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the digital generation


The advent of Web 2.0, characterized by horizontal networks of interacting users, has left the tradi-
tional, exhibition based museum with some fundamental challenges. Along with some rather radical

changes to the Web as well as an increasingly complex society, a younger and more tech savvy mu-
seum audience is emerging. This new audience, the digital generation, not only questions the authority

and function of the museums; it expects that museums are present on the web, and it expects this

presence to be characterized by at least some of the core features inherent to the social web: Functio-
nality facilitating democratic discussion, horizontal structures, and user participation, just to name a


As an overall purpose, the thesis is trying to explore this basic conflict. It sets off to describe key com-
munication processes as they take place between museums and their audience via information tech-
nology, most notably the Web. More specifically, it tries to shed some light on the communicative rela-
tionship between the digital generation and the museums it meets online, as seen from both perspec-
tives: On one hand the demands and expectations this audience has towards the museums, and on the

other hand how these expectations actually correspond to the nature of the museum’s communication

First off, it tries to achieve this by describing some fundamental traits of what is identified as the in-
formation technological society and the renewed role of the museum as an institution in this society. In

order to establish a theoretical grounding, communication as a concept is briefly accounted for by

means of the two commonly mentioned approaches, communication as interaction and as transmis-
sion. Since the former is central to communication using information technology, and thus also to the

thesis at hand, this approach is additionally expanded upon. Following a characterization of the afore-
mentioned digital generation, the thesis suggests some improvements to the web communication

strategy of two Danish museums, Danmark Fotomuseum and Holstebro Museum. In a concluding re-
mark, it is noted that while the Web as a whole successfully integrates the social and interactional fea-
tures expected by the digital generation, the current museum websites to some degree reflect the fact

that Danish museums tend to have a hard time letting go of their traditional communicational role –
that is, an authoritative position as sender of communication that tends to be one-way.