Last week we had the pleasure of hosting a History Week event here at the museum – From Glass-plate to Cyber-space. As the theme was Picture This, we decided to talk about how sharing the museum’s collection online has completely transformed it and we invited representatives from other cultural institutions to do the same. As promised, we organised our photographer *cough* absolute lifesaver *cough* to record the event for those of you who couldn’t make it along. Enjoy!
Unfortunately we never made it to the panel discussion planned as each participant’s introduction to their institution’s digital projects proved too interesting to keep to 5 minutes each! Oops…
But! Each speaker brought something new and interesting to the night. First up, your dedicated collection bloggers, Nicole and Penny, spoke about the museum’s Flickr Commons photostream and how the information and interaction goes both ways – to the benefit of the museum and the public.
Paula Bray from the Powerhouse Museum spoke next, providing an insight into the methods used by her institution to share their vibrant collection online. Paula referenced the numerous ways in which people would use the museum’s photographs, including mashing them up with modern images and scenes before gifting it back to them.
Bernard de Broglio spoke about his work as Internet Coordinator at the Mosman Library, specifically about the World War I project ‘Doing Our Bit’. During his time at the library, the identities and stories of many local servicemen were uncovered and illuminated. Similar to Paula Bray’s exploration of the creative ways in which people can use collections, Bernard displayed images from the Flickr set ‘Through These Lines’, showing eerie mash-up images of then and now photographs.
“Metadata enables the material to be found” was one of the main messages from Mitchell Whitelaw’s talk. Mitchell (University of Canberra) spoke about the importance of data in making collections easily discoverable. He demonstrated, despite a technical glitch with the Manly Local Studies Image Library, that the visualisation of data can be a beautiful thing!
Geoff Hinchcliffe spoke about the Digital Excellence project at the State Library of New South Wales and also their engagement of many different platforms such as Twitter, Flickr and Trove. He threw out some impressive statistics including the fact that the library has had 9 million views on Flickr and over 5000 downloads of their new free app Curio. Speaking of crowdsourcing, Geoff made mention of one dedicated member of the public who has corrected more than 100 million lines of text in 5 years on Trove. As one Twitter user hashtagged on the night: Respect.
The lovely Lisa Murray was our final speaker (hardest job of all) and she spoke about the unique digital-born project – essentially an online biography of a city – that is Dictionary of Sydney. The Dictionary combines collection items and knowledge from a wide variety of institutions to present an encyclopaedic reference tool of Sydney’s history. Check out their funky intro video.
Unfortunately we ran out of time and things didn’t go quite to plan – however we had a lot of fun and hope our guests did too. From our perspective, we were ridiculously excited to meet one of our ‘super sleuths’, pellethepoet! 😛
Many thanks to our five guest speakers who went above and beyond to share stories from their forays into the world of online collections. Big thanks go to our Programs Coordinator, Annalice Creighton, and our media partner, Inside History magazine. Thanks also to those who participated in the discussion online.
Nicole and Penny