Museums In the Digital Domain

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Museums In the Digital Domain

  1. 1. museums in the digital domain koven j. smith associate manager of interpretive technology the metropolitan museum of art, nyc
  2. 2. <ul><li>&quot;The curious thing about the various plans hatched in the ’90s is that they were, at base, all the same plan: ‘Here’s how we’re going to preserve the old forms of organization in a world of cheap perfect copies!’ The details differed, but the core assumption behind all imagined outcomes...was that the organizational form of the newspaper...was basically sound, and only needed a digital facelift.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>-Clay Shirky, </li></ul><ul><li>Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable </li></ul>
  3. 3. the costs of production <ul><li>The costs associated with producing physical media resulted in three primary effects: </li></ul><ul><li>Content tailored to known audiences </li></ul><ul><li>Other activities regarded as “too specialized” </li></ul><ul><li>Virtually no competition in this information space </li></ul>
  4. 4. the costs of production <ul><li>Publishing in the digital domain means that the production/distribution cost is effectively zero </li></ul>“ Ideas can propagate virtually without limit and without cost.” -Chris Anderson, Free: The Future of a Radical Price Artificial scarcity has allowed competitors to thrive in a space traditionally dominated by museums.
  5. 5. the value of attention <ul><li>“ Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” </li></ul><ul><li>Herbert A. Simon, </li></ul><ul><li>Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World </li></ul>A shift in value has taken place, from PRODUCTION to CONSUMPTION
  6. 6. disruptive technology <ul><li>Digital production and distribution of content is a disruptive rather than a sustaining technology </li></ul>The “Annoy-a-tron” by ThinkGeek
  7. 7. disruptive technology <ul><li>The MP3 </li></ul><ul><li>Evolved outside the traditional production (industry) channels </li></ul><ul><li>Failed to meet previous standards of fidelity </li></ul><ul><li>Represented the emergence of a new kind of market </li></ul><ul><li>Consumers trade fidelity for portability </li></ul>
  8. 8. disruptive technology <ul><li>Wikipedia </li></ul><ul><li>Evolved as an authority entirely outside of traditional channels </li></ul><ul><li>Failed to meet previous standards of authority </li></ul><ul><li>Represented the emergence of a new kind of information resource </li></ul><ul><li>Information seekers trade authority for availability and up-to-the-second information </li></ul>
  9. 9. disruptive technology <ul><li>What constitutes value when interactions occur inside the building is not what constitutes value when those interactions occur in the digital domain. </li></ul>
  10. 10. niche markets & new audiences <ul><li>Museums are failing to discover, nurture, and develop new audiences, while allocating resources based on false assumptions about existing audiences. </li></ul>
  11. 11. niche markets & new audiences <ul><li>Assumptions about the visitor to a museum Web site: </li></ul><ul><li>Is either a casual visitor or a scholar </li></ul><ul><li>Has made a deliberate choice to visit </li></ul><ul><li>Will be a “captive audience” for a protracted period </li></ul><ul><li>Willing to accept unattributed content as backed by the authority of the institution </li></ul>
  12. 12. niche markets & new audiences <ul><li>Many visitors may instead: </li></ul><ul><li>Have arrived at the museum site by accident as the result of a wider search </li></ul><ul><li>Quickly leave if particular information is unavailable </li></ul><ul><li>Not know anything about the institution’s reputation or authority </li></ul><ul><li>Be looking for Web-style signifiers of trustworthiness: attribution, public revision history, comment forums, etc. </li></ul>
  13. 13. niche markets & new audiences <ul><li>Create </li></ul><ul><li>PLANS TO LEARN </li></ul><ul><li>rather than </li></ul><ul><li>PLANS TO EXECUTE </li></ul>
  14. 14. production strategies <ul><li>&quot;I arrived [at the IMA] and heard, as is so often the case, the mantra that we're only going to put stuff online when we've done data clean up...Actually, what we're going to do is we're going to put everything online now and see how much we have to clean up.  And that seems to be working better...than holding back.” </li></ul><ul><li>Maxwell Anderson, </li></ul><ul><li>Moving from Virtual to Visceral </li></ul>
  15. 15. production strategies <ul><li>Producing content aimed at the discovery and exploitation of new audiences could take several forms: </li></ul><ul><li>More direct attribution </li></ul><ul><li>Use of content that already exists </li></ul><ul><li>Willingness to exploit content from other sources </li></ul><ul><li>Digitization of archives </li></ul>
  16. 16. engagement strategies <ul><li>IMMEDIACY </li></ul>
  17. 17. engagement strategies <ul><li>PERSONALIZATION </li></ul>
  18. 18. engagement strategies <ul><li>ACCESSIBILITY </li></ul>
  19. 19. engagement strategies <ul><li>FINDABILITY </li></ul>
  20. 20. thanks! koven j. smith (koven.smith@metmuseum.org) long-form ramblings: http://kovenjsmith.com short-form: twitter.com/5easypieces

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