Found History

by Tom Scheinfeldt

Briefly Noted: Universal Museum APIs; Raw Data Now!; Publish or Perish

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Mia Ridge, Lead Web Developer at the Science Museum, London (where I’m a research fellow, incidentally) points to Museums and the machine-processable web, a new wiki “for sharing, discussing, arguing over and hopefully coming to some common agreements on APIs and data schemas for museum collections.”

Following closely on that, Tim Berners-Lee calls for “Raw Data Now!” at the TED Conference, suggesting that linked raw data may be poised to displace more finished works (journal articles, websites) as the main unit of scientific production. Interesting, provocative parallels to the digital humanities.

And not entirely unrelated, Mark Bauerlein considers the problems of “publish or perish” in Professors on the Production Line, Students on Their Own [.pdf]. Asking “Do any major works or authors lack editors, interpreters, theorists, reviewers, and teachers?” Bauerlein answers “the ‘coverage’ project is complete” and suggests departments turn back to teaching. “We need honest and open public acknowledgment that the scholarly enterprise has lost its rationale,” he concludes, “that central parts of the humanities are in real trouble, and that the surest way to restoration lies in a renewed commitment to the undergraduate student.” I can’t say I always agree with Bauerlein (see, for example, www.dumbestgeneration.com) but he’s invariably worth reading.

2 Comments

  1. I enjoyed the Bauerlein essay also. But maybe that is because I am such a numbers guy. In any event, I wish he had spent more time think about what the digital methods and tools can do to solve some of the problems in the humanities. I guess the vision hasn’t spread very far and wide yet.

  2. Thanks for helping get the word out! I’d love to hear from people with ideas on how museum data could be re-used, as well as tech people working on related APIs.

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