[uf-discuss] Work-of-art/Tim Gambell

Ottevanger, Jeremy JOttevanger at museumoflondon.org.uk
Wed May 16 01:58:39 PDT 2007

Hi Andy, thanks for your interest. 
At the risk of going outside the bounds of this list I'll give you an
outline of why I feel such a format might be useful. I should say that
the idea arose from a thinktank exploring the possibilities of the
semantic web in museums, following a session when Jeremy Keith, our
guest of the day, inspired us all with what was for most of us the
pretty unfamiliar world of microformats. The concerns that many of us
had about the practicality of hard-core SW approaches seemed to be at
least partially addressed by the idea of embedding some lightweight
semantics in our web pages. Clearly lots of what we might do with
microformats can be done with existing ones, as indeed we have now done
at my own institution (for events, contact and location information).
However our core activities, revolving around the physical objects in
our collections, cannot be usefully reflected by existing formats.
Museums and galleries have (typically) collections of unique objects. If
they are not unique in the sense that they are not duplicates, then it
is still important to be able to distinguish between one pot, say, and
another identical one in the same or another collection. In this, and in
the fact that their history and provenance (and current ownership) is
deemed valuable, they are unlike, say, products in an online shop. A
number of sophisticated metadata standards exist for museum objects,
ranging from reference models like CIDOC-CRM, through data structure
standards like SPECTRUM and CDWA[Lite] to data content standards like
CCO, but even the lightest of these is not suited to manual authoring
or, really, to embedding in web pages.
The role I envisage for a museum object microformat would be:
- to identify a unique object on the web, tied (ideally) to an
- to enable the capture of a very basic set of metadata about that
- optionally, to point at a source of fuller, structured metadata,
thereby making a bridge between the light, author-friendly and flexible
microformatted semantic web and the stricter, machine-facing Semantic
And the use-case? Catalogue pages like this:
L/objects/record.htm?type=object&id=742656. Actually the basic idea is
to scratch an itch I've long had, to be able to gather together things
that I find on multiple websites and do my own thing with them. I've
been messing around building a little app that lets me pick up
microformatted museum objects from any page (via a bookmarklet) and
gather them in one place, kind of like Tails crossed with del.icio.us.
That's just what I have long wanted, and I figure that other
museum-lovers may feel the same way.
The way I've been going with this does take me rather outside the normal
practice for microformats but to an extent I'm not concerned as I thing
the most important thing is for it to do what is useful to the sector;
all the same it's important to, firstly, establish if there's much
support in that sector (which I'm trying to do!) and secondly to make
sure that wherever possible I inherit from established formats. I'm very
interested to hear your thoughts as this is the first time I've tried to
explain to people outside the museum community why I think this is worth
All the best, Jeremy  

Jeremy Ottevanger
Web Developer, Museum Systems Team
Museum of London Group
46 Eagle Wharf Road
London. N1 7ED
Tel: 020 7410 2207
Fax: 020 7600 1058
Email: jottevanger at museumoflondon.org.uk
Museum of London is changing; our lower galleries will be closed while they undergo a major new development. Visit www.museumoflondon.org.uk to find out more.
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-----Original Message-----
From: microformats-discuss-bounces at microformats.org
[mailto:microformats-discuss-bounces at microformats.org] On Behalf Of Andy
Sent: 15 May 2007 18:52
To: Microformats Discuss
Subject: SPAM:Re: [uf-discuss] Work-of-art/Tim Gambell

In message
<CBE3ED7D5509D54F9C4E1D614931DF0E01D8695E at mail-mwh-2k3.museumoflondon.or
uk>, "Ottevanger, Jeremy" <JOttevanger at museumoflondon.org.uk> writes

>proposed work-of-art uf

What would be the use-case?

Andy Mabbett
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