w/c 8 October – Discovery News Roundup

In recent weeks the Discovery Team have been finalising and releasing a whole suite of online materials which reflect our continued focus on the business case for Discovery. In September we released a collection of eight videos containing the reflections of UK academic library directors on topics such as the key issues and challenges for resource discovery, the value of making special collections visible and the potential of collaboration.

The videos were launched in our latest Discovery newsletter, along with our Case Study collection and Guidance Materials which aim to highlight and support current real-world practices relating to the Discovery Open Metadata Principles and Technical Principles within museums, libraries and archives.

The work of the Discovery programme has informed the latest animation from the OER IPR Support Project: ‘Open Data Licensing’ which you can view below. A key aspect of the Discovery programme’s approach is “establishing clarity of understanding around licensing and open data” so it’s good to see such a complex issue described in an accessible way – it doesn’t remove any of the inherent complexity but it breaks down and clarifies that complexity, which is an important initial step towards enabling action.

Some highlights from the wider world of resource discovery and open data:

  • In September, Europeana continued to set the pace in cultural data aggregation by opening up metadata for more than 20 million cultural objects for free use under the Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain Dedication licence. Their release represents the largest one-time dedication of cultural data to the public domain using the CC0 waiver and opens up the possibility of innovative apps, games, web services and portals being developed. The move also ‘holds the potential to bring together data [...] from other sectors, such as tourism and broadcasting’. As Jill Cousins, Executive Director of Europeana said: “This move is a significant step forward for open data and an important cultural shift for the network of museums, libraries and galleries who have created Europeana”. EC Vice President, Neelie Kroes referred to the Europeana release as a ‘treasure trove of cultural heritage.
  • At the Healthcare Efficiency Through Technology Expo this week, Garry Coleman talked about the NHS Information Centre’s plans for a large-scale open data release, involving millions of rows of data being made available under an Open Government Licence. This release reflects the wider importance of transparency as a motivator for open data, particularly within governmental/publically-funded organisations. It also could be a watershed moment for the release of anonymised sensitive data which could further open up the way for the, arguably much less contentious, sharing of open metadata that our sector is working towards.
  • I mentioned Cooper-Hewitt Labs’ Director, Seb Chan, in my digest last month and his latest blogpost about being ‘of the web’ rather than ‘on the web’ is another interesting read. They are embracing the porosity of the internet and working with websites such as Behance to surface their collections and associated information out in the wild. In doing so they are finding creative ways to tackle potential showstoppers such as control over branding and retaining attribution. Their approach enables them to keep their expertise focussed on activities that are within their own domain and offers up an interesting blueprint for externally located engagement and visibility.
  • Rewired State are running an ‘Open Science’ hack day event in partnership with the Wellcome Trust in December.
  • The Open Data Network have launched the Open Data Showroom website which looks like it will become a very useful ‘at a glance’ resource for finding interesting sources of, and uses for, open data.
  • Leigh Dodds’ blogpost identifies a simple model for exploring the sustainability of open data curation projects such as legislation.gov.uk.
  • A significant release of legislative open data was announced this week on the Open Knowledge Foundation website, which reported on the release of US Congress legislative data going back to 1973.
  • The latest Arts Council Digital R&D podcast focuses on how organisations can use digital technology to open up archives, collections and data. It includes news from the V&A and the British Museum and considers the impact of projects such as Google’s Art Project.
  • And staying with Google, this week saw the launch of the Google Cultural Institute which aims to “preserve and promote culture online”. The Cultural Institute website presents curated cultural artefacts in online galleries, together with search and browse facilities. The individual artefacts retain their attribution to the holding organisation and, in some cases, the associated metadata can also be viewed. It’s not immediately obvious how open the underlying data is but it appears to be a walled garden at the moment.

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