Are We Ready For 2.0 In Museums?

As I explained to Nina, I am a little new to the basic idea of web 2.0, so keep this at heart. It’s been just within the last month or two that I have learned about it or at least noticed the term. Most of the simple things that I understand about Wikipedia are from watching The Colbert Statement.

Blogs are something I read not write, and I have to admit that I only do that occasionally. But lately, I determined that the world was departing me behind, and I had a need to capture up. So, I got an iPod, subscribed to a variety of podcasts, and got a MySpace page at the insistence of the few friends that seemed unable to communicate in any other way.

I’m trying. I still have quite a distance to go, but I am definitely intrigued. When asked to listen and respond to blogging platforms 2.0 related discussions at AAM, I used to be excited. Without a doubt, there is no shortage of conversations at this year’s conference. My web 2 2.0 conversations began on Monday afternoon when I attended The Museum Group’s discussion on this issue: “Blogging platforms 2.0: A Philosophical Look at New Technology.” This conversation was interesting in that applications and technology were not discussed. It had been a non-issue.

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Rather, the concentrate of the conversations was philosophical: What exactly are the consequences of user-generated content? Are we ready for 2.0 in museums? Are we willing to stop complete control and give some control to site visitors or worse to anyone? Do we truly understand the consequences of the democratization of information? It seemed the consequence of this was that the museum would have to share authority.

There were a few voices that indicated interest in the concept. Most expressed concern, while others were totally against it, concerned for the “institution’s” reputation as an established and respected power. It had been clear that this group of mature museum professionals had not been ready for the implications of user-generated content invading the establishments that that they had worked so difficult to create.

The thought that museums must maintain control of content is odd and even a bit funny to me. Do museums feel as if they have control over content really? Sure, we present an authoritative voice through label copy, but it is the conversations and connections that happen in the gallery space that induce the rich experience of visiting a museum. These are things that cannot be controlled.