I had a thoroughly enjoyable time at the Semantic Web Think Tank this week. Most of the other attendees were there representing museums and—geek that I am—I found it thrilling to be able to chat with people from such venerable institutions as the V&A Museum, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum.
Apart from one focused effort to explain microformats, my contributions were pretty rambling affairs. Still, I thought I’d try to put together a list of things I mentioned while they’re still fresh in my mind.
- Metacrap: Putting the torch to seven straw-men of the meta-utopia by Cory Doctorow.
- The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki.
- The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.
- Six Degrees: The New Science of Networks by Duncan J. Watts.
- Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks by Mark Buchanan.
- The Long Tail: How Endless Choice Is Creating Unlimited Demand by Chris Anderson.
- Sturgeon’s Law by Theodore Sturgeon.
There was a lot of talk about tagging and folksonomies, including a great demo of the user-contributed content at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. I was chatting with Glenda later on and she pointed me to the steve.museum project, which is described as
the first experiment in social tagging of art museum collections. That sounds like exactly what we were talking about at the think tank.
There was also plenty of talk about (uppercase) Semantic Web technologies. Museums have to deal with classifications far beyond the reach of microformats—with the glaring exception of events, which are crying out to be marked up in hCalendar. I don’t envy them the task of classifying and publishing all their data, but I remain convinced that user contributions (a la Wikipedia) can help enormously.