Museums, put your movies and A/V presentations on the web

More and more often when I tour a museum these days, I’ll see either a computer terminal with some interactive exhibit, or a video screen or cinema to play a movie.

All well and good, these media are sometimes the best way to present what the museum wants to present. On the other hand, since there is never enough time on a tourist’s schedule to see all the things you want to see, or even all the exhibits in a good museum, I often find myself saying, “Did I fly 5,000 miles to watch a video or browse a web application?” So I sometimes skip these videos and computers in order to spend times on things unique to the area.

Of course in many cases the videos and applications are unique to the museum, but only artificially, because the museum has chosen to do things that way. They could easily, and should, put these exhibits up on the web.

Depending on the role of the museum they might put them up for free, for the world to browse, or they might put them up for a fee. They would do this if they felt that people would stop coming to the museum because the materials were available free.

Another alternative would be to print an access code on your museum ticket, or issue you an access code ticket on requests. These access codes could be permanent, or bound to the first few IP addresses on which they are used, or work for only a few days after first use, if they need that level of access control. Then I would know that I could watch that movie later, when I have more free time, and devote more time to the physical exhibits that I came for.

that would be brilliant!

I've often thought the same, even for local museums that I visit fairly often. One problem with the computers is that there's no indication of the size of the content - one computer might have 3 or 4 pages of HTML, another idential looking one in a different exhibit might have virtually a multimedia encyclopedia that would take days just to skim over. Even if I could buy a DVD of the stuff I'd be happier.

Web content

I've recently designed a database driven wildflower id program for Calaveras Big Trees. Now, per state accessibility, this thing needs to be "accessible". To the folks out there, that meant a standalone application on a touch screen machine in the visitors center. I've lobbied for web deployment, there is already a Calaveras Big Trees Association website, but... NO.

However, one of the state mandates for accessibility does include the option of providing content on a cd. No workee here, as it's a db and that deployment would necessitate a different development for local machine deployment, and that ain't in the budget. I guess the moral here is to ASK if you're in a gov kinda place, maybe they have some digital stuff you can walk out with. Your tax dollars at work.

There still needs to be a mindshift among "curators". It's the ol' "not invented here" syndrome.

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