet Archive, allows institutions to build and preserve collections of born digital content. Collections are hosted at the Internet Archive data center and are accessible to the public with full-text search.
    • nasaimages.org Wednesday, September 9, 2009 NASA Images was created through a partnership with NASA to bring public access to NASA's image, video, and audio collections in a single, searchable resource.
    • archive.org/details/texts Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchive/330205088/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - Many of our scanned books are delivered on the One Laptop Per Child machines...
    • openlibrary.org Wednesday, September 9, 2009 The overarching goal for Open Library is to have a page on the web for every book ever published. Not just its editable catalogue record, but links to all sorts of resources on the broader web as well. We have gathered about 30 million records (20 million are available through the site now) from people like the Library of Congress, University of Toronto, TALIS here in the UK and others, with more are on the way. We have built the database infrastructure and the wiki interface, and you can search millions of book records, narrow results by facet, and search across the full text of 1 million scanned books.
    • Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - Every time I do a search, I find amazing bits and pieces...
    • Culture Shock http://flic.kr/p/4yZfXd Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - “Never give your sword to a chick!” Not only coming from a corporate environment into a non-profit where: IA - Open, open, open - not just API, but bug system, mailing lists, Wiki - Longevity by design But also, Open Library is built on top of 150 years of librarianship - NOT messy - Lots of clever people thinking about it What does an armchair sociologist (ie, me) think about libraries?
    • http://flic.kr/p/v5uNz Wednesday, September 9, 2009 The act of adding a book to a library catalog is a bit like playing tetris.
    • http://flic.kr/p/6pmtQL Wednesday, September 9, 2009 Librarians are humans too. And everyone who’s responsible for putting books into a catalogue must work within patterns. Patterns that have grown semantically remarkable and deeply complex.
    • "But here’s a question for you, let’s say you have an 856 URL to full text for a serial. And you know what date ranges it covers. What sub-field would you put that in? $3 or $z? I see it in both." Jonathan Rochkind, Bibliographic Wilderness http://flic.kr/p/6pmtQL Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Challenges • Dense library metadata • Designed for classic institutional search/retrieve practice • Data is very “dry”, often of poor quality • No insight into the community Wednesday, September 9, 2009 Coming in cold... here were a few things that struck me...
    • What have we got? • Loads of data 23 million records • Small user base < 20,000 • Small team 6 people • Small architecture 12 servers • Good framework infogami, web.py Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - But, there were also some good things!!
    • First steps... Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - the temptation coming in to a new job (or a new archive) is simply to rearrange everything. - I’m afraid I’ve succumbed to temptation in this particular case, but hopefully it’s not completely unfounded :)
    • Understand relationships http://flic.kr/p/6xCJQS Wednesday, September 9, 2009 So, what have we got, and how does it all inter-relate? Any relationship can be made into a hyperlink.
    • Evaluate This is the current form to add a book. Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - Assumes library knowledge
    • Reach into the network twitter.com/openlibrary Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • What if? •Adjacent books... How do you browse a library? •Not efficiency, but effectiveness (conversation broker, records improve over time) - Shirky •Not a purchasing engine Resist defaulting to the Amazon model Wednesday, September 9, 2009 If you haven’t heard of Clay Shirky yet, please make sure you look into his work if you’re interested to enter the Great Unknown. He has though a lot about what it means to open yourself up to normal humans, and also about how ready they are to help you.
    • Small Collections, Lovers of Books http://flic.kr/p/34WGhL Wednesday, September 9, 2009 Catalogues from book lovers who may not be professional librarians Effective & Personal Inefficient & Charming, Detailed Actually a lot more like archivists in behaviour, than librarians
    • Small Collections, Lovers of Books http://flic.kr/p/34WGhL Wednesday, September 9, 2009 From my new favourite blog called “A Working Library” written by Mandy Brown. She’s written a review of my new favourite book called “A Library at Night” by Alberto Manguel, A series of meandering essays on the subject of the library.: Aby Warburg’s library opened in Hamburg in 1926. In Manguel’s telling, Warburg incessantly arranged and rearranged his books, moving titles from shelf to shelf in an attempt to map the paths among them. Visitors spoke of books of literature shelved next to those on geography, art history leaning against philosophy. At one point, unable to move the books at the speed of his mind, Warburg resorted to tacking notecards to a cloth—each card relating a text or image, their placement on the cloth relating them to other texts. The cards could be lifted and moved around at will—a visualization of the ongoing, cacophonous conversation around them. His was a library as creative act—it exchanged the rigor of a single taxonomy for one that was fluid, eccentric, human. In so doing he delayed the act of finding a text indefinitely. You didn’t so much as look for a book as look for the thread that linked it to its neighbor; you didn’t rest on a single title, but instead travelled through them all, assured that wherever you were going, you would never arrive.
    • http://flic.kr/p/6zyU3U Tension? Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - There is, of course, the divide between professional librarians and book lovers.
    • Substrate: any surface on which a plant or animal lives or on which a material sticks http://flic.kr/p/4itJcB Wednesday, September 9, 2009 There’s also an alternate definition which suggests a substrate is catalytic; something that facilitates a reaction.
    • What if we consider the library records like that? http://flic.kr/p/4itJcB Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - The trick is, these records are like a new language. To use them and operate within them requires specific training. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, and experts are wonderful, it means that people like me (reasonably clever, been to Uni) can’t make use of them.
    • Deconstruction http://flickr.com/photos/tupwanders/3356077817/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 I’ve learned a wee bit about the history of library metadata... And museum metadata for that matter.... It seems like the 1960s are a bit of a blight for human understanding, since that’s the time when we got all excited about computers and their processing power, and seemingly overwrote a lot of the crafty, poetic description and allusion that was done to describe cultural works, in favour of the Tetris approach. What happens if you blow it up?
    • 600 13 $a Marie Antoinette $c Queen, Consort of Louis XVI, King of France $d 1755-1793 650 2 $a Queens $z France $v Biography 1 $a Queens $z France $x Biography 651 2 $a France $x History $y Louis XVI, 1774-1793 1 $a France $x History $y Revolution, 1789-1799 1 $a France $x Queens $x Biography Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - I don’t want Open Library to jettison librarianship, or neglect to acknowledge the brilliant hard work of librarians over the years... - You could argue that this sort of computer-y librarianship (or any type of “educated classification”) was (perhaps unintentionally) designed to obscure the personal... the practical... the human - How might we adapt or extend (or revert?) this librarians’ work to appeal to a broader audience? - Let’s see what happens when you explode Library of Congress Subject Headings. This data isn’t even in Open Library - we borrowed it from loc.gov then pulled out the dynamite...
    • 600 (people) 13 $a Marie Antoinette $c Queen, Consort of Louis XVI, King of France $d 1755-1793 650 (subjects) 2 $a Queens $z France $v Biography 1 $a Queens $z France $x Biography 651 (places) 2 $a France $x History $y Louis XVI, 1774-1793 1 $a France $x History $y Revolution, 1789-1799 1 $a France $x Queens $x Biography Wednesday, September 9, 2009 These numbers are subsections of a thing called a MARC record - MAchine-Readable Cataloging Since librarianship is “diabolically rational” of course, everything is in it’s place, whether it’s a reference to a person, a place, a thing, an author or, whatever...
    • (people) Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI (subjects) Queens, France, Biography (places) France, History, Louis XVI, 1774-1793, Revolution, 1789-1799, Queens, Biography Wednesday, September 9, 2009 So, if we get rid of all that machine readable gumpf, we start to have things that humans can parse as well...
    • Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, Queens, France, Biography, History, 1774-1793, Revolution, 1789-1799 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, Queens, France, Biography, History, 1774-1793, Revolution, 1789-1799 Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • As Warburg imagined it, a library was above all an accumulation of associations, each association breeding a new image or text to be associated, until the associations returned the reader to the first page. For Warburg, every library was circular. http://aworkinglibrary.com/library/archives/on_the_library/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Subject Related subjects Books about... “Collections” Publishing over Related authors time Information from If it’s a place, the network show a map! Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Subject Related subjects Books about... “Collections” Publishing over Related authors time openlibrary.org/subjects/places/bordeaux Information from If it’s a place, the network show a map! Wednesday, September 9, 2009 Give it a URL
    • Release http://flickr.com/photos/swamibu/3191787234/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - launch with what we’ve got - the records are still the same... just easier to skip around - allow people to collect books around them, and then share or export that collection
    • “Build it so anyone can contribute any amount.” Clay Shirky Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Connect Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - exploring partnerships, connections - reach into existing networks - Library Thing, Good Reads, open source systems, etc - open data, improve API
    • Observe http://flickr.com/photos/odreiuqzide/3195647925/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - see what people do - provide tools to let people see what everyone else is doing - monitor activity, like popular records, top editors, sign ups per day etc - and ABOVE ALL, participate!!!
    • 3 Themes 1. It’s all about increasing access, isn’t it? 2. Learn to love (and exploit) networks 3. Institutional knowledge as substrate Wednesday, September 9, 2009 There are hopefully 3 themes threaded through my presentation today...
    • We’re planning to launch a rough draft of the redesign in late October. We’ll polish it into the future. Wednesday, September 9, 2009
    • Thank You! glo@archive.org slideshare.net/george08 http://flickr.com/photos/roadsidepictures/244926428/ Wednesday, September 9, 2009