The Museum of Houston

There is a new online Museum of Houston being built up by various institutions in town…

This online museum is a cooperative effort among Houston’s leading educational institutions, cultural organizations and public archives to create a digital storehouse of diverse materials relating to Houston’s rich and colorful past. As the museum develops, collections that major research institutions have taken decades to assemble will be available at the click of a mouse.

Houston’s public and private archives contain a treasure trove of information, but concerns about safety and security often mean these materials are not available for wide use. Thanks to recent technological innovations, the Internet offers real promise for making historic resources accessible to the largest possible audience, while preserving and protecting irreplaceable documents and artifacts. By providing broad public access to digitized materials, the Museum of Houston will allow you to conduct individualized searches at your convenience without requiring extensive visits to several different locations.

It’s good that Houston is finally getting serious about archiving its historical resources instead of knocking them down to widen freeways or throw up more strip-malls and stadiums, but here’s an even more important question: Why is the domain museumofhouston.org instead of houston.museum?

What’s a .museum domain, you ask? Why is it not .com or .org? Well, .museum is for museums or organizations of museum workers.

If you believe the organization that manages the .museum TLD, setting up the .museum TLD a huge freaking waste of time compared to the other “new” TLDs. In fact, there’s supposed to be value in their process of verifying and approving new registrants in their domain name:

In other top-level domains (TLDs), anyone can register a domain name including the letters “museum”. This does not mean they are museums. You will only find genuine museums in .museum! Eligibility for .museum is based on the definition of museum provided by the International Council of Museum (ICOM). A name in .museum tells Internet users that its holder is a museum, museums association or individual member of the museum professional according to criteria established by the museum community, itself. By its restriction to genuine museums, the domain validates and verifies the legitimacy of museums around the world.

In other words, using the .museum TLD makes you… wait for it… WORLD CLASS!

Houston politicians like being World Class, you know.

The Houston Museum’s about page mentioned “convenience” in there somewhere, along with avoiding extensive visits to several different locations. Well, I would think that an important first step in making it convenient to locate resources in various Houston institutions would be to establish a common domain name heirarchy and index for the institutions to join in parallel to their own domain names. Or do we not keep up with the Internet’s goings-on?

After all, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London and Paris have .museum domains. Heck, Dallas and Austin have them.

In establishing this Houston Virtual Museum, are we going to take a back seat to Dallas and Austin with regard to the World Class .museum TLD? Or is this an admission that they are more World Class than Houston is?

Or… perhaps

.museum is a restricted TLD. This means that only genuine museums, museums associations and museum professionals are eligible to register names in .museum.

Are we admitting that this museum isn’t legitimate?

Say it ain’t so, Mayor White! Say it ain’t so!

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