Calling all curators – what does social media mean to you?: Erika Dicker

Powerhouse Museum curator Erika Dicker is preparing a paper to present at the Museums and the Web 2010 on the changing role of the curator. In a very Web 2.0 approach, Erika is crowd-sourcing the content of the presentation by asking the curatorial fraternity to complete an online survey. It will be interesting to hear her findings as the lines are blurring between curators, other museum departments and the general public, so please take the time to share your thoughts.


Erika Dicker’s curator profile portrait, used in her Object of the Week Blog, on the Powerhouse Museum website.

Museums and galleries are very quickly putting their collections online, reaching and interacting with a new audience via the use of social media.

But what does this mean for curators?

Curators have traditionally been knowledge specialists responsible for an institutions collection. But when that collection and information is made widely available via the internet, to be viewed, used, shared, and manipulated, where does that leave us?

Do curators know what social media is? Do we use it? Or are we more likely to throw up our hands and say: “What the hell is this Twitter thing anyway!?”

The up and coming younger generation has been dubbed “generation c”, the ‘c’ standing for content or even curator! This essentially refers to the fact that this generation is one that uses social media to curate their own content, and content of others, such as photo galleries on Flickr, or blog content. This even extends to the numerous museum exhibitions that have been crowd sourced, allowing online users to curate the content for real exhibitions. Where is our place in this new world where everyone has the ability to curate their own content online, and increasingly on the museum floor?

The junction of social media and museums is so often controlled by an institutions web services or IT department, now it’s time to find out what impact it has on curators.

I am currently undertaking a large survey of curators internationally to find out the answer to this very question. This will form part of a paper being presented at the Museums and the Web conference in April, 2010.

So this is your chance to let it be known what you think. Do you use social media? Do you understand it? Do you despise it? Do you love it? And ultimately how do you think it has impacted on your life as a curator?

Complete the survey here and please pass this survey on to your curatorial departments.

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