Monday, April 30, 2007

One two three... Here ya go

Okay. I looked high and low over the internet for a file storage site that seemed okey dokey. eSnips is where I ended up at. If you know of better, free, shareable online file hosting, please let me know. I'd really prefer something with unique URLs for each file, instead of folders.

Without further ado, I offer you my Rethinking Museums Paper. It's a version of the first half of my thesis, which talks somewhat about theories and museum practice and blogging. I know it's not a revolution, but, hey, it took a long time. :D

(That link takes you to a folder from which you can download the .pdf of the paper. I hope.)

ETA (05/01) NEW AND IMPROVED! .pdf actually made with Adobe! Relatively non-permissive Creative Commons license added to scare the plagarizers.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hip Hip Hooray

Hip hip hooray, she says. I've decided that my first official draft of my thesis is done. I'll send it off in an email to my committee early tomorrow morning. That way it's at the top of the weekend email pile. Until their revisions come back, it's time to relax. I spent half of last week far too wound up.

But of course there's the little matter of a conference presentation on Thursday. I had probably ought to get to work on my PowerPoint for that. But not today. And probably not tomorrow. I'm thinking Tuesday. Don't look at me like that. The conference paper is written. This is just a powerpoint.

Business: I hereby declare the survey officially closed. Thanks for your help. I appreciate it.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Last Call

Last call for my survey!

No matter if you're a hip cat or a squarester, if you blog for a museum and are free this Friday evening, I want to hear from you! For more information, click here.

Heck, even if you don't blog for a museum, you're welcome to take it, although I don't know what incentive you have to do so. And it won't make much sense. And I probably will just look at your responses to the more general questions (like, what do you see as the future of museums and blogs?)

And for those of you who have taken the survey, thank you so much. So far I have 11 responses from 10 institutions. A lucky four of those are profiled in my thesis. Aren't you just dying to know who they are? All in good time, my pretties, all in good time.

(I am no good being professional. Maybe I ought to tone down the quirky on this blog. Lay off the hamster macros for a while...)


Hamster Macros

I dig Google Analytics. I just get tickled pink by seeing how many hits I had each day and what Google searches bring up my site. Mostly it's "im in ur" searches, but it's often "rethinking museums" (which is happening next week by the way - the conference), and sometimes searches looking specifically for the blog, or for my name.

The thing about the searches is cool, because you can see what your audience wants. Apparently, they want hamster macros (another search hit of late). But, if I were an institution, I would be more critical about these tidbits of information. If you're a museum blog and you're not tracking search hits, you should be. Most of you are. But it's fun too! Mellow and profitable! (2 points to id that reference, comfypants excluded)

Search terms can also let you know what potential communities might be interested in making contacts. I could do a joint museum blog blog and hamster macro blog. It would be confusing and have a targeted audience of 2? 3? I think Perian is with me, but I don't know who else would be. I'm writing flakey, but you get the idea.

I think I need to go join the zombie horde and get on with my thesis revisions. BRAINS! BRAINS!


Wednesday, April 25, 2007


There's a really provocative post up at Museum 2.0 about museum studies graduate programs. You should go check it out, though for the life of me I don't know why you're read this and not read Museum 2.0.

I would try and articulate something right now, but, you know what? I do feel a bit like a zombie. And I could use some brains right about now. Make sure you read all the comments too.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More personal rambling

Maybe later I'll be able to talk intelligently about museum blogging. Maybe in about a month and a half.

Let me tell you a secret, internet. I'm afraid that my thesis isn't good enough. And I feel that I have legitimate reason to feel that way. #1 I'm not doing anything revolutionary. I'm, more or less, stating the obvious. Even though I haven't found it stated the long way yet. #2 It's only at 64 pages long. I thought these things were supposed to be longer. Because, duh, length = value. (please to be noting sarcasm).

Okay. Pity party over. The first thing is the only one that's bothering me. The thesis is supposed to make a "museological contribution" and, from the viewpoint of the program, I'm doing that. But I think my efforts at academia are pretty laughable. Wait! I thought I declared the pity party over! Go home, pity party goers!

Clean Cup!


My draft is weighing in at 64 pages, pre-revising. And, actually, revising may bring it down if I choose to condense some of the longer epistemology and communication sections.

I am struggling with "scholarly sources." Maybe because I don't know the language for how blogging is discussed in sociology or communications. I've got loads of articles from a PR journal, but, honestly, I'm citing a lot of text book. Because the theories I'm offering up are so basic. Plus Museology is primarily a discipline of text books; the scholarly, academic journals are fewer and far between. So, I don't know. Maybe it'll slide once I get things better cited. I do want to fall to my knees and thank Jennifer and David for making all the Museums and the Webs papers available online, because I have found that to be pretty much the only source of writing on museums and technologies outside of blogs and books from 1998. And blogging is less of a scholarly source than conference proceedings, despite the astuteness of many bloggers out there.


I wrote a couple paragraphs on radical trust today. I stuck them in the PR section. I want to bring in more strongly the themes I carried away from MW2007 of the potential of building community if you can tap into it, and having a reason to do it. The reason it gets hard is because it is Extremely easy for me to fall into "you should do this" mode. Revising is going to be an interesting process, I can see....


One last thing, I promise. I think I'm going to post my Rethinking Museums paper here, you know, once I get that finished. It'll be a first toss of my baby to the sharks.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy dance!

Although I have a ton more work to do

Although I have a ton more writing to do

Although I have A LOT to do yet

I've finished a draft.


(go go hamster macros! I love

I just wrapped up a draft of my second half. A draft of a first half plus a draft of a second half equals complete draft!

Of course, in a lot of ways, it still looks like something the cat dragged in. I'm going to go over it a bit more later tonight, do a little rough editting, send it off to committee. Then Monday starts the work of revising the document into something that looks like a Master's thesis. Even a little bit like it will do.



Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Oh my.

I just reserved a room for my thesis defense. I will be defending in the Burke Room at the Burke Museum on Friday June 1st, 2:30ish (time confirmation to come later). You are all cordially invited. Or tell your Seattle area friends; the more the merrier.

This is serious, people. I'd best write this thing.


I will be presenting a version of the first half of my paper at Rethinking Museums as part of the Museums and Technology Panel on Thursday morning, May 3rd. Tell your Seattle area friends, or come yourself. I mean, hey, it's a free conference. Gotta love it.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

No title today, sorry

# notes:

Looks like there's a new blog at the Smithsonian: Office of Exhibits Central. There was an announcement on the Livejournal museum communities. Looks like they've been posting for a while though. I suspect an Eye Level style model for posting and start up. It's the Smithsonian, after all.


Connecting with Communities. That's what this is all about. And let's have a little case study of what happens when you do connect with a community.

MBT - visits and pageviews

That's from my Google Analytics. In the past week I had a chance to connect with the museum and the web community. I handed out a few business cards (MOO cards rock!), put a few cards up on the jobs wanted board, and got mentioned in a couple presentations. And look what happened. An explosion. Normally I'm lucky to get about 8 direct hits to the blog. But almost 90? Wow.

I'm realistic. I may have grabbed a couple new readers, but most are probably poking their heads in. If my goal was to stay well connected with this community, I would get my URL out there more, go to more conferences, leave more comments on other blogs (as it is, I leave almost none *shameface*). But I'm pretty well wrapped up in my own little world right now. Maybe later, when I need to figure out where to go with this blog, maybe then I'll get active and try and get internet-famous.


I think I've got a thesis title. Whaddya think of this?: "Constructing Connections: A Museological Approach to Blogging." It's a little more refined than "I'm in Ur Museum Website, Readin' and Analyzin' Ur Blogz" (bless its geeky little heart). The bit after the colon may be refined, but I think Constructing Connections gets at a few key concepts of blogs, so it's very plausible.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Revelation and Reflection

I mentioned an Aha moment on Day 3. I know you're dying from the suspense.

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I've been missing something basic, something I should have been completely aware of from the get-go: my audience.

I don't remember exactly what was said, but I suddenly discovered this. I need to be writing my thesis for museum staff who need something coherent to bring to their administration to demonstrate that blogging is in line with mission and has benefits (and this could be extended in argument to all social technology really). This gives my thesis a purpose. It gives it a reason more than me telling my committee things I already know. It's fantastic!

The things I took away from this conference are:

- not all museums are ready to blog or should blog (for *blog* read *embrace social media*)
- museums need to be ready (and willing!!!) to connect with their audiences if they do blog
- speaking of audiences, museums may have to face the fact that a blog will not draw in a crowd, but might make the few already paying attention more highly invested, or cause a new small crowd to gain interest. These are valid reasons for a new project.

- very few museums have embraced radical trust. They're edging that way, but the fear is strong with them. And fear leads to the dark side. (Who has the fear? The Smithsonian, for one, which leads to many people saying it doesn't really feel like a blog.)
- to blog most effectively, radical trust is essential. The Smithsonian is the Smithsonian and people are going to read them because they are the Smithsonian. Reverse order time stamped entries do not a community make.

- microaudiences are key to utilizing the social web. Geocaching has loads of committed cachers. If museums started pulling in the GPS/Geocaching community, it would be amazing. I'm sure there are other communities offering possibilities to museums which can be connected with.

- the language of use has to change. Museums are talking about getting their visitors to do this or that. "Our visitors will rate the images" or some such. Museums need simply to create and facilitate the opportunity for engagement. Not everyone wants to have a museum as part of their social life. Sometimes they just want to be casual acquaintances. Or window shoppers. Sometimes I felt like museums are waiting to pounce on/exploit their visitors. It was an uncomfortable feeling.

- museum blogs are no longer going to be special and unique snowflakes. There is a snowstorm brewing. In the end, some of those snowflakes are going to melt away. Others are going to become parts of glaciers and be with us a long time. (okay, maybe glacier is a bad metaphor to use here, especially for the agility blogging offers, but this is what I got folks)

- And it's not about the technology, it's about what the technology allows us to do. This should have always been obvious, but sometimes it feels like some are getting caught up in a stampede toward social media when it may not be appropriate or useful for that particular institution.

Two final things, real quick I promise:
1. I don't believe in Second Life. What institutions like the Exploratorium are doing is way cool, but I don't feel as if Second Life has the same potential as other social media. I feel that, in a lot of ways, SL is too prohibitive in costs and technology for a lot of audiences. I'm usually pretty hip to the jive, but SL is hard.

2. Optional tagging for collections ala the Powerhouse Museum is AWESOME! It really does give a purpose to digitization, lets museums know what visitors are interested in, and, importantly, democratizes collections and curator speak. OMG awesome.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

MW2007: Days 3

Day 3 was not so eventful as Day 2, primarily because I didn't arrive at the conference until about 2:15 when I grabbed a mocha and settled in a couch to knit with Larissa.

Around 3:30 we headed to the cookie break, grabbed a cookie, and got roped into handing out evaluations. We are loyal volunteers.

The closing plenary was nice. Something Seb said provoked an "A-HA" moment which will be blogged about in the coming days. One commenter mentioned that there are a lot of Hows being discussed and many fewer Whys; I felt validated.

The closing reception was held at The De Young Museum, which was very lovely. I was completely taken in by the Vivienne Westwood exhibit. Having become much more knowledgeable about textile design through both Project Runway and my own knitting, I found it fascinating. Although I was disappointed when a dress that was quite clearly crochet was labeled as a hand knit. Research, people, research.

The De Young's new building has a tower with some simply phenomenal views of the San Francisco. I took, approximately, a bajillion photos. But have yet to upload them, so it is simply a taunt at this point.

All in all, I quite enjoyed this conference. I hope I have the opportunity to attend next year, although so much is up in the air when it comes to my immediate future that I can't commit to anything. I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet all the people I met (okay, except the one guy who made me cry, I could have done without that) and to really feel like part of a movement. Power to the people.


MW2007: Days 2

Since the wireless in my hostel is sketchy, day 2 is late.

Again, there's no need to really go over the sessions, since they're all around this part of the internet. I went to the Birds of a Feather breakfast where I had a nice talk with some folks from University Museums. After that I ran to the IMLS session.

Following the IMLS dooley was Radical Trust: The State of the Museum Blogosphere. It was very cool. The gathering in the room was massive. I'm not sure what to say about it, but it was very cool that they took the time to update their numbers from their published ones. Their powerpoint is available online. I was tickled to pieces to see a screencap of this site, with it's terrible long title, in one of the slides. I was as giddy as a schoolgirl. I suppose I am yet a school girl, so it wasn't entirely inappropriate.

Afterwards I went along to the Bloggers meet up where I got to hang out with some of the heppest cats in the museum blogosphere. I sat next to Erin82 of the Hankblog (who I go to school with but is still a hep cat), Leslie, Geoff, and Nate, as well as Pilar, Trisha, and Witt, who may or may not have blogs that I haven't linked to. Sorry folks, it's late.

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The lunch was fun, and it was really great to put faces to blogs. I can't imagine what a meet-up like this might look like next year.

After that I went to a coupla sessions and the best of the web awards. I don't have anything to say about those, so I won't.

The reception for Day 2 was held at the Exploratorium! SCIENCE! I suppose these things are for networking, but I grabbed some food and my pal Larissa and I headed out to play with SCIENCE!

I don't know what these are, but they were purdy!
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Personally, I found the theremin most exciting.
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Although I had to take a picture of this and tell it that "I am not a number" (3 points for knowing this reference).
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And there was more, but that's enough for here.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Day 1: MW2007

So this is not liveblogging. This is... something much different. It's deadblogging? I don't know, but I sure am beat. I didn't realize conferences were so tiring! My last one certainly wasn't. I guess this won't so much be blogging about the conference as my perceptions of it. All the papers are online anyway.

Bread Animals

Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive totally rocked my socks at this morning's opening plenary. The potential for hosted material is astounding! I'm sure you can find a better summary elsewhere, at Museum Blogging, perhaps. It was awesome though. Go superlatives!

The Web 2.0 session was really engaging. Jeff of Eye Level gave an enlightening talk about how Eye Level operates. Shelley and Nicole from the Brooklyn Museum rocked my socks with the awesomeness that operates out of that place. And then I started to get tired. And stayed tired through Community Created Content and Tagging and Terms.

I am tickled to death that this corner of the internet has managed to get me recognized by total strangers. Today, Bryan Kennedy of Science Buzz did a double take and said "you're ..... " and I confirmed I was indeed in his museum, reading and analyzing his blogs. And at the Graduate Student Forum, this guy sat across the table and said "How's your blogging research going?" I cocked my head and squinted at him "Do I know you?" Turns out to be Richard Urban from Musematic. All is madness.

The graduate student forum turned out to be quite intimate. It was nice, but very small. There is the usual amount of feeling inferior to grandiose research. I'm still in this mode of, um, I'm just doing this cause I think it ought to be said and I can't find where it's been said before.

I'm very excited about the Radical Trust session tomorrow: I think it's going to be massive. And awesome. Massively awesome.

Predictions and Observations
Okay. So you know what? I don't think museums have got this whole concept of radical trust. I think museums are terrified to let users contribute content (including comments), with a few exceptions, who tend to be quite successful. Eye Level's comment screening is almost draconian. Not that they're censoring criticism, but it is a VERY Heavily Controlled blog. But Eye Level manages to seem to work. SAAM seems to have achieved its goals, anyway. Nonetheless, it has the fear, I think.

Despite this fear (or at least lack of trust), I see a barrage of new museum blogs coming out in the next 6 months. And I see most of them failing. Because of this fear. I think many of them are going to have a case of institutional petrification and will not be agile enough to move and adapt with the internet. These are blogs that will be blogs for blogging's sake, or will be trying to translate (relatively successful) offline programming into an online format which will dramatically reduce it's efficacy. I'm wondering if there won't be a backlash from the older, less trusting, less participatory web savvy attendees next year or the one after, complaining about how blogging failed for them. Because I was, frankly, a little startled by some of the points of conversation brought by attendees in the blogging workshop.

That's all for now. I need to sleep sometime.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

MW2007: Day -1, a report from the front lines of volunteers

Today started awesomely as I had the chance to sit in on Beyond Blogging: Is It Community Yet?, a workshop run by the lovely and talented gentlemen who keep the Walker blogs awesome, Nate, Justin, and Brent. It was so nice to see people who know blogs and know what they're talking about get up and talk about the things I'm always talking about. The guys were awesome and their wiki notes are available online. It's posted to their New Media Initiatives Blog, so I guess it's not a sooper dooper sekrit. Check it out, lots of good info there.

And I had one of those meta moments, sitting in the workshop, seeing my name in the presentation, although I would again pass credit to Julian Dibbell. It was pretty nifty.

I also had the opportunity to speak with Gail Durbin from the Victoria and Albert Museum over the coffee break. We spoke about both blogs and knitting, two of my favorite subjects. The V&A has a knitting page where users can contribute content. Check it out!

Spherey surfs the internet
The workshop said adding images makes more interesting posts. I love images in posts, but rarely include them. I shall endeavor to add more and more random images.

My day got less exciting from there, as I did a three hour shift on the registrations desk, followed by a further two hours collecting tickets at the door of the SF MOMA conference reception. I had one very unpleasant experience with a gentleman at the door, but I was helped by the wandering through the Picasso exhibit that followed, as well as the random encounters with favorite artists Guston, Klee, and new discovery Clyfford still (although the one image online is not representative of the kinds that I found fascinating). It had been a long time since I'd been in a major art museum. I adore wandering from piece to piece, allowing myself to be pulled in by whatever attracts by attention.

For tomorrow: Grad Student Research Forum ( *looks around sneaky-like* now with secret reception afterwards. I didn't tell you.).


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Woot Woot!

I'm in San Francisco!

Sea Lions

If you're joining me for MW2007, and you're thinking about doing some touristing at Fisherman's Wharf, might I suggest a visit to Musee Mecanique? It's free, and so amazing. A collection of old time and contemporary arcade machines and early mechanized scenes, which are ALL IN WORKING ORDER and you can USE. It's one of those really interesting things: Preservation or Use? Only through Use do we get the full effect of the object, but with Preservation we can understand them longer. I have to say, using them was so cool! I didn't read any of the signage, but I came out with a better understanding and appreciation of early mechanized entertainments.

Like this one. Put in a quarter and there's a scene with dwarves heading to the mines and a mushroom house, all very neatly mechanized.

Or this one. Put in your quarter and it lights up to reveal a spinning fun house mirror.
See the Horrible Monster

The element of wonder at this exhibit was high. There was so much to see and it's the sort of thing you find one of here or there, usually not in working order. If you have the chance, go.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Holy Productivity Batman!

Yesterday was a super day for thesis work. I managed to draft both a Cost/Benefits section (which is mostly a place to address the potential negatives (thank you, Nina, your comment was extremely helpful and is now a paragraph in my thesis)) and a glossary, because it's been repeatedly brought to my attention that a lot of people have no idea what I'm saying.

So really, I have the case studies to write, a few little bits here and there, and then some massive revising. Especially in the PR section. And a lot of other places too. But especially PR.

Tomorrow I fly away for MW2007. I am really excited about this. I think it's going to be an excellent time, and hopefully a good chance to do some networking (which I am pretty bad at, truth be told) and hand out some cards and *cough*resumes*cough*. I'm still not certain if I'll be able to attend the museum bloggers meet-up as I am currently committed to help as a volunteer for a session running immediately after Radical Trust. I'm looking to trade and am hoping to make it.



Sunday, April 01, 2007


Is there any good reason why museums shouldn't blog?

I suppose like if an institution is totally shady and is going to be lying all over their blog and be generally dishonest and/or not transparent, then no. Or even if there is shady practice (and certain well known institutions spring to mind after my course on Law and Ethics), engaging in a discussion of it would be really interesting.

I can't really think of any other good reasons though. Help me out. I mean, I acknowledge that I have a small (HUGE MASSIVE) researcher bias, and I'm trying to balance it.

List. Lists are friends:
- blogging might be passe in 1, 5, 10 years (but how many museums produced freaking laserdiscs, and blogging is way cheaper than that)
- potential to bring negative attention to the museum (if your bloggers are mean, dishonest, not open to conversation, or just oblivious)
- potential to leak information (should be some blanket policy in effect anyway about donor/NAGPRA/general information which is not public)
- potential to alienate older/non-tech savvy people (I don't really buy this one despite just making it up. Besides this is way outweighed by accessibility, younger people's involvement, and potential community building, IMHO (I'm not much for internet slang, and that one always makes me think of IHOP))
- The internet could blow up. But museum blogging would be the least of our problems then, eh?

Nothing really compelling there, nothing that can't be easily outweighed. There's gotta be something.....

PS: My abstract got accepted to Rethinking Museums. So I'll be part of a panel on Museums and Technology. I hope you're coming! I have insider info that online registration ought to be available next week, probably early in the week. Major props to the women putting this together (okay, there might be some men involved, but you are so outnumbered dudes) and doing it in such a compressed time frame. You rock!

PPS: Today, while exploring the great Northwest and taking (most of) a day away from my thesis...

I was totally INSIDE of a tree. Photographic Evidence Here.

That's a tree. I was standing inside of it. It was an awesome experience, in the awe-inspiring sense of the word. That expression on my face is one of being awed and excited. I'm telling everyone, including all you nice museum professionals. (The tree in question is located along the River Loop path at the Newhalem Visitor's Center in the North Cascades State Park, WA.)