A gap in the “chain of authority”

April 4, 2014

A Perch of Birds (1880) by Hector Giacomelli (1822-1904). Sourced from rawpixel.

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You are viewing a post that’s more than three years old. There’s a good chance that a lot of the following is seriously out-of-date (or at least not reflective of my current thinking on this topic). Proceed with caution.

Douglas Hegley just said something really interesting in this morning’s lightning talks. He said that history and authority are intertwined, and if we lose the sense of history, we actually lose a big part of our authority. There’s a whole lot to unpack in that statement, but I think I might (surprise!) agree. I’ve always had issues with the concept of authority in museums, which is a term we use almost like currency (does this thing we’re contemplating doing cause us to have more authority, or less?) without really understanding where it comes from or, frankly, whether its actually something our users/visitors truly value.

But Douglas’ idea of authority being intertwined with history is a really interesting one. It was spoken in the context of computing history, after Paul F. Marty talked about our (these are my words) paleo-future in the museum technology sector, and after I’d asked whether we were really doing a good job of documenting old projects/initiatives/ideas. I dunno, There’s a lot here to think about.

Of possible further interest: