Tips for data providers: how to make open culture data re-use easier
This year, the Dutch network Open Culture Data received many tips from developers and other open data re-users of cultural datasets about the best ways for data providers to make their datasets available. In this blog post, we give an overview of the most important recommendations to concentrate on as data provider in order to increase the re-use of your open cultural datasets.
What’s the best place to store my data?
- Always make your data (content and / or metadata) available on your own website. This way it’s clear that you are the original provider. Another advantage is that you will often have a better overview of the access to and re-use of your data than if you only provide access to it elsewhere.
- You can provide both content (e.g. images, videos), and the information about this content as well (metadata). The metadata is almost always stored on a different place than the content. If you provide both content and metadata, then make sure that it’s clear where they can be found. Ideally, add a separate field in the metadata with a URL to the content, for example the URL of the images or videos.
Besides writing a data blog, how can I provide more information about my open cultural dataset?
- As stated above, ideally re-users can easily find a link in your metadata to the online version of the record in your own catalogue or on your own website.
- If your organisation has an online shop where users can order content, then it is important for end users to clearly mark your Open Cultural Dataset content as such: open. For this you can for instance use (links to) Creative Commons licenses. The reason for this is that it’s confusing for re-users to see a shopping cart next to a photo which you provide as open data elsewhere. If you don’t make re-use conditions explicit, this can eventually lead to less re-use.
- Make sure there’s an explanation or news section on your website about the sort of open cultural dataset(s) your institution provides. For this, you can use the text of your data blog.
- Always include a field in your metadata with specific rights status information, and make clear under which conditions and license(s) you provide your content and / or metadata. Open Culture Data guidelines’ are: provide metadata under CC0, and content under either the Creative Commons Attribution or Attribution-ShareAlike licenses, or use the Public Domain Mark when all rights to the content have expired.
What is the best way to provide my metadata?
- Indicate clearly under which conditions you make your dataset (content and / or metadata) available. See also the last point above.
- The preferences vary among developers and other re-users. Some are happy with a simple .csv or .txt dump of metadata, others rather have access to a full live API, where you can choose to access data in different ways (e.g. JSON, .xml). Whatever your options or limitations are, at least make sure you always clearly describe what people can find in your metadata fields in your data blog, and provide re-users with as many options as possible to approach, download and search through your data. If you have an API, then describe which standard you’re using and where re-users can find more information about it.
- Describe clearly in your data blog or – even better – in your metadata when the latest changes to your dataset were made. If changes occur regularly, provide an update incrementally, or even offer multiple versions of your dataset.
What is the best way to provide my content?
- If you provide open content, it’s recommended to make it available in the highest resolution possible. This will stimulate re-use! Note that some developers also like to have the option to work with a smaller resolution, because this is less ‘heavy’. So ideally, you have content available in different resolutions.
Are there specific tips for getting my open cultural content on Wikipedia?
- For re-use on Wikipedia, the following metadata fields are the most important: name of the creator, title, object type, description, creation date, measurements, current location, internal ID, license.
- Make sure that at least these fields are properly documented.
- If your content is labeled with an unique category on the Wikimedia Commons (for example Category:Media_from_Open_Beelden), you can get statistics about re-use of your content on Wikipedia (some examples here). These categories are assigned by the Wikimedia community itself.
Click here for an overview of all Open Culture Data on OpenGLAM