The other day, Mike Ellis posted a really lovely interview with Shelley Bernstein and Paul Beaudoin about the release of the Brooklyn Museum’s Collections API.
One passage that I thought was worth calling out, and which I’ve copied verbatim below, is Shelley’s answer to the question “Why did you decide to build an API?”
First, practical… in the past we’d been asked to be a part of larger projects where institutions were trying to aggregate data across many collections (like d*hub). At the time, we couldn’t justify allocating the time to provide data sets which would become stale as fast as we could turn over the data. By developing the API, we can create this one thing that will work for many people so it no longer become a project every time we are asked to take part.
Second, community… the developer community is not one we’d worked with before. We’d recently had exposure to the indicommons community at the Flickr Commons and had seen developers like David Wilkinson do some great things with our data there. It’s been a very positive experience and one we wanted to carry forward (emphasis mine) into our Collection, not just the materials we are posting to The Commons.
Third, community+practical… I think we needed to recognize that ideas about our data can come from anywhere, and encourage outside partnerships. We should recognize that programmers from outside the organization will have skills and ideas that we don’t have internally and encourage everyone to use them with our data if they want to. When they do, we want to make sure we get them the credit they deserve by pointing our visitors to their sites so they get some exposure for their efforts.
The only thing I would add is: What she said!