Super-Successful        GLAMs            Opening remarks forThe Commons and Digital Humanities in Museums Sponsored by the...
[Annotated/expanded text.][Note: big font size for better reading on Slideshare.][Note: I’m not an official spokesperson f...
● Can we put the tools of knowledge creation—of all kinds of      creation— into more hands to catalyze research and      ...
The success of GLAMs is a matter of urgencySo let me begin by asserting that the work of GLAMs matters, now.GLAMs are easy...
our lives in an epoch of dramatic and accelerating change--even withouttaking into account what will surely come crashing ...
Society has wagered, by creating and supporting memory institutions,continuously and at great expense for thousands of yea...
nonprofits. To create outcomes in the world using broadcast era tools,leaders needed to,        hire experts and put them ...
model almost exclusively, and it can do a lot of good.13 The broadcastmodel gives us stately library buildings filled with...
For example, the Smithsonian Institution’s mission is “The increase anddiffusion of knowledge”, and of their core objectiv...
Every user a hero…The third law of physics I want to talk about is by Kathy Sierra, who is athought leader in social media...
So, let’s say you believe that these things are true - - that transitionbetween broadcast models and other models really h...
The first is to think, not “what can I do inside my organization, toadvance my goals” but to look for people and groups - ...
Will Noel and ChristinaDePaolo [presenting next], as individuals withintheir organizations, are methodically working to en...
effort and action - - human hours invested towards outcomes I careabout. In one project I’ve included a goal of generating...
So, looking at these examples and thinking about the talks you’re aboutto hear, I’m confident we can move from exclusive, ...
1See http://www.si.edu/about2See http://www.bibalex.org/aboutus/mission_en.aspx3  See http://www.arquivonacional.gov.br/cg...
representative of all expenses (p. 106). Clearly, American museums, as a whole, are not investing much money innew digital...
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Super-Successful GLAMs (Text version with notes)

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Opening remarks for The Commons and Digital Humanities in Museums
Sponsored by the City University of New York Digital Humanities Initiative, November 28, 2012
Organized by Neal Stimler and Matt Gold, with Will Noel and Christina DePaolo.
http://cunydhi.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2012/11/07/wednesday-november-28-the-commons-and-digital-humanities-in-museums/

Published in: Technology

Super-Successful GLAMs (Text version with notes)

  1. 1. Super-Successful GLAMs Opening remarks forThe Commons and Digital Humanities in Museums Sponsored by the City University of New York Digital Humanities Initiative November 28, 2012http://cunydhi.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2012/11/07/wednesday-november-28-the- commons-and-digital-humanities-in-museums/ Michael Edson Director, Web and New Media Strategy Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. @mpedson Slideshare.net/edsonm
  2. 2. [Annotated/expanded text.][Note: big font size for better reading on Slideshare.][Note: I’m not an official spokesperson for the Smithsonian Institution. These views are my own.]They have some of the most important missions in society, The increase and diffusion of knowledge Smithsonian Institution, USA1 A center for learning, tolerance, dialogue and understanding Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt2 ...[To support] citizens in the defense of their rights and encourage the production of scientific and cultural knowledge ArquivoNacional, Brasil3They are GLAMs: galleries, libraries, archives, and museums—sometimes called memory institutions—and I have yet to visit a healthycommunity without one or meet an individual who has not had their lifechanged by one in some way.But this talk is about turning that bet on its head and asking: Can you,with your heads and hands and hearts, change GLAMs?Can everyone, working together in new ways, amplify and supersize theimpact that GLAMs have in society? 1
  3. 3. ● Can we put the tools of knowledge creation—of all kinds of creation— into more hands to catalyze research and discovery? ● Can we share the joy and meaning of artistic and cultural exploration with more citizens? ● Can we deepen engagement with the challenges that face our species, and in doing so, can we nurture the habits of a civil and sustainable society? ● And ultimately, can we make these changes quickly enough, and at big enough scale, to make a substantial difference in the lives of individuals and the fate of our species?I hope that tonight, Will Noel, Christina DePaolo, and Neal Stimler and Iwill outline, in one interrupted chain of thought, the ideas that connectsuccessful - - supersuccessful - - galleries, libraries, archives, andmuseums, with the essential capabilities of the World Wide Web so thatwe can get better outcomes, for society - - for all of us.I have no doubt that we are capable of changing GLAMs—they are,after all, just human institutions: made by us, for us. The first questionthen - - the first link - - is not whether change is strategically possible ortactically achievable, it is whether we care enough about the institutionsand the outcomes to make change happen in the first place.
  4. 4. The success of GLAMs is a matter of urgencySo let me begin by asserting that the work of GLAMs matters, now.GLAMs are easy to dismiss as tourist attractions, warehouses, bookdepots, or the trophies of rich industrialists.But look at GLAM mission statements - - look at what they say they do,and sometimes actually do, and then look at the problems we face onearth today.We, as a species, are faced with unprecedented environmental, social,and geopolitical stresses4, ● atmospheric carbon has reached 391.03 parts-per-million ● 16,928 species are currently threatened with extinction, including 21% of all mammals ● there are 63 active armed conflicts worldwide ● and 1.4 billion people—more than the populations of the USA, Canada, and the European Union nations combined—live on the equivalent of less than $1.25 a day.And these are just some of the challenges of the present moment: thefuture is even more uncertain, and it is likely that we will live the rest of
  5. 5. our lives in an epoch of dramatic and accelerating change--even withouttaking into account what will surely come crashing down on us, as aspecies: the specter of DIY-Biology and advanced biotechnology,nanotechnology, and artificially extended human life just to name afew.5As Sir Ken Robinson said at the closing talk of the 2006 TEDconference, “If you think of it, children starting school this year will be retiring in 2065. Nobody has a clue, despite all the expertise thats been on parade over the last 4 days, what the world will look like in 5 years time, and yet were meant to be educating them for it. So the unpredictability, I think, is extraordinary."6Given the missions of GLAMs and the resources and attention theyconsume, an objective observer would reasonably conclude that we, inour societies, believe they represent a potent tool for addressing bigchallenges.7 GLAMS are supposed to nurture creativity and knowledgecreation; learning and independent thinking; civic engagement anddialogue around ideas that matter.There are approximately 18,000 museums in the USA alone, andtogether they spend more than $20.7 billion annually to achieve theirgoals: this is more than the gross domestic product of almost half thenations on earth.8
  6. 6. Society has wagered, by creating and supporting memory institutions,continuously and at great expense for thousands of years,9 that they aregood for civilization. That if we take them away or weaken theireffectiveness we get less learning, less enlightenment, less knowledgeand wisdom, and less shared experience and dialogue in ourcommunities—and that we will be impoverished by this absence.Conversely, we wager that if GLAMs succeed—have more impact,touch more people more deeply in more ways—our communities will benourished.But the primary model we have used to convert our investments inGLAMs into civic value is an old one, based on tools and methods thatenclose resources, exclude participants, and ultimately diminishoutcomes.The impact of GLAMs is inhibited by the broadcast modelWe formed our collective expectations for the performance of memoryinstitutions—how they do their work and the scale of impact they couldachieve—back in the 20th century, in the age of enduring wisdom,before the World Wide Web.10 This was the broadcast era, and itworked the same in GLAMs as it did in government, business, and
  7. 7. nonprofits. To create outcomes in the world using broadcast era tools,leaders needed to, hire experts and put them in a organization, with offices, cubicles, an administrative staff, lawyers, a human resources department... put resources into the organization: money, trust, mindshare, reputation, real estate, physical and intellectual property try to get something valuable to come out of the other endIn this model, the people inside the organization—the experts—definedthe problems, engineered the solutions, and delivered them as finalproducts down a one-way pipe to mostly passive recipients—consumers—on the other end. This was a reasonable way to work givenwhat was possible with the mass media platforms that were available:We didn’t know we could enlist the participation of millions ofindividuals in any way because we couldn’t harness, or even find thoseparticipants through television, radio, and print publishing platforms. 11We did know that we could count the number of visitors through ourdoors, the number of items accessioned into collections, and the numberof scholarly publications we published. And it was good.My sense is that most GLAMs were founded, staffed, and organizedbefore the World Wide Web.12 Most GLAMs still utilize the broadcast
  8. 8. model almost exclusively, and it can do a lot of good.13 The broadcastmodel gives us stately library buildings filled with patrons borrowingbooks, glorious museum exhibitions, research publications, and pricelesscollections of scientific and cultural artifacts. The broadcast model willcontinue to be important for scholarship, learning, and culture in thefuture, but given what we now know about the physics of the web - -what it allows us to do that we have never been able to do before - - thebroadcast model seems like an incomplete model for accomplishingimportant things in society.But three ideas, central to the work of Will, Christina, Neal - - and alsoeveryone at the CUNY Digital Humanities Initiative, define a new wayforward.Joy’s Law, Cognitive Surplus, and Kathy Sierra’s “Every user a hero...”- - they illuminate the path forward. They fire a lethal silver bulletthrough the werewolf heart of 20th century broadcast model valuecreation.Joy’s lawBill Joy was the co-founder of Sun Microsystems in the U.S., and hefamously said "no matter what business youre in, most of the smartestpeople work for someone else."14That’s not an easy thing to say at a staff meeting, but think about it.
  9. 9. For example, the Smithsonian Institution’s mission is “The increase anddiffusion of knowledge”, and of their core objectives is to createbreakthroughs in biodiversity and climate change research.15But thereare 6,000 Smithsonian employees, only a small fraction of whom workdirectly on climate change or biodiversity issues and there are 7 billionpeople on earth? Where is most of the innovation, and the drive, and theknowledge, and the discovery going to happen---where is most of thatwork going to happen? Inside the walls of a single institution?Oreverywhere else on the planet? Thats what Joys Law is all about. JoysLaw stands the broadcast model on its head.Cognitive SurplusThe second idea is Cognitive Surplus. Cognitive Surplus is the title of arecent book by Clay Shirky, and in it Clay figures out that among theInternet connected, educated population of planet earth there are atrillion hours of free time every year that can be used to achieve somegreater good.A trillion hours.Clay notes that in the United States over 200 billion of those hours arespent watching television.Theres a lot of time there that can be used, with a new way oforganizing, to accomplish something.
  10. 10. Every user a hero…The third law of physics I want to talk about is by Kathy Sierra, who is athought leader in social media and new media. Kathy has observed thatin the old days of the 20th century, an institution, a brand, a governmentwould say "Trust me, trust us, because we are great." And she observesthat now the formula is "Trust us, buy our product, follow us, becausewe help make you great."That’s a very different way of running an organization, or approachingcreating value in society: rather than being great - - succeeding bymanufacturing greatness within the organizational walls - - greatness isachieved indirectly, by helping individuals to be successful outsideorganizational walls.Kathy Tweeted in 2009, "I am your user. I am supposed to be the protagonist. I am on a heros journey. Your company should be a mentor or a helpful sidekick. Not an orc." 16What you should do
  11. 11. So, let’s say you believe that these things are true - - that transitionbetween broadcast models and other models really happening and youwant to make it happen, as a citizen, a policy maker, or an employee of agallery, library, archive, or museum. What do you do? If you looked atthe actions of an individual or organization, how could you tell the oneswho believe this has happened from those that do not?Over the years I’ve written about the design patterns of howorganizations make these thing happen - - ingredients that, together andin different combinations, seem to feed the kinds of scale andinteractions we are seeking - - we so desperately need in society. Andyou can look these up and read them and make use of them.17 And Willand Matt and Neal and Christina will talk about some of the practicaland useful applications of these commons design patterns: I have learnedthese patterns from watching their - - and your - - actions.But I want to mention five things that can be done, practically, by almostanyone who has an interest in advancing the goals of society through thework of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums.[Note to readers: More work needed here - - I’ll updatethis document as I introduce new/better examples.Thanks!!]1. Look outside your organization
  12. 12. The first is to think, not “what can I do inside my organization, toadvance my goals” but to look for people and groups - - outside yourorganization. Find those people, and ask them, with all humility, howyou can help them. Rather than try to manufacture all the outcomes youwant from within your organizational walls, ask people already activedoing the kinds of things you want to see more of in the world how youcan contribute to their success.[Examples of things institutions can do (Tracking downexamples of): Stockholm’s TekniskaMuseet (Technical Museum) hosts regular Nerd Cafés for science and technology enthusiasts genealogy resources at National Archives of Denmark, and crowdsourced content OBA library in Amsterdam gives free office space to entrepreneurs and startups US National Archives’ Citizen Archivist Dashboard The Arctic Studies Center at the Anchorage Museum gives… ]2. Find a piece of information you can liberate
  13. 13. Will Noel and ChristinaDePaolo [presenting next], as individuals withintheir organizations, are methodically working to ensure that high qualityresources are more findable, more accessible - - and, by removingunnecessary intellectual property restrictions - - more reusable by peoplewho are advancing the goals of their institutions. Christina’s project, the Balboa Park Commons, is focused on releasing huge quantities of resources for educators. 18 In May, 2012 the Walters Museum uploaded 19,000 images from their collections into the Wikimedia Commons, so that those resources and their metadata can be freely incorporated into Wikipedia articles, and also - - because they released most of the images and metadata into the public domain - - re-used by anyone for any purpose.19[Anyone can contribute re-usable photographs and textto the Wiki Loves Monuments project. In 2012 “More than350,000 images have been submitted by over 15,000people for the 2012 competition in countries all overthe world.” (http://www.wikilovesmonuments.org/ )]3. Generate effortIn my own digital projects, I’m focusing less and less on counting hits,image views, and the length of visitor sessions, and more on generating
  14. 14. effort and action - - human hours invested towards outcomes I careabout. In one project I’ve included a goal of generating a million hours ayear of effort from users.[Examples: Trove (Australian national library),OpenStreetMaps, Zooniverse, Cam Clicker, Open Ideo…]4. Where do you want to be in 1 year?If we gather here again a year ago from today, what one or two things towe need to have accomplished...Or we should hang our heads in shame.Often when I put that challenge to an organization or work group, thegoals they set are accomplished in weeks and months. Relentless focuson goals is required to make progress in any context.[Example: Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery ofDenmark) open access initiatives/CC-BY pilot project]5. Think big, start small, move fastFinally, this is something I picked up from the social entrepreneurshipmovement, and I repeat it in almost every talk I give: Think big, startsmall, move fast - - but move. Get it done.***
  15. 15. So, looking at these examples and thinking about the talks you’re aboutto hear, I’m confident we can move from exclusive, broadcast methodsof value creation to inclusive, saleable, powerful models.WE can put the tools of knowledge creation into more hands to catalyzeresearch and discoveryWe can share the joy and meaning of artistic and cultural explorationwith more citizensWe can deepen engagement with the challenges that face our species,and in doing so, can we nurture the habits of a civil and sustainablesocietyAnd we can we make these changes quickly enough, and at big enoughscale, to make a substantial difference in the lives of individuals and thefate of our speciesThis story matters now because the stakes, now, are ridiculously high.Our fulfillment as individuals, the deep rewards of our family andcommunity life, the future of our species, and the plight of every otherliving thing on earth might quite literally depend on the next fewdecisions we make about how our civic institutions work and what kindsof interactions and outcomes they celebrate.Thank you.
  16. 16. 1See http://www.si.edu/about2See http://www.bibalex.org/aboutus/mission_en.aspx3 See http://www.arquivonacional.gov.br/cgi/cgilua.exe/sys/start.htm?sid=14 Sources for these facts are carbon: http://co2now.org/; extinctions: Facing the Futurehttp://www.facingthefuture.org/GlobalIssuesResources/GlobalIssuesTours/Biodiversity/tabid/506/Default.aspx?gclid=CIGFoO6-t7ICFcaiPAodLjIAaA ; armed conflicts: http://conflictmap.org ; poverty: Office of the UNCommissioner for Refugees, http://www.unhcr.org/4a2fd52412d.html5 John Kotter establishes the basic premise that we live in a time of accelerating change in his book A Sense ofUrgency. (Harvard Business Press, 2008). The “DIY” in DIY Biology is an acronym for “Do It Yourself” - - seeWikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DIY_biology) and Biopunk: DIY Scientists Hack the Software of Life,http://marcuswohlsen.com/book/6 "Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity"http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html, filmed February 20067 There are a lot of ways to assess the success, and failure, of individual institutions and GLAMs as a whole. For thepurpose of this short chapter I’m asking the readers to perform a kind of logical shortcut and just consider whatGLAMs say they do, as expressed in their mission statements, and the resources and privilege we confer to them.8 “Museum Financial Information, 2009”, AAM Press, 2009. AAM notes that the number of museums isextrapolated from other data and is not an exact count. The $20.7 billion figure is cited on p. 49.8 Regarding the GDP information, see International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database, October2010: Nominal GDP list of countries, data for the year 2009,http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2010/02/weodata/index.aspx. Of the 181 countries whose GDPs are listedby this report, 86 have GDPs under $20.7 billion. Getting the data from this resource directly is a little complex butthe Wikipedia has a useful summary at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal).9 I haven’t found a solid reference for the appearance of the first library, museum, or archive in human civilization,but the Library of Alexandria was built in the 3rd century B.C. (Wikipedia cites the Letter of Aristeas as the sourcefor this, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Alexandria10 See Tim O’Reilly’s seminal essay from 2005, “What is Web 2.0”, http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html11 Clay Shirky and Chris Anderson (of Wired magazine) have done an extraordinary job of articulating this pointover the years.12 To-do: facts to back this up.13 Though there are innovative, non-broadcast activities in many GLAMs, they tend to be small scale and low riskprojects when compared with overall institutional budgets and staff hour commitments. As a general indication ofthis, the American Association of Museum’s “Museum Financial Information, 2009” report, cited above, states thatthe median annual Internet and website investment in American museums is $5,113, just 0.4 percent of totaloperating expenses, though they note that further research is needed to understand if the number reported is truly
  17. 17. representative of all expenses (p. 106). Clearly, American museums, as a whole, are not investing much money innew digital publishing and audience engagement paradigms, or technology projects of any kind.14Joys Law is frequently referenced in business and strategy contexts without academicsource attribution. A suitable primary reference seems to be Lakhani KR, Panetta JA, "ThePrinciples of Distributed Innovation," 2007,http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=102103415 See http://www.si.edu/about16 From Twitter user KathySierra, November 5, 200917 I’m thinking specifically of “Making and the Commons” http://www.slideshare.net/edsonm/makers-and-the- commons “Museums and the Commons: Helping Makers Get Stuff Done” http://www.slideshare.net/edsonm/museums-and-the-commons-helping-makers- get-stuff-done-6779050 “Imagining the Smithsonian Commons” http://www.slideshare.net/edsonm/cil-2009-michael-edson-text-version18 See http://www.balboapark.org/bpoc/work/commons19 See https://blog.wikimedia.org/2012/05/08/walters-museum-uploads-19000-photos-to-wikimedia-commons/ . Note that there seems to be some uncertainty about theintellectual property status of some of the works and texts - - see the comments at the endof the above-referenced blog post. I’m not sure what to think at this point: more researchneeded.

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