Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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Picnic08 – Open Musuem (more)

September 29th, 2008 by Seb Chan

Picnic is a large ‘creativity’ conference held annually in Amsterdam. I’ve been here as a guest of n8 talking about the notion of ‘open museums’.

Here are some more notes (with only a minor cleanup for the sake of timeliness) which were taken during the Open Museum sessions on Day Two. (More notes on the rest of Picnic still to follow)

Following Jelmer Boomsma, a representative of Hyves talked about the collaboration with Musuemnacht and what Hyves stood to gain from the project. I had to pop out for an interview for most of the presentation so I don’t have any notes of particular import for the session.

However following Hyves, Dick van Dijk from the Waag Society, an organisation that operates a little like a new media incubator, gave a demonstration of some mobile, location-aware projects they have been working on. Interestingly the projects have been less about the technology and more about ensuring that the broadest possible groups of people engage with the content. Titled “Connecting: People, Stories, Places”, these projects reminded me a lot of the ‘digital storytelling’ movement – ordinary peoples’ stories made more powerful through their own voice, and through making connections with others. The location-aware aspect of this work fell mainly into the ‘city tour’ model of mobile heritage but where walkers were taken on a particular personal journey – the digital story.

The day concluded with an insider’s perspective of the ‘Slash/Slash generation’ (mainly young people who are, for example, dj/fashion designer/artist/permaculturist – coincidentally this is applies to almost everyone I know!). Nalden, one of the Museumnacht community, and now one of the most prominent young bloggers in the Netherlands, talked about his motivations and actions online and how in his view of the online world, heritage content competes for attention with music, fashion and entertainment. This was an good way to end the day even if I could see others in the audience finding Nalden’s youthful enthusiasm a bit hard to take – because it clearly demonstrated the need for museums to open up simply to maintain relevance over coming generations.

All in all the Open Museums part of Picnic was one of the most successful ‘Picnic Specials’ along with Surprising Africa. The attendance was solid and the ideas discussed traversed the different interpretations and permutations of ‘openness’ – from reaching out to non-traditional museum audiences, to inter-institutional data sharing and co-creative visitor interactions.

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