Reading Responses for March 23rd (Brennan, Chan/Cope, Espenschied, and Lubar)

The assigned readings for this week mentioned some of the software and tools that we have been introduced to throughout this course. I found that the readings aligned with some aspects of my ongoing final project about the evolution of 3D printing in the classroom. We would learn this week that relics of the past are not just those that are on display inside of a museum. There was a collective sense of urgency to digitize “objects” in each reading.

The use of quotation marks for the word objects is because the definition “object” varies between authors. Sebastian Chan wrote about the collection of intangible objects such as “living systems” and the debate surrounding the @ symbol. Similarly, Dragan Espenschied examined intangible objects such as new media art and how it relates to digital culture. In contrast, Steven Lubar of Brown University dedicated a blog to the phenomenon in the museum world that presented random objects to Twitter. While three of the articles examined tools that have already been created, Sheila Brennan, makes a plead that history museums could greatly benefit from implementing digital tools and methodologies that have been used by colleagues throughout the world including Australia.

Brennan’s research into history museums revealed some areas in need of improvement such as limited online databases especially for researchers. These articles were all written nearly a decade ago which presents an opportunity for us to discuss the developments over the past decade especially since the emergence of the global pandemic in March 2020.

Questions for “Collecting the present: digital code and collections” by Sebastian Chan

  1.  Sebastian Chan stressed the importance of collecting ample context at the time of acquisition. Were there any elements listed by Chan that were enlightening? Were there any other elements that should have been included.
  2. Chan discussed that are institutions could possibly face legal ramifications when using objects that are not public domain. How thin is the line distinction between fine art and commercial work? Will this have an impact on digital historians in the future?

Questions for “Big Data, Little Narration” by Espenschied
  1. What are the parallels between digital culture and social memory?
  2. There is an array of internet webpages that have been archived on Espenschied shows that evolution of internet browsers has caused these websites to no longer be accessible. What resources are available for digital historians to prevent websites from expiring in the future?

Questions for “Getting to the Stuff: Digital Cultural Heritage Collections, Absence, and Memory” by Sheila Brennan*

  1. Will you use these collections if they become more widely accessible and available?
  2. Do you currently use, or have you used, museum objects and collections, in your research?
  3. How do you identify appropriate or possible museum collections to use in your research?
  4. Would you be more likely to use museum collections as primary sources for your research if you could find them easily online?
  5. Are you interested in gaining access to museum collections data for your own analysis, such as for text or data mining, topic modeling, visualizations? If yes, for what?

Questions for Museumbots: An Appreciation by Steven Lubar*

  1. What’s offered to, or available for, the museum? What seems, to the public, or to dealers in art and antiques, appropriate for a museum?
  2. What does a curator accept? What fits the collections, or the collecting plan, or upcoming exhibition needs? What can the museum afford? What does it have space for?
  3. What does a curator choose to display? And it’s not just the curator, of course: What does the conservator allow the curator to display? What fits in the space? What exhibits does the director approve? What could the museum raise funds for?
  4. What exhibits do I visit? What looks interesting on the museum map? What do other members of my group want to see? What has the museum PR department advertised?
  5. What catches my attention within that exhibition?

*Questions presented by author

One Reply to “Reading Responses for March 23rd (Brennan, Chan/Cope, Espenschied, and Lubar)”

  1. Hi Michelle,
    Great post!
    Your questions about the Museum Bots are interesting and worthy of debate. I had some concerns however with the bots regarding Indigenous objects or even sacred objects. The bots could be fantastic to get objects out into the public (and I will also draw upon Brennan’s article a bit with this), but, with sacred objects, what is stop bots from posting those? Most tribes (if not all) do not allow for such objects to be photographed, let alone published. We have to hope someone is controlling some aspect of the API to avoid this, but I remember from experience in a museum collection that the data is not always correct. Additionally, with this, the general public has a lack of understanding sacred and/or Indigenous objects. These bots hold a link sometimes to more information, that is if the visitor to the post would actually click on it. But, truly these bots (and the fact they are on Twitter) hold such a visual hold. I think there are legitimate concerns over how people may view these works. It reminds me a bit of our conversation in class about NFT’s.
    Thankfully, the Bots are nonexistent anymore. I can see the positive aspects of it, but I think it holds a risk of danger that is too high for me personally.
    Again! Great post!

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