So we want to use this last talk as a vehicle to encourage some general discussion about some the themes that have come up today. Ed and I have pulled together some of the ideas that are in development, and speculate about where these may take us in the next few years.
So as an institution we forged our dreams in a simpler time… (VINCE)
When our success was measured by things like the specimens in our collection…
The buildings where we housed them…
And the staff that worked here…
But now, what was once the domain of a few people that could come to the Natural History Museum, is now the preserve of the billions that have access to the internet.
The internet breaks down these boundaries so that outcomes that were once inconceivable.
Are nowroutine. (VINCE)
Yes – you can now get PCR fridge magnets! (VINCE)
So we need new dreams.
We think you can tell a lot about someone’s dreams, by how they choose to measure them. SO for an institution of this size, we need big dreams. SO what does BIG mean.
Our dreams must be scoped to include the entirety of the natural world. All of its species, past and present; what its made from, and how these interact.
Our dreams need to scale from the smallest microbe to the blue whale. We can’t afford to just invest in niches or fashions.
And the pressures on our planet mean we don’t have time to waste. We need quick wins as well as long term solutions.
Much of this is going to require new technologies to do this science. Metagenomics for example, provides an entirely new window on biodiversity, allowing us to investigate organisms, genes and interactions, and challenge some of the very tenants of what makes up the natural world.
Technology also allows us to communicate in new ways. Our science will increasingly underpin public policy and discussion, and we need to engage with people through platforms they are currently using, rather than reinvent our own.
This means engagement at the right level – we can’t assume everyone has the same knowledge and understanding, or even interest. Some people need a broad overview, while other engage directly with our science. It should be for them to decide, and not us to dictate.
We don’t need to re-invent the wheel. Lots of good content already exists that we can repurpose leaving us time to fill in the gaps.
This needs to be inclusive, as many of the people that need our knowledge the most, don’t even speak the same language.
If our mission is to inspire engagement and interest in the natural world, our target audience has to be everybody.
And for some, this means genuinely participating in our mission. New technology makes this easier than ever.
Creating rich data from new sources
Some of which, won’t even be sentient. We can increasingly automate field identification, collecting more data with less effort.
New devices can take advantage of this, so that perhaps in 10 years your spectacles will become a head-up-display, which like facial recognition, will allow us to identify species.
Leading to new opportunities for education and new platforms for delivering our content.
And through this massive pool of data, new opportunities for research,
And challenge the way we do research into the future.
So that everyone becomes a collaborator
Realizing the potential of these new data and collaborators requires new ways to behave - where sharing becomes the default.
So that we can begin to tackle the big questions on a global scale.
Enabling us to shape our future.
A future where data comes in real time. (ED)
Is combined with what we know already. (ED)
And with quick and easy analysis. (ED)
So tasks that once took months, happen continuously behind the scenes. (ED)
New visualisations will allow us to make sense of these data; identify trends, and allowing us to communicate them in understandable and compelling ways. (VINCE --- BUT ED TO SET VIDEO GOING)
So hopefully the answer to this question… (ED)
Isn’t out of order. (ED)
SO what are our dreams… (VINCE)
They are about collaboration and communication (ED)
In your language (VINCE)
Wherever you are (ED)
And perhaps we can distill all this to a single research question. (VINCE)
Maybe this question. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME. (VINCE)
What will a digital Natural History
Museum look like in 10 years time?
Ed Baker & Vince Smith10.6084/m9.figshare.749700