Museum pecha kucha night

The first museum pecha kucha night was held in London at the British Museum on June 18, 2009. I took rough notes during the presentations, and have included the slides and notes from my own presentation. The event used the tag ‘mwpkn’ to gather together tweets, photos, etc. The focus of this first museum pecha kucha was on sharing insights and inspiration from the Museums and the Web conference held in Indianapolis in April.

The event was organised by Shelley Mannion, who introduced the event, emphasising that it was about fun and connecting the museum tech community in an interesting way.

Gail Durbin (V&A), takeaways from MW2009
She’s a practical person, looks for ideas to nick. Good idea as things get hazy after a conference, good intentions disappear.

First takeaway – Dina Helal let her play with her iPhone, decided she had to have one. She liked her mobile for the first time in her life.

Second – twittering was very important. Decided to do something with it. Twittering is hard, sending out messages that are interesting is difficult.

Enthusiasm at conferences is short lived – e.g. people excited about wedding site, but did they send in wedding photos? She talked to people about a self-portraiture idea, ‘life on a postcard’, but hasn’t had a single response.

RSS feeds – came away knowing we had to review our RSS feeds, had been without attention for a long time.

Learnt that wikis are very hard work, they don’t automatically look after themselves.
Creative use of Flickr – museum ‘my karsh‘ collection

Resolved that had to work with Development. Looking at something like the British Library’s – adopt a book for fathers day.

Something that bothers her – many museums think of ‘Web 2.0’ just as more channels to push out information, there’s no sense of pulling in information about visitors.

Beck Tench, one of the most interesting people she met at the conference – practice and work go together very closely. Flickr plant project. She wants to get staff involved – has meeting on Fridays, in local bar, tweets to everyone, conducts something called Experimonth.

Last thing learnt – librarians have better cakes.

Silvia Filippini Fantoni (British Museum and Sorbonne University)
Silvia makes a plea for extra seconds as a non-native speaker (and synthesis not the best feature of Italians). Lecturer in museum informatics and evaluation methods at Sorbonne and project manager for multimedia guide project at British Museum.

So her focus at the conference was mostly on guides. Particularly Samis and Pau and others. Mini workshops and workshops on the topic before and during the conference. Demos from Paul Clifford (Museum of London). Exhibitors. Lots of museums are planning to develop applications.

Interest in using mobile technology as an interpretive tool is constantly growing, especially delivered on visitors own devices. Proliferations of mobile platforms. Proliferation of different functionalities – not just audio – visual, games, way finding, web access and communication, notes and comments. Have all these new platforms and functionalities improved the visitor experience? Yes, but there are some disadvantages.

Asks: aren’t we trying to do too much? Are we trying to turn a useful interpretive tool into something too complex? Aren’t we forgetting about core audio guide audience?

Are people interested in using their own devices? Do they have the time to pre-download, do they bring their devices? Samis and Pau – the answer is no/not yet. For the medium and short term still need to provide media in the museums. Touch screen devices are easier to use. Limited functionality makes interface simpler. Focus on content – AV messages, touch and listen.
Importance of sharing and learning from best practice. Some efforts at and after MW2009 – handheldconference.org. Discussion of developing open source content management system for mobile devices – contact Nancy Proctor.

Daniel Incandela (Indianapolis Museum of Art)
He’s from America so should have extra time too. Also sick and medicated (so at least one of us will have a good time during the presentation).

Enjoys robots, dinosaurs, football and a good point. On holiday while here.

Slide – Shelley’s twitter profile – she’s responsible for him being here while on holiday.

He blogged about preparing for the presentation and got a comment from one of the pecha kucha founders – the main thing is to have fun, be passionate about something you love.

Twitterfall on the big screen was a major breakthrough at MW2009, (#mw2009 trended as a topic and attracted the attention of) pantygirl.

Digital story telling and tech can’t happen without support, Max Anderson has been dream leader.

He’s here representing IMA so going to showcase some projects – Roman Art from Louvre webisodes – paved the way for informal, agile, multiple content source creation.

Art Babble. IMA blog – ripped off other museums – gives many departments from museum a digital voice.

Half time experiment with awkward silence (blank slide). [In the pub afterwards, I discovered that this actually made at least one of the English people feel socially awkward!]

Brooklyn Museum – for him the real innovators for digital content for museums, won many awards at MW2009.

Te Papa’s ‘build a squid’ had him at ‘hello’. First example of a museum project that actually went viral?

Perhaps we could upgrade MW site? Better integration of social media, multimedia from previous conferences.

Loves Bruce Wyman – reason to go to MW2010.

art:21 – smart team, good approaches to publishing across platforms.

Wonders about agility – love new and emerging projects (?) we hear about at conferences, but how do we face an idea and deal with own internal issues?

The Dutch at Indy (were great) – but somewhere outside north America next for Museums and the Web?

Philip Poole (British Museum)
Everything I got from MW2009 can be put into one statement – spread it about. Enable your content to be spread by other people through APIs.

Does spreading out content dilute our authority? By putting it onto other websites, putting it in contact with other people. No, of course not.

Video was big at MW2009.

If going to use different platforms, will people come? We need to tailor content to different websites – can’t just build it and assume people will come. Persian coins vs. ritual Mayan sacrifice on YouTube – which will get bigger audience? [Pick content delivery to suit audience and context.]

Platforms include ArtBabble, YouTube (shorter, edgier), iTunes U. Viral content – we can put features on our website, but a YouTube or Vimeo audience are going to spread things better. iTunes, U, can download and listen on train – takes out of website entirely.

Stats are important – e.g. need to include stats of video on different platforms, make sure people above you recognise the value in that. DCMS – very basic stats – perhaps they should be asking for different stats. “If DCMS ask how much video we put on YouTube, we’d all start doing it.” [Brilliant point]

API – take content from website and put elsewhere. IMA Explore section – advertise the repeating pattern in their URLs – someone used them but wasn’t going very well, they got in contact with him and helped him succeed, now biggest referrer outside search engines. He wants to do that for the British Museum – he knows the quirks, the data.

Why the ‘softly softly’ approach? Creating an entire API interface is huge mountain, people above you will want to avoid it if you show them the size of the whole mountain.

Digital NZ – fantastic example. Can create custom search, embed on website, also into gallery and people can vote for it

The British Museum is a museum of the world for the world, why should their web presence be any different?

Mia Ridge (Science Museum)
Yes, that’s me. My slides on ‘Bubbles and Easter eggs – Museum Pecha Kucha’ are on slideshare – scroll down the page for full text and notes – or available as a PDF (2mb).

I talked about:

  • keeping the post-conference momentum going, particularly the ‘do one thing’ idea;
  • museum technologists as ‘double domain experts’;
  • not hiding museum geeks like Easter eggs but making more of them as a resource;
  • the responsibilities of museum geeks as their expertise is recognised;
  • breaking down internal silos; intelligent failure;
  • broken metrics and better project design (pitch the goal, not the method);
  • audience expectations in 2009;
  • possible first questions for digital projects and taking a whole museum view for new projects;
  • who’s talking/listening to your audiences? trust and respect your audiences;
  • your museum is an iceberg (lots of the good stuff is hidden);
  • (s)mash the system (hold a mashup day);
  • and a challenge for your museum – has the web fundamentally changed your organisation?

Frankie Roberto (Rattle)
Went to the conference with a ‘fan’ hat on, just really enjoys museums. Loved the zoo – live exhibits are interactive, visceral. Role of live interpretation – how could it work with digital technology? Everyone loves dinosaur – Indy Children’s Museum. All museums should have a carousel (can’t remember what he was going to say about it).

The Power of Children; making a difference – really powerful stories.

Still thinking about the idea of creating visceral experiences.

ArtBabble – shouldn’t generally create silos but ArtBabble spotted that YouTube wasn’t working for certain types of content.

Davis LAB – kiosks and sofa. Said ‘we are on the web’.

Drupal – lots of museums switching to it.

Richard Morgan (V&A) on APIS – ask, what is your museum good at?, and build an API for that – it may not be collections stuff.

‘Things to do’ page on V&A. Good way of highlighting ways to interact on website.

Semantic data, Aaron’s talk on interpretation of bias, relocation from Flickr photos.
Breaking down ideas about authority on where an area is bounded by. OpenStreetMap – wants to add a historical layer to that so can scroll backwards and forwards in time. [I should ask whether this means layering old maps (with older street layouts like pre-Great Fire of London, or earlier representations?). Geo-rectification is expensive because it’s time-consuming, but could it be crowdsourced? Geo-locating old images would be easier for the average person to do.]

Open Plaques – alpha project.

Thinks we won’t need to digitise in the future as stuff will be born digital (ha, as if! Though it depends where you draw the lines about the end of collections – in my imagination they’re like that warehouse scene at the end of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc and we won’t run out of things to properly digitise any time soon. Still, it’s a useful question.)

Dan Zambonini (Box UK)
‘Every film needs a villain’. In his impressions and insights from MW2009 he’ll say things we may or may not agree with.

Slide – stuff we can do vs. stuff we can’t do on either side of a gulf of perceived complexity. It’s hard to progress from one to the other. Three questions to bridge gap – how to make relevant to everyday job, how to show advantages, how to make it easy.

Then he realised should talk about personal things – people and connections made. About people, stuff that happens in the evening. The evening drinks don’t happen at UKMW – it’s a shame we have to go to the other side of the world to talk to each other. [It does it you’re at an event like mashed museum the day before – another reason to open it up to educators, curators, etc.]

Small museums vs. big museums – [should make stuff accessible to small museums.] Can get value by helping people. (He tells his ex-girlfriend that ) small is the new big. Also small quick wins. Break down the big things into smaller things, find ways can get to them through small changes in behaviour, bits of information.

How small is small? Greater or less than one day. If less than a day, might as well try it. If it’s going to take a week, not small.

Museums should share data – not just as API – share data on traffic, spill gossip on marketing costs, etc. [Information is power, etc]

Celebrate failure – admit that some things go wrong.

Bigger picture – be honest. Tell us when to shut up (on e.g. the Museum Tech Pecha Kucha‘ event on slideshare (and mine has now got an audio track, thanks to Shelley).

‘Reshaping the Art Museum’

I’m sneaking a moment from revision to point you to this thought-provoking article ‘Reshaping the Art Museum‘ in Artnews:

To an unprecedented degree, market research about the needs, wants, fears, and anxieties of visitors is shaping how museums are designed. “We got a lot of comments that it’s just overwhelming to come to museums,” says Lori Fogarty, director of the Oakland Museum of California, which inaugurates a complete reinstallation of its art, natural history, and science collections this fall. So the new galleries will feature “loaded lounges” where visitors can relax, read catalogues, or do hands-on activities, along with open spaces that accommodate up to 25 people for concerts, storytelling, or other such programs.

But a bigger change in her plan is connecting people who might never have visited art museums with the people who curate them. Fogarty calls it transparency—”breaking the fourth wall”—having curators answer questions about how and why they choose works. Visitor feedback will be encouraged, and the exhibitions, in turn, will be based on the “wiki model,” with curators representing only one voice in a mix that includes conservators, community members, and artists. “We can’t count on the fact that potential visitors were brought to museums as kids,” Fogarty says. “Many have no cultural or experiential reference; they don’t think of the museum as a place that welcomes them or has anything of interest to them.”

At the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, director Olga Viso is also using a major reinstallation as an opportunity to remake the museum into a more civic space. “We want to be in dialogue with the audience instead of in the place of authority,” as she puts it. Such efforts may mean involving the community in the organization of shows or asking people to vote on the selection of artworks. When the new installation opens in November, says chief curator Darsie Alexander, curators will hold in-gallery office hours—giving visitors insights into the way exhibitions happen, and giving the staff a chance to find out “how visitors encounter work in space—the kinds of questions they ask about art, what they find interesting, and how long they stay.”

And for all the innovations in programming, marketing, and education, Campbell argues, the core mission remains the same. “We can make ourselves more user-friendly, but ultimately one of the key experiences of visiting a museum is that moment of standing in front of an object,” he says. “Suddenly you’re responding to something physical, real, that changes your own perspective. And great museums will always do that, as long we get people through the doors.”

‘Organisational change’ session at MW2009

I was chairing the session so my notes are a bit sketchy. It’s worth reading the full papers and following the slides online.

Intro notes: it’s an interesting moment for the sector, maturity of approaches to the web. Turning the analytical gaze inwards, working towards a more effective, integrated and considered use of technology. This brings new challenges in managing expectations and demand. Wider consultation means adapting our language and understanding, but the benefits of collaboration are worth it.

Organisational Change for the On-line World – Steering the Good Ship Museum Victoria
David Methven, Head, ICT, and Timothy Hart, Director, Information Multimedia and Technology, Museum Victoria, Australia.  Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/museumsandtheweb/tim-hart-david-methven-organisational-change-for-the-online-world-steering-the-good-ship-museum-victoria

Tim Hart started, talking about their in-sourcing model; build capability, drive money otherwise spent outsourced inside the org. Interruption by David! Trying to change org culture, ‘blah blah blah’. They used an audience volunteer for dramatisation!
Therapy for Tim. Circle. Telling people what we should be doing, not how. Changing work practices. Not consulting us, asking us what we want to do and how we should change what we’re doing.
Process. Once strategy was done, job not done. Didn’t understand how much ownership the org wanted of the strategy. People who weren’t involved in the process kicked up.
Established exhibition production processes.
Interesting conceptual model. Relationship.
Internal experience of applications, IT systems.

Down To Earth: Social Media and Institutional Change
Patricia Deiser, Museum voor Communicatie; and Vincent de Keijzer, Gemeentemuseum, The Netherlands. Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/museumsandtheweb/vincent-de-keijzer-patricia-deiser-down-to-earth-social-media-and-institutional-change

Vincent and Patricia: addressing people who are not willing or able to come to the museum. New roles for the public. Make use of knowledge, time, enthusiasm of the public.
Brave new world, head spinning. But had to get down to earth. Colleagues were being polite, but no one was actually doing anything. Realised approaching it in the wrong way – presenting it as something everyone is doing, we should be doing it. But should try to convince them about what would benefit them in these web 2.0 things. Had to seduce them. Much harder to do. Asked experts from outside the museum to help develop online strategy. Stop talking with people outside the museum, start talking with people inside the museum about this. Let people discuss it among themselves. Let them go online, learn about it for themselves. Low profile platform for staff to experiment. Start with your own, internal community, build a community from there.
Continuous access to cultural heritage with university of Amsterdam. Built a platform for museum staff, for ideas, proposals, projects. Asked Patricia, as a student, to research, interview colleagues. Outsider perspective.
Machiavelli quote.
Patricia’s research: How do people interact with public, how much do they know about web technology, do they use it themselves; what are they enthusiastic about?
Talked about research process. Showed colleagues examples of other things. Asked colleagues to research their presence online on e.g. Flickr, see what people had already put out there.
Models of staff members from the research: Lecturer – likes to prepare thoroughly, then make a publication/presentation of it. One-way focus. they send their knowledge out to the public, not interested in feedback from people who aren’t also scholars.
Fear of losing expertise if everything goes online.
Educators – not people in education dept, label for group. More into interaction, want some feedback . Teacher – pupil relationship. Afraid of examples where people could load UGC onto website.
Presenters – same attitude to communication as educators, but more advanced in web technology.
Interactors – already working with the public, do want to have interaction with public, but not advanced with technology. Old school education departments
Connectors – same attitudes to public, but advanced in using web technology.
Mapped staff into the categories. Difficult diagram to show internally! Scale of communication style (one way, two way focused) and use of technology. Difficult to get everyone into connectors corner, but at least get people to move up scale on use of technology.
Communities of practice.
Everything that goes onto desk goes onto website.
Still needs a lot of social skills, persuasion.

After the Heroism, Collaboration: Organizational Learning and the Mobile Space
Peter Samis and Stephanie Pau, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, USA. Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/psamis/after-the-heroism-collaboration-organizational-learning-and-the-mobile-space

Stephanie and Peter: digital and analogue resources. Benefiting from experience of other institutes either as staff change or working with other orgs.
Interpretive goal process. Cross departmental dialogue and interpretive brainstorm process. Workshop – answers to basic questions to help formulate a strategy.
Key questions – what’s the rationale for this project? Why here, why now?
List 1 – 3 main visitor take aways.
Who’s the intended audience, and why?
What didactic elements are planned? What other modes of interp inc multimedia should we consider?
Case studies. Showing how the process worked in exhibs with really different requirements.
Peter – evaluation studies. Different modes of use – wall texts vs multimedia guides.
“What a visual interface brings to the party…” Break picture into components, not a slave to a minute and a half overview.
What people want – pre-loaded vs call in.
Sharing usage figures – ace.
What information did on-site visitors not get? if they didn’t have the cell phones. Breakdown of what content was available by which methods.

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.]