“A” is for Articulate – Webwise – Preconference Workshops

Posted by on Wednesday February 28 2007

From the floor of WebWise

Missed the morning pre-conference workshop because of a travel glitch, which was a shame because the morning line-up for a workshop entitled “Preserving Digital Collections” had Priscilla Caplan, Valerie Glenn, Mary Ide, and Rick Rinehart as headliners.  Reports were good coming out of the session but the cocktail reception doesn’t start for another hour so I’ll have more on this for you tomorrow.

I did get to attend the afternoon workshop ”Sharing Images and Data: Making Access to Collections Easier and Better”

Powerhouse team on the dais representing the best of the best talking about why it’s important for us to share. In terms of full disclosure I’ve known a lot of these people for years but that doesn’t stop me from recognizing how smart they are. 

Ken Hamma, Executive Director, Digital Policy, for the J. Paul Getty Trust kicked the afternoon off with an introduction to how the workshop was going to proceed and a discussion of Getty’s OAI Harvesting project.  Ken pointed out that the Getty project was designed as generic exchange model, and not as a collaborative project. He said, “It’s not us “the Getty” and the Art Stor,” it’s the Getty and the network. It’s a way for anyone to get the images and the meta data.

Sarah Shreeves, IDEALS Coordinator, University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Chanpaign gave a splendid introduction to the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting, bringing it to the group from her perspective both as a librarian and an aggregator.  She reminded us that users are going to expect to go directly to your content (through Google) and not through the layers of your site…. if we want our stuff to be found, we have to find the best mechanisms to share our data in searchable forms.  And, more importantly, she pointed out, it’s not just enough to want to share, your ogranization has to have a commitment to share and to provide the resources to make sharing possible.

Now I am not a meta data person myself (I just play one on TV) but I am always struck by their strange sense of fun. I’ve seen Sarah do this before. She shows the folks in the audience meta data records and we guess what the records describe…this is not by any means a wild crowd, but they certainly enjoy this activity.

Erin Coburn from the J. Paul Getty Museum was up at bat next, speaking on a number of topics, including CDWA Lite.  For more on this go here

She started off with a few big laughs reminding us “The great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from” and reminding us of fellow musematic blogger Nik Honeysett’s quote  “Standards are like toothbrushes…everyone agrees they are good idea but nobody wants to use anybody else’s.

She spoke briefly about the impact of AMICO on the museum community. There was a talk of whether or not AMICO was a sustainable model given that many of us struggled to provide submissions for AMICO and cleaned up the data according to their instructions but never cleaned the data in our own systems. 

Erin entertained and taught us important lessons about describing works of art correctly by illustrating a number of websites (displaying works of art with similar characteristics–a trio of images of St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata) and how impossible it becomes to find like items because of inconsistencies in the way various museums describe objects.  I am very inarticulately describing what Erin did, but it was great.

We took a break then, and had Q & A.  Surprisingly, the answer to many of the questions was “Call or email Guenter Waibel.”  This is like Jeopardy, folks.  Now you have to come up with the questions. 

 Murtha Baca took center stage after the coffee break with a discussion of  Shareable metadata.  Murtha—aka Jerry Springer —started off in the audience asking them what they thought of OAI harvesting and CDWA lite?  Tony Gill opined that he had issues getting the five organizations he works for to standardize their practices and that trying to move them into a unified environment, was ”like herding sheep.”  A few of us who also work for cultural heritage organizations think he might have meant “like herding cats” but we are giving him the benefit of the doubt because he is a valued colleague and we haven’t seen him around for a while. 

Murtha meanwhile offered up the wisdom, true in almost all fields, that “The hardest thing is getting human beings to change their behavior.” Another audience member (who I am paraphrasing) basically said “Show me the resources.”  Murtha said, “You don’t have to put all the data in, pick the core data—do an even lighter version of CDWA Light schema if you must.  I love that idea–Diet CDWA Lite!!!  (Less filling for you to do, but still ful-filling for your visitor and better than a strict diet of no data) .Audience member said, “I wanna do that.”  Murtha said, “You will, and next year I want you to report back.” Murtha went back on the stage and walked us through the issues that they went through at the Getty Research Institute with their textiles collection.  There was much discussion of deep web and how to get the information that is buried, to the surface.  Jack Ludden, Manager of Web Services at the Getty, was sitting next to me and we were both taking lots of notes for improvements we might be able to make to websites at the Getty and Cleveland.

Guenter Waibel took the stage and talked about parallel technologies in the various cultural domains of museums, libraries, and archives.  If he gives me a copy of his famous slide and tells me how to insert it in my blog (one of those things I’ve never learned), I’ll edit this tomorrow and post it.

He then introduced  Barbara Thompson, Witt Librarian, Courtauld Institute of Art (UK) Library; Michael Jenkins from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Cathryn Goodwin from Princeton–all three represent institutions taking part in an RLG/OCLC Collections Sharing Research Group (facilitated by G-Man).  And what an impressive way to end and already impressive day. They all reported on what their various institutions have been doing as a part working group.  Barbara proved once again that librarians are remarkable people and walked us through her efforts to understand the various schemas. 

Cathryn Goodwyn of Princeton talked about initiatives at Princeton, a big job and how they are envision sharing collections and….last, but not least,…if you think you have problems with your CMS…

Michael Jenkins reminded us that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently supporting 20 separate instances of TMS.  However, after listening to Michael discuss the work they are doing in the areas of sharing information you get the feeling that if the Met had a dozen Michael Jenkins they could probably rule the world.  Wait, wait, they DO already rule the museum world, but what a comfort to know there are people like Michael Jenkins on the job.   Barbara, Cathryn, and Michael are the footsoldiers in this push to share information and all three are to be congratulated.

One final thought….YOO HOO…..MUSEUMS…Webwise has got a whole herd of librarians and archivists here and only a tiny covey of museum people at this IMLS/RLG/OCLC/Getty sponsored conference.  It’s time to get on the bandwagon.  More tomorrow…..gotta go get a cocktail now.   


4 Responses to ““A” is for Articulate – Webwise – Preconference Workshops”

  1. Günter Waibel
    March 1st, 2007 07:52

    Holly, thanks for the breathless and breathtaking account of the latter half of the first day of WebWise! I’m sure verybody told you over cocktails that the Preserving Digital Collections workshop in the morning was truly a feat – digital preservation is becoming a sprawling field of standards, issues and ideas, and Priscilla packaged it all up rather nicely for the uninitiated to understand.

    I’ll send you the slides you’re referring to in a separate message, and we can try splicing them in together. One of them (the important one) is also up at with some contextual remarks – I’ve used it a number of times before.

  2. Tony Gill
    March 1st, 2007 01:28

    Yes, I did mean to say herding cats!

  3. Holly Witchey
    March 1st, 2007 02:20

    Your name is now spelled correctly too, Tony.

  4. The Real Paul Jones » WebWise recap at Musematic
    February 11th, 2011 12:11

    [...] Preconference: “A” is for Articulate [...]

Leave a Reply