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Biomedicine in museums

Curating heritage through games?

By September 17, 2011No Comments

I love playing Angry Birds when I’m tired, but I never thought I would play a game that helped curate a museum collection.

But now I know better after having read an interesting post on the Open Objects blog by Mia Ridge (Open University) about the session on ‘Entrepreneurship and Social Media”, which she chaired yesterday at the Museums Galleries Scotland conference.

mmg logoMia’s session was largely about crowdsourcing and her own approach was crowdsourcing through games. Mia has worked at the Science Museum in London, where she researched and developed ‘Museum Metadata Games’ to explore “how crowdsourcing games could get people to have fun while improving the content around ‘difficult’ museum objects”. As she points out, most collections websites are not that interesting to the general public, partly because of a ‘semantic gap’ between everyday language and curators’ catalogue language. Her solution was a crowdsourcing interface that worked like a game (after all 250 million people worldwide play social games; some even play museum games, like Wellcome Collection’s High Tea and the National Library of Finland’s DigitalKoort which had 25,000 visitors complete over 2 million individual tasks in two months. Here’s Mia’s example of a curating game called ‘Dora’s lost data’:

In the tagging game ‘Dora’s lost data’, the player meets Dora, a junior curator who needs their help replacing some lost data. Dora asks the player to add words that would help someone find the object shown in Google.

Her website proudly asserts that “So far players like you have improved 343 records for 2 museums through games on this site”. I’m not sure I find this overwhelmingly impressive. But it’s an interesting start — and I wouldn’t be surprised if gaming made curatorship become more participative in the future.

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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