I found very interesting Manovich’s distinction between ‘database’ and ‘data stream’. Database seems to correspond to the structure of ‘traditional’ collections, while data stream, as “a quintessential modern experience”, fits better to the idea of a collection/user interaction that should be more engaging, active and that should allow wider freedom of choice.
On the same line of though seems to be Tim Wray (“Collections as Landscapes : Part 1 – Empowering Spatial, Experiential Interaction,” and “Canvas”) when he proposes the concept of a digital collection as a landscape (which implies the ‘urban flaneur’ perception of data as a stream) rather than a container (or database). Both Wray’s idea of visually rendering a collection on a large canvas and his app ‘A Place for Art’ are interesting examples of possible new ways to consider the relation between collections and viewers.
I also found very useful Wray’s reference to contemporary game design, since games developers have long been debating of the pros and the cons of ‘open-world’ (landscapes) vs ‘linear’ games (container). It could perhaps be of some interest to give a look at the devises (and the critical thinking behind them) that a popular videogame like ‘Skyrim’ uses in order to enhance the player engagement.