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Social History and Social Media


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Presentation to the Social History Curators Group about the opportunities and challenges of Social Media for Social History.

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Social History and Social Media

  1. 1. A New Dynamic – Technology & the Social History Curator<br />Nick Poole, Collections Trust<br />11.07.09<br />
  2. 2. These slides online at: us at:<br />
  3. 3. Alongside the established and continuing historiographies of politics and government, religion, thought and economic growth, were to be placed histories of family structure, marriage and childhood, adolescence, old age and death; of social stratification and class relations; of popular attitudes and values, literacy, crime and social control; of gender relations and sexuality; of kinship and neighbourhood, deference and resistance, work and leisure, geographical and social mobility, living standards and consumption and the social basis of participation in religious and political movements.’<br />
  4. 4. The challenge to Social Historians is to assimilate, digest, interpret and reflect back to society the great socio-cultural, demographic, economic and consumer shifts which shape contemporary culture.<br />
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  6. 6. Synopsis...<br />The rise and rise of new technologies, allied to Globalisation and profound shifts in consumer behaviours and attitudes, are creating powerful currents in society, including:<br /><ul><li>Social collectivism
  7. 7. Digital (dis)enfranchisement
  8. 8. Social media</li></li></ul><li>It’s not so much computers which are changing society, it’s <br />what people are doing with them and <br />the extent to which barriers to creation and distribution of content have evaporated<br />
  9. 9. “Technology changes. People don’t”<br />Technology by itself can’t cure society’s problems, but it can be disruptive– levelling out information asymmetry, equalising consumer and corporation.<br />It can also create new problems<br />
  10. 10. In parts of rural India and Africa, the Internet has bypassed the desktop and gone can share prices, children can learn, people can mobilise & lobby<br />
  11. 11. How will your kids consume culture? <br />How will your kids<br />Consume culture? <br />And their kids...?<br />
  12. 12. At the moment, it’s still ‘do it online or do it offline’, in 10 years time, it will just be ‘do it’<br />How will your kids<br />Consume culture? <br />And their kids...?<br />
  13. 13. People are plural – occupying many roles, personas, tribes, jobs and managing an incredibly complex set of reference points and channels<br />How will your kids<br />Consume culture? <br />And their kids...?<br />
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  15. 15. The wired citizen...<br />Personal electronic devices are convergent and mobile<br />Domestic Internet use is at critical mass<br />Ultraportable laptops are free with your pay-as-you-go broadband<br />Digital switchover has happened<br />Turning off FM<br />
  16. 16. The New Social Contract...<br />Everybody has a basic human right freely to participate in the cultural life of their community.<br />Many users are moving from passive consumption to active co-creation. <br />The process of interpreting and assigning meaning to objects is becoming more open and democratic.<br />A profound challenge to 100 year old notions of academic objectivity and curatorial authority.<br />
  17. 17. “The Future of Museums lies on the Internet”<br />09.07.09<br />
  18. 18. Three questions:<br />How do we curate the torrent of ephemeral bits which make up peoples lived experience<br />What is the proper role of a ‘curator’ in this kind of co-creative environment<br />How can technological tools, methodologies and philosophies assist us in the day job?<br />
  19. 19. How do we curate mass-participation and online culture?<br />
  20. 20. ...Yesterday, a fire broke out at 76 Dean Street, Soho at about 16.30...<br />...first tweet on Twitter 16.30...<br />... within 10 minutes, there were 97 pictures of the fire on Flickr...<br />...first tasteless joke about Dean Street fire on Twitter 17.14...<br />
  21. 21. We don’t!<br />
  22. 22. There’s too much of it – we have to collaborate with the public & trust history to curate itself<br />
  23. 23. What does it mean to be a curator in this environment?<br />It’s not an either/or, it’s a both/and<br />The role of curator as mediator, journalist, documenter, interpreter and trusted guide is more important than ever before, but the idea of ‘authority’ is coming under severe test.<br />It’s easier for Social History curators!<br />
  24. 24. A New Contract with Our Users<br />You will talk, we will listen<br />They’re your collections<br />Many voices is better than one<br />We will come to you<br />We will provide a platform for culture, it’s not our job to construct it<br />You have a right to culture<br />
  25. 25. How can social historians harness the power of these new tools?<br />By using them...<br />
  26. 26. The society which social history reflects is changing fast<br />Technology is both driving that change and helping to document it<br />We have both an unprecedented challenge and an unprecedented opportunity.<br />Jimmy Wales – “the greatest achievement of Wikipedia is that in future, history will no longer be written by the victors.&quot;<br />
  27. 27. Nick Poole<br />Chief Executive<br />Collections Trust<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />01223 316 028<br />