MCN Annual Conference
This is going to be one of my briefer travel logs, a description of my experiences at the MCN Annual Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, November 5-8, 2003.
I attended the MCN Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, November 5-8, 2003. The purpose of the Conference is to gather together people from the museum community and discuss the uses of computers in their environments. The Conference was relatively small, about 125 people attended. The attendees were from places such as but not limited to Harvard, UC-Berkeley, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, University of Virginia, The Getty Trust, ARTstor, IMLS, Art Institute of Chicago, as well as number of vendors inside and outside the United States: RLG, OCLC, ADLib.
My primary purposes in attending were two-fold. First, I facilitated a one-day workshop called Getting Started with XML . It was attended by fifteen (15) people, and except for the weird temperature controls in the room, the event was very successful. I heard comments like, "I think people actually learned something at that workshop."
Secondly, I participated in a panel discussion, Developments in Descriptive Metadata for Digital Collections:
- Ann Whiteside (University of Virginia) - Whiteside described how she was working on a metadata scheme enabling her institution to search across multiple XML vocabularies. In other words, she had many different collections in her institution marked-up in various XML schemes. She was in the process of designing a scheme enabling her to search across her collections.
- Rick Beaubien (UC-Berkeley) - Baeubien described his experiences withe METS and MODS. METS is a metadata scheme for metadata -- a way to create "collections" of metadata records into coherent sets. MODS was described as "MARCXML-lite". It is an XML scheme for bibliographic information but not designed for tape as MARC was originally intended.
- Emerson Morgan (ARTstor) - Morgan described work with the VRA Core and efforts to implement the Core as an XML schema. If I understand things correctly, VRA Core is a set of guidelines for describing visual resources. A VRA Core schema will implement these guidelines as an XML schema.
- Eric Lease Morgan (University of Notre Dame) - I described my experiences with the CIMI Schema for SPECTRUM. CIMI (formerly known as the Consortium for the Computer Interchange of Museum Information) is an organization assisting the museum community in building and adopting standards to improve the sharing of data and information. To this end, CIMI undertook a study to explore and adapt a DTD describing museum objects first articulated by an organization called mda in the United Kingdom. The result is the CIMI XML Schema for SPECTRUM. In the presentation I outlined the make-up of a CIMI file, and I demonstrated how such files can be transformed into XHTML files for display in Web browsers as well as into simple OAI files for metadata harvesting.
The most interesting presentation I attended was facilitated by Charles P. Nesson (Harvard University). As a lawyer, Nesson was originally asked to give a presentation about copyright and museums. He acknowledged is expertise in law but confessed to knowing nothing about museums. Consequently, he turned the presentation into public seminar where he posed as a university president and panelists represented museum experts. He then asked the experts questions regarding copyright in university settings. The discussion surround issues comparing and contrasting museums, libraries, universities, government, and commercial institutions. Topics such as the Sonny Bono Act, the role of patents, revenue and funding sources, and making information vastly available were discussed. Nesson's approach was very innovative, the audience was attentive and engaged, and everybody went away feeling like they not only learned something but educated the facilitator as well.
Besides the people listed above, I made a number of new friends ( Mary Elings , Trish Rose , Guenter Waibel , Bert Drenth , Tony Gill , Elisa Lanzi , Ronald Van der Meer , Diane Zorrich ), and we spent a lot of our time talking about XML. We got really tired about talking about metadata, and we started calling it neo-data or "just plain data." We talked about the advantages and disadvantages of open sources software and the role of vendors in museums. We compared and contrasted library, archive, and museum communities. Again, it was agreed that the communities have more similarities than differences and we all ought to get over the differences. I learned that museums, unlike libraries and archives, do not get as much money from their parent institutions, and consequently, they have a greater responsibility for revenue generation (ie. museum shops and copyright permissions). I also learn, with great fascination, that museums have been reluctant to digitize items in their collection and make them available on the Web. "If we digitize our stuff, then people won't come to museums." In reality, the museum community is learning that these digitized items become advertisements and more visitors come to the museum. I also learned that the museum community does not have a strong tradition of sharing their information with others. This is partly due to the fact that their items are unique and there are not economies of scale as in libraries. This too seems to be changing with the advent of things like an XML schema for VRA Core and the CIMI Schema for SPECTRUM. I participated in a discussion about VRA Core, and just the other day I saw a public announcement of the initial release of a VRA XML schema.
Tourist-wise, Las Vegas was loud and smelly (too much carpet cleaner and cigarette smoke). The Hoover Dam was impressive, and I wonder why our government can not build things on such a scale now-a-days. Red Rock Canyon was quite and peaceful.
Creator: Eric Lease Morgan <email@example.com>
Source: This travel long was never formally published.
Date created: 2003-11-22
Date updated: 2004-12-01
Subject(s): Las Vega, NV; MCN (Museum Computer Network); travel log;