What is a museum? A depository for collecting and displaying objects having scientific or historical or artistic value (wordnet.princeton.edu)
Are museums useful and necessary? Yes, they store significant examples of production and culture that are needed for accurate history and as material for further research & creativity. Bad recall can sometimes inspire new work (e.g. current ‘retro’ music is based on a fantasy of the actual period) but while it is trivial to misunderstand it requires research to understand.
I know there is an endless debate about ‘accurate history’, let’s avoid that for the moment. Please.
What is a significant example? One that is not redundant to another better example, is consequential – supports understanding of other examples, is of wide interest now or possibly in future, has applicability to problem solving, entertaining and inspiring…
How do we decide what is significant? Usually a curator that demonstrates excellent knowledge and understanding of the material is appointed to choose what is significant. It’s not an absolute, rather a formalised expert opinion.
Is that the best way? Perhaps not, but it seems difficult to create absolute curatorial rules that a machine could follow. People can act effectively even when rules are fuzzy.
Why is this post so dull and boring? Sorry I have to really try nut this topic out for the damn PhD. And because I am kind of stupid, asking questions like this helps think it out.
Thinking about video history, is YouTube a museum? Not if you are coming from the opinions I’ve outlined so far. But simply by being popular and efficient (by its own terms) it acts like a proto-museum with extra layers of noise (by my terms). That is to say, it could be filtered by a curator to create a collection.
So then, it simply acts as a buffer between all potential material and a collection? Yes but not so simply, as the mechanism is ad hoc. The buffer is not filled with a goal in mind, and is seeded with insignificant (multiple, inconsequential) material – perhaps making the task harder.
So many hands make light work? Too many cooks spoil the broth.
Is there a curatorial opinion being demonstrated by the crowd? Actually there’s a lack of opinion. Where some see ‘market forces’ deciding a solution, I think that’s anthropomorphic. It’s like saying ‘Australia elected a Labor government’ when there were many voters who didn’t. The crowd doesn’t have a single purpose, it’s ambivalent with a generalised result. You might use a survey to indicate a statistical tendency but that’s not an intent.
So then curation by an individual (or tight group) is a key factor in the definition of a museum? That is a central element in my viewpoint. Because new tools are being developed to quickly poll multiple opinions there’s considerable enthusiasm for crowd dynamics (Web 2.0). I think this will hit a wall in a few years but rather than wait for the resulting synthesis I’d like to get busy with the inevitable refinements.
If a curator wishes to make a collection in YouTube all they need do is create a channel. That’s a good way but it’s not the best way. In my opinion, you need to actually remove bad copies and duplicates and false information rather than just pretend it’s not there. However when I’ve talked about deletion there’s been horror mixed with some good critique that I need to think about.
A channel is a view from inside the confusion. I think you need to move outside of the confusion. I think a museum is also a sanitarium or refuge that is not subjected to the market place. If it is respected it can cause a change in the outside, e.g. objects will be withdrawn by suppliers as being ‘not good enough’.
There’s also tagging. Here I have no respect. Tagging is fool’s gold. One person uses ‘dog’, another uses ‘pet’ and a third uses ‘canine’. Now we have three identical objects divided uselessly by point of view. When there is an ISO number for tagging I’ll stop laughing at it.
How then to create a museum? In the past you’d steal or buy the original artefact and store it yourself (a la British Museum). Even with video that can still be true (thinking here of Stephen R Jones’ collection of primary sources) but if a copy exists we can keep Ted Nelson happy by linking to the original. Also roughly in tune with Nelson’s hyper documents also we can create a web mash up.
How does a web mash up approach the ideals laid out here? A web mashup is a recipe that draws upon multiple data sources to synthesise a particular viewpoint. So it can e.g. draw upon YouTube and Google Maps for example to point out a relationship between places and productions. OK, so far, nice technology, no great use. But it might be possible to build a language, like the meaning of ‘film language’, or an interface that an individual curator could use. It might be possible to – rather than tag or exclude data (negate it), create a metawork that positively links up data in a manner that expresses a curatorial opinion.
That’s so fucking vague. I know, I know but there’s a little seed of sense in there that I know leads somewhere.