D-Lib Magazine
June 2002

Volume 8 Number 6

ISSN 1082-9873


Collaborative Projects

Every month in D-Lib Magazine's "Clips and Pointers" column, an annotated list of recently or soon to be released publications may be found on topics relevant to the community of digital library researchers, developers, and practitioners. Among the several publications listed this month is the final report of an invitational workshop—Digital Imagery for Works of Art.

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Harvard University Art Museums, the workshop brought together thirty-one computer and imaging scientists and research scholars in the visual arts, including art and architecture historians, art curators, conservators, and scholars and practitioners in closely related disciplines. Over the course of two days, they explored how computer and imaging science research and development could better serve the research needs of visual arts scholars.

Participants of the two groups acknowledge the difficulties of engaging in collaborative projects. The main barrier to such collaboration is that "computer scientists traditionally seem most interested in larger, theoretical issues, aiming their research at achieving a proof-of-concept, whereas art historians, etc. usually have more specific, practical needs, which are nevertheless essential to their research."1 However, in spite of the differences in the groups' research problems and procedures, participants agreed on the necessity for making a long-term effort to engage in cross-disciplinary, collaborative research projects.

Collaboration between researchers and practitioners has been a theme and an issue throughout the brief history of formally funded digital library research. Much of the funding and applicable research has come out of the computer science community while much of the problem space has come out of the intersection between traditional library activities and the emerging digital realm. Close collaboration between these communities has and will continue to be required to generate useful solutions.

I did not attend the workshop, have no particular expertise in the area, and don't know if the good work produced there will pay off in either the short or long term. What is clear, however, is that this type of collaboration, across different disciplines and cultures as well as across funding organizations, is absolutely required. The organizational and disciplinary aims and approaches may differ, but they have critical interests in common.

Bonita Wilson


[1] Digital Imagery for Works of Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, Mass., November 19-20, 2001, Report of the Co-Chairs: Kevin Kiernan, Charles Rhyne, and Ron Spronk. Available at <http://www.dli2.nsf.gov/mellon/report.html>.

Copyright© 2002 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/june2002-editorial