Museums and the Web 2008: Aggregating Museum Data

I'm here at the Museums and the Web 2008 conference in Montreal, which has been pretty great so far, and I've enjoyed meeting museum webby people from all over.

Yesterday I presented my paper, Exploring Museum Collections On-line: The Quantitative Method in the Aggregating Museum Data – Use Issues session, alongside Seb Chan presenting his Uniting The Shanty Towns - Data Combining Across Multiple Institutions paper.

The basic premise of the session was looking at how you can mashup (or 'smoosh', as Seb said, a much nicer term) messy museum data. The project I've been working on has used data obtained through Freedom of Information requests. Seb got hold of data through a variety of means, including screen scraping.

We both seemed to get a great reaction from our presentations, and the Q&A at the end was lively and engaging. Furthermore, loads of people have come up to me afterwards to say that they appreciated the approach, and were looking to open up their data too (I've been offered a ton of new data).

I'll try and get the website prototype that I've made online. I'll also try and track and post links to open data from other museums. There seems to be a real appetite for opening up data, in cheap, quick and dirty ways, at the conference, so it will be great to follow up on this and really get some data out there.

Update: (7 May 2008) I haven't quite managed to get this prototype live yet, but I have made the code available, see museum-collections on Google Code. It's licensed under the open-source MIT licence, which basically means you can do pretty much anything you like with it.