GO GLAM miniconf

26 January 2020

A couple of weeks ago I ran the Generous & Open Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GO GLAM) miniconf with the fabulous Sae Ra Germaine at Linux Conf Australia. GOGLAM was effectively the follow up to Access and Memory: Open GLAM and Open Source run by Sae Ra, Fiona Tweedie and Clinton Roy at LCA2018.

I have an increasingly complicated relationship with the broader "open movement". I strongly believe in open access to knowledge - not just academic knowledge, though it's a good start. Yet the 'opening' of Indigenous peoples' knowledge around the world has been a key weapon of capitalism and colonialism. 'Open source' software underpins the operations of multi-billion dollar corporations, yet they not only pay no tax to governments, they also rarely provide financial support to the basic 'open' software systems upon which they rely. Indeed the awful similarities between 'open markets' and 'open software' are becoming more and more apparent to me. No wonder some say that Open is cancelled.

It wasn't just the catchy acronym, therefore, that made us call the miniconf "Generous and Open GLAM". Indeed, if I'd been able to get away with it within the broader conference theme I'd have simply called it Generous GLAM. The ideas of 'Generous' GLAM came from the 2018 miniconf and discussions about extending the concept of generous interfaces coined by Mitchell Whitelaw. What, we wondered, might a generous library, a generous gallery, or a generous archive look like. In particular, I wondered what it might mean for a GLAM catalogue API to be 'generous'. In the last part of our GO GLAM miniconf we workshopped this as a group, though I'm not sure we came to any definitive conclusions.

The talks for the day were:

After Pia's talk we did a little workshop for about an hour thinking about some questions related to the talks and how we might build in 'generosity' to a theoretical API standard for GLAM institutions. The point wasn't really to design an actual API standard: apart from anything else, the current Australian context means that the Trove API is effectively the national standard, and we were fewer than twenty people who happened to be at a Linux Australia miniconf. But this sort of thinking is useful even if you're not actually building the thing you imagine. Every piece of technology, exhibition, collection, or process we create in memory institutions should be generous.

Here's the whiteboard notes, if you're interested: