The UK Digital Public Space (event archive)

"Running notes" from the session are at the bottom of the page ;)


An informal presentation/discussion on the Digital Public Space initiative, which the Guardian describes as "a shared technical platform for indexing, searching and publishing material in partnership with ... UK cultural organizations."

The Guardian continues,

"It's a complex and bewilderingly long-term project, whose challenges include reconciling rights for content owners, resolving legal issues about content use and linking up multiple, incompatible systems, not to mention convincing what is still a broadcast-centric organisation of the importance of its own legacy."

The presenter will be Stuart Dempster, director of the Strategic Content Alliance initiative for JISC, the UK's official higher-education digital strategy and implementation consultancy. Stuart is responsible for developing a range of research and policy projects, including a common set of principles and guidelines for best practice that will provide a common policy framework for online content activities across the domains of lifelong learning and teaching, research, and cultural heritage in the UK.

Where and When

2:30pm - 4:00pm Monday, March 24, at the Smithsonian Office of the CIO conference room, 600 Maryland AVE, SW, Suite 4000.

Who can come

Smithsonian staff and staff from other government and cultural organizations.


TBD (check the URL below and/or my tweets on the day (@mpedson))

Event URL

Check this wiki page for last minute updates:

Related Links

"Wikicast" running notes from the session

[I took running notes of Stuart's talk and the discussion here. - edsonm edsonm ]

Stuart Dempster, from JISC, here at Smithsonian (USA, NYC, Boston) on a private study tour.
NOT speaking officially for JISC, SCA, Digital Public Space.

[Apologies for typos - - typing fast as Stuart et al talk. - edsonm edsonm]

BBC and arts council england
ways in which the digital arts could be encourated and fostered
Second iteration
The Research and Education Space
Digital assets contribute to research and education.
2 years, just started.

3rd iteration, digital public space - - "Make it easier for everyone to find everything"
... and what they're allowed to do with the assets, given that some of them may not be freely available.
Provide clarity.
Make it easy for people to share what they've found, and to share what they've done with them.

Integrity, data collected by these agencies is kept safe.
5 pillars
- Permanence - - URL, URI are persistant
- Described, metadata up to scratch and published
- Free to find
- Using open standards
- Trustworthy

What is the problem we're trying to solve.
It's a contested space, public broadcasters, commercial (google, apple, etc...)
We're developing a public space the public can feel that they can express themselves freely - - "not dependent on shareholder value"
"An attempt to add value to the assets we've collected"
A framework of collaboration that we're developing.

We're creating "a blueprint"
commissioned in weeks - - work will commense in April.
Concluded in Fall of 2014
Three expert working groups
- Tech standards
- Develop a web presence
- Desk research (there have been several attempts to do similar things.)
A series of workshops and peer review
Online survey
Case studies
A series of interviews
- - all with the aim of developing a set of recommendations for the partners to consider.

In the Fall of 2014 ...

BBC, JISC, Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, the British Library

About JISC
It's now a charity.
- Network
- Middleware
- Collective purchasing
- Digital Futures

Figures here to be confirmed. Estimates
Bristol and London and Oxfordshire
100 people
Lots of change
approx 60M Euros recurring, plus project money.
+ 10's of millions for
So, roughly 100M/annually.

It provides world class network for every college/university in the UK
Petabyte network
Dark fiber and 100GB
The licensing of commercial rights and assets
- collections which would be prohibitively expensive for some, are provided free
/ National data centers
/ National university film/video archive

SCA is the commissioning authority for the Digital Public Space
the SCA is a business relationship we have with other like minded agencies. People paid an entry fee into a collective pot, which was used to produce work of mutual benefits.
Rights management
Emergent Internet business models
- Emergent fremium models
- UK museums

The concept is so wide that it will involve a number of players.


It's no longer good enough for a student to go through 5 websites to find an asset, then go through an analog transaction to get the rights.
In the UK, we're either encouraging piracy (without the concept of Fair Use, as you have in USA), or we're putting students off.

Q: is DPS about rights and intellectual property?
A: ... [ missed some ]
Many institutions get gov funding. Some institutions use one or more Creative Commons licenses. Much is locked away and you'd never know that there were physical collections exist for a subject area.
Because of centennial of WWI, now imperial war museum is using crowdsourcing at scale to add metadata. Museums struggle with scaling up metadata. More than surprised at the response to crowdsourcing metadata improvement at imperial war museum. (Museum connected the IWM engagement strategy with the crowdsourcing initiative. Museum has multiple engagement and crowdsourcing activities connected to WWI centennial)

NOTE: look for links to IMW crowdsourcing and Europeana road-show examples
NOTE: JISC piloted the "road show" approach years ago ;)

Flyer for IWM crowdsourcing session:

[Looking for links/references re: Imperial War Museum and crowdsourcing]


Discussion of combination between physical events and digital events.
Discussed: how can we overlap physical events and digital events.
Discussed: using 3d printing/scanning to build interest.
Discussed: using Smithsonian Teachers Night as a point-of-entry/contact for crowdsourcing.

There's a national curriculum in UK for every school to follow.
So, it's relatively easy for content creators to "tag" their content to the curriculum.

Blog posts related to IWM social media/crowdsourcing/engagement projects


Discussion of motivations of teachers, scholars, for enhancing digital materials. What are the incentives.
Most high value participants in SI crowdsourcing cite the desire to be affiliated with the Smithsonian.

Discussion of open content, education, gaming, tech startups.
"Tech startups are starving for free/open resources" [paraphrase].
The BL have BL-Labs - - the labs are providing data sets that tech

The open data institute - - examples of open heritage information helping to spin up new business creation.
(Look at NY City publishing open data that is useful to new business creation.)
"I don't see why data from heritage institutions would be less useful than data from government at large" [paraphrase]

"There's probably less tension about opening up data sets than 3 years ago. 3 years ago people were withholding their metadata because they thought they would be able to monetize it." [paraphrase]

Stuart's background
Started in librarianship - - in the analogue age of public libraries.
moved to digital project management
digital policy and strategy

Where to check?
Check the SCA blog and the JISC website for updates.