“Perfect is the enemy of good” (Voltaire).
An early alpha version of our new ‘collection online‘ is now live.
I say ‘alpha version’ because all this version is trying to do is replace the previous standard eMuseum collection viewer that used to be on the website. I also say ‘alpha’ because it is full of ‘known issues’ both in design and content. I say ‘alpha’ a third time because before you know it, there will be a beta which will introduce new features and fix some of the most glaring problems.
But a public alpha release is important.
In a sector that is allergic to the idea of a ‘minimum viable product‘, a public alpha makes a lot of sense. It especially makes sense for a ‘design’ museum that preaches/teaches the ‘design process’. Early testing with real users will help us select which features to prioritise, and also which of our existing issues matter most. And we’ll find that the users we expected probably won’t be the only ones who come and visit.
Admittedly our museum is a little different.
On the back of two, far too short, years of transformation under the leadership of designer Bill Moggridge, we are in a position that many other institutions are not. We are trying to be more agile with our processes, more experimental with our products, and more promiscuous with our content.
We don’t have the choice not to be.
The world of design is changing – and that is the world we are documenting, collecting and ruminating about as an institution. And it is not just the world of design, but the world itself.
We need to not just be ‘on the web’ but we need to be ‘of the web’. And this is most important for our collection.
So what’s in the alpha release?
- access to just over 123,000 objects
- navigation by various metadata elements
- persistent URLs for everything including people
- people ‘concordances’ with the holdings of other institutions and online sources!
- random object mode!
Aaron Cope and Micah Walter will each be exploring these in much more detail in their own blog posts over the next week. Aaron’s also released some new bits and pieces related to our collection on our GitHub repository.
But right now, go and have an explore.