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Subject: Extranets for conservation clients

Extranets for conservation clients

From: Sarah Lowengard <sarahl>
Date: Tuesday, October 21, 2003
About a month ago (Conservation DistList Instance: 17:29 Tuesday,
September 16, 2003), I posted a query about conservators' use of
extranets. In that posting I promised to summarize any off-list
discussions, which is my purpose here.

I received fewer than a half-dozen responses, a disappointing number
given that it includes tangential requests for information from me
as well as descriptions and comments about extranet or similar
projects. The low "turnout" surprised me; computers and internet use
are no longer novelties and I believed that posting on the
Conservation DistList would give me access to conservators with a
higher comfort level with the technologies and so, perhaps some
curiosity or inventiveness about their employment. I had wondered if
some discussion of broader issues might arise: what information we
owe our clients, differences between work for and expectations of
institutions versus individuals, or even general discussions about
the place of big technologies in a discipline that is heavily
dependent on well-developed personal skills. They didn't. I
mentioned my disappointment to a colleague, who suggested that the
computer may reside just outside the laboratory door for many
conservators; they recognize a value to it, and use it willingly,
but still don't allow it into the workspace proper.

All that aside, our colleagues who are looking at or developing
extranets, or access sites for clients are doing some very
interesting work. The underlying project focus varies from enhancing
client services, to client-directed assessment of treatment options,
to educating owners about the objects they own. In addition to
dedicated web sites, some conservators have considered adapting
existing online tools such as Yahoo groups, or teaching shells, or
blogs. To my knowledge none of the projects is up and running but
they should begin to appear in the next six months. I look forward,
then, to learning about their reception and effectiveness.

Sarah Lowengard

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:36
                Distributed: Thursday, October 23, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-17-36-001
Received on Tuesday, 21 October, 2003

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