Super late to the party: Dan Cohen & the DPLA

WOWIE!  What fabulous news!  I learned about this on time, I swear, but am only blogging it now because life really does find a way to get in the way (this time, really, it was life:  my partial excuse is that I was at a baby shower out of town!).

Dan Cohen is truly a cool guy.  And it was recently announced that he would take the inaugural reigns of the Digital Public Library of America in April.  This is good news.  The DPLA has the potential to be an epic flop (I sincerely hope it will not be, but it has the potential, as anything does) or something that turns into a crucial stepping stone in the progress of digital library models and how digital information is accessed and used.

I first learned about Dan Cohen when a friend of mine, now a PhD student at UMSI, raved about him.  Then, his name cropped up everywhere – a digital humanities course (obviously), discussions on the future of scholarly publishing (see PressForward), and at HASTAC 2011.  He is a vibrant, enthusiasm-inducing speaker, and innovative thinker.  I sincerely wish him well in his DPLA endeavors.  I think he could really take this organization and make it a vital player in the fight for freeing up information, making our cultural resources and heritage accessible and usable for all.

Here’s a little more from Dan in a DPLA Q&A.  Get excited!

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2 thoughts on “Super late to the party: Dan Cohen & the DPLA

  1. Pingback: “Super late to the party: Dan Cohen & the DPLA” | John Palfrey

  2. Thanks for your enthusiasm about Dan’s appointment, Sarah. I share your excitement. Those of us working on the project are devoted to ensuring that it lives up to its promise and does not turn into an “epic flop” (always a possibility, as you suggest!). With every passing month, I think that possibility is diminishing, though. With the National Archives and Smithsonian formally committing materials to the project, and seven states/regions involved, and a growing group of foundations supporting it, I think we are much on the right track. The April 18/19 launch at the BPL will hopefully continue to help build the community supporting it. And Dan’s appointment, along with librarians Emily Gore and Amy Rudersdorf (the first two DPLA employees), is a major step forward toward sustainability. I think the real test, though, will be to see if individual librarians and libraries/archives/museums as institutions step up to participate over time, even after the enthusiasm of the launch. I think the project ends up working if it becomes like Wikipedia, with deep and sustained engagement of volunteers who are devoted to a particular common cause, in the public interest. I hope you’ll be part of that, too.

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