Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Digital Museum Webinar: Emerging Trends in Technology

Pre-webinar thoughts: I am pretty excited for this final installment of the webinar. I hope to hear about new approaches which are cheap to do and easy to access/implement. Even if they're not, it's good to hear from folks on the cutting edge. I'm hoping not to hear too much about Second Life, as I think anyone with a background reading this blog will recall that I am not a believer in the potential of SL as a widely effective tool. And this time I remembered to bring my big headphones! Hooray!

Post-webinar thoughts: Overall this has been a good experience. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in this through the EMP fellowship.

I was a little let down by today's session, but only because I am, apparently, much more aware of emerging technologies for museums than most. As such, my notes get a little loopy. What I would have loved to hear more about is what's around the corner. Is it geotagging? Geocaching? Really, it's probably all about anything you can do with a cell phone, and you can do just about anything with those (unless you're rocking the Nokia 1100 like I am). I heard a lot about what I already know about, but I suppose I should have expected that. Learned a little more about the Brooklyn Museum's Click which sounds awesome, and a little more about open content, which is all over but not getting recognized enough and exploited perhaps.

Definitely an interesting experience overall, and it's very cool to be able to hear from/interact with national speakers from the comfort of your own office chair (or discomfort if you happen to be sitting in an office chair older than you are, like I am).

Mod: Phyllis Hecht, Assoc Program chair, Museum Studies, John Hopkins.
Topics: Social networking, user generated content, open source

Social Networking: Larry Swiader (holocaust museum), Michael Jenkins
Leveraging existing conversations. Defines social networking. This is old hat, I yawn. But I guess I'm not your average attendee, what with this blog and all.

Purposes: Breaking down barriers and stuff. Holocaust museum has a facebook site to introduce staff to students and energize genocide prevention program. H&M also has social network to increase brand awareness.

Presenter debate: Where does YouTube fall? Social networking or user gen. content? Both!

OpenSocial for apis. iGoogle widgets. - I would not have holocaust widgets in my igoogle page, my igoogle page is for happy things. But, it does distribute content, message, okay. Widgets have potential, I can see that. Larry says they must be overtly branded to attract visitors who may be transient.

Potential pitfalls: brand consistency (depends on your institution I think), total transparency (yes), measurement (yep, this is hard).

Larry responds to comment deletion. They do it, but limit it to patently offensive stuff - leave controversial to stimulate conversation, hope that community will be self regulating.

Michael (from the Met) takes over: now shows us ArtShare. Developed by the lovely and extremely talented Shelley Bernstein of the Brooklyn Museum, then opened it up to other museums

User-generated content: Matt MacArthur (NMAH), Michael Jenkins
Recent explosion of tools to create and promote this sort of thing. Matt explains Web 2.0 to us.

Why invite this? Connections with interests, experience, with each other. Museum facilitation leads to better visitor experience.

What are some ways this has been done? Tagging/folksonomy (powerhouse). Inviting user comments. Discussion/chat (ScienceBuzz). Blogs (walker). "Build your own gallery/collection" (art gallery of ontario). Mix in user-created material. Building around user contributed material (museum of london). Dude sounds tired, no excitement coming through. Or is it just me?

Challenges: Unexpected results (what, no comments? If I build it, will they not come?). perceived risks and challenges to authority (it's the FEAR!!!). time.

Michael: History of user generated content. 2005 ArtMobs. MOMA responded, the MET responded, restored authority but in a different way, and it works okay. MOMA podcasts rate above SmartMobs podcasts. SmartMobs has no recent updates - demonstrates issues of sustainability.

Today: Brooklyn Museum's Click. Crowd curation. Shelley rocks us all again. Sounds just totally awesome. Maybe I should participate. Let's put the curators out of work!

Open Source Software
: Robert Stein, IMA
software with code made public which allows users to use/modify/adapt software.

Museums have specific set of complex needs in software and NO MONEY. Examples: Pachyderm. Museums don't depend on competing with peers, almost the opposite. Museums software industry not lucrative. Museums use software designed for other sectors, often, and pay $$$$ for integration software. Therefore OpenSource stuff has lots of potential for us. Pooling of resources will lead to better software.

To succeed: Create standards for rep. of data, for specs of functionality. Example: Open Collection. Need commitments from museums to get software companies to support this. Encouraging vendors to work with this/support this. Bonuses: OSS needs tech and non-tech to come together and produce a beautiful baby software. Example: Steve project.

Open Content: Susan Chun (consultant)
Creative work, under copyright. Broadly accessible and freely distributed. Terms define restrictions. Okay, so we're talking more or less about Creative Commons, I think. Leads to low cost automated distribution. I think this is a good thing. But I can imagine the FEAR that's out there. Types of content: images, texts, audio, video. Philosophical/policy questions and tactical questions should be asked. Pros and cons.

iTunesU, Flickr's Commons, providing teachers resources.

Wrap up discussions:
Is there a magic bullet to make the audience respond? Nope, none, that we seem to know.

Greg Stevens from AAM makes some closing remarks: asks for topics for future webinars. Thanks us all.