BBC to put 200,000 paintings from the Public Catalogue Foundation online

This could be fantastic – I hope the BBC will work with the museum sector to complement the work they’re already doing or planning to get their collections online.  From the Guardian, BBC to put nation’s oil paintings online:

A partnership with the Public Catalogue Foundation charity will see all the UK’s publicly owned oil paintings – 80% of which are not on public display – placed on the internet by 2012.

The BBC said it wanted to establish a new section of its bbc.co.uk website, called Your Paintings, where users could view and find information on the UK’s national collection.

The Public Catalogue Foundation, launched in 2003, is 30% of the way through cataloguing the UK’s collection of oil paintings.

In addition the BBC said it was talking to the Arts Council about giving the public free online access to its archive for the first time, including its wide-ranging film collection dating back to the 1950s. 

[Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, said:] “Today we are not only reaffirming our commitment to arts, but we’re announcing a series of measures that will put this relationship on an even stronger footing. Through innovative new partnerships, I believe the BBC can deliver big, bold arts programming that is accessible, distinctive and enjoyable.”

I do wonder what Time Out’s Tony Elliott would make of it.

What would you create with public (UK) information?

Show Us a Better Way want to know, and if your idea is good they might give you £20,000 to develop it to the next level.

Do you think that better use of public information could improve health, education, justice or society at large?

The UK Government wants to hear your ideas for new products that could improve the way public information is communicated.

Importantly, you don’t need to be a geek:

You don’t have to have any technical knowledge, nor any money, just a good idea, and 5 minutes spare to enter the competition.

And they’ve made “gigabytes of new or previously invisible public information” available for the project, including health, crime and education data (but no personal information).

Google as encyclopedia?

On the BBC this morning: Google debuts knowledge project:

Google has kicked off a project to create an authoritative store of information about any and every topic.

The search giant has already started inviting people to write about the subject on which they are known to be an expert.

The system will centre around authored articles created with a tool Google has dubbed “knol” – the word denotes a unit of knowledge – that will make webpages with a distinctive livery to identify them as authoritative.

The knol pages will get search rankings to reflect their usefulness. Knols will also come with tools that readers can use to rate the information, add comments, suggest edits or additional content.

Nicholas Carr said the knol project was … an attempt by Google to knock ad-free Wikipedia entries on similar subjects down the rankings.

So much could be said about this. Is it a peer review system for the web? How are ‘experts’ discovered and chosen? What factors would influence whether an ‘expert’ agrees to participate? Would practices of academic inclusion and exclusion apply? Will it use semantic web technologies or methodologies? Will commercial factors affect the users’ trust in search results? How will it affect traditional content providers like encyclopaedias, and new content sources like Wikipedia? Are they duplicating existing knowledge systems just to provide a new revenue stream?

Content licences in the UK’s cultural heritage sector

An event to be held by Creative Commons Salon London on November 20 will feature a discussion on ‘open content licences in the UK cultural heritage sector’:

This time round we’ll be joined by Jordan Hatcher, a lawyer and legal consultant specialising in intellectual property and technology law, who will present and discuss his work on a new report entitled “Snapshot study on the use of open content licences in the UK cultural heritage sector”. This study primarily examines the use of the Creative Archive (CA) and Creative Commons (CC) licences among UK museums, libraries, galleries, and archives. The key objective has been to get a snapshot of current licensing practices in this area in 2007, and Jordan will report on his findings.

Via A Consuming Experience.

According to Merlin on the Web: the British Museum Collection Database Goes Public on the CHArt conference site, the British Museum are putting their entire catalogue online. The evaluation will make fascinating reading and I hope can be made public – I’d like to know who uses it and why, does the variation in detail and ‘quality’ of records matter to them, how much of the collection is accessed, how many corrections or requests for more information are made, and how public comments work in practice.

The Power of Information

From the BBC:

Government must do more to embrace Web 2.0 tools and communities, says a report.

The report said that some public data, such as post codes, was already widely used but much more could be done to open up access to official information.

It said public data should be published in open formats to encourage use.

The review, called The Power of Information, aimed to find out more about Web 2.0 tools and communities to see how the government can get involved to help Britons make the most of this “new pattern of information creation and use”.

The review was intended to “explore the role of government in helping to maximise the benefits for citizens from this new pattern of information creation and use.”

The report encouraged the government to do more to ensure a good fit between web communities and official information to “grasp the opportunities that are emerging in terms of the creation, consumption and re-use of information”.

The authors recommended that the government work more closely with existing sites and communities that share official aims; do more to help innovators use public data and work to ensure people know what to do with public data and how to get at it.

Among 15 specific recommendations the report said the government should not set up its own sites if existing web communities do a good job of getting information to people.

It also said it should speed up efforts to put data in open formats and publish under terms that let people freely use it.

They’ve linked to a PDF of the report at Power of Information report.