Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

Allsorts Online – exploring connections between broadcasters and museums

I had the good fortune to participate in the Collections Australia Network forum “Allsorts Online’ in Adelaide recently. The forum brought together an interesting array of individuals to explore what it means to be online now and, interestingly, the lines between collecting organisations and broadcasters. The event culminated in a panel session which explored the lines between the collecting sector, academia, media and the arts, suggesting that the blurring between these sectors brought new challenges, many of which have yet to be fully explored.

Prior to that though, speakers from within the broadcast sector provided some insights into the connections and potential partnerships between the collecting sector and broadcasters. This is the first forum I’ve seen where this discussion could take place in such a generous and spirited way. Thanks to CAN for their insight in preparing the session!

Professor Adrian Frankin (Collectors ABC) speaks about the collecting sector.
Collectors are obsessive, knowledgable: the Antique’s Roadshow presenters are often presented as ‘mad folk’: psychotic bow tie wearers with odd mannerisms and peculiar hairstyles. Yet,as Adrian reminds us, the collectors themselves are often more
knowledgable, if not such good television! Collectors on the other hand has taken a different approach. It has elevated collectors and collecting to heroic figures. When you see the collection and hear what they have to say, you can see why collectors
should be embraced as important figures in Australia’s culture.
Collectors as a critique on modernity.
widespread sense of loss- move from solid modernity to liquid modernity where certainty, continuity were rendered obselete.
re-aesthetisiation of arts and crafts
Many of the Collectors begin by collecting something which was important to them in their childhoods, holding onto a sense of loss. Collecting is a form of memory, holding still the look, feel of culture past through it’s objects.
Collecting as a technology for protecting our memories.

Chris Winter Head of Innovation, ABC New Media Services
Old Stuff, New Stuff, Some new ways of telliong old stories
opens with a twitter note: “No strings attached – public broadcaster seeks relationships for collaboration, converation and new ideas”
spreadability – put your content out there where people are hanging around
‘A daily dose of history’ widget for Iphone – daily 1 min of history
talks about how some agencies are nervous about others telling their stories
Chris introduces amazing examples of media archives in Scandanavia. The building is both an exhibition space and a functional archive. The facade is made up of screens which show blurred images from the archive. It looks like an amazing architectural experience!

Dr Susannah Elliot
Australian Science Media Centre
The blurring lines between journalism and citizen journalism
evidence-based science into the media
no specific science agenda – only agenda is to promote evidence, only deal with mainstream issues (recycling, climate change, bushfires, health, obesity, cancer etc)
to catch a news wave, you need to see it gathering – and react quickly!
how do people know what’s credible anymore?
helping scientists to visualise their findings – making them easier to understand to general public
could we connect museums to daily news?
a dynamic space where visitors can engage with latest issues?
could an online forum be made accessible to museum visitors – a place
where people can hear from scientists, perhaps even interact with them?

Sarah Keith,
National Client Solutions Manager, SBS
Sarah began by showing a showreel of archive footage from SBS. It was

ironic that the reel contained images of Malcom Turnbull circa ‘the

eighties’, on the very morning when his future changed.
But I digress,
SBS and Regional Arts collaboration – working with Skoda
SBS cannot do intergration but can do articulation. Whilst I can’t be certain of what this means in marketing terms, the upshot is that their collaborations seem to need to be larger than product placement. I’d be interested in how that works on a broader scale.

The session was a particularly insightful discussion of the potential for partnerships across the two sectors and the depth of content which could enable greater, more complex stories to be told. You can find the full program at http://www.collectionsaustralia.net/news_item/299 and you can follow the twitter tag at #allsorts09

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.

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!

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


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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