Raising Awareness

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What Does Openness Mean To The Museum Community?


Brian Kelly, Mike Ellis and Ross Gardler are co-authors of a paper on "What Does Openness Mean To The Museum Community?" which was presented at the Museums and the Web 2008 conference held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on 9-12th April 2008.

Citation Details

Kelly, B., Ellis, M. and Gardler, R. What Does Openness Mean To The Museum Community? In J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds.). Museums and the Web 2008: Proceedings. Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics. Published March 5, 2008. Consulted March 16, 2008. <>
Also available at <>


In the provision of networked services for museums the term 'openness' frequently crops up in a variety of contexts including open standards and open source software. In addition the Web 2.0 environment has led to increased interest in open content and in use of freely available networked applications which may be regarded as open services. This focus on openness for the developer or service provider can be complemented with a culture of openness which encourages the user to actively engage with services and generate their own content.

It can be difficult to argue against the benefits which openness seeks to provide. But will a commitment to openness guarantee the deployment of effective and sustainable services? This paper explores in more detail the potential benefits of openness, but also acknowledges associated limitations. The authors argue that a more sophisticated approach is needed which seeks to make use of open standards, open source and open content if these can help to deliver sustainable services, but is prepared to take a more flexible approach if the perceived difficulties are felt to outweigh possible benefits.



This paperts is available from the University of Bath instituional repository.

What Does Openness Mean To The Museum Community?
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Biographical Details

Brian Kelly Brian Kelly works for UKOLN, a centre of expertise in digital information funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). Brian's job title is UK Web Focus - a national Web coordination and advisory post. His areas of work include Web standards, Web accessibility and quality assurance for digital library development activities. A current key area of work is in advising institutions on ways of exploiting Web 2.0 technologies to enhance the quality of their services.

Mike Ellis has just emerged from 7 years working as Head of Web for the National Museum of Science and Industry, UK, which comprises the Science Museum in London, Media Museum in Bradford and Railway Museum in York. Mike is now working for a Bath-based company called Eduserv who are a not for profit IT services group. Mike's interests are in user generated content, Web 2.0, ubiquitous computing and innovation and how to lever these for maximum benefit in cultural institutions.

Ross Gardler Ross Gardler is the manager of OSS Watch, the JISC funded non-advocacy advisory service on Open Source Software. Ross is a computer scientist by background and continues to be an active contributor to open source projects. As such he is a Member of the Apache Software Foundation, a position of merit in recognition of his contributions to open source communities. Ross is particularly interested in the management of healthy communities and in how a community approach can be applied to non-software development activities.