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Biomedicine in museums

Being surprised instead of googling in advance

By January 1, 2009No Comments

Mike Rhode’s post (on A Repository) about a nice little medical exhibit in the local history museum in Cookeville, Tennessee (see his many pictures here) reminds me about how many local museums around the world that have medical collections.

Mike’s post also makes me think about the kind of dilemma that the digital information society afflicts upon us.

On the one hand, it would be great to have online access to all medical collections and museums around the world, with links, of course, to Google Maps, loads of visitors’ pictures on Flickr and movies on YouTube, etc.. So that when I’m travelling I’m always prepared in advance for what there is to see.

But on the other hand, I would hate not to be able to be genuinely surprised now and then (like Mike was when he found this exhibit while visiting his inlaws). I mean, what’s the fun of being a medical museum tourist if you have seen everything online beforehand? I guess one can be surprised online and then get the experience confirmed IRL — but I prefer being surprised IRL. For example, in March I’m going to Navarra for a lecture, and I really don’t want to know if there is a medical museum in town — I prefer to be positively surprised when I’m there.

This must be a growing dilemma in the googlefied information society. Online reviews of restaurants take some of the joy of being genuinely surprised away, and so forth. Does someone know about a good analysis of this dilemma? Alex?

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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