Museum Informatics

On April 4th, the Digital Scholars Group had the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Paul Marty, Professor in the School of Information at Florida State University, to help us critically consider the current shifts within museum identity. During his talk, Dr. Marty talked about the current shift in museum identify from an object centered identity to a knowledge about objects centered identity. As part of his talk, Dr. Marty introduced the group to collections of various crowdsourcing projects and the role that these project play in shifting museum identity. The objective of many of the projects that Dr. Marty introduced the group to was to get individuals more involved in museum culture and object knowledge. One such project, Citizen Archivist lets people view and transcribe material contained in the National Archives.

Through talking about these different projects, Marty introduced us to the idea of Sociotechnical Tensions; which he defined as “Study of the sociotechnical interactions that occur between people, information, and technology in museums and the other cultural heritage organizations”. In order to illustrate this concept, Dr. Marty talked with us about a boy who went to a museum that highlighted the history of Florida. The boy after walking through the museum remarked: “I don’t see myself here”. Often when histories are told there are voices that are excluded from the narrative. In order to open up spaces such as museums to these historically excluded, crowdsourcing platforms allow for the opportunity for all visitors to become active participants in the creation of historical knowledge. The idea being that the museum belongs to everyone and all should have a voice.

To conclude Dr. Marty left us with a few questions to consider:

How do we build applications that people want to use?

How do we learn from amateur engagement?

How do we connect the people with the right task?

What does it mean to crowdsource in a successful way?

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