National Digital Forum: Day 2 – Let’s see what happens if…

va.jpgA packed day today at the National Digital Forum in Wellington, NZ. Here’s the first of probably a couple of posts as I’m going through my notes.

This morning’s keynote was delivered by Toby Travis from the Victoria and Albert Museum entitled, Let’s see what happens if … Experimenting with emerging technologies on the V&A website. Toby presented the story behind many of the innovative things the museum has been up to over the last few years. Perhaps the most compelling part of this very interesting presentation focused on the Design Your Own Arts and Crafts Tile interactive.

While it was designed as a creative tool to allow visitors to create their own tiles, it wasn’t long before visitors began to use it to connect with each other. The Design Your Own Arts and Crafts Tile interactive provided only a limited text area for adding titles to tiles that users created, but over time some visitors used these text areas and their tile designs to communicate with each other. In one instance, after a few exchanges, a visitor passed along their email address. Since the title text area doesn’t allow “@” symbols and allows for a very limited number of characters–this had to be creatively communicated. It’s a great example of how even a limited suite of (interesting) tools can still allow for innovation, and how visitors will use your site in ways that you can’t always anticipate.

Toby wrapped up by talking more broadly about the how other museums in the UK are using (or not using) Web 2.0 tools. A highlight here was the Institute of Contemporary Arts which is making extensive use of blogging. Apparently lots of staff, everyone from the Director of the museum, down has been blogging at the site.

A lively Q & A following Toby’s presentation focused, not surprisingly on internal issues of institutional support and sustainability, as well as the moderation of user-created content. These are topics that many museums (and others) are struggling with as they begin to incorporate Web 2.0 technologies.

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