Conference notes: Museums and Galleries Scotland’s ‘Collaborate to Compete’

My really quite rough-and-ready notes from Museums and Galleries Scotland’s ‘Collaborate to Compete’ conference.  I’ve already posted my introductory notes for the session on ‘Entrepreneurship and Social Media’, so these notes are about the keynotes and the other sessions I attended.

The first speaker was Jeremy Johnson from Australia’s Sovereign Hill, on ‘Engaging with China: the new horizon for cultural and heritage tourism’.  He talked about their research-led marketing program aimed at getting Chinese visitors to Sovereign Hill, which included marketing work in China, hiring Chinese-speaking staff, and developing tailored tours and experiences.  They’ve also hosted Chinese student[?] teachers in their education department and organised touring exhibitions.  They also had to deal with talking about racism in the past treatment of Chinese Australians in Sovereign Hill – their technique is apparently to ‘tell it how it was’, but because Chinese Australians were ‘extraordinary contributors to society’ it was easy to focus on the many success stories.  In general, they’ve developed some experiences to meet the expectations of Chinese visitors, but still, ‘the museum product has to be respected’.

Top quotes included:

  • ‘you must be able to answer the question “what would make someone visit your museum?”‘ – there must be a compelling reason to visit
  • China is like 56 countries wrapped up into one. ‘Saying you’re going to China is like saying you’re going to Europe’
  • ‘Develop a market strategy to deliver visitor experiences at the right price’. The best marketing strategy can be undone if visitor experience does not meet the promise. Cultural awareness training essential for all staff and volunteers.
  • ‘Bear in mind China isn’t a democracy, not everyone gets access to Google’.

I then went to the first ‘New Partnerships’ seminar, where I heard lessons from the ‘Curious’ project at Glasgow Museums, including the possibility that ‘sustainability can be about working with different people at different stages rather than the one group of people working with the museum during the whole process’, and that ‘people put together objects in ways that curators never would’ (e.g. a ceramist put together objects from different parts of the world based on the presence of finger marks in the clay); partnership successes: mutual benefits, increased understanding, new opportunities, positive feedback; partnership challenges: managing expectations (also finding the right people to talk to), organisational structures, a draw on resources, tracking increases in visits.

In the same session, people from the ‘Smart Collaborations’ project talked about conceptual frameworks for collaboration, with a focus on attracting and retaining visitors within an area – it was hard to see the slides, but it seemed to be about designing experiences for tourists. The top tip was: don’t be afraid to use offers, vouchers, or other deals to attract customers; and capture data when getting people in.

The plenary talk before lunch was Stuart Dempster (JISC’s Strategic Content Alliance) on ‘Sustaining Digital Resources’ [earlier report at Business modelling and sustainability, new one will go live there next month ?]. If the digital age is a game-changer for institutions, how can bricks-and-mortar organisations not only be on the web, but of the web. What skills, licensing need to be in place? They’ve been looking at business models, including the effects of economic downturn and government cuts. Funded projects must deliver value to users, not just driven by curatorial concerns; a key concern is how to generate new forms of income with integrity.

Tips for communicating value to adminstrators: have a seat at the table whenever decisions are made about digital resources; engage administrators early to develop shared sense of responsibility for the project; have an advocacy campaign with users outside the institution so you’ve got voices of support when needed; identify different types of stakeholders and work appropriately with each – identify champions if you can.  Sustainable projects: empower leadership to define the mission and take action; create a strong value proposition; creatively manage costs; cultivate diverse sources of revenue; have a system of accountability.  Collaborations need consensus, communication, capacity, trust, metrics…

After lunch, Alphonse Umulisa, Director General of The Institute of National Museums of Rwanda spoke on ‘Repositioning Cultural Tourism’. Previously at the Museum of London, his job is to raise awareness about Rwanda’s history and heritage sites – difficult when Rwanda’s history is so painful. They’re trying to look forward to the future, and forget the past, but even knowing where to start was hard.  He said you can’t learn history in schools in Rwanda – it’s not taught – but you can learn Rwandan history in museums. The museums had to change from research institutions to learn how to attract tourists, and they had to get Rwandans visiting museums again. His talk was both utterly humbling – the Rwandan government’s vision for 2020 is for every family to have a cow – and inspiring – his motto is: ‘discover your museums, cherish your heritage’.

Tony Butler has posted his own notes from his inspiring talk on how the Museum of East Anglian Life transformed itself from a failing organisation to a thriving enterprise, and about his aim to make it a participative institution, a space for co-creation or to help people look at the world differently and to place the museum in the rhythm of daily life.

After my session on ‘Entrepreneurship and Social Media’, I went to a workshop on ‘Smarter Museums’ with Anne Murch (who prefers the concepts of resilience or entrepreneurship to ‘sustainability’).  The workshop covered the principles of a ‘thinking environment’: appreciation, attention, equality, incisive questions. We did a really interesting (and at first, challenging) exercise in pairs, where you had to either just listen, or just talk, for three minutes, before swapping with your partner.  It’s hard – if you’re meant to be listening, you want to encourage the person talking, or if you’re talking, you want to stop and let the other person have a go.  We did it again later, and it was much easier.  We were also asked to consider “if we knew that together we can have a thriving museum that provides the very best experience for our visitors, what would the org look and feel like? What is the shift we need to make to deliver this?”, and the importance of diversity as both the identity of the people that are shaping the future plans and the ideas that are generated. A team that takes a ‘diagonal slice’ across and down through the museum can be effective – the people with least power are often most creative and least encumbered. Another suggestion for better meetings was to frame each agenda item as a question.

The event closed with the launch of the National Strategy Consultation by Fiona Hyslop, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Cultural & External Affairs National Strategy Consultation, with a speech that was a lovely celebration of the contribution of museums and cultural heritage to Scottish life.  The document itself outlines the context, guiding principles, vision, themes and objectives of the proposed sector consultation process, which will lead to the national strategy for Scotland’s Museums and Galleries.  (Interestingly, Australia is also running a ‘Digital Culture Public Sphere‘ consultation for input into National Cultural Policy.)

How to get published – Interface 2011 conference notes

These are my notes from the ‘how to get published’ session at InterFace 2011 – I’ve summarised some of the advice here in case it may help others, with the usual caveat that any mistakes are mine, etc.

Charlotte Frost spoke (slides) about ‘PhD2Published‘, a site with advice, support and discussion about getting academic work published. As the site says, “Don’t underestimate how much of getting published comes down to knowing: A) How publishing works and what’s expected of you as a writer. B) Being professional, adaptable and easy to work with”.  She made the excellent point that if the jobs aren’t out there, you could pour your energies into getting your book pitched and written.  You also need to work out whether a book, journal articles or a mixture would work best for you (especially, I’d imagine, as publishers are taking on fewer books in this financial environment).  Thinking of academic publishing as part of the incremental progression of your career is useful – you don’t need to cram everything into one book.

Specific tips included:

  • make the book what you wish your thesis had been 
  • thinking about the book you wish you’d had available as an undergraduate also helps make your book marketable 
  • collect a list of courses that would put your book on their reading list (and why) 
  • consider the way that your book contributes to the identity of the publishing house and could make it a covetable feature 
  • bear the current financial situation in mind and include as much solid sales evidence as you can 
  • look at how publishing is changing and think about appropriate formats for your work 
  • think about where audiences for your work might be 
  • find out how publishers would like you to pitch and stick to their guidelines 
  • the tone of your pitch should be about why your book is a must-read (not a must-write) 
  • look for series or lists with publishers and tell them how your book would fit in that strand 
  • nail the very short text-only description right from the start 
  • find out if there are grants or awards that could support the publication of your book and let the publisher know 
  • line up a well-known and relevant academic to write a foreword for your book 
  • build and promote an expertise that’s tangential and helps bring other people to your work.
The next speaker was Ashgate’s Dymphna Evans with lots of useful and realistic advice on ‘Publishing your Monograph‘ (slides).  She started with the importance of choosing the right publisher – find someone who peer reviews, talk to colleagues about their experiences, and find publishers with lists or series in your field. Interestingly, she said it’s ok to choose more than one publisher (it will speed up the process, and you’ll get more feedback on your proposals), unless of course a publisher contacted you first.

Following the guidelines on a publisher’s website is vital – and check your proposal once you’ve completed it. You can send sample chapters but she doesn’t recommend you write the whole thing upfront in this current financial environment. Don’t send stuff you feel will need more work – publishers don’t have time to deal with it. Be aware of commercial considerations (most publishers require a minimum sale (maybe 300 books) but it doesn’t have to be a best seller). Be prepared to re-write your thesis. It helps to have published journal articles based on parts of your thesis if they can be re-written for the book. Ashgate have a guide on ‘transforming your thesis into a book‘ (PDF) on their website, and they also have general Proposal Guidelines for Humanities and Social Science authors.

Tips for your book proposal – choose a good title and prepare a thorough synopsis of each chapter. Be realistic about the deliery date. Think about illustrations (e.g. copyright). Don’t undersell yourself as an author. Consider the audience for your book (e.g. in Digital Humanities, don’t underestimate the professional audience for your book… draw out the practical applications of your research for professionals.). Ensure the proposal covers everything.

When making decisions, publishers consider factors including whether your book may fit in a series and whether it will meet sales expectations, and your proposal is peer-reviewed.  Peer reviews are subjective, so don’t be discouraged if they’re negative.  
If you get a publishing contract – read through it, check clauses with publisher if you’re not happy or don’t understand them. Check delivery date and conditions of delivery. Check which rights you are transferring (don’t need copyright, just publication rights). Is an e-book planned?
Read the publishers guidelines before preparing your final manuscript; clear all your copyright permissions and think about illustrations. [Which is useful advice even if you’re just writing a book chapter].  The editorial process includes a peer review of the final text (allow 8-10 weeks); marketing; editorial work; then finally the book is published (5-6 months after submitting)!

The final presentation in this session was Julianne Nyhan on ‘Book reviewing and the post-graduate‘ (slides).  Despite the title, she included websites, exhibitions, emerging technologies as well as books in her tips. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews publishes traditional reviews of about 2,500 words, and ‘review articles’ of about 7,000 words. Review articles are a a synthesis of existing works with the aim of reaching new conclusion or interpretations.

At the simplest level, reviewing books is a way to expand your library. Reviews aren’t peer reviewed in the strictest sense (though there is a quality bar), but review articles consistently appear among most cited papers in a given field, and it’s a way for post-graduate students to use stuff they can’t include in their thesis while getting their name and expertise known out there. It also gives you experience working with editors and publishers.

How to go about publishing book reviews:

  • Identify appropriate journals, establish their scope and mission, and review their reviews. 
  • Write a short email to Book Reviews Editor including: research area; details of previous reviews or publications; books requested/suggested (or types if nothing currently listed). Make a reasonable impression in your cover note. 
  • Agree on a realistic date for submission and keep to it. Iterate with editor about corrections and finally proof copies of work. 

There’s lots of information online on the hallmarks of a good review – it’s not simply a summary but a contextualisation of research – how does it relate to others in the field? Does it advance knowledge in some way? Discussion of the work in the wider intellectual context is an opportunity for you to make interesting connections and bring your personal viewpoint to the review. Be fair and balanced with well-justified and accurate criticisms/points of approval. Never use a big word where a small word will do; never use two words when one will do. Be careful of jargon – ask a colleague in another field to read.

You should look at journal ranking when identifying journals, but maybe rank is less important than whether the journal is open access (and is therefore likely to have higher impact).

Thoughts towards the future of museums for #kulturwebb

Last week I was in Stockholm to give a talk on ‘Museum Crowdsourcing Games: Improving Collections Through Play (and some thoughts on re-inventing museums)‘.  Again, my thanks to @kajsahartig and @nordiskamuseet for the invitation to speak, and to all the lovely people I met for sharing their own stories with me, and for listening to a talk in English. The quote of the day came from @charlotteshj during a panel discussion on museums and innovation at the end of the day: digital museum collections should be ‘shareable, spreadable and nerd-friendly’.

Based on what I learnt about the audience I ended up including more explanatory material on museum crowdsourcing games and didn’t really have time for the ‘re-inventing museums’ bits, so I thought I’d share those notes here.  It’s still very much a work-in-progress but since there are so many smart people thinking about the same subject, it’s worth sharing for comment… (Also because Jasper Visser, who is also thinking about the future of museums, asked me what I was going to say. Btw, Jasper’s #kulturwebb talk inspired the whole room, watch the video on his post about it.)

I know the future of museums lies in fitting into people’s lives as well as being a destination; being the cathedral and being in the bazaar. Cultural heritage needs to be ‘out there’ to help people value and make time for visits the physical place.  It’s about new types of engagement and outreach. It’s not all digital, but as the world is networked and mobile and social, we should be too.

I was thinking about new metaphors for museums – what if we were Amazon? A local newspaper? A specialist version of Wikipedia? A local pub? A student blog? A festival, a series of lectures, or a film group? A pub quiz? Should a museum be at the heart of village life, a meeting place for art snobs, a drop-in centre, a café, a study space, a mobile showroom?

But I realised that the answer to the question of the future of museums is deeply personal to any museum, because museums exist in the intersection of their collections, their fans and their local audiences. This is good, because it means you can apply your existing knowledge about what your audiences love about you.  The answer to the question ‘what would your museum be if it was invented in 2011?’ is up to you…

Every time I approach the question of the future of museums, or of how the future of museums will be informed by what’s happening the world today, I seem to come at it from a different angle. Today I’m wondering about the implications of the fact that there are no (g-rated) offline activities anymore – people will do almost anything with their mobile in one hand, and could be doing anything from googling to find out more about the museum object in front of them to looking up the lyrics of that one-hit wonder from that summer they went camping with friends.  Their head could be in any space as well as in your space.

I’m also thinking about outreach, whether improving wikipedia articles, snippets of local history on the back of pub toilet doors or putting a museum exhibition in a truck and taking it to kids in the outer suburbs.  Tomorrow I’ll wake up with some new ‘what if?’ in my head. And I’m curious – what are you thinking about the future of museums?

Emergent themes from (my) MW2011

I’m never going to have time to tidy these up, so here they are as they were scribbled on a post-it note closer to the Museums and the Web 2011 conference:

  • Stand on the shoulders of giants – so much great work is better because it’s based on the experience and work of others.  There’s a sea change in attitudes about making the most of existing work, and maybe it’s just cos I was hanging out with cool people, but the ‘not invented here’ syndrome seems to be dead.
  • The cool kids share failures and mistakes – people’s wonderful honesty about things that went wrong is amazing and can be so powerful
  • Twitter went from back channel to summarising, sending quotable quotes flying out from the conference, and to socialising – finding the hang outs was so much easier because there were lots of open invitations to explore places.
  • Processes and people over tech – tech is now generally the easy part, and the less interesting part.
  • Lots of anecdotal evidence about how much audiences love ‘behind the scenes’ content.
  • I kept noticing things about the power of storytelling but that could just be because I’m really interested in it.
  • I’ve only just figured this one out, but a lot of the conference was about engagement, whether through games, interactions with mobile devices, participatory projects, whatever. Access is dead, long live engagement.
Hopefully I’ll grab some time to reflect more on specific sessions and talks, but an imperfect post is more use than a polished draft, so here you go!

Notes on ‘User Generated Content’ session, Open Culture Conference 2010

My notes from the ‘user generated content’ parallel track on first day of the Open Culture 2010 conference. The session started with brief presentations by panellists, then group discussions at various tables on questions suggested by the organisers. These notes are quite rough, and of course any mistakes are mine. I haven’t had a chance to look for the speakers’ slides yet so inevitably some bits are missing, and I can only report the discussion at the table I was at in the break-out session. I’ve also blogged my notes from the plenary session of the Open Culture 2010 conference.

User-generated content session, Open Culture, Europeana – the benefits and challenges of UGC.
Kevin Sumption, User-generated content, a MUST DO for cultural institutions
His background – originally a curator of computer sciences. One of first projects he worked on at Powerhouse was D*Hub which presented design collections from V&A, Brooklyn Museum and Powerhouse Museum – it was for curators but also for general public with an interest in design. Been the source of innovation. Editorial crowd-sourcing approach and social tagging, about 8 years ago.

Two years ago he moved to National Maritime Museum, Royal Observatory, Greenwich. One of the first things they did was get involved with Flickr Commons – get historic photographs into public domain, get people involved in tagging. c1000 records in there. General public have been able to identify some images as Adam Villiers images – specialists help provide attribution for the photographer. Only for tens of records of the 000s but was a good introduction to power of UGC.

Building hybrid exhibition experiences – astronomy photographer of the year – competition on Flickr with real world exhibition for the winners of the competition. ‘Blog’ with 2000 amateur astronomers, 50 posts a day. Through power of Flickr has become a significant competition and brand in two years.

Joined citizen science consortia. Galaxy Zoo. Brainchild of Oxford – getting public engaged with real science online. Solar Stormwatch c 3000 people analysing and using the data. Many people who get involved gave up science in high school… but people are getting re-engaged with science *and* making meaningful contributions.

Old Weather – helping solve real-world problems with crowdsourcing. Launched two months ago.
Passion for UGC is based around where projects can join very carefully considered consortia, bringing historical datasets with real scientific problems. Can bring large interested public to the project. Many of the public are reconnecting with historical subject matter or sciences.

Judith Bensa-Moortgat, Nationaal Archief, Netherlands, Images for the Future project
Photo collection of more than 1 million photos. Images for the future project aims to save audio-visual heritage through digitisation and conservation of 1.2 million photos.

Once digitised, they optimise by adding metadata and context. Have own documentalists who can add metadata, but it would take years to go through it all. So decided to try using online community to help enrich photo collections. Using existing platforms like Wikipedia, Flickr, Open Street map, they aim to retrieve contextual info generated by the communities.  They donated political portraits to Wikimedia Commons and within three weeks more than half had been linked to relevant articles.

Their experiences with Flickr Commons – they joined in 2008. Main goal was to see if community would enrich their photos with comments and tags. In two weeks, they had 400,000 page views for 400 photos, including peaks when on Dutch TV news. In six months, they had 800 photos with over 1 million views. In Oct 2010, they are averaging 100,000 page views a month; 3 million overall.

But what about comments etc? Divided them into categories of comments [with percentage of overall contributions]:

  • factual info about location, period, people 5%; 
  • link to other sources eg Wikipedia 5%; 
  • personal stories/memories (e.g. someone in image was recognised); 
  • moral discussions; 
  • aesthetical discussions; 
  • translations.

The first two are most important for them.
13,000 tags in many languages (unique tags or total?).
10% of the contributed UGC was useful for contextualisation; tags ensure accessibility [discoverability?] on the web; increased (international) visibility. [Obviously the figures will vary for different projects, depending on what the original intent of the project was]

The issues she’d like to discuss are – copyright, moderation, platforms, community.

Mette Bom, 1001 Stories about Denmark
Story of the day is one of the 1001 stories. It’s a website about the history and culture of Denmark. The stories have themes, are connected to a timeline.  Started with 50 themes, 180 expert writers writing the 1001 stories, now it’s up to the public to comment and write their own stories. Broad definition of what heritage is – from oldest settlement to the ‘porn street’ – they wanted to expand the definition of heritage.

Target audiences – tourists going to those places; local dedicated experts who have knowledge to contribute. Wanted to take Danish heritage out of museums.

They’ve created the main website, mobile apps, widget for other sites, web service.  Launched in May 2010.  20,000 monthly users. 147 new places added, 1500 pictures added.

Main challenges – how to keep users coming back? 85% new, 15% repeat visitors (ok as aimed at tourists but would like more comments). How to keep press interested and get media coverage? Had a good buzz at the start cos of the celebrities. How to define participation? Is it enough to just be a visitor?

Johan Oomen, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Vrij Uni Amsterdam. Participatory Heritage: the case of the Waisda? video labelling game.
They’re using game mechanisms to get people to help them catalogue content. [sounds familiar!]
‘In the end, the crowd still rules’.
. Tagging is a good way to facilitate time-based annotation [i.e. tag what’s on the screen at different times]

Goal of game is consensus between players. Best example in heritage is steve.museum; much of the thinking about using tagging as a game came from Games with a Purpose (gwap.com).  Basic rule – players score points when their tag exactly matches the tag entered by another within 10 seconds. Other scoring mechanisms.  Lots of channels with images continuously playing.

Linking it to twitter – shout out to friends to come join them playing.  Generating traffic – one of the main challenges. Altruistic message ‘help the archive’ ‘improve access to collections’ came out of research with users on messages that worked. Worked with existing communities.

Results, first six months – 44,362 pageviews. 340,000 tags to 604 items, 42,068 unique tags.
Matches – 42% of tags entered more than 2 times. Also looked at vocab (GTAA, Cornetto), 1/3 words were valid Dutch words, but only a few part of thesauruses.  Tags evaluated by documentalists. Documentary film 85% – tags were useful; for reality series (with less semantic density) tags less useful.

Now looking at how to present tags on the catalogue Powerhouse Museum style.  Experimenting with visualising terms, tag clouds when terms represented, also makes it easy to navigate within the video – would have been difficult to do with professional metadata.  Looking at ‘tag gardening’ – invite people to go back to their tags and click to confirm – e.g. show images with particular tags, get more points for doing it.

Future work – tag matching – synonyms and more specific terms – will get more points for more specific terms.

Panel overview by Costis Dallas, research fellow at Athena, assistant professor at Panteion University, Athens.
He wants to add a different dimension – user-generated content as it becomes an object for memory organisations. New body of resources emerging through these communication practices.
Also, we don’t have a historiography anymore; memory resides in personal information devices.  Mashups, changes in information forms, complex composed information on social networks – these raise new problems for collecting – structural, legal, preservation in context, layered composition.  What do we need to do now in order to be able to make use of digital technologies in appropriate, meaningful ways in the future? New kinds of content, participatory curation are challenges for preservation.

Group discussion (breakout tables)
Discussion about how to attract users. [It wasn’t defined whether it was how to attract specifically users who’ll contribute content or just generally grow the audience and therefore grow the number of content creators within the usual proportions of levels of participation e.g. Nielsen, Forrester; I would also have liked to discussed how to encourage particular kinds of contributions, or to build architectures of participation that provided positive feedback to encourage deeper levels of participation.]

Discussion and conclusions included – go with the strengths of your collections e.g. if one particular audience or content-attracting theme emerges, go with it.  Norway has a national portal where people can add content. They held lots of workshops for possible content creators; made contact with specialist organisations [from which you can take the lesson that UGC doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and that it helps to invest time and resources into enabling participants and soliciting content].  Recording living history.  Physical presence in gallery, at events, is important.  Go where audiences already are; use existing platforms.

Discussion about moderation included – once you have comments, how are they integrated back into collections and digital asset management systems?  What do you do about incorrect UGC displayed on a page?  Not an issue if you separate UGC from museum/authoritative content in the interface design.  In the discussion it turned out that Europeana doesn’t have a definition of ‘moderation’.  IMO, it should include community management, including acknowledging and thanking people for contributions (or rather, moderation is a subset of community management).  It also includes approving or reviewing and publishing content, dealing with corrections suggested by contributors, dealing with incorrect or offensive UGC, adding improved metadata back to collections repositories.

User-generated content and trust – British Library apparently has ‘trusted communities’ on their audio content – academic communities (by domain name?) and ‘everyone else’.  Let other people report content to help weed out bad content.

Then we got onto a really interesting discussion of which country or culture’s version of ‘offensive’ would be used in moderating content.  Having worked in the UK and the Netherlands, I know that what’s considered a really rude swear word and what’s common vocabulary is quite different in each country… but would there be any content left if you considered the lowest common standards for each country?  [Though thinking about it later, people manage to watch films and TV and popular music from other countries so I guess they can deal with different standards when it’s in context.]  To take an extreme content example, a Nazi uniform as memorabilia is illegal in Germany (IIRC) but in the UK it’s a fancy dress outfit for a member of the royal family.

Panel reporting back from various table discussions
Kevin’s report – discussion varied but similar themes across the two tables. One – focus on the call to action, why should people participate, what’s the motivation? How to encourage people to participate? Competitions suggested as one solution, media interest (especially sustained). Notion of core group who’ll energise others. Small groups of highly motivated individuals and groups who can act as catalysts [how to recruit, reward, retain]. Use social media to help launch project.

1001 Danish Stories promotional video effectively showed how easy the process of contributing content was,  and that it doesn’t have to to be perfect (the video includes celebrities working the camera [and also being a bit daggy, which I later realised was quite powerful – they weren’t cool and aloof]).
Giving users something back – it’s not a one-way process. Recognition is important. Immediacy too – if participating in a project, people want to see their contributions acknowledged quickly. Long approval processes lose people.
Removal of content – when different social, political backgrounds with different notions of censorship.

Mette’s report – how to get users to contribute – answers mostly to take away the boundaries, give the users more credit than we otherwise tend to. We always think users will mess things up and experts will be embarrassed by user content but not the case. In 1001 they had experts correcting other experts. Trust users more, involve experts, ask users what they want. Show you appreciate users, have a dialouge, create community. Make it a part of life and environment of users. Find out who your users are.

Second group – how Europeana can use the content provided in all its forms. Could build web services to present content from different places, linking between different applications.
How to set up goals for user activity – didn’t get a lot of answers but one possibility is to start and see how users contribute as you go along. [I also think you shouldn’t be experimenting with UGC without some goal in mind – how else will you know if your experiment succeeded?  It also focusses your interaction and interface design and gives the user some parameters (much more useful than an intimidating blank page)].

Judith’s report (including our table) – motivation and moderation in relation to Europeana – challenging as Europeana are not the owners of the material; also dealing with multilingual collections. Culturally-specific offensive comments. Definition and expectations of Europeana moderation. Resources need if Europeana does the moderation.
Incentives for moderation – improving data, idealism, helping with translations – people like to help translate.

Johan’s report – rewards are important – place users in social charts or give them a feeling of contributing to larger thing; tap into existing community; translate physical world into digital analogue.
Institutional policy – need a clear strategy for e.g. how to integrate the knowledge into the catalogue. Provide training for staff on working with users and online tools. There’s value in employing community managers to give people feedback when they leave content.
Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for annotations…
Doing the projects isn’t only of benefit in enriching metadata but also for giving insight into users – discover audiences with particular interests.

Costis commenting – if Europeana only has thumbnails and metadata, is it a missed opportunity to get UGC on more detailed content?

Is Europeana highbrow compared to other platforms like Flickr, FB, so would people be afraid to contribute? [probably – there must be design patterns for encouraging participation from audiences on museum sites, but we’re still figuring out what they are]
Business model for crowdsourcing – producing multilingual resources is perfect case for Europeana.

Open to the floor for questions… Importance of local communities, getting out there, using libraries to train people. Local newspapers, connecting to existing communities.

Notes from Europeana’s Open Culture Conference 2010

The Open Culture 2010 conference was held in Amsterdam on October 14 – 15. These are my notes from the first day (I couldn’t stay for the second day). As always, they’re a bit rough, and any mistakes are mine. I haven’t had a chance to look for the speakers’ slides yet so inevitably some bits are missing.  If you’re in a hurry, the quote of the day was from Ian Davis: “the goal is not to build a web of data. The goal is to enrich lives through access to information”.

The morning was MCd by Costis Dallas and there was a welcome and introduction from the chair of the Europeana Foundation before Jill Cousins (Europeana Foundation) provided an overview of Europeana. I’m sure the figures will be available online, but in summary, they’ve made good progress in getting from a prototype in 2008 to an operational service in 2010. [Though I have written down that they had 1 million visits in 2010, which is a lot less than a lot of the national museums in the UK though obviously they’ve had longer to establish a brand and a large percentage of their stats are probably in the ‘visit us’ areas rather than collections areas.]

Europeana is a super-aggregator, but doesn’t show the role of the national or thematic aggregators or portals as providers/collections of content. They’re looking to get away from a one-way model to the point where they can get data back out into different places (via APIs etc). They want to move away from being a single destination site to putting information where the user is, to continue their work on advocacy, open source code etc.

Jill discussed various trends, including the idea of an increased understanding that access to culture is the foundation for a creative economy. She mentioned a Kenneth Gilbraith [?] quote on spending more on culture in recession as that’s where creative solutions come from [does anyone know the reference?]. Also, in a time of Increasing nationationalism, Europeana provided an example to combat it with example of trans-Euro cooperation and culture. Finally, customer needs are changing as visitors move from passive recipients to active participants in online culture.

Europeana [or the talk?] will follow four paths – aggregration, distribution, facilitation, engagement.

  • Aggregation – build the trusted source for European digital cultural material. Source curated content, linked data, data enrichment, multilinguality, persistent identifiers. 13 million objects but 18-20thC dominance; only 2% of material is audio-visual [?]. Looking towards publishing metadata as linked open data, to make Europeana and cultural heritage work on the web, e.g. of tagging content with controlled vocabularies – Vikings as tagged by Irish and Norwegian people – from ‘pillagers’ to ‘loving fathers’. They can map between these vocabularies with linked data.
  • Distribution – make the material available to the user wherever they are, whenever they want it. Portals, APIs, widgets, partnerships, getting information into existing school systems.
  • Facilitate innovation in cultural heritage. Knowledge sharing (linked data), IPR business models, policy – advocacy and public domain, data provider agreements. If you write code based on their open sourced applications, they’d love you to commit any code back into Europeana. Also, look at Europeana labs.
  • Engagement – create dialogue and participation. [These slides went quickly, I couldn’t keep up]. Examples of the Great War Archive into Europe [?]. Showing the European connection – Art Nouveau works across Europe.

The next talk was Liam Wyatt on ‘Peace love and metadata’, based in part on his experience at the British Museum, where he volunteered for a month to coordinate the relationship between Wikipedia as representative of the open web [might have mistyped that, it seems quite a mantle to claim] and the BM as representatiave of [missed it]. The goal was to build a proactive relationship of mutual benefit without requiring change in policies or practices of either. [A nice bit of realism because IMO both sides of the museum/Wikipedia relationship are resistant to change and attached firmly to parts of their current models that are in conflict with the other conglomeration.]

The project resulted in 100 new Wikipedia articles, mostly based on the BM/BBC A History of the World in 100 Objects project (AHOW). [Would love to know how many articles were improved as a result too]. They also ran a ‘backstage pass’ day where Wikipedians come on site, meet with curators, backstage tour, then they sit down and create/update entries. There were also one-on-one collaborators – hooking up Wikipedians and curators/museums with e.g. photos of objects requested.

It’s all about improving content, focussing on personal relationshiips, leveraging the communities; it didn’t focus on residents (his own work), none of them are content donation projects, every institution has different needs but can do some version of this.

[I’m curious about why it’s about bringing Wikipedians into museums and not turning museum people into Wikipedians but I guess that’s a whole different project and may be result from the personal relationships anyway.]

Unknown risks are accounted for and overestimated. Unknown rewards are not accounted for and underestimated. [Quoted for truth, and I think this struck a chord with the audience.]

Reasons he’s heard for restricting digital access… Most common ‘preserving the integrity of the collection’ but sounds like need to approve content so can approve of usages. As a result he’s seen convoluted copyright claims – it’s easy tool to use to retain control.

Derivative works. Commercial use. Different types of free – freedom to use, freedom to study and apply knowledge gained; freedom to make and redistribute copies; [something else].

There are only three applicable licences for Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a non-commercial organisation, but don’t accept any non-commercially licenced content as ‘it would restrict the freedom of people downstream to re-use the content in innovative ways’. [but this rules out much museum content, whether rightly or not, and with varying sources from legal requirements to preference. Licence wars (see the open source movement) are boring, but the public would have access to more museum content on Wikipedia if that restriction was negotiable. Whether that would outweight the possible ‘downstream’ benefit is an interesting question.]

Liam asked the audience, do you have a volunteer project in your institution? do you have an e-volunteer program? Well, you do already, you just don’t know it. It’s a matter of whether you want to engage with them back. You don’t have to, and it might be messy.

Wikipedia is not a social network. It is a social construction – it requires a community to exist but socialising is not the goal. Wikipedia is not user generated content. Wikipedia is community curated works. Curated, not only generated. Things can be edited or deleted as well as added [which is always a difficulty for museums thinking about relying on Wikipedia content in the long term, especially as the ‘significance’ of various objects can be a contested issue.]

Happy datasets are all alike; every unhappy dataset is unhappy in its own way. A good test of data is that it works well with others – technically or legally.

According to Liam, Europeana is the 21st century of the gallery painting – it’s a thumbnail gallery but it could be so much more if the content was technically and legally able to be re-used, integrated.
Data already has enough restrictions already e.g. copyright, donor restrictions. but if it comes without restrictions, its a shame to add them. ‘Leave the gate as you found it’.

‘We’re doing the same thing for the same reason for the same people in the same medium, let’s do it together.’

The next sessions were ‘tasters’ of the three thematic tracks of the second part of the day – linked data, user-generated content, and risks and rewards. This was a great idea because I felt like I wasn’t totally missing out on the other sessions.

Ian Davis from Talis talked about ‘linked open culture’ as a preview of the linked data track. How to take practices learned from linked data and apply them to open culture sector. We’re always looking for ways to exchange info, communicate more effecively. We’re no longer limited by the physicality of information. ‘The semantic web fundamentally changes how information, machines and people are connected together’. The semantic web and its powerful network effects are enabling a radical transformation away from islands of data. One question is, does preservation require protection, isolation, or to copy it as widely as possible?

Conjecture 1 – data outlasts code. MARC stays forever, code changes. This implies that open data is more important than open source.
Conjecture 2 – structured data is more valuable than unstructured. Therefore we should seek to structure our data well.
Conjecture 3 – most of the value in our data will be unexpected and unintended. Therefore we should engineer for serendipity.

‘Provide and enable’ – UK National Archives phrase. Provide things you’re good at – use unique expertise and knowledge [missed bits]… enable as many people as possible to use it – licence data for re-use, give important things identifiers, link widely.

‘The goal is not to build a web of data. The goal is to enrich lives through access to information.’
[I think this is my new motto – it sums it up so perfectly. Yes, we carry on about the technology, but only so we can get it built – it’s the means to an end, not the end itself. It’s not about applying acronyms to content, it’s about making content more meaningful, retaining its connection to its source and original context, making the terms of use clear and accessible, making it easy to re-use, encouraging people to make applications and websites with it, blah blah blah – but it’s all so that more people can have more meaningful relationships with their contemporary and historical worlds.]

Kevin Sumption from the National Maritime Museum presented on the user-generated content track. A look ahead – the cultural sector and new models… User-generated content (UGC) is a broad description for content created by end users rather than traditional publishers. Museums have been active in photo-sharing, social tagging, wikipedia editing.

Crowdsourcing e.g. – reCAPTCHA [digitising books, one registration form at a time]. His team was inspired by the approach, created a project called ‘Old Weather’ – people review logs of WWI British ships to transcribe the content, especially meterological data. This fills in a gap in the meterological dataset for 1914 – 1918, allows weather in the period to be modelled, contributes to understanding of global weather patterns.

Also working with Oxford Uni, Rutherford Institute, Zooniverse – solar stormwatch – solar weather forecast. The museum is working with research institutions to provide data to solve real-world problems. [Museums can bring audiences to these projects, re-ignite interest in science, you can sit at home or on the train and make real contributions to on-going research – how cool is that?]

Community collecting. e.g. mass observation project 1937 – relaunched now and you can train to become an observer. You get a brief e.g. families on holidays.

BBC WW2 People’s War – archive of WWII memories. [check it out]

RunCoCO – tools for people to set up community-lead, generated projects.

Community-lead research – a bit more contentious – e.g. Guardian and MPs expenses. Putting data in hands of public, trusting them to generate content. [Though if you’re just getting people to help filter up interesting content for review by trusted sources, it’s not that risky].

The final thematic track preview was by Charles Oppenheim from Loughborough University, on the risks and rewards of placing metadata and content on the web. Legal context – authorisation of copyright holder is required for [various acts including putting it on the web] unless… it’s out of copyright, have explicit permission from rights holder (not implied licence just cos it’s online), permission has been granted under licensing scheme, work has been created by a member of staff or under contract with IP assigned.

Issues with cultural objects – media rich content – multiple layers of rights, multiple rights holders, multiple permissions often required. Who owns what rights? Different media industries have different traditions about giving permission. Orphan works.

Possible non-legal ramifiations of IPR infringements – loss of trust with rights holders/creators; loss of trust with public; damage to reputation/bad press; breach of contract (funding bodies or licensors); additional fees/costs; takedown of content or entire service.

Help is at hand – Strategic Content Alliance toolkit [online].

Copyright less to do with law than with risk management – assess risks and work out how will minimise them.

Risks beyond IPR – defamation; liability for provision of inaccurate information; illegal materials e.g. pornography, pro-terrorism, violent materials, racist materials, Holocaust denial; data protection/privacy breaches; accidental disclosure of confidential information.

High risk – anything you make money from; copying anything that is in copyright and is commercially availabe.
Low risk – orphan works of low commercial value – letters, diaries, amateur photographs, films, recordings known by less known people.
Zero risk stuff.
Risks on the other side of the coin [aka excuses for not putting stuff up]

‘Go forth and digitise’ – Bill Thompson at OpenTech 2010

I’ve realised events like OpenTech are a bit like geek Christmas – a brief intense moment of brilliant fun with inspiring people who not only get what you’re saying, they’ll give you an idea back that’ll push you further… then it’s back to the inching progress of everyday life, but hopefully with enough of that event energy to make it all easier. Anyway, enough rambling and onto my sketchy notes from the talk. Stuff in square brackets is me thinking aloud, any mistakes are mine, etc.

Giving the Enlightenment Another Five Hundred Years, Bill Thompson
Session 3, Track A #3A
[A confession – working in a museum, and a science museum at that, I have a long-standing interest in conserving enough of the past to understand the present and plan for the future, and just because it’s fascinating. It was ace to hear from someone passionate about the role of archives and cultural heritage in the defence of reason, and even more ace to see the tweets flying around as other people got excited about it too.]

The importance of the scientific method; of asking hard questions and looking for refutation not confirmation.

But surely history is all about progress – what could go wrong? But imagine President Palin… History has shown that it’s possible for progress to go backwards.

What can we do? He’s not speaking on behalf of the BBC here, but his job is to figure out what you can do with the BBC’s archive. [Video of seeing the BBC charter – the powerful impact of holding the actual physical object is reason enough to conserve things from the past, it’s an oddly visceral connection to the people who made it that I’ve noticed again and again while working in museums and archaeology.]

We need to remember. To remember is to understand, to resist. We need to digitise. Remembering comes along with digitising; our experience of the world is so mediated by bits that unless we makes archives digital in some form, there’s a real danger that they will be forgotten, inaccessible. Also need to build mechanisms so that stuff that’s created now are preserved alongside the records of the past. We need to do it all. If we do it well, we’ll give current and future generations the evidence they need to resist the onslaught of ignorance, the tide of unreason that’s sweeping the world. Need to create reasonable digitisation of solid artefacts too.

We need to do it soon ‘because the kids may not want to’. The technology exists but thinks there’s a real danger that if not done in the next ten years, it won’t be done; people won’t realise the value of the archives and understand why it has to be done. Kids who’ve grown up on Google will never do the deep research that will take them to the stuff that’s not digitised; non-digital stuff will fall into disuse; conservation/preservation will stop.
Don’t let Google do it, they don’t value the right things.

Once it’s in bits, preserve the data and the artefact; catalogue it, make it findable, make it usable – open data world meets open knowledge world. Access to APIs and datasets is important to make sure material can be found. If you know it’s there you can ask for it to be digitised. Build layers on top of the assets that have been digitised.

Need to make it usable so have to sort out the rights fiasco… Need a place to put it all, not sure that exists yet. New tools, services, standards so it can be preserved forever and found in future. Not a trivial task but vitally important. The information in the archives supports true understanding. Possibility of doing something transformative at the moment. [He finished with:] ‘Go forth and digitise. And don’t forget the metadata’.

Crowdsourcing metadata seems like a good idea; V&A gets a shout-out for crowdsourcing image cropping [with an ad hoc description ‘which one of these are in focus’ – they might be horrified to hear their photography described like that. I got all excited that other people were excited about crowdsourcing metadata, because creating interfaces with game dynamics to encourage people to create content about collections is my MSc dissertation project.]

OCRing text in digitised images – amazing [I need to find a reference to that – if we can do it it’d instantly make our archives and 2D collections much more accessible and discoverable]

Question re Internet Archive – ans that it doesn’t have enough curation – ‘like throwing your archives down a well before the invaders arrive’ – they might be there in a usable form when you come back for them, they might not be.

Question: preservation and digital archaeology are two different things, how closely are they aligned? [digital archaeology presumably not destructive though]

[And that’s the end of my notes for that session, notes on the Guardian platform and game session to come]

Running notes, day 3 (Saturday) of MW2009

These are my running notes from day 3 of the Museums and the Web conference – as the perfect is the enemy of the good I’m getting these up ‘as is’. I did a demo [abstract] in the morning but haven’t written up my notes yet – shame on me!

The session ‘Building and using online collections‘ included three papers, I’ve got notes from all three but my laptop battery died halfway through the session so only some of them are already typed – I’ll update this entry when I can sneak some time.

Paul Rowe presented on NZMuseums: Showcasing the collections of all New Zealand museums (the linked abstract includes the full paper and slides).

National Services Te Paerangi (NSTP).

4 million NZers, 400 museums.  NZMuseums website – focal point for all NZ museums. NSTP administers the site, Vernon Systems is solution provider.

Each museum has a profile page including highlights of their collections. Web-based collection management system.

What needs to be in place for small museums to contribute? How can a portal be built with limited resources? What features of the website would encourage re-use of the data?

Some museums had good web presences, but what about the small museums? Facing same issues that small or local govt museums in the UK face.

Museums are treasures of the country, they show who we are. Website needs to reflect that.

Focus groups – volunteers are important – keep it simple; keep costs low; some places had limited internet connectivity; reservations about content being on the internet were common.

Promoting involvement to the sector – used existing national monthly newsletters to advertise workshops and content deadlines. Minimum of 20 items for placement on site to avoid ‘box ticking’ [some real commitment required]. Used online forum for FAQs.

Lack of skills – NSTP were trained so could then train staff and volunteers in museums. Digitising, photography for the web.

Had to explain benefits to small museums. It gave them an easy start to getting an online presence.

They overcame resistance by allowing watermarking and clear copyright statements; they showed existing museums sites that allowed tagging; promoted that would help them reach a diverse dispersed audience.

First tag on site – ‘shiny nose‘. First comment was someone admitting they’d touched the nose on a bronze sculpture.

eHive.

Could also import Excel spreadsheets as content management system didn’t exist at early stage of project. Also provided a workaround for people with lack of internet – the spreadsheet could be posted on CD.

API provides glue to connect eHive (Collections Management System) and NZMuseums site together.  

Tips for success
Use OS software where possible; use existing online forums and communication networks to save answering questions over again.

90% of these collection items not previously available on the internet. 99% of collection items have images.

[Kiwis are heroes!  Everyone was incredibly modest about their achievements, but I think they’re amazing.]

Next was Eero Hyvönen on CultureSampo – Finnish Culture on the Semantic Web 2.0: Thematic Perspectives for the End-user (the linked abstract includes the full paper and slides).

Helsinki semantic web thingies
Part of national ontology project, Finland
Vision – international semantic web of cultural heritage. Marriage between semweb and web 2.0

Challenges – content heterogeneity, complexity 

Other challenge relates to the way cultural content is produced – Freebase, Wikipedia, open street maps, etc, 

Semweb for data integration; web.2 0 approach for content production

Automatically enriched by each piece of knowledge.

In Finnish the sampo is a magic drum that makes everything possible.  

Portal intended for human users and machines. Trying to establish a national way of producing content so can be published automatically.  

Infrastructure – 37,000 class concepts in ontology. MAO, TAO – museum ontologies, collaboratively built ontologies, then mapped to national system. End user sees one unified ontology. [A little pause while I pick my jaw up from the ground.]  66 vocabularies, taxonomies and ontologies available online as services, can be used as AJAX widgets. Some vocabularies are proprietary so can’t be published online in the service.

28 content providers, 22 libraries and museums and some international associates like Getty places, Wikipedia.

16 different metadata schemas. [Including some for poetry!]

134,000 cultural collection items (artefacts, books, videos, etc)

285,000 other resources (places, people etc)

Annotation channel for content items – web 2.0 type interface.

Semantic web 2.0 portal

Portal users – for humans, Google-like but semantic search. Nine perspectives into cultural heritage. Three languages. Recently view items, recently commented items.  

Map view.

With one line of JavaScript on own website, can incorporate CultureSampo on own website.

[Sadly my laptop died here and the rest of my notes are handwritten.  You can probably get the gist from the published paper and the slide, but the coolness of their project was summed up by this tweet: Musebrarian: What can you do with a semantic knowledgebase? Search for “beard fashion in Finland” across time and place. #mw2009

It might not sound like much, but the breadth of content, and the number of interfaces onto it was awe-inspiring.]

Sadly my notes from Brian Dawson’s paper, Collection effects: examining the actual use of on-line archival images are also still on notepaper.  The paper was a really useful examination of analytical approaches to understanding the motivations of people using cultural heritage collections.

A quick summary of my MW2009

I’m posting this now to get it out of the way (and done in April) though I still haven’t caught up on the Museums and the Web 2009 ‘backchannel’, tidied my notes or read all the papers I wanted to read. I may update this later as I remember things I wanted to say.

Some strong themes (memes?) emerged during the conference. In general, while lots of great sites and projects were presented, including some lovely examples of projects breaking new ground in best practice, some of the most important ideas weren’t about presenting new, flashy things but rather reflected a maturity in approach, and a consolidation of the role of the web in museums.

Breaking out of the bubble
From the informal conversations and unconference sessions proposed it seems to be an issue lots of people are struggling with – how do we communicate with managers, curators, educators to get them excited about the possibilities of the web; Nina‘s question about how we bring the levels of participation we’re seeing on museum websites into the physical museum; how does (or how should) an integrated web program change an organisation; how do web teams go from mavericks to maturity?

And leading on from that: the post-conference challenge – do one thing in April

Conferences are great, especially one as social as Museums and the Web. Those inspiring late night conversations, the unexpected connections, putting faces to names… but I sometimes come away from conferences as cynical as I am enthused because before you know it, you’re back at the same conference next year and nothing has changed.
The ‘do one thing different when you get back’ idea that suffused the crowd-sourced closing plenary really inspired me. Using the post-conference high to make one small change or proactively share with colleagues rather than letting it dissipate seemed to appeal to lots of people – I wonder if there’s a way of finding out who’s taken up the challenge. I hope I’m going to keep the inspiration to do the Right Thing, to keep pushing for quality when resources and energy are limited and projects are many.
I also realised that after all the inspiring conversations of last year some of us came back from MW2008 and ended up with BathCamp, so while the post-conference crash back to reality may be unavoidable, it doesn’t mean you can’t get something done anyway.
So I’ve been working away on the museums API wiki (possibly better known as ‘museums and re-usable shareable data’ but hey ho), tagging links ‘mw2009’ in delicious, and following up some contacts with email conversations. There’s a lot more I should be doing, and if I haven’t yet been in contact with you about something we discussed, let me know.

The unconference
I want to write a proper post about how it worked so that other people would feel comfortable running one of their own, but in the meantime, I’ll just say that I was thrilled that it seems to have been so useful for people.

Twitter
The impact of Twitter was really evident at this conference. Apart from finding people for food or drinks, I used it most usefully to suggest an informal meetup of people interested in museum APIs during the Friday, and to find a whole bunch of people to go and eat noodles with. You can get a sense of the progress of the conference from my MW2009 tweets (from my ‘event’ twitter account).

Randomness
On a personal note, I also made up a new description for myself as I needed one in a hurry for moo cards: cultural heritage technologist. I felt like a bit of a dag but then the lovely Ryan from the George Eastman House said it was also a title he’d wanted to use and that made me feel better. And I won a ‘backchannel award‘ for blogging from the conference, woo!

As well as earlier posts on the opening plenary and the unconference session on failure I still have more notes to dump into posts, I’ll tag them all so you can find them under MW2009.

Notes from the closing plenary, MW2009

These are my quick and dirty notes from the closing plenary of the 2009 Museums and the Web conference .  If I’ve quoted you but gotten your name wrong, I’m very sorry – please let me know and I’ll correct it.  I haven’t put links in for anyone yet so I’ll be editing the entry anyway.

‘We are the program.’  Awards for blog posts, tweets, Flickr photos then David Bearman invited people to come up and talk about what they’ve learnt, what they’ll take away.

Nina, Museum 2.0 – inspired by Max’s keynote address. But she didn’t feel that difference in the institution. Didn’t see the transparency and openness that you get on the web, on their dashboard. Not saying they have to do that, but wants to bring up idea of participatory ghetto… forming relationships with visitors on the web, who’ll show up at museums and wonder why the same relationship isn’t reflected in the building. Pushing in institutions to establish parity, not to give up on physical space also being somewhere for openness and transparency. IMA – had experience of extreme cognitive dissonance. How can you start the conversation, taking great stuff from web world into physical environment of institutions. Her first time at MW.

Heather from Balbao – new to conference and museum world, great introduction.

Nate, Walker Art Centre – I always leave inspired, seen it happen every time- a month worth of trying new things, then it trickles off and fades… go to the wiki and take the post-conference challenge to do one thing in April – choose one task that you can achieve by the end of April. Distributed agile development … beyond API, everyone can benefit from going home and immediately doing just one thing. [eek I feel weird taking notes about my ideas]

Frankie, Rattle – be excited about tin mining.

Brian, UKOLN – danger that losing accessibility cos doing innovative things, but there have been some really great examples. Universally accessible – pushing it (the definition) of it forward.

Seb, Powerhouse – need to bring people in, curators, management.

Julie (?) – boundaries between web and physical boundaries – problematising the name of the conference. Is ‘web’ starting to constrain what we’re about?

Nina – comment on that – conference in US called WebWise – lousy content but less funded projects, mostly director level people who go. How do we get these people in a situation that’s more blended with the kind of people who are here?

Victoria, Smithsonian? carrying on Nina and Seb’s point – spends first month being excited, but directors etc aren’t going to come to conferences like this. You may have five minutes to articulate why something is important – and it’s not heard when it’s someone outside, even if you’ve been saying it on the inside for years. Having someone who’s succeeded from outside, doing snippets of video or whatever – convincing.

David – seeing what can share back. Spend time at conference demanding people write papers, share slides… would really love for the post-conference discussion that takes place online to incorporate thoughts, experience about what doing. Extension into social space of a discourse we’ve never really had – how do you use that post-conference excitement… how do organisations change, which is becoming the centre of the discourse… take it further, keep talking to each other about how do you make it work.

Jennifer – the thing we can do by the end of April, if you write a report, share it with your colleagues. Let people pinch your ideas, send it out. Share the reports as well as the stuff that happens when we’re right here.

Jon Pratty – we need a more social media within the museum.

Peter Samis – can remember this camaraderie in 1991… hearing it just as fresh now with people who are coming to their first conference, loving it… this is going to have legs, it’s going to keep running, continue this spirit throughout the year.

Rich (another Rich) – haven’t really felt the amount of community before, but have been coming since 1999. Being able to catch up on the things he missed while he was here.

Brian – people in the community can fall out, it’s happened in the UK. People have strongly held views, need to depersonalise disputes, constructive criticism.

Scott (?) – we’re not the only people talking about these subjects, it’s happening in higher education, the commercial sector, not a whole of discussion here about what’s happening out there and what impact it has here. Would be neat to do some headlines on what’s going on in the world outside museum, add to the implications for this audience.
[This final session probably contributed quite a bit to my summary of MW2009 – I’d written the ‘MW2009 challenge’ a little while before (after discussions at the ice cream API meet) and it was wonderful to feel so much excitement (tempered with realistic cynicism) in the room about the positive changes we could make when we went back to our home institutions.]