The museum qua: the evolution of a knowledge institution in an era of pervasively networked information infrastructure

by Susan Jane Cairns

Institution: University of Newcastle
Year: 2015
Keywords: museums; knowledge; networked information infrastructure; philosophy
Record ID: 1037609
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/1062779


Professional Doctorate - Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) The introduction of digital networked technologies, including the Internet, as the fundamental basis for communication in developed societies has added new dimensions of complexity to the museum’s task of epistemological and cultural perpetuation. As the digital network grows, as multivectoral connections between people and data become possible, aggregated along multiple, complex dimensions, knowledge is being transformed on multiple fronts. New tools and technologies for knowledge work alter the problems of knowledge and the ways such problems can be solved. Changes to the technologies for communicating alter the dynamics of knowledge by changing what it is possible to know; how such knowledge is created and legitimised; and by enabling participants to contribute to knowledge work. Set against a background of a changing information infrastructure, this dissertation will therefore seek to articulate what it might mean for the museum qua museum and qua knowledge institution to be ‘of the network’? It will consider the nature of institutions, and explore how institutions enable cultural perpetuation, and create the context for knowledge. This dissertation will explore multiple ways that the museum participates in the information infrastructure, and consider how such participation shapes the museum as knowledge institution, and how that shapes the dynamics of knowledge. It will become evident that the networking of knowledge and information infrastructures is changing knowledge work, and therefore knowledge institutions. This dissertation will ultimately argue that for museums qua knowledge institutions to achieve the institutional mission of collecting, storing, sharing, and legitimising the objects of knowledge from the present and past for the benefit of both now and the future in ways that are appropriate in the context of networked information infrastructure, alternative tactics, strategies, and fundamental assumptions are necessary.