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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tags are personal

the fundamental value of tagging came home to me in the midst of an argument with Salim Ismail at lunch during the Corante Symposium on Social Architecture. We were debating the long term utility of  tags. Tags would soon become obsolete he maintained: tags as ways to describe content would be superceeded by better ways to index information resources.

If a tag was just about a resource, if it functioned purely as a neutral descriptor, then yes, self-describing content would make tags obsolete. But is that what tags are?

I know we're sweet but ... All Products Search Results: garden canada

I love Amazon's suggestions for things that I might be interested in, but sometimes the engine misfires. This one is quite lovely:

Amazonhelpsgardencanadacandy-1 -- and the power of meaningful URLs

it was one of life's more random moments. A group of  us attending the Museum Computer Network annual meeting in Boston were out for a post-session drink. We were in a loud, crowded bar making small talk at the top of our lungs, when the woman beside us turned towards the group. "Are you Texans she said?" ... or at least that's what I heard.

Actually she said 'Are you Techies?' an opening gambit good enough to engage some of the group in conversation. What was on her mind was surprising as her success with that pick-up line.  She wasn't from Boston, and had been on-line looking for information about the New England Aquarium. She was frustrated ...  she'd tried [a reasonable guess]. Nothing. OK what about newenglandaquarium.ORG [since we often forget about the parallel universe of the NFP]. NOTHING.

Where are they now?

Museums and the Web 2000: Sponsors

I've just stumbled upon the list of Sponsors for MW2000... this was the height of the craziness.  did any of these 'business plans" pan out?

The MIA and Antenna are still doing what they said they were going to do ...

signs of legitimacy -- we were used as a sampling site...

I've been pondering ways to assess the impact of Museums and the Web, given that we are approaching the tenth iteration of the event. Much of the benefit of the meeting is 'soft' and difficult to measure. Who met whom? Who's working with whom? Who married whom (well... at least that was publicly declared). How do you establish whether MW has impact?

Citation indexes / frequency would be one way. How often is the conference cited in the literature? But that would have to be taken in comparison with other events, or other 'sources'. Sounds like a tedious statistical analysis. Then I stumbled upon the following, in a paper reporting on a survey of digital museum activity:

encouraging access: reaching out and tracking back

Museums have often (perhaps wrongly) been concerned about the appropriation of images of works in their collection, and their use in  contexts that were not mediated by curatorial authority. Unfortunately, this overzealous protectionism has limited access to collections rather than enabled it, and has spawned a number of 'user-focused' collections of images that often work around museum rights and reproductions offices, rather than with them. As a result, museums are loosing touch with the audiences for digital reproductions of their collections.

Rather than defending collections from unscrupulous users, museums would be well-placed to encourage on-line access to a broad range of images and documentation (in text, image + multimedia). What better way to encourage a sense of public ownership of public collections than to make them available for the public to use? And what more public use than widely accessible on-line linking? Just as we moved onto the web to encourage new audiences, so we need to move outside the walls of our own web sites, and position our collections as a collective good. We ought to be creating 'link to me' tools [buttons?] that encourage the use of museum images on personal and educational sites (in a manner that does not jeapordize revenue streams from commercial licensing).

Salman Rushdie talks to Michael Enright

I'm glad that CBC is back on the air again. Working alone often my days are defined by the rhythms of radio (1 or 2). That's been interrupted lately.

This morning, Michael Enright's Sunday Report included his interview with Salman Rushdie about Shalimar the Clown (a book brutal in its portrayal of love and loss, jealousy and division). In response to a question about [his] philosophy of life, Rushdie deflected the question by citing Saul Bellow: 'We live in an age of reality instructors".

But isn't Rushdie's parable just another mode of instruction?

Labyrinth on the Beach ...

This is on the Beach where we walk every morning [when we're in the city]. Whether or not Slate will comply, and remain within the lines remains to be seen. He'll likely be his most chow-like self and ignore others' constraints. Particularly as it usually takes him a bit of time to remember his city manners.


It's the time of year when we have to think about retreating to the city ... with temperatures on the way to zero (that's freezing in Celsius) the evenings see us (or tonight just me) moving closer and closer to the fire.

Steve Mayer: museums should not be 'where objects go to die'...

Steve Mayer gave one of the closing talks at ichim05 -- at the Bibliotheque nationale de France -- on "integrating museum and videogame sensibilities, or museums should not be 'where objects go to die'..."

He began with the observation that "going to a museum is like having a wonderful meal without having time to digest it". Steve then spent an engaging hour exploring a question he's been thinking about a lot  lately: "How do we integrate the interactivity of the game and the public / social space of the museum  when the cultures are so different, and the attitudes to time and experience are often opposing"

digital art ... displaying digitally

where do art and informationi intersect? Two presentations at ichim05 explored the possibilities for using digital artistic strategies to engage visitors with the more abstract notions of content and its presentation [visualization].

George Legrady's installation in the Seattle Public Library

Making the Visible Invisible (under projects)

- a beginning of the kind of data visualization that is possible based on collections

ars electronical futurelab presentation

Gulliver's World

an interactive 3-D virtual world that encourages participation and cross-over between the virtual and the real, demystifying the technology and bridging the division.

Ted Nelson's colours

This morning in a plenary at ichim05, Ted Nelson challenged us to think beyond the  Web [as implemented] to a richer and more complex model of hypertext authorship and experience. Pushing beyond unidirectional, single-target links, his proposal for "Trans-citation" builds on the premises that "documents" are built on precident (in all aspects of its meaning, including historical citations and chronological developments), that incorporation is a fundamental part of the act of authorship, and that access to a source in its original context is a fundamental part of "reading" in an environment of networked information.

in Paris

We're in Paris for ichim05 - the 9th conference in the ICHIM series. It began in 1991 as the International Conference on Hypermedia and Interactivity in Museums. At least a few of those words are applicable now... 

In 1999, when it was clear that no-one knew what ICHIM stood for, we started using the International Cultural Heritage Informatics Meeting. But does anyone know what “informatics” means? Here in Paris, because of the “faux ami” informatique it seems to have some meaning, but elsewhere? Certainly Medical Informatics now means something, and there's an emerging discourse of Social Informatics ... but in culture and heritage?

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