Friday, 27 April 2007

All Change - British Museum, London

Some really interesting and inspiring ideas were flying around at this conference yesterday, focusing on how to "adapt and thrive in the digital age."

John Dolan (Head of Library Policy at MLA) reminded us that public libraries have traditionally been about opening access to users, so web 2.0 isn't anything too revolutionary for the mla sector--it's just an extension of what we've been doing for years.

Our institutions, he said, have an important role (almost therapeutic) in helping people to cope with that state of "informed bewilderment" that is life in the digital age [at least on one side of the digital divde anyway].

Brian Kelly of UKOLN stole the show with his energetic and informed challenge to received wisdom, leaving me (and many others I'm sure) with no excuses about taking web 2.0 forward in some way, shape or form. Every organisation needs to look carefully at their needs and what users actually want, but it's clear that the challenges aren't primarily technical.

At London Transport Museum, we're coming to to the end of a £20m+ transformation project and we'll be launching a brand new website to go with it. With more and more web users coming to expect 2.0 features, we'll be missing a trick if we don't take some calculated risks and make a start.

And, by using RSS technology, or having a myspace or facebook presence, or a few flickr galleries, museums can send a message that they're not standing still. Not to mention leveraging these web platforms at little cost to themselves.

In a way, this is just an extension of the sort of outreach and community programme work that museums have done for a long time.

In the 19th century, pioneers like George Birkbeck in the UK and Josiah Holbrook in the US advocated "mutual instruction", where small groups of workingmen educated one another, taking turns leading discussions about topics from mathematics to bricklaying to horticulture. A precursor of knowledge communities and discussion forums on the web today?

So, it seems there's nothing new here.

I'll be looking more closely at Brian Kelly's blog later--but this is definitely one to watch.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Everybody else has one, so...


I've decided to start up this blog to have a place for thoughts and conversations about the (r)evolution going on in the museum sector around use of so-called Web 2.0 tools.

I'm trying to find time to keep my eye on the horizon and to think laterally about ways to take advantage of new opportunities--without just hopping on the next bandwagon that comes along.

And, I wanted a shared space to add links to interesting websites and blogs that are saying provocative or useful things.

Thanks to a colleague from London Transport Museum for tipping me off about Nina Simon's Museum 2.0 blog, which is a good place to start. I'll try to have something more intelligent to say in response soon.

More to come, but first, welcome!