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Happy developers + happy museums = happy punters


Blogged my notes at …

Blogged my notes at

Museum content and access for the higher education sector from the dev8d event in London, February 2009.

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  • 1. Happy developers, happy museums JISC #dev8d Mia Ridge, Science Museum
  • 2. Who?
    • I’m Mia
    • I work for the Science Museum
    • Yes, I have an accent (fading after several years away)
    • - @ me with comments. I’ll post URLs there too.
    • – my blog on digital heritage, blah blah blah
  • 3. IMHO
    • I think museums can change lives
      • "Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. “
      • "No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be." Isaac Asimov
    • Museums should be about delight, serendipity and answers that provoke more questions
    • Museums should also be committed to accessibility, transparency, curation, respecting and enabling expertise
  • 4. Why am I here today?
    • Museums have lots of information
    • We like sharing it
    • We could guess what’s useful for researchers, educators and developers - but we’d rather go to the source. How we can work with you?
  • 5. Some challenges
    • Technical
      • The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed
    • Data
      • We have a lot of it. A lot of what we have is rubbish
    • Institutional
      • Challenges to curatorial authority, fear of loss of control, loss of trust, fear that we’ll get the IT wrong
    • Funding, metrics
      • How do you propose agile projects to funding committees? How do you measure visitors to a mashup?
    • Copyright
      • We don’t always have image or IP rights for our objects or content
  • 6. Dealing with the challenges
    • We can’t afford to build interfaces to meet every need.
      • But we don’t need to if we make it possible for others to build things
    • Inspiring examples, real success stories from users, sharing technical solutions help sector evangelisers
    • ‘ Fail faster, succeed sooner’ – reward intelligent failure
    • Suggestions?
  • 7. What are museums known for?
    • Buildings full of stuff
    • Being experts
    • Making visitors come to us
    • Being fun. Yay! 8D
    • Being boring. Boo :(
  • 8. What are museum websites known for?
    • Helping you plan a visit
    • Most people use museum websites to find out when a museum is open, how much it costs, and what's on.
    • Which is nice... but... we can do more
  • 9. Pretty ‘exhibition microsites’
  • 10. Collections online
    • (not always as pretty)
  • 11. What do we have?
    • Lots of objects, lots of images
    • Lots of metadata about objects
    • Also interrelated records on people, places, dates, historical periods, events, subjects (topics, themes)
      • Who designed, invented, made, used, bought, owned, donated an object? When and where was it made, used, found? What’s related?
  • 12. What are museums doing at the moment?
    • One way or another, we're opening up access to our collections.
      • Read access is easy, write access is harder.
    • APIs large and small
    • Aiming to produce re-usable, interoperable data with clear re-use statements
    • Cool examples: IMA dashboard, Powerhouse Museum OPAC, Brooklyn Museum
    • , , ,
  • 13. We’re taking our content to where people hang out
  • 14. What would we like to be known for?
    • An end to silos
    • User-centred, not institution-centred
    • Helping researchers help themselves
    • Helping developers help others
    • Being a source of content for lecturers and teachers
    • Not just history, biography or art – also science, natural history, archaeology
  • 15. What can we do for you?
    • Who are you? University users (students, researchers, teachers and administrators), hobbyists, specialists, developers; direct or indirect uses
    • Enquiry-based learning; mashups; linked data, semantic web technologies, cross-collections searches; faceted browsing to make complex searches easy; museums as a place where stuff lives – a happy home for metadata mapped around objects and authority records?
    • What else? You tell me! What do you want to provide for your users, and how can museums help?
  • 16. Happy developers + happy museums = happy punters
    • “ The coolest thing to do with your data will be thought of by someone else”
      • []
  • 17. Image credits
    • Museum building
    • Instrument case
    • Replica Difference Engine
    • Happy face
    • Curiosity
    • Crowd control barriers
    • Silos
    • If not in the list,