Museums and the Web 2005
Sessions: Abstracts
Photo Credits

Speakers from around the world present their latest work at MW2005.

Democratize and distribute: achieving a many-to-many content model

Katie Streten, Channel 4, United Kingdom
Rachel Coldicutt, Victoria & Albert Museum, United Kingdom

Session: User Content: Projects

In this Information Age, the Field of Dreams paradigm makes less sense than ever: "If we build it, they will come" presumes a didactic, one-to-many model of distribution that relies on the will for self-improvement. But now, when the answer to any question is a Google search away, and peer-review and social networking have superseded advertising as the most effective means of on-line promotion, how can museums attract and maintain large on-line audiences?

This paper explores the opportunity of mass distribution and mass participation as a future means of delivering meaningful content to the on-line and non-traditional user. The Victoria and Albert Museum has partnered with Channel 4 Television, the UK's third largest broadcaster, to promote Every Object Tells a Story, a mass-participative digital storytelling project launching in March 2005. Building on the current museological emphasis in the value of objects inherent not only in themselves, but in the stories that are told about and around them, Every Object Tells a Story gives users a chance not only to comment on iconic and important objects held in national collections but also to explore significance through submitting their own stories and objects, which can in tern be commented on by their peers.

This paper asks: Is mass democratisation of museum content the way to open our collections? What are the opportunities and dangers of allowing non-specialists to publish their ideas and theories in a many-to-many environment? How can partnering with the right media partner contribute to the development of mass distribution projects?