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Virtual Museums and Public Understanding of Science and Culture

(2002, NS 120)
May 26-29, 2002
Saltsjöbaden and Stockholm, Sweden
Organizers: Per Carlson, Sture Forsén, Gudrun Franzén, Hans Mehlin and Nils Ringertz.

The purpose of the symposium was to explore how scientific and cultural institutions can use Internet and the new information technology to promote public understanding of science and culture. To this end the symposium brought together scientists, media representatives, web editors, publishers and museum curators for one and a half day of lectures and discussions at the Grand Hotel, Saltsjöbaden, a resort near Stockholm. The participants then travelled by boat through the archipelago to Stockholm, and visited the Nobel Museum. The symposium ended with an open half-day session at the National Museum. During this session a panel discussion took place.

The lectures focused on building and sustaining web sites, XML programming, information retrieval by the use of metadata, and knowledge of structuring tools. Technology and software are still in a dynamic state of development and problems may arise as currently used computer programs become obsolete. Internet governance, the use of the new top domain "museum", and the meaning of "virtual museum" were analyzed. The value of Internet in e-learning and the need for assessment of different educational programs were examined. Some contributions focused on physics education and the value of game-based interactivity in e-learning. Another major topic was electronic publishing. Internet offers the possibility of fast publishing but high quality journals still play an important role as gatekeepers. Different models for arranging peer review were discussed.

Some participants focused on information overflow and the problem of choosing information when hundreds of conventional and Internet TV-channels will be available everywhere and all the time. In the future agents may be of value in searching the web for information of specific interest to the individual reader. Computers can be used to generate "Your Journal" containing only information related to your specific interests. Another development mentioned was the possibility for "niche" cultures to develop. Those who collect stamps, love cats or have special interests can now use Internet to build their own virtual museums at minimal cost.

English is the dominating language in the natural sciences and on the Internet. A question was brought up to what extent educational sites should try to maintain other language versions.

The use of Internet by art museums and Internet specific art was the subject of a few short presentations. One contribution analyzed what virtual art museums can learn from what is known about the design of physical exhibitions.

There was also a lively debate on how to know what the visitor wants to know, how to attract the interest of the general public, and how to explain science. The definition of science was discussed and examples of pseudo-science and common misconceptions were mentioned.

Program

(with presentations in pdf-format)
 
May 26
Alfred Nobel and his Prizes
Nils Ringertz and Svante Lindqvist
May 27
Session 1
Chair: Sture Forsén
TryScience: The Potential Synergy of Multiple-Museum Web Sites
Alan J. Friedman, New York Hall of Science, New York
On the Origins of the Virtual Museum
Erkki Huhtamo, University of California, Los Angeles
The Particle Adventure: Sharing the Excitement of Particle Physics
R. Michael Barnett, University of California, Berkeley
Session 2
Chair: Per Carlson
Issues in Structuring Knowledge and Services for Universal Access to Online Science and Culture  
David Bearman, Archives & Museums Informatics, Pittsburgh
Born Digital. Identifying Intangible Museums
Cary Karp, Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm
Learning through Collaborative Visualization over the Internet
Roy Pea, Stanford University, Stanford
Session 3
Chair: Nils Ringertz
Electronic Environments and Museums
Andrea Bandelli, Bionet, Amsterdam
A Picture of the Week is Worth a Thousand Words: The CERN Outreach Project
Frank Close, Oxford University, Oxford
Is Science Dangerous?
Lewis Wolpert, University College London, London
Session 4
Chair: Sture Forsén
Creating Cultural Content: AMICO's Strategy for Sustainability
Jennifer Trant, AMICO, Pittsburgh
Art Museums in a Wired Context
Annika Hansson, Liljevalchs Konsthall, Stockholm
Information Retrieval
Hans Mehlin, Nobelprize.org, Stockholm
May 28
Session 5
Chair: Per Carlson
Paradigm Shifts in Information Dissemination - from Print to the Web
Ellis Rubinstein, Science, Washington DC
Electronic Publication (back) to Communication
Erik Sandewall, Linköping University, Linköping
All About Electronic Scientific Publication
Hector Rubinstein, Stockholm University, Stockholm
Session 6
Chair: Nils Ringertz
Interactivity and a "Virtual Biochemistry Laboratory"
Sture Forsén, Lund University, Lund and Nobelprize.org, Stockholm
Good Practice in Using the Internet and Information Technology in Teaching and Learning Science 
Doris Jorde, University of Oslo, Oslo
Is Anybody Listening?
David Filkin, Kingston upon Thames
May 29
Open Session
Nobel on the Web
Nils Ringertz, Nobelprize.org, Stockholm
(The following talks at the open session were summaries of the presentations at the symposium.)
Internet and Scientific Communication. Perspectives
Ellis Rubinstein, Science, Washington DC
Collaborative Learning and Teaching in Distributed Science Learning Communities
Roy Pea, Stanford University, Stanford
Internet as an Artistic Medium
Annika Hansson, Liljevalchs Konsthall, Stockholm
Recent Trends in Media Art
Erkki Huhtamo, University of California, Los Angeles
 
Panel Discussion
 
Participants
Speakers
Andrea Bandelli, Bionet, Amsterdam
Michael Barnett, University of California, Berkeley
David Bearman, Archives & Museum Informatics, Pittsburgh
Per Carlson, Stockholm Physics Centre, KTH, Stockholm
Frank Close, Theoretical Physics, Oxford University, Oxford
David Filkin, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey
Sture Forsén, Lund University & Nobelprize.org, Stockholm
Alan J. Friedman, New York Hall of Science, New York
Annika Hansson, Liljevalchs Konsthall, Stockholm
Erkki Huhtamo, University of California, Los Angeles
Doris Jorde, University of Oslo, Oslo
Cary Karp, Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm
Svante Lindqvist, Nobel Museum, Stockholm
Hans Mehlin, Nobelprize.org, Stockholm
Roy Pea, Stanford University, Stanford
Nils Ringertz, Nobelprize.org, Stockholm
Ellis Rubinstein, Science, Washington DC
Hector Rubinstein, Stockholm University, AlbaNova, Stockholm
Erik Sandewall, Linköping University, Linköping
Michael Sohlman, Nobel Foundation, Stockholm
Jennifer Trant, AMICO, Pittsburgh
Lewis Wolpert, University College London, London
 
Discussants
Olov Amelin, Nobel Museum, Stockholm
Anders Bárány, Nobel Museum, Stockholm
Camilla Hyltén-Cavallius, Nobel Foundation, Stockholm
Grete Jarmund, Norwegian Peace Center, Oslo
Erik Johansson, KTH, Stockholm
Eva Krutmeijer, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm
Ulf Larsson, Nobel Museum, Stockholm
Olav Njølstad, Norwegian Nobel Institute, Oslo
Ralf Pettersson, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Stockholm
Joanna Rubinstein, Columbia University, New York
Susanna Rydén-Danckwardt, Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Agneta Wallin Levinovitz, Nobel e-Museum, Stockholm

 

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