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Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’

I recently wrote on the subject of Museums and the communities they serve and, coincidentally, today, I found an extremely interesting article on this same subject on the excellent blog Museum 2.0.

This is a must read for cultural enterprises that would like to start taking steps in the social media arena.

From the article:

If you get people in a museum (or library) for WHATEVER reason, chances are they’re going to notice the exhibits sometime. And hopefully, start to value them”.

and:

The key to these benefits is not the volume of online content produced but its reach. Don’t look at the number of videos, photos, or reviews. Look at the number of views (how many times each has been accessed). The Ontario Science Center YouTube meetup didn’t just spawn hundreds of videos before, during, and after the event. Each of those videos has hundreds or thousands of viewers. Some of the videos have as many as 35,000 views. And while not all of the videos mention their host by name (in fact, few do), the museum venue is frequently present in related text and links. Plus, folks who attended the event link to other videos shot at the museum, such as this “888 favorite” (shot in 2006) of someone using an exhibit. Number of views? 170,000 and counting.”.

This is, in my opinion, the future of any cultural institution that wants to be part of a community. Art should not about some detached view from the outside, it should be part of our lives, a fundamental component of our social interactions. For me, art is about the aesthetics that shape our world view and make us richer as a result. I might be a Utopian, but if art is worth anything, it should be for its power to change lives. Once someone has been exposed to the beauty of human creativity in any of its forms, they cannot go back to ignoring that side of humanity, and if we are lucky, they might start exploring their own creative sides as well.

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Dave Pollard, at Salon blogs, writes about the 12 tools that might follow the way of the fax machine and the CD:

“Out of my research on this has come a list of tools, technologies and other artifacts of my generation that will probably disappear within the next generation, just as Fax essentially disappeared less than 20 years after it first became popular, and just as CDs, which my generation thought were the last word in music storage, are disappearing even faster”.

From the list, the one that caught my attention immediately was item number 5:

“Corporate Websites: I recently co-judged a competition of nominated best-of-class business websites, and I was aghast at how unnavigable and useless most of them were. My own research has indicated that most people who visit these sites are job-seekers, the media, and competitors. A combination of marketing/PR hype, just-in-case recycled internal junk, and self-congratulation, most corporate websites are devoid of useful content, and those that do have useful stuff have it buried where it can’t be found. You just can’t put a filing cabinet up online and expect people to wade through it. And your relationship isn’t with Company X, it’s with Individual Y at that company. Individual Y’s blog, with lots of contact info, timely, casual-style articles and useful links, and instant connectivity options, is to the corporate website what your personal company rep is to walking into the company cold and asking for help. Next-gen blogs by individual employees — personal, casual, chatty, accessible, hosted but uncensored by the employer — will soon blow even the best corporate websites out of the water”.

The question here is, where do Cultural institutions and artists stand nowadays in this regard? Some of them, like New York’s Museum of Modern Art, are making efforts to create a presence with a social media bent. Their website features a YouTube channel, an iTunes link to download content, a comprehensive and abundant list of audio guides to download, stream or listen to on site and a link to their Facebook presence. All of these, steps in the right direction in terms of audience engagement and availability of tools to make the museum experience richer. Still, I am missing the community experience, the active participation of audiences in the museum’s life. All of the above initiatives, still seem to be “top down” strategies, where the museum graciously “gives” the public something and not where the relationship is of mutual feedback, one where the museum gives something and the community gives back.

Other museums, like Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum are not even as forward thinking as MoMA, offering static websites, where the only “participatory” experience is the ubiquitous webshop.

There are many ways in which museums could take the center stage of their communities and become tools of change, education and cultural dissemination. Social media implementations would take them to the next generation and at the same time, redefine their roles as static displayers of artifacts turning them into institutions generating new content while creating value by preserving the past. A few ideas that come to mind that could, if properly implemented, create a totally new museum experience:

  • Artists blogging during exhibitions. I could think of a myriad ways in which modern artists could offer reflections and explanations of old works that served them as inspiration, engaging the community and audience with commentary, sharing this inspiration with the newer generations and bringing a new light into works that are not always accessible for the general public.
  • Audience curated exhibitions. How about letting the public vote on what they want to see once a year and bring together those works that are not always accessible or lack visibility?
  • Forums. Let your public share their experience of the museum visit, let them talk to each other and foster that community by allowing them to relive the visit, discuss it and perhaps, in the process, discover works that they didn’t know about.

    If corporate websites, as a static collection of pages and data are following the fate of the fax machine, the websites of cultural institutions are not up for a different future. The only way to remain relevant will most likely be through the reinvention of their web presence including and fostering community participation and the use of new technologies.

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    I come across a lot of good articles and posts that deserve attention, so I am starting a new (semi regular) section today.

    Without further ado, today’s links:

    • I already mentioned Marc van Bree’s ambitious project. He has continued developing the strategies for a new media communication plan from an orchestra perspective. It’s a must read for anyone working in cultural institutions. Follow the development here. New sections of the document are updated daily.

    • We are Media is is a community of people from nonprofits who are interested in learning and teaching how social media strategies and tools can enable nonprofit organizations to create, compile, and distribute their stories and change the world. They are also running a very worthy project: a wiki/ manual of sorts to assist Non Profits in the how-to of implementing Social Media tools. First part of the Strategic Track can be found here. However, all modules are worth a read. Beth Kanter, of How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media is behind this project.

    “McKinsey’s second annual survey on the business use of Web 2.0 technologies—including wikis, blogs, social networks, and mash-ups1—were asked which of these social and interactive tools their companies have adopted and for which purposes, what they are doing to encourage adoption, and how satisfied they are with their use of these tools.They were also asked to what extent they are using such new technologies to interact with their employees, customers, and suppliers—and, ultimately, how important these tools are to their companies’ competitive edge”.

    • A news release from the Library of Congress:

    “More video material has been uploaded to YouTube in the past six months than has ever been aired on all major networks combined, according to cultural anthropologist Michael Wesch. About 88 percent is new and original content, most of which has been created by people formerly known as “the audience.””

    The whole piece at Faster Future can be found here. If you work in anything remotely related to New/ Social Media, go read it. It’s an excellent explanation of why you should have a strategy that includes communities. Also, this post at Communities Dominate Brands makes a great point:

    “Language and accent are deeply intertwined with otherness and class and therefore belonging.

    This evolving democratisation of languages are signifyers of sameness – Crossing points if you will towards mutual understanding””.

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