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National Railway Museum

Discussion in 'National Railway Museum' started by admin, Apr 18, 2008.

  1. OldChap

    OldChap Member

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    I agree that technology has much to offer. However the critical aspect that is increasingly overlooked is the loss of the immersive experience that makes people interested in the subject matter is encountered due to over reliance on tech. For example how many films/tv shows that are technically wonderful with CGI and other special effects but are generally un-involving?

    The cost of 'tech' is getting more affordable, used in conjunction with engaging and well thought out exhibits seems to the trick.
     
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  2. simon

    simon Resident of Nat Pres

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    True technology can be used well or badly. There are many poor films that don't use CGI that are as naff as the worst CGI ones. As you say the trick, like all technology, is to use it in a thoughtful way.

    For example National Trust Scotland uses Sat nav at culloden to play the relevant part of the commentary on the headphones depending where you stand on the battlefield.
     
  3. OldChap

    OldChap Member

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    Absolutely... in the case of TV/films bad writing equals a poor show, no amount of geewizzery will change that... in the case of Railway Heritage/museum etc poor exhibit equals a un-engaging experience... no amount of smartphone apps or whatever will change that either.

    For what its worth one of the best general museum/heritage sites I have been to for in the United States was in Santa Fe Springs CA which was completely devoid of any technology what so ever, but you can 'cab' there loco, wander some nice gardens, inspect some charming old buildings brought in from the surrounding area etc. My family enjoyed the place and we had several enjoyable jaunts there when I worked in Los Angeles.

    [​IMG]

    Pictures source and web site: http://www.placesearth.com/usa/california/los_angeles/heritage_park_sfs/heritage_park.shtml
     
  4. Enterprise

    Enterprise Part of the furniture

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    The first sentence above is almost a truism but the last, if correct, adds to the evidence that we are becoming a society that, "knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.".
     
  5. Platform 3

    Platform 3 Member

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    The question is though, for a state museum, what is a better indicator of success than visitor numbers or income generated? If you have an answer that won't cost a fortune in itself then I suggest you let DCMS know!
     
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  6. Enterprise

    Enterprise Part of the furniture

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    You are rather proving my point.
     
  7. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    The problem of that solution is that the NRM then only becomes accessible to those with Smartphones. I'm afraid that technology is leading to greater exclusion - rather than inclusion. In my world i feel confident with technology BUT my experiences lead me to exclude Twitter and Facebook on grounds of personal security (from knowledge gained within the industry !). By so doing - however - I now find myself excluded from various heritage sites which rely on Face & Twit to the exclusion of a well-designed and regularly updated website; do such lines realise the market that they are ignoring ? Do they realise that communication is 2-way and if you have nowt to receive information with then that communication is rendered useless ?
     
  8. Johnb

    Johnb Part of the furniture

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    To access information All you have to do is create a Facebook page, you don't have to put any information on it or accept any friend requests. I joined FB some time ago so I could read about what my daughter was posting when she toured Thailand but I'm still Billy no mates to this day.
     
  9. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Resident of Nat Pres

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    But you don't need to use Twitter and Facebook just because you have a smartphone, if you don't want to.

    The big advantage of having information online is that you can solve what is otherwise a very difficult problem, which is providing the "right" amount of information for all users, when each individual user has a massively varying demand for detail. So you label objects with a very basic description in the museum, but with an easy look up for anyone who wants to know more, and with the spin-off advantage that that supplementary information is available online for anyone who wants it even if you don't visit the museum. (In a funding regime where access is important, online access also helps demonstrate overall access to the collection).

    Trying to do that only with labels in the museum will see you either making descriptions too brief for those who want detail, or two detailed (and therefore extensive) for those who want brevity - and with the additional complication that for many people, they may want mostly brevity but lots of detail on a few objects that really catch their imagination, but predicting which those is for any individual is near impossible.

    Tom
     
  10. simon

    simon Resident of Nat Pres

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    Quite, you can create a dummy email account to link it to. If you want you can easily hide online.
     
  11. Tim Light

    Tim Light Member

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    You start off with a mission statement that actually means something, so you know what you're trying to achieve. From that, you develop some tangible objectives that support your mission. Then you can develop some metrics to demonstrate how well you're meeting your objectives.

    IMO the NRM's published mission statement is too woolly, and can't be used as a basis for measuring success.
     
  12. Peter Hall

    Peter Hall Member

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    Totally agree with Fred about technology leading to greater exclusion - rather than inclusion. I see it everyday and fear for the problems it is causing already let alone in the future. Everyone is expected to embrace the ever changing computer hardware and software as it was once called, but who pays for it? We are told about the 'JAM's in Society, where do they get the hundreds of pounds a year to buy mobiles, laptops, downloads, contracts etc? Because they haven't the money they end up paying more for almost everything, especially essentials such as electricity, gas and water. Then, where do people turn when things go wrong?

    The issue of websites raised by Fred is very relevant with regard to the NRM and many Heritage Railways. No one appears bothered about it being kept up to date, being fit for purpose and providing an easily accessible entry into quality knowledge and learning now that supposedly twitter facefarce and what ever gets thought up next is the latest fad. While the remnants of the public library service survives then at least the 'JAM's can still have access.

    I know many enthusiasts who at best have a basic mobile phone and have no home computing capability, relying on the printed word. None post on here though surprisingly! They are quite content to live their lives that way despite the increasing feeling of exclusion and can 'JAM'. A consequence though is they do not contribute as much to the finances that keep the hobby ticking over, such as visiting heritage railways, as was once the case. They even find themselves penalised by the very clubs and groups that claim to serve them by being charged higher membership rates for receiving a printed, rather than downloaded magazine, the RCTS being a well known example.

    Since Victorian times museums have strived to enhance knowledge to the highest standards. OK, this does not attract everyone but that has always been the case. Whilst many went to libraries and museums in the past others were content to go to the cinema, park, football, fair or pub. Why should you try and appeal to the latter group at the expense of the former?
     
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  13. simon

    simon Resident of Nat Pres

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    The world moves on, people have always adopted new technology but some have always lagged behind.it's the nature of things to have early adopters and laggards, we all fall into different categories at various times. If a printed magazine costs more than a pdf, then it is right that more is charged for it IMHO. A tablet can be bought for sub £100 these days and getting goes full access to all the internet has to offer.

    As has been said before, it is far easier and cheaper to update electronic information than printed material, although I have yet to come across a museum that has no printed material.
     
  14. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    Tend to agree with you although there is something about kindle and the like which I find irredeemably naff . The internet is a great boon though. An internet search brought me all the information I could want, in a twinkling, for an article I wrote for printed media about railway silverware. Using the old methods I would probably be searching still. The article produced a most welcome response from a reader. So there is a use for both.

    I am sure that when moveable type was first introduced there were "aged flatulences" who "didn't hold with it".

    PH
     
  15. Tim Light

    Tim Light Member

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    Anyone wanting to do research these days would be crazy to ignore the internet. It doesn't have all the answers, but it can give you leads that would otherwise be difficult to find.

    My reservation about internet "knowledge" is that a lot of it is inaccurate and incomplete, and misinformation is quickly replicated and accepted as fact. This also happens in the non-internet world, but not so rapidly.

    The NRM is already doing some good work in making digital artefacts available via the internet, but the amount of material so far available is just the tip of the iceberg. They would need to spend money that they haven't got to make real inroads.

    Platform 3 asked how you measure the success of a national museum. Well, setting targets for digital archives to be made available online would be one very tangible measure.
     
  16. 60017

    60017 Part of the furniture Friend

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    Perhaps you'd like to give us an example of what you believe an NRM mission statement should say... along with a couple of SMART objectives to support it?
     
  17. paulhitch

    paulhitch Part of the furniture

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    I can think of a number of supposed "standard" works on railway subjects which are full of errors despite being resolutely typeset. Things which appear in print get the status of infallibility whilst the net is regarded with suspicion. Neither attitude is justified.

    PH
     
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  18. Phil-d259

    Phil-d259 Member

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    Nobody says you have to like the way things are going - but with respect to national museums funded by the DCMS they set the rules - and until those change what you or I think of the way said museums carry out their activities will not change. In fact, as has been highlighted, when the Government is progressively reducing grants for things like national museums* (when compared against the increased spend necessary on wages / pensions / etc), numbers and revenue become ever more important.

    Mind you even if Heritage / museum venues do charge for admission (and are thus not funded by the DCMS), they can only have a future if they are relatively self sufficient - which means attracting numbers through the door and getting them to spend while they are there - which brings us back to the point of what modern society wants to see in such places to make them visit.

    Thus if you want to 'blame' anyone for the quality of museums going 'downhill' in your eyes then you need to start blaming society at large - rather than those running such venues.

    * Whilst typing this I hear that the Government have been spending £10000 A DAY in Consultants / Lawyers since expansion at Heathrow was announced as the recommendation of the airports commission last summer without anything actually happening.
     
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  19. Platform 3

    Platform 3 Member

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    I can't really think of a way of judging a museum other than trying to measure how it engages with the public and/or undertakes research. This is particularly important for a public museum. If 'we the people' can come up with something better to measure this than the NRM are already doing then I suggest that you let them know because I can't think of anything.
     
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  20. simon

    simon Resident of Nat Pres

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    Kindles are fine for certain purposes like any item of IT.
     

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