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Web person at the Imperial War Museum, just completed PhD about digital sustainability in museums (the original motivation for this blog was as my research diary). Posting occasionally, and usually museum tech stuff but prone to stray. I welcome comments if you want to take anything further. These are my opinions and should not be attributed to my employer or anyone else (unless they thought of them too). Twitter: @jottevanger

Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Repatriating" some of our collection

An organisation would like to use our data and images relating to objects we have on long-term loan from them. This is an opportunity to develop an (overdue) API or some other means for distributing content dynamically.

Why we should help:

·         it's their collection

·         we should anyway open our cleaned collection data to anyone for reuse (expansion of museum domain and role)

·         a model of good behaviour for the hub

·         a model of techniques for the hub – building distributed use with centralised authorship

·         opportunity to try new techniques – web services (broadly speaking), AJAX, Semantic Web or just RSS, perhaps m-objects.

How we could do it:

·         Assume minimal technical know-how and no facility for server-side scripting

·         Assume we want to keep the source data under our control so that we can amend as we please (although perhaps supplemented with input from the organisation in question?) This will mean less work for them on the basis of the first assumption

·         Offer AJAX interface onto a service or onto a static XML file. This will take a string of IDs. Alternatively, it could look to an RSS feed from my m-objects application)

·         We would supply

o       JS snippet and files to insert into each HTML file (including an onload() for the body tag)

o       Spreadsheet of objects and IDs

o       The XSL and possibly CSS

·         Methods for passing IDs could be via a hidden form element, JS include or querystring

·         If accessing (loading) static XML, XSL will need to deal with a string of IDs. If accessing a dynamic service need only transform whatever is returned

·         Other functions of service could include filtering by keyword, date, collector. Keyword needs to look at related people and themes

·         What format of data? OAI with unqualified DC? CDWA Lite? Talk to Mia.

·         Alternatively could develop the API to my app so that they can pick what they want

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