This proved an excellent opportunity to network with colleagues who have a similar interest in how we can make the best use of new digital technologies and platforms as part of our core museum work. As a first time attendee, networking was facilitated by a great ice-breaker! Each delegate was given an object card on arrival, and we were asked to team up with four other delegates to put together an exhibition – the most imaginative to win! Although my team didn’t win on the day, it was a nice touch to the morning.
Slides from all the day’s sessions are available on the Museums Computer Group blog, but I did want to share some of the highlights of the day for me.
Jesse Alter and Simon Delafon from IWM told us about ‘Computer Club’, an in house training group they set up to introduce colleagues to some of the digital tools they could use. They delivered quick hands on sessions, such as an hour on tablets introducing colleagues to Twitter, a session on using iPads to make films, and a session on games. The talk was very engaging as they explained the impact of the project through the #StoryofJon, looking at the progress of Jon, a member of the finance team, through the club. His experience culminated in the creation of a hilarious video about the superhero finance team at the IWM, which unfortunately does not seem to be on youtube!
Next Nicole Cama from the Australian National Maritime Museum told the story of the success they had through releasing images from their archive on Flickr commons, and the fascinating discoveries made by ‘armchair archaeologists, which the museum might not otherwise have ever made. She shared with us two case studies, which are also written up on the museum’s blog: Myra Too and Hera Roberts.
Must check out the link to a great Flickr crowdsourcing tool shared by Nicole: http://www.whatsthatpicture.com/flickr/commons/.
Another highlight of the day were the lightning talks after lunch, which saw colleagues giving a 5 minute whiz through current projects. Interesting talks included Jane Finnis from Culture24 talking about their Let’s Get Real programme and assessing if museum digital content is fit for purpose. James Morley introduced GathrIt, a prototype toolset to enable discovery, crowdsourcing and sharing across cultural collections. Sarah Saunders from Electric Lane spoke about ‘labelling’ digital photographs and embedding data in digital photos to ensure their provenance is preserved.
The day also saw some interesting ideas from mainstream media. The first keynote was from the Guardian’s Hannah Freeman about lessons they have learnt about community engagement online. The key thought I took away was that publication is the start, not the end of the process, as this is where the community conversation begins. She explained how the Guardian is crowdsourcing stories through Guardian Witness, a tool I will certainly have to look at and try in the near future. In the afternoon Tristan Ferne from BBC Research and Development discussed their project Radio Tag to crowdsource metadata for the BBC Radio Archive, their successes and roadblocks, and some of the open source software used.
During the lunch break there was also the opportunity to explore Tate Modern, which I had not visited before. Not being an ‘art person’, some things didn’t appeal, but I did find a few things I particularly enjoyed, such as the room devoted to Russian propaganda photos.