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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Break-down of topics for Research Forum discussion and review of research generally

New paper online about convergence and professional education in archives, museums and libraries

Emerging Convergence? Thoughts on museums, archives, libraries and professional training

J. Trant, Archives & Museum Informatics
[author's pre-print of article to appear in Museum Management and Curatorship, Vol. 24, no. 4, Dec. 2009.]

Museum jobs: a summary

when talking to some of the developers at the Fluid Engage project team meeting today (i'm on the Advisory Committee), i realised that an introduction to the way that museums are organized, and what kinds of people do which kinds of jobs, would be helpful.

Impact of Museum Websites - a comparison using Alexa

NOTE: This was an experiment, meant to test the method, not to produce a citable result. Read the comments.

The other day I was musing about what impact museums are having on the Web and who is 'punching above their weight'?  I began to ask how would we know, and it occured to me to check the relative Alexa rankings of museums ( This produced a few possible answers and lots of surprises, so I systematically looked through the rankings to find the (c. 200) 'museums' that ranked, by traffic, in the top 500,000 web sites worldwide. I included for comparison and amusement (which, if it was a museums, would have ranked 99 among museums).

22nd International Sculpture Conference: CALL FOR PAPERS

22nd International Sculpture Conference: CALL FOR PAPERS

London, UK – April 2010

Survey on Computer Exhibits in Museums


We are resubmitting a grant proposal to fund Open Exhibits, a project that will allow us to develop, test, and disseminate open source software built specifically for museum exhibits.

Muriel Cooper: designer of the information landscape

deep in the midst of production deadlines for MW2009, i'm celebrating Ada Lovelace day by remembering Muriel Cooper, co-founder of MIT's Visible Language Workshop. a pioneer in thinking about – and visually representing – information space, Cooper's insistence that information had characteristics beyond the linear was of significant influence on me as i worked with the Art Information Task Force, structuring the Categories for the Description of Works of Art in the early 1990s.

Museums and the Web: Current Issues

the slides from my presentation yesterday at Keio University, Tokyo, are on-line now, at slideshare [and embedded below]. Thanks to everyone who responded to my query about what keeps you up at night.


New Pew Stats: American Adults and Social Networks

There's a new update out from the Pew Internet and American Life Project about "Adults and Social Network Sites". See the summary at and download the report from

New Grant Competition: Digging Into Data Challenge

A new grant opportunity for projects exploring large-scale data analysis has been announced, supporting collaborative research in Canada, the US and the UK that makes use of large data sets.

From their Web site:

New Article: Tagging, Folksonomy and Art Museums: Early Experiments and Ongoing Research


Tagging has proven attractive to art museums as a means of enhancing the indexing of online collections. This paper examines the state of the art in tagging within museums and introduces the research project, and its study of tagging behaviour and the relationship of the resulting folksonomy to professionally created museum documentation. A variety of research questions are proposed and methods for answering them discussed. Experiments implemented in the research collaboration are discussed, preliminary results suggested, and further
work described.

J Trant. Tagging, Folksonomy and Art Museums: Early Experiments and Ongoing Research, Journal of Digital Information, Vol 10, No 1 (2009) available at :

New Article: Studying Social Tagging and Folksonomy: A Review and Framework


This paper reviews research into social tagging and folksonomy (as reflected in about 180 sources published through December 2007). Methods of researching the contribution of social tagging and folksonomy are described, and outstanding research questions are presented. This is a new area of research, where theoretical perspectives and relevant research methods are only now being defined. This paper provides a framework for the study of folksonomy, tagging and social tagging systems. Three broad approaches are identified, focusing first, on the folksonomy itself (and the role of tags in indexing and retrieval); secondly, on tagging (and the behaviour of users); and thirdly, on the nature of social tagging systems (as socio-technical frameworks).

J Trant, Studying Social Tagging and Folksonomy: A Review and Framework, Journal of Digital Information, Vol 10, No 1 (2009) available at

LC Flickr Commons Report Available

the Library of Congress has made a detailed report of their experiments with the Flickr Commons available on their web site at

They note the following in their summary:

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, 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).

upcoming presentation: research results @ mcn

can we learn from tagging?: Tagging might give us some insight into visitor principal investigator of the IMLS research grant, wrapping up this december, i'll be presenting further results from our tagging study at the upcoming museum computer network conference:

Friday November 14, 2008
Grand Hyatt, Washington, DC

Should You Care about Social Tagging? – Findings and Recommendations from

tagging and folksonomy keynote @ DC2008

tags, search terms, and museum documentationi gave a keynote this morning at the Dublin Core Metadata Meeting - DC2008 on access to art museums on-line: a role for social tagging and folksonomy? that reports on more of the tagging data analysis. this talk built on what i reported at NKOS last week [ public and professional vocabularies. presentation @ NKOS 2008] and extended it to include some thoughts on user-generated metadata – useful in the context of DC, which began its life as a format for encoding user-created metadata – and a bit of work about the relationships between tags and search logs.

my slides are here (without some of the funky builds).

while we'd hypothesized that there might be a tight relationship between tags and search terms, what we found was a much looser coupling. whether this is a self-fulilling prophesy – because searches on the kinds of subject and genre terms that they use to tag fail, people don't use them – or because description and retrieval vocabularies vary at some other level still needs some thought. that's what the examples we looked at seemed to indicate, and a place i'll be looking further.