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This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.

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Standards and Specifications

Table of Contents

Questions and concerns

Plenary notes

Group 2

  • Can Bamboo offer a clearinghouse for standards and help people make informed choices?
  • The kinds of standards we were talking about were less technical - more vetting, peer review, etc. - can this be shaped towards best practices for applying standards?

Group 7

  • What should/should not be standardized?
  • As we look at what we're trying to make work together, we have to decide what it is first
  • How will these change over time, and who will make these decisions?

Group 8

  • How does Bamboo position itself vis a vis standards to meet the needs of scholars?
  • How to engage with professional academic organizations in articulating these standards?

Group 2 notes

How willingly and well are various groups using/developing standards? What are the common pitfalls?

How do you communicate about standards with colleagues who may be unfamiliar with them?

How can Bamboo remain open to new standards or help identify gaps where new standards are needed and participate in developing them?

How do we help resolve conflicting standards?

  • Can Bamboo offer a clearinghouse for standards and help people make informed choices about them? We have a sense that Bamboo shouldn't be involved in creating standards, but rather in helping creators express their work.
  • (This comes from an initial understanding on the part of some humanities scholars that the kind of "standards" we're talking about are less technical and more about vetting, peer review, and methodology.) Can this direction be shaped to address best practices for applying standards?

Risks, rewards and plan

Plenary notes - risks and rewards

  • Connection with tools - interoperability discussion
  • This raises the stakes for our discussion
  • A number of places where case studies were noted - we noticed this too
  • Developing our discussion in a direction that connects with advocacy, outreach, demonstration

3 types of standards
*easiest to pin down are "technical/plumbing standards"

    • have to exist for any practical activity to take place, wouldn't want to intervene in those (Bamboo could make an identification which standards make sense)
    • Doesn't affect methodological consideration; Humanities scholars might not want to comment on TCP/IP
  • Middle domain of technical standards with methodological impact: TEI, EAD
    • consequences and benefits for some kind of agreement, but Bamboo might not have a role in developing or requiring those
  • Domain of practices, standards (workflow, project management) which are very domain specific
    • standards for peer review, etc.
    • In those areas, PB has even less role to play in terms of requirements, but a strong role for awareness helping people get a grip on those standards, how to make use of them


  • Possibility that the more PB identifies itself with certain standards, more risk of alienation/pushback from the community where there's likes/dislikes
  • Risk of "tyranny" - too much normalization
  • Risk of obstructing standards development - meddling, getting out of our depth
  • Question of how to support graceful evolution of standards


  • Credibility for work Bamboo does
  • Interoperability
  • Facilitating the work of newcomers - prevents people from having to start from scratch
  • Critical mass
  • Longevity - standards might tend to lead to greater longevity of data involved
  • What was in/out of scope? Bamboo has a strong role to play in raising awareness ,value of using certain specifications
  • Value in adopting specific standards only in "plumbing standards"
  • Liasoning with standards bodies, jointly developed "Bamboo-specific" reflections of their standards

For working group

  • Develop organizational structure, who should be at the table
  • Develop inventory of standards/best practices
  • Concrete examples, sense of where in our taxonomy standards fit in
  • Relationships within Project Bamboo - how this information will interact with other PB workgroups depending on what mission they have
  • We shouldn't AUTHOR standards

Plenary notes - plan

PB's possible role as a clearinghouse for info about standards, existing precedents/projects/etc
Raising the level of awareness, avoid duplication
This info role was also a role that's being claimed by other groups which have an existing community focus
What would the relationship be? (Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations, etc)
Bamboo could be a clearinghouse of clearinghouses - aggregate and make visible work of other groups; would require agreement on formats of information
Or, PB could work in partnership with one or more organizations - can we make you into the community expression/branch of this need that the group has articulated, but PB doesn't want to take on alone - conserve focus and allow it to put resources elsewhere
Discussion of the degree to which our exploration will have info relevant to other groups
Need information sharing layer/hub that could be the conduit for that exchange
Also some concern/question about top-down vs. bottom-up approaches to various kinds of standards
Challenge of broad enough net around A&H fields and set of standards they might identify as important to get representative understanding of standards and practices
How best to harvest that information and came up with ideas that might work
Important activity of workgroup: rough cut of categorizing standards/practices by rough 3-part distinction: hard/plumbing, squishy middle, practices-based standards
What's Bamboo's response in each case of each specific standard: adopt, recommend, or communicate
CJK: Modeling a process where we could communicate w/ organizations and ask input in various disciplines
Doing decomposition, but also as data is collected, figure out how that data plus any other data can be communicated to the rest of the working groups
Thinking along the lines of stories
Data needs to be told and shared in different ways - using demonstrator models to look at processes that could be extended throughout PB
Sampling the community, how can we collect data and not alienate certain groups?
Standard, tools, and services groups might want to collaborate after this to collect stories

Group notes

Questions that need to be addressed to shape this direction

  • Can Bamboo offer a clearinghouse for standards and help people make informed choices?
  • The kinds of standards we were talking about were less technical - more vetting, peer review, etc. - can this be shaped towards best practices for applying standards?
  • How does Bamboo position itself vis a vis standards to meet the needs of scholars?
  • How to engage with professional academic organizations in articulating these standards?
  • What should/should not be standardized?
  • As we look at what we're trying to make work together, we have to decide what it is first
  • How will these change over time, and who will make these decisions?

Direction name

There was some discussion of whether the name should include a qualifier such as "recommended" to soften the impact of "standards". In the final analysis we agreed (but not decisively) to leave this out. The group substituted "best practices" for "specifications" because the domain of best practices seemed significant for Bamboo's community (and for the kinds of risks and rewards the group had identified) whereas "specifications" seemed vaguer than "standards" and yet equally technical, not a useful amplification.


  • appropriate use of standards increases credibility of Bamboo effort
  • in some cases, standards use will increase the possibility of interoperability, or may be a precondition of it
  • awareness and use of appropriate standards can facilitate the work of newcomers to the digital field, by providing them with precedents and guidance for how to proceed
  • use of standards can help create critical mass of commonly expressed information, producing advantages of scale
  • use of appropriate standards can increase the longevity and useful life of resources created for or as part of the Bamboo effort
  • use of appropriate standards can help ensure high quality for resources created and can help practitioners avoid reinvention (or failed reinvention) of the wheel.


  • if Bamboo pushes standards, there is a risk of pushback or alienation from specific groups or institutions that are opposed or have a different opinion; in other words, there is the risk of choosing sides
  • risk of over-normalization or premature normalization ("tyranny")
  • risk of obstructing standards development; getting in the way; meddling out of our depth
  • there is also the question of how to accommodate the evolution of standards gracefully; this is more of a challenge than a risk, and would be a challenge even in the absence of standards (since data formats will continue to evolve even if standards are not in play).


In Scope

  • articulating, documenting, and demonstrating benefits that would accrue to use of a specific standard
  • adopting technical standards as necessary for internal Bamboo operation
  • endorsing or recommending domain-specific technical standards (EAD, TEI, METS, VRA, etc.) which have methodological impact for scholars; also, basing higher levels of functionality or interoperation on the (optional) use of such standards
  • communicating and raising awareness concerning the softest kinds of standards: e.g. "business practices" such as work flow, project management
  • recommending best practices at all levels
  • articulating the value of standards adoption for the community
  • acting as a focal point for the humanities community's representation on technical standards bodies, to ensure that humanities perspectives are represented in the future development of these standards

Related to Bamboo
(Not addressed)

Out of scope

  • authoring or managing standards
  • requiring the use of any kinds of standards or best practices apart from those essential to the practical workings of Bamboo

Top priorities to address by W3 (Jan 2009)

  • identify stakeholders and types of participants
  • develop initial rough inventory of standards and best practices, with concrete examples; develop a loose framework for differentiating between types standards, best practices, etc. specifically with respect to Bamboo's appropriate response (adopt, recommend, communicate)
  • articulate how standards issues will intersect with other PB work groups


What needs to be done before Workshop Three? (Jan 12)

  1. Identify stakeholders and types of participants in the exploration of Bamboo's position with respect to standards: both to serve as informants and also to be included as representation on a longer-term working group
  • identify relevant arts and humanities fields (this is a demonstrator)
  • identify relevant professional associations, including interdisciplinary organizations (this is a demonstrator)
  • post these initial lists for review and amplification by the Bamboo participants
  • use these lists as a map to guide the identification of representatives from each field; these will help the workgroup identify the relevant standards and best practices in the arts and humanities that Bamboo needs to be aware of; also contact representatives from IT, library fields
  • make sure to identify stakeholders by role and not only by field: e.g. someone who understands material culture, visual culture, etc.
  1. Select a subset of the fields identified from which to draw an initial sampling of standards and issues or problems, on the basis of which to model a set of appropriate approaches (to be scaled up when larger-scale funding is available).
  • identify the outer boundaries of Bamboo's purview with respect to standards: most technical end, most "best practice" end, significant points in between.
  • identify issues (relevant to standards) specific to each field; try to delegate this to representatives of specific fields
  • maybe post a query to relevant listservs (demonstrator?)
  • talk to faculty informants
  1. Develop a rough initial inventory of relevant standards
  • query the humanities, IT, and library informants from item 1 above concerning the relevant standards and best practices in their field
  • issue a query to relevant listservs


View flipcharts

Domains: plumbing, metadata, practice areas
Dimensions of "Standards"
Process = review? vet?
Don't create new ones
NNIH - Not Not Invented Here
Besides, there are too many domains involved in Bamboo
Communication, outreach, forum
Case studies


  • Interoperability
  • Sharing
  • Preservation
  • Enable
    What should be the impact of whatever's done in "Standards"?
    What about where standards are lacking?
    Eg. ARTstore & image quality
    VRA - Visual Resources Ass'n
    Potential arbiters of this
    Quality, acceptance

See diagram

"Practitioner voice" often sought by existing standards bodies

  • Credibility
  • Interoperability
  • Facilitating newcomers, scholars
  • Alienation, meddling
  • Critical mass
  • Tyranny of normalization
  • Longevity
  • Quality

Scope (or out)
Authoring standards
Articulating value, recommending practices
Identify technical standards for the services framework (the plumbing)
Coercing usage, requiring
Quality assessment of digital humanities works
Awareness of existing examples of digital humanities works

Top 3 agenda items for WG:

  • Organizational structure, identify types of participants
  • Rough enumeration of standards & best practices relevant to PB
  • Operational framework including articulation with other WGs

Work items

  • coordinate "clearinghouse(s)" find, transfer, annotate

Ana: meta

  • Executive/steering function

Work items

  • Iteratively identify who will participate
  • Identify the fields and professional organizations connected with PB to ensure adequate participation -> Demonstrator
  • Develop representative list of standards issues to test the organizational structure and process we devise is reasonable


  • Talk to participants, to formulate initial issues
  • Propose initial communication plan, to include the other WGs
  • WG liaisons meet with PB staff
  • How to decide whether to adopt, or what to recommend? A process and some principles