Collection databases Conceptual

Metadata as ‘cultural source code’

A quick thought.

Last week I wrote about collection data being ‘cultural source code’ in the context of the upload of the Cooper-Hewitt collection to GitHub.

As I wrote over there,

Philosophically, too, the public release of collection metadata asserts, clearly, that such metadata is the raw material on which interpretation through exhibitions, catalogues, public programmes, and experiences are built. On its own, unrefined, it is of minimal ‘value’ except as a tool for discovery. It also helps remind us that collection metadata is not the collection itself.

If you look at the software development world, you’ll see plenty of examples of tools for ‘collaborative coding’ and some very robust platforms for supporting communities of practice like Stack Overflow.

Yet where are their equivalents in collection management? Or in our exhibition and publishing management systems?

(I’ll be cross-posting a few ideas over the next little while as I try to figure out ‘what goes where’. But if you haven’t already signed up to the Cooper-Hewitt Labs blog, here’s another reminder to do so).