BYTE into open cultural data

March 26, 2015 in Featured, Projects

This is a guest blogpost by Anna Donovan on The Big data roadmap and cross-disciplinarY community for addressing socieTal Externalities (BYTE) project. The BYTE project is looking at open cultural data as part of the relationship between open access and big data in Europe. BYTE is also collaborating with Europeana to put open cultural data and linked metadata in focus as an exciting example of open cultural data.

byteLogoOpen cultural data, including metadata, provide us with cultural value as well as the potential to access digital works for reuse and innovation. Cultural data consisting of digitised versions of text, artefacts, sound recordings, images and objects raise unique opportunities. Forging new connections between diverse cultural artefacts, providing open access to publicly held data, encouraging private and public cooperation and encouraging the re-use of cultural data by different communities are just a few of the possibilities with open cultural data.

Europeana and OpenGLAM provide the BYTE team with exciting examples of initiatives that push open cultural data in the pursuit of these possibilities and more. Cultural data is unique in that it is not as easily converted into numbers and codes that can be “crunched” and analysed. Despite this, open cultural data initiatives and policies shed some light on the activities that are already stimulating the re-use of cultural heritage data, and providing frameworks for the facilitation of open access to big data in the cultural sector. They also indicate that considerable social, financial and operational benefits could arise from better use of data in the cultural sector. We are testing these possibilities further by conducting the case study into big data and culture, which focuses on Europeana to produce evidence-based, clear and precise questions that illuminate opportunities and problems related to big cultural data and possible solutions to be further investigated in the BYTE roadmap.

Our examination of big data and culture has led us to recommend that the cultural sector at large embrace value creation and market success by utilising cultural data currently held by public sector organisations, and by collaborating with private sector companies through the reuse of open cultural data. The predicted benefits are in addition to the current social and cultural value added to European society through open cultural data. We also aim to assist in making recommendations to diminish barriers to open cultural data, such as restrictive licensing agreements, which remain relevant to ensuring the data is genuinely open. These impacts and more were also the topic of the BYTE focus group on big data in culture, which was held in Munich on 23 March 2015. Texts, artefacts and objects are the most enduring types of data generated by human societies, and making them accessible has exciting potential.

For further information about our work with the BYTE project, please contact Anna Donovan of Trilateral Research & Consulting at: / @annadonovan_TRI.  You can also follow the BYTE project on Twitter through @BYTE_EU.

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