Sunday, May 27, 2007

We are the future

We are the future. And we want your collections to be accessible online. And we want them indexed on search engines so we can find them.

I'm sitting here in the Wallingford Chocolati (chocolate, espresso, and wireless. What more could I want?) with Larissa, the Museology program digitization queen. We're here with the purpose of creating our defense presentations, but we haven't quite gotten to that point.

We've been sidelined talking about the places where our theses interact. Larissa's all about digitization of collections and public access to those online. And I'm all about, well, blogging. Duh.

Why are there no blogs that take you behind the scenes in collections? Why? Or are there and I've missed them? Every once in a while I'll see them take a peek, but rarely. Most museum visitors are not aware that there is vast collections storage beneath their feet, much less of the COMPLETELY AWESOME stuff that goes on in collections and is held in the collections (is my bias showing? Oops.). I think that Glenbow's Dear Miss Griffis does a pretty cool job of using their archives as their blog, but this is not what I'm talking about.

Can we juxtapose the Botany Photo of the Day blog with the Powerhouse Museum's Collection Database with your average blog? Yeah yeah yeah, I know there are copyright restrictions - I'm thinking of historical collections primarily, not art. If I weren't a museum person, that is what I would want to see. Cool old stuff. Not just the 3" by 4" placard of information from an exhibit, but the story. Stories. Museum 2.0 just had a thought provoking post on the power of stories.

What are the really successful blogs? Boingboing? Yeah. It's the places where you find all the cool little stories that not too many others know.

Am I being totally coherent? No. But I am excited by the possibilities! It's not only the possibility of making collections accessible to the public, it's making collections accessible online for researchers, for everyone. It's using Flickr to encourage accessibility and invite participation.

This is what I want the future of collections to be. Collections so often gets the short end of the stick, but the potential. The potential is huge. So much potential countered by so much institutional Fear. But look out museum world. We're coming and we see the potential and we have the Trust.


Seb Chan said...

Hey Lynn

Its coming . . . . a 'collection highlights' blog is on its way. We've just been busy trying to get so other things happening with the collection database first (you might notice a few changes on the front page now).

A highlights blog requires quite a bit of extra effort from curatorial staff which is what is slowing it down - and we're trying to find nifty ways that this could expand what is online - like perhaps starting with our collection of 78s - complete with downloadable audio of them . . .

One problem we have to sort out is copyright but I've been thinking of making a collection widget which would allow SOME objects to be embedded in other people's blogs like YouTube movies etc . . .

Also we are working on some really cool visualisation stuff which will add a new way of browsing the collection too.

But its all about . . . . time . . . time, and the lack thereof.


Nina Simon said...

Speaking of the future, one of my favorite newish museum blogs is the Explainers' blog at the Exploratorium. It's not about collections, but it is about the nuts and bolts of working on the floor, loving the exhibits, and developing educational programs. I love the tone, which is open and actually gives insights into how the floor staff think about and do their work.

cherry sham said...

Hi Lynn,

We too would love to have a blog that explores the collection but Seb hit the nail on its head... lack of time. It's difficult for curatorial staff to spend the time needed for a quality blog posting (unless the individual is a blogger him/herself).