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Thomax Kaulmann

Oma Means Anything because OMA is the Open Meta Archive.

"You don't have to know everything, you just have to know the reference."

This is only possible if there's a system to the archiving process. For various media the requirements for indexing are different. This leads to different systems. OMA harmonises this by connecting the different archiving systems on a meta-level.

The motivation for putting something into an archive is knowing that there is someone who will need to access this information. By providing an all-in-one surface to different media, OMA provides a solution to creating new archived contexts from the existing ones and publishing them.

The history of OMA is based on the idea of a contributor-driven infrastructure with minimal efforts of administration and maximal outcome of new contexts. The key elements of OMA are:
1996 Radio Internationale Stadt
1998 Open Radio Archive Network Group, ORANG (
1999 Open Video Archive, OVA (
2000 Open Meta Archive, OMA (

When you look at the logo, you can see four disjointed rings. Each of these rings stands for an archive area. There is a yellow ring in the center to combine all these areas by defining a common set. This is the new context on a meta-level.

If you have an understanding of what ORANG is about, then OMA is the same thing on a meta-level. This means, that -- if you remember the ring logo -- the yellow ring represents a node in the meta-level network and each other ring represents a node in a single network.

Archiving and publishing work hand in hand. While we have plentiful information on the archive site, on the other hand, we have a deficiency of published context. To solve that, OMA combined them and brought the raw archive material closer to the context-giving editors.

As an example, we have a network of cultural institutions. They operate with their specific professional language and terms, like "coproduction", "artist", "partners", different areas in the field of art disciplines, and so on. Another example would be a biological research institute. They also deal with another language.

By setting up a tree, covering the different models of communication, OMA gives a broad range to project users' needs for this structure.
catalogue systems
scientific institutions
intranets of all kinds

Because the OMA tree structure is open for anything, it's a big challenge to bring meaning to your information. If you have to categorise an apple, a pie, and a peach, you follow the structure of the tree. You extend this structure by setting up a new node for "Food" and put all three things in this node. If you insert new information about a chair, a table, and a lamp, you add the category "Furniture" on the appropriate level and throw these things in there.

If you want to add information on bananas, pears, and kiwis to the tree, it would make sense to set up a new category "Fruits", under the "Food" category and bring all fruits into this category.

Everything you do, you do it on your subjective point of view and that reflects who you are. The OMA tree structure is a view of the cultural context of the makers. They have to sit down together and talk about their work to define their categories clearly, especially under the aspect of the people from "the outside".

OMA is partly financed by the realisation of a project of the House of World Cultures The first implementation of OMA is the, founded by the HKW and financed by the Friends of the HKW.
Another part is the involvement of personal work by interested people.

OMA is free software but the license rules aren't decided yet. Currently there is no distribution, but you can request the whole source tree.

To get OMA to a distribution level, it needs more software engineers, editors, graphic designers, co-ordinators, managers, and partners for further developments, realised projects, visibility, better understanding, and financial input.