The Virtual Museum of the Pacific is a digital ecosystem implemented as Web 2.0 application that experiments with information and knowledge acquisition for a digital collection of museum artifacts from the Australian Museum. The Virtual Museum of the Pacific allows several search methods: attribute search based on a control vocabulary, query refinement and query-by-example but importantly it facilitates a number of social media interfaces that enable content to be added and tagged, the control vocabulary to be extended, user perspectives to be defined and narratives added via wiki. We characterize the design of the Virtual Museum of the Pacific as: a semantic Web application with a Web services back-end, and as a digital ecosystem by identifying its purpose, function and stakeholders. In doing so, the paper illustrates the issues encountered in its design and deployment, the technical platform, the historical context of the growth of the collection and the challenges to the organization and management of a digital ecosystem metadata model.
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