When you visit a museum or a library, often you will get these signs: “No photography” and “No cell phones”. Let’s take a look at their pertinence one by one.
Some museums, won’t let their visitors take pictures and they come up with various reasons: people stopping to take pictures might hinder the flow of visitors, the flash could damage the exhibits, or because of copyright constraints. Probably there are other arguments too, but these are the main ones I heard about.
As long as people are reasonable and behave in a manner to let others enjoy the exhibition, taking pictures should not be forbidden. By taking a photo, the visitor interacts with the exhibit, that photo will help to process and remember the big quantity of information that she will hopefully get by being there.
When it comes to using flash, I totally understand and aprove to tell people to cancel it; the high intensity of the flash light can have negative effects on certain exhibits. To a certain extent, I would also support forbidding photography in certain areas where highly photo sensitive objects are showcased and where organizers don’t want to take the risk that someone will forget to close his flash. For the rest let’s go for it! After all, there are experts that question the danger linked to sporadic use of flash in a gallery.
Copyright! Come on… I still have to understand, who seriously thinks that a picture taken by a visitor, will compete with the official image that was taken by a professional in a studio. Let people take pictures, let them share these images with their relatives and friends, because they are doing free publicity for the exhibition and in the end, the organizers and the owner of the artifacts will be glad to have more visitors and more profit if you like.
Let’s now enter a library where there is a sign forbidding the use of cell phones. I can imagine the first librarian who got fed up to listening all day long to the Nokia ring tones and she printed out a “No cell phones” sign.
In the mean time, phones evolved and I don’t mean that their ringtones are nicer than before, but they can connect to the Internet and help a reader, or why not, the librarian, find more information about a book, or find a library code, on the spot, just by using a smart phone. On top of this, smart phones are also ebook readers. Librarians who use these signs should wake up and better focus on deploying free WiFi in their library and make sure their library has a good collection of ebooks.