Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Digital Museum Webinar: Planning for Technology

When I heard about this webinar I was excited. Then disappointed. As someone fresh out of grad school, I don't have a lot of disposable income to put toward professional development, even very reasonably priced professional development. But, hark!, AAM's EMP (that's Emerging Museum Professionals, not electro-magnetic pulse or Experience Music Project) was offering a limited number of fellowships to EMPs. So I applied for one and was lucky enough to be selected. I just finished with the first Webinar, and it was pretty neat. Plus I received a copy of The Digital Museum: A Think Guide for being a participant.

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I am taking webinar notes directly into Blogger. Keeps me focussed!

First of all, the technology issues: What's an online seminar about technology with technology issues? I assume these were all on my end. I couldn't get the audio to work. I'd run the tech check last week and it showed up fine, but it was frustrating to catch the first few words of something and then it would drop for an uncertain amount of time. Luckily, there was also a call-in number. I had to dial it about 5 times before I got through (busy signal) so I bet I wasn't the only one with this issue.
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I've gotten through! And am making funny faces! Also, please to note my complex system of post-its.

And then I had troubles with Adobe Connect Professional, particularly with the polls the presenters could do: they didn't come up fast enough for me to participate in, alas. I imagine this has to do with my internet connection, even though my pre-webinar tech-check gave me the thumbs up. Heavy sigh.

Now that I've got the tech-whining out of my system, let me just say it was great. I really enjoyed this webinar. I don't have the resources to make it to MW2008, and this felt like a little piece of that: People who get technology talking about technology.

Two of the presenters talked about planning. One, Len Steinbach, focussed on Return on Investment Analysis. Angela Spinazze focussed on more general planning for technology. I enjoyed these presentations, because one of the things they focussed on was one of my harping points: know why you want to do things before you do them! Angela also brought up that it's okay not to implement technology. Yes. Not everything is for everyone.

The third presenter, Holley Witchey, spoke on morals and ethics - the little issues that we don't like to talk about because we tend to transgress them on occasion - as they relate to museum technology. All the presenters brought forth great ideas and gave the participants a lot to think about. I found it invigorating to be part of such interest about technology. I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of the sessions.

You can still register for the three upcoming sessions. I've put my (unintelligible) notes below the jump, for those interested.

Len Steinbach: Return on Investment

- Be sure to consider the direct costs, the indirect costs. How will you maintain your project? What is your perceived benefit? Take everything into account in your planning. This is return on investment analysis.

- What kind of return do you want? $$$ or mission? How do you evaluate mission based returns? How will you?

- Is there a champion in your institute? Who makes technology happen? And will there be momentum to maintain the change after the champion leaves? Make the plan to make it happen.

- Balancing multiple projects. Return on Investment will make your reasoning transparent. Provides a strong case and creates measurable expectations.

- The risk of too much success and the needs of staffing. How can small museums manage their success? engage in partnerships. buy external hosting with giant bandwidth. What is the worst case success scenario? What is the cost?

- Resources on best practices, ROI: the book, Len will post links to resource docs in forum. Management: part art, part science. No exact formula.

Angela Spinazze: Technology Planning

*grr! I'm having a bear of a time with the Adobe Seminar thing. I'm not getting the polls loaded, the slides, the presenters. Arg. It's so frustrating.*

Planning: Assess needs. define purpose, priorities, goals, objectives. Identify stakeholders. Set Timelines. Calculate costs. Manage Expectations. Evaluate Outcomes. (And now the adobe thing is working. but too late to participate in the polls.)

Assessing needs. Do it! observe, determine. What needs are you meeting?
Stakeholders: Anyone involved, anyone with an interest. Possible funders? Competing project people? Who are you up against?
Timelines: project, roll out, testing phase. Build in times. Testing!!
Costs: See Len's. Understand what your immediate costs, your contingency costs, your long term costs/maintenance costs.
Expectations: Do the needs assessment to find out what people's expectations are, and be able to address people's concerns as you go. Be prepared to explain if things go wrong.
Evaluate: Do it!! Learn from what you've done.

Planning process will take as long as it needs to take. Take it as seriously as you would an implementation phase. Resolve problems as they emerge, if you can.

Questions to consider: (things for needs assessment - the obvious of why we want/we need things and why?) How will it relate to/support/advance the mission? Cost (develop/maintain/UPGRADE)? Ease(resources?)? How will this effect other museum priorities and activities? Demand (from where? Is there any?)? How does it relate to branding? What is the rep/age of the technology(established?)? Transition Plan? Who needs to be on the project team?

Advice! Plan extensively (3-5 years!!!). talk with people, find resources, find other plans. Start small and build. Don't do it all at once (because you can't. no one can). You don't have to do it. Making mistakes leads to learning opportunities. Be creative, have fun.

What are you trying to do for whom?

Examples, inspirationary places: 59 smartest orgs online:http://www.squidoo.com/org20, http://www.tasi.ac.uk/, http://www.wethepeople.gov/projects/index.html, http://www.techsoup.com/

Planning for the future: Keep your eye outside the box. Keep your finger on the pulse of trends. Look outside the museum community (or community in which you work). http://www.boxesandarrows.com/

Retroplanning: Look at what you've made without planning and evaluate it and move forward. (ie old websites, dodgy online exhibits, etc.)

Holly Witchey: Morals and Ethics (you Kant make me)

*love any title with a pun in it*

Ethical issues in one place may be legal issues in another. Museums like to talk about BIG and IMPORTANT and GLAMOROUS issues. These are pretty easy to discuss because they're entertaining and generally involve other people.

What we don't like to talk about: Personal copies? Music on comp/networks? Copyright issues in powerpoint presentations? Borrowing tech? Personal browsing? THE SMALL ISSUES, institutional culture.

Everyday tech costs money too!

Solid vs. Chameleon Ethics. Fortune cookie: The fact that others are bad does not imply that you are good *what a depressing fortune cookie* How can we start conversations in places where values come into conflict? (Exhibition/preservation) Choices.

For a CoE to be valid: Involvement with production. Coherence with general principles and conscience. Coherence with company's officers behavior.

Guidelines for dealing with conflicts: articulate, analyze, personalize (look at your values), escalate (if needed).

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