Archive for the 'Research' Category



Cultural Learning

I’m preparing a presentation for the Online education collaborations fro national cultural institutions meeting in Canberra tomorrow and I came across this report: Get It: The Power of Cultural Learning. The report was released this week and Bridget Mackenzie wrote a very interesting post on it. The crux of the report revolves around the recognition of culture within informal learning as a crucial and often neglected component of both the education and cultural agendas. Both the report and Bridget’s commentary are well worth a read!

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When social media and formal learning collide…

The other morning (I can’t remember which one now – timezone changes and all) I had a new experience in relation to research dissemination and teaching. I was invited to develop a guest blog post for the University of Manchester’s digital heritage course blog site
Having (re) experienced the late night US lack of internet connectivity, I eventually managed to send the blog post to Kostas Arvanitis and set myself up for the skype conversation to follow. It was an interesting experience. The students had been discussing the blog post in their class and towards the end of the session Kostas rang me on Skype and asked me some questions which had arisen during the session. With a poor connection and no sense of who was in the audience, I basically did a radio interview wondering how much was actually being sent down the skype line (often poor at the best of times). After we were cut off mid-way we tried again and successfully finished the session. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss some of my most recent ponderings on the shift from cultural to value networks and look forward to further discussion on the course blog.
In hindsight it was a tough session, particularly with the poor line. Even so, it’s a format I’d like to explore more fully. The blog post has posed some more questions which I will be exploring there and elsewhere. Thanks to Kostas and the students. I do hope we can do it again!

Here at Museums and the Web 2009

I’m here at Museums and the Web in Indianapolis. Seb Chan and I delivered the Planning for Social Media Workshop yesterday. The slides can be viewed on the M&W site later today. I’ve been summarizing this morning’s session. Thanks to some killer jet lag I can’t promise to be awake for the afternoon session. You can follow the twitter feed at #mw2009. If you would like to follow me (when I’m awake) or to comment on this blog post, it would be great to do so either here or on Twitter. I’m artech05.

Opening Plenary
Maxwell Anderson, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO, Indianapolis Museum of Art
Moving from Virtual to Visceral

It is imperative to make behind the scenes available to audiences before and after visits.

Finding ways to keep volunteers engaged is a worthwhile effort

Exhibitions are curator’s conceits. They are only one way of communicating museum programs.

Looking and learning are only part of what visitors do: they also park, shop, eat. Museum needs to be sensitive to the whole visitation experience

Choice and opportunity are critical to visitation

Viewing art is analogous to watching drag racing – moments of viewing

Experiential environments can be compromised by excessive orientation

Virtual solutions as simulacrum- do we become caught up in our own obsession with technology?

Take our visitors to the movies rather than just show them the credits

Telling stories is the key issue

Wetting our appetites online

Urges us to maintain educational mandate of the museum rather than commercial intrusions

Encouraging voyeurism- how did this come to pass? Take cue from television appetite for behind the scenes

Allow audiences to see themselves in the narratives we deliver – an empathetic response

Present museum statistics online

Could steve project change the language of art criticism?

We should allow tagging to influence our decisions

Artbabble.org – not just enjoyment but incrementally, these recordings can become part of visual record

Visual traditions are not owned by curators

Most of what we acquire in museums is accidental- donors etc.

Flickr Commons – how long will it be around. Make sure we have something sustainable in-house

Look for experiential hooks – what makes visitation meaningful to audiences

Encourages push-back to ‘big banana’ curators
Serendipity is so much part of accessioning

Be reflective of what matters, not just what can be measured

Next steps…
More engagement
Not just access

Non visitor is such an important part of museum program- making a case online is experiential substitute for being onsite

Museum visitation can be transformative. Build intergenerational experience of museum visitation

manderson@imamuseum.org

Organisational Change
Chair Mia Ridge, Science Museum UK

Organisational Change for the On-line World: Steering the Good Ship Museum Victoria
Tim Hart and David Methven

In sourcing model – build capability in-house
How do we bring the organization along in the change?
How should we change our work practices? What are the key objectives?

At Museum Victoria an online strategy was created from information logic map
Drivers, objectives, benefits, changes

Organisation wanted ownership of their processes

Online planning group
Framework
Schedule
ICT restructure

Online planning group
Endorses projects
Ensures adequate resources and schedules

Framework
Understands online
Works and manages
Evaluates
Establishes measures of success

Online experiences
Information
Participation
Relationship

Collectish – organise and share yr collection
Connect with other collections. Result of the recognition that relationships are part of the new agenda and core business of the museum.

Down to Earth: Social Media and Institutional Change
Vincent de Keijzer and Patricia Deiser

Make use of audience participation

What will benefit staff? How do you seduce them?
Start talking to people inside museum- create online platform for internal discussion

Continuous access to cultural heritage project
Ideas, proposals, projects, experiments

“It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new one.” Nicolo Machiavelli

Who benefits most from the solution to the problem? Make them the project leader

Next steps…
Build the community from within the organisation

After the Heroism, Collaboration: Developing an Inter-Departmental Interpretive Goals Process at SFMOMA
Stephanie Pau and Peter Samis

Organising learning and mobile space

Creativity within IT team could be better utilised if folded into broader processes

Curators provide outline of interpretive goals of project

246 and counting
Architecture and design exhibition showcasing current acquisitions

The art of participation
The artist describes his silent sonata: “It seems idiotic but that’s what I did”

Frida Kahlo
Reaching out to new audiences

Evaluations showed that audiences were interested in
Artists own voice
Art curators and critics
Not so interested in other visitors voices

Tap on artwork and hear about the work – very popular

Mobile content via cell phone very problematic
Expensive for travelers
Wireless is intermittent
Dialing into content creates barriers

Next steps…
Promote with museum wide strategy

Thanks to Mia Ridge for chairing the session.

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!

Culture 2.0 – Conference summary

Following a successful, highly entertaining and (dare I say it) educational conference, I’ve been at a slight loss as to how to communicate it to those who weren’t there. In time, we will place the recordings online and I’ll upload images to the museum3.0. I’ve also got the twitter feed which is an invaluable record of the issues as they were addressed. So, in an effort to create a comprehensive, useful document, I’ll be uploading reflections on each of the speakers along with the websites they discussed in their presentations. I’ll do this over the next week as, from experience, I know that faced with an entire conference full of links and ideas, chances are, we don’t get the time to go through them properly.

I was delighted with the quality and diversity of the speakers. There is a certain leap of faith that occurs between establishing conference themes, sourcing the speakers and then wondering whether your internal organisational structures will mean anything to anyone else!!! This was most definately the case with the Culture 2.0 session. I knew why I’d invited Graham Durant and Colin McLeod to speak in the same session.

I was convinced that although they were speaking from different realms, their common interest – capturing and maintaining an audience – would mean that they could speak to the issues of the session in provocative ways. The underlying principle was that cultural and commerical organisations are now no longer just using the same tools (marketing, exhibition, events) etc. they’re occupying the same spaces (Facebook, YouTube) etc. Few of us, organisations and individuals included can hide behind the ivory tower for much longer. In academia we’ve had to get used to being more public (had you told me I would be writing in this way 5 years ago, I’d have had a few unpublishable comments to make!) But, as we see the value in new technologies, we tend to use them. I for one, haven’t washed clothes by hand for a good thirty years! But I digress… So with that as the preamble, here are summaries of their presentations:

Professor Graham Durant
Graham’s insightful and thoughtful presentation focused on the evolution of co-creation and its potential impact on cultural communication. Some of the main points included:
-cocreation enables people working together wherever they are
-we need to get used to living in a beta world – adapting to change as issues arise
-we can use our institutional web presence to communicate & reach audiences and once there, we need to develop culturally appropriate content
-we need to experiment with new partners
-we need to go where our audience is rather than wait for them to come to us

Graham questioned why museums weren’t, for the most part, placing more emphasis on shifting their resources to meet the new demands of changing audience expectation. As a Director a highly successful Science Centre, it was telling to hear his thoughts on resource management and future needs. Questacon has a growing presence in social networking spaces including a YouTube channel. The presentation was developed using Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’ as the background image. Details of the painting were used to emphasize particular points – a delightful detail which contextualised the complexity of the case within an historical understanding of both aesthetic and economic concerns.

Graham’s mix of historical reference and contemporary issues was, in itself, a metaphor for the great challenges which the sector faces. The knowledge sector is built on 19th century ideas of enlightenment through civic education and Graham’s presentation suggested that fundamental shifts in communication – from one way to co-creative, wer a necessary part of the evolution of the institution. His summary slide described some of the reasons the sector might choose to participate in social networks and discussed some of the downfalls of that participation. Judging by the the trememdous initiatves which Questacon is involved in, I would suggest that Graham has found a way of balancing these complex issues!

Teen and Social Media Pew Internet Report

Quetacon YouTube Channel

World Community Grid

Science Squad

Dr Colin McLeod
At first (as documented by the Twitter feed and subsequent blog feedback) it appeared that some audience members were questioning what the General Manager, Marketing, Communications and Public Affairs at the Australian Football League was doing, speaking about Culture 2.0.

The crux of Colin’s presentation was the need to be clear about the value that can be brought to experiences, events and partnerships when exploring social media. As the largest sporting body in the country with close to a million participants from AusKick (entry level football education) through the clubs to the national league, the organisation needs to maintain its focus – so how might they connect with cultural content and what place does social media have in their business plan? His main points included:
-social media allows AFL to connect with fans in ways that engages them,allows audiences to express themselves and AFL learns from this process
– AFL needs to keep engaged and stay relevant – social media is a constant challenge for them
– AFL likes social media as it challenges way they think about engagement & participation, making the old new again through new connections
– Social media questions the values the AFL want to share and how they want to engage with community

Colin described a project AFL had undertaken in conjunction with researchers from Queensland University of Technology ( Dr Mark Pennings) and Swinburne University (me). This project linked the AFL with State Library of Victoria and Melbourne Cricket Club through the development of two online exhibitions which discussed the origins of Australian Football (1848 – 1898). The sites were linked to a ning site where viewers could become active participants, sharing their knowledge, stories, images and objects with a broader community. Colin emphasised that in such partnerships, the value came from enabling the audience to share their stories and to connect to content within the library.

Colin also discussed the power of social networking in relation to supporting sporting endeavours and building communities. He used the ‘My Football Club’ example, ‘the world’s first and only web-community owned football club’. In 2008, the online community purchased the Kent based, Ebbsfleet United football club for £600,000. Three months later Ebbsfleet united won the FA Trophy at Wembley. Colin used this example to illustrate the power of shared values and community engagement.

In his closing statements, Colin told us that he’d been asked to speak about a great many things in his time, but never about culture – and for this he was thankful!

Australian Football 150 years

Australian Football’s Origins – Interactive Exhibition

Australian Football’s Origins – social network ning site

My Football Club

Couch Surfing

Here at Shelley Bernstein’s masterclass

Here at the Transformations in Cultural and Scientific Communication Conference, Shelley Bernstein is giving her first masterclass! Follow the feed on twitter – tag #tcsc. I’ll be summarising feed as we go!

Musings on cultural organisations and tourism

I was recently at the Intercom Museum, Tourism Visitor Experience conference in Rotorua, New Zealand where a great program of events challenged some notions regarding the links between the cultural sector and tourism industries. I was particularly taken by Dame Cheryll Sotheran’s keynote ‘The designation museum’ and national brand. Dame Cheryll is the Director of the creative and tourism sectors for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. She led the development of a creative industries strategy in NZ and is responsible for the successful Better by Design program which promotes design integration for New Zealand businesses.

Dame Cheryll’s speech was underpinned by the convergence between cultural and economic industries and a holistic understanding of economic, social and cultural value. Here are some of the key points she made:

Economic development can be an incentive towards innovation and value-driven solutions
In a globalised world, economic development has new challenges and characteristics
– Decline in dominance of western economies
– Rise of new Asian economies
– New kinds of value and pluralism around cultural and social as well as economies
– Shift from production to consumption / market driven or value driven economies
– Value oriented consumption

This contributes to economic trends driven by consumer concepts and values, authenticity, climate change, sustainability. Additionally, there is a demand for immersive experiences, a breakdown of silos, and the new challenges of hyper-reality.

In this complex environment, Cultural organisations need to develop more nuanced response to experience economies. There is a big shift in the way experience is delivered – Innovation driven production is now occurring within increasingly converging markets such as sustainability , lifestyle etc. This is driven by innovation and niche-market design. It is culturally driven and is a point of difference

Cultural Organisations can led in this environment by – protecting, promoting, maintaining cultural difference. At the same time, there is a potential new role for design in this experience environment:
– Increasing design-driven innovation through
– Content ownership/ experience based industries
– Consolidating and looking at innovation in that market
– Value-based and driven solutions
– New practices based on collaboration

The next part of the speech centred on cultural organisations and tourism suggesting
– Experience and stories create value-driven demand
– Value-added memorable experiences can be combined with service industry
– Meta-narratives should be delivered with technical innovation and service excellence
– Integrity and authenticity, memorable approach

In terms of convergent experiences, she suggested that the following were areas of growth
Urban regeneration
National branding
Cultural value and distinctiveness
Destination branding
Non-collection institutions

Some of the tensions in this field include:
Local vs global
Collections vs content
Authenticity and authority vs market-driven experiences
Object vs hyper-reality

Cultural organisations can not dismiss these tensions but rather intelligently analyse experience and narrative to engage with a technically demanding audience.

Next steps?
Explore new approaches
Increased understanding of how playing an active role is an incentive
Understand value-based solutions
Leadership opportunities – new partnerships
Recognising the distinctive offering, value, heritage and narrative driven

Towards the end of the presentation Dame Cheryll discussed new forms of collaboration based on – scarce resources, scale, strong brands or consumer services. She suggested that cultural organisations had the potential to create powerful resource sharing to identify meta-narratives which link new partners together to offer value-driven solutions and experiences.

I’m going to spend a bit of time thinking about this important last point. My next posts will be speculations of what these partnerships might look like!


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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