Museum Pecha Kucha, Melbourne
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Museum Pecha Kucha, Melbourne

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It's 2009 out there, but what year is it in your museum? Museum technologists as double domain experts; how to enable innovation in your cultural heritage organisation; why we need to pop bubbles ...

It's 2009 out there, but what year is it in your museum? Museum technologists as double domain experts; how to enable innovation in your cultural heritage organisation; why we need to pop bubbles between museum departments and museums and their audiences.

The Melbourne cultural heritage pecha kucha evening was organised on Museum 3.0 (http://museum30.ning.com/) and held at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image on July 16, 2009.

My slides are based on those I made for the London museum pecha kucha night in June 2009.

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    Museum Pecha Kucha, Melbourne Museum Pecha Kucha, Melbourne Document Transcript

    • Bubbles, icebergs and Easter eggs • Hello Melbourne! • I’m Mia • I work for the (UK) Science Museum • Twitter @mia_out with comments or questions • http://openobjects.org.uk – my blog on digital heritage, blah blah blah • [Slideshare version - notes in the text below] Presumably I’ll think of all the things I should hav e said immediately after I get off the stage, so I’ll update my notes and put them on slideshare/my blog (http://openobjects.blogspot.com/) later. Normally I have to explain that I have an accent or face puzzled expressions – it’s ace being home in Melbourne because I don’t have an accent here. In this talk I’m thinking through way s to take the energy and sense of community created at events like Museums and the Web 2009, and using it to change the world f or the better. Ov er several years in the cultural heritage sector, I’ve learned that museums need organisational change before we can really serve our audiences in a participatory world. I think museums can change liv es – but does the public see the good we do? Museums should be about delight, serendipity and answers that provoke more questions. Museums should also be committed to accessibility , transparency, curation, respecting and enabling expertise and sharing the excitement and joy of learning [The Melbourne pecha kucha was organising on Museum 3.0 (http://museum30.ning.com/forum/topics/anyone-up-for-a-museum-30) and held on July 16, 2009 at the Australian Centre for the Mov ing Image (http://museum30.ning.com/ev ents/museum-30-meetup-in-melbourne)] Presumably I’ll think of all the things I should have said immediately after I get off the stage, so I’ll update my notes and put them on slideshare/my blog (http://openobjects.blogspot.com/) later. Normally I have to explain that I have an accent or face puzzled expressions – it’s ace being home in Melbourne because I don’t have an accent here. In this talk I’m thinking through ways to take the energy and sense of community created at events like Museums and the Web 2009, and using it to change the world for the better. Over several years in the cultural heritage sector, I’ve learned that museums need organisational change before we can really serve our audiences in a participatory world. I think museums can change lives – but does the public see the good we do? Museums should be about delight, serendipity and answers that provoke more questions. Museums should also be committed to accessibility, transparency, curation, respecting and enabling expertise and sharing the excitement and joy of learning [The Melbourne pecha kucha was organised on Museum 3.0 (http://museum30.ning.com/forum/topics/anyone-up-for-a-museum-30) and held on July 16, 2009 at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (http://museum30.ning.com/events/museum-30-meetup-in-melbourne)] 1
    • Why am I here today? Why am I here? Cos I’m a museum geek who can’t take a holiday. It’s worth trying to keep the momentum going and to share insights from Museums and the Web 2009 (MW2009). I’m here to suggest challenges to museums and to museum geeks; to do something with those bubbles of excitement that whirl through your head after so many good conversations and discoveries. We can have lots of fun getting over-excited and solving the problems of the world in conversations at our museum geek events but what really changes? 2
    • double it up museum museum specialists technology specialists technologists Museum technologists are not merely passive participants in the online publication process. We have skills, expertise and experience that profoundly shape the delivery of services. In Jacob Nielsen's terms, we are double domain experts. This brings responsibilities on two fronts – for us, and for the museums that employ us. [Since I’m in Melbourne, a city with proper ice cream, I should have made this from two overlapping balls of gelati. Mmm, icecream.] Museum technologists are not merely passive participants in the online publication process. We have skills, expertise and experience that profoundly shape the delivery of services. In Jacob Nielsen's terms, we are double domain experts. This brings responsibilities on two fronts – for us, and for the museums that employ us. [Since I’m in Melbourne, a city with proper ice cream, I should have made this from two overlapping balls of gelati. Mmm, icecream.] 3
    • Don’t overlook museum geeks A call to arms for 2009. Museums should recognise museum technologists as double domain experts. Don’t bury us like Easter eggs in software/hidden pockets of the garden. There’s a lot of expertise in your museum, if you just look. We can save you from mistakes you don't even know you're making. Respect our expertise - anyone can have an opinion about the web but a little knowledge is easily pushed too far. Don’t wait for an external expert to tell you what to do – ask your staff. Validate with research and peer opinions if necessary but take advantage of your local expertise first. I’ll mention some possible ways to connect staff... A call to arms for 2009. Museums should recognise museum technologists as double domain experts. Don’t bury us like Easter eggs in software/hidden pockets of the garden. There’s a lot of expertise in your museum, if you just look. We can save you from mistakes you don't even know you're making. Respect our expertise - anyone can have an opinion about the web but a little knowledge is easily pushed too far. Don’t wait for an external expert to tell you what to do – ask your staff. Validate with research and peer opinions if necessary but take advantage of your local expertise first. I’ll mention some possible ways to connect staff... 4
    • Museum technologists have responsibilities too cherish the epiphany For the museum geeks – don’t let recognition as a double domain expert make you arrogant or a ‘know it all’. Be humble. Listen. Look for the moment of epiphany – yours from conv ersation with others, for others f rom conv ersation with y ou; f rom every one in talking to users. Helping people reach that moment of epiphany is a priv ilege and we should cherish it. We need to take advantage of the knowledge and research of others. Yes, we have lots of expertise but we need to constantly ground that by checking back with our audiences and internal stakeholders. We also need to listen to concerns and consider them seriously; to acknowledge and respect their challenges and fears. For the museum geeks – don’t let recognition as a double domain expert make you arrogant or a ‘know it all’. Be humble. Listen. Look for the moment of epiphany – yours from conversation with others, for others from conversation with you; from everyone in talking to users. Helping people reach that moment of epiphany is a privilege and we should cherish it. We need to take advantage of the knowledge and research of others. Yes, we have lots of expertise but we need to constantly ground that by checking back with our audiences and internal stakeholders. We also need to listen to concerns and consider them seriously; to acknowledge and respect their challenges and fears. 5
    • Museums are full of silos break them down We need to break out of the bubble that tech jargon creates or we’ll nev er make any progress. Share your excitement. Explain how a new technology or project will benef it staff and audiences, show them why it's exciting. We must respect the intelligence of others we work with, and consider it part of our job to talk to them in language they understand. We need to bring them with us instead of try ing to drag them along. Show, don’t tell. Don’t be afraid to call in peers to help with examples, moral support and documentation. Online networks are really helpful for this; local meetups are a great way to share metaphors and examples that have worked in your institutions. We need to break out of the bubble that tech jargon creates or we’ll never make any progress. Share your excitement. Explain how a new technology or project will benefit staff and audiences, show them why it's exciting. We must respect the intelligence of others we work with, and consider it part of our job to talk to them in language they understand. We need to bring them with us instead of trying to drag them along. Show, don’t tell. Don’t be afraid to call in peers to help with examples, moral support and documentation. Online networks are really helpful for this; local meetups are a great way to share metaphors and examples that have worked in your institutions. 6
    • Rethink project design: pitch the goal, not the method “The coolest thing to be done with your data will be thought of by someone else” Projects are broken f rom the start if they 're built for the wrong metrics. Pitch the goal, not the method. Start with what's useful, what's measurable; build in different metrics for different people. Move f rom box ticking to asking 'what's the real benefit for the public?'. Projects and project metrics should be primarily driv en by audience needs, not internal politics or concerns. Do one thing – share ideas for better metrics Going back to the double domain expertise - to design projects to benefit audiences f rom the ground up, you need to inv olve museum technologists at early planning stages of projects, and to value their expertise. In an ideal world, the conversation would start before the project proposal has been written, before the ov erall goals of the project, audiences, key messages, etc hav e been set. The most obv ious solution might not be the best, or the solutions suggested might not be taking advantage of improvements in technology and development methods. Projects are broken from the start if they're built for the wrong metrics. Pitch the goal, not the method. Start with what's useful, what's measurable; build in different metrics for different people. Move from box ticking to asking 'what's the real benefit for the public?'. Projects and project metrics should be primarily driven by audience needs, not internal politics or concerns. Do one thing – share ideas for better metrics Going back to the double domain expertise - to design projects to benefit audiences from the ground up, you need to involve museum technologists at early planning stages of projects, and to value their expertise. In an ideal world, the conversation would start before the project proposal has been written, before the overall goals of the project, audiences, key messages, etc have been set. The most obvious solution might not be the best, or the solutions suggested might not be taking advantage of improvements in technology and development methods. 7
    • Hello, reality: first questions for digital projects What will it do for our audiences? How can content be re-used? Which existing technologies can we use? How can infrastructure and resources be re-used? How can we share our reflections on the lessons learned? What happens afterwards? If you don’t have good answers to these questions, why are you proposing this project? Do one thing - this is a random f irst go f rom me - please critique, expand, share them. Other possible questions – should this really be a website/technology -led project? Your place (website) or mine? Do one thing - this is a random first go from me - please critique, expand, share them. Other possible questions – should this really be a website/technology-led project? Your place (website) or mine? 8
    • Whole museum view What kind of interaction is appropriate for your context and technology audiences goals? What organisational resources need to be in place to support true engagement? Where else will your audience interact with this content? Take a v iew over the whole offering of your museum - online and in the galleries, through social media, marketing, media cov erage... Work to the strengths of the phy sical and online museum, with a good knowledge of how the user journey flows between them and how each can f ill the gaps of the other. This requires organisational change – if you don’t push for it, who will? Take a view over the whole offering of your museum - online and in the galleries, through social media, marketing, media coverage... Work to the strengths of the physical and online museum, with a good knowledge of how the user journey flows between them and how each can fill the gaps of the other. This requires organisational change – if you don’t push for it, who will? 9
    • The Louvre is an iceberg (so is your museum) Most of our content, research, staff, collections, objects, work, inv estment is hidden. Visitors only see the tiny tip of the iceberg. Show y our audiences all the good stuff that happens behind the scenes. You can only f it so many people on a storeroom tour, but the web has unlimited capacity Now is a good time for transparency – turn v isitors into supporters, and supporters into adv ocates. It’s a natural fit for social media. A topical bit: the National Portrait Gallery (NPG)/Wikimedia (WMF ) f uss ov er someone collating and publishing high res images prov es we really need to tell the public why we make the decisions we make – and to be honest about which decisions are out of our hands, or require a fundamental organisational restructure. Commercial serv ices like picture libraries are important in museums – they trump geek optimism or enthusiasm about The Right Thing to do with our stuff. Most of our content, research, staff, collections, objects, work, investment is hidden. Visitors only see the tiny tip of the iceberg. Show your audiences all the good stuff that happens behind the scenes. You can only fit so many people on a storeroom tour, but the web has unlimited capacity Now is a good time for transparency – turn visitors into supporters, and supporters into advocates. It’s a natural fit for social media. A topical bit: the National Portrait Gallery (NPG)/Wikimedia (WMF) fuss over someone collating and publishing high res images proves we really need to tell the public why we make the decisions we make – and to be honest about which decisions are out of our hands, or require a fundamental organisational restructure. Commercial services like picture libraries are important in museums – they trump what can be seen as naive geek optimism or enthusiasm about The Right Thing to do with our stuff. 10
    • Who’s already talking to your audiences? Who’s actually listening to your audiences? Explainers, attendants, f ront of house, educators, social media people are talking to your audiences. Lucky them! They get to hear great stories, questions, challenges, suggestions, facts. But do those conversations f ind their way back into the organisation or do they stay in a bubble? How are you asking audiences to participate? comment conversation challenge contribute create Does y our organisation really want to open up to interaction or is it lip serv ice? Topical bit: what are we telling our audiences? Are we just telling them marketing stuff? Should we use social media to tell them about the struggles we face as institutions, even if it means dobbing ourselves in a bit? We need to pop the bubbles between museums and the public; in the absence of information, people will make assumptions that f it their prejudices. Explainers, attendants, front of house, educators, social media people are talking to your audiences. Lucky them! They get to hear great stories, questions, challenges, suggestions, facts. But do those conversations find their way back into the organisation or do they stay in a bubble? How are you asking audiences to participate? comment conversation challenge contribute create Does your organisation really want to open up to interaction or is it lip service? Topical bit: what are we telling our audiences? Are we just telling them marketing stuff? Should we use social media to tell them about the struggles we face as institutions, even if it means dobbing ourselves in a bit? We need to pop the bubbles between museums and the public; in the absence of information, people will make assumptions that fit their prejudices. 11
    • Talk to the public We need to talk to the public, because other people are currently talking for us. We don’t need to be an apologist for the practices of our sector but we should be aware of the impact of these conversations. Positions are becoming entrenched on either side, and museum technologists are in a good position to translate the concerns, intrinsic preferences and goals for each side in the NPG/WMF situation. We risk f inding ourselves in the difficult position of being seen as ‘the enemy ’ by both sides in which case no-one will listen to us and we’ll all take twenty steps backwards. http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2009/jul/09/museums-internet-future http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/jul/08/museums-future-lies-online http://y ro.slashdot.org/story/09/07/11/1239244/UKs-National-Portrait-Gallery -Threatens-To-Sue-Wikipedia-User?f rom=rss We need to talk to the public, because other people are currently talking for us. We don’t need to be an apologist for the practices of our sector but we should be aware of the impact of these conversations. Positions are becoming entrenched on either side, and museum technologists are in a good position to translate the concerns, intrinsic preferences and goals for each side in the NPG/WMF situation. We risk finding ourselves in the difficult position of being seen as ‘the enemy’ by both sides in which case no-one will listen to us and we’ll all take twenty steps backwards. http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2009/jul/09/museums- internet-future http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/jul/08/museums-future-lies-online http://yro.slashdot.org/story/09/07/11/1239244/UKs-National-Portrait-Gallery- Threatens-To-Sue-Wikipedia-User?from=rss 12
    • Innovation bubbles • Innovation is happening throughout your organisation • Do you know where? • What are you doing to encourage it? One of the big quietly underly ing themes of MW2009 was organisational change... This period of technological maturity (and a recession) is a good chance to stop and reflect on the problems technology can’t solv e. Address the ty pical museum problem where the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing – sort out internal communication. Use internal communicatino to reality check projects, re-discov er existing inf rastructure, processes, content Involv e inter-disciplinary teams f rom the start of project planning and design (remember the double domain experts). Making tech people active partners in exhibition and digital project design means better integration of gallery and online audience experiences One of the big quietly underlying themes of MW2009 was organisational change... This period of technological maturity (and a recession) is a good chance to stop and reflect on the problems technology can’t solve. Address the typical museum problem where the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing – sort out internal communication. Use internal communicatino to reality check projects, re-discover existing infrastructure, processes, content Involve inter-disciplinary teams from the start of project planning and design (remember the double domain experts). Making tech people active partners in exhibition and digital project design means better integration of gallery and online audience experiences 13
    • (s)mash the system – hold a mashup day in your museum • Pop internal bubbles - invite tech, curatorial, front of house, learning staff • Rediscover how smart, passionate and innovative your staff can be • Generate new ideas, community • Bonus informal audit of organisational infrastructure, processes, content, re-use rights • Mashup departments - split teams for the day • Encourage staff to report back to their peers outside your organisation Hold a mashup day in y our museum. Make space for innov ation, and send the message that it’s valued. Make sure y ou ‘pop the bubbles’ still so that people don’t regroup around departmental or team lines Hold a mashup day in your museum. Make space for innovation, and send the message that it’s valued. Make sure you ‘pop the bubbles’ still so that people don’t regroup around departmental or team lines 14
    • Too hard? • Try an unconference • Hold informal ‘brown bag’ lunches to share ideas and solutions - find an empty meeting room, everyone brings their lunch and shares their ideas Unconference - people get up and pitch ideas, issues for discussion in informal breakout groups. Do whatev er y ou can - do your ‘one thing’, and report on it. Encourage others to do the same. It might not work - but y ou’ll never know if y ou don’t try . Unconference - people get up and pitch ideas, issues for discussion in informal breakout groups. Do whatever you can - do your ‘one thing’, and report on it. Encourage others to do the same. It might not work - but you’ll never know if you don’t try. 15
    • Intelligent failure • There was a great unconference session at MW2009 about ‘intelligent failure’ (http://openobjects.blogspot.com/2009/04/oh-noes-f ail-notes-f rom-unconference.html) • To be more successful, we need to get better at failure. Constructiv e critiques that respect the bravery of people who make efforts towards transparency. • Do one thing – think about what y ou could add to the MCN project registry with an insightful ref lection on the large or small failures of the project (http://musetechcentral.org/) • Do one thing – before posting a response about someone else’s project, ask yourself – how would I feel if that remark was addressed to me or my project? There was a great unconference session at MW2009 about ‘intelligent failure’ (http://openobjects.blogspot.com/2009/04/oh-noes-fail-notes-from- unconference.html) To be more successful, we need to get better at failure. We need constructive critiques that respect the bravery of people who make efforts towards transparency. It’s a step towards working together and supporting each other in breaking down barriers between technologists and other museum staff. Do one thing – think about what you could add to the MCN project registry with an insightful reflection on the large or small failures of the project (http://musetechcentral.org/) Do one thing – before posting a response about someone else’s project, ask yourself – how would I feel if that remark was addressed to me or my project? 16
    • The Cosmos & Culture mashup competition ‘celebrate cutting-edge astronomical technology alongside stunning objects from our world-class historical collections’ We can’t afford to build interfaces to meet every need – but we don’t need to if we make it possible for others to build interf aces with us We’re taking a risk but ‘Fail faster to succeed sooner’ – learn f rom intelligent failure Dealing with the challenges: re-thinking the museum microsite; being brav e about engagement with the public; making internal data av ailable to the public and asking them to re-mix it Interesting challenges for project design, management, metrics Experiment with new way s of making objects available v ia the web Experiment with new way s of attracting user-generated content Experiment with new forms of audience participation Make best use of the limited budget and staff time to get the highest impact web presence for Cosmos & Culture Take adv antage of inf rastructure built for prev ious projects – demonstrate benef its internally I’v e put my slides f rom the internal presentation I made at the Science Museum online at http://www.slideshare.net/miaridge/cosmos-and-culture-mashup If you’v e got digitised or digital data relating to astronomy, I’d love to talk to y ou about how we might be able to work together. http://bit.ly/1ODvVT We can’t afford to build interfaces to meet every need – but we don’t need to if we make it possible for others to build interfaces with us We’re taking a risk but ‘Fail faster to succeed sooner’ – learn from intelligent failure Dealing with the challenges: re-thinking the museum microsite; being brave about engagement with the public; making internal data available to the public and asking them to re-mix it Interesting challenges for project design, management, metrics Experiment with new ways of making objects available via the web Experiment with new ways of attracting user-generated content Experiment with new forms of audience participation Make best use of the limited budget and staff time to get the highest impact web presence for Cosmos & Culture Take advantage of infrastructure built for previous projects – demonstrate benefits internally I’ve put my slides from the internal presentation I made at the Science Museum online at http://www.slideshare.net/miaridge/cosmos-and-culture-mashup If you’ve got digitised or digital data relating to astronomy, I’d love to talk to you about how we might be able to work together. 17
    • Your audience lives in 2009 What year is it in your museum? The web has changed our audiences and changed their expectations about content and interactivity: mash-up, re-use, re-mix • “The ten most heavily used web brands account for 45% of total UK internet time. Facebook is the most heavily used web brand, accounting for 13 percent of all UK Internet time – or one in every eight minutes Communication and entertainment are central themes amongst most heavily used web brands” http://www.nielsen-online.com/pr/pr_090513_UK.pdf http://www.nielsen- Your audience lives in 2009. What y ear is it in your museum? Audience expectations have changed. We liv e in a post-spin, post-modern, deconstructed world. We might think our audiences are accessing our content f rom a cathedral-like space similar to a dedicated gallery - but they ’re not in the cathedral, they ’re in the bazaar, and we’re just one of a million things to look at or experience. We need to trust our audiences to understand context, authority, lev els of interpretation. We can help educate them about this, but we also need to be open to learning f rom (and with) them. Your audience lives in 2009. What year is it in your museum? Audience expectations have changed. We live in a post-spin, post-modern, deconstructed world. We might think our audiences are accessing our content from a cathedral-like space similar to a dedicated gallery - but they’re not in the cathedral, they’re in the bazaar, and we’re just one of a million things to look at or experience. We need to trust our audiences to understand context, authority, levels of interpretation. We can help educate them about this, but we also need to be open to learning from (and with) them. 18
    • A challenge Has the web fundamentally changed your museum? (Why not?) I don’t know if I need 20 seconds for this one, you’re either squirming in y our seat or y ou’re not. Turn your analytic gaze inwards. It’s time for a maturity of approaches to the web. Work towards more effective, integrated and considered use of technology. This brings new challenges for us, but the benefits of collaboration and ref lection are worth it. I don’t know if I need 20 seconds for this one, you’re either squirming in your seat or you’re not. Turn your analytic gaze inwards. It’s time for a maturity of approaches to the web. Work towards more effective, integrated and considered use of technology. This brings new challenges for us, but the benefits of collaboration and reflection are worth it. 19
    • Thank you for listening "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes" Marcel Proust Slide credits: • http://flickr.com/photos/ncindc/2746241750/ (Museum building) • http://flickr.com/photos/phploveme/2679669420/ (Instrument case) • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LondonScienceMuseumsReplicaDifferenceEngine.jpg (Replica Difference Engine) • http://flickr.com/photos/dsevilla/129592677/ (Curiosity) • http://flickr.com/photos/zoomzoom/304135268/ (Silos) • http://www.flickr.com/photos/17269317@N02/1819837194/ (Iceberg) • http://www.flickr.com/photos/batigolix/3332091893/ (Louvre) • http://www.flickr.com/photos/foxrosser/2472176282/ (bubble) • http://www.flickr.com/photos/manchesterlibrary/3402333202/ (brown bag lunch) • If not in the list, http://flickr.com/photos/_mia/ Lots of the images were taken in Indianapolis during the 2009 Museums and the Web conference. Warning: content does not include the spinny bar. 20