Enthusiastic Amateurs and Overcoming Institutional Inertia

I was very pleased but also slightly embarrassed when Dave Pattern invited me to speak at the Mashed Library UK 2009 event (also known as ‘Mash Oop North‘). Pleased because this event, which is building on the success of the  first event which took place at Birkbeck College in November 2008, reflects the interests I have in this area and will provide an opportunity to learn from some of the people (such as Tony Hirst, Mike Ellis and Dave Pattern) who are actively engaged in significant development activities. But embarrassed because I’ve been asked to speak to an audience who would, I suspect, prefer to listen to and talk to the gurus of mashup developments!

Dave convinced me, however, that as there appear to be a significant number of participants at the event who don’t regard themselves as mainstream developers, but rather as ‘enthusiastic amateurs’ that there is a role to play in exploring how the learning which will take place at the event can be exploited.

So I will be giving a talk and inviting discussion on the topic of “Enthusiastic Amateurs and Overcoming Institutional Inertia“.  This session will take place on Tuesday 7 July 2009. My slides are embedded below (and are also available on Slideshare). If you have any thoughts on this subject, especially if you regard yourself as an ‘enthusiastic amateur’ yourself I’d welcome your comments. Of you may wish to participate in the Twitter back channel, using the hastag “#mashlib09″.


  1. Brian, minor pedantic comment, but if you’re recommending “freeing the data” then it is best not to use most of the CC licenses because these are not designed for use with data. At best this can lead to confusion. At worst in can lead to either effectively locking the data up, or potentially giving it away. You certainly can’t expect to be able to impose restrictions of use based on CC licences on data.

    The best options if you want to encourage and enabled re-use are ccZero and PDDL, but some will feel uncomfortable with placing data explicitly in the (legal) public domain. The recently released Open Database License imposes share-alike requirements (which I have philosophical issues with but gives some more control). Beyond that you end up in dodgy click-wrap or custom licenses which are generally the devil’s work.

    Also slide 12 “your” should be “you’re” presumably 😉

  2. Thanks Cameron, I’ve updated the slide with the recommendation to explore CCZero & PDDL. (I’ve also suggested use of formats that are more easily reused i.e. XML rather than PDF). Thanks also for spotting the embarrassing typo!

  3. Subject a bit beyond me, but found typo on page 6: “Google earth view of of ….”



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