Smithsonian Commons Prototype

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 05 Jul 2010

The Smithsonian Commons is doing more than "... enabling discoveries. It will make possible new fields of discovery". What is the Smithsonian Commons and how will this be made possible?

The Smithsonian Institute (US) has been doing some amazing and interesting things in the web world. First was the public development of their Web and New Media Strategy via their wiki.

Now, they have developed the Smithsonian Commons Prototype, which, in their own words, is "... a new part of our digital presence dedicated to stimulating learning, creation, and innovation through open access to Smithsonian research, collections and communities. The Smithsonian Commons will, in many ways, be the platform through which we accomplish the Four Grand Challenges articulated in the Smithsonian Institution Strategic Plan." These grand challenges are:

  1. Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe
  2. Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet
  3. Valuing World Cultures
  4. Understanding the American Experience

Their Strategic Plan is worth a read and the Commons is certainly worth a look! The videos are a great way to explain what's planned (although a tad too long for me), but the whole concept is totally exciting and I really liked the Millenials video in particular.

Interested to see where they take this.

1 comment

m_edson - 10.07 PM, 06 July 2010
Thanks Lynda! It's an interesting comment about the prototype stories being too long, and I think it's a reflection of the fact that the prototype movies are trying to do two contradictory things at the same time. On one hand, we made them for ourselves to learn what the Smithsonian Commons might be-- what it might mean, what the issues will be, what the benefits might be. This is the real duct tape and hot glue workshop of trying to figure out something new. On the other hand we also made the prototypes to try to present a polished facade to stakeholders and decision makers so they could look past the duct tape and hot glue and say "yeah, this is something I'd like us to do!" I think the prototype stories got long to support the first goal (figuring out what this commons thing is all about) but maybe at a price to the second goal. It's also worth noting that we'd planned on making a short 1-minute video teaser trailer to play at the top of the Smithsonian Commons prototype home page, but we got sidetracked by some bureaucratic issues. I'm not sure what ideas/issues need addressing at this point, but I've still got a little budget set aside for the 1-minute trailer. Any thoughts?

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