Open Content & Big Data


  • Meeting next week at 9:00am at the New Jersey State Museum

Design Notebooks

Let’s take a couple of minutes to review some of your Design Notebooks.

Open Content & Big Data

What is Open Content?


Open Content

Open Apps

What’s an API?

API stands for “Application Programming Interface”.


Anatomy of an API

Three Tiered Architecture:

The Data Layer

Collection Database Resources – This is your database of collection records, could be in a database management system like MySQL, or even in flat files like CSV or Excel.

The Application Layer

Application Programming Interface – A middleware application in a server-side language like PHP, Ruby, Python or Server Side Javascript (Node.js) that responds to user requests by querying the database and returning the results of the requested action. There are some decent lightweight frameworks available that simplify creating RESTful APIs.

REST (Representational State Transfer) APIs work like web pages, but for machines. You build URL strings to tell the API which resource you want, and make a single request for that resource.

The Presentation Layer

  • Websites
  • Mobile Apps
  • Kiosks/Installations

Why use APIs?


Creating an API

When designing a RESTful API, use nouns to to identify resources. Limit your base URLS to two; one for collections, and one for specific items within a collection.

Examples: /collections - retrieve a listing of all collections /collections/12345 - retrieve info for a specific collection

You can then nest resources to reflect associations between resources.

Examples: /collections/12345/items - retrieve the collection of all items in a specific container /collections/12345/items/54321 - retrieve a specific item in a specific container

To perform actions, use the following HTTP methods when making your REST requests:

  • GET – return the resource set
  • POST – insert a resource
  • PUT – update a resource
  • DELETE – delete a resource

Pragmatically speaking, you’ll often find POST being used in lieu of PUT and DELETE to edit and delete resources.

*Want to design a RESTful api for your collection data? Check out the Apigee Web API Design book!

What is Big Data?


Next Week

Map to NJSM

  • 8:30 am – meet at AIMM 222
  • 8:40 am – Drive over to NJSM
  • 9 am to noon – TCNJ class time at NJSM (STEAM Center reserved on EMS)
  • 9 am to 11 am – Nick presents Cultural History exhibits covering background and more detail. Beth B. talks about designing these exhibits and Beth C. add Educator’s perspective.
  • 11:00 am to noon – Mark Thompson teaches rest of class in STEAM Center
  • noon – drive back to TCNJ


Mobile Apps & Location-based services

  • Read “Mobile Apps” in the NMC Horizon Report 2012 Museum Edition, pp. 11-14
  • Read “Location-Based Services” in the NMC Horizon Report 2013 Museum Edition, pp. 23-26
  • Read “Location-Based Services” in the NMC Horizon Report 2015 Museum Edition, pp. 40-41
  • Create a new slide in your Design Notebook and title it “Mobile & Location-based Services”
  • From the examples listed in the reading, what was your favorite example of a mobile or location-based service? Why?
  • Can you find any other examples exhibits using mobile or location-based services “in the wild” (could be from museums, libraries, or even retail)? Describe them and why they’re appealing.

NJSM Cultural History Collections

  • Review the labels for collection items in the Pretty Big Things and Civil War Flags exhibits.
  • Think of various ways you might be able to categorize the items (size, date of origin, location of origin, color, etc).
  • Write out these attributes as a list for each kind of object
  • How might you construct an API that would allow other developers to create a web or mobile interface to search each collection?
  • What if NJSM asked you to create a basic RESTful API to do just that. Write out a URL scheme you might use to enable that kind of an API.

Submitting Your Work

This week’s homework assignment is due next week before class. When you’ve completed them, post a comment on this page (First Day of Class), including a link to your Design Notebook.

More Info on Crowd Sourcing


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