Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

Museum3 – from network to not-for-profit!

Museums 3 Ning Logo 2010

Post by Associate Professor Angelina Russo.

It’s been just over two and a half years since we established Museum3.0. What started as an idea for connecting cultural professionals online, has grown to a network of over 2500 members and is still going strong!

Earlier this year, the network provider (Ning) announced changes to it’s structure. While these changes didn’t make a huge difference to us (we already paid for premium services) they came at the same time as we were realising that the network was now larger than we could have ever anticipated. With so many members, Lynda Kelly and I put our heads together to try and come up with a structure which would enable the network to grow and give us some entity through which to manage and sustain this growth.

The upshot?
We decided to incorporate as a not-for-profit organisation! This gives us a legal entity through which to advocate, create and develop new knowledge, projects and collaborations. It also means we can do simple things like book venues for conferences!!

With an initial executive board made up of the members of our current research project (Timothy Hart, Melbourne Museum; Sebastian Chan, Powerhouse Museum, Lynda Kelly, Australian Museum and myself, RMIT University) we are currently finalising the constitution so that we can establish ourselves in the next few weeks.

Why now?
To begin with, Museum3 was supported by our current collaborative research project Engaging with Social Media in Museums. This project explored the impact of social media on museum learning and communication. The project supported Lynda and my time to explore the potential of the network. As the project nears its end, neither of us would have a remit through which to maintain the network. By establishing as a not-for-profit, we are able to demonstrate an outcome of the project which, while unexpected, has benefits well beyond the academic papers which were written throughout the three year research program.

What came out of Museum3
Throughout the past 2 1/2 years a number of groups have formed on the network, enabling like-minded professionals to contribute to discussions surrounding the changes in the sector. Additionally, two specialised groups were formed by students to share their research and to create a global network of up and coming museum professionals. We are particularly proud of this outcome and hope to be able to support it further within the new organisation.

What’s next?
Earlier this week we published the ‘objects’ or aims of the organisation which will become part of our constitution. We asked the network for their thoughts and received terrific feedback which has enabled us to hone the objects to meet the needs of our network. It is this type of participation which is of particular interest to me as it demonstrates a dedicated, supportive and critical discourse within which to evolve.

We’re currently trialling the new graphics and establishing new features which will include tiered membership (an issue which we also posted to our network for feedback), our inaugural conference and first AGM (14 – 15 April 2011, Melbourne) and specialist research workspaces.

In the future we want to develop webinars, podcasts and teaching resources.

We’re very excited about these developments and are particularly proud of the thoughtful contributions we have received all the way along.

So, in the next few weeks, this is what we will become:

Museum3 – www.museum3.org

Museum3 is a global network for those interested in the future of museums, galleries, science centres, libraries & archives. It seeks to:

(a) Develop and maintain an engaged, creative and connected community of global cultural institution professionals and advocates; encouraging innovation through knowledge exchange, networking, research, design development and outreach activities.

(b) Provide an environment that promotes the evolutionary development of the cultural institution sector fostering the exchange of innovative online and onsite practices in a critical and supportive space.

(c) Develop positive perceptions by members, visitors and the broader community about the cultural sector’s role in inspirational and sustainable programs of communication, both onsite and online.

(d) Enhance and effectively share knowledge, ideas, skills and innovations about the cultural institution sector (libraries, museums, galleries, archives and broadcasters) by promoting movable cultural heritage.

(e) Provide advocacy and support to the cultural institution sector to develop and maintain partnerships with media, business, government and other cultural services organizations to facilitate cross-fertilisation of ideas, information exchange and joint projects to the benefit of heritage collections and places.

In the meantime, you can find us at www.museum30.ning.com

All thoughts and comments greatly appreciated!


Associate Professor Angelina Russo, PhD
RMIT University
School of Media and Communication
Building 9, Level 2, Room 4

Phone +613 99252753
Email angelina.russo@rmit.edu.au

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Long Tails: Why Participate Online?

While pondering the few gem-like comments on the CAN blog some questions arose about the type of action, participation and commentators (and commentary) is out there in the Australian collecting sector via social media. There are guidelines aplenty online to help people to establish and participate in social networks using social media tools – see Darragh Doyle’s how to comment on a blog and Caroline Middlebrook’s blog commenting strategy as just two examples. There are blog lists relating to the Australian collecting sector I’ve scooped up as a small sample (e.g. archives, museums, libraries) to reflect the diversity in a part of the Australian collecting blogosphere. There are also some useful guidelines readily available online aimed at particular collecting domains or organisation types — see the blog about a social media manual being developed in the UK by Jim Richardson which appears to be drawing upon these institutional policy documents and guides for the museum sector.
The Long Tail and Learning

 

What seems to be missing is the discussion of the ‘why would I/we?’ factor and what those motivations and (in)actions reveal about the participants and the wider community. Nina Simon discusses this question at the tail end of a blog on the use of social media by museums and some interesting debate crops up in the comments on this blogpost. There are different questions to ask of oneself about what the motivations and benefits are in establishing or participating online and using social media, for work, or as a citizen. Noticeably (and impressively) there has been strong online feedback on the Australian National Cultural Policy (dialogue open until 1 Feb 2010). Glancing over the open feedback gives an immediate sense that these open online commentators are confident in their thoughts about policy direction and in using social media as citizens in a democratic manner. It would seem unusual to have anything but strong feedback in any case (perhaps worth remembering the polarised nature of public comment or feedback on issues of public interest is about asserting ones views rather than about neutrality and acquiescence). It is though useful to be reminded that what is openly available is not the total picture of the feedback offered and the open commentary may at this point have a certain characteristics of its own by comparison with feedback not published online.
The Long Tail of Fans

 

The larger questions potentially are: how much of Australian digital/social activity is through social media technologies per se and how much is happening through the collecting organisations, the practitioners and the interested public to make for thriving onsite and online communities? An allied question is how big are Australians on offering opinions and dialogue – and is that rate and type of commentary different and/or similar to other cultures? There are theses to be written no doubt in time on that front (if not already written or in process) on patterns particular to Australian participants. A search on Google and then on the Australian Digital Theses Program reveals a doctoral thesis developed at Griffith University by Gordon Fletcher about the cultural significance of web exchange through analysing popular search terms. To quote from Gordon Fletcher’s thesis abstract:

 

“Critical analysis of these higher order categories reveals six cultural traits that predominant in the apparently wide array of search terms; freeness, participation, do-it-yourself/customisation, anonymity/privacy, perversion and information richness. The thesis argues that these traits are part of a cultural complex that directly reflects the underlying motivations of contemporary western mainstream culture.”.

 

There are very good practical reasons to examine the resources committed to onsite and online priorities. Necessarily those priorities are linked to the strategic objectives of organisations and less formally so the aims of individuals. There are also cultural reasons for people to be quick or slow to comment, happy with openness or privacy in offering commentary, and desire and/or comfort levels with particular levels of openness or privacy. In terms of balance I am reminded of the value of perceiving consensus (some kind of peak in the bell curve or cluster of opinion) and the value of diversity, that is, what the long tail of commentating and commentary, and diversity in commentators, online can offer.

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Myth and reality (social media sites/networks): Ingrid Mason

 

The reasons for not using social media sites/networks in collecting organisations to engage visitors or new audiences range: a perception that digital technology and social media sites/networks are for young people (myth); the thought that putting time into social media sites/networks is time “wasted” when there are “real people” to engage with in “real spaces” (the time spent on these sites/networks can also pay off in dividends); social media sites/networks are perceived as “entertainment” rather than as a means of “community engagement” (which is a key goal) and internet access from work computers to these networks/sites is blocked; a level of unfamiliarity with social media sites/networks is inhibiting and doing research is in the “too hard basket” (a good reason to learn from others’ efforts); and the idea that going online is “risky” and social media sites/networks (that’s why testing it out is such a good idea).

 

It isn’t easy to dispel myths and change organisational policies on internet use. The only way to address myth is to provide evidence to the contrary – see Seb Chan’s blogs on Australian internet use and the generational myth. I encourage those in the sector working under conditions of internet restrictions to contest this issue with their organisational IT sections by developing and providing a business case to validate the requirement for access to specific social media sites/networks. The logic being these sites/networks are working tools and spaces and widen access to the collection, provide relevant and practical ways to communicate with current and new audiences and in short — deliver value to the organisation. The question “What is the cost/benefit of using social media sites/networks?” needs to be thought through and answered well so that the reason to change policy is clear.

 

Sector participants are whole-heartedly encouraged to mull the examples in this blog; to venture into these spaces and look around and find out: what the social networking/media sites are; what people “do” in these places; and why people spend time on and contribute content to social networking and media sites this. It is better to take a look at this with one’s own eyes. In the interim, the short answers are, people participate in social media sites/networks because it gives them satisfaction (otherwise they wouldn’t use these sites or resources) and a sense of community (engagement and interaction is what makes these spaces and resources social!). Doesn’t sound too radically different to why people like to visit collecting organisations and volunteer in them does it?

 

As a brief starting point, what people do – in a quick summary – is:

Blog — reflect, absorb, write and comment e.g. Blogspot, WordPress, LiveJournal, etc including microblogging — leave (in brief) notes, messages, comments e.g. Twitter, Posterous, etc

Network — debate, advise, share, comment and send notices e.g. Facebook, Ning, MySpace, etc

Generate content — upload content to share with others, comment or tag or reuse the content e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Slideshare

If using these sites/networks is suitable then the next step is to look at implementing these technologies/working spaces in phases, that is: do research, undertake a pilot, evaluate the pilot (lessons learned and potential value), consider implementing their use in business-as-usual, and then conduct periodic reviews.

 

Finally some real examples to draw from:

ArtBabble: Indianapolis Museum of Art
“ArtBabble was created so others will join in spreading the world of art through video.”

Be Heard Forever: National Library of New Zealand “By sending your music to the National Library’s Legal Deposit team, you guarantee it will be looked after, stored properly, and available to future generations of New Zealanders long after you’re gone.”

Tyrell Collection on Flickr Commons: Powerhouse Museum “The Museum is uploading photographs from its large collections of glass plate negatives. These images go up without alteration or cropping. We continue to add new images every week and, where possible, we are mapping them too! We need your help – if you know more about the locations or people in these photos, or can help tag them, it would be great!”

Library Labs: National Library of Australia “Over the next few weeks and on 27 March itself, National Library staff will be twittering, flickring, podcasting, vodcasting and blogging in an attempt to discover what significance social networking might have for us.”

Museum 3.0: Australian Museum “Museum 3.0: a network for those interested in the future of cultural institutions such as museums, galleries, science centres and other collecting bodies.”

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A toolkit for supporting your own learning online: Joy Suliman

Joy Suliman facilitates workshops in multi-media production and content development at the Powerhouse Museum’s Thinkspace creative media labs. She has a special interest in adapting widely available online tools and accessible hardware for learning purposes. Previously she has worked as a regional radio producer and community development worker. But most people will know Joy as the former Collections Australia Network National Project Manager – delivering training and online support to the national collections sector.


Professional development and learning are a vital part of everyone’s working life. We are increasingly getting our information and learning resources from a variety of online sources such as websites, blogs, online journals, wikis, forums and discussion lists. And then there is also the social networking sites like Twitter, Slideshare, Facebook and YouTube. It can seem like a real nightmare trying to stay in the loop, keeping track of everything you come across, and then finding it again when you need it. Creating your own “Personal Learning Environment” or PLE is a handy way of integrating all your online learning and resources, and creating ways of managing your own learning online.

PLEs are, very broadly, the ways and structures an individual uses to find, organise, reflect and share their learning in online environments. It’s more than just elearning or doing a course online, it’s everything you do online to grow your knowledge and skills. It’s a highly contested definition, but I like what Melbourne academic Ron Lubensky has written about it here. There are some formal PLEs that are used by schools and universities, but for most of us, it will be a matter of integrating some of our already existing online practices and looking at other online tools that will help us fill in the gaps. Many web 2.0 and social media tools are great for creating your PLE. In this post, I thought I would share with you the top 5 applications in my PLE toolkit, and how I use them.

1. Delicious
Delicious is a social bookmarking site. Using delicious you can save bookmarks, tag them using your own terminology, add notes and comments, manage them from anywhere when you are online, and share them. It’s a big leap forward from the “favourites” in your browser, because using tags you can label pages in a way that makes sense to you and that will help you find them again later. I save everything I think I might like to read/hear/watch again, so when I’m having one of those “where did I read that” moments, I look in my delicious links first. I also keep a list of resources and articles for Thinkspace in Delicious.

2. Google Reader
Feed readers are great for checking all your blogs in one place. There are lots of them around, but I use Google Reader because it’s simple, and I can check it from my home, work, laptop or iphone without too much hassle. I scan through the summaries of all the posts from all the blogs that I follow. It has replaced the morning newspaper for me. If I want to read more, I can, and if I’m really interested I will click through to the post, and then bookmark it in Delicious. There are also some tools that allow you to favourite, share, email and tag with the reader itself. Essential.

3. Zotero
This is a seriously good tool for those doing research. It’s an add-on/extension for firefox, and it stores the citations and notes for websites, pdfs and basically anything you might come across online. Bibliographies can be exported into Word or Open Office. Open source and free. Wish it existed when I was writing my thesis . . .

4. Twitter
Microblogging – updates of 140 characters or less. I’m a bit surprised at how quickly I have become a fan of twitter. What can you learn in under 140 characters? Plenty it turns out. I follow people who I have met professionally, and through twitter I know what they are reading, and read it straight away if they have provided the link in their tweet. I get information about events and training. I put information about what I am working on and the workshops in the Thinkspace labs in my tweets. People who follow me comment, advise and “re-tweet” to their own networks. At conferences that I’m not attending, I appreciate that I can follow the presentations through the tweets of others who are there. I can tweet from any computer or my iphone. Want to follow me?

5. LastPass
Lots of accounts and logging in mean lots of logins and passwords. I use LastPass to manage my accounts. I have it set up on the browser on my laptop. Secure and easy to use. One password is all I need now.


I was really inspired by a presentation that Kathryn Greenhill gave at the CAN Collections and the Web event in Perth last year “”…but I don’t have time and THEY don’t get it”: Finding time and reasons for emerging technologies”. Kathryn’s presentation is on slideshare, and reminded me that everything I want to learn is out there, I just have to make it personal and take responsibility.

If you are looking for more hands on professional development and practical digital skills learning, we have a range of adult learning and professional development courses at Thinkspace, including Digital storytelling, Digital video editing, Photoshop, Web 2.0 toolkit, Online planning and research skills, and Interactive whiteboard skills. We are also putting together a professional development program for people working in museums, history, cultural heritage, collections and the arts, called Digital Culture. The first Digital Culture workshop will be Podcasting, and is scheduled for Thursday 12 November. Book here.

If you would like to know about future Digital Culture workshops in video and youtube, blogging, photography, nings and wikis, send me an email and I’ll let you know when they are coming up.

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The small museum’s vital role in community engagement

Smaller cultural institutions have the opportunity to become the lead commentators in contemporary society. The fragmentation of the media, and consequently of civil society, has positioned the museum brand as a credible source of information. Ross Dawson wrote in his blog that the media and the museum are both curators of content facing the same question: Should they control the information or should they open-up the editing process? By starting an online dialogue, museums can take the lead role in the community as builder, shaper and connector.

Museums, libraries and galleries should use digital media alongside its exhibition space to help it build and engage a community. Through online discussion forums, social networking, open-source and other Web 2.0 applications, an institution can listen to its community and reflect civil society’s needs in its public program.

Samuel W. Shogren, of the Washington County Historical Society, argues in The Informal Learning Review No. 92 (Sep / Oct 2008) that small cultural institutions have a significant role in place making and influencing social change for three reasons:
- Museums operating from smaller facilities, rather than large temple-like buildings, can be more responsive to change within the community;
- Smaller institutions are able hold exhibitions and programs reflecting the issues facing civil society;
- Curators and exhibition designers could set up exhibitions in locations reflecting their content. This could open-up possibilities for community involvement in shaping the story for the exhibit.

The role of the small museum is more significant than ever as it has the ability to reflect civil society. (Larger institutions will be slower to respond to community issues as there are more layers of bureaucracy to cut through.) The online and on-site communities need to work together to transform the museum’s traditional spaces into places where dialogue and education can occur. Here vital links between cultures and social groups can be formed, placing small cultural institutions at the centre of a community.

Sarah Rhodes

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