Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

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Community Sites and Emerging Sociable Technologies

TitleCommunity Sites and Emerging Sociable Technologies
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsVon Appen, K., Kennedy B., & Spadaccini J.
Secondary TitleMuseums and the Web 2006: Proceedings
PublisherArchives & Museum Informatics
Place PublishedAlbuquerque, New Mexico, USA
EditorTrant, J., & Bearman D.

A generation of new, easy-to-use ‘sociable technologies’ is creating
opportunities for museums to pioneer the creation of on-line
communities. These communities can deepen and extend relationships with
and among visitors, while moving museums beyond their traditional role
as arbiters of knowledge. Blogs, podcasts, RSS feeds, wikis,
open-source content management tools and more, collectively offer the
promise of greater interaction and collaboration, both at the museum
and on-line. Not since the invention of the Web and its subsequent
development as a multimedia platform have we seen such an exciting
array of emerging technologies, yet few museums to date have taken up
the tools and strategic advantages offered by what’s been dubbed Web
2.0. These advantages include the educational potential of
constructivist learning models fostered by on-line collaboration and
dialogue and ‘first mover’ advantage with funders and partners.
Meanwhile, not to participate is to risk being left behind by a
significant and growing segment of our visitors, and to have our
mission and offerings defined by others in our absence, potentially to
everyone’s detriment. In this paper, we argue that the strengths of
museums such as authenticity, emotional engagement and repeat
visitation, make them ideal catalysts for on-line communities; we
examine some early experiments; we explore issues of quality and
accuracy in visitor-created content; and we suggest models for the
management and maintenance of on-line communities.