OurSpace Conversation

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planeta
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first question

Post by planeta »

Adan, thank you for participating in this conversation. Can you introduce yourself and the OurSpace exhibit?

adan.t
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Post by adan.t »

Thanks, Ron, for the interest in Our Space.

As you noted, I am the Our Space Manager, and I am responsible for maintaining a relevant and fresh database of media submitted by the public that represents the plurality of interpretations and identities of this unique nation, New Zealand/Aoteroa.

This user-generated media makes its way to the database through digital means as contributors join one of two online communities accessed via the Our Space website -- http://ourspace.tepapa.com -- or a web-based photo management and sharing application -- http://www.flickr.com/groups/ourspace

It is then in place for negotiation in the physical space within the Museum, which completes the experience through aural, tactile, and visual stimulation and interaction.

planeta
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walk through

Post by planeta »

Can you walk us through the administrative process of the creation of OurSpace? Was this an easy sell or did it take some work to convince those in charge of the museum that user-generated media has a place in Te Papa?

adan.t
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Post by adan.t »

I attach the following response by Terry Urbahn, Project Manager for Our Space:

Ad

adan.t
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Post by adan.t »

So we have now been through a couple of months of operations, and for the most part, we have been fielding great feedback. Even within the professional museum community, the feedback has been resoundingly favourable, which means we are being watched carefully to see how handle the possibilities...

Of course, I would be lying if I said it was all positive. Some more traditional museum visitors have difficulty with Our Space for a few reasons:

1. Museums, and particularly national Museums, have been traditionally seen as authorities on cultural and historical knowledge. Inviting user-generated content, warts and all, challenges this notion of a musuem as a wellspring of expert knowledge to be transferred to the empty receptacle that is the visitor.
2. The space has very little instructional signage or conceptual description informing the visitor of what they are supposed to be getting out of the exhibition. More conventional museum visitors seem to like the little bits of paper and signage to guide them through their experience. Our Space encourages the user to explore, play, and orient themselves how they wish and get whatever they would like out of the experience, whether shallow or profound. The role of the Hosts in Our Space is very different to their more reactive role elsewhere in the Museum, as there is still a recognised need to offer some measured guidance to certain visitors.
3. Museums are also seen to ideally have unrestrained mass appeal. While Our Space certainly does have this appeal, it has been unabashedly targetted at a specific psychodynamic of 15-25 year olds - content creators that have been traditionally underrepresented in the museum world.

These are challenges for the more traditional museum visitor, but for the most part, these visitors have been few and far between.

planeta
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Update?

Post by planeta »

Just to bring us up to speed ... do you have any developments or additions to the exhibit?

adan.t
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Post by adan.t »

This was more of a personal statement than one of any great conceptual depth.

If we are talking specifically about web content, then it is the information that we share, link to, and (co)create through our interaction. Of course, this content is available in several mediums, and could be as simple as a message sent through a statement, but it is the message that interests me most, rather than the way it is expressed or dispersed.

The engagement refers to the interaction, and this is where much of the emphasis is with many social media platforms. This is great for some, but not all uses, and I often see institutions struggle with this by not bringing the focus back to the content, the message, the story.

For Museums, this is what it is all about, content. Even with UGC initiatives, it is about the narratives that are told through the interaction and engagement with our audiences and our collections. And we do this in several ways: through exhibitions, obviously, through events programming, through education programme delivery, and now, through our web and new media development.

I find these same things a struggle, Ron, but hopefully with endeavours like Planeta and OurSpace we will see a shift.

planeta
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Re: OurSpace Conversation

Post by planeta »

Greetings, Adan

Any news to add to our conversation?

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