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Subject: Objects Specialty Group List

Objects Specialty Group List

From: Smadar Gabrieli <smadar>
Date: Saturday, November 28, 1998
Just a couple of points in response to David Harvey's explanation of
the OSG policy. I assume that David wasn't serious when he compared
the OSG policy of limiting access to published material with the
policy of the Cons DistList of selective publishing, but just on the
off-chance that he does actually believes this comparison, let me
spell it out: it's the difference between editing and censoring.

The process of evaluation and selection which takes place in the
Cons DistList encourages participants to give consideration to their
queries and do some research before dumping communication on air. It
ensures that the list remains a valuable and readable tool of
professional communication. On the other hand, the process of
justifying why a query is worthwhile, or why I am a deserving member
of the public, responsible enough to handle the information which
has already been published, is a completely different story.

David says:

>...  It is very important to debate and deeply think about how
>you communicate to the public.  The technical issues of a discussion
>on a professional internet discussion list about using microwaves to
>kill mold on paper, for example, might be understood by conservators
>one way and could easily be understood by the public in an entirely
>different way.  As conservators we  have to be mindful that while we
>have an inherent philosophical and ethical approach to art and
>artifacts that is quite natural to us, those considerations might be
>lacking in the minds of many others in the vast public arena. It is
>important to communicate to the public what they can to do to
>preserve their collections at home and when to call a conservator.

As a conservator who has been dealing with the public for the last
eleven years, I suggest that blocking the opportunity to view the
discussion process and the difficulties involved in making a
decision about treatment, or refraining from one, is not going to
convince the public that they need to call in a conservator. It is
more likely to send them to a 'Do It Yourself' book, if they are
that way inclined, and there are plenty of those around. The other
flaw in this particular argument is that I find it hard to believe
that the general public regularly browses through the OSG's
archives, worthwhile as they are. Finally, as Katharine Untch
pointed out, anyone who wishes access can pay the nominal dues to
join one of these groups and feel free to jump on board--whether
they have inherent philosophical and ethical approach or not.

I fully appreciate and accept the reasons that caused the OSG group
to limit active discussion on their list to members only. The
further restriction on reading archival material seems much more
like trying to produce an exclusive club: it is of course your
privilege, it would be more palatable if you didn't try and disguise
it under a pseudo-ethical mantle. I think the Medieval Church gained
quite a bad reputation for a similar attitude that knowledge is
power and should be doled out in careful measures to the deserving

Smadar Gabrieli
P.O. Box 260
Fremantle 6959
Tel/fax: +61 8 9336 7663

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:48
                 Distributed: Monday, November 30, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-12-48-004
Received on Saturday, 28 November, 1998

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