Intel’s Museum of Me and The Idea of Museums

1 Jun

I was a bit curious when I saw something called the “Museum of Me” on Facebook today.  It certainly is an interesting idea.  As a society we’re used to seeing rather more famous names in museums.  Adding your own name, even virtually, to that list is quite an ego boost.

It begs a very important question, though – what are museums actually going to look like in the future?  Although I haven’t been able to get the site to work for me yet (It also took me a while to decide if the privacy agreement was worth it.  I finally decided it was in the name of research, so it’s OK) I’ve watched the generic demonstration and found it quite interesting.  Modern, Libeskind-like building, contemporary exhibition spaces with works artfully arranged – it certainly looks like many of the most recent museums.  But what about the content?  Is it really museum-worthy?  Who decides that, anyway?

I’m not trying to make some interesting, albeit relatively harmless, advertising campaign sound like a major comment on the role of museums in society.  It just got me thinking about the idea.  What are museums going to look like in the future, when so much of our lives has been conducted through electronic mediums that leave no tangible evidence you can put in a display case?  If everyone can have their own virtual museum, then who exactly should the brick-and-mortar institutions include?

Here’s an idea – go to a real museum.  Take a look at what’s there and compare the history on display to your own history as curated by a group of software engineers.  What does history mean, anyway?  If you weren’t actually there does it not interest you?  Who belongs in a museum, anyway?  Your grandmother?  Your heroes?  You were excited to see your own self put in that context, why shouldn’t you be excited to see the fascinating stories from generations past?  With all due respect, those stories are probably far more interesting than yet another picture of you on the beach during your vacation, anyway.

As for me?  Well, I don’t mind not seeing what my “Museum of Me” would look like.  Personally, I don’t think I’ve done anything important enough to merit a full exhibition.  What I will do instead is go write in my journal.  Facebook may be full of all kinds of internet age narcissism, but I prefer the old-fashioned variety.  I’d like my great-grandchildren to be able to read about my life once I’m gone.  I want them to have something from me that they can hold in their hands.  That kind of history is, to me, worth more than any online movie ever could be.

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