Friday, January 22, 2010

When Members Contribute to (And Help Curate) Collections...

The New York Times (click title) covers the "next generation" of guest involvement in contributing to, shaping and even co-curating museum content. Several museums-to-be are soliciting content from future guests, and sharing this content on-line. The Smithsonian has something called "Smithsonian Commons," which allows visitors to "download, share and remix the museum's vast collection of public domain assets." They'll be able to use the museum as a kind of micro-Internet, creating personalized niche views of the collection by using (fully licensed) images on their web sites and Facebook pages.

The Smithsonian's new media director, Michael Edson, says that this is a mission-shift "from an authority-centric broadcast platform to one that recognizes the importance of distributive knowledge creation." (Whew!)

The most important question raised seems to be, "How do museum curators encourage participation, create interest through involvement, and give up enough control to engage people, without losing control?" Any thoughts?

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