I'm off on holiday tomorrow, so I wanted to take this opportunity to
thanks our two 'Doctor's' for all their hard work this month, Jon and
Rick, and to say that list members please do continue this Theme
throughout April. I think it's been a very valuable month, and we'll
certainly be making an 'edited file' version for the CRUMB web site.
The next Theme will start in May.
On 30 Mar 2010, at 12:00, Beryl Graham wrote:
> Dear List,
> Crowdsourcing preservation? - as Rick says, what a crazy, but
> potentially fantastic and powerful idea.
> In particular, I find the 'shared vocabulary' idea very productive-
> something that CRUMB has striven to do in our MIT book in a prose kind
> of way. I also often use Rhizome's Artbase keywords as a slide in
> lectures, because they show the artists' self submitted keywords
> ('folksonomy') alongside a set of keywords edited and selected by an
> Artbase panel of people (taxonomy). It's very interesting to learn
> from the difference between the two.
> Something which came up at Caitlin Jones CRUMB workshop
> was the power of crownsourced _documentation_ too, where all kinds of
> performance work were documented, in some cases, much better than
> museum documentation. As Katy Lipps said at FACTs "Had to Be There"
> symposium ... "it's messy, but it's self-documenting".
> Any good examples of crowdsourced preservation or documentation?
> On 28 Mar 2010, at 17:13, Jon Ippolito wrote:
>> This last part of my talk from DOCAM tackles some of the issues of
>> scalability and redundancy raised by Caitlin, Oliver, Roger, and
>> START OF PART 3
>> Sharing within applications
>> Besides access, what really turbocharges crowdsourcing is connection.
>> The traditional way to think of connecting data from different
>> sources is to put it all a giant union database, or if that's
>> impractical, to enforce a common standard that everyone has to obey.
>> These solutions have their uses--as mentioned, the Variable Media
>> Questionnaire became more sociable as a Web service than as a
>> standalone application. But they are also limiting when working with
>> a community of heterogeneous practitioners and data. So we'll look at
>> some options for stimulating sharing while respecting differences.
>> It's possible to build the interface to a single dataset in a way
>> that respects differences. Users of the latest Variable Media
>> Questionnaire can compare opinions as they vary by work, by
>> interviewee, and by date. One of the most illuminating features of
>> such comparisons is the ability to highlight disagreements--a
>> situation you aren't likely to see on the wall label for an artwork,
>> but one I think is especially interesting from a historical
>> perspective. When the Questionnaire reveals that the Eva Hesse estate
>> and her close friend Sol LeWitt disagreed about whether her
>> deteriorating sculptures should be emulated or left to die, that
>> provokes a really interesting discussion about the aesthetics of
>> postminimal art.
>> Data silos
>> Few database designers would deliberately build a bottleneck into
>> their own system. Yet whether under pressure from copyright holders
>> or simply by force of habit, almost all of them design their
>> databases as segregated silos--which can amount to an entire array
>> of bottlenecks.
>> Most museums and archives in the United States and Europe have
>> developed in-house databases and/or Web sites, and a smaller but
>> significant proportion have databases that can be searched via their
>> Web sites. So a curator who wants to search for "television" can
>> consult the comprehensive databases of the Langlois Foundation,
>> MedienKunstNetz, or the Database of Virtual Art.
>> What a researcher currently cannot do, however, is to search for the
>> theme "television" across all, or even a handful, of such databases.
>> For efficiency, such online databases are typically accessed via
>> server-side scripts that take the form "index.php?theme=television,"
>> a formula that Google and Yahoo cannot spider. As a result, millions
>> of dollars and countless hours of staff time and expertise are spent
>> squirreling data away in private silos inaccessible to a broader
>> We've run into a similar incommensurability in Forging the Future, an
>> alliance of museums and cultural organizations currently working on
>> the release of a new preservation tools. We wanted each tool to be
>> useful on its own, but be even better when combined with other
>> Forging the Future tools, or even with proprietary databases. But we
>> soon found it difficult to convince our differing kinds of data and
>> platforms to play nice; it's hard to get a Web-based union database
>> and a desktop-based Filemaker client to speak the same language. The
>> last thing we wanted to do was to jam everything into yet another
>> silo'd database, so instead we went in search of a software
>> equivalent of Star Trek's "universal translator"--maybe not strong
>> enough to translate Klingon into English, but at least able to make
>> the introductions between related people and artworks in different
>> Sharing among applications
>> Still Water's John Bell came up with the idea of a Metaserver that
>> could act like a sort of ISBN for art by generated unique, portable
>> ids for people, works, and vocabulary. Any database with access to
>> the Internet--even a desktop application like Filemaker--can hook
>> into the Metaserver through an open API, at which point a registrar
>> adding records to that database could simultaneously view or add to
>> related data from every other database on the system. This Metaserver
>> tunnels between silos.
>> As co-developer Craig Dietrich likes to say, the Metaserver isn't an
>> archive, but rather an "inverse archive," that stores pointers to
>> records in other folk's archives. Of course, the Semantic Web has
>> promised this for some time, but there are plenty of doubts about
>> when, and whether, it will ever arrive. (It's like the joke about
>> fusion: it's the technology of the future, and always will be.) But
>> registries like the Metaserver are lightweight and easy to build with
>> practical techniques we have right now.
>> I mentioned before the problems of getting IT departments and
>> database vendors to add new modules for preservation--a problem
>> echoed by new media conservators such as Anne-Marie Zeppetelli and
>> Joanna Phillips. Forging the Future sidesteps this problem by
>> injecting content into an existing database rather than adding new
>> fields to it.
>> So far the Metaserver team has prototyped the API and is working on
>> testbed implementations with two distinct databases, the
>> 3rd-generation Variable Media Questionnaire and The Pool, an online
>> environment that tracks collaboration. For example, look up Nam June
>> Paik's TV Garden in the the Variable Media Questionnaire and under
>> "resources" you'll see that there is an associated record in The
>> Pool. Click on that link and you'll find out what information The
>> Pool has on TV Garden: namely that it's been rated highly by Pool
>> users, and that it has inspired several subsequent works of new
>> Meanwhile, Forging partners Nick Hasty of Rhizome and Michael Katchen
>> of Franklin Furnace have demonstrated how the Metaserver could help
>> crowdsource a vocabulary shared among artists and curators in
>> different institutions. In this model, VocabWiki, a cross-institional
>> collective vocabulary for variable media works, is an editable set of
>> terms and definitions fed from tags contributed by Rhizome's Artbase
>> community ("generative art", "posthuman"). Thanks to the Metaserver,
>> occurrences of those tags on the Rhizome Web site will be
>> automatically hotlinked to VocabWiki for the latest definitions. So
>> if you happen upon a work tagged "Virtual Reality" on the Artbase,
>> you'll see a link to a definition of that term on VocabWiki.
>> Distribute and connect
>> In the past decade, a number of exciting new contenders have joined
>> the race to rescue digital culture, so that the field now includes
>> veterans like INCCA and Matters in Media Art as well as newcomers
>> like DOCAM and the third-generation Variable Media Questionnaire.
>> Rather than waiting for time to knock all but one victor out of the
>> running, I believe we should respect the differences between these
>> various tools and communities. Protocols like the Metaserver should
>> help connect the silos without destroying what makes each unique.
>> Related links:
>> Forging the Future
>> Variable Media Questionnaire (general)
>> Variable Media Questionnaire (free demo!)
>> The Pool
>> Rhizome ArtBase vocabulary
>> END OF PART 3
> Beryl Graham, Professor of New Media Art
> Faculty of Arts, Design, and Media, University of Sunderland
> Ashburne House, Ryhope Road
> SR2 7EE
> Tel: +44 191 515 2896 Fax: +44 191 515 2132
> Email: [log in to unmask]
> CRUMB web resource for new media art curators
> CRUMB's new books:
> Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media from MIT Press
> A Brief History of Curating New Media Art, and A Brief History of
> Working with New Media Art from The Green Box
Beryl Graham, Professor of New Media Art
Faculty of Arts, Design, and Media, University of Sunderland
Ashburne House, Ryhope Road
Tel: +44 191 515 2896 Fax: +44 191 515 2132
Email: [log in to unmask]
CRUMB web resource for new media art curators
CRUMB's new books:
Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media from MIT Press
A Brief History of Curating New Media Art, and A Brief History of
Working with New Media Art from The Green Box