Digital challenges, digital opportunities for 'Engaging Visitors Through Play', Belfast


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About the Museums Computer Group and UK Museums on the Web, themes in conversations with museum staff and events about the challenges of digital technologies and the value of working with your peers to support, connect and inspire each other.

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  • Thanks to the Centre for Media Research for hosting us today... Thanks Alan and OonaghGoing to tell you about the Museums Computer Group, about some of the challenges for museums and staff I’ve picked up over the past year or so, think about how to find opportunities from those challenges
  • The Museums Computer Group exists to connect, support, and inspire museum technology professionals. It began in October 1982 when a group met at the Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge, at the end of which it was decided that they should meet again and be The Museums Computer Group.The first official MCG meeting of the new group was held over two days in April 1983 at the Manchester Museum. 30 years later we celebrated our 30th anniversary as a group at our Museums on the Web conference at theWellcome Collection in November 2012.
  • As a practioner-led group of volunteers, the MCG can best fulfill its mission by acting as a platform. With over 1000 members on our mailing list and hundreds of attendees at events, we can help people in the sector help and inspire each other. We have no commercial or political agenda, we’re a neutral space for discussion.
  • The MCG community gathers in different formats. About the list - part of flatter, more open community; both huge and tiny orgs get something out of participating. Get involved, learning together. Events are designed to provide opportunities to network, put faces to names, start conversations.
  • The MCG has been able to respond to issues raised on the list and at events, and has been part of various funded projects as well as inspiring the Let’s Get Real project. Photo copyright jonpratty
  • We’ve had a long history of running events around the UK, hosted in a variety of museums and universities. Our members tell us that we can help support them through regional events so they don’t have to budget for travel; we’re also exploring new event formats like informal evening meetups to help create more opportunities for connection. We’d like to support people in running their own events, so let us know if you have an idea.
  • ...and we’ve also been to some other places.
  • Our biggest annual event, sells out more and more quickly. Started in 2001 at the V&A, became an annual event in 2004... The marketing version would say ‘A key event for museum professionals working across digital media, learning and communications’ but quite simply, it’s a chance to reflect on the past year, find out what’s coming, and to learn from your peers and the best of other sectors. Setting themes for UKMW13 now... Possibly meaningful participation, grassroots projects, people supporting the museums they love, people in museums empowering themselves about digital technologies...
  • These are some of the challenges our members are facing, and the questions they’re asking...
  • Last year’s Museums on the Web conference was actually partly about saying that best solution for a project might not involve technology. Being 'strategically digital' offers some solutions to the organisational change issues raised by the mismatch between web speed and museum speed, and it means technology decisions should always refer back to a museum's public engagement strategy (or infrastructure plans for background ICT services). An important part of digital strategies seems to be the conversations the process of writing one starts in museums. Creating a digital strategy is a chance to listen to colleagues and understand their perspective, and to share your excitement about the possibilities and together come up with solutions for the challenges your museum faces. Your museum’s website probably has over 20% mobile visitors, so if you’re not thinking about their experience, you may be driving away business.New terms like service design, design thinking, are taking over from the old refrain of user-centred design, and going beyond it to testing how the whole organisation appears to the customer – does it feel like a seamless, pleasurable (or at least not painful) experience? New ways of thinking to solve old problems.Will hear about games, but also think about crowdsourcing, asking the audience to help with tasks or share their knowledge with you.
  • Authority is challenged not only by audiences expecting to ‘curate’ their own experience but also by younger staff or people who’ve moved from other sectors and have their own ideas about digital projects. If you’ve ever seen kids smoosh their hands on a screen because they expect it to respond to their touch and zoom, you’ll know how hard it is to keep up with consumer technologies.
  • As soon as you figure out bit of technology out, it goes and changes – you’ll always be learning. But don’t do it alone...
  • Despite all the frustrations, it’s an amazing time to work in or study the sector, so enjoy it!
  • Digital challenges, digital opportunities for 'Engaging Visitors Through Play', Belfast

    1. 1. Digital challenges, digitalopportunitiesMia Ridge, ChairMuseums Computer Group@mia_out @ukmcg#MCGPlay
    2. 2. The MCG’s mission‘Connecting, supporting, inspiring museumtechnology professionals’...
    3. 3. The MCG’s mission‘Connecting, supporting, inspiring museumtechnology professionals’......platforms for sharing best practice anddiscussion betweenmuseum, gallery, archive and highereducation professionals who work withmuseum technology and digital heritage.
    4. 4. MCG Community• Active discussion list – retro format, greatplace to ask questions• Annual UK Museums on the Webconference• Regional ‘Spring’ meetings• Experimenting with new meet-up formats:#drinkingaboutmuseums
    5. 5. Projects from the MCG CommunityPhoto copyright jon pratty• Semantic Web Think Tank (2006-2007)• Mashed Museum hack days (2007, 2008)• LIVE!Museum (2009-2010)• Culture24’s Let’s Get Real analytics project(2010-2011, 2012-2013)
    6. 6. MCG Events• 15-16 October 1982, Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge• ...• 1 May 1994, Ulster Museum, Belfast• ...• 30 November 2012: UK Museums on the Web 2012:Strategically digital• 30 May 2013: Engaging Visitors Through Play, The Centre forMedia Research, Belfast• 15 November 2013: UK Museums on the Web, Tate Modern
    7. 7. MCG Events• 15-16 October 1982, Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge• ...• 1 May 1994, Ulster Museum, Belfast• ...• 30 November 2012: UK Museums on the Web 2012:Strategically digital• 30 May 2013: Engaging Visitors Through Play, The Centre forMedia Research, Belfast• 15 November 2013: UK Museums on the Web, Tate Modern• Also: Cambridge, Manchester, Newcastle UponTyne, Leicester, Duxford, Kew, Bristol, Liverpool, Oxford, Edinburgh, Plymouth, Wiltshire, Winchester/Trowbridge, Cardiff, York, Swindon, Hendon, Hove, Norwich, Stoke-on-Trent, Brighton, Birmingham, Swansea, Bath...
    8. 8. MCG’s Museums on the Web• Be inspired by new ideas from othersectors, learn best practice from your peers• Tate Modern, 15 November 2013• Theme: ‘meaningful visitor engagement’ (AKA‘people power’)?
    9. 9. Digital challenges...• Finding good webdesign/SEO/evaluation/etcagencies, finding good staff• The emergence of ‘head of digital’roles• Online collections, managing digitalassets; integration with CollectionsManagement Systems and othersystems• Integrating Collections ManagementSystems and 3rd party platforms likeWordPress• Storytelling to engage the public• Museum informatics: CIDOC-CRMand other linked open data topics• ‘Create once, publish everywhere’ –can re-usable content really work?• Online analytics• Digital 3D objects – scanning, printing• Measuring the impact of social media• MOOCs (online courses)• Google Cultural Institute, Google ArtProject, Artsy, etc• 3rd party tools - PayPal, Google Apps• Mobile - apps, well-designedexperiences• Digital collections in physicalexhibitions spaces• Touch tables/large-scale interactives• The user experience of user-generated content / co-producedexhibitionsThemes from (an entirely unscientific review of)MCG discussion list headings in 2013
    10. 10. Themes in museum conversations• ‘Strategically digital’• Mobile• Immersive, challenging experiences• High-quality services integrated across thewhole museum• Audience participation and engagement
    11. 11. More challenges for museums• New models of authority and expertise• Constantly changing audienceexpectations• ‘Doing more with less’ (and then lessagain)• Figuring out where to ask for help• Training and personal development
    12. 12. The more things change...• Find supportive peers to learn with
    13. 13. The more things change...• Find supportive peers to learn with: discussions overlunch, pub meet-ups, do a course together...• Ask 1000 friendly, smart people on the MCG list forhelp• Job swaps, mentoring?• Past papers at andmuseum blogs• Try Twitter: #musetech #musesocial #museed
    14. 14. Challenges and opportunities......engage museums in play!
    15. 15. Thank you!