An overdue reply to this thread and your message so I will start with some thoughts and ideas that have been rattling around and bouncing between the ears lately.
gavo wrote:I'd like to see a permanent section in Te Papa or the the Auckland Museum that contains machines, consoles, software, equipment that had some local inspiration, manfuacturing history, or perhaps just localised distruption in NZ. That in itself could be a small collection - I dont know.
I like to think that technology is so important and the field sufficiently deep and wide that it is deserving of its own place and presence, especially with what I would like to present. Te Papa or some existing museum would be a good start but hopefully not the be all and end all.
Such a section could handily stimulate and develop the motivation to visit the more comprehensive and established technology museum and since something would be better than nothing, in the meantime it's probably the best bet and way to promote an awareness and appreciation of NZ's computing history. If systems were put in place to monitor and measure its interest, this could provide invaluable information for putting together a business case for an independent and more comprehensive museum.
The brief of my museum concept would not just be about NZ as may be the requirement of other museums. I think most museums are already quite set in what they're about and it would be difficult to teach about computers and technology in a more broad sense through these institutions, e.g. Te Papa would be constrained by it's NZ focus and the Early Settlers' here by its region focus.
There is a danger with a static historical display as a museum might present it, is that the history tends to stay just that - pages of history. Technology is dynamic, live, changing - electric. One challenge of a modern museum as I see it is to bring the lessons of history to the present, to make it live and make it relevant. With a technology museum the actual items can be brought to a functional state and using the original items rather than ones that are simulated or artificially constructed (try and bring a real dinosaur to life!). The issues that surround technology are perennial and spans all disciplines and there is the opportunity to create a rich experience that moves it from a traditional 'look and learn' pedagogy to one that is look, engage, think and reflect. That is a much better model for learning and it might even be fun.
gavo wrote:As for the idea of a general computer museum that contains pretty much anything the museum can get its hands on, I for one am all for it - but then again I am a geek (sad but true).
Just the day prior to reading your post I was thinking about this. While someone smart or brainy in general may be labelled a nerd or geek, how many vocations out there also have the label of geek or nerd ascribed as in 'computer geek' or 'computer nerd' in such a commonplace way? Only 'mad scientist' came to mind. Social misfit, poor fashion sense and never going to get laid connotations aside, what I am trying to highlight is the passion, enthusiasm and drive that a 'computer geek' or 'hacker' has developed in his or her field of interest. I call the failure of the education system that it doesn't develop geeks in all subjects whereas at least to myself it seems so achievable.
gavo wrote:To get a feel for if this would really get any visitors, we probably have to figure out a different target auidence to ask - school kids maybe?
In this case there is no target market, as all demographics are covered in the respect that technology applies to everyone and no one escapes its clutches, muawa hhaaahaaa (sorry, mad scientist)
But, yes, the biases I have is towards the educational market, and home computers, consoles and gaming because of what I mostly have in my collection. I don't have the minis and mainframes and of course the range and variety of what is on offer in NZ is pretty poor in comparison to everywhere else overseas.
Where we can shine over the more elaborate computer museums with their vast and variegated inventories, is by staying true to the ethos and spirit of old school computing where creativity and innovation was borne from the ability to work with limits and constraints and the strive and drive to make more from less.
gavo wrote:The interweb is a great source of information, so perhaps the NZ vintage computer museum could start out as a web pressence only, and then maybe loan collections to physical musems, then maybe if demand is great enough find a public location to house its full collection that is open to the public (perhaps not every day, but perhaps on weekends or something).
I think once you give someone something for free it's pretty hard to extract money from them or try and monetize your service later on. I'd love to do it all on the internet, but then people wouldn't want to visit or pay for a physical museum. The art of the internet point of presence is in how to make your web site not look like the well crafted advert that it really is. (Yoiks! http://www.tnmoc.org/
says it costs 500 quid a day to keep their operation running). The idea is not to try and guage the demand, but try to create the demand, and make people appreciate and understand the need for something real as taken to (my crazy) conclusion, brains in a jar or bodies hooked into the matrix are where I think things are heading towards.
There's room in NZ for a few computer museums I reckon. My ideas expand to creating a technology and innovation centre of which the museum is a carrying theme. There are social messages and industry behaviour I would like to keep in check that people outside of the technology sphere tend not to care much about or are ignorant of, but really should be educated on. Not everyone wanting to set up a computer museum may be as concerned as I am about some of these issues. My last resort is to abandon the museum idea and just write a book.
gavo wrote:I see eDay is approaching again - I suspect most of the vintage kit was presented at the early ones and dumped - but if someone were to form a NZ vintage computer museum club/society/something - it might be a good idea to hook up with these guys to see if some kit could be saved.
All in the past now, but I'm not sure why some items from where I am didn't go up for auction and wonder how much it could have been the case elsewhere. There was at least a C64 which was shown in a photo and mentioned in the local paper in an article. I guess there were wider issues such as http://www.trade2save.com/blog/2009/10/27/new-zealand-eday-tarnished-by-e-waste-scandal/
to deal with???