Look Who’s Talking -Conference Session 2

This session was premised on the notion that audiences now have the ability to express their own thoughts about their engagement with cultural resources in very public ways. The questions posed to each of the speakers included:
– Interpretation – is it at all relative nowadays? What is the value of expert knowledge?
– Where to next? – using social networking to disseminate views and experiences
– How do we encourage young people to see the value of their cultural participation?
-How can cultural organisations apply web 2.0 tools authentically and therefore in a way that sustains the interest and loyalty of an online community?
Here are some thoughts from our three speakers:

Shelley Bernstein
Shelley spoke about the processes involved in developing the ‘Click’ exhibition at Brooklyn Museum. The exhibition was based on ideas which came from the seminal book ‘The Wisdom of Crowds’ by James Surowiecki. Audiences were able to comment on art works which would be included in both the online and eventually, the onsite exhibition. Yet the way the feedback systems were established, participants were not able to see others’ responses thereby limiting crowd influence. As some twitterers suggested, the provided a challenge to the audience as it was clear that the exhibition development faze was not truly ‘web 2.0’. Even so, as one twitterer suggested, the cloud structure of images and the release of fuzzy data made for an extremely interesting project. The project demonstrated the convergence of physical and online visits and provided ideas of how those interested in capturing visual images, whether professional or amateur, engaged in the process.

Click
Wisdom of Crowds
Other Resources
Art Info

Thanks to Brett McLennan and Lynda Kelly for diligently twittering extra resources during this session!

Sebastian Chan
Seb only had 100 slides today and he managed to fit them into his allocated 15 minutes with his usual flair!! He described the Powerhouse online presence suggesting that there was a general movement from websites to web presence – one which demonstrated impact in the general community. As one of our twitterer’s suggested, visitors share their experiences of museums in spite of what the organisation does and Seb concurred, suggesting that there was a need to see what was really useful and to sift out the noise. A couple of important points underpinned Seb’s talk, importantly:
– allow people to BROWSE rather than search;
– allow people to contribute & help with collection information

There was a suggestion that bureaucracy doesn’t’ make web 2.0 initiatives safer, the social rules or community monitors do. Another important point both Seb and Shelley made was that museums can’t afford to outsource their learning when it comes to new tools for engaging with audiences. In the end, passing social media project to interns or short term partners ensures that the organisation doesn’t develop internal, sustainable knowledge – a recipe for future disasters I think!

Other resources
Example of visitor engagement from Australian Museum visit via Flickr

Vivienne Waller
Vivienne presented an entertaining piece on the relationship between Google and Libraries.
She began by suggesting that the relationship had developed over four stages:
– Romance – where libraries and google seemed to have everything in common
– Reality check – where the differences began to appeare
– Reaslisation that the two players wanted different things
– Regaining a separate sense of self – negotiating their boundaries.

The first stage was premised on the idea that google organised the world’s information and made it universally accessible and useful while libraries ensured access to information for all. Cracks started to appear when the integrity of search results began to be questioned. At the same time, digitisation grew exponentially and increasingly, there was a sense of a lack of public control.
At this point there was the realisation that Google’s omnipresence – from calendar to health, finance, street views, world maps etc. signified that Google wanted something very different from public libraries – Google wanted to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful! Public Libraries on theother hand were dedicated to ensuring access to information for all.
In the final stage of the relationship, there was an appreciation the difference between from and content of information. Additionally, we had come to understand what could be lost in the translation to digital services.

References included:
Picasa Web
Orkut
Ask Now
along with a plethora of google products including: Google Maps, Streetview, Health, Wishlist, News and Finance!

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About us

This blog examines social media, cultural institutions and digital participation. It's based on the research projects Engaging with Social Media in Museums and New Literacy, New Audiences. Regular contributors are Angelina Russo, Lynda Kelly and Seb Chan

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