The shift: Library science -> Information Science only tells part of the story. Science is an inadequate model, as is information.
The dominant paradigm: Information -> Knowledge is incomplete.
Librarians must be attentive to meaning, not just information/knowledge.
Epistemology -> Semiotics but ultimately the core of librarianship is experience design.
Aesthetics then, becomes a core concern and the librarian’s new pedagogical model should be design school, specifically social design. 
 A case could be made for curatorial studies, and although insights from the field would surely aid librarianship, it lacks some fundamental skill sets of design.
[Fun to read this in light of this piece wistful about good old fashioned museum experience and this one defending the new “participatory” experience. But I do take issue with condemning the exhibition displaying an “old brick, an old piece of rock, some hair and a napkin.” Sounds pretty great.]
Graveyards for stuff. Tombs for inanimate things.
Their cavernous rooms and deep corridors reverberate with the soft, dead sounds of tourists shuffling and employees yawning.
They’re like libraries, without the party atmosphere.
I’ve always hated museums.
Yet twice or three times a year, I somehow find myself within one, shuffling from glass case to glass case, reading the little inscriptions, peering closely at the details, doing what any “good traveler” does.
Two hours later I walk out bored, hungry and far less glad to be on vacation than when I went in.
The main thing you learn in museums, it seems, is how not to run a museum.
Worst of all, there’s a climate of snobbery surrounding this whole industry.
Confess that rather than stare glumly at an old beer chalice on a plinth you’d prefer to drink happily from a shiny new one in a pub, and you risk being outed as an ignoramus.
Well, I’m outing myself. I’m a museo-phobe.
They provide an umbilical link between our planet and our history to the future.
But inside these crypts of curatorship, the connection to humankind falls short.
Last year I visited Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art — a landmark at least as celebrated, if not more so, for its architecture than its contents, and no wonder.
After the 200th glass case containing an old bowl — or was it a plate, or perhaps it was some more cutlery, who knows, who cares — I decided the photo opportunity across the sea was the best thing about the place.
Where’s the “muse” in all these museums? Where’s the theater?
Fair enough, I don’t question the wider benefits of museums, economic or otherwise.
But the collect-and-cage policy that defines the visible exhibits, much of which is not even visible most of the time, is anathema to an engaging experience.
This smacks of the most smugly provocative modern art, which insists that anything the curate deigns to put inside the building inevitably becomes “interesting.”
Where’s the relevance? Why, in places designed to celebrate life and all its variety, is there such a lack of vitality?
My trip two years ago to Hong Kong’s Science Museum convinced me that if there were a World Championship for Most Dreary Things To Do On Vacation, museums would be disqualified for going over the top.
But where’s the equivalent for adults? Why should over-16-year-olds, who still make up the significant majority of museum-goers, be subjected to stiff, dry, academia-laced presentations as if fun were a dirty word?
Where’s your joy gone, museums?
A space has now opened up – both physically and online – where anyone can give curating a go. If you are part of culture, then you are qualified to contribute to the arrangement of its artefacts. The practice of curating now occupies museums, public and commercial galleries, project spaces and, of course, the internet.
Within these contexts, the act of arranging objects, images or sounds into an order that may or may not have meaning has proliferated throughout the creative and cultural industries. The curator is now a producer: you might curate your Flickr feed, your mates playing records at a bar or festival or an exhibition in your own apartment – a trend showcased by the Serpentine Gallery’s co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist, a master orator of what he calls a “global dialogue… in space and time”.
While the practice of curating within cultural institutions may have changed, the elitism and sense of privileged access remains – abundantly. Even now, you can walk into a museum or gallery and be overwhelmed with the feeling of being in a place where meaning is inaccessible to the layperson, other than through spaces specifically created for audience participation.
What, then, if we’re looking in the wrong place for qualified, ground-breaking curators? Perhaps they are no longer in museums, galleries or cultural institutions, but instead in front of a screen – sociable and connected. Curating in the age of the internet is the act of responding to social and technological developments: their usability, instability and the various networks of communication in which they are presented online.
In this, we return to the movement from expert to amateur. The sheer quantity of material being collected and curated on the internet, and indeed the rate at which this activity can represent culture and form social networks, is staggering. Institutionalised curators are, along with the institutions themselves, being left woefully behind.
In fact, their attempt to keep up may soon become their authorial downfall: people are creating meaning themselves – online, inside, outside and in rings around the snail-paced bureaucracy that has come to characterise most cultural institutions.
Whatever our response to this, one thing is abundantly clear – we cannot do it by bandwagoning internet art, nor will it be helped along bythe ostentatious character of the curator in itself. The cultural institution, tied in the UK to the wider governmental logic of the Department for Media, Culture and Sport, may need to shift its priorities structurally and ideologically. In times where money is harder to come by and people’s access and thirst for knowledge is more readily satisfied via the internet, curators need to play a much more transparent and far less haughty game if they are to stay ahead.
On one level, I love Sholette’s book Dark Matter, but at a much deeper level I find it infuriating. While it does hint at a profound re-evaluation of art/politics and at shedding light on “dark matter” it ultimately treats dark matter with curator’s disease…that is it serves as a vague intellectual theme used to illustrate a preordained vision- in this case the rather conventional celebration of the heroic artistic avant garde – rather than as a radical foil to academic triumphalism. Stephen Wright and Alexander Koch are doing much less conventional work addressing so called “dark matter.” Having said that, I’m still thankful the book exists and talks intelligently about some great folks.
Coincidentally, while revisiting Sholette, I discovered this quote from Edward Tiryakian describing existential phenomenology in Stanford Lyman’s A Sociology of the Absurd (1970):
“…[it] seeks to elucidate the existential nature of social structures by uncovering the surface institutional phenomena of the everyday, accepted world; by probing the subterranean, non-institutional social depths concealed from public gaze, by interpreting the dialectic between the institutional and non-institutional.”
“The whole mélange is served up with the thick buttery sauce of French art theory, and the catalogue essays will give anyone except a curatorial studies MA student a crise de foie.” – Ben Lewis on Bourriaud’s Altermodern at The Tate
An update. Stewart Home has a way with words:
“The art itself doesn’t really matter, it is there to illustrate a thesis. The thesis doesn’t matter either since it exists to facilitate Bourriaud’s career; and Bourriaud certainly doesn’t matter because he is simply yet another dim-witted cultural bureaucrat thrown up by the institution of art.”