Digitised Content in an API world


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Digitised content is often created behind tailored interfaces. How can the world of open data and APIs allow for different interfaces be built over the same content for different audiences

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Digitised Content in an API world

  1. 1. Digitised Content in an API World<br />Alastair Dunning, JISC<br />a.dunning AT jisc.ac.uk <br />Resource Discovery Taskforce Meeting<br />London, 20th April 2011<br />Acronym Count: 8<br />
  2. 2. types of content I’m talking about: digitised text, manuscripts, images, film footage, audio archives, newspapers, documents, music (and their metadata). ie. the type of stuff at http://www.jisc-content.ac.uk/<br />
  3. 3. such content tends to be locked down behind interfaces. usage is tied to technical infrastructure and interface <br />
  4. 4. the trouble with current resources is that they demand certain ways of analysing and representing the resource – and they constitute the creators’ way of seeing the world, not the users’<br />
  5. 5. SEARCH then LIST<br />
  6. 6. but what would such content look like in an RDTF world, where data and service are separated? What do APIs allow to happen?<br />
  7. 7. an API driven world would allow much greater flexibility over analysing a digitised dataset, i.e. different intellectual questions to be asked<br />
  8. 8. and also different ways of visualising that digital content<br />Thanks David McCandless! http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/<br />
  9. 9. and also of different ways of tailoring content for different audiences – different interfaces for schools, undergrads and researchers – all over the same content<br />
  10. 10. more importantly, it can help break down the notion of a collection, and the related silos <br />
  11. 11. http://www.connectedhistories.org is a great example. <br />on the surface, it appears like any other resource <br />
  12. 12. <ul><li>British History Online
  13. 13. British Museum Images
  14. 14. Burney Newspaper Collection, 1600-1800
  15. 15. Charles Booth Archive
  16. 16. Clergy of the Church of England Database, 1540-1835
  17. 17. House of Commons Parliamentary Papers
  18. 18. John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera
  19. 19. John Strype’s Survey of London
  20. 20. London Lives, 1690-1800: Crime, Poverty, and Social Policy in the Metropolis
  21. 21. Origins.net
  22. 22. Proceedings of the Old Bailey Online, 1674-1913</li></ul>but it is based on an API architecture which allows for aggregation and cross-search of 11 enriched metadata sets for the resources listed above<br />(note: the aggregators created the enriched metadata and the APIs not the resource provider, and are testing the business model behind this)<br />
  23. 23. so not only has an API architecture created a new resource for early modern British history, aggregating many disparate datasets <br />but others can come along and create their own interfaces – including or excluding elements of 11 resources (and adding others) as required <br />within these sources, there is rich metadata about places, areas, streets, names, crimes, genders, ages, occupations – these can be exploited in myriad ways<br />
  24. 24. indeed, the team will be incorporating map data and archaeological data from BL and Museum of London to allow for spatial visualisation via geographical data (maps in this case) and mashing of historical data (largely about events and people) with archaeological data (largely about objects)<br />Map - First Series Ordnance Survey, c.1805 from British Library via http://visionofbritain.org.uk/maps<br />
  25. 25. and think how this could work when you start bringing datasets and content from different subject areas – economics, anthropology, fashion<br />
  26. 26. on a practical note: don’t forget sustainability – the pressure of sustaining dataset and digitised content is relaxed for the collection holder; looking after the interface less important<br />
  27. 27. short-term wins<br /> content and enthusiasm is out there, although disparate – see The New History Lab article<br /> visualisation can produce eye-catching success<br /> short bursts of funding can make things happen<br /> scholarly labs at KCL, UCL, Sheffield and elsewhere (BL, BUFVC) <br />enthusiasm of GLAM sector (good work at V+A and Sci Museum)<br /> opportunties for enriching metadata via crowdsourcing<br />
  28. 28. long-term challenges<br /> getting people to build and document and sustain APIs; explaing to collection curators how and why to do it<br /> (some) publishers suspicious<br /> getting people to build interfaces on top of APIs; technical knowledge required to do so<br /> quality of metadata; who owns enriched metadata?<br /> business models unclear; related licencing<br /> interoperability between APIs?<br /> citation<br /> academic scepticism + misunderstanding<br /> {the web changes}<br />