Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ms. George Oates and the Flickr Commons

From the Flickr CommonsThe Archives email discussion list carried messages yesterday about a "Tragedy at Flickr Commons" and pointed to this summary blog post on Archivalia. Flickr Commons has become a way for large repositories to share their photo collections with the world. Participants include the Smithsonian Institute, the George Eastman House, and the National Media Museum. At the moment, there are at least 17 institutions participating in the Commons.

The woman who was the chief architect of the Commons at Flickr was fired during Yahoo's recent layoffs. Ms. George Oates obviously had a vision in which both institutions and individuals saw a promising future. And while it is sad that Oates has lost her position, Tom Scheinfeldt wondered in his blog:
Is this just one of those things we see in a bad economy, or is it a reason why cultural organizations should roll their own rather than using commercial services for online work?
Later he wrote, in talking about the commercial organization that we've become reliant on:
...they are still big companies whose first responsibility is to their shareholders and the bottom line, not to cultural heritage, education, or the work of digital humanities.
I hope that the institutions that have been participating in the Commons ask Yahoo about its commitment to this program. And while I hope that Yahoo is committed for the long-term, I echo Scheinfeldt's concern about being overly reliant on organizations that are focused on their own bottom lines rather than on a higher good. However, what will it take for cultural heritage organizations to band together -- for the long haul -- and build the systems and services that they need? Can we indeed roll our own without Google, Yahoo, etc.?

George Oates reports in her blog that she is okay. Like many others, I'm horrified at how her dismissal was handle, but I'm sure she will land on her feet. Perhaps she should go to work for our cultural heritage organizations in order build a better system for our digital humanities?

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1 comment:

Peter Jones said...

Hi Jill

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Our links pages cover each care (knowledge) domain e.g. Intrapersonal:



I'm currently reading 'Digitize This Book!' by G. Hall and will post a review soon.

All the Best for the Season,

Peter Jones