Monday, 27 April 2009

A quick summary of my MW2009

I'm posting this now to get it out of the way (and done in April) though I still haven't caught up on the Museums and the Web 2009 'backchannel', tidied my notes or read all the papers I wanted to read. I may update this later as I remember things I wanted to say.

Some strong themes (memes?) emerged during the conference. In general, while lots of great sites and projects were presented, including some lovely examples of projects breaking new ground in best practice, some of the most important ideas weren't about presenting new, flashy things but rather reflected a maturity in approach, and a consolidation of the role of the web in museums.

Breaking out of the bubble
From the informal conversations and unconference sessions proposed it seems to be an issue lots of people are struggling with - how do we communicate with managers, curators, educators to get them excited about the possibilities of the web; Nina's question about how we bring the levels of participation we're seeing on museum websites into the physical museum; how does (or how should) an integrated web program change an organisation; how do web teams go from mavericks to maturity?

And leading on from that: the post-conference challenge - do one thing in April

Conferences are great, especially one as social as Museums and the Web. Those inspiring late night conversations, the unexpected connections, putting faces to names... but I sometimes come away from conferences as cynical as I am enthused because before you know it, you're back at the same conference next year and nothing has changed.
The 'do one thing different when you get back' idea that suffused the crowd-sourced closing plenary really inspired me. Using the post-conference high to make one small change or proactively share with colleagues rather than letting it dissipate seemed to appeal to lots of people - I wonder if there's a way of finding out who's taken up the challenge. I hope I'm going to keep the inspiration to do the Right Thing, to keep pushing for quality when resources and energy are limited and projects are many.
I also realised that after all the inspiring conversations of last year some of us came back from MW2008 and ended up with BathCamp, so while the post-conference crash back to reality may be unavoidable, it doesn't mean you can't get something done anyway.
So I've been working away on the museums API wiki (possibly better known as 'museums and re-usable shareable data' but hey ho), tagging links 'mw2009' in delicious, and following up some contacts with email conversations. There's a lot more I should be doing, and if I haven't yet been in contact with you about something we discussed, let me know.

The unconference
I want to write a proper post about how it worked so that other people would feel comfortable running one of their own, but in the meantime, I'll just say that I was thrilled that it seems to have been so useful for people.

Twitter
The impact of Twitter was really evident at this conference. Apart from finding people for food or drinks, I used it most usefully to suggest an informal meetup of people interested in museum APIs during the Friday, and to find a whole bunch of people to go and eat noodles with. You can get a sense of the progress of the conference from my MW2009 tweets (from my 'event' twitter account).

Randomness
On a personal note, I also made up a new description for myself as I needed one in a hurry for moo cards: cultural heritage technologist. I felt like a bit of a dag but then the lovely Ryan from the George Eastman House said it was also a title he'd wanted to use and that made me feel better. And I won a 'backchannel award' for blogging from the conference, woo!

As well as earlier posts on the opening plenary and the unconference session on failure I still have more notes to dump into posts, I'll tag them all so you can find them under MW2009.

5 comments:

  1. Hey Mia. It's really nice to read other people's post-conference blogs and hear that other people come away with the same things that I did, and the same enthusiasm. I haven't been to enough yet either to feel the cynicism that you mention which is quite nice!

    I don't know whether I'll take up the MW2009 challenge but there's one thing I definitely want to set up as a result of the conference: a best practice in museum e-Learning wiki (catchier title suggestions welcome!) I talked to Martin Bazley about it last week and plan to get in touch with him and a few others about it soon to get it kick started. Would be interesting to get your views on it once it's up and running!

    I rejoin the real world tomorrow so I'm hoping it's not too much of a crash!

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  2. You've reflected and blogged, I think that's counts as something before the end of April!

    In terms of the challenge, I was thinking that one really useful thing would be if loads of us asked people to 'tell me a story about your perfect museum visit', and/or 'what could you do on a perfect museum website when you got home from a visit' then shared the stories to help develop the vision of what museum websites could be. As a wiki user who isn't a developer, would you be comfortable adding something like that to the museum-api wiki?

    Have you thought about starting a 'best practice in museum e-learning' group on the Museum 3.0 ning? With nearly 1000 members, it's got a critical mass of visitors, and might be easier for people to use than a wiki.

    I hope your re-entry into the real world isn't too painful!

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  3. Hi Mia and thanks for your summary (as well as the Museum 3.0 plug!).

    Rhiannon - there is an e-learning group on Museum 3.0 so I suggest you make a posting there. e-learning is something I'm very interested in and it will only grow.

    Mia, I was interested in your conference notes under the heading Breaking out of the Bubble, esp "how do we communicate with managers, curators, educators to get them excited about the possibilities of the web". I'm surprised that this is still such an issue for people? Certainly at the Australian Museum we are actively experimenting in these spaces and bringing staff along with us. This seems to be working for us so far. I'm updating our progress here on Museum 3.0 and will keep members posted.

    It's not easy, but once people see a purpose in it, how they can apply Web 2.0 directly to their work programs and that it doesn't actually take an enormous amount of time they become more engaged IMHO.

    Lovin' your work BTW!

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  4. Hi Mia--I stumbled on your blog and was struck by your idea of asking people about their transforming museum experiences. Check out Mike Spock's "Philidelphia Stories." Some years back he videotaped people doing just that at the American Assoc. of Museums conference. Mostly the "Silverback generation" from US museums--and an intriguing piece of our professional cultural heritage. Still available from the AAM Bookstore. Dianne Hanau-Strain

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  5. "tweet" by @mpedson of the Smithsonian Institution, Wash. D.C., U.S.A.:

    "Observation: what I'm hearing reinforces my view that the prime directive is don't break 'innovation at the edges' #si20"

    more gems. follow here.

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