Smithsonian Commons Prototype: Experience Brief
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Four Core Attributes


As the prototype takes form, we’re starting to understand that the Smithsonian Commons has four core attributes that, together, give it power and make it unique on the Web: the Smithsonian Commons will be vast, findable, sharable, and free. The prototype must help us visualize how these attributes reinforce each other in a virtuous cycle, how they might impact the ways that people will interact with the Smithsonian, and how they advance strategically important outcomes for the Institution. These attributes are emphasized and discussed throughout the Smithsonian Web and New Media Strategy and the Smithsonian Institution Strategic Plan for FY2010-2015. The four core attributes are defined below.


Anyone in the world can have access to the whole Smithsonian, including access to deep collections and the vitality, curiosity, and creativity of our staff, visitors, partners, and our extended global community. The Smithsonian is shown as the center of an amazing network of ideas, collections, and people. No other institution can offer so much to so many.


Vastness and findability go hand-in-hand. The vastness of the Smithsonian can be discovered because search, navigation, and overall user experience design enables people to find the content they’re interested in, in the ways they expect to find it,including through recommendations and comments by staff and visitors, external search sites, and social networks.


Sharing is the foundation of collaboration and learning. The Smithsonian’s impact can be greatly amplified if what we have and what we do is easy to share. The Smithsonian Commons will encourage use and re-use for work and pleasure, in social networks, on mobile phones, and in the classroom, workshop, and laboratory.


The Smithsonian is built on the idea that the tools of discovery and knowledge creation should be available to all: the Smithsonian Commons will be built on the premise that free, high-quality resources will spread further and create more good in the world than those that are restricted by unnecessary fees and licenses. Free does not mean have to mean unprofitable: A popular and thriving Smithsonian Commons, built with revenue-generation in mind, will open up new business opportunities and drive increased traffic to our core e-commerce and membership offerings.

Note: for reference and perspective on the types of things we think visitors will want to do on/with the Smithsonian Commons, see Addendum: The Smithsonian Commons Will...

These three things also need to be laced throughout the prototype:
  • Trusted
  • Social
  • multi-disciplinary: SI can bring multiple perspectives to many issues - - this was first emphasized in M. Macarthur's comments, amplified by N. Pampalone's comments

... M.E. 12-10-09 ]----
Smithsonian Commons Prototype - Experience Brief
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