Social Interpretation – applying the principles of social media to relationships with cultural objects

By Sarah Davenport, on 8 February 2013

Claire Ross writes about the Social Interpretation project:

The Social Interpretation project was a one year Research and Development exercise joint funded by the NESTA / Arts Council / AHRC digital R&D Fund, and Imperial War Museums (IWM).  At its heart, it aimed to bring successful social interactions already found online and apply them across IWM’s collections – making social objects out of museums objects.  The aim being to increase spread and engagement of  IWM collections.

Museums’ objects have too often been seen as purely historical objects. They aren’t. Rather, they are social objects, inspiring emotional attachment, discussion, debate and action. This project is at the forefront of capturing and representing what audiences feel and say in response to our collections and subjects.

Social Interpretation aimed to holistically represent the discussions about, and sharing of, our objects by audiences. The intention was to do this seamlessly across all of the museums digital outputs (in-gallery, on-mobile and on-line). Making museums objects truly social.

The project essentially applied the models and insight found in social networks, and successful interactions online generally, and applying them wholesale to museum collections.

You can find out more about the project process at http://blogs.iwm.org.uk/social-interpretation/.

Or Read the final report from NESTA: http://www.artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/sites/default/files/case-study-documents/Digital_RandD_CaseStdy_SocialInterpretation.pdf

Or Watch a snazzy video.

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