Museums would do well to learn a thing or two from Jansen and focus more on the creating and spreading the digital DNA of our shared cultural heritage, and less on controlling access to those assets. This is a call to be both more promiscuous and more discriminating in what we share and how. I know that sounds contradictory, but bear with me.
Museums’ current survival strategy is not unlike those of creatures that have evolved on remote islands. We have gotten very good at passing on one model of “museum” from generation to generation. We may have developed elaborate plumage and interesting displays, but these mask the underlying sameness of the idea we pass on. As long as the larger ecosystem evolved slowly, museums could adapt and keep pace. The global internet has shattered that isolation for good, and in the new ecosystem our current reproductive specialization will not continue to serve us well. Insularity — the tendency to look inward, ignore the larger world and produce institutions are increasingly self-referential, self-pleasing, and obscure to the billions of potential museumgoers — is a strategy for extinction.”