Photo by Stefano Corso on Flickr. Update 1 May 2013: Added new names and removed numbering (this is not a ranking!) Update 19 April 2013: Added 8 names from email & comments. Many more to come once I’ve gone through the tweets. I’ve received many comments and suggestions about other demographics which are all great people as well (many of whom I know personally). For now I’ll stick to this list which is enough work already, but feel free to email me about suggestions and recommendations if you’re looking for somebody to do a project or speak at a conference, etc!
Some tweets spark more than retweets and replies and some questions deserve more than 140-character answers. Over email a leader in a cultural institution asked me if I knew inspirational, forward-thinking young women working in or with museums and culture, a question I forwarded to Twitter. The response was overwhelming and inspiring.
Museum people: What are the most inspiring (young) women working on museum innovation (not just media & tech)? #mw2013#museumnext#thanks
After frantically clicking through 100+ replies and e-meeting some of the most inspirational people I’ve met in years, I’ve decided to attempt to list some really great people and the work they’re doing. There is no order, no intention to be conclusive and definitely no good reason why you are not yet on the list, so please please please add your favourites (or yourself) to the comments.
Apart from being the response to the original question, maybe this list can serve to conference organisers around the world, organisations seeking extra hands or locations seeking projects as a source of inspiration. I’ve tried to give credits where possible for future reference. Read the rest of this entry »
Update: Do you feel you fit into the profile below (and are you fluent in Dutch)? You might want to check out this internship/job opportunity at a new startup I’m involved in.
We’re looking for: People that help museums stay relevant in the 21st century. Job title: community manager, digital engagement officer, online marketeer, audience curator, hands-on project manager, educator (etc. etc.). Your profile: hmm…
In general, the debate on ‘21st century skills’ or – put differently – what we expect in terms of skills, attitudes, behaviour and knowledge from future colleagues is diverse and inspiring. In the museum-context, it might even be more complicated. Studying various reports of such skills (etc.), such as the excellent Museums, Libraries and 21st Century Skills (PDF) and a Dutch one by Kennisnet, most of the focus is on skills that help people design the future. Museums, obviously, and museum professionals also play an important role in maintaining the past. This duality is obvious in the ICOM definition:
A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development (‘future’), open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches (‘past’), communicates and exhibits (‘future’) the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education (‘future’), study (‘past’) and enjoyment (‘future’).
Note that I use ‘future’ and ‘past’ to make a distinction between the internal, traditional role of a museum and the outgoing, also-traditional-but-now-key-to-receiving-funds role that can be considered to focus on the future of the institution.
As museums realise they need to evolve in order to stay relevant, within them a continuous debate begins between the ‘past’ and the ‘future’. And, as much as the ‘traditional’ museum professionals need to be comfortable with the 21st century, the future professionals need to be comfortable with the traditional role of museums in society, which is probably why maybe the number 1 question I get from clients and at conferences is to help define a profile for the future museum professional. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday I gave two ‘interactive sessions’ in probably the most beautiful room I ever worked in. Wall-high Sol LeWitt murals and wide windows with a view over central Leuven formed the backdrop for a lively discussion on digital storytelling in cultural and heritage institutions on occasion of the Mediation in Transition conference in M-Leuven.
To address the most important issue first: there is no such thing as digital storytelling. There’s only storytelling in the digital age, and frankly speaking this isn’t much different from storytelling in the age of hunters, gatherers, dinosaurs and ICQ. This doesn’t mean it cannot be challenging to tell a story people react upon online. On any given moment, hundreds of stories are unfolding around you, on Facebook, Twitter, and in niche social spaces. Many of them are much more interesting than anything a museum can possibly offer, at least, in the right here right now (because Justin Bieber might have really died this time, and you don’t want to be the last person to retweet that, do you?).
So, how do you tell a story in the digital age that stands out, captures people’s attention and gets them to act, engage with your institution?
My favourite story for quite some time now and one I’ve been showing in workshops around the world is the story of the Troy public library. The surprising twists, genuine engagement and originality of the project are a constant source of inspiration for me and I can’t get enough of it, even after having heard and told the story many times.
Few presentations have made as much an impact on me as Martin Barden’s presentation about Tate Members at MuseumNext 2011. I retell his story at least once a week, and in my head (and stories) both Martin and Tate Members have taken immense proportions. As if nearly one fifth of a million paying members isn’t impressive enough already… You can imagine I’m happy the people behind Kom Je Ook? have decided listen to my endless begging and bring Martin over to Amsterdam for their conference on March 29th (for which I can’t help but make some promotion…).
What I like about Tate Members is how they have carefully designed the process from occasional passer-by to patron. This process is as much about getting new people to join the membership programme, as it is about retaining existing members and encouraging them to “grow” into more exclusive relationships with the institution.
I guess there’s a lot we can learn from a programme like Tate Members when we’re talking about (online) community building, growing a Facebook page, and all other activities where we want people to get together in an organised way around a cause. Here’s what I take away from repeating the Tate Members story at least 50 times*:
Have clear benefits. Free entrance to special exhibitions, a cool welcome gift, no queues… Joining should always have explicit benefits, even if it’s just liking a Facebook page. I fear “stay up to date” isn’t always enough. Exclusive contents, early registration and last-minute deals are examples of online benefits. Read the rest of this entry »
This week at the Dish conference in Rotterdam I gave a presentation about all the do’s and don’ts, tips and tricks, lessons and hands-on advice about crowdsourcing from my experience at the Museum of National History. Well… that’s quite a lot to talk about. All in all I came up with some 25-30 little notes, which the audience of my presentation – in a little participatory trick – had to label as do’s or don’ts.
Here’s the full list, now all as do’s, with some additional ideas that didn’t fit in the presentation. Use it to your benefit and please add your thoughts when you feel I’ve missed some.
Ask your potential participants a clear question or a clear task. A clear question is never ambiguous, unless you’re looking for (and only looking for) different ways to look at its ambiguity.
Run a couple of real-life test sessions with your question. Even if it’s an online project, ask people in the street your question and see how they respond. Change the question all the time. Once people only respond with the answers you’re looking for, you’ve found your question.
Ask a question that is meaningful to people. Questions that might be labelled emotional or highly personal are good. Not everybody will answer them, but the answers you’ll get will be so much more valuable.
Pinpoint very specific groups of people you’d like to reach with your project. Design to meet their demands and answer to their needs. Preferably, involve this target group in the design of your project.
That said: don’t exclude anyone from participating if they really want to.
Be extremely clear about your limits to what people can contribute, and keep these as limited as possible. Racism, hate, advertising and unlawful things are usually enough to exclude.
Accept all other contributions, regardless of they way in which you perceive their quality. Every time a person took the trouble to contribute to your project, this contribution is valuable (you can use peer reviewing to maintain overall high quality). Read the rest of this entry »