Smorgasbord

Merrilee’s flurry of posts reminded me that it may be time to contribute something meaningful to our little sandbox again. It’s been a really busy beginning of the year for me, and I thought maybe folks would like to hear in a smorgasbord fashion about some of the things currently cooking.

All of us bloggers (plus a couple of other RLG folks) have been spending a lot of time kick-starting the Open Content Alliance (OCA) Working Groups – you may have seen the announcements, and read some of Jim’s earlier entries on the topic. We just had a meeting of all the working group chairs and RLG support staff to fine-tune titles, charters and dependencies last Friday. One of the outcomes was that we’ve vowed to keep most of the working groups themselves light and maneuverable, while asking for wide review of the resulting documentation. Since we’re not writing any community-wide best practice guidelines, but rather fleshing out how the Internet Archive can run the OCA as a successful, scalable venture, this seems to be the right way to go. Stay tuned for more details on the meeting – I’m sure other bloggers will chime in.

By the way, I recently learned from my pal Tim Au Yeung from U of Calgary that Canada also has a mass digitization alliance – and in “Alouette Canada” (I understand that “Alouette” means “lark”) they do have a truly cool name, despite the fact that they share it (first hit as of the writing of this post) with a gaming industry supplier. Check out this press release for more info.

Wearing my hat as the program officer at RLG who engages the museum community, I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations with our membership about what I flippantly call “sharing collections à la Getty” (for an intro to the topic, see here and here on the blog, and don’t miss this interview with Ken Hamma in TopShelf!). At the outset of these discussions, we always have to get across the “we can’t give it all away” hump. A typical response (which I’ve heard almost verbatim a number of times by now): “While I personally applaud the Getty’s advocacy in putting collection images of public domain artworks into the public domain as well, I think we’re not quite that far along at this institution yet.” On the other hand, there is a lot of enthusiasm for having a robust mechanism in place which would allow a museum to share collections with a select number of trusted partners. Building on that enthusiasm, I’d like to pull together a group of institutions willing to evaluate the technologies proposed (CDWA Lite and OAI) to see whether other museum can successfully emulate the Getty prototype.

I’ve also been nagging museum members to share with me how far along they are in terms of implementing Digital Asset Managements Systems, another topic of tremendous interest. I’ll be hosting a lunch-table at IMLS WebWise this week devoted to this topic, and in the long run, am looking for contributors to a special issue of RLG DigiNews on DAMS in Museums – I think the time is ripe for the first implementers to share their stories from the trenches.

And then, of course, there are always the RAVNS (Resources Available in Natural Sciences), steadily moving forward on the project of bringing a collection-level description standard to the natural history community. And the proposed joint MCN / AAM Media & Technology blog, which both boards are in the process of endorsing . But maybe these are other stories better told in full on another day…