6 ‘It’s not an either, or’

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A discussion arose about the role of the museum as a publisher, and whether they should be considered publishers of information or more passive providers of content. Jon Pratty, recalling Marshall Mateer’s paper from the UK Museums on the Web 2006 conference, suggested that it was the job of the aggregator to gather and publish the information and that museums should be concentrating on collecting, conserving and accessioning material. To Nick Poole, however, taking this passive role would be unhealthy and unsustainable for the museum industry, but to Jennifer Trant, the two paths were not mutually exclusive. As she explained:

‘museums are active publishers and programmers and interpreters of their collections, when they are delivering a core service to their core audiences. But, museum content can be passively made available far beyond the traditional audience to be used in ways that provide unanticipated benefits to the museum. The challenge here is to use technologies to do the core service things that enable the ancillary users and Semantic Web technologies may help do this.’

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