Thursday, April 9, 2009

Museums and the Web 2009

The mecca for those museum bods interested in what is termed ‘informatics’ is the annual Museums and the Web conference. I’m off to be part of it straight after Easter and am looking forward to a complete download (and probably overload) of informatics information over the three days it runs.

This year it is in Indianapolis – it’s been happening since 1997 (variously in the US and Canada), run as a private operation by a couple of inspired individuals out of Toronto, David Bearman and Jennifer Trant through their company, Archimuse. There is regularly a significant contingent of Australians there, not least because Seb Chan at the Powerhouse is one of the key players at the conference.

I’ve had a good scan of the program and it seems to reflect what I am told is the usual mix of papers, with at one end of the spectrum brilliant ideas getting their first airing, and at the other end papers on some pretty sophisticated web-based programs. Check out the nominees for "Best of the Web" awards for an idea of the extent of what is happening in this area.

I remain most excited by what this all means for museums. Despite the trepidations of curators and the need for resolution of copyright and privacy issues, it is the opportunity for ultimate access that it potentially affords and the breaking down of boundaries between institutions that will be so exhilarating to see. I look with some envy at my children, born into a world where the web is a given, who will be around to benefit from the vast amount of collection information on line and the chance it offers to cross reference, research and do all sorts of things with it that we have not yet thought of.

I look forward to blogging from mw2009 in Indianapolis from 14th to 17th April.

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