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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jennifer trant's Blog

Chat works!

Looks like chatbox is working now. Installed it yesterday, and have now tested it with nate from the walker.

join chat through the link in the upper right menu.



here goes ... the 2.0 test for MW2006. We thought it was about time to see what we could do within the MW community to enable interaction, both during the Museums and the Web conference, and later on, too, if this sticks.

These tools are supposed to be quick and easy to use. So far, so good. The Drupal install began late in the day on March 14, and we're 'live' not quite so late in the day on March 15. not bad for a team of 1 (and some helpful people on the other end of email.)

fingers crossed the rest is as straightforward.


On choice and change

An eco-designer eyes clean tech - page 2 | Newsmakers | CNET

William McDonough interviewed by c|net remarks that the Chinese are likely to take solar 'to scale' and master the economics of production. He anticipates the complaint: "It's the Chinese getting all the work again" and then wonders  when Americans "will realize that for every job making a solar collector, there are four jobs deploying solar. So the Chinese will be giving us a huge gift when they drop the price of solar below the price of coal by going to scale because it will give us our own indigenous energy and massive job creation."

unbundling museums

Unbundles of Joy - New York Times

Daniel Akst writes today in the New York Times about the tensions between aggregation and disaggregation in the world of Web content.

He says, "In the unbundled age, we will get a clearer look at what we - and our work - are worth in the marketplace, with some social and financial implications." If content is available at an atomic level, and payment is possible for the page, not the book (just like it is for the song, not the album) then, yes, we might get a different kind of indication of just what part of our work people value ... but what will they be missing?

images, the internet archive, and the open content alliance

Brewster Kahle spoke briefly in the Opening Plenary at the Coalition for Networked Information Task Force Meeting  this week about the need for libraries to 'walk the walk' and apply the principles of  openness that demand from publishers to the content they are creating themselves. These were ideas he, Dan Greenstein, Jim Michalko and others followed up in a breakout session that went into more detail about the Open Content Archive. Brewster is understandably concerned about the availability of content and the artificial limitations placed on the utility networked content by an unwillingness to share -- or is that a desire to own?

"make sure you call my wife ..."

... and wish her happy birthday "  ...

overheard in transit ... it made me wonder what else he delegated...


tags -> annotation: pennTags @ cni


Social Bookmarking in an Academic Environment

Michael Winkler (Director, Information Technologies & Digital Development @ University of Pennsylvania) talked about Social Bookmarking in an Academic Environment. He introduced penTags, an application they had created to support students' development of annotated bibliographies in an cinema studies course, that's since been used to create research guides for the library and image portfolios and to support other personal uses of tagging.

Learning to see

The Globe and Mail: Did you notice their guns?

Museum educators talk a lot about learning to see ... about the importance of visual literacy and non-verbal communication. In this article, Simon Houpt of the Globe and Mail, gives a great summary of some non-traditional uses of art museum collections to teach skills of observation and analysis.

"For almost two years now, the Frick has been running a program with the police department that brings captains into the museum for a few hours to test and hone their observational skills. It was inspired by a program for students at Yale University's medical school which has spawned a number of copycat initiatives around the United States. A study submitted by Yale faculty, and published in the September, 2001, edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicated that students' observational performance was significantly increased by spending a few hours looking at representational paintings."

mic khoo and tacit knowledge

in a talk at FIS about tacit knowledge and communication in the context of an NDLE project Mic Khoo wondered why attempts to compensate for acknowledged different perspectives didn't result in a successful project dynamic.  He posited that failures to express 'tacit knowledge' became significant barriers in communication between the Principal Investigators and the participating teachers.

It's an interesting thought ... that if you don't express all your assumptions, and if you are not conscious about what you know, and what others don't know, that you won't communicate most effectively. And it certainly rings true with my experience in inter-disciplinary collaborative projects.

Google's implementation of "Structured Blogging"

Google Base

Here's the Google beta of genre tagged blog positings... seems surprisingly inelegant. There's a Web4Lib thread on this at


This morning's walk

one of the beauties of where i live is the closeness to the Beach ... where we walk every morning with our dog Slate. It's a great stretch of park, sand, Boardwalk and open water (our own freshwater ocean).

Today, being Sunday, we went a bit further than usual. How far? Take a look at the map on

jt, DB and Slate: Sunday November 20, 2005

Thomas Vander Wal blogs steve

Off the Top ::

Following our discussion at the Corante SSA, he says:

"I also met one of the people responsible for Steve, The Art Museum Community Cataloging Project, which could be the most important folksonomy and tagging endeavor that is ongoing. The importance is in part their work, but the research into tagging and folksonomy is insanely helpful and seems to be the best work out there at the moment. The work proves the strong positive significance that tagging and folksonomy plays in connecting people to objects and information. Having the world framed in a language or vocabulary is incredibly helpful and that is not often a result of formal taxonomies as they tend to optimize toward the norms and not embrace the edges. I will be writing about Steve more in the future, but I was so excited to meet somebody tied to the project so I could have more conversations and learn what they have found to be helpful and not so helpful."

persistent identity in museum space

Identity Woman » on a business panel

I had a good talk with kaliya about identity on Monday night, and find it still resonanting in my mind. There's a lot in the concept that would improve the museum web experience.

We imagine that the audience for culture is shared across many institutions. My local Museum Member is your tourist audience at the physical museum -- that's why we have reciprocal visiting agreements, where my membership is recognised @ your museum. But what about museum Web sites?

genres in blogspace » What is Structured Blogging?

hmm ... an attempt to improve the precision of searching by enabling authors to define the genre of a blog post.  An interesting attempt at an explicit form of content differentiation, in the aid of better clustering of content and smarter filtering.