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Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and Hearts, for the Danish national museum awards (text version) :: Michael Edson

Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and Hearts, for the Danish national museum awards (text version) :: Michael Edson



This is the text version of the talk. ...

This is the text version of the talk.

A PowerPoint version of this talk is at http://www.slideshare.net/edsonm/michael-edson-lego-beowulf-and-the-web-of-hands-and-hearts-for-the-danish-national-museum-awards

This talk was delivered at the awards ceremony for the 2012 Bikuben Foundation Danish Museum Prize (Bikubenfondens Museumspriser) in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Ideas about what museums are, who they serve, and the role they play in society are changing with dramatic speed, driven largely by social media and the participatory culture of global networks.

Denmark supports world-class museums, with remarkable collections, expert staff, and beautiful architecture. But how can museum leaders balance the traditional concepts of organizational mission and outcomes with the disruptive possibilities being demonstrated by those who love and use museums in new ways?



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    Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and Hearts, for the Danish national museum awards (text version) :: Michael Edson Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and Hearts, for the Danish national museum awards (text version) :: Michael Edson Document Transcript

    • Michael Peter Edson Director, Web and New Media Strategy Smithsonian InstitutionDanish National Museum Awards Bikubenfondens Museumpriser Copenhagen Denmark June 11, 2012
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012Notes/About The PowerPoint for this talk is available at http://www.slideshare.net/edsonm/michael-edson-lego-beowulf-and-the-web-of- hands-and-hearts-for-the-danish-national-museum-awards The video of this talk is online at [TBD] This talk was the keynote at the Bikuben Foundation National Museum Awards in Copenhagen, Denmark, June 11, 2012 (http://www.museumsprisen.dk/) The audience was directors and executives from Danish museums, The Danish Heritage Agency, the Association of Danish Museums, and other invited guests. The event was held at the National Gallery of Denmark (Statens Museum for Kunst, or "SMK") (http://www.smk.dk) Ive included thumbnail images for key slides in the talk, just to help orient readers visually. All the slides are available in the PowerPoint version, of course. Special thanks to Tobias Golodnoff, Nina Hviid, Charlotte S H Jensen, Miriam Lerkenfeld, Merete Sanderhoff, and Jacob Wang for their help and guidanceTable of ContentsPrelude ............................................................................................................................................ 2Before the World Wide Web .......................................................................................................... 2The Broadcast Idiom of the 20th Century........................................................................................ 3The Dark Matter of the Internet ..................................................................................................... 5Strategy at work .............................................................................................................................. 7Example: SpaceShipOne ............................................................................................................... 12This is your homepage .................................................................................................................. 14Very powerful stuff ....................................................................................................................... 21Lego Historical Reenactments ...................................................................................................... 24The Battle of Maldon .................................................................................................................... 25The web of hands and hearts ....................................................................................................... 29 1
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012PreludeHi everyone.This is going to get weird pretty quickly.I dont think I was brought here to deliver a standard keynote, and youre certainly not going toget one.[Play video][Video: Lego Beowulf, http://youtu.be/1SGJS0VN0hE ]Before the World Wide Web[Slide: View of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.]I grew up in Washington, D.C..I was into art and science and the Smithsonian was pretty much the coolest thing in town. Icould walk from my house down to the National Mall and wander in and out of free museums,all day long, every day—every day but Christmas…Letting my curiosity take me wherever itwanted to go. 2
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012In some ways you could say I came of age at the Smithsonian. That as I became an independentyoung adult, the Smithsonian modeled the kinds of behaviors that I came to care about as afully enfranchised citizen: Its good to inquire, to ask questions, to draw people intoconversation, to debate, to disrupt and even provoke when necessary. In short: to engage as anactive participant in the world of ideas.And it didnt escape my attention, even as a teenager, that my country, my city, my culture,chose to build on its most valuable real estate—possibly the most valuable real estate in theworld, a public institution dedicated, literally, to the increase and diffusion of knowledge.That spoke very clearly to me about what is important in my society, and about what values Ishould live up to as an adult.But, all of this happened before the World Wide Web.Remember that? There was a time before the World Wide Web.And the question now is, to achieve these same outcomes in society, what do we do?What do you do to get this job done?The Broadcast Idiom of the 20th Century[Slide: exterior of the National Gallery of Denmark]So, here I am, outside the National Gallery of Denmark, the Statens Museum for Kunst, wherewe are gathered today to celebrate the Bikuben Foundation National Museum Awards.Ive been to Copenhagen a few times. Im very impressed with the Danish museumcommunity—the memory institutions of Denmark. Im going to draw in the libraries andArchives and everyone who does this work together.Im very impressed with your sense of mission, your sense of purpose. Your professionalism.Your collegiality, the way you collaborate. This strikes me very strongly—your passion about thejob that you do and the outcomes you want to achieve in society. And the trust that the peopleof Denmark place in you. 3
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012Over the 20th century, really the last half of the 20th century…Im not a museum studies expert,but my sense is that over the last half of the 20th century we developed a set of conventions—aset of ideas about how we would organize to do the work of museums in our culture. To do thework of memory institutions.And it goes kind of like this.[Slide: Resources trust, money, real estate collections, staff, and attention go into museumorganizations and beneficial outcomes for society come out the other end]You put resources in one end of a pipe. And by resources I mean money, land, trust, attention,mindshare—you put that in one end of a pipe and out the other end you expect someoutcomes. You want something to happen.You dont just do all of this to exist. …well, you could. There are probably a lot of museums thatcould get their jobs done just by existing and keeping moisture out of the vaults. And thatsgreat. That has to happen, but theres more to it than that.We put a lot of energy into these things we call museums and we want some outcomes. Youwant something to happen.So, resources go in: outcomes go out. And I think in the 20th century we settled on somedecisions about how that would happen. And how we thought that would happen is with thebroadcast idiom.[Slide: The broadcast idiom, "we do and they consume"] 4
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012Broadcast.Broadcast is great. We, the smart, trained people—the experts—and back before the WorldWide Web we knew who the experts were… We do stuff. And they—the people who arent us—consume it with gratitude, but mostly passively. We do, and they consume. And the arrowalways goes that way, from us to them.Think about this idiom.Great things happened with the broadcast idiom. It gave us automobiles. It gave us the HooverDam shown in this Ansel Adams photograph. You dont get the Hoover Dam and Automobilesby crowdsourcing them on Twitter. (Or maybe you do…)It gave us Baywatch. One of the great—all of the great television cultural moments of the 20thcentury. It gave us all that great stuff.The Dark Matter of the InternetBut there are some new physics—some new laws of mathematics in play.Its like astronomers, who are trying to make the mathematics of the physical universe work outand they notice that theres a galaxy over here that the math says should be doing this, but itsdoing that, and the math doesnt work out unless you invent and factor in an enormous newkind of mass named dark matter. Theres some other material in the room now that changesthe physics of how we do this work in society, and the dark matter is called the Internet. Notjust the technology of the Internet, but the things the Internet lets us do together, as humanbeings.So there are new laws of physics that we need to bake into this equation of the broadcastidiom.*Slide: The Long Tail, Joys Law, Cognitive Surplus, Moores Law & Mobile, Every user a hero…+The Long Tail. 5
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012One of the best books about how technology and new media works now. The Long Tail (byChris Anderson) talks about how you used to need to have big popular hits—hit records, thebest museum that everyone would go to. But now, because of the Internet, people can formtheir own communities, huge communities, around shared niche interests. (Millions andmillions of small niche communities that add up to more engagement and more effort andmore…living…than the few hit products we broadcasters can manufacture.) Extraordinaryindividuals…we dont have to look at all our consumers, all of the public, as one generic mass.We can look at individuals who form their own communities around shared interests withoutany central control. Ill show you some of this later.Joys Law.Bill Joy was the co-founder of Sun Microsystems in the U.S., and he famously said "no matterwhat business youre in, most of the smartest people work for someone else." 1Now try saying that at one of your next staff meetings.Chris Anderson, the author of the Long Tail, told us at a conference at the Smithsonian, pickanything from your 139 million object collection and the odds are that the people who knowthe most about that object dont work for you, and you dont even know who they are. Thatswhat Joys Law is all about.Cognitive Surplus.Clay Shirky posits that among the Internet connected, educated citizens of planet earth, thereare 1 trillion hours of free time every year that can be used for some higher purpose. (As apoint-of-reference, Americans spend about 200 billion hours every year watching television.) 2Thats not the broadcast idiom youre looking at. Imagine being able to do something with thatcognitive surplus. You cant harness those trillion hours of labor through the one-way pipe ofthe broadcast idiom.Moores Law.Moores Law is the rule-of-thumb that describes the exponential growth of processing powerthat gives us smaller, cheaper, and more powerful computer processors every year. If my mathis correct, in 12 years my iPhone will be 1,700 times more powerful than my laptop computer.Thats intensely disruptive. Well all be walking around with little supercomputers in ourpockets and we wont even think twice about it.And these arent just passive consuming devices, these are participatory devices. These aredevices with cameras and video recorders and sensors in them. This phone knows where I am,it knows my altitude, it knows Im in Denmark, in Copenhagen, at the Statens museum for Kunst(the Danish National Gallery of Art) at this Bikuben Museum Awards event, without me havingto tell it that. Thats a global data network, thats a two way pipe.This is very different. This is not making Baywatch in your movie studio in Hollywood. 6
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012And then this other law of physics…Kathy Sierra.Kathy Sierra, who is a real inspiration to me—a thought leader in Social Media—says:"I am your user. I am supposed to be the protagonist. I am on a heros journey. Your company[your museum, your culture, your government…+ should be a mentor or a helpful sidekick. Notan orc." 3(…and of course, as you all know, the orcs are the bad guys from the Tolkien trilogy.)This is a very different relationship with your audiences. This is not broadcast. This is a two-waypipe.And this is the new physics that we need to build into our organizations and our understandingof who we are and how were going to get work done.And this is not breaking news. This is not bleeding edge news. These physics have been knownto us for about 10 years. What is bleeding edge is how were going to act on it.So this (broadcast) is a great way to get work done…I love going into a museum exhibit thatdoesnt have flashing screens and touch-screen tables and social media…I love exhibits like that,but broadcast is not a complete tool kit. Broadcast is not a complete way to achieve the missionthat you all are trusted with achieving.So how do you turn all of this into something useful?How do you do this?Strategy at WorkI get to go to a lot of strategy workshops because of my title and the organization I work for,and they all look kind of like this. This is not a workshop I was actually at, its a photo I got fromthe photo sharing site Flickr, but they all look like this. Its a kabuki theater performance. You allhave run these, I know you have. Theres someone at the front, usually a hired person fromoutside because you cant have your own people running something like this, God forbid. So 7
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012you bring someone else in who pretty much agrees with you… I hear knowing laughter from theaudience…and rest assured that nobody listens to me back home either: I have to comeoverseas to feel like I know something…Someone is up front saying we need to go boldly into the future, we need to use crowdsourcingand Flickr and YouTube to get stuff done now. And usually the highest paid, best looking peoplein the room are also up front and they say yes, we must do these things, make it so. And thenthe people who are empowered to make these things happen are translating this forward-leaning, fast, agile, audience-oriented way of working, into the broadcast idiom. Because thatshow we do work. Thats what organizations do.Clay Shirky has written that organizations represent "frozen choices." 4Weve set up our organizations because we needed to be good at the broadcast model. Sowhen you give an organization like this something to do, it turns the challenge into a broadcastchallenge. So these managers say ok, ok, well have a committee that will meet for every monthfor a couple of years and well make a strategy and well make this thing happen and la-la-la-labroadcast.And usually the most junior person in the room—its often been me, and Im nothingspecial…grab any 20 year old kid off the street, and theyre going to be able to see thisdisconnect between the lofty, aggressive goals of forward-reaching vision and the way wereoften choosing (or not choosing) to execute on that vision with the broadcast idiom.This is an example from a real strategy workshop I did participate in. The strategic goal of thismuseum—and dont try to guess what museum this is because youre not going to get it right:Ive subtly changed some of the mission statement to protect the innocent.[Slide: "Strategic goal of the museum"]The strategic goal of this museum is to become "the preeminent place for engagement anddialog about national identity and the accomplishment and experience of citizens."Wow. I love that.And Ive read a lot of your mission statements and theyre great. Im sure that in many ways youfeel constrained by them or want to improve them, but from my outsiders perspective theyre 8
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012great. This is stuff I want to give my trust to—that I want to support as a taxpayer and taxpayerof whatever country I’m living in.So, the proposed big project to execute on this lofty vision, knowing that were at this juncturebetween broadcast and other ways of doing work is, "Build an online collection of 10 million portraits of citizens and their stories, created and uploaded without official curation by members of the public."10 million portraits. Wow. Thats a big number. Can you get that through the broadcast idiom?I dont think so. There arent enough interns in the world to do that through the broadcastidiom.The project proposal continues…"Build a community around this initiative to fuel engagement with national history, biography,and artistic creativity."Yeah. Im into that!After 45 minutes of brainstorming and whiteboards and post-it notes and all the stuff youdexpect to see at the kabuki theater performance of a strategy workshop, this is the project wecame up with to execute on this vision:"Do a website about family portraits."Something got lost. Thats the broadcast idiom speaking. Thats what an organization canaccomplish without using the new math of the Internet.And it kind of raises some questions.Society gives us these resources—trust, reputation, great real estate, expert staffs, a greatlegacy of collections—and were supposed to accomplish something that needs accomplishing,otherwise wed be giving those resources to the ministry of sport or to pave streets orsomething. Youve got to do something worth accomplishing.Are we doing the best job with that trust? Are we using the best tools?---- 9
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012[Slide: Smithsonian Institution Web and New Media Strategy]In developing the Web and New Media strategy for the Smithsonian we tried to develop ashared language about how we would act in this moment.[Note: The strategy is available via the Smithsonian Web and New Media Strategy wiki athttp://smithsonian-webstrategy.wikispaces.com/Strategy+--+Table+of+Contentsand as a .pdf file at http://smithsonian-webstrategy.wikispaces.com/file/view/20090729_Smithsonian-Web-New-Media-Strategy_v1.0.pdf ]Were talking about a learning model. A new learning model. We dont want to throw out allthe good stuff that the broadcast model did—long, patient scholarship, for example.[Slide: Updating the Smithsonian Learning Model][Smithsonian Web and New Media Strategy, 2: Update the Smithsonian Learning Model.http://smithsonian-webstrategy.wikispaces.com/Strategy+--+Themes#learning ]We could focus on only this picture and I could stop talking now and we could get thispresentation over with very quickly. This is whats important: the old learning model basedalmost exclusively on the one-way flow of information from so-called experts to passiverecipients, and the new learning model…based on interactivity and dialogue, between us andour audiences, and among out audiences themselves. 10
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012*Slides: "…these connections are the most important"+And its important to emphasize that as its shown, this network of connections—this learningnetwork—shows us, the Institution, at the middle. But these are not just one way connectionsfrom us in the middle outward to our audience on the periphery. These are two-wayconnections between us and The People Formerly Known as the Audience (a phrase widelyattributed to NYU professor Jay Rosen)—between us and everyone else in the world.To press the point even further, the most important part of this knowledge network, this newlearning model, arent the links between the few of us who work at memory institutions. Thereally powerful links are those that connect "our" audience members to each other. Perhapsthe most powerful place for us, as museums, in this diagram is at the side, as generous andhelpful guides, catalysts, and conveners—as co-participants—rather than as owners ormonopolists.[Slide: The Business Model]…And the business model."The Smithsonian’s basic business model is to create social and economic value through theincrease and diffusion of knowledge. Web and New Media programs are both an intrinsic partof this overarching model and an opportunity to develop new kinds of revenue in harmony withthe mission… 11
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012Ultimately, the most valuable business asset we can cultivate—and the one that is mostfundamental to our core mission—is a community of engaged and committed Smithsonianenthusiasts."[Smithsonian Web and New Media Strategy, Goal 7: Business model. http://smithsonian-webstrategy.wikispaces.com/Goals+5+-+8+Interpretation%2C+Technology%2C+Business+Model%2C+Governance#businessModel ]Example: SpaceShipOneLet me give you an example. A specific example.We own SpaceShipOne at the Smithsonian. The first privately finance rocket ship to take ahuman being into orbit. It hangs at the National Air and Space Museum a block from my office.It is a testament to American ingenuity and verve…[Slide: SpaceShipOne on the National Air and Space Museum website]Heres our official collection-information webpage for SpaceShipOne.[http://airandspace.si.edu/collections/artifact.cfm?id=A20050459000]Youve seen this kind of page about a million times before: theres a little thumbnail picture andsome curatorial text, and its about what a curator can do. A curator cant write a novel aboutevery one of our 139 million objects. And thats fine.But Im a curious person, and I want to know more about SpaceShipOne.So I go to Wikipedia… 12
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012[Slide: Wikipedia page for SpaceShipOne, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpaceShipOne]…and what do I get? Hyperlinks! Hyperlinks to articles about the space flight and the spacecraftand the people and the science… And the Wikipedia page has been translated into 28languages. I get 14 images, many of them in high resolution and all of them under CreativeCommons licenses. And all of this I get through the collaborative effort of over 400 volunteerresearchers and editors.Then I look in Flickr, the photo sharing website.[Slide: Flickr search for SpaceShipOne, http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=spaceshipone]Nobody is really in charge of Flickr. Theres no bureaucrat saying "lets catalog somephotographs of SpaceShipOne, shall we?" It just happens. It happens because of theseextraordinary individuals and the Long Tail. These communities that have formed aroundshared interests.I search Flickr for SpaceShipOne, exactly the name of the spacecraft, and I find 2,592 photosthat users—people!—you all, have taken, uploaded, and tagged, labeled, cataloged, withexactly the name of the object, with no central coordination. 13
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012[Slide: Flickr photo of SpaceShipOne, http://www.flickr.com/photos/pvogel/110579166/in/set-72057594079211111]And the photographs are amazing. And the point of it is that its predictably amazing.Predictably. People know they will be satisfied when they go to Flickr to try to find out aboutthe world.Flickrs users—people—have contributed photographs of SpaceShipOne being launched,pictures of it being made, launch photos, cockpit photos, pictures of peoples SpaceShipOnetattoos. Its predictably amazing, and its very human.Or, go to YouTube.This is a rocket ship, right? It flies![Slide: Video of SpaceShipOne flight, http://youtu.be/FNXahIoXMw8]Which one of these websites tells you more about SpaceShipOne? Our page with 100 words oftext and a thumbnail photograph? Or a video of the thing flying?Where would you go to explain SpaceShipOne to a teenager? Or to figure it out for yourself?Theres no competition.The broadcast model is great, but its not a complete way to explore the world.This is Your Homepage 14
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012A friend of mine worked on a strategy workshop for the newspaper industry, and he asked afocus group of young people "where do you go to find your news?"One of them answered, "If the news is important enough, it will find me."That sent a chill down the spines of the newspaper industry executives. But thats the worldwere living in.Where do you go to find out about your culture? To understand the physical world? Your city?Your country? The world of ideas? … Do you go to museums? Sometimes, yes.[Slide: Danish National Museum website: http://www.natmus.dk]And these are great museum websites. I love your museum websites. I love them, but Im goingto be picking on some of these websites to make a point or two.[Slide: Google search webpage]This is your homepage.Its almost a trite thing for a digital strategist to say, but Google is your homepage. And youknow it. Youve used Google to search your own websites and collections. 15
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012Lets look at how we would do this using a Danish museum object. I asked some of my Danishcolleagues—Merete Sanderhoff from the National Gallery and Charlotte S H Jensen from theNational Museum and the National Archives–for a cultural object or work of art that would berecognizable to all Danes, and they suggested your Solvongen, the Trundholm Sun Chariot.If you search Google for "Solvongen" and you get this: a regular Google search engine resultspage, with a lot of good stuff on it.[Slide: Wikipedia page for Trundholm Sun Chariot,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trundholm_sun_chariot]The top result is always Wikipedia. And it never disappoints. But look at the terrible images.[Note: Theres a story here for another time. See Europeana White Paper No. 2, The Problem ofthe Yellow Milkmaid: A Business Model Perspective on Open Metadata athttp://version1.europeana.eu/web/europeana-project/whitepapers/ for a story about how theRijksmuseum put free, high resolution images on their website to help purge the Internet oflow-quality images like these.][Slide: Facebook page for Trundholm Sun Chariot, via Wikipedia,http://www.facebook.com/pages/Trundholm-sun-chariot/135441099821236]Who knew that the Sun Chariot had a Facebook page? I think thats kind of awesome. 16
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012With a little work and a little help from my colleagues at the National Museum of Denmark Ifound the definitive collection information page for the Sun Chariot. This is it! This is theepicenter.[Slide: Solvongen collection information page on the National Gallery of Denmark website,http://natmus.dk/en/historisk-viden/danmark/moeder-med-danmarks-oldtid/the-bronze-age/the-sun-chariot/]And theres a nice video about the Sun Chariot by a curator thats been viewed 2,845 times.Using Google I found a discussion forum, the Skadi Forum [http://forums.skadi.net/] that has adiscussion thread about the Sun Chariot. Though the Sun Chariot discussion is very brief,overall, the Skadi forum has 40,000 members who have made 700,000 posts across 300discussion topics.I found a nice book from the National Museum of Denmark, and you can search the text forinformation about the Sun Chariot and read about it online.On Google Books I found a book called The Best Art Youve Never Seen: 101 Hidden Treasuresfrom Around the World.[http://books.google.com/books?id=g15MdNvO5ngC&pg=PA55&dq=trundholm+sun+chariot&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ciHTT4yLA4Hh0QHWwvWYAw&ved=0CEMQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false]I found this book in 1/100 of a second.It has an article called "Hidden by Choice" that groups artifacts from all over the world, withnice photographs, really great, accessible text: "The Trundholm Sun Chariot could easily have been carried in someones arms. It was found in a peat bog in 1902, deliberately broken into little pieces and carefully placed there about 3,500 years ago.""It could easily have been carried in someones arms"…what a human way to describe thatobject. A scholar might not want to read this, but Im not a scholar. Yet. 17
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012[Slide: National Museum of Denmark homepage, http://www.natmus.dk]And I love these home pages. Youve done a great job on your core websites. Theyre beginningto be inside-out—the people are beginning to go in front, the human activity in front of orbesides the objects, showing life and excitement and activity.But this is also a great homepage for the National Museum.[Slide: National Museum of Denmark page on Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/nationalmuseet/]This is the National Museum of Denmarks homepage on Pinterest, which is a neat website thatlets you collect pictures.People love collecting pictures. People are born collectors. Which is probably why we havemuseums in the first place.The National Museum has organized some of their pictures on Pinterest, and I thought,hmmm—I wonder if I can find pictures of the Solvongen, the Sun Chariot, here?So I go to the search box and I type in Sun Chariot—the English word for the Danish object—soIm already probably putting myself at a disadvantage for finding anything significant—but lookat what I found. 18
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012[Slide: Pinterest search results for "Sun Chariot"]I found this page with tons of people who have collected objects related to the Sun Chariot.30 or 40 different visual references to the Sun Chariot from the National Museum of Denmark,other bronze age sun wheels, chariot iconography from antiquity, heres one for "sun chariotRussian embroidery"… It goes on and on. I never would have found this related imagery andiconography. But look at how it found me!9 Trundholm Sun Chariots were found and collected and tagged by users of Pinterest—people—without any central coordination or control.Lets look at the first link that came up.[Slide: The Sun Chariot as collected on Pinterest,http://pinterest.com/pin/32369691041944044/]This Sun Chariot was collected—pinned, in the lingo of Pinterest—by Sunnifa Heinreksdottir.At the bottom of this page you can see that Suniffas Sun Chariot is part of a collection shemade called the Bronze Age.Lets look at that. 19
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012[Slide: Sunnifa Heinreksdottirs "Bronze Age" collection on Pinterest,http://pinterest.com/harrasteora/bronze-age/]Neat!Shes collected objects from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (A lot of them!)A British Archaeology website.Many from the National Museum of Denmark.And theres the Sun Chariot that Sunnifa Heinreksdottir collected.But its not from the National Museum of Denmark. This instance of this photo links back to acourse syllabus page for Western Culture 101, Beginnings to 900 C.E. from the Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, about three hours from my home. (http://people.hsc.edu/faculty-staff/maryp/Core/western_culture_101_studylinks.htm. And this pin shows another terribleimage.5)So shes not even referencing the definitive source-of-record for the Sun Chariot, the recordfrom the worlds authority on the Sun Chariot—the organization that "owns" it and is entrustedwith its permanent care—and yet she found it. Or it found her.[Slides: Sunnifa Heinreksdottirs collections on Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/harrasteora/]Sunifa Heinreksdottir has made a number of collections of images on Pinterest. You can beginto get an idea of who this human being is. 20
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012Shes got a collection called Anglo Saxons. Rings. Willows. Spinning. Straw hats. Basketry.Spindle whorls—which is a particularly beautiful collection. Bronze Age. Iron Age….This is someone who is very engaged—very engaged in figuring out all the stuff that you careabout. It goes on and on and on. Its so rich.OMG. Shes curating her own museum. Shes curating.Shes sense-making. Which is I think what we want in society. I think those are some of theoutcomes we want. But you didnt have to make this happen. You didnt have to help make thishappen—its happening. You can help it happen. You can get in the way. You can make it harderfor people to do this—to take your images and your data and your resources and your expertiseand your communities and curate them and share them and build upon them. But theyre goingto do it anyway. Or theyre going to move on to something else and forget about you and thethings you care about. But either way, its happening.Very Powerful StuffThis is very powerful. Let me show you how powerful.Sunifa Heinreksdottir, on Pinterest, has collected 1,060 pictures. Theyre called "pins" onPinterest. There they are.[Slides: Sunifa Heinreksdottirs pins on Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/harrasteora/pins/]I need to develop a new graphic design aesthetic to represent the vastness of this kind of socialmedia activity. This took me a long time!Theres metadata, theres source citation, provenance, crediting, its traceable. We should haveinvented this!Sunnifa follows 41 people.Following means that when these 41 people do something on Pinterest, Sunnifa gets anotification about it. 21
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 201241 people is like the size of a little village. But, thanks to the physics of the Internet, its a littlevillage with an enormous reach.[Slides: Sunifa Heinreksdottirs "followers" on Pinterest,http://pinterest.com/harrasteora/following/ ]And there they are, Sunnifas 41 followers. We can see them and get a sense of their character.Theyre from all over the world.London. Portland Oregon. Kansas. Cape Town. Antwerp. Dorset, UK. Ireland. "A little village of20 houses in the North of Germany." —that sounds quaint, but look, this user has 1,927followers! From his or her home in a little village in the North of Germany.And each of these people are collecting and curating and following and being followed bypeople. And they, in turn are following and being followed by other people.If you look at Sinnifas 41 followers, they, in turn are followed by 16,090 followers and follow12,485 people. So this network, just a step away from this random woman I chose because hercollection was the first one that came up when I searched for the Sun Chariot on this one socialmedia site, has 28,485 people in it!Can we build a network like this through the broadcast idiom, where we engineer final projects,in toto, from inside the walls of our organizations and transmit those products to a passiveaudience? Maybe. Maybe one network like this. But probably not. And this is just one user ofthe more than 10 million users of this website.6This is happening because of the new physics—the dark matter of the equation that relatesresources to outcomes in organizations—the Internet.And this is not passive consumption.Its not like going to the movies and having movie information pumped down a one-way pipeinto your brain. This is about doing stuff. Doing. This is very active. I understand that one of theessential 21st century learning skills is supposed to be active learning. 22
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012When people do things, it changes them. It changes you when you do, when you commit tosomething, some idea, to action.[Slide: SMK visitor photograph on Flickr,http://www.flickr.com/photos/nerosunero/5974261976/in/set-72157627152703345/]People participate in Viking reenactments. And they share thousands of photographs of them.They go to your museums. They love your museums. When I talk about the "hearts" in the webof hands and hearts, this is partly what Im talking about. People are emotionally invested inwhat they see and do and take away from your museums. Its strong. They want to tell you howamazed they are at what they see, and then many of them want to go and do something. Evenif that is only representing a token of having been here.[Slide: SMK visitor photograph on Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/monsted/487105795/]There they are, right where you are sitting now.Your fans have made tribute videos. People who visit your museums are making these tributevideos on their own and uploading them to YouTube. Setting pictures to music. Just becausethey love what theyve seen. People are doing things. They want to do. These are activeparticipants.And once theyve done something for you, about you—theyve bonded with you. Thats thebasis of a strong relationship—potentially a lifelong relationship thats yours to ignore ornurture. 23
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012Lego Historical ReenactmentsIn a combination of this Flickr and Pinterest activity—sharing photos and belonging to groupswith shared interests…Groups of enthusiasts, extraordinary individuals forming relationships onthe Long Tail around shared interests…and what goes on in YouTube—making, publishing,teaching...…I found a group of people on Flickr who share photographs of historical reenactments donewith Lego bricks.[Slide: Historical Lego group on Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/groups/historical_lego/]I just searched and found this group at random.This group has almost 800 members, and together theyve uploaded over 7,000 photographs.And its all a result of these people being immensely curious and creative and that theyre doingthings with the information and inspiration they get form you and libraries and archives andschool and friends and neighbors.I did a search for content related to "Viking" from within the Lego Historical Reenactment groupon Flickr and I found people doing reenactments of important moments from Norse history.And if you read the posts and comments from the members of this group, and theyre veryconcerned with the details: would this kind of helmet be used in 10 th century Denmark? And ifthe answer is no, then its not uncommon to see individuals figuring out how to find or maketheir own Lego pieces. When we talk about the pedagogy of "knowledge networks" –this is it.Here’s a company called Brick Forge that makes historically accurate Viking helmets in a varietyof colors.The website says, “If you are looking for a more historic alternative to the iconic horned Viking Helmet - look no further. The BrickForge Viking Helmet is based on the more traditional Spanglehelm design and features a spectacle guard around the eyes and nose.” 24
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012This is amazing engagement.People write long fictional essays and illustrate them with Lego reenactments.They explore and dramatize the Viking Sagas.How many times have we, in our museums, posted something to our websites hoping to getcomments engagement, but nobody came? And heres this person who is doing reenactmentsof Viking history with Legos and he or she has hundreds of comments.And who are these people?This person is from Holland, Michigan, in the USA. Holland, Michigan—could your marketingdepartment have identified an audience for Viking history in Holland, Michigan? No. This is notbroadcast physics, but its perfectly, unremarkably normal online.[Slide: Viking ship Lego model on Flickr,http://www.flickr.com/photos/thorskegga/4941989896/in/pool-371955@N24/]Heres someone who did a reconstruction of a Viking ship, using Legos, and shared the photosonline. This woman describes herself as a "middle-aged eccentric woman living in HighWycombe, Buckinghamshire, England." And shes part of a community, friends with, this personin Holland, Michigan, because of their shared interests. Thats very powerful stuff.The Battle of MaldonI showed you, at the beginning, the Beowulf reenactment done in Lego. I didnt spend a lot oftime looking for these things, theyre just there, in incredible abundance. There are more than 6billion photos in Flickr, contributed by users, cataloged by users—people—without any centralcontrol or coordination, and its growing at a rate of about 4,000 pictures a minute, 24 hours aday, 7 days a week. Can you get that kind of scale with broadcast? Never. 25
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012This video has over 200,000 views. How many views did the official, canonical video about theSun chariot on the National Museum website have? 2,000 views?[As an aside, does that mean that this Beowulf video is 100 times better than the NationalMuseum video? Well, it depends on what your goals are, but "better" or not, this difference inviews is indicative of what I think are the relatively low standards for impact and scale that weoften have in memory institutions, and the enormity of the audiences that are available to uson social media sites, outside the broadcast idiom, should we choose to go there. The BeowulfLego video is quite an obscure piece of content in YouTube, yet I know of very few museumvideos that have gotten anywhere near this level of viewership. Judgments of quality aside,were not often playing in the same league as even modestly successful social media content,and I see no intrinsic reason why this is the case. American museums have a combined annualbudget of over $20 billion.7 We could produce any kind of online content we wanted, and werecompeting with people—and often losing to—individuals who create content on their owntime, with few resources other than passion and curiosity.[Slide: The Battle of Maldon. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zuxv510dh6w ]I found this Lego reenactment video for an Old English poem called The Battle of Maldon. Itshad over 162,000 views. I don’t know much about Viking history, but this seems very specific—like an actual battle.Before I play this video, notice that the subtitles for this video are in Old English. The makers ofthis video are closed captioning in a language thats been dead for a thousand years. Everydetail of the story, the poem, seem to have been thought about and considered. Decisions weremade.I love the way the videographer depicted the blood from the arrow hitting the soldier with thelittle red Lego knobs. Thats immensely clever to me, but probably something thats beenpassed between fans and makers of these videos for years.And did you notice the fantastic way they depicted the tide coming up the river through thestop-motion animation of the Lego tiles moving across board? Thats beautiful, abstract art—expressive cinematography—to me. But its important to the story too—the tide coming in andout is extremely important to the narrative of the poem and the battle because when the tidegoes down the sandbars are exposed and the troops can cross and engage in battle. If this 26
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012videographer is 8 years old or 80 years old, theyre thinking. Theyre doing. Theyre fullyengaged in this subject matter and sharing meaning with their community.It looks a lot like learning to me.Maybe I want to know more about the Battle of Maldon. Where do I go?A search on the National Museum of Denmark website for “Battle of Maldon” returns noresults. Why would it return results? It’s not a Danish battle and there are apparently noresources or objects directly related to the Battle of Maldon, or at least there are none that arecataloged that way. An individual museum can’t be all things to all people. It can’t be in thatcentral position in the new “learning model” all the time.[Slides: Wikipedia page for Battle of Maldon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Maldon),and the related Geohack page(http://toolserver.org/~geohack/geohack.php?pagename=Battle_of_Maldon&params=51_42_55_N_0_42_3_E_type:event_region:GB)]A Google search for the Battle of Maldon” points immediately to a Wikipedia page, which givesme a sketch of the details and a number of supporting links and citations. (A Wikipedian toldme that Wikipedia is a great place to start research, but a terrible place to end it. I found that tobe a very helpful piece of insight.)And Id never noticed this feature before I was preparing for this talk, but theres a little link atthe top of this article about the Battle of Maldon that says "coordinates." Map coordinates.Hmmm, I thought, what happens when I click on that?You go to a website called Geohack, which is created and maintained by Wikipedia volunteersto provide internet map sources to enhance Wikipedia articles. (And how did that link get onthat Wikipedia page? Somebody got the idea to put it there and did it.)Geohack has an index of several dozen mapping websites, with the map coordinates of theBattle of Maldon linked into them.This map is from OpenStreetMap, which is a citizen-created, free, open source mapping site. Itsays in the sidebar " OpenStreetMap is a free worldwide map, created by people like you.” 27
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012OpenStreetMap has hundreds of thousands of contributors who volunteer their time andknowledge to make free maps better for everyone.8And there it is, the site of the Battle of Maldon, a town named Maldon, North East of London. Itlooks like exactly the kind of place Id expect a Viking battle to take place.The “history” tab for this map reveals that this map has been drawn over many years by acommunity of dozens—maybe hundreds of volunteers. Their edits and contributions are alllogged on the site. One log entry reads, “Harmonized tagging of Ways of St. James…Fixed some little minor stuff” [April 28, 2012]Another says, “Updated ownership of bakery” [April 24, 2012][Slide: Google Street View near the Battle of Maldon]I click through to Google, on the same coordinates, and I can use Google Street View, atechnology that is most commonly used for helping you find a house or store or restaurant, andI can look around, the site of the Battle of Maldon, which happened on August 10, in the year991, right here.I can look at pictures. Im thinking of the Lego imagery of the creek and the tide coming in. Its abeautiful, lush, tidal flat. This starts to feel very real to me.And I recognize this statue of Byrhtnoth, who lead the Anglo-Saxons, unsuccessfully against thesmaller Viking force. 28
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012[Slide: "Brythnoth Earl of Essex" by Brian Digby, https://ssl.panoramio.com/photo/7753503]We tend to dismiss the quality of citizen-created content—were the people who know how tomake beautiful photographs—but this is a beautiful photograph. This took my breath away.Search Flickr or Google Images for "Danish Museums" and you get thousands of beautifulphotographs.Peoples kids. Families. Things they did. Places they saw. Friends. At all times of their lives. Itsall right here.[Slide: Visitor photographs of the SMK, on Flickr]The Web of Hands and Hearts[Slide: A Web of Hands and Hearts] 29
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012When I talk about a web of hands and hearts, and I think about this chain of interactionsbetween trust and reputation and money coming into our institutions, and wanting the bestthings to happen in society to come out the other end…this is what Im really talking about. Thisis a force to be reckoned with.And these kinds of interactions, this kind of activity and doing and sense-making shouldnt justbe outcomes at the end of a process that we orchestrate and enable. This should be theinputs—a natural and essential component of the world of trust and reputation and resourcesthat feed, that nourish our memory institutions, and our society. This kind of activity, ofpassion, of dedication and curiosity and scale should be—in fact, are—as essential to our publicinstitutions as electricity and heat and walls and expert staff and telephones and all the otherthings we would never think of starting or finishing the work of museums with.We can stop all of this from happening. We can insist on the paramount importance of our ownexpertise and opinions. Or we can be like guides, the mentors and trusted sidekicks that KathySierra talks about. The public, citizens, people…value and want our expertise, but they dontonly want our expertise, they want to build and do and engage in sense-making on a scale andin a way that we few professionals cant even begin to imagine. Its a glorious thing.Many of my colleagues have been galvanized in the last 20 years by the belief that our memoryinstitutions…that society needs us. Weve seen how quickly our cultures can forget how tomake good decisions about difficult ideas. And I see a future that will be dominated by difficult,challenging ideas coming into our view.If we dont get good at using the best tools to think about the future, to understand thephysical world, to understand and build our shared cultural heritage, to come to grips with ourhuman shortcomings and deep potential, to do the work that matters, and do it quickly…thenwere going to be in a lot of trouble.Im very hopeful that our memory institutions, our civic institutions, can figure this out. Theworld still needs us to be authorities. It still needs us to be broadcasting, but thats not all itneeds. It needs us to help.Thank you.[Slides: "Lets make the future together. Mange tak! Thank you!"] 30
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012 ***“When it comes to dealing with the big problems we face, are we just going to be a crowd ofvoices, or are we going to be a crowd of hands?”[Jennifer Pahlka, Code for America.http://www.ted.com/talks/jennifer_pahlka_coding_a_better_government.html ]1 Joys Law is frequently referenced in business and strategy contexts without academic source attribution. Asuitable primary reference seems to be Lakhani KR, Panetta JA, "The Principles of Distributed Innovation," 2007,http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1021034.2 Shirky, Clay, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, Penguin Press HC, 2010. Thereference is towards the end of chapter 1 (Sorry! Ive got the book on the Kindle and it wont show me pagenumbers. Its around kindle location 376 for what its worth!)3 From Twitter user KathySierra, November 5, 20094 Institutions, Confidence, and the News Crisis", Clay Shirky, December 2, 2011http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2011/12/institutions-confidence-and-the-news-crisis/5 In addition to the Rijksmuseum example cited above, the following correspondence between Katie Filbert fromWikimedia, D.C., and Alan Newman, the Chief of Imaging and Visual Services at the National Gallery of Art inWashington, D.C. shows the relationship between open image access policies and the propagation of high-qualityimages across the Internet.Upon announcing the National Gallery of Arts new public domain policy[https://images.nga.gov/en/page/openaccess.html], Katie Filbert writes This is wonderful news! The images will be immensely helpful for Wikipedia articles about artwork and artists that are in the NGA collections and likely will inspire Wikipedia editors to improve the articles. Cheers, Katie Filbert Wikimedia DCAlan Newman replies, Katie, This is exactly what we hope to see. Flush the junk out of the culture that was scanned from books and bad reproductions. Refresh with new authoritative images and catalogue data for all to use unencumbered. Make it easy for a K-12 kid to use in school or a lecturer to use. etc. Cheers, Alan Newman Chief, Imaging and Visual Services National Gallery of Art 31
    • Lego Beowulf and the Web of Hands and HeartsMichael Peter Edson, Danish National Museum Awards, June 11, 2012(Email correspondence from March 19, 2012, on the Museum Computer Network listserv. Reprinted with thepermission of Mr. Newman and Ms. Filbert.)6 Stats are from This Is Everything You Need To Know About Pinterest (Infographic), Jordan Crook, March 14th,2012, Techcrunch, http://techcrunch.com/2012/03/14/this-is-everything-you-need-to-know-about-pinterest-infographic/7 Museum Financial Information, 2009, AAM Press, 2009. The exact number of museums cited by AAMs study is17,744. AAM notes that this number is extrapolated from other data and is not an exact count. The $20.7 billionfigure is cited on p. 49.8 New York Times, Online Maps: Everyman Offers New Directions, by Miguel Helft, November 16, 2009,http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/17/technology/internet/17maps.html 32