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

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Standards & Best Practices

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


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