Google Cultural Institute

James Davies talking about Google Cultural Institute.

As Google grew in size, it increased in scope. Encouraged employees to follow passions. If you get a dozen people in the room you’ll find at least one is passionate about Art – in Google a set of people interested in Art, Galleries, Museums, got together to find a way of making this content available – became the Google Art Project.

At the time James was at the Tate – and got involved in the Google Art project – and was impressed by how Google team listened to expertise in gallery. Now he has moved to Google – talking about various projects – Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory –

Second project from Google in this area – the Cultural Institute – aim to work with variety of organisations including Archives. Finding a way of creating an ‘online exhibit’ – the Nelson Mandela site is an example of this – combines archival material with text from curators/archivists to tell a story. Then can jump into an item in the archive. From the exhibit you can access items – example here a letter from Nelson Mandela to his daughters – v high resolution by the look of it.

Forming a digestible narrative is key to exhibit format.

Romanian archive – includes footage from the revolution – TV broadcast at the time when revolutionaries took over TV studios.

James says archives are about people – plea to use stories assert the value of archives to protect them.

Into Q&A:

Q: Why not use the ‘Archives’ as a metaphor – ‘unboxing’ is the most exiting part of the archives experience and this is lost in ‘exhibit’ format

A: But that is because you know what you are looking for – the

Q: (from me) Risks of doing this in one place – why build a platform rather than distributing tools so archives can do this work themselves.

A: First step – part of that will be about distributing tools and approaches. Syndicating use of platform (as in Nelson Mandela site) is first step in this direction. Future steps could include distributing tools. Emphasised they didn’t want to be ‘hoarders’ of content.

Q: How to make self-navigation of archives easier for novice users

A: Hope that this will come

Several questions around the approach of ‘exhibits’ and ‘narratives’ – feeling that this ignores the depth of archive. Generally answer is that this is a way of presenting content – enables discovery of some content, and gives a place for people to ‘enter’ the archive – and from there explore more deeply.

Lots of concern from floor and on Twitter that this selective approach is at the expense or to the detriment of larger collection.

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