RECOMMENDED: “A Map and Some Pins”: Open Data and Unlimited Horizons

Tim Sherratt (@wragge on Twitter) has published his keynote address to April’s Digisam Conference in blog form, in which he makes an inspired and passionate case for making cultural heritage data openly available. Sherratt reminds us that this data is infused with history and “resists our attempts at reduction,” while calling into question the notion that digital methods of exploring cultural heritage are extractive:

The glories of messiness challenge the extractive metaphors that often characterise our use of digital data. We’re not merely digging or mining or drilling for oil, because each journey into the data offers new possibilities — our horizons are opened, because our categories refuse to be closed. These are journeys of enrichment, interpretation and creation, not extraction.

We’re putting stuff back, not taking it out.

He goes on to say:

What this means for cultural institutions is that the sharing of open data is not just about letting people create new apps or interfaces. It’s about letting people create new meanings. We should be encouraging them to use our APIs and LOD to poke holes in our assumptions to let the power pour out.


This post was produced through a cooperation between Kristin Andrews and Helen Davies (Editors-at-Large for the week), Zach Coble (dh+lib review Editor for the week), and Caro Pinto and Roxanne Shirazi (dh+lib review Editors).