17 December 2008

Some future trends for the Internet and museums - the video

I gave (an updated version of) my presentation, "Some future trends for the Internet and museums" - including a discussion of myVirtualGallery - at the Museum & Gallery Services Queensland seminar, Creative Uses of the Collection on 11 Sep 2008.

M&GSQ have posted video and audio of all presentations, including mine, on their site.

Here's mine:

It was based on a talk I'd given earlier at a CAN seminar.

03 October 2008

How I got into the museum field

A colleague on the museum-ed list recently asked:
I've been asked by my alma mater to participate in a panel discussion sponsored by the Art History club. The topic is "breaking into the museum field." There's the obvious: internships, making contacts, joining professional organizations, etc. I could tell them about my own crooked path into this field, but I'm not sure that would be helpful. I'd rather arm myself with an array of stories from a lot of different people. So, tell me! I'd love to hear your story. How did you get into museum education? What was your first museum job? How did you get it? And how did you move up from there?
For what it's worth, here is my response:

I trained to be a high school art teacher at Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education (now the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales). In my first year (1975) I had a wonderful lecturer in drawing, Robin Norling. Robin inspired me, not just because he was the first person to ever successfully explain to me just what drawing was, but also because he showed - by example - how to connect with people in an educational context, and how to connect people with art. I was fortunate to have him again later in my course, as a lecturer in art education "method". In my final year, Robin left the College to become Head of Education Services at our state art museum, the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

After graduating, and while looking for a full-time teaching position, I became the volunteer coordinator of a local community arts organisation and taught art and craft at a number of school vacation programs, including one organised by Robin at the Art Gallery.

I eventually landed a job as a full-time art teacher at a private school and taught there for a few years. During that time, two museum educator positions at the Art Gallery became available, about nine months apart. I applied and was interviewed for both, and was successful with the second (1982).

From 1982 to 2001, I...
  • gave slide lectures and gallery talks on the permanent collection and visiting exhibitions
  • gave talks to students from Kindergarten to grade 12 (and beyond) in regional towns, with the Travelling Art Exhibition (1982-88)
  • planned and mounted four "Onsight" (metropolitan travelling) exhibitions, including the writing of catalogues, worksheets and news releases (1984-89)
  • gave talks to diverse groups (e.g. nursing homes, schools, service clubs, art societies, prisons) with the "Onsight" program
  • planned and mounted exhibitions in the Gallery's Education Space, each consisting of original art works, supported by diagrams, written material and interactive displays
  • planned and mounted "Artexpress" (outstanding works from state matriculation examination in visual arts), including coordination of catalogue, promotional material and related events
  • compiled and edited the Gallery's Exhibitions & Events brochures (since 1990), including gathering and compiling of information and images, editing, supervision of Graphic Designer and coordination of its distribution
  • selected, trained and managed a group of contract teacher-lecturers
  • produced various audio-visual programs, such as videos and audio-tours
  • designed and created the Art Gallery's first website
  • planned and co-ordinated programs for visitors with special needs, including in-house staff training
  • ran in-service and pre-service courses for teachers and teacher trainees on using the Gallery as an educational resource
In 1996, I became Coordinator of Education Programs, and second-in-charge of our department (now called "Public Programs").

In 2001, I became the Gallery's first Manager of Information, with responsibility for the Art Gallery's websites and regular publications. However, I still enjoy giving lectures and gallery talks from time to time. (I also regard our websites as being essentially educational.)

25 July 2008

Recent changes at Facebook

From an article on the New York Times (emphases in red are mine):

Mr. Zuckerberg [Facebook’s 24-year-old chief executive] ... reflected on the 15 months since Facebook opened up its site to outside companies and invited them to build profitable features for it.

The move was generally seen as smart and somewhat momentous inside the tech world. Facebook says 400,000 developers have worked on tools for the site...

But Facebook’s platform has also generated its share of controversy. Many trivial applications have clogged the site, and sought to spread themselves among users using a variety of tricks. Frustrated, Facebook has tried to counter that and put more emphasis on significant and trustworthy applications.

“As happy as I am with the growth of the ecosystem, there are a lot of mistakes we made,” Mr. Zuckerberg said. “I think we can all agree that we don’t want an ecosystem full of applications that are just trying to spread themselves.

To that end, Facebook announced a series of new incentives for developers to write what it characterized as “meaningful” tools for the service. It said it would pick certain applications that meet a set of Facebook principles to be part of a new “Great Apps” program.

Those applications will get higher visibility on the service and will be able to work more closely with Facebook. Causes, a charitable giving tool, and iLike, a music sharing service, were the first two applications to receive this designation...

Facebook said it was also setting up another level of certification, called the Facebook Verification program, for applications that meet the basic criteria of being secure and trustworthy. These applications will get added visibility and a graphical “badge.”

11 June 2008

A participatory audio-tour experiment

I was just directed to an interesting article on NYTimes.com: A Museum That Lets Its Visitors Become Part of the Art.
Halsey Burgund's exhibition "Round", at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, offers up a museum audio tour that solicits contributions from viewers and gives them equal voice in the discussion of art.
... For [Burgund], the main point here is not so much to provide information about the artworks, but to create an experience that can enhance somebody's time in the museum. To take pleasure in this oddball installation, you have to countenance such a motivation and get past all expectation that you will learn something from the audio guide.

29 May 2008

Some future trends for the Internet and museums

I was part of a panel at a seminar - "Collections and the Web: Audiences, Content and Technologies" - organised by CAN (Collections Australia Network) on Tuesday, 27 May: "Future Trends". I began with a short presentation in which I attempted to plot a number of future possibilities in terms of probability and desirability:
  • Spam to increase (almost certain), which may lead to...
  • The total collapse of email, as we now know it, under the weight of spam. While this would undoubtedly be a major disaster, it may have at least one beneficial consequence:
  • RSS (syndication) to become mainstream.
  • Internet connections to become faster and/or cheaper, which should allow...
  • Rich content (video, audio) to increase.
  • Online advertising to increase (but there is evidence that returns are diminishing).
  • Smart commercial links (in which success depends on how useful the user perceives it to be) to also increase.
  • Semantic web to become more pervasive (content not just for human consumption but for also machine consumption, making mashups possible - eg: US Presidents) But, perhaps more importantly...
  • Semantic web to become easier for non-tech people (MIT's Simile project is a step in the right direction).
  • Visitor-generated content to increase. (But there needs to a move towards quality visitor- generated content.)
  • Copyright restrictions to decrease (at least for the museum/cultural/non-profit sector). This is more of a hope than a prediction!
  • Open standards to increase, allowing...
  • Greater separation of content and presentation, and hence...
  • Greater diversity of platforms and personalisation.
  • Will non-standard (Flash) navigation increase? Hopefully not.

Here's the actual plot (sorry if it's a bit hard to read):

(This has also been posted to Museum 3.0)

Update: See the video

25 March 2008

The machine is us/ing us

Here's a good introduction to the 'new' web, by Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Kansas State University:

03 January 2008

User-generated content: useful links

On the museum-ed discussion list recently, someone asked for recommendations of books or papers on the topics of producing quality user-generated content, the process of reviewing/analyzing user-generated content, and the amount of time that should be dedicated to reviewing and editing user-generated content. Here's my reply:

The annual Museums & The Web conferences are a good source of online papers:

Attraction by Interaction: Wiki Webs As A Way To Increase The Attractiveness Of Museums' Web Sites - Peter Hoffmann and Michael Herczeg, Germany

Storymaker: User-generated Content - Worthy Or Worthwhile? - Graham Howard, Jon Pratty and Mike Stapleton, United Kingdom

Visitors' Voices - Mariana Salgado and Lily Diaz-Kommonen, Finland

Steve.museum: An Ongoing Experiment in Social Tagging, Folksonomy and Museums - Susan Chun, Rich Cherry, Doug Hiwiller, Bruce Wyman, USA, and Jennifer Trant, Canada

Using Open Source Software to Facilitate Collaboration Among Artists, Exhibitors and Patrons - Michael Knapp and Ellis Neder, USA

Community Sites & Emerging Sociable Technologies - Kevin von Appen, Canada, and Bryan Kennedy and Jim Spadaccini, USA

Beyond the On-line Museum: Participatory Virtual Exhibitions - Jonathan Cooper, Australia (beating my own drum :-))

Towards Community Contribution: Empowering Community Voices On-line - Angèle Alain, Canada

My Evidence: Who's the authority here? - Lowell Robinson, David Beck, Valerie Knight-Williams & Pearl Tesler, USA

Building an On-line Community: Web 2.0 and interpretive materials at the Brooklyn Museum - Nicole Caruth & Shelley Bernstein, USA

Radical Trust: The state of the museum blogosphere - Seb Chan, Australia & Jim Spadaccini, USA

Web 2.0: How to stop thinking and start doing: Addressing organisational barriers - Mike Ellis & Brian Kelly, United Kingdom

Remixing Exhibits: Constructing participatory narratives with on-line tools to augment museum experiences - Matthew Fisher & Beth Twiss-Garrity, USA