The Smithsonian Commons is the very model of what a modern major knowledge institution should be doing in the 21st century to throw its doors open to the world. In the age of the Internet, the definition of "public domain" and "public benefit" has changed. In order for our national treasures to be sharable with as broad a group of citizens as possible, they have to exist in digital format and under proper license, and ideally they should be discoverable within an inviting user interface. If Smithsonian Commons is built it will be a beacon to other knowledge institutions all over the world.
The Smithsonian Commons is a critical part of the transition to a more open network of online opportunities for people to learn, engage, and craft new art and science, using and sharing the tools of heritage, creativity, and inquiry. Using sites like the Commons, people will increasingly be able to knit their interactions together from across the web by linking data and services into a web of personal experience.Peter Brantley
Director, BookServer Project, Internet Archive
[The] Smithsonian Commons goes way beyond putting online as much of our national museum as possible — which should be enough to justify its creation. It goes beyond bringing to bear everything curators, experts, and passionate visitors know to increase our understanding of what is there. By allowing us to discover connections, link in and out, and add ideas and knowledge, what used to be a “mere” collection will be an embedded part of countless webs of knowledge that in turn add value to one another. That is to say, we will be able to take up the objects of our heritage in ways that will make them more distinctly and uniquely ours than ever before.
This is a brilliant vision of how to achieve James Smithson's increase and diffusion of knowledge in the twenty-first century. The Smithsonian Commons offers an exciting new vehicle for navigating the riches of the institution, encouraging collaboration and research, and greatly augmenting the ways in which we can all connect with the Smithsonian's tremendous resources.Heather Ewing
Author of The Lost World of James Smithson: Science, Revolution, and the Birth of the Smithsonian
The most exciting thing about the Smithsonian Commons is not the rich, vast and freely available content it will contain; it’s the conversations that will result from pushing collections out of the museum to meet users where they live, breatheand learn!Maura Marx
Executive Director, Open Knowledge Commons
This project is an amazing example of the true capabilities of the web.Vanessa Fox
O'Reilly Radar blog
I like to see our institutions involving users in the enrichment of our shared global cultural heritage. The power of stories is in all of us and inspiration is the source of innovation. The Smithsonian Commons Prototype is beacon of light on a possible digital future of our invaluable, priceless institutions. Rave on!!Erik Boekesteijn
DOK, the library concept center, Delft, NL
Increase and diffusion indeed! It's so exciting to see one of the largest museums on the planet working to weave itself into the web through the Smithsonian Commons. The curious blend of expertise, humility and sheer breadth of holdings will scatter far and wide, to the benefit of all.
The Smithsonian Commons will be a dream come true for educators. Providing teachers and students with copyright friendly images and information that is easy to find is an invaluable resource. The Smithsonian Commons will allow teachers and students to conduct research more effectively, affording them more time to use the information in new and meaningful ways. Thanks to the Smithsonian, students and teachers will be able to go beyond consuming information and move into creating content for others to use. I applaud the Smithsonian for considering the needs of educators and students.Kelli Etheredge
Teaching and Learning Resources Director for PK-12
St. Pauls Episcopal School, Mobile, AL
The Smithsonian Commons represent a new model for making museums accessible to anyone and everyone, but it also represents a model for all of us who seek to make content its discovery, use, and growth belong to those who encounter it! We have all been invited in to enjoy, share, and enhance our nation's treasures. Amazing!Reggie Henry
Chief Technology Officer, American Society of Association Executives (ASAE)
Forget the plexiglass case. With the launch of the Smithsonian Commons a national treasure is being restored to its former glory as a shared space for inquiry and collaboration around grand challenges. The Smithsonian Institution is making a bold statement that it is now about more than museums, and it has aspirations for impact that reach well beyond the National Mall. Want to get involved? You can. The Smithsonian is open.Philip Auerswald
Associate Professor, School of Public Policy, George Mason University
Editor, Innovations Journal (MIT/Harvard/George Mason)
Built to support collaborative and participatory learning, the [Smithsonian] Commons recognizes what the online community can add to this space.
Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning / MacArthur Foundation
The Smithsonian Commons is in sync with the new era of social media, in which tech users want to interact with organizations and contribute what they know.Lee Rainie
Director, Pew Internet & American Life Project
The Smithsonian is not just about the past, but about the present and the future. The Smithsonian is not just about what goes on inside the walls in Washington, D.C., but about the communications that flow through those walls to and from citizens. The Smithsonian is not just about experts teaching citizens, but also about citizens teaching and discovering knowledge together with each other. The Smithsonian Commons is not just about using contemporary technology to further an enterprise that was founded with deep respect for American technological innovation, but about expanding the idea of the institution itself. Every click on a website, every video viewed, every exhibition shared via mobile device, every citizen scientist project, every teacher and student interaction with the Smithsonian via social media expands the idea of what the Smithsonian Institution is, who it reaches, what it can do.
The Smithsonian Commons updates James Smithson's vision for our time, placing the Institution at the center of the increase and diffusion of knowledge in a digitally networked world.Josh Greenberg
Director, Digital Strategy and Scholarship, New York Public Library
The Smithsonian Commons is a terrific example of how Networked Nonprofits work: it lets outsiders in and insiders out while building community and conversations around the museum's collections.Beth Kanter
Author of Beth's Blog and Co-Author, The Networked Nonprofit
The Smithsonian Commons project makes museums nerdier, more accessible, awesome.Erin McCann
via blog post
The Smithsonian Commons opens the door to not only the museum's incredible collections, but also to conversations, discoveries, and insights that until now have simply not been possible. Open to anyone, using any device, it will put the nation's museum in the palm of your hand.Larry Johnson
CEO, The New Media Consortium
The Smithsonian Commons may soon join the National Mall as an entrance to our nation's attic, making the treasures of the Smithsonian Institution available to all the Internet.Carl Malamud
The Smithsonian Commons enables people to become participants in a rich tapestry of shared cultural heritage. Brilliant, fascinating -- and vastly important.JD Lasica
Museums have been struggling with how to grasp this delicate topic for years. Finally the Smithsonian is showing us the way.Dave Asheim
CEO and Founder, Guide By Cell, Inc.
The question of openness can be reduced to this: you can take the objects out of their cases. But do you just want to put them in front of a worldwide public, or to put them in their hands?Tad Suiter
via blog post
The Smithsonian Commons will do more than enable new discoveries. It will make possible whole new fields of discovery.Tom Scheinfeldt,
Center for History and New Media
The Smithsonian Commons will change the world by getting expert knowledge out and bringing amateur knowledge in.Amanda French
Four video stories exploring the impact and benefits of a Smithsonian Commons
The purpose of the Smithsonian Commons Prototype is to help the Smithsonian community understand and discuss the attributes and benefits of the Smithsonian Commons in terms of its impact on real users.
Go to the Smithsonian Commons Prototype...