Title:Whither the Web: Professionalism and Practices for the Changing Museum
Authors:Michael Haley Goldman, Kate Haley Goldman
Publication:MW2005: Museums and the Web 2005

The building excitement of the information age: new solutions; faster, better, cheaper; possibilities of new audiences; interactive, hands-on, minds-on learning; visions of paradigm shifts: the optimist view. Each new solution as if it were the messiah, but simply repackaged old ideas; a sense of hectic-ness; funded projects but difficulty in sustaining successes; lots of beauty but little learning; frustration: the pessimist view. Whether you are an optimist or pessimist or somewhere along the continuum, there is no debating that the quality and professionalism of museum Web sites has increased dramatically since the foundations of Museums and the Web. We are far from the days where Web site creation was a secondary add-on to a museum staff member's busy schedule; sites are now designed by creative professionals who specialize in marrying content and design to education and entertainment. What will happen from here? What will be the look and feel of Web sites of the future? How do we look down the road to see what's coming? With the distinct lack of summative evaluation there is no way to differentiate sites except by what is judged worthy by the field itself. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes that it is not just the individual excelling in a chosen domain of expertise but also the response of the field that marks creativity and innovation. Using this framework, this paper will address the nature of successful museum Web sites by revisiting the Best of the Best. The authors compile award-winning museum Web sites of past years and conduct in-depth interviews with the designers and developers behind those sites. Their thoughts and reflections will be integrated with past and current trends in the cyclical development of educational technology to provide a road map of what we might see next.