Written by Rainer Mack.
With apologies to A.A.Milne (and Pooh, whose idea I’m sure it was), this is our “Now then, here we are” post. It is our Introduction, our Hello World!, our Prolegomena to all the Legomena we hope this site will generate. And so, having cleared our throats, we can begin…
Somewhere up near the top of the screen it tells us that edgital, the name of this project, is dedicated to “talk at the edge of museum education and digital media.” Maybe we should start by parsing that phrase.
By museum education, we mean education as that is practiced in the museum context. Not just museums proper, but also aquaria, zoos, gardens, historic houses, and other such institutions. We mean the field, I suppose, though it might go by another name depending on where you are – interpretation, public programming, outreach.
By digital media, we mean information technology in the museum context. Not back-end IT, but the variegated world of digital media tools that reach out from the museum to its publics — a website, a spot on flickr or Pinterest, a mobile app. You know what we mean…though, hmm, actually one of the motivations for edgital is our concern that not enough museum practitioners DO know what we mean, or rather what digital media means. We all know what a website is. And many of us (albeit those on the better side of 40) are on Facebook, and may even actively tweet. But I’m not sure we all know what digital media really means in and for museums. That’s partly because it’s moving so fast, with new tools and applications being developed at what seems an ever-increasing pace. But it’s also – we think – because digital media is transformative. It’s changing what museums can do. Or – more to the point – it’s changing the broader social and cultural environment in which museums operate, and thereby changing what museums must do.
edgital is a collaborative project designed to support dialogue and creative thinking “at the edge” of these two fields. We mean at the leading edge, and edgy in the sense of being bold and not complacent. But more than this, we mean the shared edge of these two fields, the place where they meet to consider shared concerns. We’re persuaded that these shared concerns are deep, and fundamental to both fields. They range from the presentation and interpretation of content to the crafting of experience; from visitor outreach and engagement to the broader social role of museums. We’re persuaded, likewise, that practitioners in both fields can learn from one another, indeed must learn from one another in order to do the best work possible. Our hope is that edgital can help make that happen.
You can do your part by participating! This project is a conversation. Drop by and join in. Comment, contribute, share information and resources — talk!