The timeline paper posted on this blog a few weeks back is part of a longer paper I’m working on, “Interfaces to History.” Here’s an abstract:
The organization and classification of artifacts, words, and images to tell stories is the essence of exhibitions, whether in museums or on the web. The 1898 Report of the National Museum called this “the all-important question” and tried to determine the form of presentation that would allow “the great truths of human history may be told in the briefest and clearest way.” That is still our challenge, though perhaps our aims are not quite so high. My paper will consider some of the organizing principles museum curators use in real and virtual space– among them chronologies, genealogies, synoptic series, geographies, themes, topics, and the newest, the search – and the assumptions that underline them. The museum or website is a narrative space that demands thoughtful interfaces, and we should be clear about both the meaning of the choices we make, and the criteria by which we judge them.
Any advice or suggestions appreciated – the abstract is aspirational, not yet descriptive.