It’s really based on an analogy, if you will: that seemed to work in other times - that the idea of having access to the collective works of humankind has been a win.
— From an interview with Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive, WFMU’s Radio Free Culture, October 9, 2012

The full quote:

Ken Garrison: When I was telling my wife about what I was going to be talking with you about, she had a naïve but kind of profound question, which is “Why are you doing this? Why are you trying to archive the entire world and the entire internet?”

Brewster Kahle: It’s really based on an analogy, if you will: that it seemed to work in other times - that the idea of having access to the collective works of humankind has been a win. So, we all look back to the Library of Alexandria. And by going and pulling together the works from all over the world and translating them then into Ancient Greek, they were able to come up with fantastic discoveries. They knew how big the world was. They knew it was round. They knew how big it was within a couple percent. Euclid authored “Elements,” which is what it is I still studied as geometry in high school. So, fantastic things can come of it if you can leverage the works of other people. And the reason why I got involved in the whole area of building the library back in 1980 was just kind of on that analogy and the thought that technology allows us to do this and it seems like a good thing to do.

"Access to the collective works of humankind has been a win"

Ken Garrison:  When I was telling my wife about what I was going to be talking with you about, she had a naïve but kind of profound question, which is “Why are you doing this?  Why are you trying to archive the entire world and the entire internet?” 

Brewster Kahle:  It’s really based on an analogy, if you will: that it seemed to work in other times - that the idea of having access to the collective works of humankind has been a win.  So, we all look back to the Library of Alexandria.  And by going and pulling together the works from all over the world and translating them then into Ancient Greek, they were able to come up with fantastic discoveries.  They knew how big the world was.  They knew it was round.  They knew how big it was within a couple percent.  Euclid authored “Elements,” which is what it is I still studied as geometry in high school.  So, fantastic things can come of it if you can leverage the works of other people.  And the reason why I got involved in the whole area of building the library back in 1980 was just kind of on that analogy and the thought that technology allows us to do this and it seems like a good thing to do.

— Interview with Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive from WFMU’s Radio Free Culture, October 9, 2012. (link)

"As soon as they encounter archival content, they become researchers"

europeana.png

I came across this in one of my notebooks while I was preparing for the Open Knowledge Festival in Helsinki last week. It’s from a presentation by Peder Andrén at the European Cultural Commons workshop in Warsaw last October (2011). 

Peder is with the Swedish National Archives, and was talking about his focus on end-user experience with the APENet project (Archives Portal Europe).

Who are the users of archival content? Well, our users are not just browsing through, looking for media consumption. As soon as they encounter archival content, they become researchers. Even if they only want to know the name of their great grandmother, or the previous owner of their house, they are entering the process of creating a story. A history.

[40:50 in this video: http://youtu.be/5ibxKP5JPYo?t=40m45s ]

I was blown away by the beauty and simplicity - - the truth - - of that statement. 

The Public Domain

The internet gives access to the digitised portion of that knowledge and creativity on a scale previously impossible. It is the driver for massive digitisation efforts that will fundamentally change the role of cultural and scientific heritage institutions. The digitisation of analogue collections creates new opportunities for sharing and creative re-use, empowering people to explore and respond to our shared heritage in new ways that our legislation has yet to catch up with. It has also brought copyright to the centre of attention for holders of our cultural and scientific heritage. Our memory organisations have for generations had the public duty of holding the heritage in trust for the citizenry and of making it accessible to all. Both of these functions are usually conducted at the citizens’ – i.e. the tax payers’ – expense.
— Beautiful words from the Europeana Public Domain Charter, 2011
Arguments concerning the opportunity cost of open access (giving away potential revenues, for example) are based less on specific examples than on hypothetical opportunities — “the magic app” — that frankly never materialise.
— From The Problem of the Yellow Milkmaid: A business model perspective on open metadata (PDF), Europeana, 2011. (quote is from a case study about Yale University // an interview with Meg Bellinger, page 23)
The non-commercial clause that has governed use and re-use of the Museum’s metadata is rooted in the belief that non-profit academic charities should enable free use only for non-profit purposes. But in the digital age, with evidence that use and re-use can increase knowledge when it is openly linked across the entire web, the new view is that data funded by the taxpayer should have the broadest possible distribution.
— From The Problem of the Yellow Milkmaid: A business model perspective on open metadata (PDF), Europeana, 2011. (quote is from a case study about the British Museum; an interview with Dominic Oldman, page 24)
It turns out to be surprisingly hard to convince (some) people that the very best thing to do with the treasures of the world is to give them to the world.
— From a comment on The Great Digitization Or The Great Betrayal? Techdirt

The comment continues,

It turns out to be surprisingly hard to convince (some) people that the very best thing to do with the treasures of the world is to give them to the world. So many of them [museums and other collecting institutions] are so fixated on ‘ownership’ that they just can’t let go. Hopefully, they’ll all die off soon and the generation now growing up will take a more mature approach — that is, they’ll realize that everything from academic papers to great art belongs to everyone, and that anyone attempting to claim them for themselves is a hoarder — to be despised, shunned, and overruled.