GLAM-Wiki London 2013 Highlights

This weekend, around 150 people with a shared interest in open cultural data came together at the British Library in London for the GLAM-Wiki 2013 conference. During these two days, there were an incredible amount of inspiring keynotes, thought provoking discussions, and grounds for new collaborations. While impossible to put it all into one blogpost, we will look at some of the highlights, as well as the work the OpenGLAM team has done.

GLAMwiki London 2013 participants. Photograph by Mike Peel – licensed under the CC-BY-SA license

####Keynote by Michael Edson – “Scope, Scale and Speed”

After a brief introduction by the British Library and the chair of Wikimedia UK, Michael Edson from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington came on stage. He gave a very inspiring talk about the potential of the web in terms of scope, scale and speed. The web enables cultural institutions to reach out to an audience unimaginable before. At the same time, digital tools make it easier to interact with them. Right now, going digital is something that institutions are not quite used to and slow steps are being made. The audience however, will be demanding for more online access and services and at some point having a well maintained, accessible and re-usable online collection will become just as basic as providing a proper wireless connection in the library. Edson shows in his presentation numerous examples of large scale projects that benefit from the possibilities of the internet. They all have one thing in common: they abandoned old fashioned copyright restrictions and found new ways to reach out to their audience, completely open.

####Sam Leon – Curating the Digital Commons

Sam Leon talked in his presentation about the attributes of a digital cultural commons. Besides it being non-rivalrous and non-excludable, as the traditional notion of the commons, it allows unlimited re-use. But does free access alone facilitate this? Sam asked the question “if we just put it online, are we not trying to recreate the traditional GLAM?, is the glass not still there if we can not re-use the material?” The amount of available content from cultural institutions that can be found online at the moment is astonishing, but how do we make sense of these millions of metadatarecords and objects? The material being open is precondition, but we also need the easy to use tools that allow for re-use in order to create value and knowledge out of the data.

####Keynote by Lizzy Jongsma – “We are Open”

Lizzy Jongsma works at the Rijksmuseum as data manager. She gave a passionate talk about the pioneering work the Rijksmuseum has been doing over the last few years and how this has worked out for them. They have released almost 125.000 high quality images to the public domain and build a beautiful website around it where everybody can enjoy, download and curate the masterpieces of the Rijksmuseum. The full talk has been recorded and can be found here.

####Keynote by Mia Ridge – “A Brief History of Open Cultural Data”.

Mia Ridge presented on the Saturday morning session a brief overview of some the key moments in open cultural data. She also discussed the contradictory things GLAMs are told they must do. One the one hand they should give content away for the benefit of all but at the same time protect against loss of potential income, conserve collections in perpetuity and demonstrate return of investment on digitisation. “It’s important to understand some of the pressures they’re under. For example, GLAMs usually need to be able to track uses of their data and content to show the impact of digitising and publishing content, so they prefer attribution licences.”
In her presentation she referred to the paper that recently has been published by the Open Cultuur Data initiative where they have created a timeline of important moments in the open culture field. The full paper can be found here. During the weekend, we have used the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Timeliner tool to create an overview of these moments.
The full presentation of Mia Ridge has been recorded and can be found here. She also published a full transcription on her blog

####Panel discussion – “Striking the Balance”

On Saturday I was part of a panel discussing how an organisation strikes the balance between the moral imperative to open up collections, against the commercial drive to generate revenue. Nick Poole, CEO of the Collections Trust, has written his thoughts on this topic prior to the conference. The other panelists were Georgia Angelaki from National Documentation Center of Greece and Mike Peel, secretary of Wikimedia UK. We discussed together with the audience how two great pressures – openness and financial viability – set the context for how museums see their role, how they operate and how they will present themselves to their audiences, both online and off. Can you openly license your content and make money at the same time? Nick Poole will go into more detail about this session in a separate blogpost which we will post here as well anytime soon.

####Beat Estermann – To what extent are GLAMs ready for Open Data and Crowdsourcing?

During the GLAMwiki London weekend we have seen incredibly insightful and thought provoking presentations. Beat Estermann from the Bern University of Applied Sciences took a totally different approach and presented what the cultural sector is most looking for: facts. Over the last couple of months, he conducted a survey where he asked the Swiss cultural heritage sector about their stance and needs towards open data and crowdsourcing. One of the interesting outcomes is that most institutions see the importance of open data. However, they are still reluctant to make it available for commercial re-use. Most institutions at the same time do not realise that this non-commercial restriction does not allow re-use on Wikipedia and by third-app developers. A lot more figures can be found in his slides.

GLAMwiki London was a great two days with an incredibly high quality of talks and discussions. For more photos, slides and documentation, please check the GLAMwiki page.