Title:The Trade in Digital: Partnerships and Collaboration in the Content Economy
Authors:Timothy Hart
Publication:MW2011: Museums and the Web 2011

This paper will examine the notion of the content economy where digital assets are the new currency for museums.  Our collections have always been central to our existence and mission, the content economy is only increasing the importance of collections.  The availability of digital assets both collection and non collection is critical to our success online as part of the visitor experience onsite-online & offsite.

Digitisation has been a central issue for large institutions with legacy collections and the ante is well and truly up; from Museum Victoria's perspective content development partnerships have provided a somewhat unexpected means to an end.  l will use a number of examples of effective partnerships that have achieved significant project outcomes to the partners whilst also achieving our digitisation aims.

Australia has developed a number of effective national partnerships, the Collections Australia Network (CAN-AMOL), the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) and the National Libraries TROVE project will be used to demonstrate the positives of collaboration and its benefits, challenges and outcomes.

I will also use examples from Museum Victoria and its partnership with the Victorian State Education Department - specifically the Biodiversity Snapshots Project.

We are all increasingly relying on partnerships and "cartels" to build our reputations and maintain our share of online audiences.  The notion of digital currency and the content economy is affecting museums dramtically. The changes wrought by the rise of ubiquitious computing are washing over our institutions - mobile as the dominant interaction point with our online content is yet another major shift - we are in my opnion making the most of the opportunities afforded by this latest technology shift.

The real issue comes back to change, how are Museums delivering content in the changed environment - content economy means we must align our museums to produce content in a more nimble and cost effective way.  My message will be a positive one, I believe we are responding and growing in maturity and exerting more control over our operating enviroments.