While much on the internet is about today and instantaneous matters, its biggest asset is probably the immediate reach and accessibility it offers to expert collections, opinions and thoughts.

This week saw the launch of the virtualisation of cult and sadly missed DJ John Peel’s private record archives. Being released in stages, the project aims to share the knowledge, wealth of understanding of popular music that Peel spent years putting together and that millions paid and continue to pay much creedance to. That’s where the internet is so fantastic. You can show things on the internet that are fragile, or that in reality couldn’t be handled or experienced by thousands of people day after day. Using modern animation and filming techniques  you can bring to life the objects on a laptop screen and also go beyond just the object itself.

The Peel archives is just one of many projects set to launch  over the next few months – thanks to increased cultural funding hinging around the Olympics – as people begin to realise that the internet has so much to offer those wanting to set about recording and preserving the past in a much more interactive way than any real museum could offer.

The John Peel Record Collection lets you pluck album covers straight off of Peel’ very own record shelves and view Peel’s re-created record cards. Yet there is more interaction too. There’s the image of the album cover, the ability to listen via Spotify and the now common place social share buttons. You wouldn’t get that in a dusty traditional museum. Elsewhere beyond the collection you can watch Peel in action via online video clips, photos and even listen to the much beloved John Peel Sessions radio archive.

In many ways traditional museums suffering dwindling visitor figures could probably learn a lot from virtual museums like this. The modern world is all about engagement and interaction and a web archive offers all of that and more, if used correctly. Of course the server space may change over time and that is always the danger that these virtual creations could disappear at a click of a button without proper back ups in place by their owners, yet the virtual museum is set to become an ever more common feature in our lives and in our culture as we seek to preserve but provide a legacy for what we once enjoyed and for those memories to continue.

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