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July 14, 2009

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John Tudor

It's important that the information that a museum provides with an artifact be correct, or if there is uncertainty about the artifact's provenance or historical context, that the questions about the artifact be honestly discussed in its description. Is it important that the information about the artifact be complete? After all, it will never be complete. It will never be final. Why not openly consider each virtual representation of an artifact to be a work in progress?
The museum could post artifact photos with a brief factual description and a note that the artifact's description and context were being developed. Smithsonian experts could add information as they work on it. The museum could also solicit information from the public. It could be made clear that
public submissions would be carefully reviewed before possible inclusion. The need for careful review could be reemphasized in an automatic "Thank You" email that went out to every submittor.
Virtual artifact postings that were ready for exhibition could be in a virtual museum and virtual artifacts whose descriptions were unfinished could be in a virtual "museum under construction."
Thanks, Matthew, for the stimulating article and giving me the chance to think about something I love to think about. --JT

Megan

The results of your first poll are encouraging and daunting. I image that making available accurate information and good images on objects is a challenge which only clarifies once you start doing it.

I personally like reliable information provided in short descriptors, along with a longer contextual paragraph. At THATcamp we had a session to discuss these sorts of questions - I've posted about it on my blog, and there's also a wiki for the session.

Winly Carumba

I agree that museums will continue to play a vital role in the society of the future.

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