Danny Birchall

[This week’s guest post is by Danny Birchall, editor of the Wellcome Collection website]

A remarkable gallery closed its doors on Valentine’s Day. The Museum of Everything was a temporary collection of outsider art in a former recording studio in Primrose Hill. It brought together artists from beyond the art world’s mainstream, like Henry Darger, George Widener and Josef Karl Rädler (whose work appeared in Wellcome Collection’s own Madness and Modernity ). The museum was very much IRL rather than online, but it’s interesting to see that they make no distinctions between mainstream news and blogs in their page devoted to ‘press’ coverage.

‘Book’ might become as abstract a concept as ‘press’ if iBooks establish the same reach as iTunes, but could AAAARG become the Ubuweb of theory books? In an interview with Masters of Media , AAAARG founder Sean Dockray discusses the website created to share and discuss hard-to-find texts. While treading a fine line between acceptable use and cease-and-desist letters, Dockray takes what he calls a ‘positive’ approach: “at the root of it all, I hope we’re all on the same side, which is to say that we’re interested in the dissemination of ideas”.

The Digital Economy Bill, just through its committee stage in the Lords, is threatening to put photographers and cultural organisations at each others’ throats. In a letter to The Times two weeks ago, culture org big cheeses from the BFI’s Amanda Nevill to the Tate’s Nicholas Serota came out strongly in favour of the Bill’s Clause 42 which liberalises regulations on the use of orphan works, arguing the greater benefits to education and research. This week,some photographers were up in arms about the potential threat to photographers’ livelihoods. It must be serious: Facebook groups have been formed .

When financial woe approaches the arts and heritage sectors from all sides, even the highest-profile organisations aren’t immune. The debate about the grand old dame of the avant-garde, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, continued in the grand old dame of net/art publications, Mute magazine. In a lengthy, and heavily-commented article , JJ Charlesworth investigated the financial crisis at the heart of the ICA’s current round of redundancies. Further debate took place on the Net Behaviour list . It might not be surprising that criticism of the ICA should come from these quarters: the ICA conspicuously turned its back on (new) media art two years ago.

While the announcement of Google’s Buzz seemed to raise more hackles about invasions of privacy than it did industry cheers, my social media dilemma this week was wondering which museum Ning networks I should join. A network I joined last year, Screen Research, was closed in January by its creator, the British Library’s Luke McKernan because even with 300+ members it was “hard to justify the effort needed to keep the site effective” (don’t worry, the indefatigable McKernan hasn’t given up, he’s just refocused his efforts on the BL’s Moving Image blog). I realised that while Screen Research was a community that I felt a strong identification with, it wasn’t one that I contributed to often. While the supermarkets of social media like Facebook and Buzz may seem unstoppable, some of our online communities may be more precious, like local independent bookshops: use them or lose them.

On MuseumNext’s Ning network, Finkelstein asked provocatively whether, with the proliferation of social media platforms, the museum website is dead. The answer seemed to be a resounding no, combined with a recognition that “a museum must be in all places at once”. For the discovery of said debate I owe the obligatory HT to @m1ke_ellis because of course where I find out what museum/tech people are actually talking to each other about is still Twitter.