Folksonomies Interactive Media Web 2.0

Powerhouse Museum launches Web 2.0-styled collection search

Today we made live our ‘OPAC 2.0’ project.

OPAC 2.0 has been developed by the Powerhouse Museum’s Web Services team in conjunction with Registration and Curatorial Departments. OPAC 2.0, as the name might suggest, represents the next generation of online collection browsing.

Using technology developed in-house, OPAC 2.0 allows users to browse nearly 62,000 current object records from Emu. Whilst some of these were previously viewable on AMOL/CAN, OPAC 2.0 now makes these available through the Powerhouse’s own website – and keeps them current and updated.

Improving on previous collection search tools, OPAC 2.0 tracks and responds to user behaviour recommending ‘similar’ objects increase serendipitous discovery and encouraging browsing of our collection. It also keeps track of searches and dynamically ranks search results based on actual user interactions. Over time, this artificial intelligence will improve as it learns from users, and will allow for dynamic recommendations.

OPAC 2.0 also incorporates a folksonomy engine allowing users to tag objects for later recall by themselves or others.

In keeping with the nature of a collection database OPAC 2.0 is designed to be in a state of perpetual development with new features and tweaks being added periodically. As object records are edited, added or changed in our collection management system, Emu, OPAC 2.0 will periodically add them to its database. In early August the available images of each object will greatly improve as Emu is merged with our current image database FirstFoto.

Likewise, new features already planned to be added include exhibition locations, and the ability for teachers and educators to ‘bundle up’ personalised selections of object choices for use in teaching situations.

OPAC 2.0 would not have been possible without the hard work of the Web Services team, the registrars and curators at the Museum, and all the international beta testers who gave feedback on early versions from around the world.

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