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MCG  March 2008

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Subject:

Re: The speculative aspect of using Web 2 [was: British Postal Museum & Archive Wiki]

From:

Nick Poole <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Museums Computer Group <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 27 Mar 2008 11:14:38 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (339 lines)

Tehmina,

Thanks for a very interesting and balanced post. I think you are correct - there is an element of exploration involved here, which is obviously an important part of innovation. My concern with these things has always been the risk of a large number of museums investing in basically unsustainable services which do little to support their core mission.

On the subject of Twitter, you ask which museum wouldn't want the brief attention of a million people. Firstly, it is highly unlikely that of this million claimed users, more than a couple of tens of thousands are *really* active users (it's the same issue with Second Life's claimed population). This really is a niche market, and my answer would be that even a million brief viewers is of little use at all if it's the *wrong* million, or if our information is lost in a torrent of in-jokes and Silicon Valley startup party invites.

We need to think hard about which problems we are going to try and solve, and then identify the best technologies to do so. Imagine a world in which Twitter did not exist (give it a couple of years...) would you really invent a constantly-updated trivia machine as the best way of communicating with museum audiences?

I'm willing to bet that you wouldn't.

Which takes us back to your original proposition - how do museums find the time and money to play with innovative/speculative services, even where these don't necessarily resolve to long-term changes in the way we do things? I know that Eduserv were looking at investing in a sandbox/incubator in which museums could muck about with stuff. I think there is real potential in having a safe 'playground' in which to test these propositions before they become live services. Is this something which people would find appealing?

Nick




Nick Poole
Chief Executive
MDA

www.mda.org.uk
www.collectionslink.org.uk



Tel:  01223 316028
Fax: 01223 364658

MDA (Europe) Ltd: Company Registration No: 1300565
Reg. Office: 22 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 1JP.

-----Original Message-----
From: Museums Computer Group [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tehmina Goskar
Sent: 27 March 2008 10:23
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: The speculative aspect of using Web 2 [was: British Postal Museum & Archive Wiki]

There is also, of course, the speculative aspect of using web 2 methods to
either solicit user response or get them to create information for you or
spread your information elsewhere.  As both Mike and Nick note, every
organisation and project has specific needs and aims and these are the
things that should come first.  However I wonder if many organisations big
and small are using social networking tools and related applications in a
speculative way - to see what happens.  This may result in 'interactions'
far beyond expectations or more modest ones but certainly quite often
unexpected ones.

Many of us who have used flickr, for example, have done so with a desire
simply to share information with no specific view on _who_ we should share
these things with.  As an individual, I have done the same and have been
quite surprised at some of the interest in my photographs, e.g. for a
southern American recipe book, for a citizenship website, for an alternative
health documentary, for a popular archaeological textbook... some have also
been shared on enthusiasts websites including one on manhole covers.  I did
not seek any of these outcomes - and certainly did not expect them.  Museums
and heritage organisations who do the same will likewise not always know how
such things will turn out.

A propos the previous post on the critique of apps such as twitter, a
million people may not be a big number for Oracle or Cisco but which museum
online or otherwise would not want a million people's attention, however
brief, on their collections and information?  The technology is also
reciprocal.  It's not all about what our audiences will get out of it but
what _we_ can get out of it too.

There is, for sure, a horses for courses basic rule to using web
applications to increase awareness of your organisation and its information
but there is also a speculative aspect which, it seems to me, is important -
there is also an element of this to putting on temporary exhibitions - it is
not always clear who will be interested in them and results can sometimes be
surprising.  How you weigh up this speculation against time and resource
costs is a more difficult matter to resolve.  The choice just needs to be
well-informed.

Tehmina



On 27/03/2008, Nick Poole <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> Dear Rhiannon,
>
> Many thanks for your email about the BPMA Wiki. I would be really
> interested to know more about why the BPMA took the decision to implement a
> Wiki. Is it something your online audience have been requesting? Is there a
> specific target demographic for whom a Wiki is their preferred form of
> interaction?
>
> The reason I ask is because of your comment about taking time to get
> people on there. Of course, this may simply be the inertia faced by any
> fledgling service, but at the same time I am not sure whether this is
> central to your mission or an incidental add-on.
>
> Not to be too negative about things, but (bearing in mind the recent
> exchange between Frankie and Mike) I remain sceptical about the
> appropriateness of models like social networking and participative media to
> the delivery of museums online. As Mike notes, there's no hard and fast rule
> - it's appropriate when it's appropriate - but I'd be really interested to
> know whether this is a case of 'because we can' or whether there is a
> genuine audience/marketing driver behind this thing.
>
> Similarly, I'd be very interested to know more about the outcomes of your
> dissertation - not just from a quantitative point of view (how many museums
> are doing this), but also from a qualitative one (of those museums, how may
> are doing it well, and how many will still be an actively supported resource
> in 2 years time).
>
> Of course, I see the potential of crowdsourcing interpretation and
> selection, and the Wiki model certainly offers a potential channel for
> people to get at the museums back-end systems, but I think we run the risk
> of overlooking the very specific psychology and demographics of User
> Generated Content, and regarding it as something appropriate for a
> generalist audience.
>
> Any further info gratefully received!
>
> Best regards,
>
> Nick
>
>
> Nick Poole
> Chief Executive
> MDA
>
> www.mda.org.uk
> www.collectionslink.org.uk
>
>
>
> Tel:  01223 316028
> Fax: 01223 364658
>
> MDA (Europe) Ltd: Company Registration No: 1300565
> Reg. Office: 22 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 1JP.
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Museums Computer Group [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of
> Rhiannon Looseley
> Sent: 26 March 2008 17:43
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: British Postal Museum & Archive Wiki
>
> Dear all
>
>
>
> I thought some of you might be interested in hearing about the new
> British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA) Wiki:
> www.postalheritage.org.uk/wiki.  It's based on Zwiki technology which is
> Zope/Plone developers' answer to Wiki technology.
>
>
>
> It's a bit of an experiment and at the moment, unsurprisingly, it's
> taking a bit of time to get people on there.  I've started a few 'seeds'
> to get people started.  At the bottom of this email is an example of the
> email we sent out to our E-Newsletter mailing list to try and encourage
> people to contribute.  It gives you an example of some of the seeds
> we're using at the moment.  We've created similar flyers and newsletter
> articles as well.
>
>
>
> I would be interested in hearing any suggestions others might have on
> topics we could use to get people started and also experiences of
> building up a community like this.  I'm particularly keen to find ways
> of making the most of Wikis' potential for collaborative work.
>
>
>
> Also if you're interested, I'm currently writing my MA in Museum Studies
> Dissertation on Museum Wikis, with ours as a case study.  I'm blogging
> about my progress at: http://rhiannonlooseley.blogspot.com if anyone is
> interested in following my progress.  I'd welcome any comments along the
> way (please let me know if you specifically don't want me to quote your
> comments, either on my blog, or by email, in my dissertation).
>
>
>
> Best wishes,
>
> Rhiannon Looseley
>
> --------------------------------------
>
> Rhiannon Looseley
>
> Web Officer
>
> Tel: 020 7239 2588
>
> Fax: 020 7239 2576
>
>
>
> [log in to unmask]
> <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>
> The British Postal Museum & Archive (BPMA)
>
> Freeling House, Phoenix Place, London WC1X 0DL
>
> www.postalheritage.org.uk <http://www.postalheritage.org.uk/>
>
>
>
> British postal communications helped to shape the modern world. The
> British Postal Museum & Archive illuminates the lives of people in the
> Post Office, the messages carried by Royal Mail, the history we all
> share. Our history through the post.
>
> The BPMA is the public identity of the Postal Heritage Trust.
>
> Registered as a charity in England and Wales.
> Registered Charity Number 1102360
> Company Number 4896056
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Family History Research
>
>
> Researching your postal ancestors? Want to share what you've discovered
> with a wider audience? Why not use the Wiki to tell others about your
> research?
>
> Use the Wiki Family history research
> <http://www.massmailer.co.uk/go.php?RKKH2J8JU8N459OE7Q6963B7UOK4YSTV>
> page to get started.
>
>
>
> Postal History
>
>
> Do you know a lot about a certain aspect of postal history? Have you
> uncovered a particularly interesting story in our archive? Why not tell
> us more about them on the Wiki?
>
> Use the Wiki Postal history
> <http://www.massmailer.co.uk/go.php?RKKH2J8JU8N459OEYMPO78SIJ7MY0JO3>
> page to get started.
>
>
>
> Working with our collections
>
>
> Did you/do you work for the Post Office? Do you recognise some of the
> objects and documents in our Collections section
> <http://www.massmailer.co.uk/go.php?RKKH2J8JU8N459OE0QP7O71MVGI0PIQW> ?
> Why not tell us about what it was/is like to work with them?
>
> Use the Wiki Working with our collections
> <http://www.massmailer.co.uk/go.php?RKKH2J8JU8N459OEBHDGUI0DHZ2L69O7>
> page to get started.
>
>
>
> Working for the Post Office
>
>
> Did you/do you work for the Post Office or Royal Mail? Tell us about
> your experiences on the Wiki.
>
> What do you think has changed over the years? We'd be interested to hear
> what you think.
>
> Use the Wiki Working for the Post Office
> <http://www.massmailer.co.uk/go.php?RKKH2J8JU8N459OECZXA1DOTRLJIRJAD>
> to get started.
>
>
>
> Letter boxes
>
>
> Do you have a digital image of a particularly interesting letter box?
> Why not upload your image to the Wiki and tell us more about it.
>
> Is there a letter box near you that you would like to know more about?
> Maybe someone else out there can help you with your query. You could
> post a question on the Wiki.
>
> Use the Wiki Letter boxes
> <http://www.massmailer.co.uk/go.php?RKKH2J8JU8N459OE789FM2I4ZDYIV491>
> page to get started.
>
>
>
> War Memorials in the Post Office
>
>
> Have you noticed a War Memorial in your local Post Office? Please help
> us compile our database of Post Office War Memorials.
>
> Use our Wiki War Memorials in the Post Office
> <http://www.massmailer.co.uk/go.php?RKKH2J8JU8N459OETUG225U1E5M98XFF>
> page to get started.
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ------
>
>
> **************************************************
> For mcg information and to manage your subscription to the list, visit the
> website at http://www.museumscomputergroup.org.uk
> **************************************************
>
> **************************************************
> For mcg information and to manage your subscription to the list, visit the
> website at http://www.museumscomputergroup.org.uk
> **************************************************
>



--
Tehmina Goskar, MA AMA
[log in to unmask]

Web Communication Development for Culture, Heritage and Academia
Museum Specialist
Historian

**************************************************
For mcg information and to manage your subscription to the list, visit the website at http://www.museumscomputergroup.org.uk
**************************************************

**************************************************
For mcg information and to manage your subscription to the list, visit the website at http://www.museumscomputergroup.org.uk
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