Archive for the 'Research' Category

Migrating content to Museum3.org

For the past 4 years I’ve used this blog to explore shifts in communication practices in cultural organisations. During that time we established Museum3 as a social network and as that has grown, it has become clear to me that this blog is now more of an archive as most of my engagement occurs on Museum3.

So, for those of you who come to this site in the future, please feel free to consider it an archive which reflects on the changes as they have occurred. If you are interested in what is happening now, please visit Museum3 and if you are interested in my musings on what the future might look like, particularly one which is more focused on the connections between critical making, crowdsourcing, design and cultural institutions, I continue to post about new research here.

The Business of Design @ the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum

I’m here at the Times Warner Center in New York where 500 of the most connected design professionals in the city are here to listen to four leading interdisciplinary professionals speak on the subject of how business can implement design to spur creativity, innovation and better business practices.

The event has been organised by the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum (CHDNM) as part of National Design Week (NDW). NDW launched in 2006 and since then it’s grown to incorporate events across the country.

NDW brings together design professionals to explore what it means to be a designer and what the future role of design in business might be.

Panel:
Chair: Daniel Pink – Author or A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

Bill Moggridge, 2009 Lifetime Achievement National Design Award Winner, co-founder of IDEO
Sam Lucente, Vice President of Design, Hewlett-Packard Company
Jeanne Liedtka, Professor, University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business

Below is a summary of the day’s presentations.

Q1 – You’re all working at the intersection of business and design, how did you get here?

GL – Was looking for more exciting way of developing strategy. I became interested in the relationship of design to invoking behaviour that we want to achieve.
BM – Discovered industrial design as balance of artisan and science.
SL – Studied science and was interested in art. Was looking for combination and found industrial design. Then studied computer science to understand how to shape software as well as materials and processes for shaping products

Q2 – In business world how much of these two cultures come together? Maintaining products and innovative ideas?

GL – Looked at successful leaders over three years. Those who could navigate two worlds and navigate corporate bureaucracy were most successful. The ‘smiling submersives’ – quietly worked out how to inhabit the system and get things done. There is always a tension between inventing the new and sustaining the old. Base business that fuels the business. Organisations are designed for predictability and control. This gets in the way when you ask people to innovate. How do we help managers?

SL – Seeks out people who can innovate. Corporations that innovates makes room for those people: those who can navigate, find funding for projects, etc.
They typically have diverse educational backgrounds.

SL described three area of design which are significant to his practice: Design to differentiate, simplify and innovate. Typically designers focus on differentiation – strong brand etc. Simplify is about efficiency across product lines, where are there efficiencies in production across the supply chain? How can that supply chain serve the customer? Innovate – This requires repetitive, scalable tools to innovate: ie: new markets, design thinking models – observation, imperatives around insights, principals based on insights, then into solutions

BM – innovation lives in overlap between technology, business, people (middle of)
Where you start? Design starts from people and moves into the overlap. Balance between three is always present. In the past, someone else was telling designers how to bridge these areas. Now you have business teams which include these interpreters allowing innovation to flourish. Interdisciplinary practice, interest in collaboration

SL – collaboration and passion to change
Capture the collective IQ of a team. When you apply the right methods you can innovate

Q3 – How and when do we develop these abilities?

GL – The dominate value in business is often ‘don’t look stupid, don’t make mistakes’. This leads to a set of choices which narrows opportunity

Q4 – How do you innovate in large companies without looking stupid?
GL – You don’t do it through a “prove it to me in a powerpoint presentation”! In that case you’re using data from the past to justify future uses. Empowering people to do things, prototype small, demonstrate success.
We use experience mapping – notion that greatest opportunity begins by getting rid of the lows.

SL – Design can lower the risk of innovation. Design archetypes – build reference model for what a particular business would create in the next year. Financial models, physical model that takes supply chain into consideration – showed them how to innovate without risk. We now have 40 business cases which now lower the risk of innovation.

Audience question – guess who! At the moment there is a rise in literature which situates design within new business models, two of the authors of these methods are here today, Verganti’s design driven innovation is another. We’ve been talking about risk aversion; not being seen to make mistakes. Yet one of the most innovative industries of our time, software development, has been built outsourcing mistakes and testing them in a broader environment for a long time. Sam spoke earlier about a collective IQ of a team. We’re living in an increasingly participatory culture so what I’m interested in is how do you incorporate a larger basis, a larger collective crowdsourced intelligence into the design process?

SL – Changes are so disruptive that centralisation doesn’t work. We focus on wiring the social network – halo video conferencing systems, sharing data real time – understand what you’re creating from an emotional point of view – strong brand story into design behaviours. Working with competitors who are also partners, industry standard components. Work with customers in collaborative ways.

BM – Crowdsourcing is the success of the decade. People having fun designing their own contributions. Structure that enables crowdsourcing needs to be understood

GL- Dialogue and debate – you need to be able to engage in dialogue – hypothesis-driven discussion and invite doubters in and ask what data they need

Question from audience: How do you repurpose failure within business?

BM – Prototyping is an essential tool, it embraces failure. You want to see what’s wrong quickly and move on. Incremental innovation has something behind it while radical innovation you don’t have that basis. Embracing failure on the way to success.

DP – uses the example of writing a paper. Each draft represents prototyping and a type of failure – failure to achieve the final product in one go. Each draft is a way of testing the veracity of the final product

SL -Fail early. Products that can be described as conceptual failures can drive 70% of costs. HP have invested in immersive interaction. In infancy of this system.

Crowdsourcing and museum futures update!

Over the past few weeks I’ve been developing different streams of the past two arguements; crowdsourcing design and the future of the museum. Following an event which I organised with AIMIA in Melbourne, Anthill suggested a piece for their magazine. The subsequent article: Is Crowdsourcing killing traditional design practice was published on 1st Sept and has received a fair bit of comment. I’m particularly interested to explore the potential for designers to expand their practice and capacity through social networks! ABC Radio By Design has invited me to speak on 7th October. I’m pretty keen to get more comments on the value of this concept so please feel free to add your thoughts!

On another tact, ABC Radio National’s Future Tense program aired part one of the Future of Museums series. Frank Howarth (Director of Australian Museum), Louise Douglas (General Manager, Audiences and Programs at the National Museum of Australia) and I spoke on issues of relevance and communication. Thanks to the ABC for this opportunity! You can download the podcast and/or transcript at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/futuretense/stories/2009/2666242.htm
Part Two airs on 10th Sept at 8:30am!

Over the next few months there are many papers to write and I look forward to your feedback on all of these issues!

Feeling glum after GLAM-WIKI

GLAM-WIKI conference, Canberra 6-7 August

Two days in Canberra with some of the most thoughtful and proactive professionals in the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, museums) sector should have left me on a high. Yet somehow, this conference, organised by Wikimedia to explore potential relationships between them and the cultural sector presented more questions than provided answers.

The crux of the conference seemed to be this:
Wikimedia has global reach for its extensive resources. It also has a veritable army of volunteers who give freely of their time.
GLAM has extensive collections, many of which remain under-documented; hundreds of over-worked professionals and is considered the custodian of institutional cultural knowledge.

The obvious question seemed to be: how could these two sectors come together to their mutual benefit.

On the face of it, it sounds like an ideal relationship:the opportunity to broaden reach, tap into networks of volunteers and an opportunity for wikimedia to not only be the largest source of online information in the world, but with GLAM within the ranks, the most trusted and reputable.

So why so glum?

Andew Lih’s “The Wikipedia Revolution. How a bunch of nobodies created the world’s greatest encyclopedia” provided me with some insight. In it he discusses the central tenants of Wikipedia: good writing, neutrality, reliable sources, verifiability.It is the second, ‘neutrality’ that seems to go to the heart of problems with an otherwise perfect relationship.

Bernice Murphy, Director of Museums Australia suggested that there were bound to be interesting tensions if wikimedia wants neutrality given that GLAM has been working for the past 40 years to deconstruct neutrality. I’d go so far as to to say that the
notion of uncoupling the voice of neutrality in order to voice cultural interpretation as partial, constructed, contestable is infact the very thing that the ‘new museology’ is built on!

So how do we get around that one?

Another point, made by Paul Flemons from the Australian Museum was that the attibution issue has to be front and centre and content uneditable if GLAM is to contribute to Wikipedia. (snomelf [+] Fri 07 Aug 11:23 via Tweetie) As an academic, I know where Paul is coming from. Our measures of success include refereed publications, grant research activity and research higher degree completions. Writing for anything other than a refereed journal/conference is simply not recognised.

While many of us in the sector do maintain blogs and nings, we can claim a certain amount of impact in the sector as our contributions are attributed. Additionally, as I can attest from the museum 3.0 experience, we become known in the sector for our contributions and engagement. In the non-attribution world of wikimedia, what impetus is there to contribute given that we are already contributing scholarly research for which we are credited?

I was invited to speak in the education section of the conference and it was here that the questions really flowed! Following over an hour of discussion I remain convinced that what the sector terms educational programs and resources is different to what
wikimedia might consider these to be. Additionally, while wikimedia has access to thousands of volunteers willing to create content, GLAM has hundreds of employed education, public program and outreach professionals who specialise in interpreting
collection specific information and creating engaging cultural experiences. It was suggested that this craft approach to educational programs was unsustainable and this is where I think the tension lies.

I suspect that it does remain sustainable to create institution specific educational programs as GLAM is funded to achieve this; whereas it isn’t funded to create broader, cross-institutional educational resources. (except in circumstances such as The Learning Federation where extra funding is available to achieve this objective)

Perhaps this is where GLAM and Wikimedia could collaborate – in the development of resources rather than programs. If so, then there ar a number of questions that this raises:
What is the impetus for GLAM to connect with wikimedia?
What does free culture mean to GLAM?
What makes GLAM-WIKI outcomes unique?
How does this partnership translate to KPI?
Who owns Wikimedia content created in partnership with GLAM?
Who funds new content development?
Who and how is it branded?
What links are established to connect to original content?
Is wikimedia content supplementing, enhancing, subsuming GLAM?

The broader questions around the development of a value network which draws wikimedia and GLAM together would include:
Who participates in the network?
What is the role of content in that network?
How is value generated?
How do communities collaborate with institutions in the construction of knowledge?
How are these networks maintained in the process of assessing, acquiring, collecting and distributing content over time?

Sp perhaps glum is too harsh an assessment.

We are faced with a unique opportunity to consider new partnerships which on the face of it seem to the mutual benefit of all. Yet I can’t help feeling that unlike the more general social media arguement (ie: social media is about networked communication
therefore a valuable tool for creating, reaching and respondinng to new voices in a three-way communication model) the GLAM_WIKI relationship may need more careful thought (and possibly an airtight pre-nup) if we are to go down this road.

I’d like this partnership to work and would be really interested in discussions and feedback!!!
Thoughts here or twitter (artech05) would be most appreciated!!

Crowdsourcing design: what will this mean for museums?

Across the online environment, there is growing engagement with user-generated content which impacts on designers as they move from sole author and producer to facilitators of the design process. User-driven and open innovation models of collaboration are impacting on the design and development of services and while there is a growing body of theory exploring the basis of this innovation, there are few models for the way in which designers will practice within this environment.

We are currently witnessing transformations in the ways in which clients engage designers and the ways in which designers participate in the development of products, services and experiences. These transformations in design practice are closely aligned to changing audience expectation and a growing demand for user participation in the design process. This is in keeping with a shift from the development of a service to an experience economy. (Gilmore & Pine 1999, Rivkin 2000)

The notion of experience enterprises has been coined in response to the experience economy. It encompasses those enterprises, both commercial and publicly funded, which have at their heart, the mandate to attract new audiences/ consumers/ producers through the development of integrated, multiplatform experiences. For example, both Nike, with its hugely successful Nike + social networking campaign which facilitates the development of communities of runners worldwide and Flickr Commons, the photo-sharing facility developed for cultural organisations to share archival imagery focus on adding value to existing services by creating and sharing in memorable experiences.

In the museum environment, it is sometimes suggested that audiences/creators and producers are willing to pay more for products and services if these are provided in an atmosphere that generates ‘memorable’ experiences. If this is the case and designers have yet to explore the impact of the user/creator on their practice, what will it mean for the development of future museum communication programs?

This posting is a starting point for problematising a broader shift in consumption and production, recognising the profound impacts that these shifts will have on future design practices and in turn, the ways in which they will affect museum programs.

Some of the questions it seeks to explore include:
How will social networking affect design as an enterprise?
What will this mean to organisations which engage designers?
Will services and experiences converge?
Who will drive new models of design innovation?
How will innovation drive new audiences/clients?

This thought-piece hopes to explore the demand-driven environment for design innovation, supported by establishing partnerships throughout the value-chain of development through a participatory process of design which seeks to engage both audiences and users in the design and development of cultual interactive experiences. I am very interested in gaining insights from our community into how this might develop over the next few years. Please feel free to leave a comment here or on twitter. I look forward to your feedback.

The Museum of the 21st Century

LSE Arts and Thames and Hudson 60th anniversay discussion
The Museum of the 21st Century
Tuesday 7th July 2009

There was quite a buzz at the London School of Economics. The auditorium was packed; close to 500 people to hear the director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor and director of Tate, Nicholas Serota discuss the roles of collections in the 21st century. This was one of many 60th anniversary year events by publishers Thames and Hudson and was run in conjunction with London School of Economics Arts.
John Wilson from the BBC chaired the session. I wish to thank the organisers for securing me a pass to this event.

John Wilson chaired an entertaining and seamless conversation, ensuring that the big issues of the day were discussed and that the human side of the most powerful museum directors in the UK was on view. The highlights were clear – both directors have a firm grip on the realities of audience participation, global relevance, political recognition, cultural guardianship, trusteeship and future relationships. Their commitment to the museum as a learning space and one where knowledge is shared was evident. The both recognised a historic ‘imperfect relationship’ between curators and audiences and agreed that this was an important area, ripe for transformation.

The best jokes of the evening:

It’s good to see the director of the British Museum before he’s lost his marbles!
(LSE rep whose name I didn’t catch)

Parliament is seathing with closet aesthetes! (Neil MacGregor)

Some highlights on the musings of the future of the museum:

On audience engagement…The future of the museum may be rooted in the buildings they occupy but it will address audiences across the world and will be a place where people across the world will have a conversation. Those institutions which take up this notion fastest and furthest will be the ones which have the authority in the future.

On THOSE marbles…
Yesterday’s debate was about whether another country should have objects in their collections. The greater argument is, how do London and Greece ensure that some of these objects can be seen in China, Africa etc.

On travelling collections…Transformations in the notion of trusteeship, making this a reality is imperative. Beginning with professional world of trust, collections and expertise should be available to others around the world. Working to ensure that collections are seen, shared, discussed in Asia, Africa, South America. Museums are unique in being able to build these international communities where publics can engage in culture.

On changing roles of authorship…One of the great things that is happening is that major collections are putting as much as possible online available for download free of charge for academic purpose. This has completely transformed the way that drawings can be studied. There is a question about the duty of museum to be guarantor about what it believes to be authority.

The challenge is to what extent do museums wish to remain authors or to become publishers. Authority of institution can be used and provide a platform for international conversation. In 10-15 yrs we will have curators who will effectively be commissioning editors but will have to make a distinction between what we say and what others who use our platform to say things about themselves. The future has to be
museum as publisher and broadcaster.

On museum as educator…
The museum is the first open university and institutions are all trying to work out more ways of engaging audiences with expertise from within the institution. The big question is how to use electronic methods to enable more people to learn. It was agreed that a diminishing proportion of audiences would be those who visit the galleries themselves; the growing challenge would to look for online capacity and encourage curatorial teams to work there as much as they do in the galleries.

On transformations in cultural communication…We have had an imperfect relationship between the curator and our audience. Now is the time to extend this. There is a great need to reinterpret the museum in non-eurocentric way. This includes making collection material available in non-european languages; encouraging and learning about interpretation from a non-eurocentric perspective.

On the media…
The relationship between the media and museums has transformed: there was a time when museum news only appeared in the arts pages, it is now often in the news section. Arts are now an issue.

On The Plinth
It’s Twitter art!

Below is a potted summary of the event. Please note that this is not a word-for-word transcript but a potted summary! To hear to full podcast please visit:

JW- You’ve both been in the job since the late 80s, why are you still here?
NMG
The daily opportunity of being alone with some of the greatest objects in the world. Reminds you that what may be worrying you is fairly minor in the long history of things
The pleasure of viewing numbers of people who come through the doors; being able to engage with them, enjoy them – nothing beats that! It is the great voyeur’s pleasure being the director.
Nowhere else in the world offers what is possible with collections and publics as what London offers.
With free entry, the relationship between public and collection is transformed making it an infinitely more exciting job

NS
No-one has offered me a better job.
Museums sit within society in a very different place to what they do in USA.
Rewards of working with so many different kinds of people.
An extraordinary challenge.
Working closely with artists is a powerful strength of the institution.

JW: Black clouds are gathering do you feel the reaper?
NS
Because of the strength of public appreciation and engagement we will come through. It will be more difficult for politicians to cut money to museums in the 21st century as it was in the 20th century.
The experiment in the 90s (charging entrance fees) strengthened the position of museums

NMG
It’s possible but what’s changed is the way in which people use the collections.
People do now use collection to address the world and themselves, to become a real part of the consciousness of us in this country.

NS
They may have thought more in those terms n the 1820s-30s.

NMG
That’s why this country is so different. The National Gallery is in Trafalgar Square because it was thought that residents of the East End and the West End could walk to the gallery and mix.
This19th century language and has returned to centre stage.

JW: Are we living in more enlightened times in terms of attitudes to culture?
NS
Marginally. It is more difficult to cut grants but is still difficult to name 5 politicians who could be effective secretaries of the state;

NMG
Parliament is seathing with closet aesthetes!
There are no ministers in the cabinet with this responsibility when they were appointed.
Coverage of museums in press has completely transformed. It used to be tucked away in arts papers and is now frequently in the news. Arts are an issue now.

JW What is the best argument to take to politicians?
NS
The museum is a repository of world knowledge and has a place in civic society.

NMG
The world in 1987: on the whole Britain gave impression that we were in denial of the contemporary, every politician is aware that if you want a young public to take their place they need to see what is being made across the world.

JW: How do you see the role of nationhood and museums?
NMG
Museums have a role to play in fostering international relations
The place to start is in London. There has been a huge change since the war. London is a city of diasporas, unique – a city where the world lives; where different cultural traditions coexist and survive. That is the extraordinary excitement of living in London. Collections reflect that phenomena. Divisions between home and abroad don’t make sense any longer. There is a false polarity. Because of our imperial history, we are a unique world resource which together, represents the world. We try to make a reality of the notion of trusteeship – collections and expertise should be available to others around the world. Museums uniquely can do this in building international communities. This starts as professional world of trust and then can reach millions of people across the world. The government’s response has been 1million pounds to work overseas, recognising that collections are so important that they must be funded to operate overseas.

NS
Until 2000, The Tate felt comfortable with representing international and contemporary art from UK and Nth America. Now we represent more widely; not to a great extent but this has changed the institution, creating partnerships and relationships with museums around the world. The most defensible position in the world is to look out rather than in. There was a recognition that we weren’t recognising quality and significance of work in other parts of the world.

JW: Can culture make inroads around the world?
NMG
Exchanges are important b/c its extraordinarily hard for us to grasp how various world views are seen by different cultures. Friendships can survive the political chills.

NS
We have a broader view of the world; museums are in there for the long term

JW: Is the case for museums fading?
The basic argument hasn’t changed. The value of having a collection is that it is a place where the world can look at the whole world. It is a question of whether you believe in shared human culture or whether you want to define this in national terms. All enlightenment institutions are concerned with shared human culture. It is a question of how you see a cultural inheritance and a definition of a national self. This is a key question for the world. Whatever else has happened in the world we can no longer live in simple national identities.

The Greek government considers the removal (of the marbles) illegal and so they haven’t had these discussions. There has been a politicisation of culture. It was a great insight of British parliament to separate museums from government, in that way, trustees could not be subject to political directions. It depoliticized museums.

NS
Many people take enormous pleasure from seeing work in different contexts. If you could only see British art in Britain the world would be a different place.

JW: Do you ever wonder about the marbles?
MNG
No, because the key question is; was it proper for them to be removed? There is no question it was legal as you couldn’t move them without the support of the power of the day. But that is not the point, rather it is what happened when they were removed. When they came to London they were displayed at a height where people could see them. This is the purpose of a great museum; to enable huge numbers of people to examine closely what they wouldn’t have been able to previously.

JW: What have been most significant artistic developments?
NS
Note: here the discussion focused on what I think was public reaction to artistic intervention in the demolishment of a house. As I was unfamiliar with the case (and the people next to me chose that moment to talk, I couldn’t get the gist of Nick’s response other than: the Tate doesn’t do market testing on exhibitions. They rely on the conviction that these are the artists whose works should be viewed

NMG
Note: too much chat again so potted understanding!
The reality is that collections would be shared across the UK. This is the reality of public ownership. The Plinth (current exhibition in Trafalgar Square) raises the question of what public sculpture is, what sort we want. Thanks to competitions, there is a huge range of public who think about what is on a plinth and is in some measure, their decision.

NS
Symbollically says something about the generation of today.

NMG
It’s twitter art!

JW: What is the role of art and culture for 2012 Olympics?
NS
It needs good ideas that build on what is happening in institutions rather than short events.

NMG
It’s a great opportunity to build on what is already there, if politicians can agree that the world already exists in the collections. We already have a world cultural festival the cultural Olympiad is already there.

Authenticity and what it means to our audiences

Lydia Johnson recently posted a thought-provoking piece at http://westmuse.wordpress.com/ entitled ‘The A word’. It discusses the rise of authenticity in discussions at AAM this year. While I didn’t get a chance to be there, I wonder whether anyone was talking about Pine and Gilmore’s recent book: Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want

One of the points Pine and Gilmore make is that while audiences crave authentic experiences, in our contemporary times, we cannot assume they will equate them to the cultural sector. They suggest that we need to re-imagine our audiences and ask ourselves ‘why’ they would want to connect with us and indeed, what it is that we offer that is valuable in this age of instant access. As contentious as some of their ideas may be, I think it is incredibly valuable to genuinely ask ourselves what someone who isn’t in the cultural sector might get from connecting with us. Pine and Gilmore suggest that in re-imagining our audiences, we need to explore new partnerships and relationships with and through them.

I would add that it is broader than social media. While this gives us the tools to connect, the value of participation and the expectations of new associations are deeper and more serious concerns. I consider this to be an exciting time to be in the sector – a time when transformations in governance and guardianship have the potential to establish notions of authenticity for future, not just past or existing audiences.


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

a

Flickr Photos

Lynda and Angelina at the Conference

More Photos

Social Media and Cultural Communication

RSS Museum 3.0

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.