Still Time To Book! UK Museums On The Web 2007

By Jon Pratty | 15 June 2007
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shows a presentation slide that says - second life is not a game

Second Life is not a game - so says Michael Twidale. Hear Twidale explaining his view of this fascinating digital universe in Leicester on June 22 2007.

Web Adept - Catching up, tuning in, reaching out
The UK Museums on the Web Conference 2007

Crucial questions that divide the museum and gallery digital sector are explored next week in a low-cost, one day conference sponsored by 24 Hour Museum at the University of Leicester on June 22 2007.

Can museums collections thrive in a web 2.0 world? Indeed, will they even be found, when there's so much else for people to be distracted by? Sebastian Chan is a key team member behind one of the world's most advanced and successful digital cultural projects Seb and the team at Powerhouse Museum in Sydney built a system called OPAC 2.0 and it's quickly become a beacon of surprising possibilities.

Keynote speaker Seb is visiting the UK specially to reveal more about the success of OPAC 2.0 at Web Adept - UK Museums on the Web 2007.

Second Life is rapidly becoming one of the most curious and challenging digital dimensions. It's a complete computer-generated parallel world, with many of the things we aspire to in real life. You can buy property, meet people and even visit galleries and museums.

Is it a good thing? Will it be the first of many quantum places? Will it be the worst because it was first? Or the least democratic because it was created by a small group of individuals with their own worldview? Creators and curators are keenly exploring Second Life - and the SL discussion in the news list of the Museums Computer Group was one of the busiest of 2007.

Two US-based museum academics, Paul Marty and Michael Twidale, wowed the US Museums and the Web conference earlier this year in San Francisco with a fascinating talk about museums and SL. UK Museums on the Web have arranged for Michael Twidale to open up a picture of this intriguing new digital domain at UKMW 07 in Leicester. Book your conference seats now - it promises to be a weird and wonderful session.

shows a man presenting a speech from a lectern

Simon Waldman, digital director of The Guardian at UK Museums on the Web in 2006. © Museums Computer Group

Web 2.0 - the new wave of the web - opens up our digital media to people in new ways. To some, this new web means access for all: culture for the masses, by the masses. But to others in museums and galleries, it might mean the challenging prospect of letting non-expert users control our world. Will it mean the end of authority, of curatorial values? Would a user-generated cultural sector just be like a massive, unmediated radio phone-in?

Frances Lloyd-Baynes of the V&A and Mia Ridge of the Museum of London will be exploring the why, and why not, of user generated content, at next Fridays conference in a session called Who Curates, Who Contributes?

The annual conference is organised by the Museums Computer Group. A busy schedule attracts around 100 delegates to a gathering that has been growing in popularity and stature for the last few years, encouraged, in part, by its proximity to one of the most respected museums studies courses in the UK.

"It's definitely not all about high technology, jargon and impenetrable digital concepts," said Ross Parry, lecturer in digital heritage at Leicester. "But we do try to layer the day, with a mix of quality speakers who explore new ideas and new technology in thoughtful ways. Expect to be challenged by some of this, but there's also plenty that will be accessible to the rest of us too."

More interactive sessions include one from Mike Ellis from the Science Museum. He's going to make a 'museum web mashup' live on stage during his afternoon session. He'll be whisking together all sorts of data and web pages into something new, different and hopefully even useful!

More expertise about Web 2.0 and the way we get content to show in these new contexts will come from Paul Shabajee, who is a respected academic and industry figure from HP Labs. Paul's going to be exploring work carried out in Singapore where a major museum digitised collection was engineered to be findable, searchable and taggable in new ways, revealing much more of the contents to the web than could prevously be found.

The conference won't ignore the ehtics of the new web - Drawing upon the work of Naomi Korn (Naomi Korn Copyright Consultancy) and MDA an afternoon session will unpick the rights issues that are embedded within the new Web 2.0 environment - not least what permissions and legal questions are associated with user-generated content.

Further support for the conference comes from Blitz Games and Eduserve.

More details of the programme will be announced early next week. There's still time to register for the conference, so visit the Museums Computer Group website for more details.

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