New York’s American Museum of Natural History, one of the largest of its kind in the world, is digitizing its vast collections with hopes that ocean data from the past can help inform scientists for the present. The museum maintains over 33 million specimens and artifacts dating back as far as 1864. While the collection may not be the largest in the world, its age and diversity offer unique scientific value.
However, the museum hosted a recent hackathon which evidences how difficult a challenge organizing this historical data poses. Over 150 hackers gathered overnight beneath the museum’s iconic blue whale scale model and worked on nine ocean science and conservation projects. With just the one day to complete their presentations, the hackers were hindered by incomplete records, misspellings in the data, varied levels of specificity with regard locational information.
While more time would certainly have helped, and the opportunity is very real, the museum clearly has its work cut out in organizing such a wide-ranging data set.
Read more here.
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