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Museums and the free world: keynote from the Museums and the Web conference in Florence


Yesterday, I delivered a keynote address for the 2014 Museums and the Web Conference in Florence, speaking in the audience chamber of the Palazzo Vecchio, which is pretty much the definition of working the big room at the palace. The organizers will be uploading video shortly, but in the meantime, they've been kind enough to post the crib for my talk, which is pretty extensive. The talk was called "GLAM (galleries, museums, archives and libraries) and the Free World":

* The information age is, in many ways, the beginning of history

* It’s a moment at which every person is swiftly becoming an archivist of her own life, a curator of billions of blips of ephemeral communications and ruminations and interactions

* As any archaeologist who’s ever rejoiced at finding a midden that reveals how normal people lived their lives in antiquity can tell you, this ephemera, so rare and badly preserved through most of our history, is of incalculable value

* Which would you rather see: an oil painting of a Victorian monarch, a ramrod stiff photo of your great-grandmother in her confirmation smock, or a hundred transcripts of the conversations she shared with her peers and her family?

* The tools by which we accomplish this archival business are, of course, computers

* Carried in our bags and pockets, worn in and on our bodies

* There is one group of people in the world who understand how archiving works, who understand the importance of the ephemeral en masse, who can steer us to personal and cultural practices of preservation, archiving, dissemination, and access — it’s you, the museum sector

* Just as librarians — who have toiled for centuries at the coalface of information and authority, systematizing the process of figuring out which sources to trust and why — are more needed than ever now, when we are all of us required to sort the credible from the non-credible every time we type a keyword into a search box

* So too are curators and archivists more needed than ever, now that we are all archiving and curating all the live-long day

GLAM and the Free World


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