In a fortnight’s time, people interested in data and information, linked data and open government will come together to participate in GovHack. They will use data from a range of government sources, which includes National, State and local governments, including libraries and archives.  Tonight I went to an information session where some of the participants put forward their ideas, and data mentors briefly (in about 45 seconds) tried to describe what data was available. This is the second year I will have participated as a data mentor.  This means that I identify possible data sources in the WA State archives collection, but also pint to other data sources, including private and business archives, that can be linked with government data.

One of the challenges that we as archives face is in making our data available in machine linked ways.  Those of us with online catalogues provide metadata about our collections, but the actual data is captured in files and volumes, indexes and registers, most of which are not available in machine readable formats.  Even when we digitise records, unless they are transcribed or have optical character recognition, it still needs a human to read and interpret the information contained on the page. Perhaps one of the products from this year’s GovHack will help us get a little further in setting up human readable data for machines.


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Archivist, historian, avid reader

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