Tuesday, 5 December 2006

Are small museums the long tail?

On the way home from the Semantic Web Think Tank last week (see previous post), I suddenly thought: are small or specialised museums the long tail?

Each museum by itself would represent a tiny proportion of the overall use of museum collections online, but if you put all that usage together, would their collections in fact have a higher rate of use than those of more 'popular' museums?

At the moment I don't think there's any way to find out, because so many small or specialised museums don't have collections online, through a lack of expertise, digitisation resources or an easy-to-use publication infrastructure. Still, it's an interesting question.


  1. I'd like to think that you're right. The thousands of small museums across the UK must have formidable numbers of people using their online collections (however you define them) if you were to combine the numbers (if we could ever collect that data). It does seem possible.

    While we aren't exactly a museum, on the Wessex Archaeology website, an argument was put forward that less popular project websites should be removed.

    After a little while with a spreadsheet it became plain that these 'less popular' projects were cumulatively more visited than the popular ones - a classic long tail...

  2. That's really useful information - it's nice to have a hunch confirmed.

    I think there's value in keeping even the really old content online, even if it looks dated. In an ideal world we could pull the chunks of content, drop them into templates and re-create the navigation, but that's never going to happen and in the meantime at least the content is available.