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National Vending Machine

by • 4 Mar, 2011 • Expositions, TechnologyComments (0)2585

Next steps for the National Vending Machine (and how you can help)

Good news for all fans of our National Vending Machine: this week we received confirmation of a significant subsidy to further develop the project. The great people at the DOEN Foundation will invest in improved visitor participation, a better website and information structure and activities to involve new audiences. Thanks!

These new funds allow us to work on some of our own recommendations for improvement. For instance, it allows us to put in practice the lessons about participation and crowdsourcing we detail in our Museums and the Web paper. Also, we can professionalize our outreach activities. Here’s some of the things we’re hoping to do with the help of DOEN:

  1. Allow contributions at the physical vending machine
    An essential element of the National Vending Machine are the stories and ideas visitors add to the collection of objects. At the moment, people can only contribute using the website and the activities. We will add the possibility to interact with the collection on site as an integrated part of the visitor flow.
  2. Improve the data structure and information flow
    Our experiences with structured dialogue at our outreach activities made it clear we need to improve our data structure and information flow in the online collection. At the moment we are not able to represent the richness of discussion around objects. This will be improved. I hope to create a connected network of objects, personal stories, comments and discussion that allows us to look at history and object from many different angles.
  3. Make the ‘community of objects’ part of our semantic INNL network
    The community of objects is the online collection of objects, stories and discussion created through the National Vending Machine. At the moment, this collection is not a part of our own semantic INNL network that connects many different historical collections and communities. By adding the community of objects to the network, it will be enriched by the collective content of the network and will in turn add to the discussions in the network.
  4. Create a visually richer and more usable website
    The website of the National Vending Machine will get a makeover to improve the visualisation and immediate feedback of the rich data in the community of objects.
  5. Add a webshop
    It’s no longer possible to display all objects from the community of object in the physical vending machine. To make all objects available to a larger audience, we’ll add a webshop from which all the objects can be sold.
  6. Organize another gazillion outreach activities
    No matter how well we promote the physical vending machine and no matter to how many different locations it will travel, it will never reach all the people we want to reach. Therefore I’m especially happy that the DOEN funding will allow us to organize many more outreach activities to bring the discussion about historical object to malls, festivals and fairs.

How you can help

Part of the reason the DOEN Foundation is financing the next steps of the National Vending Machine is because they recognize the project’s potential to innovate for other institutions. We’re hoping to spread the lessons we learn thanks to the project through publications, workshops and presentations with you. Feel free to ask me anytime!

In exchange, I’m curious to hear from you what your opinion is on the six points for improvement above. Especially, I would love to hear your take on the interactives of point 1 (onsite contribution) and the design of point 4 (website). Good examples, best practices, etc. Thanks in advance!

Photo credits: Marco de Swart/Nationaal Historisch Museum

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