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Smithsonian: a pygmy on the Web


A Wright brothers’ glider at the Smithsonian

I stumbled upon this interesting mea culpa from the Smithsonian Institution. The skinny: One of the world’s great powerhouses of knowledge in the analog age is virtually absent from the Web.

Michael Edson, the Smithsonian’s director of Web and new media strategy “gives the example of how the Smithsonian ranks online in one of its core interests: oceans. The Smithsonian comes up No. 55 on search results, leagues below Google Images, Wikipedia, Ocean.com, NASA and EnchantedLearning.com.”

“We’re doing battle with EnchantedLearning.com, and they’re beating us! This is a two-person Web team that makes content for elementary school kids and they’re beating the world’s largest museum and research complex,” Edson said….

Edson’s job is to create a Smithsonian Commons, a showcase of Smithsonian assets and online “diffuser” of knowledge that rivals or exceeds the institution’s physical influence. The mission has taken on urgency, he added, because like most museums, Smithsonian members skew old and are literally dying off.”

In other words, if the Smithsonian wants to stay relevant for the generations ahead, it’s got to figure out the Web in a hurry.


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