Thinking about the future
Since the inception of EuropeanaTech, its community was formed primarily from the hundreds of institutes that took part in various projects funded by FP7, the EU’s research funding programme. This led to lots of work that was project based. While these projects allowed incredible opportunities, it also meant that groups were working in project silos, following the protocols and plans set forth by the European Union that by the end of the project could be 4 years out of date. FP7 offered numerous opportunities for cultural heritage institutes to develop their digital infrastructures, test new tools, linked data and of course, aggregation. Horizon 2020, the current funding programme, offers less. This, for better or for worse, means fewer projects for cultural heritage.
The consequences of this were apparent at this year’s conference. At EuropeanaTech 2015, IIIF and Wikidata were very small topics. Linked open data efforts were still infantile in their practical use and a centralized approach to aggregation still reigned supreme. What the conference showed this year is that international, interoperability and community standards driven work like IIIF and Wikidata are beginning to become just as important as aggregation was a few years ago. These tools along with linked open data put more reliance on sharing and facilitating than on consumption and directing. But with less funding, it is really dependent on the buy-in from institutes to allow and encourage their technical and R&D teams to contribute to and make use of these standards.