There are hundreds of researchers at the Smithsonian, and in many cases we act as the repository for data from many of their collaborators. In order to provide a high level of service, ORIS focuses on serving communities who share approaches, standards and practices. The first parts that have been developed are the basic systems that do simple data management for any kind of project, concentrating on handling PDF texts, simple still images and relatively small-scale tabular data files. This was expanded to include video and audio clips. Using this basic set of tools, a large number of small projects in many disciplines are able to take advantage of our systems.
Now we are taking on pilot projects that the basic functionality in ways that are more tailored to a community. By working with communities of users, we have a hope of achieving economies of scale with the limited resources that we have. Researchers who agree to work with us in pilot projects get a higher level of service while we are figuring out how to do new things, and agree to be more tolerant of the vagaries of the process of developing new systems and services.
The other basic tenet of our work with pilot projects is that the emphasis is on supporting better research. The very important issue of how to present research information to classrooms and general audiences across the world will have to be the second priority.