Monday, 23 February 2009

Things That Matter

When I was young my dad wanted me to be a lawyer. I went to see one of the big five law firms in the city and had a long and dull conversation with someone in a grey suit. I couldn't see the point. What did being a lawyer do to contribute to society, or even my own well being? Sure I'd be well paid, but it clearly wasn't for me.

Guy Kawasaki (former Apple evangelist turned VC) says every business needs a mantra - something to measure your actions by. When people ask me about Armadillo I say that we like to do the things that matter - work that, if we looked at it from the outside, we'd say "I'm glad someone did that - it was worth doing".

So a few weeks ago I was pleased to see Tim O'Reilly blog about "Work on Stuff that Matters".

There are a lot of people who just took a job for the money. The money and the job are now gone, and I guess that there are a lot of under-employed bankers wondering what to do next. Hopefully it might be something that matters.

Most people in the cultural sector aren't in it for the money - they're in it because they like it and what they do stimulates them, and it might just matter. Now's a good time to give yourself a little credit and count those blessings if that's you.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Co-operate ORE else...

Excuse the nerdy pun, but interoperability has been in my thoughts a lot recently.

A big project, unifying the collections of 9 different establishments just failed to get funding after a year of work. We asked the funders why and it came down to the politics. It was just felt to be too hard to get everyone to play nicely together. Sure, when we looked into it, individual data repositories were wildly different and metadata standards had been lovingly honed in isolation over the last 30 years. Melding them into a coherent whole was going to be, umm, challenging, but we knew that all along.

As standards like OAI-ORE emerge, and start to demonstrate how we can move not only data, but objects around the web, we should be entering a period where virtual loans, digital repatriation and unified collections are commonplace.

But we're not there yet.

Because all this is ultimately about people. If we let politics stymie endeavours such as these, scholarship suffers.