‘It’s not about technology it’s about people’

claire rPart 1:

(the next part will be more about the content of the conference)

This week, whilst some lucky people back at Geevor got to go down Victory Shaft (I’m miffed that I missed it!),  I was up in London for the Museums Association World Wider Wonder: Museums on the Web event.

Now this event was really interesting.

It was the usual suspects and case studies being identified as good practice:

That’s not what was interesting.  What was interesting was the audience and their reaction to these case studies.  The Museum Association has the ability to attract a diverse audience of museum professionals to its events, so rather then the speakers preaching to the converted, the web developers and the geeks, they were talking to curators, interpretation teams, marketing people, learning people and a mini selection of web people. I have to applaud the MA for this, it was really great to see so many different people listening to how useful the web can be to enhance what they already do onsite.

I got talking to some of the small museum members over lunch; the Cheltenham art gallery, the quilt museum in York and the Bournemouth Art Institute; the resounding point was “yes the case studies are great but how can we even attempt to emulate them when we don’t have the time, money or resources?”  this links to something I blogged about during MW2009- Small Institutions Big Dreams. The fact that small museums just don’t have enough resources to commit to engaging museum webery.

And low and behold Phill Poole pulled it out of the bag with his presentation on Enhancing website on a shoestring budget!  You can access his slides here

Another quite interesting thing came from the Q&A after one of the presentations…  a member of the audience believed their museum to be an authoritative keeper of knowledge and several people firmly believed that User Generated Content (especially wiki’s) goes against this authoritarian ‘we know the facts, and you don’t’ mentality.  Sorry that’s coming across as quite negative.  I don’t mean to, but it infuriates me when people believe that just because they work in a museum, they therefore are a keeper of knowledge.  Increasing access and audience engagement is really important to me.  Museums are well on their way to shaking off the highly negative stereotypical view that they are quiet, revential and un-welcoming, perceived as an old building with an imposing appearance, full of fuddy duddy curators who waffle on about boring stuff.  Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, I know that, but museums believing that User generated content isn’t acceptable to their core message, goes against that fact: everyone is entitled to an opinion! There are multiple perspectives to every story especially when it comes to artefacts.  Just the facts is the knowledge so to speak but the interpretation is open to just that interpretation.

3 Responses to “‘It’s not about technology it’s about people’”

  1. […] There was also great talks by Areti Galani- Participatory media: one size does not fit all. Areti looked at the ladder of participation and asked key questions about who participates, what does it look like and what is its purpose.  Martin Bazley- understanding online audiences: how to evaluate your website(s) and why .  Martin discussed why we need to research are online audiences – basically because otherwise users don’t get what we are offering.  and Phil Poole- Enhancing websites on a shoestring budget (which I mentioned in Part 1). […]

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for the very thorough notes on the conference, means I don’t need to type mine up now! I’ll add a link to your blog from ours when I get a chance. I did type up a big reply a minute ago but my council controlled internet timed out and I lost it all, doh.

    I thought, similar to you, that Phil’s presentation was what I had been waiting to hear all day! It was interesting to hear a mix of views though throughout the day, even minority ones from the audience!

    One thing I learned was about the very little numbers of active participants on websites. I had always worried that our sns and blogs weren’t generating enough ugc but now I’m more laid back. I suppose, like the kid’s homework thing, that if we’re providing the right content and people are happy using that without getting involved otherwise then that’s fine!

    Now, I’m off to get my own penguin…


    • Hi Sarah,
      thanks for the response! glad i’ve saved you the write up time! yeh the old quality vs quantity debate is a good one. I used to think that lots of comments were what validates the blog’s and SNS being, proving that i’m making an impact and that people want to talk about it. But now i know that not necessarily the case. people might be talking about it, but that doesnt mean they have to comment. i have to admit i’m dreadful at interacting with other peoples content. i much happier to read and absorb! (i’m trying to change my ways, i promise).

      are you actually going to join the clun penduin world? i’m considering a moshi monster myself, but i’m concerned about the addiction…

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