Week 3 – Renderman Open Sourcing

In the article, “Where next for open cultural data in museums?” written by Mia Ridge, Ridge explicates the recent demand and openness of cultural data projects as well as the numerous effects that follows such transparency. Something from the article that interested me was the potential use of a museum’s cultural data for creative use through Creative Commons. Although museums most likely intended that artwork images be shared for the sake of sharing and learning, the article pointed out how artist can take the data and repurpose it to create new meanings — regardless of whether or not that is a good or bad thing.

This utilization of open data seems, to me, much akin to when a program suddenly opens its use to the public for noncommercial purposes– in this case, I am reminded of the release of Pixar’s Renderman application. Pixar, known for its immense animation, utilizes this program to speed up rendering time with just as perfected quality. The fact that they have released this technology to the public is no secret.

Ridge articulates this tension between allowing certain parts of data be accessible for others to use for their own personal work; yet, the importance of distinguishing a “more sophisticated data structures and specialised vocabularies to support internal uses, partnerships between museums, libraries and archives, or for use in research-led projects.” Pixar holds this similar distinction by opening up a noncommercial free version of Renderman while keeping the most up-to-date technology saved for themselves to create the animations we see on the theaters. Likewise, Ridge explains how “many museums are making lower resolutions images available for re-use while reserving high resolution versions for commercial sales and licensing.”

I personally agree with this distinction and classification of materials. By making certain portions “off-limits,” it demonstrates that the artwork or program as more valuable than if it were to be given away freely, respecting the artists who’ve shared their work.  Ridge ends her article concluding that in the end, open data has to potential to expand knowledge and stimulate innovation — just as Pixar’s Renderman application has the potential to advance progressing animators.


One thought on “Week 3 – Renderman Open Sourcing”

  1. I thought it was interesting that you brought up the concept of value with relation to open data. With so much new information available to museum goers through advancing technologies and the push towards open data there is a question of whether these venerated pieces still hold the same amount of value, thus you argue that its important to retain some of the data. I think I agree with you in that for museums to remain relevant aside from offering the irreplaceable physical experience, they need to maintain some sort of knowledge capital.

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