On the face of it, there surely can’t be many places more ready for the Semantic Web than the world’s great museums. Vast quantities of richly structured data describing visually compelling objects that people already flock to see? A raison d’etre that is about sharing information and enhancing understanding? A tradition, stretching back several hundred years, of describing things clearly?
If my conversation with Koven Smith of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is any indication, though, the truth would appear rather different.
He talks, depressingly but all too familiarly, of vendor lock-in, competing institutional priorities, and a tradition of remarkable insularity within institutions that really should be more open.
Even in the face of this, though, Koven is able to describe work at the Met to leverage third party tools such as Open Calais and Semantic MediaWiki in enriching possible interactions with the museum’s institutional memory.
Have a listen, and see what you think.
I am aware of similar work at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and behind the European Commission‘s struggling Europeana, and should try to secure similar conversations with them. Is anyone aware of other examples?