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Web person at the Imperial War Museum, just completed PhD about digital sustainability in museums (the original motivation for this blog was as my research diary). Posting occasionally, and usually museum tech stuff but prone to stray. I welcome comments if you want to take anything further. These are my opinions and should not be attributed to my employer or anyone else (unless they thought of them too). Twitter: @jottevanger

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Simulacra/mwr portal proposal - it's Magic!

Met with Andy yesterday in Winchester. Amongst the issues discussed was
the possibility of a MoL/MWR collaboration on a pilot for a portal,
following on from initial discussions in July. Together with Martyn and
Sam (lead developer), we discussed what the project was really about
now. As there seems to be no sign of money from the DfES as yet, it's
really about coming up with something that is (a) manageable with
relatively little expenditure of effort or cash on either side and (b)
will offer a concept that is appealingly different to MWR's current
Magic offering both for us (and other museums) and for DfES or other

What we were discussing was the sort of portal concept that was mooted
in the meeting. I would hope that the idea of a single place where any
museum could deposit assets for use in learning objects and where any
teacher (or other user) could go to to put them together would prove
appealing to DfES, MLA and the like, and they might finally be
encouraged to fund some sort of central resource for the benefit of all
museums. A portal like this would be very different from the current
scenario with Magic, where you might have your own installation or an
MWR-hosted one but which wouldn't cut across institutional boundaries -
being part of a hub would give our own assets much wider appeal than if
they were available only in the context of other assets from the same
single museum. The other aspect of interest to museums (I argued)
would be the availability of an API so that we could integrate our own
sites with the portal/hub site. This might let us offer a search engine
within LO to bring back learning objects that had been built with our
assets, or that we had flagged up as "approved". We would want to work
with Simulacra to ensure that useful metadata were available, and we'd
want to work with them on the sort of functionality the API might offer.

What this would require from us might be as simple as a set of assets
and metadata for them to play with. I suggested that we could export a
few hundred/thousand objects with images (or really images with basic
metadata) from the collections DB I use behind the websites. This could
include a few sound and text files too. Jane might want to add a couple
of items from LO too - perhaps some video - but there wouldn't be much
work involved.

I think that we agreed that they would go an have a think and come up
with a more conrete proposal that both we and the DfES might work to.
But hopefully the requirements from us in these initial stages would be
pretty low - it would be pretty trivial to export a set of data and
image files for them to play with. How much effort we'd then want to put
in would probably depend on them securing funds, but potentially we
could set the agenda in quite an interesting project.

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