Sunday, July 08, 2007

Everything is Miscellaneous

Are you guys catching this? Leslie Madsen-Brooks is posting a multi-part series on Museums and Social Networking sites. So far, three parts are posted: 1. Introduction and Facebook, 2. Myspace, and 3. Flickr. She's offering a lot of great observations and pulling together a lot of writing and links. I'm looking forward to the next installment featuring social networking services of a different color: YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


I'm currently reading Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder. It's one of those really entertaining, interesting, and provoking reads. I haven't yet had a chance to synthesize it, but one thing that really seems to stand out is the potential for messy data. And I mean messy data in a good way. Weinberger speaks of the "new digital disorder" as a third order method of organization - a method not bound by the rules of a two dimension paper based system.

Of course, in order to open up, say, digital collections to third order methods of organization, like tagging, museums need to have their second order organization in hand. A lot of museums can't say that their collections are completely cataloged in databases such as ARGUS or PastPerfect. And if the museum doesn't have control over its objects, it isn't sensical to start to relinquish that control to tagging projects.

And then, when you do have your second order ducks in a row, how do you get people to participate? As the sidebar to the Powerhouse Bulk Collections tagger states: "One of the key problems we have identified with social tagging of our collection is that there just isn't enough tagging going on and although the tags that are added do have significant benefit in terms of making certain collection records more easily discoverable only about 3000 records have been tagged so far." Yeah. What do people get from tagging? Tagging personal images, blog entries, bookmarks, what have you, has a use for the average person on the Internet. Tagging stuff for kicks? That's what museum people might do, not your average Myspace user.

Same problem as always: It's cool, we know why we're doing it, but how come no one's coming to play with us? The Powerhouse Museum is trying to address this issue by aiming the bulk tagger application to museum professionals and amateur groups.

Or, next to each collections object, have one of those nice buttons that say "Digg This" or "" so that the tagging is done through already beneficial applications and then find a way to mine that data.... Except for all those tags that'll just say "museum."

1 comment:

Leslie Madsen-Brooks said...

I'm glad you're enjoying the series. I didn't expect it to be quite so long. . . There went my weekend!