Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Join us in #collectionfishing on Twitter

The Collections Australia Network has been collectionfishing on Twitter. Each day a different organisation organically comes up with a theme for the day. Participants fossick around online collections for related material. Synesthesia took hold of the cultural sector online last week with the days of the week taking on different colours. Te Papa, New Zealand, started the week off with blue, Museum Victoria saw Tuesday as blue / red and Wednesday as red, CAN nominated Thursday as green and Friday yellow.

CAN is using #collectionfishing as a form of collection research, as its starting point for sourcing psychiatric hospital collections that could be uploaded to the CAN collection database.

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Highlights
Monday / Blue: @staterecordsnsw licence for the Coolamon Golf Club (Blue Light Disco)
Tuesday / Blue:@museumvictoria Oh the nostalgia, a lovely Bondi Blue iMac
Wednesday / Red: @CAN001 Old Gippstown on CAN A slightly different drum with red and blue
Thursday / Green: @CAN001 from the UTAS Fine Art Collection on CAN, thanks to Rachel Rose, Spit Bay, Heard Island
Friday / Yellow: @TePapaColOnline What will make you iron faster? Yellow racing stripes Iron, His Masters Voice, circa 1955

@MigrationMuseum, South Australia, took photographs within its exhibition space of a collection of items from the Polonia Soccer Club and uploaded it to Twitpic. Very resourceful – proof that anyone can play this game and participants are not confined to those with collections online. @lifeasdaddy, aka Bob Meade, is a well-known citizen researcher of cultural collections. He has been yelling out cries of encouragement from the sideline but we would love him to search across the nation’s collections on CAN and tweet them.

To participate, search a cultural collection online with the theme of the day in mind. Briefly describe the item, add a tinyurl to take the reader directly to the artefact (shorten the web link at the website www.tinyurl.com) and finish the tweet with #collectionfishing. Remember, CAN is looking for any reference to mental illness or psychiatric hospital collections.

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Guest writer: Liz Holcombe, Australian War Memorial

We have started to invite writers to regularly contribute to the CAN Outreach blog as we want the discussion forum to be the voice of the community. Our first guest is Australian War Memorial web manager Liz Holcombe who we interviewed last week about the AWM’s social media strategy. Liz uses the analogy of gardening to explain how she builds and maintains the Memorial’s online community.

Liz Holcombe

I like gardening, and really enjoy my vegie patch at home. I get to garden at work too. Here at the Australian War Memorial, we have been using social media in various forms for the last two and half years. Our first major foray was with blogs in late 2006. By early 2008 we had a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, and a presence on Flickr. In November 2008 we joined the Commons on Flickr, and in March 2009, joined Twitter.

One of the key things we have learned from this work is that you need to become a constant gardener, and gardening takes time. Gardening is the term I use to describe the constant activity that needs to happen on social media sites to keep them going. This means paying attention to comments, notes, fans, subscribers, and statistics (because someone will ask sooner or later what sort of result the site is yielding).



I like the word gardening because it is positive, organic and ultimately nourishing. Gardeners are constantly tidying, trimming, planting, weeding, dreaming and designing. Things never stay the same in a garden, and they don’t on the web either. And like in gardens, sometimes the changes are small and numerous and if you aren’t paying attention, you suddenly have a tangled jungle.

We have a few automatic ways of doing some of the gardening. When someone puts a new post on our blog, our Twitter page and our Facebook page automatically publish a link to the post. Comments are automatically emailed to blog authors, so the expert on the topic decides if the comment can be published, and if it needs a response. There is always someone in the web team keeping an eye on activity too, just in case the person who should be dealing with the comments is away.

Each day we spend time gardening on our various sites, looking at what is happening, reading what people say, responding to comments when it is appropriate, recording statistics and telling our colleagues what we learn. The demographic data that comes from Facebook and YouTube is invaluable, and the things that people share with us here have been surprising and sometimes touching. The photos that people take of the Memorial building and grounds and upload to our Flickr group create a unique visitor survey: some were taken in the 1960s. The reaction to the collection images on Flickr Commons has been incredible. One of the images, a striking portrait of an unidentified soldier from the First World War, has attracted particular interest, but no one has yet been able to help us work out who he was.

Unidentified soldier
An unidentified soldier. Do you know who he is?

Of course, there is some gardening that you don’t have to do on external sites that you have to do on your own website. You don’t have to make and manage the user interface. You don’t have to manage users’ emails and passwords or to provide help for people using the site: that is all done for you. On the downside, you have to accept what you find and live with it: if you don’t like the layout, or it does not work exactly the way you would like, you are not able to do much more than complain to the site owners, who are not obliged to do anything about it. It is a little like renting a house with a garden: you can’t really do a great deal to it, aside from maintaining it. If you own the garden though, you can pretty well do what you want. There are risks in using the external sites: is the site viable in the long term? What happens to your data if the site disappears? How do you do your record keeping if the activity if on some else’s server? How much do you need to record anyway?

Social media relies on participation, on two-way conversations: it is not enough to put something up and expect people to come. You have to work at it, keep on gardening, all the time. This is important, as once it was enough to just have the content on the website. Now we need to do more and allow more to happen with our content, largely because people are expecting more because of what they can do on other sites.

The major implication is that you have to work out how much activity you can support. The more care you can put into a site, the greater the return is likely to be, just like in a garden. You have to pick the best approach for the result you want, be prepared to work at varying speeds depending on the time or season, and remember that big things can grow from very small seeds. The trick is picking the seed that will flourish and ultimately bring a change to the garden. Social media is changing the way people use the web and that will inevitably change how museums operate on the web, and how the web is used by museums.

Guest writer Liz Holcombe, web manager, Australian War Memorial

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Virtual-delegates at the Museum and the Web 2009

For those who cannot attend the Museum and the Web 2009 conference in Indianapolis, social media tools can link you to the action. In past years, participants were limited to blogging on the MW website but this year the use of social media will mean backchannel (or online dialogue) will play a significant role. Groups have been set up on Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, delicious and Facebook to enable better networking opportunities. You can even link up RSS feeds with conference updates. These social media applications are for people interested in marking themselves as key players in the industry, sharing ideas and meeting like-minded people.

There are several papers and workshops on social media tools accessible to the public.

Great Expectations: Sustaining Participation in Social Media Spaces by Angelina Russo, Swinburne University of Technology, Victoria and Darren Peacock, University of South Australia, Adelaide.

Planning for social media by Seb Chan, head of Digtial Services and Research, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney and Angelina Russo, Swinburne University of Technology, Victoria.

Down to Earth. Social Media and Institutional Change by Vincent de Keijzer, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, The Netherlands and Patricia Deiser, Museum voor Communicatie, The Netherlands.

Of particular interest is a paper presented by Maxwell Anderson, of the Indianapolis Museum of Art called Moving from Virtual to Visceral. Anderson will discuss how museum’s can translate their on-site experiences online to penetrate through media clutter.

Sarah Rhodes

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