Imperial War Museums
The “Social Interpretation” R&D project at the Imperial War Museums (IWM) was a cross-platform investigation of how gallery visitors and web and mobile users interact with our digitised collections. It addressed a number of questions, notably around the idea of moderation through users, as well as tackling some thorny technical issues involving building a centralised UGC repository and commenting system and connecting it to apps, kiosks, a website and third party applications like Twitter. We will review these challenges and findings, and reflect upon the radically different nature of the contributions from online users and those in the galleries. Further, in providing an avenue for high quality feedback to the museum, this new channel challenges the organisation to rethink its working practices beyond the digital media workforce. This is both so that it adequately responds more personally and directly to the needs of the audiences it is now engaging with, and so that it does not miss the opportunity of learning from that same set of people. Organisational change is clearly needed, and we will offer some examples of the specific issues that have started to emerge and the ways that we may tackle them.