The internet worked again!

I was thinking about my last post, in which I said my experience with The Temple of Moloch was my first encounter with Internet-ty Scholarly Synergy. I remembered, though, that this is actually untrue. Back when I worked at the Museum of the Moving Image, I had an awesome and totally nerdy online encounter with a patron about the Museum’s model of a spacecraft from the film 2010.

The Museum had an alert set up so that we’d know if anyone mentioned MMI in a Flickr caption. Someone did, Flickr user beamjockey (Bill Higgins), who posted a photo of the spacecraft along with a caption questioning the Museum’s identification of it as the ship Discovery. Concerned that the Museum was propagating false information, I emailed Bill to get specifics so I could correct the model’s label.

Bill Higgins turned out to be a scientist at Fermilab and an all-around great guy, and he called on his scientist friends to help us identify the model. I helped by watching 2010. After much debate, we decided that MMI’s label was indeed technically accurate, although it showed only a portion of the craft in question.

I was nerdily delighted by the whole thing.

You can read a wonderful (to me) transcript of the whole episode here. And here are some more pictures of the part of Discovery that sparked the Great Debate.

2 Replies to “The internet worked again!”

  1. Thanks for your kind words. All encounters with me are totally nerdy; the best ones are awesome.

    Also, sometimes I egogoogle. Obviously.

    I, too, was delighted by our encounter. When we managed to figure out the puzzle, I blogged about it:

    Actually, I kinda thought that museum staff had encounters like this all the time. Enthusiasts who know all about a particular kind of camera, or a particular magazine, or a particular actor will volunteer information, correct your mistakes (politely, one hopes), and suggest something in their uncles’ barns that really ought to be in your museum. Is this not the case?

    I have heard (infiltrating conferences when disguised as an academic) historians speak about “buffs” as a kind of peasant class of history. They have their uses, but they really don’t have The Correct Perspective on matters.

    I like to think of myself as a part-time scholar of science fiction (and a few other things), but perhaps I am just a buff.

    If you browse recent entries in my blog, you’ll see that in the past month my writings have just appeared in two books, covering almost preternaturally nerdy topics connected with the history of SF. So that’s a bit more professional.

    A friend recently suggested that, since 2010 has arrived, I should invent a lecture on “The Science of 2010 (The Movie, not the Year).” So I have begun to look at the writings of those involved in the movie. I had idly wondered whether MMI had any unique information about it, so you have been in my mind recently.

    Glad to encounter you again, and I wish you success!

  2. How great to hear from you again! Thanks so much for posting and for providing these links. I’m glad that we had the chance to be nerdy together!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *