'In the hands of the user' Collaborative Doctoral Award
Michela Clari is investigating how online media environments are changing how we engage with collections of cultural institutions.
Michela is doing a PhD in the School of Education, in collaboration with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland ( RCAHMS).
Following the rise of what has been described as ‘Web 2.0’, the doctoral project takes place within the context of recent and rapid alteration in authorship and participation practices on the internet.
These developments are changing our understanding of the role of users in contributing to the public online presence of cultural institutions, the ways in which users might contribute to the ‘making’ and ‘unmaking’ of public archives and the ways in which a global public learns and constructs meaning from institutions’ digital collections.
This PhD also explores how new online media environments change and challenge the curatorial and outreach responsibilities of museums, galleries and archives.
The study will explore a range of innovative projects, launched at RCAHMS, that take advantage of new digital environments and tools. This summer saw the launch of a fully updated version of Canmore, RCAHMS’ digital archive containing information for over 280,000 sites of architectural interest in Scotland. Thanks to new interactive features, people will now be able to contribute original photographs, personal memories and additional information to the archives and participate in discussions around topics of interest.
The doctoral study will also draw from the experience of other cultural institutions in the UK and internationally, as it aims to provide fresh and much-needed theoretical insights into what is still a very new mode of user interaction with museums’ and archives’ collections.
Whether within the boundaries of their own institutional digital environments or through partnering with popular social media applications, museums are increasingly embracing the challenges as well as the opportunities afforded by new participative models. The aim of this PhD project is to capture instances of true innovation in such experiences and reflect on their significance in terms of cultural ownership, participation and learning
The PhD is co-supervised by Dr Sian Bayne in the School of Education and Rebecca Bailey in RCAHMS. Dr Bayne is co-director on the online MSc in e-Learning, which won her the Chancellor’s award in 2008. Dr Bayne’s innovative research into the use of digital technologies in teaching and learning also encompasses work in museums and galleries, with a range of prestigious collaborations including the £1.7m National Museums Online Learning Project involving nine English national museums and galleries.
The PhD is a collaborative doctoral award and it is part of Beyond Text, a five year programme funded by AHRC, running from 2007 to 2012 and supporting over 40 projects.
The programme aims to explore current developments in the arts and humanities concerning questions of communication across time and place through performances, sounds, images and objects. It also aims to create a collaborative, multi-disciplinary research community to work with those outside higher education on these issues and to help inform and inflect public policy relating to our cultural and creative heritages and futures.
This article was published on Jul 21, 2010