Photo by J Brew on Flickr.

by • 21 Mar, 2013 • Inspiration, TechnologyComments (7)4727

How to create the right digital mindset in your museum (in an hour)?

1. Yesterday I hosted the return day of a DEF workshop at the Danish Museum Association in Copenhagen. After enjoying an insightful presentation about the digital strategy of SMK and a thoughtful presentation about digital at the National Museum, we discussed some of the most pressing issues that hindered the digital potential of Danish museums. Number one among these issues: the digital mindset (or lack thereof) with colleagues in the museums.

We carefully broke the idea of a ‘digital mindset’ down to its core behaviours: what does a person do when he or she has a digital mindset? The answers varied widely between people and institutions: A colleague with a digital mindset shares ideas, uses the right tools for the right challenges, is present on social networks, asks and answers questions, etc. etc. For most participants, a digital mindset had little to do with digital tools and much more with a 21st century way of working: open, collaborative, lean, proactive…

Breaking down a complex idea like ‘digital mindset’ into simple behaviour you can observe helps to find opportunities towards this idea that address understandable things, rather than abstract concepts. One of the things we figured out in Copenhagen was that talking about a ‘digital mindset’ might be the wrong way to get your colleagues to develop the desired mindset. ‘Digital’ causes resistance, while the ideas behind it may be easier accepted.

2. Which brings me to an important question I need your help with (which is why I emphasised it so outrageously):

I’ve been invited to take part in a capacity building project in South-Eastern Europe where a team will help small and mid-sized museums to develop and implement sustainable projects. I have an hour to work with professionals from these museums on new technologies in museums. I cannot assume the participants will have much prior knowledge, funds available for ambitious projects or even an internet connection.

What is the most accessible and most powerful ‘new technology’ or core digital mindset that I can really make progress on in under an hour?

How would you spend this hour? Just listing the possibilities takes me more than an hour, and I really want to make every second count. What is the number 1 thing that helped you or your institution move forward when it came to new technology? Tough questions, I know, but I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments. Should I work on ‘blogging’ and the use of free platforms, social media, getting a website up for near to nothing, learn how to raise funds online…?

Your help is greatly appreciated and – of course – I will blog about what happens with your recommendations. Thanks in advance!

Photo by J Brew on Flickr.

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  • A couple of ideas:

    * If I had to help people get into a digital mindset I would show them
    some examples of the conversations about events and exhibitions
    (Eventifier is a good place to start because it draws together the
    various channels – for example how people interacted around the ALIA
    Online conference
    or TEDxToulouse

    * I think for museums the other aspect of a digtal mindset is to
    understand the impact when your audience become “curators” – Pinterest
    is the most ubiquitous example I can think of to work with. Getty Museum
    and Europeana
    are some examples. Also note that if your museum doesn’t have a
    Pinterest account of it’s own it would be a good idea to check how much
    of your content has been pinned anyway by individuals.

  • Sofie Bergkvist

    In my experience changing mindset comes with changing actions. So ususally it is a question of changing what you do – and the mind will follow. So one thing to do, could be to show them a simple blogging tool, get them to practice, brainstorming about possible subjects, write shorter posts and share with the group, comment on each others posts, and then challenge them to start blogging for real every day for a month or so. Looking forward to hearing what you decide to do in the end and how it works out!

  • Thanks Sofie! Learning by doing is certainly a thing to keep in mind and I agree blogs are an important place to start with understanding the (social) web.

  • Rachel sayers

    Hi, I’m working with small(ish) museums + heritage sites in Northern Ireland atm. The one I am currently working with did not have an updated website, twitter feed, blog or anything. I showed them the simple and easy to use wordpress software and how one person can regularly update the blog, which has increased audience participation. I have also introduced them to Twitter which again has increased audience participation.

    My work is not funded very well nor do the small museums have much money/time/short staffed. Free and easy to access social media such as twitter and blogging software such as word press have really changed the digital mindset of the museums. I hope this helps!

  • Hi Rachel, thanks so much for your comment. I’m sorry to hear your situation is tight, but it’s great to see you’re still trying to move ahead. Your comment helps a lot and is really useful. Thanks again.

  • Thanks so much Mylee, I really appreciate your ideas and links. Both Pinterest and Wikipedia are certainly topics that should be addressed as quick wins.

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