Museums and the Web

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

You are herethere's no such thing as 'museum content'

there's no such thing as 'museum content'


There's a sentence from the Museums and the Web 2008 Proceedings that keeps coming back to me, as i think about things as wide-ranging as tag analysis for steve.museum, and the nature of professional training in museums, archives and libraries.

When discussing the use of museum-materials posted on YouTube a group of museum professionals noted that “the people watching this were not searching for ‘museum’ content; they were searching for "calligraphy" content” (Alexander et al., 2008).

This small observation represents a profound shift in orientation, from institution-centric to user-centered. It appreciates that museum-generated content belongs in many categories, and that people come to it not interested in museums [or libraries or archives] but the subjects and themes that collections represent. Moving collections from an institutionally defined information-space into a personally defined user-space allows them to maintain meaning and develop immediacy.

When a user has a question or a curiosity, there's no such thing as museum content -- or library content, or archive content for that matter. There's stuff that answers my question – and might even encourage me to think further – and then there's the other stuff that's hard to get to or irrelevant.

Let's hope we can position our  work in the first category. i think that's what makes the Web2.0 refrain so attractive. Don't you Mike?

/jt

Reference:

Alexander, C., et al., Beyond Launch: Museum Videos on YouTube

,
in J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds.). Museums and the Web 2008: Proceedings,
Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics. Published March 31, 2008. http://www.archimuse.com/mw2008/papers/hart/hart.html

 

jtrant's picture

Melissa,

i think the difference in our approach is that i see the network – the internet, the Web, the interWeb – as a place that museums [and libraries and archives] should naturally be. it's not a question of being "overshadowed by the Internet". it's a question of playing an active and vibrant role in a changing information environment.

jennifer

j. trant archives & museum informatics www.archimuse.com

j. trant co-founder Museums and the Web | partner archives & museum informatics www.archimuse.com

arkrausehardie's picture

One of the great benefits of allowing users to tag content is that they help us think about our content in new ways and with new words. It takes us out of our ivory towers and helps us find common ground for communicating.  I think thats pretty neat and powerful.

 

 

Rebecca K-H

Rebecca K-H

jtrant's picture

i totally agree. one of the things that is clear from the steve.museum work -- where 80% + of the tags are new -- is that there are a great many more ways to approach museum content than museum people are going to be able to anticipate.

we want our stuff to have meaning to people -- so lets enable them to create it for themselves, in small ways that are personally relevant.

/jt

j. trant archives & museum informatics www.archimuse.com

j. trant co-founder Museums and the Web | partner archives & museum informatics www.archimuse.com

frankieroberto's picture

Hasn't this been the case for some time, with most users arriving at museum websites through Google searches for topics/information, not specifically looking for 'museum content'. In some ways, it's the web itself that facilitates this, and not just Web 2.0. I agree though that Web 2.0 makes the observation more apparent, as content becomes more easily seperable from its institutional context, and ends up being 'on the web' rather than 'on a website'.

jtrant's picture

i agree frankie -- it's been the case since museums put content on the web. but we forget about it, and often focus on designing destinations. even when we talk about searching, it's in the context of searching a museum catalogue, not searching the web.

bruce wyman just  tweeted that "exhibit designers have known this for years. and it's less of a prob at museums that traffic in ideas rather than objects". i think i agree with him to a point, in terms of thinking in themes. but in terms of the focus on a single destination, exhibits are still are all about the museum as a defining space.

the web2.0 rhetoric reinforces the sense that museums don't own the information consuming experience -- or the information seeking space.

when museum content is mashed up, re-used, re-presented it's the context of a user's interests that's at the forefront.

/jt

 

j. trant co-founder Museums and the Web | partner archives & museum informatics www.archimuse.com