Monday, January 31, 2005

Digital Assets and Mass Transit

Traveling recently on Amtrak and the Long Island Railroad, I noticed how other people occupied their time. Some did the traditional things: talking, sleeping, eating and reading. Others used "new" technologies to keep themselves amused. People talked on cell phones, listened to music CDs, watch movies on small DVD players, and worked on their laptop computers. This got me thinking about the digital assets we're placing on the Internet and how we access them.

Since we don't always have access to the Internet (don't have the right equipment or don't have an access point), these digital assets are often unavailable to us. If I'm Bellport, NY and don't have Internet access, I may be unaware of a wealth of digitized information located there. And I won't know that it would be worth my while to not only see the materials online, but also to venture perhaps a few miles to see the actual items in person.

Well...good marketing could overcome that as would Internet kiosks or "digitization project" kiosks. cultural heritage organizations (i.e., museums, libraries, historical societies) market themselves adequately to people traveling through their area? Even if I don't visit in person, will I know that one exists and that I could visit it online? Looking in the tourist information publication in my hotel room, I noted that no libraries were listed, although some museums were.

The idea of having Internet kiosks is an interesting one. Some shopping malls did this several years ago. The kiosks were generally used by kids and were heavily abused. But what if kiosks were placed in transit stations (perhaps with some technical limitations place on what they can do), hotels, or convention centers? And what if those kiosks highlighted the materials available in person and online at local cultural heritage organizations? The impact could be interesting and might lead people to think not only about what's available there, but also what's available back home (if the person is a traveler) or at another train stop (if the person is a commuter).

If you have a digitization project, how are you marketing it? If you've done something creative, used a kiosk, or reached out to tourists please write a comment and let me know.

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