Map the Museum — what do people think?

It’s been almost three weeks since we launched Map the Museum, and it’s filling up nicely. Tomorrow, I will be talking about the project at the UK’s first Open-data Cities Conference, alongside Rachel Coldicutt of the developers, Caper.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are not just interested in making the data open. We also wish to encourage comments and suggestions about how this project may develop, or how it may inform our future work with digital media. Below is a selection of some of the comments we have received, accompanied by a brief response of my own. Further comments are certainly welcome; please use the form at the bottom of this post.

Kevin Bacon
Digital Development Officer


I wondered whether to site the Chain Pier painting at the artist’s viewpoint or at the site of the Chain Pier. Possibly the former is of more interest? This would apply to all paintings of local scenes I think but not necessarily to photographs.

Unlike map based websites like Historypin, which uses old photographs, we wanted to included as many different types of objects as possible. Inevitably, this means that different sorts of objects have different relationships to places. Images, whether, photographs or paintings, pose the same problem. Landscape views, particularly those that show a wide area, will depict a large number of buildings and other features of interest. But they will often focus on a particular subject eg. an aerial view of Brighton seafront may centre on the Palace Pier. Where should the image go? In my view, the artist’s viewpoint is the best location as it’s an objective position. But there may be some cases, where this may not seem appropriate.

You may want to look at the archaeology and whether it is possible to pull in information about date or at least period or it may be fairly meaningless from a contextual point of view.

Very good point. We’ll look at this for the next iteration.

Once you’ve clicked ‘I know where this is’, and you’re looking at the map, it would be good to have the option to see the object and caption again before committing to placing it.
Very good idea. We’ll look into this for the next iteration.
When you read a caption with underlined key words should clicking on them do anything?
At the moment, no. The underlined text is generated automatically to highlight clues in the description which may help locate the object. But they may not always be useful or correct; they still need a human being to make the decision.
Are you looking at making this into more of a game? If people log in you could acknowledge the most accurate/prolific contributors in a leader board.
 A few people have commented that Map the Museum is ‘fun’, which I’m very pleased about. It should hardly be a chore! There may be scope to develop this into a game. We are looking at working with games over the next few years, so watch this space…
How about the option to share the object record on social media?
Lovely idea. We’ll look into it.
Could you add to the caption record whether its possible to see the item? For example, is it on display or by appointment only?
Interesting idea. Would this be of interest to anyone? In my experience, people rarely wish to see original photographic prints once they have been digitised. But does the same apply to other items, particularly three dimensional objects such as archaeological finds?
How do you intend to reconcile the differences between the old layout of streets, etc., with the modern layout of the town? It would be great to be able to see various stages of development as overlays, where one could effectively peel back one layer to see what was previously there.
Again, an interesting idea. Map the Museum allows users to navigate across space; perhaps it should also allow users to navigate through time? There are certainly a number of objects, such as photographs of long demolished streets, which simply don’t fit with the modern landscape of Brighton. This is definitely one to look at, but potentially quite complex.

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