Friday, February 13, 2009

The Future is Already Here

A couple of weeks back I was blogging about the future of museums when I talked about the potential to download digital packets of data that would enable you to generate 3d copies of specimens. Yesterday, I found myself having a meeting to discuss the practical implications of this with one of our research affiliates, Leon Claessens. Leon has funding from NSF that will enable him to make laser surface scans of a variety of bird taxa and make these scan data available via the web - yesterday, we were talking about scanning the skeletons of dodos. The discussion that we had with two of our curators was very encouraging, in the sense that there seems to be a broad acceptance that rather than trying to tie up the use of these data with licensing agreements, we should be pushing towards the broadest possible accessibility for users. As one of our colleagues pointed out, the amount of money generated from marketing resin models of dodo bones would hardly cover the costs of drafting the agreements to restrict their use, let along the salaries of the lawyers needed to enforce them. Obviously, not everyone is going to agree with this, including perhaps many of our colleagues at Yale. I'm sure this won't be the last time I'm writing on this....

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