Saturday, April 5, 2014 10:30 a.m. – 11:38 a.m.
MUSEUMS AND THE WEB 2014
LIGHTNING TALKS 3: HOW WE WORK – OR NOT!
Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel
202 East Pratt Street
Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.
>> Maren Dougherty: Are we all ready to get started? Whoo! Hope you all had some coffee. Coffee and lots of sugary pastries.
We’re going to do another round of Lightning Talks. My name is Maren Dougherty, Director of Communications and Marketing for the Autry National Center of the American West. This session is called How We Work – Or Not! I will say I learned a lot about the working habits of my panelists here. They are a bunch of night owls. I should be pleased that Len even remembered to show up for this talk. We’re very glad that he’s here.
For those of you who have not been in one of these Lightning Talks sessions yet, we’ll keep the talks to exactly seven minutes. They’re fast‑paced, fun, lightweight. We’ll take two questions in between. Then at the very end we’ll have time for some more questions.
So we have a great set of talks coming up. First up on deck we have Alex Espinos, all the way here from Spain. He runs an online consultancy firm focused on digital strategy, web, and social media analytics. Museums are one of his firm’s main areas of activity, and they work for the Salvador Dali Barcelona Contemporary Museum, among others.
>> Alex Espinos: Good morning. We want to present the study we have been running for the last 10 months. Everybody talks about the attention social media has brought to museums, information flow and so on. You have a real assessment of if this is true and to what extent, still a possibility.
So we wanted to answer several different questions. First one, the main one: What community of museums have Twitter? There are several different ones. And in the later case, there is content or country or language related. In a network, you might not be connected to everyone. But if this principle applies, everybody’s quite near to you. And which ones are the most influential museums that are a real influence?
So we have analyzed. We have started with a list of 1,800 museums’ analytics. And we have monitored all the cross‑conversations for almost a year. We will close the study when we have a year data. We have around 150,000 interactions between museums. And the result, this is too early to analyze, to see the structure and to see what is really happening. So we have to clean it. And we get to that, which is the core of the 400 or 500 most active museums.
And here we have the first structure. It is country‑related. We analyze the structure. Then we put the country of the museum. And we have Mexico, France. There are clear boundaries for every country. And here is Australia, New Zealand, Sweden.
So a conversation takes place, mainly inside the countries. Even in the case of the U.S., shares a common language, the conversation is country‑related. We can see most of the connections between Europe and the U.S. you go through the United Kingdom. So the United Kingdom, it’s quite smaller community than the U.S. It plays a role.
This is about 100 museums. Still very country‑related. We can see here the players in each country.
And this is the American community. Now, we have analyzed ‑‑ we have taken only the U.S. museums and we have applied the structure analysis. So we have different colors inside the U.S.
The blue community is mainly ‑‑ the main players are museums, but you have museums from all over the country. And from California, the Smithsonian, and also Philadelphia, Boston and other places.
There are three key players at The Metropolitan Museum, MoMa. I’m always talking about influence among museums: Guggenheim, Getty, LACMA, Queens, San Francisco, MoMA. It’s about 20, 30 more museums. Now we focus just on one museum. This is the community around MoMA. We can see all the museums that have been talking to MoMA within 10 months. This is the U.S. part. This is Dutch. This is Spanish, French, and Canadian.
If you’re interested, we can make the picture for you. We have all the data available. We have put some of them on Twitter.
This is the same for Tate environment. We have a strong relationship with the U.S. But also very strong relationship with the United Kingdom.
Italian museums show up. Spanish museums, Barcelona museums, French, from other countries. It plays an important role in sharing information. As does the British and Victorian Albert in the United Kingdom.
This is the museum initiative last week in Europe with about 600 museums from four different countries. We analyzed almost in realtime this huge number of Tweets, and analyzed the structure, the key players, if there was a real growth action, out of 40,000 users participating in the action. We have written another post about that.
And just to close, there is a small set of key players we have seen. So if you want to go to Twitter, you have to analyze what they are doing and to relate to them. This is where to go.
And became a key player in your area, can be your country of language or can be a topic or can be a city and whereabouts.
And connects, connecting your museum with the main component.
If you are in the UK, U.S., being bilingual could be a plus for related to museums. If you are not, you are in Spain, France, you have to work in two languages.
We will publish the final paper with much more detail.
And just to close, that was the talk here the day before yesterday. This is Museums and the Web profile, and that’s all the Twitter with relationships around Museums and the Web only for first day. We will publish a final analysis next week.
>> Maren Dougherty: Any questions?
I have one, actually. You talked about bilingual. Who do you think is doing a really good job right now with multi‑language?
>> Alex Espinos: I think Spanish and Italian museums that are working in the language and also in English. When they publish for final use, they usually use their own language. Sometimes they publish for foreign users but use English for information.
>> A lot of key players that you showed in various countries are the largest museums. So these are people that probably have stuff dedicated to doing that job. Have you seen any sort of small or medium‑sized museum that was doing well considering probably they don’t have huge resources to put into social media?
>> Alex Espinos: Yes. Maybe not so much in the U.S. or the UK, but in the Museums and the Web presentation we focused more on Europe and in Italy. It was on the list. The museum is very, very active. Not one of the biggest ones. Have to go to your tier to have more relevance.
We’re interested in doing cases. If you’re interested, contact me.
>> Maren Dougherty: All right. So next up we have Kajsa Hartig who is a Digital Navigator at the Nordiska museet. She is chairing the museum’s social media group working with external partners in Sweden and conducts pilot projects within areas of social, mobile, and digital technology.
>> Kajsa Hartig: Thank you. Hi, everyone. As you’ve heard, Lightning Talks are supposed to be fun and challenges are maybe not as fun, but I hope that we can find some positiveness in the solutions together.
Introducing digital transformation is what this talk is about. It has been addressed before during the conference. Yesterday you might have heard the talk about this. In my seven minutes we’ll address the challenges that can come from the process of introducing digital transformation and my focus will be on social digital aspect. I believe this is the key of disruptiveness we are facing at the moment.
So I come from the Nordiska museet in Stockholm, Swedish’s largest cultural historical museum, founded in 1873. The building was finished in 1907. We’ve been there ever since.
We have four castles and manors to look at as well and about 160 employees.
Digital in itself is not new to our museum but with increasing and changing demands from stakeholders to Digital Strategies the new media department was launched in 2011. This has been a great step for the museum since we now have a department that has mandate, resources, and support from our management.
As I said, digital isn’t new. We’ve been around since the early 1990’s working with digitization as probably have all of you. We have around in 2008 added some social media but still not changing our traditional way of working, not really disrupting any museum practices.
However, with a new media department and with the ability to focus on digital developments and strategies, we have learned that to take a step back from digital technology and look at the broader context in which these tools and services are operating because now we are facing a new challenge, to become a social organization.
Once adopting the thoughts of social digital organization, introducing digital transformation has become a lot easier. Today we believe it’s about use and digital technologies to innovate museum practices, to encourage co‑creation and collaboration, and to respond to our stakeholders’ needs.
So in my job when talking about organizations becoming digital, I tend to focus on social media because these are tools and services that can help in the process of bridging the gap between being a traditional organization and a social digital.
And in this process of becoming social organization, we face challenges. I will go through seven of them that I have found challenging.
Up till now we’ve been focused on technology. In this new world we live in today we have to address the entire social and digital ecosystem in which we have the people, of course, the content we have to look at strategy and practices as well as technology.
And these are, as many of us have said during the conference, disruptive changes. I think it’s good to repeat that because when we’re working with people, we have to be aware that they are being very affected by these changes.
As I mentioned, digital isn’t new. It’s when we have the social digital that things really are challenging.
I will start with the challenges. First of all, the inability to introduce social digital into the organization. For the organization to recognize the need of social digital awareness and knowledge, someone has to introduce this new idea. This has often more or less intentionally been done by individuals, web IT people, etc. And from there to bring in sustainable awareness into the entire organization there are several steps and problems to overcome.
Another challenge is lack of social digital awareness within management with which I think many of you recognize. And this is something that will make the change towards a more social, open, and transparent organization difficult. to bring awareness to departments that stuff is different from bringing knowledge and awareness to the management and possibly even more challenging.
Challenge number 3. Integrating social digital in everyday life. Even when mandate is given and resources allocated, adopting social digital on an individual level can be a major disruption causing anxiety. How do we make social digital relevant on an individual or even personal level?
Number 4. Failing to recognize the need for holistic view ‑‑ the digital ecosystem. Social digital is made up of an ecosystem with conscious focus on tools and services. Anymore, the constant monitoring is necessary to be able to choose which parts of the ecosystem to interact with, how to interact, when, and with what tools and services. Who will do the monitoring? How much time should be spent? How do we make sure we can act upon the analysis from the monitoring?
Number 5. Inability to re‑prioritize work efforts. Much of the responsibility for the social digital has to move out into the organization on all levels. Social digital isn’t a part of most museum practices. How do we adopt these new tools and methods? Do we stop doing other things or do we just change our work methods or both? And how can we argue that social digital actually is improving our work at the museum?
I have to finish up quickly. Number 6, lack of flexibility, rigid structures, and hierarchies. Moving towards the social digital organization requires agile work flows. And this is quite ‑‑ requires changes in the organization structures.
And last, lack of adequate technological devices, training, etc. I can give an example from our museum. All the staff got Smartphones but they are not very good. They have bad user interfaces. They are not working, etc. So people are very frustrated. It’s my job to convince management that we need to buy new Smartphones.
So several solutions. Failing to introduce the idea of social digital to start planning. Know where to start and what to achieve.
Challenge 2, management not digitally aware. Invite external expertise and as Carolyn said yesterday, show results. It’s very important.
Failing to adopt in everyday life. So make it relevant to the staff. If it’s not relevant, they’ll say I don’t have time for this. Educate, support.
Not paying attention to digital echo systems, you have to map your systems, learn how they work.
Inability to re‑prioritize work efforts. Educate, launch pilot projects.
Rigid unflexible structures. Encourage cross departmental work.
And lack of devices and training. Know what it takes to succeed.
>> Maren Dougherty: I let her go over about 20 seconds. Any questions?
We’ll give you some more time to percolate over that and we’ll go with Len.
Leonard Steinbach is a museum consultant and has taught the business of museums for the Johns Hopkins Museum Studies Program as well as Museum Studies in management of cultural organizations for the City University of Hong Kong. He has been President of MCN and Head of Technology for the Guggenheim and Cleveland Museum of Art. His chapter “Digital Cultural Heritage” is getting ‑‑ is called “Getting Crowded, Crowdsourced, Crowdfunded and Crowdengaged” will be published later this year in a book called “Digital Heritage and Culture: Strategy and Implementation.”
I’m personally very excited to hear this talk because our museum recently launched a campaign to raise $66,000 for our Route 66 exhibition. That’s going on right now. Maybe I’ll get more tips.
We’ll make a quick switch in tech.
>> Leonard Steinbach: Nice to see you.
A passing wad or truly a pair’o dimes shift? What is crowdfunding? Crowdfunding in essence is this pooling of funds from people who share your passion for a project in return for rewards which are mostly intrinsic. They make you feel good. We’ll talk about that in a moment.
For our purposes, the raising of funds through the contribution or the collection of small contributions from the general public using the internet and social media. That’s basically what we’re talking about here.
But, of course, why should somebody give you their money? Altruism, fun, acknowledgment, dedicated to principled belief, part of a community, mementos of their involvement, and rewards; these all play important parts of the successful crowdfunding project. And notice how these are all about feelings more than concrete rewards, although it can include letters, experiences, and also all sorts of stuff like that.
It is, indeed, deeper. Participants want to get a window into others’, our thoughts and processes. They want to feel pride of giving to a good cause.
It has to be something meaningful to the contributor.
Now I’m going to zoom through a bunch of what I consider to be great examples and diversity internationally and content for crowdfunding programs.
Ok. The Smithsonian Institution raised $170,000, more than the $135,000 they asked for, for education and programming related to their Yoga: The Art of Transformation, exhibit.
Slow computer. I hope I get extra seconds for that.
I see what’s happening. This is not good. This is not good. It’s going to ‑‑ I’m sorry.
Slow computer. I hope I get it in a few seconds.
I see what’s happening. This is not good. This is not good. No. It’s going to links it shouldn’t. Sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry, how do I get back to mine? OK.
This is perhaps the most famous crowdfunding project. It’s called “Let’s Build a God Damn Tesla Museum.” They raised twice as much as they wanted. This is spearheaded by a guy called Oatmeal, a cartoonist with a fast following. He discovered the Tesla in New York was going to be razed. He did it with humor and great takeaways. It proved the power of having a constituency.
This is wonderful. The Hamish Henderson archive, the archive was given, bequested when he passed away. This crowdfunding was to create an inventory. That inventory led to its adoption by a university.
Saints and secrets, the lost history of LeistonAbbey. If you gave enough for crowdfunding, you got to go on the dig. How is that for incentive?
How is the restoration of the cathedral? Specifically targeting restoring the windows of the cathedral. This is one of my favorites. The Lynn Museum in Lynn, Massachusetts, an exhibition called “More Than a Number.” Lynn has the third largest Cambodian population in the US and created a memory project in exhibition of the memories from those who experienced or fled the Khmer Rouge era.
The new Museum of Contemporary Art in New York does not crowdfund for themselves. So what are they doing here? Well, they do sponsor a thing called the Ideas City Festival, and they use their clout to endorse 40 projects for that festival, to say, Fund these. These are good. That’s how a museum uses leverage for crowdfunding for the community and the cultural community when they are not necessarily interested in doing it for themselves.
This really can bring tears to your eyes. This project was to help preserve ancient documents that were rescued from the threat of Mali rebels from the great Timbuktu library. This was one of the resources. This is an example where even raising partial money gets part of the work done.
This is one of my favorite museums; it’s only online. It is the International Museum of Women Online. They have this extraordinary project of Muslim Women’s Art & Voices. This was to build a permanent exhibition surrounding that project online.
Here’s the Louvre, where they declared ‑‑ I shouldn’t do that. I shouldn’t have tried. We Are All Patrons, was the name of the campaign. The Louvre is on its third or fourth crowdfunding campaign for acquisitions and conservation activities.
Now, there are really success stories here, but many failures in the community. Here are some of the reasons, and this raises important questions.
Will museums learn and adapt or will risk aversion among museums defeat this important opportunity?
I have a feeling you’ve all experienced in our institutions the time that a project doesn’t go as well as planned, and nobody dare say, Well, why don’t we try it again? We’ll fix it based on what we learned. Some museums are more risk averse than others. Many are finding this to be a one‑shot opportunity. Will museums realize that crowdsourcing is as much about developing relationships as it is about quickly raising money?
Now, developers know about cultivating relationships, but sometimes is this one shot?
Is this true, and this is sort of my theoretical base to this discussion, that crowdfunding for museums is the natural equation, the result of a blend of participatory culture that will be experienced for a number of years, and the very well‑known trend of directed giving, rather than giving to institutions generally?
So now we blend that participation and direct giving, you get crowdfunding. Is crowdfunding a long‑term tool for financial sustainability? If so, how will that impact museums’ long‑range planning and constituent relationships? Will we be following the constituents, following the money in ways we’ve always tried not to do?
Well, crowdfunding museums and cultural heritage: A passing fad or truly a paradigm shift? I wish I knew. We’re going to find out. You will be very much a part of that answer.
Two more things. Unabashed plug for the book, which is terrific. I have read one chapter, but I know Herminia and Stephen have done a great job.
If anybody would like what I think is an excellent reading and resource list on crowdfunding I’ve put together, please e‑mail me or see me and give me your card. I’m not posting it, but I am distributing to anybody who has interest.
Thank you very much for putting up with me on this wonderful, bright, sunny day.
>> Maren Dougherty: Any questions about crowdfunding, real quick, before we go on?
Is anybody in here in fundraising development? Yeah.
>> Aren’t we all?
>> Maren Dougherty: Such is true. Question?
>> I actually work with Smithsonian in online fundraising. I did want to clarify the money we got for the yoga exhibit, quite a bit was matched corporate funding.
>> Leonard Steinbach: I write about that in my chapter.
>> When you’re crowdfunding, if you can find appropriation to match, then tell the people that you’re asking for money that the match will double it. That’s a great way to get more people to ‑‑
>> Leonard Steinbach: I don’t think that was publicized on your website. It was not. Now I have to address the issue.
>> Leonard Steinbach: To my knowledge, and then you can correct me if my knowledge is wrong ‑‑ this is, by the way, an excellent idea ‑‑ in good crowdfunding you know where a certain amount is coming from. You never want to start with zero. You want people to see people giving, right?
And my understanding is that it was vitally important to the Sachler, if not the Smithsonian, not to have a failure, so you made damn sure that would not fail, no matter who you had to get the money from.
>> We already had the corporate.
>> Leonard Steinbach: You have that in your back pocket?
>> We already have that. We didn’t need the rest of the money, so we used the corporate funding to match.
>> Leonard Steinbach: I understand that, but you don’t say that on your website. To the world seeing your website, it looks like a crowdfunded ‑‑
>> I was not on that project. I don’t know.
>> Leonard Steinbach: I’m not saying that that was a bad idea by any estimation. I’m just saying that there was a match, as you know, and it’s great to have it, because you force it to be a success. When people see a success, success begets the next success and all of that.
I think that’s great, and I do mention in my book chapter where I discuss that.
>> That’s good. I also wanted to say that one of our best crowdfunding efforts was the Panda Conservation. We linked that to the panda name voting. After people voted for the panda name, we asked them to contribute to the conservation.
>> Leonard Steinbach: I could not get you to the nexus between crowdfunding and outsourcing. I’m glad you brought it up. Often confused, but there is overlap. Sometimes it’s very successful, sometimes not. You’re a great example.
>> Thank you. I wanted to give tips to people who might be interested in crowdfunding.
>> Maren Dougherty: All right. Thank you. Now we’re going to move along to Alex Parker. Alex Parker is a multimedia producer, journalist and filmmaker currently based in Sydney, Australia. Her passion for the arts and understanding of the importance of contextual access to cultural works has led her to develop award‑winning web video production models and a special case of productive insomnia.
>> Alex Parker: Hi. I hope you can see me over the top of this computer. I’m not sure. I’ll stand on my toes.
Thanks for having me. I have traveled through time and space from Australia to be here.
I hope you admire that dedication.
As I do yours for being here on a Saturday morning.
I like to start by saying this conference has been quite great. I’ve learned a lot, and just as soon as I figure out which way to look when I’m crossing the road here, I’m sure I’ll be unstoppable.
I’m here not so much to share research or case studies, but more to talk about something I’m excited about. That something is the influx of tech wizards, creatives and others who found themselves working at museums, and the collective genius they can wield internally. That’s best represented by this next slide. That building there being a museum, and those zombies being skilled workers. I think that sums it up.
This presentation may include some horror themes, just to warn you up front.
So those people could be you, or they could make up your team, or they could be your imaginary dream team, if you had the personnel budget.
I came to the realization last year while working in an organization in Sydney, that’s Sydney there, that staffing cultural organizations is really slowly emerging into something brilliant.
So I came to this realization while working in a marketing team in a cultural organization, which as a filmmaker is something I never thought I would do.
But we’re in the marketing team, we were all off running a conference, and that meant that the entire team was out of the office. While the entire team was out of the office, our website chose that moment to spontaneously combust.
Has that happened to anyone else this week?
So our organization didn’t have a separate digital or online team, so we had to set up shop with our laptops and cell phones in hallways and quickly assemble to get our website functional once more. While doing that, we resembled this.
That debris on the floor is our website, and the Avengers are us.
So what happened was, what I found interesting was everyone slotted into their roles quickly, and worked really effectively to get this website, the pesky website back online.
So at the time I looked up from my computations much like Russell Crowe here, and I thought this is really interesting. Because my team is not just we’d like to maybe be the Avengers, we more resembled this group of people.
We were a ragtag bunch. Only our manager had a background in marketing. He most closely is depicted by Emilio Estevez.
To add to my filmmaking background, the only others were a loud‑talking manager and a clothing‑obsessed historian.
So this got me thinking, how had someone like me and my team members become keepers of a cultural organization’s brand? What good could possibly come of it? So the answer came to me fairly quickly, but for the sake of a dramatic flair I’m going to extend it out just a little bit. Start at the beginning. Not from the womb. That’s my mother represented by Arnold Schwarzenegger there. I wanted to be a filmmaker. At 19 I received my first commission to put together pieces for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.
So my career group initiative over the years, I became an independent producer. I made amazing bodies of work for cultural organizations and arts institutions all over Australia. But it was like the struggle between being the dude and crying Dawson. I was self‑employed and it was a struggle, and sometimes putting on clothes to leave the house was a bit difficult.
So I went out and I found this team to join this marketing team, and I joined on a long contract as a content producer/copyrighter/lighting technician/camera operator. You know the role where you do everything at once. I began to delight in the ability to tell the stories from their source. That’s an obscure reference to Jim Henson’s “The Storyteller.” I worked as a journalist as well, and the ability to tell your own story in this day and age is very important.
As I started working what became abundantly clear is I was a bit of a foreigner within the organization. Those who perform the core functions of the organization didn’t really know why I was there or what I was doing. I didn’t exactly fit in, but I tried really hard, as can be seen by ET.
I most definitely spoke another language.
Slowly a combined language was formed and best practice was developed.
It wasn’t long before processes that people took for granted became fun and insightful fodder for behind‑the‑scenes access to our organization, which I feel Willie Wonka, although creepy, does exemplify.
My insider access enabled me to tell stories, formulate ideas and provide a perspective that wouldn’t have occurred to me had I been an external contractor.
My history of being on the outside looking in merged with the view from the inside to create an effective way of engaging with our audiences, and slowly the people in the organization who had been suspicious of me at first began to feel a sense of camaraderie and gratitude that these guys felt when this girl knew how to use the system to close the doors.
So my conclusion is this: People like me and you and our teams of misfits have become the keepers of cultural brands to provide and propagate internally and externally a sense of wonder.
Like MacGyver our nontraditional skill sets creep some people out, but these things in the right team environment allow for innovation in those time and resource‑poor situations we all know so well.
We know how to make something out of nothing. We’re often trained in making dry things emotional in the best way and ugly things look pretty.
Those of us with geeky enthusiasm are also famous for collaboration between various departments and fighting the good fight against fears and technologies.
So I’d encourage you to take a long, hard look at your team and decide which Avenger you are, maybe which unusual superhero skills you’d like to develop. And then reflect on the workings of your co‑workers and look forward to the next time a looming deadline comes your way in the form of a meteor so you can show your organization how to move.
How we work is often about the stories we tell ourselves, so I figure we may as well be epic.
>> Maren Dougherty: Quick questions? I like the power of the images, the Judd Nelson, the Dawson, MacGyver. I was looking for the close‑up of Hugh Jackman.
>> I had the Australian theme.
>> Can I play the main Hollywood character that spoils everyone’s fun and say how do you constrain creative people so they actually do the stuff on time?
>> Alex Parker: I was going to include that if I had more time. How do you motivate and manage people like me? That’s something quite difficult, isn’t it?
>> Motivation, actually. How do you make sure that the focus is kept on delivering the thing that’s actually going to bring the benefit?
>> Alex Parker: I think it’s all about the person, really, the person that you hire. If somebody is coming to you looking to work in an organization that means they have to be at the same place every day for the same amount of time, I think their expectations are that that time needs to be filled doing what you want them to do, as opposed to working for themselves. That’s my experience.
>> I want to come to work at your place. It doesn’t sound like the one I work at.
>> Alex Parker: No? I’ll think further on that. I don’t know, treats? I guess.
>> I’m kind of asking a question I think I have the answer to, but it came from the opening session, the man from Disney. He has the Disney philosophy, pulling all his scientific guys off doing their stuff, back to the story one time. That was their constraints, I think. It was, OK, we made this scene, what have you, then tell the story, how do you do that, bringing the focus back and kind of constraining that creativity, which is kind of hard to do sometimes, because you end up upsetting people, pulling them from what they actually want to do.
>> Alex Parker: Yeah, right. I appreciate that.
>> Upset people. Just don’t care if they hate you.
>> Alex Parker: OK. The opposite of treats.
>> Yes. A big stick, actually. Did literally have a big stick. I never saw him hit anyone.
>> Maren Dougherty: All right. Thank you. Our final speaker, Susan Chun, Susan has recently been appointed the chief content officer at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. A veteran of the field, she worked previously at the Philadelphia Museum, the Asia Society and for 15 years at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art. She has been involved in the planning and management of a number of well‑known collaborative initiatives, including Steve, the Museum Social Tagging Project, Project Audience and the Balboa Park Online Collaborative where I worked with Susan on many a late‑night grant proposal. She also serves as publisher for the Museums and the Web. Her work reflects the wide range of interesting, including publishing, search and cultural data.
>> Susan Chun: Can you hear me? I can’t see any of you.
That’s just really weird.
OK. All right, so this being the last day, one of the last sessions of the conference, I thought I would take you on a little journey away from the conference’s main drag. You all can take a break, stop taking notes and relax. If you hang in there with me for a few minutes, I’ll get to how this matters to you in the last two. So don’t leave, OK?
To start, I wanted to fill you in on a project I worked on last year, an attempt to think about how culture is measured. The research project was a team matrix with Project Audience, a funded collaboration of cultural organizations, a field team from UCLA and Katie Goldman, who hasn’t bothered to show up, but served this project.
The project started with a review of the ways that culture is usually measured in a place. You will see studies of a culturedness of a city or region, with high‑level indicators, including how many are employed in the industries and how much money these workers take home. Not a lot, usually.
Studies of this sort tell you that New York City is a city of culture. Bismarck, North Dakota is not. The amount of money given to nonprofit organizations identifying as arts focused is another way of measuring the amount of culture in a place.
Cultural organizations of all sorts track and agonize over attendance figures. It’s a butts in seats model.
Our team felt these methods, useful as they might be for cities trying to understand their way in the cultural hierarchy or funders looking to push money to underserved populations fail to really measure cultural activity in a place from the point of view of individual cultural patrons. That is to say, the trickle‑down effect of being in a location that employs a number of people in cultural roles doesn’t in any way equate to describing the amount, variety, cost and convenience of culture available to you and your family on any given day.
So we concocted a tally of culture based on the idea that cultural offerings can be broken down into events. We will get into why this is problematic for museums. Hang in there. Still there?
We started with strawman definitions to bound the research pilot. For purposes of the pilot, we proposed that cultural event be defined as an expression of creative endeavor, recognizing that what is considered creative is dependent on values, preferences, and realities within a particular locality. The fun was thinking of the values of our locality. In our pilot project, Los Angeles, we had huge debates whether going to the movies should be considered a cultural outing or whether burlesque performances were a creative endeavor.
The second part of the definition is important, especially in light of other types of cultural data methods. We dealt in inclusive definition that included cultural events by professional organizations, for‑profits and nonprofits, paid, free, and visual and live arts, as well as festivals, fairs, classes and workshops.
This is the list of categories used for cataloguing. We included foodie events. We worked really hard to try to understand the cultural patron and his or her understanding of the landscape of possibility and decided that food‑related events were part of that same cluster from which a patron might choose. You probably disagree, and I’m happy to talk to you about that.
We chose Los Angeles as the pilot project location, because in the winter of 2013 a warm locale seemed like a good idea, but also we had potentially enthusiastic partners in the Los Angeles Transit Authority, LA County Arts Commission and representatives of the arts advocacy community there.
As we envisioned, the research data set would be a comprehensive view of all cultural events in LA, and we would need a lot of partners to dig those up and identify sources.
It was really clear after only brief investigation that no one resource would begin to yield a comprehensive view of cultural events in LA.
We used a mixed data collection of methodology, including collecting data from existing calendar event databases and APIs, scraping online publications, such as LA Weekly, entering data from various media, ranging from fliers and print calendars to concert posters.
We had hoped to but didn’t capture significant contribution to the LA culture scene represented by ethnic and minority communities. We discovered, in many cases, events produced by and for these communities, such as non‑English speakers are publicized using nondigital techniques, including foreign language radio and television.
This is an event calendar in southern California from which we drew a number of events.
This is a lightning talk. I will skip the results, the research by data, type, price, accessibility. There’s a report you can read if you’re interested in the results.
The reaction to our work was pretty exciting. We had very strong support from communities such as urban planning, philanthropy and public policy, not usually as museum professionals tied up with.
The discussions we held in LA during the project produced a long list of possible uses for the data set, which I think I still believe is unique in the space.
So I thought I would share a few of my own top 10 most interesting possible uses for the data. First of all, I am very keen on the idea that we can use this data to describe the residential potential of cities or neighborhoods, just like the walkability score. You might have a culture score that says, all right, this block provides a massive variety of cultural activity for a family, for example.
We have been approached by travel agencies, as well as convention and visitors bureau, to think about developing realtime map layers for travelers trying to figure out, let’s say, where to stay in ‑‑ where are we? Baltimore.
What is the epicenter of dance culture in Baltimore, how can I pick a hotel nearby? This is Los Angeles. It shows some interesting things.
>> I thought I would share a few of my own top 10 most interesting possible uses for the data. First of all, I am very keen on the idea that we can use this data to describe the residential potential of cities or neighborhoods, just like the walk ability score you might have a culture score that says, all right, you know, this blog provides a massive variety of cultural activity for a family, for example.
We have been approached by travel agencies as well as Convention and Visitors Bureau to think about developing real type map layers for travelers trying to figure out is say, where to stay in ‑‑ where are we ‑‑ Baltimore.
What is the epicenter of dance culture in Baltimore and how can I page a hotel nearby? This is Los Angeles. It shows some interesting things. The normal centers would expect to see in Los Angeles downtown, the beach communities, Hollywood, are, of course, represented by sort of great, big blogs. But there are these sort of secondary, you know, locations where dance is actually happening. Oh, that’s the visual arts. Sorry.
We have been keenly interested in the ways in which this information might help municipal leaders and businesses develop services and promote resources. So, you know, is there public transit? I don’t have ‑‑ ok. Ok. Skip along that.
I wanted to talk a little about why this matters to you and why you should begin to think about events as important. My research I don’t think is utterly relevant, but here is the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago where I work in a Google search box.
Here is a simpler search for the Oracle Arena, sports venue. You might not see this but here it is close up. There is a right‑hand box that lists not just the address and phone number, hours of the arena, you know, as for the museum, but also upcoming events. This is no small matter. These events which are mind from machine readable data, are deployed not just in Google Search but also in their other channels such as Google Now and Field Trip. So a visitor will see events at the Oracle Arena but not at the Oakland Museum. And I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of being kicked in the butt by sporting events.
So Google is announcing that they’re piloting the same technique for musical events and that very soon they will expand to other kinds of events. Let’s just say the visual arts. I think that it’s important for us as institutions to sort of get on top of this, to be out in front of the idea that we want to be visible and visible in Google, visible in all of these channels. And to do that we have to think about the event as something meaningful for us. I know that we don’t think that way. So I’m challenging you to do that.
I’m sorry I went over. Here is a link to the project report. I would love to talk to any of you about what you’ve seen. I’m sorry I went over. Ok?
>> Maren Dougherty: I was so absorbed when she started talking about L.A. cultural events that I didn’t realize we were over. Very interesting work.
We can take questions for Susan or questions for any of the panelists if you want to step up to the mic. Hopefully we’ll have some energy on this last day.
Do any of the panelists have questions for each other?
Maybe you could just comment on next steps for research.
>> Susan Chun: We have been asked by funders to look for other communities in which to replicate and extend the research on events so we’re looking for partners and communities that are very different from L.A. Maybe different in size, different in culture event makeup.
I’m very interested in the idea that in some places cultural events that are not formal, as we understand that, might actually stand in for everything else. So, you know, is church choir a cultural event? It is if you live in the deep south and you don’t have a theater company or a symphony orchestra in town.
Those are our next steps.
>> Maren Dougherty: Yes?
>> Hi. I’m Douglas Henley. Right after the session, a little back and forth about managing creatives. It’s certainly a challenge that a lot of us face. I think that fear is probably created in the reality, managing creative, managing people. But I’d like to hear from you a little about how you like to be managed/led. What’s effective for you and your team of superheroes? How does someone be the right kind of leader for that organization so that the work is both meaningful, so you can have a passion for it, and so this idea that you always miss deadlines sort of fades into the background and other things that are acting?
>> Alex Parker: Sure. As you can imagine having worked for myself for 10 years then working for somebody else for an extended period of time was a culture shock to me. I loved it as well. So for me personally what I can say is the way that I found it worked most effectively in terms of being led was walking this line between trusting me to run away with my imagination to a certain point and trusting in the skills and the expertise that I had to deliver what I was imagining. But also understanding ‑‑ being able to communicate with me and understanding where I was coming from and knowing the right sort of reserved questions to ask, to pin it in a little bit. It’s this line between trusting someone to go with what they know how to do and know how to do well and then being able to ‑‑ even though it’s not maybe your background being able to sit in their shoes and ask the questions that maybe they’re not asking themselves.
So given a long leash, I think, worked quite well for me.
>> Leonard Steinbach: I’m going to address that from the management perspective since I’ve managed creative people. I’m absolutely in line with what was just said, but sometimes it’s a ‑‑ it’s difficult for a manager ‑‑ manager to just hold your breath and just have faith in the creativity. I think of myself as somebody very good at that, but I know managers who are very nervous by that. And if you hired a creative person, you’ve hired them to be creative. Let them be creative. That’s one piece.
I don’t know about your managers, but as a manager, the other part in managing creatives was to shield them from the others and say you talk to me, you don’t bother my creative people. Have faith. Once the products turn out good, you generate a little bit more internal faith.
But if you’re going to ‑‑ I’m going to say, if you’re going to hire a creative person, then chances are you’re hiring somebody whose brain doesn’t work like yours. That’s why you hired them. And they’re going to need a certain level of patience, money, time, and protection.
>> Susan Chun: Another aspect of that is to work or to create a cohort for your creative, a kind of relationship between peers that allows for discussion, for plotting, for experimentation. I think that that doesn’t happen often enough. And often in organizations we sort of orphan people in the creative jobs. I think the sort of role of the managers actually to create that space for interaction amongst staff.
>> Alex Parker: I’d add that that’s important as well. If you look at how films are normally made, it’s a huge team of people. So when you’re one person in an organization, it’s quite a lonely position to find yourself in. So when you can create those connections with other people within the organization, also externally, other people who have similar roles to you in other organizations, that’s very important.
>> Susan Chun: Sorry. Building on that. At the MCA we have staff for designers, a large design team, a hallmark of contemporary art museums, but I myself as the head of that group am not a designer and I felt very strongly that this is a problem for the design team. They don’t have someone senior to bounce it around with. We’ve encouraged them to think about putting together a sort of design council in Chicago who might meet regularly with them and allow them to sort of kick it around. I think that that kicking it around space is crucial.
>> Maren Dougherty: Another question.
>> Actually, I just wanted to chime in on that question of how to deal with creatives. I’m from MOCAtv. We’ve used about 400 videos in the last 18 months or so. I’m partially responsible for working with the creatives and film makers that make those videos. My background is in television products. We just never got paid until we delivered. That’s the truth. We’re dealing with professionals. I think it’s kind of strange to think of these creatives as being anything other than professionals. We’re used to delivering a certain set of deliverables and get paid when they do. That’s the way we treat them. That works.
>> Maren Dougherty: Thank you.
Any other comments on that topic or questions?
We’ll wrap it up then. You’ll have a lunch break. And then there will be another round of Lightning Talks going on. I hope you can make it back here.
[The presentation ended at 11:38 a.m.]