Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Whole World a Museum?

Take a look at "Tales of Things," an interesting website that launched this month. It's part of the TOTeM project--"exploring social memory in the emerging Internet of Things." This UK-based project essentiall is encouraging people to catalog objects and share the associated stories in a public database. A prototype of the universal, dispersed, publically curated collection?

The "Internet of Things" is a concept that came out of MIT a decade ago, referring to the emergent culture of always-on, always connected devices. In this future scenario, all "things" are tagged at the moment of their creation (in this prototype, with a physical bar code) enabling owners/users to log and track the object's history.

The TOTem project explores how attaching personal histories to objects may change how we relate to them. Will objects that have their own "accession" and "catalog" records be less likely to be discarded, and more likely to be treasured and passed to a new user? Might this make personal possessions (and personal collections) more like public resources?

TOTeM is funded through a £1.39 million research grant from the Digital Economy Research Councils UK. The project is a collaboration between Brunel University, Edinburgh College of Art, University College London, University of Dundee and the University of Salford.