Monday, December 11th, 2006

Bisson and open data—let the revolution begin!

As some in the library tech world already know, library geek Casey Bisson won a Mellon Fellowship to develop WPopac*, an open-source OPAC (library catalog)**, with WordPress at its core. That’s cool, but it’s not even the big news.

The big news is that Casey plans to procure Library of Congress MARC records and distribute them free under the GNU license (here, here, elsewhere). This isn’t cool—it’s revolutionary.***

Here’s what I wrote on the Next Generation Catalogs for Libraries list.

“It’s not that free is cheaper than unfree, but that it holds the potential to change everyone’s relationship to data—from catalogers to readers.

Advocating for just this thing here a month ago I wrote “Who wants to be the Fred Kilgour of the 21st century?” Casey may well end up being that. But—with due kudos to Casey!—I’m not betting on it. The Fred Kilgour of the 21st century is all of us.

So, three cheers for Casey, Mellon and “free as in freedom”! I can’t wait to see where this all leads.

*Pronounced whip OPAC.
**Online Public Access Catalog, as opposed to the offline and private-access ones, I guess. There ought to be a dustbin for the acronyms of history—the acronyms that include concepts that are now simply assumed. Another good one is “RIA,” apparently “rich internet application” (as opposed to plain ol’ web aps?). I only heard the term last week—from a marketer, of course—and I make them. I christen this blog post a BPPOOIP, a Blog Post Put Online On the Internet Publically.
***I like another blogger‘s reaction, “Jumpin’ Jupiter! That’s monumental! That’s heroic! That’s…about damn time!”

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