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Exploring the Digital Museum
Dr. Ana Sanchez Laws
Faculty of Arts and Physical Education
Volda University College
+A tectonic shift?
Once a visitor carries a fully
searchable encyclopaedia in their
pocket (not to mention access to
all our collection including the
objects not on display), the whole
idea of a museum and how it
could and should be designed
changes In my view these are
long term tectonic shifts in the
move from 'collections to
services'. (Chan 2011)
Seb Chan / Fresh+New blog
Resources of human knowledge or expression are increasingly created digitally, or converted into digital form from existing analogue resources. Where resources are born digital, there is no other format but the digital original. Digital materials include texts, databases, still and moving images, audio, graphics, software, and web pages, among a wide and growing range of formats. They are frequently ephemeral, and require purposeful production, maintenance and management to be retained. Many of these resources have lasting value and significance, and therefore constitute a heritage that should be protected and preserved for current and future generations. This heritage may exist in any language, in any part of the world, and in any area of human knowledge or expression. (Webb 2003)
Digital heritage is material primarily stored and retrieved in binary format. It may be the product of an analogue to digital conversion or it may be born digital (originate and remain exclusively within the digital domain), and it can include both analogue and digital components. The key difference between digital heritage and other forms of heritage lies in its binary format, which demands distinctive approaches to the conservation of its significance and value.
+Digital Heritage Sustainability
Humanity has the ability to
make development sustainable
to ensure that it meets the
needs of the present without
compromising the ability of
future generations to meet their
own needs (Brundtland,
Environment, and Development
Digital heritage sustainability
involves the collaborative
maintenance, enrichment and
enjoyment of digital heritage
resources over periods of time
that span across generations. It
involves the maintenance of the
integrity of data and metadata
in binary format, and the
maintenance of the digital
technologies that make these
data and metadata accessible
to the broadest range of
Investigating policy and archives, economic factors, social and
To map changing concepts of trust, privacy,
To understand when policies promote or
hinder digital heritage sustainability
Investigating services providers and
As drivers of change with or without the
participation of the community of heritage
Identifying roles and their levels of decision-making
Understanding networks of
accountability and stewardship
Mapping commonalities and
Identifying homogeneity of
Understanding evaluation instruments
(i.e. analytics packages)
Identifying traditional and emerging
Identifying technological features
as producing new rules and constraints
Identifying future technological needs
Understanding the computational modelling of responsibility
How do the various economic, political and social drivers
impact the way in which stakeholders interact around a
digital heritage resource?
Do these contexts promote or deter sustainability?
Who are the presumed, actual, and expected stakeholders? Who is included, who is excluded?
What are their roles (technical, curatorial, non-expert, collaborator)?
How have these roles changed with the use of digital media?
To what extent do stakeholders share the same goals around the digital heritage resource?
What roles do stakeholders have in the decision-making process?
And how does this translate into sustainable or unsustainable management of the digital heritage resource?
How is digital heritage modelled by the language and technologies a digital media service uses?
What are the assumptions in the software analytics packages that sit at the backend of these services, and how do they shape museums digital heritage practices?
How do the types of communication enabled in a given digital media platform contribute to establishing common goals around a digital heritage resource?
Which curatorial practices are applicable to digital media? Which ones are not?
Which digital media practices enrich digital heritage, which ones pollute it?
+Museum of London
Theres a much greater emphasis now on
engaging learners interactively so rather
than the museum being a teacher and
just transmitting information
Its a two way process and we think much
more about the learning needs of visitors
and tailor what we do to their needs we
tend to talk more about learning than
Education has connotations of instructions,
whereas what we want to do is have a
dialogue with people as opposed to
being a formal didactic approach so we
use lots of actors and storytellers and
people doing things as opposed to
people passively receiving. (Wu 2009)
Director, Clore Learning Centre
Image sources: Museum of London, Ana Sanchez Laws
Our whole story of London needed refreshment. The old galleries tell the story of London in quite an inward looking way: it was the story of the city, of the infrastructure, the roads, the search, the transport, very much looking inwards. These galleries were done in the 1970s 80s and 90s so there were some stories that we are interested in today, like migration and identity, that were just not in there. We wanted to tell a new story of London with new emphasis on it, new points of interest. We have two narratives. One is Londons relationship with the world so it is much more outwards looking we have these two big narratives: London and the world and the other one is London and people, people coming to London from the world. In both of these we wanted very much to underline change, so we have got how London changes the world how the world changes London and how people change London and London changes people. (Wu 2009)
RenderingPlanned redesign of caf area
Completed caf area
Interactive in twentieth century
galleriesUsing multitouch screens to present Charles Booths map of
London Poverty in 1887-9
World War 2 display
Image sources: Museum of London, Ana Sanchez Laws
Old galleries Redesigned galleries
Our site is not tailored for just one general visitor. There is the visitor, tourists, the researchers, academics, students who want to research and then we have other museums who want to find out what we are doing. It is four audiences rather than one so each part is tailored towards different audiences. Our learning section would be very different from exhibition section, but our collection section is quite different, because that is for researchers The whole site is not one audience: each part of the site has different voice for different audiences and needs (Wu 2009)
(The blog helps) reach out to people
as MOL employees and showcase the
expertise within the MOL. We are not
just about artefacts and gallery
exhibition events, we are actually more
than that: we are expertise. Every
curator has an expertise that is
valuable, and is showcasing that. (Wu
+ Cathy RossWe are not typical of London museums, we are
not about collections of objects but about
stories and every object has to be eloquent
about the story of London. We have never been
about collections of objects but about
engagement and you may say that is the
corporate culture. (Wu 2009)
+Augmenting the Garden of Australian Dreams
(GoAD) at the National Museum of Australia (NMA)
Ana Sanchez Laws / Stephen Barrass
In collaboration with Cath Styles at NMA and 150 students from Cross Media
The GOAD project Stephen Barrass, Ana Sanchez Laws
1. Walk around and find out what is there.
2. While walking around think about a Journey through the space that could be connected to form a story of some kind.
3. Select at least 5 waypoints along the Journey - graphic, sculptural, geographic, sonic, etc.
4. Document each waypoint using any or all of photos, sound recordings, sketches and notes.
5. Take focussed, close up, evenly lit photos of each waypoint that can be used for image-based search and recognition using Google Googles or Layar Vision.
6. Take a note of the location and/or GPS coordinates of each waypoint.
7. Upload the material to ABC Pool
Use case scenarios
"- I would hope that there would be access to a strong wifi connection to make browsing layar easy.
- I would hope that the weather would be slightly cloudy so that use of the device would be easier - e.g. there would be no sun glare on the screen causing the users vision be impacted negatively.
- I would hope that all of the webapp content is placed correctly, so not to cause any confusion and to keep continuity and also that all links were working and up to date.
- I would hope that all of the journeys were created thoughtfully and in a way that interests all users."
Expert heuristic evaluation
"GOAD Portal Redesign Of The Design and Layout: The My Journey projects are quite visually appealing, and engaging pieces of work, that the GOAD Portal home pages should reflect the tone of the works about to be viewed. This will consist of a different colour scheme throughout the site, modern aesthetic features and include more references to the museum.
Instructions: Step by step directions that detail the My Journey process. Steps will detail navigation to the museum, GOAD instructions, Layar accessibility and Descriptions of common terms.
Simple Markers: Consistent waypoint markers will reduce clutter within the map, and document journeys in an orderly fashion.
Marker Key/Index: A marker key or index will make it easier for viewers to differentiate waypoints. Key could vary from a number, colours, and icon system.
Less Journeys: Fewer journeys will effectively reduce the clutter of waypoints on the map, and points that appear when viewed in Layar. Fewer waypoints also means efficient download time and improve accessibility to the site.
Filters and Tags: A search system regarding waypoint content makes navigation throughout the site and map more efficient.
Audio Waypoints: Audio elements could be introduced in order to cater to a larger sgment of audience, ranging from children who arent adept to reading and/or the vision impaired audience."
1. Discuss how well the user performed the task, and what you observed in the process The tester knew how to get to the web apps but she had trouble clicking on any of the inks. She then eventually zoomed out to fix the problem but she took a while to find Citrusurfer's waypoint due to my lack of communicating the location properly. Once she found the link it was all good from there. She read the waypoint and once she was done she found Artshesaid's waypoint. There was no link to the web app but after being informed of the url she was able to easily navigate her way through the web app. The tester found it easier to navigate after a few attempts of having a go at the map to figure out the controls. Once she had that down pat it was all good from there.
2. Did the user testing uncover different problems and issues or were they as predicted in the expert heuristic evaluation ? The tester had difficulty differentiating and locating the web apps from one another as there are a lot that appear in clusters all over the map. She had difficulty controlling the map as predicted in the heuristic evaluation and also discover Artshesaid's missing link. Other than that there were no major issues.
3. Based on your combined observations, how would you improve the WebApp to improve the performance in the task ? To improve the web app I would make navigation clear and introduce the function of searching for a particular app to make navigation easier instead of looking at each waypoint through the clutter. A search bar would make a world of difference, maybe even a section with key words to find each way point or a list of the waypoint next to the map that will show where each waypoint is when you hover/click on it."
Students were asked to 'favorite' journeys from their peers
The top journeys were then distributed amongst an expert
panel (a curator, an official from NMA, the instructors, and
The panel selected 10 journeys which were collected in Layar
Waypoint 1 - Home
Waypoint 2 - Fence
+Redesign of one journey in Aurasma
Our students were much more comfortable producing media
than evaluating it; participation was not as big an issue as
filtering or cataloguing content
Peer-review may help with scaling problems, but experts need
to guide the process
Experimenting, failing, learning, re-doing, un-doing are the
pathways to innovation universities want to support this
The Wearable Museum,
a.k.a. Perfect Memory?
Antecedents: MIT Wearable
3D models of prehistoric tools, by Smithsonian Exhibits Central
Thomas Jefferson replica (3D printed)
Smithsonian National Museum of
Ever-Lasting Storage Media for Digital Information?
+Digital Treasures PhD Program
Some Thoughts fromBenklers The Wealth of Networks
Ostroms Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) Framework
For Benkler, there is an emerging networked information economy,
1. an economy centered on information and cultural production, and
the manipulation of symbols.
2. a communications environment interconnected in a pervasive
networkthe phenomenon we associate with the Internet.
Benkler, Y. 2006, The Wealth of Networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom.
New Haven: Yale University Press. Also released under a Creative Commons License.
Decentralization and the rise of the soft digital products is key
culture is becoming
more democratic: self...