Radical Trust

I first heard the term radical trust in relation to libraries. It is used by Darlene Fichter in her blog in relation to the idea of library 2.0.

Library 2.0 = (books ‘n stuff + people + radical trust) x participation

Radical trust

It is the idea that knowledge comes from many different places and when we publish our stuff (in this context we are talking about content from the cultural sector), then we need to be open to the idea that people should have free and easy access to it and that they may want to do interesting things with it that we had not considered.

This is a paradigm shift for the cultural sector in many ways, as the traditional view is to keep your digital collection to yourself, on your own site and not offer it up to others (non experts) to transform, comment, edit – the belief in the voice of authority as the most importance source of knowledge.

Well for those of you who believe that Darlene is right, then have a look at the work of Seb Chan and Jim Spadaccini, who have been researching Museum Bogs. Their paper, also called Radical Trust’ was presented at this years Museums and the web conference in San Francisco.

Really useful mash ups – MAPLight

This is one of the most useful examples of a data mash up that I have seen. It is a brillient piece of socially responsible publishing that lifts the lid on the relationships between US politics and money.

MAPLight.org says of itself “MAPLight.org, a groundbreaking public database, illuminates the connection between campaign donations and legislative votes in unprecedented ways. Elected officials collect large sums of money to run their campaigns, and they often pay back campaign contributors with special access and favorable laws. This common practice is contrary to the public interest, yet legal. MAPLight.org makes money/vote connections transparent, to help citizens hold their legislators accountable.”


The power of mass creativity or a distraction for good design?

I got two messages yesterday within five minutes of each other that illustrate the dichotomies of web 2.0 and its impact on how I see the 24 Hour Museum’s work as a publisher.

The first was the regular email from the grandfather of web advice Jacob Nielson. I remember when I first brought his book on web design in 1996, I read it from cover to cover and realised that despite being full of what now seems like the bleeding obvious, it was clearly good stuff and still is.

His latest opinion piece was called Web 2.0 ‘distracts good design’ and even got a write up on the BBC. Basically, it takes the view that a lot of all this web 2.0 stuff is a bit of a bandwagon that everyone is jumping on, focussing on UGC, mash-ups and participation before achieving any real stabitily of a core website with good accessible content.

The second message was about the Culture 2.0, international conference in Amsterdam, whose keynote is Charles Leadbeater talking about his new book ‘we think’.

Charles is an antidote to Nielson. A technology optimist who is clearly making his living pondering and exploring the sociological implications of all this new web stuff and its impact on culture (nice idea hey …?).

He has published what he calls the first reader editing book –‘We Think’. He says the basic idea is simple, creativity is collaborative and all the web 2.0 sites are expanding the opportunities for people to participate online. He says “what is striking about Wikipedia, Linux, Second Life, Youtube and many more is the way they take familiar ingredients and combine them to allow people to collaborate creatively at mass scale.”

Well, none of this is new for me but I know that it is for many in the sector I work in who are still grappling with the worry that if they have a website it will mean less real visitors – the cultural equivalent of thinking if you make new friends, it means that your old friends won’t like you – e.g. naive.

I actually liked his idea of a collaborative book because the book is actually about creativity and collaboration. Nice circular referencing. But the comments at the end of a guardian article also ring true and despite being a bit snotty, I kind of agree with.

If fact, I think the truth lies in both Nielson’s reflections and Charlie’s ‘everyone as author’ ideas.

I believe there is definitely something new happening online but it’s for *some* people, in some sites – and youtube, twitter, flickr etc. are testimony to that. But Nielson is also right that for the other online services (most of which are things that reflect something in the real world) they absolutely do need to be focussed, user friendly and well written.

I lesson for the 24 Hour Museum I believe is to do both.

Themed RSS

The National Archives have done a very cool thing. They have created a page for their users that shows, in one place, all the RSS feeds that they know about (from themselves and others) about a particular subject. The cool bit is that they have done it through a third party service, which is simple, free (for now anyway!) and just really does the job well. It’s an aggregator that you can personalise, and the NA page is branded with their logo. The page, called a Universe, is for history and family history enthusiasts. It shows everything that is new at The National Archives along with many other things they think you’ll find interesting. Obviously, as its RSS it’s always up to date.

Netvibes is “a free, third-party service that allows you to create a personalised web page bringing content, such as news feeds, together from many different places on the web. Setting up an account is not required, but it is quick and easy and then all of your settings will be remembered.”

Offering ways for individuals to personalise a homepage with RSS and web content etc is not new but I have not seen this kind of thing pitched at publishers before.